Posts tagged with "Spotify"

Forever young? Jeff Bezos is backing anti-aging startup Altos Labs

September 8, 2021

Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos is pushing the envelope—on marketing, on suborbital space travel, and now on longevity. He is among a group of investors backing a new anti-aging company, according to a new report obtained by Fox News.

The company, Silicon Valley-based Altos Labs, is working on biological reprogramming technology that is targeted at essentially prolong human life, according to MIT Tech Review.

A Russian-born billionaire tech investor, Yuri Milner, and his wife, Julia, also have invested in the company, according to the report. Milner—who is known for investing in companies such as Facebook, Twitter, Spotify and Airbnb—is worth about $4.8 billion, according to Forbes’ estimates.

Altos was incorporated earlier this year in the United States and the United Kingdom; and has plans to create institutes in California, Cambridge, and Japan, according to the report obtained by Fox News.  

It’s also reportedly seeking university scientists with deep pockets dedicated to researching how to reverse the process of aging cells.

Bezos’ investment office, Bezos Expeditions, did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

However, this isn’t the first time the world’s richest man has invested in this kind of research.  The 57-year-old Bezos has also invested in the startup company Unity Biotechnology, the New York Post reported.

Unity, according to its website, is working to develop a “new class of therapeutics to slow, halt, or reverse diseases of aging.”

Representatives for Unity did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.

Research contact: @FoxNews

Nearly 200 companies join Time’s Up to reimagine the U.S. caregiving economy

May 24, 2021

The coronavirus pandemic revealed some alarming deficiencies in U.S. infrastructure—including caregiving policy. When schools across the country closed their doors, nearly 75 million children were suddenly stuck at home. And with quarantines limiting contact to close family members, the burden of caregiving was largely shouldered by mothers—over 2 million of them, many of whom were juggling full-time jobs, Fast Company reports.

But 24/7 motherhood is a full-time job, and that’s a lot to balance. According to a report from Harvard Business School, 33% of all U.S. employees have left a job during their career to handle a caregiving responsibility—a dire statistic backed up by the experience of families during the pandemic.

The National Women’s Law Center reported that women have lost more than three decades of progress in labor participation in just one year—and just the first month of the pandemic erased a decade of gains following the Great Recession.

In an effort to rewrite the story, the Washington, D.C.-based Time’s Up Foundation—which advocates for “safe, fair, and dignified work for women of all kinds”—is partnering with a coalition of nearly 200 companies to better support working caregivers. Major names include Spotify, Pixar, Levi Strauss, Verizon, JPMorgan Chase, and Care.com.

Together they’re forming the Care Economy Business Council, with the goal of reshaping workplace practices and cultural norms that force women to choose between flourishing professionally and tending to family. Members will also advocate for public policy that offers federally funded family and medical leave and affordable child and elder care.

“Monolithic solutions built for a 9-5 era must be replaced with flexible care options accessible to all regardless of where, when or how a family lives and works,” Care.com CEO Tim Allen said in a statement. “More than [$11 trillion] of unpaid care work is done annually, primarily by women and women of color, and the lack of care solutions is driving them from the workforce. To stem that tide and fuel female workforce participation, the government and business communities must work together to drive the change we need.”

For businesses, Fast Company notes, it’s not just ideological; it’s a matter of cold, hard cash. During the pandemic, nearly 50% of manufacturing companies struggled to reassemble staff—whether furloughed or new hires—because workers had to stay home to watch their kids.

And when employees are denied caregiving benefits, employers pay hidden costs in turnover and absenteeism, impacting the broader economy. According to a Time’s Up report, a $77.5 billion annual investment in paid leave over 10 years would translate to 22.5 million new jobs and $220 billion in new economic activity.

“Sadly, we saw millions of women downshift their careers during the pandemic as daycares and schools were closed or disrupted,” Christy Pambianchi, the chief human resources officer at Verizon, said in a statement. “Together, we can build a brighter future with a caregiver framework that works for all and allows women to reach their full potential, personally and professionally. Because when women rise, so does the world.”

Research contact: @FastCompany

BuzzFeed cuts loose 47 on HuffPost team

March 11, 2021

Just three weeks after finalizing a deal to buy HuffPost, Jonah Peretti’s BuzzFeed is taking a buzzsaw to the left-leaning news and culture site, the New York Post reports.

