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- 10/09/18--09:26: _3 former Google exe...
- 10/11/18--05:44: _Before joining the ...
- 10/11/18--07:10: _The former Google e...
- 10/12/18--01:00: _This tech investmen...
- 10/12/18--05:32: _An entrepreneur who...
- 10/14/18--10:38: _An ex-Googler who w...
- 10/15/18--09:18: _In a 20-year-old in...
- 10/15/18--10:28: _I tried Buffy, a po...
- 10/15/18--17:17: _The Facebook hack t...
- 10/16/18--14:51: _T-Pain brings you i...
- 10/17/18--08:00: _This self-storage s...
- 10/17/18--10:24: _This startup is the...
- 10/18/18--12:38: _This CEO just got m...
- 10/20/18--08:30: _This Irish CEO expl...
- 10/23/18--11:57: _This first-time CEO...
- 10/24/18--13:26: _Everlane has launch...
- 10/24/18--14:36: _12 startups that fa...
- 10/24/18--15:11: _This online startup...
- 10/26/18--07:30: _A Harvard hospital ...
- 10/29/18--06:03: _An entrepreneur who...
- Google often makes the list of best places to work in the US.
- The three founders of ad tech startup Beeswax are all former Google executives who made the tough decision to leave.
- They each explained to Business Insider why they decided to leave the company. Among the reasons that helped them decide: finding more room to work, getting the space to have unlimited impact, and operating in an environment not ruled by engineers.
- Harj Taggar is a former Y Combinator partner and the cofounder and CEO of Triplebyte.
- He was initially enrolled in law school in the UK, but he dropped out to move to the US and start a company.
- Taggar decided to leave law school by getting specific about the risks. It's a strategy he recommends to young professionals and aspiring entrepreneurs today.
- Beeswax is an ad-tech startup in New York founded by three former Google executives.
- The founders of Beeswax said they chose their company's name so it would stand out in a crowded industry.
- They deliberately avoided using the word "ad" in their name to distinguish them from their competition.
- Tech startups and investment remain fairly homogeneous, with ethnic minority and female founders still in the minority.
- One problem is that no one really wants to disclose how lacking in diversity they are.
- One early-stage venture capital firm has studied its own portfolio of startups to see how many have female and ethnic minority founders and revealed the numbers.
- Forward Partners is beating the average, with 10 companies out of its 52 investments having at least one female founder, but the investor wants to do better.
- Nicki Radzely, the cofounder of Doddle & Co., appeared on "Shark Tank" in January to pitch the Pop Pacifier.
- During the episode, Daymond John told Radzely her company "sucks" and questioned why she had valued her business at $5 million.
- Radzely ultimately accepted a $250,000 offer from Kevin O'Leary.
- Looking back, Radzely said she loved that John insulted her because it gave her more airtime and a chance to address other investors' and viewers' concerns.
- Patrick Ip, an ex-Googler who was involved in a Nobel Peace Prize nominated project, has a new startup called Catalog.
- Ip and his co-founder Jacobo Lumbreras hope Catalog can create steady work and full-time jobs for independent photographers around the country.
- Ip's project at Google — One Billion Acts of Peace — didn't win the Nobel Peace Prize, but has documented 53 million so-called acts of peace thus far.
- In a 1998, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos sat down for an interview with writer Steve Homer. At the time, Bezos was promoting the launch of Amazon's UK website.
- Now, it's the 20th anniversary of the UK website's launch, and the interview provides some early insight into the CEO who would eventually become the richest man in the world.
- Bezos discussed why most startups have to move out of the garage — and it isn't because of space. Rather, the pure amount of electricity that's needed to run a business becomes too much for a home, he said.
- Startups, Amazon included, have "so many computers in the garage that circuit breakers [keep] flipping."
- If it looks like a cloud, feels like a cloud, and moves like a cloud, chances are it's a cloud— or in this case, a Buffy comforter.
- Organic eucalyptus may just seem like a buzzword to help sell comforters, but in reality, it makes a huge difference in the comfort of your comforter, and consequently, the quality of your sleep.
- Surprisingly breathable yet still thick enough to be warm, this is a perfect blanket to have on your bed as you begin to consider transitioning from the summer months to the fall.
- Best of all, you get to try Buffy before you buy it, though chances are, once you take this comforter out of the box, you'll never want to send it back.
- Facebook's motto is no longer "Move Fast and Break Things," but the results of that mentality still linger.
- What Facebook didn't realize is that moving fast can break things other than software code; it can undermine society and even, in the extreme, lead to deaths.
- The influence of the motto at the company can be seen in everything from the Russia-linked 2016 election manipulation operation to the recent hacking scandal that exposed the personal information of 30 million users.
- But the danger and consequences of the Move Fast motto go well beyond Facebook, because the mentality was adopted far and wide and is still being promoted today.
- We're going to be living with the aftermath of the Move Fast mentality for years to come.
- Hackers stole millions of Facebook users’ personal data — here’s why you should be worried
- Google’s recent behavior shows the troubling reality of an internet superpower that abandoned its vow to not 'be evil'
- Tech's diversity problem is even bigger than we realized — here's why that's so bad for the next generation of startups
- Facebook’s privacy 'bait and switch' confirms your worst fears about its unstoppable advertising impulses
- T-Pain's new Fuse show, "T-Pain's School of Business," finds the recording artist interviewing the founders of successful product startups.
- T-Pain spoke to Business Insider about the startups featured on his series premiere, the influence of his music, and his upcoming work.
- Omni — a San Francisco-based self-storage startup that's raised over $40 million — is on a mission to transform the traditional self-storage world.
- Omni lets users not only store their items for a flat monthly fee per item, but it also allows for those items to be rented, helping people earn money on things that would have otherwise collected dust.
- On Wednesday, the company announced it would start letting users cash out their rental income by moving it to a cryptocurrency wallet (XRP) instead of a conventional bank account.
- "Having a strategy for how you want to work with some degree of crypto is important for almost any startup at this point," Omni CEO Tom McLeod told us.
- Scribd is the Netflix of the publishing world — offering readers unlimited access to a library of more than 1 million books and audiobooks, magazines, and other documents for a monthly fee of $9.
- On Wednesday, Scribd announced a brand new service, bundling a Scribd subscription with a subscription to The New York Times for $13/month.
- Scribd's CEO Trip Adler says the company "kind of got into books a little bit accidentally," but it is on a mission to "change the way the world reads."
- After eleven years and multiple pivots, Adler is confident in Scribd's current path and believes his team can build a subscriber base of similar scale to Netflix and Spotify.
- Invisible allows people to outsource their most repetitive work and daily tasks, with prices starting at $10/hour.
- Invisible customers save valuable time by only having one point of contact with the company, who then manages a team of workers on their behalf.
- On Thursday, Invisible announced that it has raised a $2.6 million seed round of funding, with Zynga founder Mark Pincus as a notable angel investor.
- Invisible CEO Francis Pedraza is also excited about the other side of the marketplace he's building which helps create tech jobs for people around the world.
- Eoghan McCabe is the CEO and cofounder of Intercom, one of the fastest growing startups in Silicon Valley.
- Intercom offers services that help companies communicate with their customers.
- McCabe and his partners formed Intercom after being inspired by the personalized service they got at a Dublin coffee shop.
- Intercom is now offering chatbots that can help businesses grow.
- Front is a shared inbox product that works just like email and is used by companies like Stripe, Shopify, and Dropbox to manage conversations with customers.
- On Tuesday, Front announced it will further its mission to make work more enjoyable by acquiring the calendar software startup, Meetingbird.
- The acquisition is the company's first and represents a big milestone for first-time CEO Mathilde Collin who co-founded Front in Paris, France in 2013.
- Front has raised over $79 million in hopes of disrupting competitors in the space like Zendesk.
- Everlane's new line, the ReNew Collection, is outerwear that's made with recycled plastic bottles as an eco-friendly alternative.
- It's part of the company's ambitious 2021 goals to eliminate all virgin plastics from its supply chain.
- We tested a reversible puffer, parka, and fleece from the line to give you an idea of what they're like in person.
- Everlane is one of multiple companies using recycled water bottles as an eco-friendly material.
