Posts tagged with "Forbes"

Taylor Swift to re-record songs after music catalog is sold to private equity fund for $300M

November 18, 2020

Singer and songwriter Taylor Swift has confirmed a November 16 report that her music catalogue has been sold to a private equity group without her knowledge or consent—or the second time in two years—dashing her hopes of regaining control over her masters after they were controversially acquired by music mogul Scooter Braun last year.

At the time, Swift described Braun’s acquisition of her catalog as her “worst case scenario,” Forbes reports.

Variety, which first reported the story, say the deal is believed to be worth more than $300 million, with Swift confirming that Shamrock Holdings, an investment vehicle for certain members of the Roy E. Disney family, had “bought 100% of my music, videos, and album art” from Braun.

In  statement shared to Twitter and Instagram on Monday, Swift said she had initially welcomed the prospect of working with Shamrock, before discovering that the agreement meant that Braun and his company, Ithaca Holdings, which acquired her catalog last year would “continue to receive many years of future financial reward” from her master recordings, something she “cannot currently entertain.”

“We made this investment because we believe in the immense value and opportunity that comes with her work. We fully respect and support her decision and, while we hoped to formally partner, we also knew this was a possible outcome that we considered,” Shamrock said in a statement. The purchase is the firm’s first major investment in a music catalog.

Swift also shared a letter she wrote to Shamrock Holdings, in which she said she has already begun re-recording her old music—something she acknowledges will “diminish the value” of Shamrock’s investment, and a move she announced she announced last August.

Photo source: @Forbes

The new ‘Donald J. Trump Presidential Library’ is fake news for his detractors to love

November 17, 2020

It’s been tough for anyone to get an up-close and personal look at presidential history during 2020. From FDR’s family home in Hyde Park, New York, to Ronald Reagan’s commemorative exhibition space in Simi Valley, California, all 13 presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) have been closed since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sadly, for folks who like to absorb history in person, we’ll likely see fewer brick-and-mortar presidential libraries in the future, Forbes reports. Four years since the 44th president left office, the all-digital Barack Obama Presidential Library isn’t fully open yet. And, while it takes a lot of time to digitize hundreds of thousands of records, NARA supports the digital model chosen by Obama going forward.

Now, considering his reluctance to read, you wouldn’t think that President Donald Trump’s first priority would be a library for posterity. But search the internet for Donald Trump Presidential Library and you will find a shiny new website already achieving killer first-page ranking on Google, Forbes says.

What’s more, this slick operation has a communications team that churns out press releases and thousands follow the DJT Library on Twitter.

Sleekly rendered in WordPress using the classy Musea theme, with an elegant gray Garamond typeface and all-white backdrop, looks and feels like many beautiful museum portals. That is, until you start poking around.

The website invites Americans to explore the COVID Memorial, where a quiet reflecting pool lets visitors “mourn the thousands dead under his lack of leadership.” Oh.

Decorated with “Make America Great Again” signs and Confederate flags, the Alt-Right Auditorium is hosting a movie series including Nazi propaganda and Birth of a Nation. “A silent film which represents the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) as a heroic force necessary to preserve American values and a white supremacist social order,” touts the site, along with a special promo: “2 for 1 tickets available for White Supremacy Wednesday!”

Yes, folks, it’s a hoax —and a rather elaborate, painstaking one at that.

While the project began as the brainchild of a small New York City architecture practice that wishes to remain anonymous, the team quickly “gained an army of curators, writers, designers, and general trouble-makers,” according to the site’s FAQ page.

The Felons Lounge is a shrine to Trump’s indicted cohorts, Forbes informs us.

As satirical spoof sites go, this is top of the line, chock full of custom artwork and clever Easter eggs. Take the library’s physical address at 1 MAGA Lane in Nogales, Arizona. The street is fictional, of course, but Nogales is a real border city that’s been central to Trump’s “build the wall” promise.

And check out the price of admission. Kids and students are free, while there’s a three-tiered structure for adults: $10 for seniors, $25 for U.S. citizens and $50 for immigrants.