HuffPost reported that Peretti—who is chief executive, now that BuzzFeed has sealed the deal to buy the site co-founded  by Arianna Huffington is 2005— told staffers that the layoffs decision was made to “fast-track the path to profitability” for the money-losing website. The site’s losses totaled around $20 million in 2020, he said.

BuzzFeed on Tuesday said it made a series of cuts in HuffPost that will result in 47 U.S. jobs lost, including Executive Editor Hillary Frey and Executive Editor International Louise Roug.

The Canadian version of the website also will be shuttered.

The HuffPost union, organized as part of the Writers Guild of America-East, blasted the layoffs on Tuesday, March 9.

“Today, we learned that 33 of our colleagues—nearly 30% of our unit—will be laid off. We are devastated and infuriated, particularly after an exhausting year of covering a pandemic and working from home,” said the union. “This is also happening less than a month after HuffPost was acquired by BuzzFeed. We never got a fair shot to prove our worth.”

Former HuffPost owner Verizon recognized the union in 2016 and agreed to a new three-year contract in 2019, which remains in effect and will result in severance for the laid-off staffers, the union said.

BuzzFeed agreed in November to buy the site founded by Aianna Huffington, Peretti, Andrew Breitbart, and venture capitalist Kenneth Lerer.

Terms of the all-stock transaction between Verizon and BuzzFeed were not revealed, but Verizon maintained a minority stake in the site and has also pledged an investment into BuzzFeed as part of the deal.

Peretti will be CEO of the combined operations—but says he will run them as “separate distinct news organizations.”

“We want to ensure the homepage remains a top destination on the internet,” Peretti reportedly told staffers. “We also want to maintain high traffic, preserve your most powerful journalism, lean more deeply into politics and breaking news, and build a stronger business for affiliate revenue and shopping content.”

BuzzFeed made deep staff cuts at the start of the pandemic, but he said it had returned to profitability.

According to the Post, Mark Schoofs, the editor-in-chief of BuzzFeed, is seeking a new-editor-in chief at HuffPost, who will report to him. The post has been vacant for a year since Lydia Polgreen jumped to Spotify’s podcasting unit Gimlet Media in March 2020. Frey had been overseeing it since then.

Research contact: @nypost

Square acquires majority of Tidal, Jay-Z’s streaming service, in $297 million deal

March 5, 2021

What did Jay-Z and Jack Dorsey talk about when they went yachting around the Hamptons together last summer? Beyoncé knows—and now we do, too, based on a report by The New York Times.

Square, the mobile payments company founded by Dorsey (who also is CEO of Twitter) announced on March 4 that it would acquire a “significant majority” of Tidal, the streaming music service owned by Jay-Z and other artists—including Jay-Z’s wife, Beyoncé, , and singer and entrepreneur Rihanna, who is a client of Jay-Z’s entertainment management company, Roc Nation.

Square will pay $297 million in stock and cash for the stake in Tidal. Jay-Z will join Square’s board, the Times says.

The announcement comes less than two weeks after Jay-Z announced that he would sell 50% of  his champagne company, Armand de Brignac—better known as Ace of Spades—to LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton amid a downturn in the entertainment industry caused by the pandemic that has affected some of Jay-Z’s holdings.

“I think Roc Nation will be fine,” Jay-Z said in an interview last month about the sale of Armand de Brignac. “Like all entertainment companies, it will eventually recover. You just have to be smart and prudent at a time like this.”

Also last month, Dorsey announced that he and Jay-Z had endowed a Bitcoin trust to support development in India and Africa.

Tidal, which Jay-Z bought in partnership with other artists in 2015 for $56 million, provides members access to music, music videos and exclusive content from artists—but the streaming music industry has been dominated by competitors like Spotify, Apple and Amazon.

In 2017, Jay-Z sold 33% of the company to Sprint for an undisclosed amount. (After a merger, Sprint is now a part of T-Mobile.) Earlier this week, Jay-Z bought back the shares from T-Mobile, and most will be sold to Square as part of the deal.

Dorsey and Jay-Z began to discuss the acquisition “a few months ago,”  Jesse Dorogusker, a Square executive who will lead Tidal on an interim basis, told the Times.

“It started as a conversation between the two of them,” he said. “They found that sense of common purpose.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Michelle Obama’s podcast debuts on Spotify on July 29

July 17, 2020

Spotify has announced that “The Michelle Obama Podcast“—the first podcast to be released as part of the platform’s partnership with the Obamas’ production company, Higher Ground—will debut on July 29 and will be available for both free and paid subscribers, Axios reports.