- What sounds like it could be a recipe for disaster — an indoor house plant you never see in person that is packed into a cardboard box and shipped across the country to your door — is something online startup Léon & George pulls off surprisingly well.
- Its collection is full of indoor house plants ($139+) that are easy to care for and each order comes potted in a stylish ceramic planter.
- I tried the service with some initial hesitance, but found it lived up to its mission of making shopping for beautiful plants convenient and enjoyable.
- Large hospitals are starting to embrace technology in their operations.
- Adam Landman, CIO of Brigham Health, which is affiliated with Harvard, spoke about the health system's work with early-stage startups.
- One of the most successful projects they've had is a texting-based colonoscopy prep guide developed by early-stage company Medumo.
- One of the best pieces of entrepreneurship advice has to do with hiring top talent.
- Instead of looking for people who can do the job today, look for people who will still be successful two or three years from now.
- That's according to Cesar Carvalho, the cofounder and CEO of corporate fitness program Gympass.
- When he first started Gympass, he hired people with the skills for a small startup, rather than for the large company it became.
Employees routinely rank Google as one of the best workplaces in America, and deciding whether to leave the company is never an easy decision.
The three founders of the startup Beeswax, all of whom are former Google ad executives, recently explained to Business Insider how they each knew it was the right time to quit.
The trio founded Beeswax, which makes software that helps companies bid for ads online in real time, in 2015, and have since expanded to 55 employees and are outgrowing their Manhattan office. Their revenue last year was estimated at $25 million.
Before leaving to start Beeswax, chief technical officer Ram Rengaswamy worked at Google for seven years as a tech lead and software engineer on high-profile projects like Gmail.
But at Google, he said, he wasn't able to build projects from the ground up like he wanted to.
"I kind of knew that I wasn't growing much at Google," he told Business Insider. "I mean, yes, there were challenging problems to solve, but there are so many smart people there who've done all the heavy lifting that honestly, what I felt like I was doing was taking the Lego bricks and just building stuff on top. So someone had already had done the hard work and for me I was just putting things together."
It was a matter of "I'm inquisitive, I'm curious, and I'm not learning enough on my job," he said.
On top of that, he said at Google it can be hard for your accomplishments to stand out, and it's unlikely you'd get attention from higher-ups like founders Larry Page or Sergey Brin.
"It's a big organization and there's just so much impact a single person can have," Rengaswamy said. "So that was another thing that would always bother me, that yeah, sure if I left Google, I don't think Larry or Sergey would know or care or would even be aware."
"That part always was a thing on my mind. So I think it was a combination of those two things."
Meanwhile, Ari Paparo, Beeswax's CEO, left Google in 2010 after two years as a director of product management. More recently, he was a product management executive at AppNexus and Bazaarvoice.
He said his decision to leave Google was more based on finding a company culture that would allow him to succeed.
"For me it was a little different," he said. "It was that I saw myself as more of a businessperson than a technologist. And Google is very much an engineering culture, so there's a limit to what you can get done as a businessperson."
Beeswax's chief product officer, Shamim Samadi, worked at Google for nine years, the longest-tenured Googler of the three. His two stints at the company included six years as a lead product manager for advertising.
Samadi said Paparo approached him with the idea for Beeswax and immediately became excited at the thought of developing the new ad technology. But more importantly, he realized he'd have to leave Google to develop it.
"I'd been feeling it in my current role and felt very much that the incumbents would have a hard time pulling it off, and for structural and infrastructure and philosophical reasons just didn't see it as a real opportunity," he told Business Insider. "I got really excited about the idea and then more importantly, about the team to do it with."
Already having a strong relationship with Paparo and Rengaswamy, Samadi said he felt comfortable making his exit at Google.
"We all probably had it in the back of our heads, we want to start something at some point," he said. "But then it comes down to, what is the idea or the area, and what is the team that you do it with? And when those two things are there, you make the leap."
A decade ago, Harj Taggar couldn't have predicted what his career would look like today.
Taggar, a former partner at the startup accelerator Y Combinator, is the cofounder and CEO of Triplebyte, a recruiting and technical screening platform for tech companies. Back then, he was a law student in the United Kingdom.
He had an idea for a business, and was considering moving to Silicon Valley to pursue it. But the prospect of dropping out of law school was intimidating.
So Taggar evaluated his options using a simple strategy that he still uses and recommends to young professionals today: He got as specific as possible about the risks of dropping out.
Taggar told Business Insider, "What I pushed myself on was, 'OK, what is the big risk here?'"
At the time, he said, he had no real expenses — and also minimal savings. He remembers thinking, "The worst-case scenario here is, I work on a startup, it doesn't go anywhere, and 12 months later, I re-enroll in law school."
Suddenly, that worst-case scenario didn't seem so scary after all. He left law school and moved to the US to work on his startup, Auctomatic, an auction and marketplace management system for sellers.
Soon after, Taggar was accepted into Y Combinator, and his startup received investments from Paul Buchheit, the lead developer of Gmail, as well as the venture capitalists Paul Graham and Chris Sacca. (The business has since shut down.)
A few years later, Taggar became a venture partner at Y Combinator, which in the past decade has launched startups including Airbnb, Dropbox, and Instacart.
It's OK if you decide not to take the risk — as long as you know exactly why
"It's easy to avoid taking the leap or doing something because you just have this gut-level feel of 'it's too risky for me to do,'" Taggar said. He said he tells people, "If they have enough curiosity to consider it as an option, but they're afraid of the risk factor, then I'd say be specific. What exactly is the risk?"
Say you're worried about not having an income while you're building your startup. Taggar called that "a totally valid concern," but added that you can get more specific by asking yourself, "How long could you go? What would happen if you went six months without being paid a salary?"
Even if your ultimate answer is "this just isn't for me," Taggar said, that's OK. Maybe you have a mortgage and a new family and it's not the best time to take a risk. The key is to know exactly why you're avoiding that jump.
Taggar said, "Often people surprise themselves when they write things out and are more specific about the risks and how big the risks actually are for them."
One of the most important factors to weigh when choosing the name of a company is how memorable it will be to your customers.
The founders of Beeswax kept that in mind.
Beeswax is a New York ad-tech startup founded by three former Google ad executives. The company pioneered a new way for marketers to bid for ads online. Three years after the startup's launch, its revenue was estimated at $25 million.
So what does beeswax have to do with advertising?
"I really liked the insect metaphors because our customers are very hardworking and industrious, and they're toiling away doing their thing," CEO Ari Paparo told Business Insider. "So we were thinking about hives and ants and bees and it just evolved."
The metaphor doesn't stop there. The names of Beeswax's products are on-brand references like Buzz, Drone, Stinger, Pollinator, and Waggle, the name of a dance bees use to communicate. The walls of Beeswax's Manhattan office are painted with hexagonal, honeycomb-like designs.
"We're doing something really different, we're doing something pretty bold. We want it to be memorable," chief product officer Shamim Samadi told Business Insider.
For the founders, choosing a unique name for their startup was also a way to distinguish them from their competition. In New York City alone, the crowded ad-tech industry includes companies with names like AdRoll, AdHawk, ADstruc, adMarketplace, and xAd, and Paparo said "it was the No. 1 requirement" that their name didn't have "ad" in it.
"Ad tech's been around for a while, and we're coming into the market later than our competition. So we felt like we just had to break through," Paparo said. "If we had another name like AdPotato, everyone would be like, ah, that sounds like those other guys, 'ad' this, 'ad' that."
"So definitely it was a conscious decision to try to do something that would leverage up our awareness and our marketing."
Samadi put it more bluntly.
"No one's asked what our company name is twice," he said.
The tech startup and investment is a homogeneous world, with the stereotype of white men at the helm still prevailing.
According to data from The Entrepreneurs' Network and Beauhurst released in 2017, just 9%, or £358.4 million, of UK investment went to startups with a female founder. The remaining £3.6 billion went to male-founded companies. It isn't for want of trying either — female founders anecdotally report that it is tougher for them to raise money.
One early-stage venture capital firm, Forward Partners, is releasing diversity statistics for its startups for the first time in an effort to shine a light on where it puts its millions. Forward has invested in 52 startups since 2013, such as peer-to-peer lender Zopa, and has $84.4 million (£74 million) in funds under management.