Presidential libraries are known for museum-quality exhibits that show off their respective administrations’ accomplishments. Think John F. Kennedy’s Space Program Exhibit, LBJ’s Social Justice Gallery and Reagan’s Berlin Wall Exhibit.

At the faux Donald J. Trump Presidential Library website, permanent exhibits include Tax Evasion 101, where letters spelling “tax paid $750” rise from the floor in bas-relief. There’s a Twitter gallery, of course, as well as a Wall of Criminality that draws lines from Trump to some of his numerous alleged misdeeds.

No doubt, Trump critics will enjoy taking this unflattering virtual tour of his presidency. But while the site is layered with plenty of snark, its take-away is somehow not gleeful, Forbes notes.

For a reminder of why so few Americans are traveling these days, head to the rooftop COVID Cemetery, where an old tweet from Trump supporter Herman Cain, who died of Covid-19, has been blown up to billboard size. It reads, “It looks like the virus is not as deadly as the mainstream media first made it out to be.”

Research contact: @Forbes


Agent 007’s Aston Martin is rolling off assembly lines again, complete with rear smoke screen and oil slick

July 20, 2020

Everything old is new again: The timeless nature of Aston Martin’s cars is intricately tied to the timeless nature of the world’s most famous secret agent, James Bond. And the synergy between these classic British brands has added substantial value to both, Forbes reports.

Fully functional Bond gadgets make the Aston Martin DB5 an exercise in movie magic..

For Aston Martin, this value can be precisely measured in the market price of past Aston Martins made famous by Secret Agent 007. Interestingly enough, the most famous Bond car—actually, the most famous car of any movie- or TV-related franchise, according to multiple surveys—is the Aston Martin DB5 first featured in the classic 1964 Bond movie, Goldfinger, starring Sean Connery.

Fewer than 900 original Aston Martin DB5s were produced between 1963 and 1965, Forbes notes. And while these models were always associated with the famous Secret Service agent, it wasn’t until the the last 20 years that their market value skyrocketed as Bond fans snapped up surviving examples. In the early 2000s these car sold for well under $100,000. In 2020, they can easily cross the $1 million mark. Unless they are one of the few original DB5 Bond movie cars from the 1960s. One of those changed hands at Sotheby’s last year for $6.4 million.

 Actually, they would have built you one if you were in the right place at the right time last year, according to Forbes. Now, all 25 of these Aston Martin DB5 Goldfinger Continuation cars have been sold, with the first one rolling off the assembly line in late June.

All 25 Goldfinger Continuation DB5s will be painted the same shade of Silver Birch that Q Branch issued to JamesBond, and all of them will feature working examples of the original DB5 Bond car gadgets. That includes a rear smoke screen and oil slick delivery system, revolving license plates, simulated front machine guns, a bullet-resistant rear shield, simulated tire slasher, and a removable passenger seat roof panel (for ejecting unwanted baddies).

Inside, the classic DB5 cabin is augmented with a simulated radar screen tracker map, telephone, gear knob actuator button, armrest and center console-mounted switchgear, under-seat weapons storage rack, and a remote control for gadget activation.

While the gadgets in these DB5 Goldfinger Continuation cars were quite advanced in 1965, the basic mechanical foundation of these “new” versions remains vintage. They’re all powered by the same 4.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine (shod with triple SU carburetors) and they all deliver their 290 horsepower through a 5-speed ZF manual transmission. Given these cars’ “vintage” level of emissions control and passenger safety equipment it should surprise no one to learn they are not road legal. You can sit in them and play with the gadgets, but don’t take them on any public roads.

Still, if you’re one of the 25 customers (now 24) waiting for your Aston Martin DB5 Goldfinger Continuation series to roll out of the company’s Newport Pagnell factory, you’re part of an elite group. As the product of 4,500 hours of hand-built construction, with meticulous attention expended to recreate the world’s most famous movie car, you’re going to have one heck of a party prop.

And Forbes notes,  if for some reason you do decide to illegally drive the DB5 on the street…well, it does have those rotating license plates.

Research content: @Forbes

‘The doctor is in’: Walgreens to bring Village MD into 700 pharmacy locations

July 9, 2020

It’s a primary care center, a drugstore, and a pharmacy—all under one roof, Forbes reports.