Following the success of her biography, Becoming, and the subsequent documentary; the podcast represents the latest big media project from the former first lady. Her stated goal, alongside former President Barack Obama, is to use media platforms like podcasts, film, and social media to help Americans achieve a greater understanding of the world and to inspire young people.

Among the key need-to-know information about the podcast is the following:

  • The podcast, hosted by Obama, will focus on the relationships that shape people, like those with parents, siblings, friends, mentors and partners.
  • It will feature guests who have helped shape Obama’s life, including her mother and brother—Marian and Craig Robinson—and family confidant Valerie Jarrett.
  • Salesforce and Procter & Gamble brands Dawn and Tide will serve as the first season’s presenting sponsors.

“What I love about these conversations is they’re topics and issues we’re all dealing with no matter what’s going on, whether its a global pandemic or a nationwide reckoning with race,” Obama said in a promotional video about the podcast.

According to Axios,Because young consumers are spending more time on their phones with apps like Spotify and Netflix, former politicians are increasingly targeting that space to reach them —instead of eyeing more traditional paths, such as cable news.

A case in point: Hillary and Chelsea Clinton were in talks last year about creating a similar production company of their own.

The podcast is only the first from the Spotify-Higher Ground partnership, so expect more to come

Research contact: @axios

Spotify offers to generate a playlist that your dog will love

January 17, 2020

Some romantics fondly remember making mixed tapes and CDs for their objects of affection in days gone by. But for the furry, four-legged kind?

If hand-curating a playlist that you and your pup can agree on seems like a daunting task, streaming digital music and podcast service Spotify thinks it’s up for the job, Fast Company reports.

The Stockholm, Sweden-based music service—which currently operates out of 16 nations worldwide—released Pet Playlists on January 16. The company says the project considers both “your listening habits and your pet’s attributes” to generate playlists “you both can enjoy.”

And ass you might have guessed— no, there’s not a ton of research out there to back any of this up.

However, some studies have suggested that that Fido might prefer a few musical genres over others, Fast Company notes. Indeed,  recent research conducted by the University of Glasgow and the Scottish SPCA has found that dogs chill out while listening to reggae and soft rock. Classical music also “appears particularly beneficial” for dogs, while heavy metal seemed to encourage them to bark.

While Spotify acknowledges that “music for pets isn’t an exact science,” the Pet Playlists tool considers whether your dog is relaxed or energetic, shy or friendly, curious or apathetic. The company says it consulted with cellist and musicologist David Teie, who’s built a business selling music to cat owners, to shape “how the algorithm was programmed.”

Privacy-conscious pets may be reassured by Spotify’s promise to only use the information you share about your pet to make your playlist. According to Spotify’s FAQ, “the information is not stored and is not used for any other purpose.”

Spotify’s new tool also caters to birds and hamsters. Have a different kind of companion animal? The company encourages you to try it anyway:”You may find your rabbit really likes hamster music!”

Spotify: @FastCompany

Anonymous survey finds Netflix pays more than other tech companies

December 5, 2017

Recently, Blind—the anonymous chat app that is being used surreptitiously by thousands of employees nationwide—asked followers who work at tech companies a sensitive question, Business Insider reports: Do you think you are paid fairly?

The answers, from over 4,000 respondents, were somewhat unexpected. For example, the tech workers who are happiest with their compensation are not employed at tech giants Google or Facebook; they are at Netflix, followed by Dropbox, NerdWallet, Twitch and Snapchat.

Conversely, based on the survey findings, the employees who are least happy with their earnings work at Walmart Labs. And 40% or more of employees polled at PayPal, Spotify and Twitter said they weren’t happy with their remuneration, either. In fact, 49% of all respondents were not satisfied with their salaries; leaving 51% who were.

As  to which companies had the most employees in this poll who were dreaming of leaving for the day and not returning? Groupon, HPE and Oracle each came in at around 90%.

Among the ten hottest tech companies today, Microsoft has the least loyal employees in this survey—with about 75% of its staff who responded that they are looking to leave.

Amazon also scored at the top of corporations that were not good at retaining staff, with about 60% of the company’s respondents on their way out the door.

Finally, it is little surprise that the most steadfast employees worked at Netflix, where respondents said they were happiest with their pay.

Research contact: blindapp@teamblind.com