Here's how its 52 startups breakdown:
At least one female founder: 10 (7 have all-female teams)
All-white founders: 37
At least one ethnic minority founder: 15 (8 are all ethnic minority teams)
The figures still show a stark disparity between the number of men and women being funded but it looks like Forward is doing better than the average. There isn't much to go on beyond anecdotal data but, according to Crunchbase, teams with female founders accounted for just 9% of all global venture deals in the first quarter of 2018.
Forward Partners investor Louise Rix, who conducted the research, also looked through six weeks' worth of startup applications to determine how successful different types of applicants were at winning investment. That comprised 300 pitch decks.
She found that all-female applications made up just 7% of pitches, but those teams did well with funding, since 14% of Forward's portfolio are all-female teams, or seven companies.
Forward Partners itself is not hugely diverse, a fact that Rix — the only woman on the investment team — acknowledged. "What we want to say is that we care about this, that we’ve got a lot improvements to do, this is where we’re at, and we're aiming to improve," she told Business Insider. "It would be great if other VCs would share their data as well."
There is a dearth of information from the European venture capital industry about the diversity of its investors and portfolio companies. Diversity VC, a group campaigning for more diverse investors, released a landmark study in 2017 showing that just 13% of people calling the investment shots at venture capital firms are women.
Rachel Carrell is the founder of a Forward Partners portfolio startup, Koru Kids, which provides childcare to help working parents after school. She raised £3.5 million ($4.6 million) in a seed round in May from Forward and Albion Capital.
"It's really good for society to have more diverse investments," she said. "When you invest in women, you do get different types of businesses. A lot of investors, they have a collective blind spot as a group.
"Did [being a female founder] make a difference? It's not a controlled experiment, so it's hard to tell. Could I have raised more or faster, it's impossible to tell. But I don't think it’s a coincidence this is the first significant VC-backed startup to address childcare I’m a mum of two kids."
Rix said Forward had taken a first step in benchmarking itself, and planned to improve from there. "We are pretty pleased we’re beating the averages," she said.
Nicki Radzely didn't go on "Shark Tank" to make friends.
She knew she'd be pummeled with hard questions — and potentially insults — about the product she was pitching, the Pop Pacifier.
Radzely is the cofounder of Doddle & Co., a company that makes baby products, including pacifiers and teethers. The Pop Pacifier is designed to stay clean because the nipple pops back in every time it falls.
When Radzely went on the show in January, Doddle & Co. was four months old, and she was asking for $250,000 in exchange for 5% of her company, meaning she had valued the business at $5 million.
Daymond John took the lead on questioning Radzely about the cost, her sales, and why she thought the company was worth $5 million.
When Mark Cuban and Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx, proclaimed the product a "hit" with parents, John jumped in to say it "sucks." It was a pun, since the product was a pacifier — but you would imagine that the comment would sting nonetheless.
That wasn't Radzely's reaction. "I thought it was fantastic," she told Business Insider. Radzely also got a kick out of John putting the pacifier in his mouth during the episode.
"I think he was giving me a wink through his comments and actions to get us on air and to give some rise to our brand," Radzely said.
"He asked hard questions," she said, "which helped me prove to the other investors that were sitting there that I could answer them and that there were no major flaws or gaps in our story."
She added: "The questions that people were probably thinking, sitting at home watching, he asked. So it gave me a moment to clear that air."
Radzely received multiple offers, including a joint offer from Blakely and Lori Greiner. Ultimately, Radzely accepted Kevin O'Leary's offer: $250,000 for 10% of the company.
Today, Doddle & Co. has reached nearly $1 million in sales.
Radzely said she "loved everything" that John "said and did."
"It only helped us," she said.
When Patrick Ip joined Google in 2014, he was quickly introduced to a man named Meng.
Meng, whose full name is Chade Meng-Tan, was an early engineer at Google turned full-time motivator for the company with the memorable job title of "Jolly Good Fellow."
In one of their first meetings together, Ip remembers Meng pondering a new idea: "Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information. What if we tried to organize the world’s goodness?”
Meng's idea would eventually lead to a Nobel Peace Prize nomination.
For Ip, it was a formative lesson about the power of innovative ideas and technology.
Ip, along with his co-founder Jacobo Lumbreras, created Catalog to help small to medium-sized brands get unique, high-quality product photography at a lower cost than what was available before.
“It just shows how arcane the process is, where the only thing that is really a substitute [to Catalugue] are stock images that everyone already has access to,” Ip explains. “On the high end, the only other substitutes are in-house studios and agencies.”
One of Catalog's first customers — an all-natural cosmetics company named Naked Poppy — was quoted $7,000 for 15 photos by an agency.
Catalog's product shots, by contrast, only cost $20 per photo.
Ip said he saw the problem first hand while he was at Google. Not having quality photography was one of the top reasons smaller companies weren't able to find success on Adwords — Google's search advertising service — and ultimately left the Google platform.
"What separates these highly saturated markets is the content you have, the photos that tell your story to connect with people," Ip says. "I got to see the problem at Google's scale, so I know it's huge."
To achieve lower costs, Catalog connects brands with independent photographers around the country. They hope their two-sided marketplace will create steady work for the photography community.
“[Photographers] can’t quit their [day] jobs on one-off deals. They need to know that work will continue to come,” Ip says. “[Catalog] could become a way for [them] to do this full time.”
If it can create more jobs for photographers and help small brands grow, Ip hopes that Catalog could ultimately represent its own act of good.
The project at Google — One Billion Acts of Peace — didn't ultimately win the Nobel Peace Prize, but it did gain the support of 14 Nobel Laureates, including the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Over 53 million acts of peace have been documented by the project thus far.
Before Jeff Bezos was the richest man in modern history, he was operating Amazon.com out of his garage.
It's a scene that's probably familiar to a lot of startups, but in a 1998 interview, Bezos said the reason most startups need to relocate out of the garage isn't because of space — but instead, power.
While visiting the UK in 1998 to promote the launch of Amazon.co.uk, Bezos sat down with writer Steve Homer to discuss Amazon's inception and timeline. While reflecting on the 20th anniversary of Amazon.co.uk's launch recently, Homer released a transcript of the 20-year-old interview.
During the 1998 discussion, Bezos spoke about his time operating Amazon.com out of his garage. Working in a garage is almost synonymous with startup culture at this point, but at some point it becomes unsustainable. While it might seem like a lack of space becomes the motivating factor to invest in some office space, Bezos said it's something else entirely.
"I know why people move out of garages," Bezos said in the interview. "It’s not because they ran out of room. It’s because they ran out of electric power. There have so many computers in the garage that circuit breakers kept flipping. We had to siphon power from all the other rooms in the house with big orange electric cords, extension cables, and so then we couldn’t plug in a vacuum cleaner, or a hair dryer anymore in the house. At a certain point, we had to get a real office, which we did."
The interview provides a striking contrast between the CEO in 1998, who just years prior had been working out of a garage and siphoning electricity, and who he is now: the richest person in modern history, valued at about $140 billion
To read and listen to the full 1998 interview with Bezos, click here.
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The eucalyptus revolution has finally made it into your bed. You're not only finding traces of that Australian tree in your favorite ointments, lip balms, perfumes, and medicines, but also in yet another product meant to make you feel like the most pampered version of yourself. Meet Buffy— not the vampire slayer (a joke I'm sure the company is tired of hearing), but rather a new line of comforters that may just be one of the best things I've ever had in or on my bed.
At its core, the Buffy is a down-alternative comforter constructed with a mix of microfiber and eucalyptus fiber.
The eucalyptus isn't just for show, but rather lends its naturally soothing and anti-inflammatory effects to your nightly skin regimen — all without your having to lift a finger. While I was a bit skeptical about just how useful a eucalyptus comforter could be, I will say that this is one blanket that you'll want to have touching your face.
It's incredibly soft and silky, and while I can't say that I've ever had inflammatory issues with other comforters, Buffy somehow feels slicker (in the best of ways) when compared to other comforters I've tried out. That said, keep in mind that you'll have to sleep with the Buffy sans duvet cover if you want to reap the full eucalyptus benefits — that may be a little iffy, even if you can wash the Buffy in your laundry machine. In any case, here's hoping that the company will soon release a companion cover that still leverages the health benefits of our favorite Australian plant.