The convergence of sectors within healthcare continued on July 8 with the announcement that Walgreens, the nation’s second-largest pharmacy chain, will open full-service doctor’s offices in up to 700 locations within the next five years in a deal that gives Walgreens a $1 billion equity stake in Chicago-based VillageMD.

Forbes notes that, following a successful trial last year, Walgreens will become the first national pharmacy chain to offer full-service doctor offices co-located at its stores at a large scale—a big step beyond the kiosk-like setups in many Walgreens locations that offer flu shots and some pharmacist consultations.

Rival CVS Health, which owns health insurer Aetna, already has announced plans to expand its HealthHub locations—drugstores that offer more health services and products—by opening 1,500 locations by the end of 2021, according to CNBC.

The Walgreens/VillageMD locations will be staffed by more than 3,600 primary care providers, who will be recruited by VillageMD and also will “uniquely integrate the pharmacist as a critical member of VillageMD’s multi-disciplinary team,” Walgreens said.

The clinics will accept a wide range of health insurance options, offer primary care “across a broad range of physician services,” offer 24/7 care via telehealth and at-home visits—and at least half of the locations will be in medically underserved areas, according to Walgreens.

This rollout follows a trial with five in-store clinics in the Houston area, which produced “very strong results” after opening last November including high patient satisfaction scores, according to Walgreens.

Most of the clinics will be about 3,330 square feet, with some as large as 9,000 square feet.

Research contact: @Forbes

See ya later: Apple envisions the future of eyeglasses

July 6, 2020

Is Apple on a mission to reinvent eyeglasses? Perhaps, and the resulting technology could produce glasses with virtually infinite adjustments to your changing vision over time—never mind bifocal or trifocals for nearsightedness and farsightedness.

“I hear they have 19 different prototypes that they’re working on, which shows the effort that Apple’s doing,” tech analyst Robert Scoble said in a recent TechFirst podcast focused on an Apple patent win. “This is a multibillion-dollar effort going into eyeglasses and thinking through literally everything.”

One part of Apple’s project is better glasses for better vision: exactly what glasses were initially invented for. Another part is significantly more transformational: a complete reimagining of human-computer interfaces.

Essentially, it’s the next major leap in technology platforms—and, along the way, Apple might just disrupt the $120 billion eyewear market in the same way it devastated the Swiss watch industry with Apple Watch.

Indeed, almost every major tech company is now working on smart glasses. Google launched Glass years ago, retains an enterprise version of the product—and just acquired North, a Canadian manufacturer of light, natural-looking smartglasses.

And Forbes reports, Facebook just revealed an early version of its “holographic optics for thin and lightweight virtual reality” in a research report. Amazon has a limited-availability product with Alexa, Amazon Echo Frames.

Part one for Apple seems to be about the basics, according to a patent the company just received: correcting vision.“What they’re wanting to do is you put on a pair of glasses, and it sees inside your eye and bends the optic … in a way that corrects your vision perfectly, so you don’t need to go to an optometrist,” Scoble told Forbes.

The next level is notifications, and it’s what much of the low-end smartglasses space has focused on. With smartglasses notifications, the alert is right in front of your face.

Part three is where the game really changes, Scoble said, and we enter an era of “spatial computing,” virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality.

Now you can compute while riding a mountain bike, or driving a car, or walking to a shopping center,” Scoble says. “You can replace the floor and make it something new, different, like a video game. You can then fly things in the air and they could bounce off the walls like balls, because this thing understands the 3D space it’s in. That’s why we call it ‘spatial computing,’ because you’re now computing as you’re moving through space … no longer are you tied to the little rectangular pieces of glass to compute: you can compute on literally everything.”

“This next paradigm shift is computing that you use while walking around, while moving around in space,” Scoble says.

One unexpected thing it’ll change?

Fashion, because what you’re physically wearing—or even what you actually look like — won’t necessarily limit how you portray yourself to others.

“Facebook is planning on doing all sorts of magic stuff when you meet a friend in the street it’ll go beep and all of a sudden I’ll see your 3D costume that you just bought, something made for you, right?” Scoble says. “I’ll be like ‘Yeah, nice costume’ … in ten years, we’re going to have Burning Man 24 hours a day in the streets?

Which of course will bring an entirely new set of privacy concerns along with it, as every adopter will be wearing cameras and sensors, and major platforms will want a piece of that.

That’s probably one reason why Apple is working so hard right now to be the face of big tech privacy.

Research contact: @Forbes

Airstream leans into possibilities for WFH trend

June 9, 2020

A few months ago, Airstream CEO Bob Wheeler was talking about the possibility of tinkering with some of the most important strands in the DNA of the upscale recreational-vehicle brand, in order to better attract young buyers to its products

But, within the past three months, his mindset has changed: As he seeks the best way for his company to slingshot out of the pandemic, Wheeler is considering how Airstream can facilitate a more permanent form of the work from home (WFH) dynamic that was created during the Covid-19 lockdown.

“From our position, ‘work from home’ means ‘work from anywhere,’” Wheeler recently told Forbes magazine. “A contingent of our [customers] have always worked from anywhere. But how this is happening now opens some exciting possibilities for us on both the retail and commercial side.”

Similarly, he said, more parents may be interested in turning Airstreams into mobile home schools, amid uncertainty about the future of traditional physical schools – at least for this year. “If you have good Wi-Fi at home, that means you can learn from anywhere,” Wheeler said. “I’m excited about potential live-play-work-learn developments that we’re uniquely suited to support, with some product tweaks that we’re working on.”

As the U.S. pandemic started in March, Wheeler and his team projected a 70% April drop-off in Airstream sales. “But our guess turned out to be grossly wrong, in the right direction,” Wheeler said. In fact, Airstream sales fell by only 30% that month and then rapidly rebounded in May.

 “Things have been on fire,” he said. “In the last two weeks, we have seen record retail sales across the country, well beyond anything we could have anticipated … We started to think that the post-Covid travel landscape might stack up really well for RVs. People don’t want to get on cruise ships or airplanes or go into crowded places now. They want to travel in their own home with their own kitchen and bed. But all of that was just theory until we started to see it manifested in the marketplace.”

Indeed, Wheeler told Forbes, he wants to make Airstreams even more appealing as “permanent” homes for work-from-home Americans by, for example, improving wireless internet connectivity in the vehicles. “We’ve had in place for a year a top-shelf connectivity solution with an antenna and 4G Wi-Fi with AT&T, so [owners] can get coverage in many places that they can’t with just a cell phone,” he said. “We’re also looking at satellite uplinks and other things that literally can give people a connection anywhere they go. For a certain set of our customers, that might be a very appealing option.”

And for potential customers who want to home-school kids in an Airstream, Wheeler said, the company has begun looking at “how you partition space differently to create dedicated work spaces for adults and potentially for kids. You can sit at the dinette, but people may need to have a space carved out just for work, for their computers and papers.”

Research contact: @Forbes

Nugg Club: Cannabis subscription boxes hit the market for 2020

June 4, 2020

From makeup and clothing to dirt of the month and scavenger hunt tools, monthly subscription boxes are all the rage. Now, cannabis is about to join the ranks of BarkBox, Ipsy, and StitchFix, Forbes magazine reports.

Nugg Club, which is now available in Los Angeles and Orange County  (pot has been legal for recreational use since 2016 in California), is owned by parent company NuggMD; which claims to be the nation’s leading cannabis-focused telemedicine platform, with 600,000 patients served.

The subscription boxes, Nugg says, “will deliver full-sized, highly-curated and personalized cannabis products directly to the consumer’s doorstep.”

Each box will cost $99 and contain five to seven products valued at just about $250, according to the company. That price is a lot more expensive than the shop-by-mail containers from Iipsy or BirchBox—but is in line with what most millennials spend at a dispensary, Forbes reports.

According to Headset, an analytics service for the cannabis industry, the average basket in California is $68.70 for a little over two items per basket. Through Nugg Club, the customer is effectively receiving five to seven products for the price of three.