The interior of the comforter is filled with no fewer than 50 recycled bottles.That isn't to say that they've just crushed up your empty Dasanis and Aquafinas and placed them within a eucalyptus cover, but rather that Buffy's sustainable practices are actively rescuing used plastic bottles and giving them new life as part of your bedtime. Somehow, these bottles are spun into polyester and then "crimped for fluffiness." And fluffy this comforter most certainly is.
Part of this may be attributed to the lyocell found in the comforter — this cellulose fiber is a form of rayon, made by dissolving wood pulp using a jet-wet spinning method. It also turns out to be hypoallergenic, naturally repelling mold, mildew, dust mites, and other microbes or pathogens. The result is a comforter that feels light and airy, and won't get musty over time, and is substantial enough to keep you warm on a chilly evening.
And as for keeping you warm, I'm always a bit concerned about overheating during the night. But the Buffy does a surprisingly effective job at regulating temperature. By leveraging 37.5 technology, this comforter is able to keep you cooler than a similar product of comparable thickness, but is also breathable enough to let warm, sticky air escape during the night. That is to say, I've never woken up in a pool of my own sweat when sleeping with Buffy. Come fall, I'm quite confident that I'll be able to wrap myself in my comforter and face down even the chilliest of evenings without a snuggle partner.
Sustainability has clearly taken a forefront in all that Buffy does, which means that you can sleep comfortably and with a clear conscience, knowing that Buffy has reclaimed over 750,000 plastic bottles from entering the oceans and landfills, and saved over 15 million gallons of water by using eucalyptus rather than cotton.
Oh, and because Buffy isn't worried about filling its comforters with down feathers from the birds of the world, you'll also be investing in a cruelty-free product.
As for pricing, the Buffy isn't necessarily the cheapest option on the market, but when compared to similar products, it's still extremely affordable at $120 for Twin size. I should also point out that you don't initially buy the Buffy — instead, you take it out for a 30-day test period, totally risk-free. In fact, you're not even charged for the comforter until you're convinced you've fallen in love with it. That said, if you do decide to return it, the comforter goes to a good cause — the company notes that it generally donates returned products to homeless shelters in the local community.
All in all, if you're looking to give your nightly repose a major upgrade, you may want to take a closer look at what's on top of your bed, and replace it with a Buffy comforter.
Buy a Buffy comforter in the following sizes: Twin ($120), Full/Queen ($150), and King/Cali King ($190).
DON'T MISS: The best adjustable bed frames you can buy
It's been four years since Facebook ditched the latter part of its "Move Fast and Break Things" motto, but we're still uncovering its consequences and experiencing its aftermath.
(In case you're curious: the mantra was phased out in 2014, and semi-seriously replaced with "Move Fast with Stable Infra," as in computing infrastructure.)
The hacking attack Facebook discovered recently is only the latest outgrowth of that mantra. But you can see its lingering effects in basically all of the company's scandals and fiascos over the last two years, including the Cambridge Analytica debacle and the Russian-linked propaganda effort during the 2016 election.
But what makes it so dangerous is that you can find the effects of that motto far afield from Facebook. That's because from that company it quickly became the mantra of Silicon Valley. It's been imbued in the culture and in the way the tech industry as a whole has developed products for much of the last decade.
You can detect its influence in everything from Uber's numerous scandals to Google's recently acknowledged security hole in its Google+ social network. And because of its pervasiveness, we're certain to see its effects in many more fiascos to come.
The hacking incident, though, was a particularly bad manifestation of it.
Facebook has shown it doesn't care about "breaking" users' privacy
As the company revealed on Friday, in the attack, hackers gained access to the personal data of some 30 million users. For nearly of those affected, the compromised data included when they were born, where they had physically been recently, where they went to school, and whether they had worked.
What makes the attack worrisome is that such information is a goldmine for scammers. It can be used to steal consumer's identifies and gain access to their financial and other sensitive accounts.
The hacking attack was the result of a vulnerability that dates back more than a year. The vulnerability in turn was the outgrowth of three separate bugs that were at least that old, if not older. Facebook discovered the vulnerability — and the underlying bugs — only after hackers started exploiting it last month.
The vulnerability emerged years after Facebook dropped the "and break things" part of its famous motto. But the company's apparently unwitting creation of the hole, and its failure to detect it before the vulnerability was exploited, indicates that it was operating under the same mentality.
Facebook, after all, was founded and built — and its business model depends — on the attitude that users' private data is a commodity to be exploited. While it may worry more than in the past about "breaking things" when it moves fast, it has shown repeatedly that users' privacy is very far down the list of things it's concerned about messing up.
Even now, in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, when it's supposedly turned a new leaf on privacy, it still collects more information than it arguably needs and uses that information in ways of which users likely aren't aware. Just recently, for example, researchers discovered that the company was surreptitiously using phone numbers users gave it for security purposes to target them with ads.
The "Move Fast" mentality led to the Cambridge Analytica scandal
But you can find the effects of the company's "Move Fast and Break Things" motto far beyond the latest security hack. The Cambridge Analytica scandal — which compromised the data of some 87 million users — was an outgrowth of that mentality. The company shared data about its users with developers without worrying about the potential consequences or downsides of doing that and without bothering to check — until after the fiasco — if the developers' use of the data was on the up and up.
Amid that scandal, Facebook revealed another hack, one that affected far more people — up to half of its 2 billion user base — through which malicious actors were able to scrape user profile information via a search tool. Again, the company had introduced a new feature without thinking through how it could be used in a malign way and without taking steps to prevent that use until it was too late.
And then there's the spread of fake news and propaganda via Facebook, from the Russian-linked effort during the 2016 US presidential election to the campaign against Myanmar's Rohingya minority. As has been made clear in the wake of those and other scandals, the company built a system that could quickly and efficiently spread information among groups of like-minded people without worrying about how that system could be hijacked by people with bad intentions.
It's one thing if what gets broken when Facebook moves fast is some feature on the site. But the company is no longer a small startup with a tiny user base. When it screws something up, the effects can be deadly.
Facebook finally seems to be starting to grapple with the aftereffects of its erstwhile motto — or at least the public relations damage it's recently led to. Among other things, it's introduced new privacy controls, changed the way its News Feed works to promote posts from users' friends rather than from publishers, and started investigating what developer did with users' data.
"Move Fast and Break Things" is now the motto of Silicon Valley
But even if Facebook succeeds in heading off future harms from its service, the consequences of its motto are likely to live with us for years to come. That's because the "Move Fast and Break Things" mantra was embraced far and wide in the tech industry.
Entrepreneurs and startups, venture capitalists and other investors, and the tech giants have all espoused it in some form or another. Tech industry trade groups such as the Consumer Technology Association and libertarian think tanks such as the Mercatus Center have touted the philosophy as part of the notion of "permissionless innovation." Even right now, when the drawbacks of the Move Fast mentality have become all too clear, LinkedIn founder Reed Hoffman is touting a new book promoting the idea, calling it "blitzscaling."
Because it's been so widely embraced, standards have arguably fallen everywhere. Those that haven't immediately adopted the Move Fast motto have been pressured to do so at the risk of being left behind by their peers. If your rivals aren't worrying about the aftereffects of the technology they create or the business methods they adopt but instead are charging ahead to seize as much of the market as quickly as they can, you're going to do the same — damn the consequences.
Just as has happened with Facebook, that mentality is starting to catch up with other tech companies and with society, particularly as the companies have become bigger. Facebook wasn't the only service that has been hijacked to spread propaganda during the 2016 election; Google and Twitter were too. And Facebook isn't the only company that recently acknowledged a privacy compromising security flaw; Google did also, with it its Google+ service.
We're seeing the consequences all over
In many cases, thanks to the Move Fast mantra, tech companies have created services that even they don't have a handle on. Take Google-owned YouTube. Numerous times last year, it was found to be distributing and promoting disturbing videos to children. YouTube repeatedly vowed to address the problem, and it repeatedly failed.
In other cases, under the Move Fast mentality, tech companies have flaunted local laws and local sensibilities in their rush to seize local markets. Uber and Lyft were notorious for this, but so too, more recently, were scooter rental companies such as Lime and Bird.