Like other subscription services, the boxes are highly personalized. Customers can select the type of product(s) and strain(s) they want to receive in their box with each month’s selection improving based on their feedback. Not the biggest fan of a particular vape flavor? Leave a comment and never see it again. Still have full products a month after the initial box? Deliveries are available every one, two or three months, Forbes notes.

The new Nugg Club cannabis subscription is participating in a market that grew 890% from April 2014 to 2018, and continues to grow. Around 54% of online shoppers say they are members of a subscription box service. Subscription service customers are more likely to be younger Millennials living in college towns or “hipster” areas, two common characteristics of cannabis consumers. According to Headset, millennials alone contribute to roughly 52% of all cannabis sales in the United States.

This type of service adheres directly to aspects of human psychology – a desire for services that are convenient and bring unique products and experiences into our lives. The simple act of opening a delivery ignites the euphoria and excitement of discovering something new. The consumer doesn’t always know what they are going to find, but it’s always a novel product, and that alone is a huge factor in the success of subscription services. That’s probably part of the reason over half of the subscription market is “subscribe for curation” where consumers are surprised by a variety of different items.

As the box goes to launch, Nugg Club is being mindful that we are in the midst of a pandemic. In response to recent studies that report an uptick in depression, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms among healthcare professionals treating COVID-19 patients, Nugg Club is offering a limited quantity of $1 boxes to qualifying workers.

Research contact: @Forbes

Michigan AG: Trump has ‘legal’ and ‘moral’ responsibility to wear mask at Ford plant

May 22, 2020

He is not an outlier; he is a role model and leader for Americans and the world. Yet he refuses to wear a face mask during a global pandemic.

On May 21, as he prepared for a visit to the Ford plant in Michigan that has reconfigured its operations in order to manufacture ventilators—using an all-volunteer workforce that follows strict COVID-19 protocols—the president stirred controversey over his stance on PPE (personal protective equipment, Forbes reported.

President Trump has a “moral” and “legal responsibility” to wear a mask while he tours the Ford plant, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel wrote in an open letter.

Nessel, whose letter was made available Wednesday, wrote that the mask wearing policy “is not just the policy of Ford, by virtue of the Governor’s Executive Orders. It is currently the law of this State.”

Nessel also cited the size of Michigan’s coronavirus outbreak (53,000 cases, nearly 5,000 deaths) and Trump’s recent exposure to White House staffers who tested positive for the virus as reasons for the president to wear a mask.

A Ford spokesperson said on Tuesday, May 19, that the company requires masks on its premises, but added “the White House has its own safety and testing policies in place and will make its own determination,” leaving the door open as to whether Trump would wear a face covering.

When asked about this by reporters Tuesday, Trump said, “Where it’s appropriate, I would do it, certainly.”

He also said it depended on the situation. “Am I standing right next to everybody or am I spread out? And also…you know, is something a hospital? Is it a ward?…What is it exactly? I’m going to a plant. So we’ll see.”

Research contact: @Forbes

Hobby Lobby remains open: ‘God is in control’

March 25, 2020

Christian-owned Hobby Lobby–a private for-profit arts-and-crafts retail chain based in Oklahoma City—has announced in a memo to its 32,000 employees nationwide that its stores will not close during the COVID-19 pandemic, except in states where they has been ordered to do so.

Instead, the chain will take measures to help minimize risks to shoppers during the coronavirus pandemic and trust in God.

According to a report by The Christian Post, Hobby Lobby founder and CEO of David Green wrote to all the employees last week,  “While we do not know for certain what the future holds, or how long this disruption will last, we can all rest in knowing that God is in control … To help ensure our Company remains strong and prepared to prosper once again when this passes, we may all have to ‘tighten our belts’ over the near future.”

Green said in the memo that his wife, Barbara, whom he called a “prayer warrior,” had heard the word of God. The CEO wrote, “The Lord put on Barbara’s heart three profound words to remind us that He’s in control. ‘Guide, Guard, and Groom.’ We serve a God who will Guide us through this storm, who will Guard us as we travel to places never seen before, and who, as a result of this experience, will Groom us to be better than we could have ever thought possible before now.”

Unlike Hobby Lobby, many retailers have closed their stores or reduced hours in the wake of the coronavirus scare, including Chick-fil-a and Walmart. Indeed, more than 110 retailers have shut all their stores, according to Forbes.

Blogger Hemant Mehta criticized Hobby Lobby for remaining open in states that have not announced a lockdown. He wrote on his website, Friendly Atheist, “The chain, owned by the evangelical Green family, is refusing to shut down—no matter how much harm they could be creating for their employees and customers.”

Hobby Lobby said it has “increased the frequency of store cleaning, including more cleaning of areas regularly touched by customers and employees, with anti-viral cleaning products throughout the day.”

If an employee is suspected of having COVID-19 based on symptoms and/or known direct or indirect exposure, we will send that employee for medical care and to self-isolate at home, and will promptly coordinate with public health officials.”

However, the company did not promise to cover employees’ healthcare costs, if they caught the virus.

Research contact: @ChristianPost

Age discrimination alleged at Google: ‘Tell grandpa to pick up the pace’

September 23, 2019

As the Baby Boom generation grows grayer, age discrimination in hiring and “elder abuse” on the job are increasing—even (and maybe, especially) at the top tech companies.

A case in point: On September 5, Rodney Broome, a 72-year-old former hardware test engineer for platform engineering at Google filed a complaint (Case No. 19CV354620) in a Santa Clara Superior Court against the Internet search company, asking for damages and a jury trial—and alleging that the company had engaged in:

  1. Age discrimination;
  2. Harassment based on age;
  3. Retaliation;
  4. Failure to take all reasonable steps necessary to prevent and correct discrimination, harassment, and retaliation;
  5. Constructive wrongful discharge in violation of public policy;
  6. Violation of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing;
  7. Nonpayment of overtime compensation; and
  8. Intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Indeed, according to a report by Forbes, Broome had worked at Google for ten years (starting in 2007) and “everything seemed fine” until he reported in to a new supervisor, Ignacio Mendez, in 2017.

Shortly thereafter, the complaint details, Mendez called Broome both “old and slow” and “grandpa.” He chastised him for being “in retirement mode” and told him he was “a worthless piece of sh*t.”

What’s more, according to the suit, Mendez allegedly mentioned to Broome that he might encounter car trouble. Coincidentally, Broome’s car and house were broken into. It was alleged that Mendez bragged about criminal connections, according to court filings.

Forbes notes in its story that Broome brought this matter to the attention of human resources—but to no avail. The complaint reflects that the harassment only intensified.

In fact, reports, after Broome complained to his manager’s supervisor, Mendez retaliated with poor performance reviews, cut his bonuses and offered his job to two younger employees. After receiving a written warning, Mendez accused Broome of “ratting him out.”

Subsequent to what he described as physical confrontations and continued abuse, Broome resigned in February 2019. Broom’s lawyer, John Winer of Winer, Burritt, & Tillis in Oakland, California, claims that the case is a blatant instance of age discrimination;and part of a pattern of discrimination and harassment due to the company’s youthful culture.

Winer told Forbes, “I think that Google and other companies are far more focused on earnings than they are on human resource issues.” He added, “Instead of attempting to assure that there is no harassment and discrimination in the workforce, in fact it’s rampant.”

Age discrimination remains a pervasive problem in the workplace, and Google itself recently settled an age bias class action for $11 million after 227 plaintiffs claimed the company engaged in systemic age discrimination, HR Dive reports.m, noting that some experts have called age bias the workplace’s “open secret.”

Employers sometimes engage in unintentionally problematic conduct, including prioritizing recruiting efforts in programs that favor younger workers (such as college job fairs) or creating job descriptions that include age-indicative terms such as “digital native.”

While age discrimination often occurs during the hiring process, it is often not as obvious (or easy to prove) as it is when the complainant already has been satisfactorily employed by a company for a considerable length of time.

As the allegations in this suit show, however, age bias often can be more blatant on the job, HR Dive says. In another recent case, a dental practice in Pennsylvania allegedly fired eight of nine hygienists over the age of 40 at a single location and hired 14 new employees—13 of whom were younger than 40.

Research contact: @Forbes