And what was broken in those cases weren't just ordinances that arguably protected the entrenched taxi industry. Uber and Lyft have contributed to increased traffic and massively depressed the wages of taxi drivers, while scooters have ended up blocking sidewalks and entryways, causing an uproar among non-scooter using citizens.
As we've seen repeatedly, when you're moving fast, you don't have any time for reflection. You don't have time to think about what, exactly, you might be breaking or the larger social consequences of what you're doing. And there's even less time for public officials or the rest of society to catch up and keep an eye on things — even though real people outside the company may and have been harmed.
"Move Fast and Break Things" has spurred innovation at Facebook and in Silicon Valley. But that consequence-free, "permissionless" innovation mindset has real costs that we'll be paying for a long time to come.
Nearly a decade and a half out from the start of his music career, T-Pain decided to follow his side interest in startup culture into the world of reality business shows.
"T-Pain's School of Business," which premieres Tuesday on Fuse at 11 pm ET, finds the recording artist interviewing the founders of a wide range of successful product startups.
Speaking to Business Insider during a phone call from his studio last week, T-Pain discussed the startups featured on his series premiere, including a marijuana-infused wine and an all-in-one instrument for musicians, the popular influence of his music, and what we can expect from his upcoming work.
This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
John Lynch: I was relieved to hear you swearing and joking on the show. I was worried with this type of show that we might see a PG T-Pain.
T-Pain: Oh, no [laughs]. I am who I am on any platform.
Lynch: And Fuse was a good home for it?
T-Pain: Yeah, they were the only people who would actually let me do my thing, so yeah, definitely a good home.
Lynch: What inspired you to do this type of business show?
T-Pain: Mostly because I was already doing it at home, going through Kickstarter and IndieGoGo and all the funding sites. I was just trying to bring something that I already liked doing to TV. Not much other motivation than that, man. It was just a great idea. I told Fuse what I was doing on a daily basis, and they were like, "Man, that'd be a great show." And here we are.
Lynch: How did you approach hosting it?
T-Pain: It wasn't really a hard decision on how I was going to approach it, because like I said, I was already doing it, and I talk to a lot of entrepreneurs everyday. You've gotta imagine the number of people that come up to me everyday saying they have great ideas, or looking for funding. But a lot of these companies that I talked to on the show were already successful. I felt like it was more of an opportunity to teach than anything else, because I didn't want to have a show where I'm like, "I know all about making money. Here's how you do it — do this," or you know, I'm not shutting anybody down. That seemed like a terrible idea.
I just wanted it to be organic, natural, pretty much uplifting, and very, very informative. That was the most important thing. I wanted it to be informative and not just showing off how much money these people have made and how dope their products are. I wanted information behind the development, information behind the process, what made you come up with this idea. I wanted to motivate younger and up-and-coming entrepreneurs as well, so it helps out a lot to have an informative show, and not just something that's super duper fun and you learn nothing.
Lynch: One of the products that you seemed to like a lot was the Artiphon 1, this all-in-one instrument that raised $1 million on Kickstarter. What did you think of playing that, and have you used it at all since then?
T-Pain: Yeah, I'm literally looking at it right now [laughs]. I'm in my studio, and I've got it hooked up in my studio right now. The Artiphon is such a new take on something that sort of existed, but there's been nothing like it so far that I've seen, other than normal Midi controllers and the keyboards that you can bring in and turn into Midi controllers. It's such a different thing, like with the iBow that you can use your phone and treat it like a violin, and the guitar aspect of it, you can play a piano like a guitar. So many different ways you can use it. You can make your own custom pads. And it's just one thing that fits into your backpack. Before I saw this product, using my laptop in my hotel room, I would have to bring a keyboard, a small guitar, a record device, but all of that is in that Artiphon, so it helps out a lot.
Lynch: Another product you tried was a weed-infused wine. That you seemed more skeptical of, which I think was right — it seemed like a bizarre scenario.
T-Pain: [laughs] Yeah, that was actually pretty cool, man. I wasn't chill about it at first because I'm just not a weed guy. I'm just terrible at weed on any account. I don't know how somebody can be bad at weed, but I'm just real bad at weed. I can't do edibles, I can't smoke weed, but then I drank that, and man, I was actually pretty chill. Usually I'm freaking losing my mind or something like that, but there wasn't a crazy dosage of THC in it, so I bet that helps out a lot, and also I like drinking. But yeah, it worked fairly quickly and very effectively.
Lynch: To go back to music technology, as one of the modern originators of autotune, what was it like for you to see that technology and that style really take off in the years after your first album?
T-Pain: It was pretty cool, man, to be an innovator. Not that I invented autotune or was the first person to use it or anything like that. A lot of people have complained that they did it before me, and I'm grateful for that and, hey, maybe they motivated me, I don't know, but it didn't take off like it did after I did it. To see myself as somebody that brought it to the forefront and made it popular, I'm really glad I did it. That's something under my belt that I can keep going and tell my grandkids about.
Lynch: And you're still — you haven't exhausted it, you still like using autotune as a tool?
T-Pain: Oh, absolutely. I can't stop doing something that I started. It's a pretty cool thing for me, and it's part of my sound. So I don't want to change too much. If it ain't broke don't fix it, you know. It's one of those things.
Lynch: You had a recent back-and-forth on Twitter with Delta airlines about your distaste for their runway music, and they ended up playing "Buy U a Drank" on one of your flights. Is that, or what's the strangest place you've heard one of your songs?
T-Pain: Probably in a church [laughs]. That was weird.
Lynch: You said "in a church"? [laughs]
T-Pain: Yeah, I didn't think they would be doing that, but hey, they used it, flipped the words around to talk about God and Jesus, and yeah, I'm all about it. I have no problem with that.
Lynch: Which song was it?
T-Pain: It was "Bartender," which was weird. They flipped that around and made it about "the word." So that was pretty cool.
Lynch: Prepping for this call, I had a sharp flashback to being an emotional white kid listening to "I'm Sprung" on like a CD player, back in the day [laughs]. I'm wondering, is there an era of your career that you're particularly nostalgic for or proud of?
T-Pain: I think the "THR33 RINGZ" era. I feel like I got more creative in that time, and I took more risks with the style of clothing I was wearing, and coming out with all these props at my shows. And that's another thing that really brought me to doing this TV show was taking risks, and just seeing how difficult it is to really believe in yourself when nobody else knows what the hell is going on. Because if I would have listened to people when I came up with the whole circus theme [for "THR33 RINGZ"], that whole album would have never happened. It helped to believe in myself and get to a point where I could channel my inner entrepreneur and just go for it, and do things on the road that nobody had seen before, and it worked out.
Lynch: You just dropped a second volume of "Everything Must Go." Why release free collections of your songs at this time — why must everything go?
T-Pain: Well, for one, I don't feel like buying any more hard drives, and I'm running out of room on all the ones my music is on. So if I'm running out of space on a four terabyte drive, then I just need to either delete all the music I got on there or just release it. I'm not using it for anything or making money off it sitting in the ol' hard drive, then why not just give it to the people? It's just something to bring awareness that I'm still here, same type of music. It was music I made in my leisure. I mean, the only way I would capitalize off of it is if one of the songs becomes a hit and I go touring off of that song for some reason, I don't know why, but it's not really a priority of mine at this present time.
Lynch: How are you thinking about your next official release — I'm assuming you're in the studio for it?
T-Pain: Yeah, it's actually coming pretty soon, like really really soon. Like less than two months soon. So I'm just in the studio getting it done. We got the final tracks. I just sent in all the sessions for mixing. It's pretty much like, not so much a surprise, but basically like I'm doing everything on the go. The game isn't really big on promoting anymore anyways, so it's just like a thing I'm doing. I'm not seeing it as a big, life-changing thing I'm doing, but it's definitely something I want to put out in the world.
Lynch: How are you conceptualizing it musically?
T-Pain: I don't think I'm coming at it with any particular concept or anything like that. Conceptually, it's just me enjoying music again. It's just a vast array of things that I've had on my mind recently. There was a point where music didn't really mean as much to me as it used to, so just getting back in the groove and really enjoying it again is what you would get out from it. If I had to lay a concept to it, I think it's just me having fun [laughs]. That's all it boils down to.
"T-Pain's School of Business" premieres Tuesday night on Fuse at 11 pm ET.
Costume Town may look like a typical, online costume rental store — complete with a replica Stormtrooper suit and Spider-Man onesie — but behind the scenes, it runs a little differently.
Rather than keep its inventory in a storefront or warehouse, Costume Town is built on Omni — the San Francisco-based startup that's on a mission to transform the traditional self-storage world.
Omni lets users not only store their items for a flat monthly fee per item, but it also allows for those items to be rented to strangers, helping it customers earn money on things — like fancy plates, or crutches — that would have otherwise collected dust. Some, like Costume Town, use Omni as the back-end inventory storage for their business.
When you want to store an item, you schedule a pickup, and an Omni courier grabs it from you. When you want it back, same deal; just use the app to schedule a dropoff. A camera might cost you $0.50/month to store with Omni, while larger items like a bike may be $3/month. Pickups and dropoffs can be free, depending on the time of day.
"We're always trying to push the boundaries on how people think about assets, ownership, and access," Omni CEO Tom McLeod told Business Insider in a recent interview.
On Wednesday, Omni announced it was pushing those boundaries even further by letting users cash out their rental income by moving it to an XRP wallet. XRP is a cryptocurrency (or token) that was originated by the blockchain company Ripple.
McLeod tells us when a user decides to cash out, his company will look at the current prices across the top five XRP exchanges and offer the average of those amounts to be transferred to a user's XRP wallet. Once the transfer is complete, users can store that value in their wallets and, when they decide the time is right, trade it for regular money.
"We think of Omni as a tool for unlocking liquidity. Rentals give you the ability to unlock value while still maintaining that asset, " McLeod explains. "Now [with the XRP integration] you can also look at one of your items as an investment and then double dip into another investment off the back of it."
McLeod gives the example of a tent that rents for $50 over the weekend. An Omni user can cash out $25 in USD to their traditional bank account and move the remaining $25 to their XRP wallet as an investment.
Omni COO Ryan Delk explains that the reason XRP was such a great fit for this dip into cryptocurrency was mainly because of the token's liquidity.
"The transaction confirmation speed is incredibly fast (seconds), the cost to transfer is really low (pennies), and it's very liquid — you can move XRP into any other currency on any major exchange," he said.
Omni hasn't been shy about its interest in crypto. Part of its recent $25 million funding round came from two Ripple executives — Chris Larsen and Stefan Thomas — in the form of Ripple's XRP token.
"Having a strategy for how you want to work with some degree of crypto is important for almost any startup at this point," McLeod said. "This is us dipping our toe in with a partner that has worked with us in the past."
Beyond the XRP integration, Delk tells us that bringing its services to more cities across the US will be a focus for the company. Last month, the storage-startup that's raised over $40 million in funding began operating in Portland — its the first market outside of the Bay Area.
The company also wants to invest in building out tools for businesses, like Costume Town, which are actually relying on Omni to make their own businesses run.
"Probably similar to Airbnb when people starting going beyond just listing their own home. Or the same thing Uber went through where people bought more cars to have more people drive for Uber," Delk explains. "We're starting to see that moment happen [at Omni], which is pretty exciting."
Scribd's mission is "to change the way the world reads," but its CEO Trip Adler says that mission came about by chance.
“We kind of got into books a little bit accidentally,” Adler told us.
Initially, Adler and his co-founder Jared Friedman set out to help Adler's father publish an academic paper online — a process that took upwards of 18 months before the first iteration of Scribd was built. At the time, there were blogs for publishing a few paragraphs of text, Adler explains, but blogs didn't work for publishing a 10-page academic thesis or scientific paper. And so, Scribd was born as a place to put longer documents on the web.
"We were good for taking things that were already written and getting them on the web," Adler said.
Quickly, people other than Adler's father started uploading content via Scribd, which attracted more readers. Those readers then started uploading content of their own.
"We got a nice viral loop started, and pretty soon we had tens of millions of users," Adler tells us.
That was 2007.
Eleven years and a few pivots later, Scribd considers itself the Netflix of the publishing world — offering readers unlimited access to a library of more than 1 million books and audiobooks, magazines, and other documents for an $8.99 monthly fee.
On Wednesday, Scribd announced a brand new service, bundling a Scribd subscription and with a subscription to The New York Times for one monthly fee of $12.99. For context, a subscription to The New York Times alone costs $15.99 per month after introductory rates, a Times spokesperson told us.
"It's a great step forward for readers and a great step forward for our industry," Adler says of partnership, which is the first time his company has provided readers full-access to a news publisher.
Those interested in the bundle package will sign up through the Scribd app — where they can access the Scribd library — but will be provided separate login credentials to The New York Times.
Correcting the course
Though Wednesday marks a significant milestone for Scribd, the past eleven years haven't been easy for Adler, who says he's averaged 90 hour work weeks since co-founding the company.
"There's been a few moments when things weren't going well — where we were burning a lot of money, or the team was really unhappy, or we weren't growing fast, or the board wasn't happy — there's plenty of moments like that where it gets kind of frustrating," he explains. "But I think if you do this stuff for a while, you learn that this is just how it goes and there's always challenges, and you just learn to enjoy being challenged."
One of those moments came in early 2016, three years after the company had first launched its subscription model, according to a report by Fast Company. The team realized it was losing too much money on subscribers who were voraciously reading 100 books per month, mostly in the mystery and romance genre. It was also taking a major hit on those accessing scientific and technical books that cost Scribd $50 to $100 in licensing fees per read. In February 2016, to keep the company from financially going under, Adler and his team cut off unlimited access to their library and limited readers to three e-books and one audiobook per month.
In February 2018, Scribd re-launched its subscription offering with new content and a new model to curb the consumption that cost the company the most. Readers now have unlimited access to Scribd's content library until they reach the upper limits in a given month, at which point they will be given a narrowed offering of titles to choose from for the rest of that month.
Adler is confident in his company's current approach, and is especially bullish on the subscription model for books, given the success of other content subscription services like Netflix which has over 130 million subscribers and Spotify with over 80 million subscribers.
"In the reading space, I think we can build a subscriber base of similar scale," Adler tells us. "And if we do, that really is going to have a lot of secondary and tertiary effects in terms of how people read. You'll have a whole new audience, reading in a totally new way. It'll also just create a lot more subscription revenue to give back to the industry and grow the industry."
The next chapter
Today, Scribd has 800,000 monthly subscribers, growing at 50% per year.
Through the company's evolution, Adler says he's relied heavily on the people around him, taking a page out of Jim Collins' classic business book, "Good to Great."
"In 'Good to Great,' they talk about all these strategy success stories, and every single success story started with getting the team together first, and then the strategy came from the team," Adler says. "If you have a really good team in place, really good ideas will naturally emerge from that."
As for what his favorite recent book, Adler doesn't stray far from the Silicon Valley zeitgeist — "Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind," a popular book with the tech intelligentsia, would be his choice.
And, as he points out, it's available on Scribd.
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What would happen if Elon Musk had more time in his day? Would he start another company?
It's a question that Invisible CEO and co-founder Francis Pedraza thinks about often.
Pedraza told Business Insider in a recent interview that people who make a career out of non-repetitive tasks — like forming business strategies and writing computer code — still spend around 40% of their day doing process-based work that could be delegated or automated. Pedraza pointed to recruiters who devote half their days to posting job descriptions across the internet and account managers who are forced to fill out detailed reports.
On Thursday, Pedraza's company Invisible announced it has raised a $2.6 million seed round to help give these employees back the valuable gift of time. Zynga founder Mark Pincus participated in Invisible's seed round, as well as Backed Ventures, Loup Ventures, Horizons Alpha, and Day One Ventures.
Pedraza believes he and his team of around 30 have come up with a better plan for solving the outsourced work market than well-known freelancer services like Upwork — which currently has a $2 billion market cap.
He calls it a synthetic approach — pairing automation technology with real, behind-the-scenes people completing tasks.
"Invisible is like Uber for digital labor," Pedraza tells us.
Invisible starts at $10 per hour for those looking to get help with simple tasks like booking travel or scraping LinkedIn for potential leads. More advanced tasks that aren't as easy to replicate, like drafting email responses, can cost up to $30 per hour.
"Labor is as cheap as processing power now, but [other companies] are not viewing it as a computing resource," Pedraza tells us. "[At Invisible] we're not giving up on humans."
How Invisible works
Once an Invisible customer creates a task, it gets assigned to the next available agent who is qualified to handle it. Right now, Invisible employs 70 contract workers in 16 countries around the world, helping complete tasks that range from qualifying sales leads to actually drafting emails for clients.
Users only interact with one point of contact at Invisible, even though there may be multiple people working for them in the background. Invisible calls this point of contact a "bot" (you can even give your bot its own name), but at least for now, a human will always be on the other side of the chat interface, coordinating the outstanding work.
Pedraza believes having a single way to manage your work is key, otherwise training and managing a team of contractors can become a full-time job unto itself.
"You have to keep hiring, and pretty soon you're building an army, and it's taking more of your time in running the army than it's saving you in time savings," Pedraza says.
In theory, someone using Invisible could have one person, or a hundred people, working for them with no difference in time spent managing the process on their end.
The bigger picture
Beyond giving time back for people to explore more creative and impactful work, Pedraza is also interested in the job opportunities Invisible opens up for those around the world.
"If I can provide a career path for people to enter the digital class and teach them increasingly valuable skills, that's exciting," Pedraza tells us. He says that wages for workers start at $1.50/hour but can increase up to $30/hour, where— in countries like Kenya — that can be quite a large salary.
Invisible's approach — of actually relying on people to complete tasks, rather than pure machine automation — may run contrarian to the typical, "AI" hype of Silicon Valley, but Pedraza believes it's the right one.
Invisible does use technology to automate tasks where possible — like filling out expense reports where there are only a few major platforms used and automated scripts can be created — but real people are documenting and creating these processes at the start.
"If you say that you care about the world and you're building pure software companies, you're basically anti-humanist in the most extreme way," Pedraza says. "You're not helping most people in the world. You're increasing the inequality."
Eoghan McCabe, CEO and co-founder of Intercom, first came up with the idea for his business in a coffee shop.
In Dublin, where McCabe is from, he and his coworkers would frequent a hipster coffee shop called 3fe and chat with the owner, Colin Harmon. There weren’t many other coffee shops with that vibe in the city, and McCabe appreciated how Harmon connected with his customers. The personalized service Harmon offered ended up inspiring McCabe and his partners.
"We got to meet and appreciate the guy, feel the passion for his craft," McCabe said. "We built a relationship with him and paid more for his overpriced coffee."
He continued: "When we looked at every internet business, they didn’t get to connect with us the way Colin connected with us."
McCabe started thinking about how internet businesses aren't great at interacting with customers. Typically they send customers emails from "donotreply" addresses and then route them through not always helpful "help" desks when they need more support.
"All these products were really impersonal," McCabe said. "With Colin, if you went into his store and asked, 'We have a question about Colombian roast,' he’d say, 'What is it?'"
McCabe and co-founders Des Traynor, Ciaran Lee, and David Barrett, soon got to work on a messaging service for companies that became the foundation of Intercom.
Intercom has become a billion-dollar company and is growing fast
Fast forward seven years to today, and the company has become a $1.3 billion business headquartered in San Francisco with offices in four other cities. It's one of the fastest growing startups in Silicon Valley. In March, it raised $125 million in new funds. And just this month, it launched its new product, the Answer Bot.
When Intercom first began, it focused on creating an instant messaging system to connect companies' customers with their sales, marketing, and support employees. Its next step is to use machine learning and artificial intelligence to create bots that can automate every stage of the customer lifecycle.
"The first chapter was about getting people back into the mix," McCabe said. "This next chapter is to facilitate automation, bots, to achieve the same vision and mission."
That may seem contradictory. After all, Intercom's original goal was to make businesses more personal, and bots are literally not persons at all.
But McCabe says the apparent contradiction goes away if you think about the meaning of "personal."
It's "all about treating the customer as an individual," he said. "It’s about respecting their time and their dignity. It's all about getting them to their ideal outcome.
"We started to realize these bots and automation technology could do all that — sometimes better than humans."
Intercom's bots are designed to help out human workers
Intercom's bots aren't pretending to be humans; they're open about being bots. They're also not intended to completely replace human workers. Instead, they're meant to assist them and allow companies to help more customers than they could before.
If a company only has human workers to handle customer service questions, customers can end up having to wait long periods for someone to handle their queries. Intercom's clients can use Answer Bot to handle some of those questions instead.
The service uses machine learning, relying on previous conversations between employees and customers to figure out how to answer new queries. Intercom clients can even build their own chatbots using Custom Bot, a product the company released in August.
While their bots are handling routine questions, companies can route more complicated ones to their human workers.
"Answer Bot has a deep bank of the questions people ask about that business," McCabe said. "The next time people ask that question, it doesn't get sent to your support team to answer that question for the 2000th damn time. Answer Bot can answer that and say, 'let us know if you need anything else.'"
McCabe predicts that bots will soon become commonplace. Intercom has over 30,000 paying customers, including Sotheby's, Atlassian, Shopify, and Expensify, and its service facilitates 500 million conversations a month. To improve its bot technology, the company is doubling down on research and development and expanding its product development team.
McCabe and his team learned from past mistakes
But leading a company hasn't always been easy, McCabe said. Intercom isn’t his first startup — he had previously founded two other ones with the company's other cofounders. Those experiences helped, since he and his partners made a lot of mistakes along the way in their prior ventures.
"A lot of the dumbest mistakes we got out of the way," he said.
McCabe and his cofounders learned that to be successful, they needed to figure out how to have their companies do what they're best at while continuing to innovate. Having learned that lesson, he’s ready to face the next chapter in automation. And he thinks his company is primed for a major transition in the industry.
"In the next couple of years, every single business that has invested in trying to accelerate their growth will have simple bots working alongside humans," he said. That will allow them "to have higher quality and faster response to allow humans to do what humans do best."
Mathilde Collin, the French CEO and co-founder of Front, got her inspiration from her first job.
Collin was working at a software company that provided customers with tools for creating contracts. She realized that contracts, however useful, were not something that most employees use every day in their jobs.
"I wasn't using contracts at work, I was using email," Collin told Business Insider in a recent interview.
So email was the first area where Front decided to make its mark with the launch of a shared inbox product in 2013.
More than 3,500 businesses around the world now use Front's product to help streamline internal email and email communications with customers. The service has become especially in-vogue among tech companies — with Stripe, Shopify, and Dropbox using its platform today — and presents a competitive threat to companies like Zendesk.
On Tuesday, Front added another piece to its goal of offering a tool that people use everyday at work with the acquisition of Meetingbird, a Khosla-backed calendar software company.
Collin says that deeper calendar integration was the top feature requests from customers, who waste time having to schedule events outside of their inbox. The acquisition also made sense from a cultural perspective, as both companies have been part of Y Combinator (Front in Spring 2014 and Meetingbird in Spring 2017).
"The thing I care the most about is that I want to have an impact on how people work because they spend so much time at work," Collin told us. "Email was the right place to start because it is so core to work. But email is very related to calendar."
Collin would not disclose the terms of the Meetingbird acquisition.
Front has raised over $79 million in funding. It's most recent round — a $66 million series B in January — was led by Sequoia Capital.
A new home for Front
The acquisition is the company's first and a significant milestone for the 29-year-old CEO and her co-founder/CTO Laurent Perrin after starting Front from Paris, France in 2013.
From the beginning, Front has focused on bringing more transparency to email within the workplace. Its product can be used by multiple teams within an organization — like customer service teams and operations teams — without messages getting siloed and forgotten. Front also allows for more personal interaction with customers (its messages read no different than standard emails), as opposed to other platforms that assign a ticket number to each response.
A lot of companies, Collin tells us, don't want to refer to customer interactions as "ticket number 12345."
The first-time CEO and her co-founder came to the San Francisco six months after starting Front from Paris because most of its customers were located in the US. Before that, Collin had never traveled outside of Europe.
Front was accepted into the prestigious startup accelerator, Y Combinator, in Spring 2014 and upon graduation, Collin and team were able to raise a $3.1 million seed round.
She hasn't moved back since.
Becoming a leader
Through YC, Collin was introduced to mentors that have helped her grow into her new role of leading a company that now has over 100 employees. Patrick Collison — the CEO of Stripe — has been one of her most important mentors.
"I met [Collison] four years ago, and he's believed in me and the company," she tells us. "Since then, it's been helpful to have someone that's much more successful than I am, always talking with him about what I'm doing well and not doing well."
Part of that growth as a young CEO is continuing to focus on company culture.
In Collin's first job out of college, she also tells us that the culture was not so good and that it was something she wanted to reimagine when starting Front.
With over 50 reviews on Glassdoor, 100% of people would recommend working at Front to a friend, and 100% approve of the CEO.
"My happiest moments at Front are when I'm doing a 1:1 with someone and they tell me that they're happy that they came back from vacation because they like working here or that it's the best working experience they've ever had," Collin says. "Nothing can make me happier than that."
The strong esprit de corps is the result of various workplace practices at Front. The most unusual but perhaps her favorite, Collin tells us, is that every six months employees will organize a musical inside the office.
"Everyone in the company is either singing or playing an instrument or playing a character," she explains. "It creates such an amazing culture because people are accepting to be very vulnerable in front of their colleagues."
Given the company's French roots, Collin says their rendition of Les Misérables was the most memorable so far.
In December, Front employees will perform a mash-up of Disney favorites.
The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.
On October 24, 2018, cult-favorite startup Everlane has announced ambitious environmental goals and a new collection built to spearhead the company-wide shift.
The ReNew Collection is a line of outerwear (fleeces, parkas, puffers, and sweaters) made out of recycled water bottles. Altogether, the collection is "renewing" a whopping 3 million of them. We tested out some of the new products to give you a sense of what they're like in real life, and you can find our thoughts below before shopping.
Everlane's logic is simple. We've created eight billion pounds of a toxic material that stays on the planet forever — so why don't we stop making more, and reuse what's already in our backyards?
ReNew will not be a shock to Everlane shoppers. The startup has built its reputation and success on its transparency — integrating video footage of its factories, hosting Transparency Tuesday Q & As on Instagram once a week, offering pricing breakdowns on product pages, instituting "Choose What You Pay" sales, and debuting a sustainable denim collection made in the "world's cleanest denim factory."
Using recycled materials — especially water bottles— is not a new endeavor. Patagonia has been making recycled polyester from plastic soda bottles since 1993. Labels like Reformation use mostly deadstock fabrics and repurposed vintage clothing. Girlfriend Collective makes chic, affordable activewear from recycled water bottles and fishing nets. Outdoors gear startup Cotopaxi creates limited edition collections from its leftover fabrics. The list goes on.
However, recycling is still in the vast minority of retail companies, and the industry itself is one of the worst for the environment. Even post-production, only about 15.3% of all textiles are recycled according to the EPA (2015 estimates).
We aren't doing any better where plastics are concerned. In just 60 years, we've created eight billion tons of the material. It's so inseparable to our lives that plastic has even started showing up in human feces (that's right, you may be unintentionally eating it). Yet companies are using more virgin plastic today than ever before, and some of the most polluting industrial sectors include packaging (149 million tons per year), textiles (59 million tons), and consumer or institutional products like pens, gum, and keyboards (42 million tons).
ReNew is the first act of a more ambitious, lengthier strategy. By 2021, Everlane will eliminate all virgin plastic from their supply chain. Smaller steps will be implemented much sooner, like reducing single-use plastic in offices and stores by 50% (March 2019), use renewed alternatives to polyester in production (2018), and starting to ship orders in 100% post-consumer recycled poly bags (2019). The startup is also forming an internal sustainability committee to educate their team on waste reduction and conduct progress audits to see how well waste diversion is going. By the time 2021 rolls around, the company plans to have redeveloped all existing yarns, fabrics, and raw materials containing virgin plastic with renewed equivalents.
Everlane makes great clothes; it's why people buy them. It helps that they also try to make them in a better, more honest way than a lot of the other options people have. ReNew is no different — the outerwear is comfortable, stylish, made to last, and moderately priced. It has helpful upgrades, comes in cool colors, and feels good to wear. The fact that it's ushering in a much-needed commitment to better, smarter supply chains is just an added incentive.
We tried a few standout pieces from the Everlane ReNew Collection. Here's what we thought:
The ReNew Lightweight Hooded Puffer
For the past 10 years, my go-to winter coat has been a bulky (but warm) peacoat. I was recently able to try Everlane's ReNew puffer, and it's the winter essential I didn't realize I needed. The first thing I noticed when I put the jacket on was its light weight. How could something that's supposed to keep me warm in the cold feel this light? I didn't have to wonder long — I wore the jacket outside and immediately appreciated its insulation. For the past two weeks the coat kept wind, rain, and general cold weather from making me chilly. In fact, I actually felt warmer than I did with my peacoat on. The jacket's extra features, like being reversible and made from recycled bottles, are just icing on the cake. — Brandt Ranj, Insider Picks associate editor
The ReNew Oversized Parka
I have to admit that Everlane would not be the first place I'd go to shop for winter gear — that honor usually goes to outdoor brands that specialize in weather-proofing. That’s why I was especially impressed with the ReNew Oversized Parka. This slightly puffy parka is super warm and cozy, with all the right features to protect you on one of those days when it seems like the wind can penetrate right into your bones. It has deep pockets (with both top and side openings) to stuff your hands into, a drawstring hood, and both a zipper and buttons to block out the elements.
The fact that the water-resistant shell and insulation are both made from recycled materials makes this parka all the more impressive. If you can buy clothing that’s better for the environment without sacrificing performance, why wouldn’t you go for it? Given the choice between Everlane’s parka and another one of comparable price, I would surely go for Everlane.
I recommend sizing down for a closer fit. I’m normally a medium, but a small fit perfectly, with enough room to wear a form-fitting long-sleeved shirt or a thin sweater underneath. — Connie Chen, Insider Picks reporter
The ReNew Fleece Half-Zip
Everlane's ReNew Half-Zip Fleece is a great cold weather essential — surprisingly warm, relatively inexpensive and compact, and cozy to wear. It's slightly rougher to the touch than I expected, which usually coincides with better experiences wearing it in damp or drizzly weather, and the ribbed cuffs and drawstring waist keep the cold out. I got it in this earthy, autumnal "brick" color and love how vivid it is in person. — Mara Leighton, Insider Picks reporter
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
After all, nine out of 10 startups will end up failing, and that means the money that venture capitalists put into funding these ideas can disappear too. From analyzing just 12 startups that failed this year, PitchBook found that around $1.4 billion in VC funding wasn't enough to save these businesses.
Theranos, a blood-testing startup, is one of 2018's most notable failures. The company racked up close to $1 billion in funding before questions about the technology and fraud charges against the CEO caused the Theranos to dissolve.
Here are 12 startups that failed in 2018:
Theranos — blood-testing technology
Year founded: 2003
Valuation: $9 billion
Amount raised: $910 million
Read more about Theranos on PitchBook.
Rethink Robotics — robots for manufacturing industry
Year founded: 2008
Valuation: $291 million
Amount VC raised: $150 million
Read more about Rethink Robotics on PitchBook.
Shyp — on-demand delivery platform
Year founded: 2013
Valuation: $275 million
Amount raised: $62 million
Read more about Shyp on PitchBook.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.
Home and interior design magazines frequently espouse this simple trick for refreshing your space: add a house plant. It's not only a strategic aesthetic move — research has found exposure to nature improves emotional well-being, making you happier and even more creative.
I'm no scientist, but plenty of anecdotal evidence has also confirmed that shopping for and taking care of these beneficial house plants isn't as easy as the magazines make it out to be. After hearing similar feedback from friends, plant enthusiasts Ron Radu and Nico Bartoli wanted to show people that owning plants can actually be hassle-free and thus created Léon & George, a full-service online startup that delivers potted, responsibly sourced plants right to your door.
Radu and Bartoli started in 2016 by partnering with local growers who were looking for a change from big box stores and nurseries, which often placed unrealistic demands on crop growth or didn't store plants in optimal growing environments. Though the company has now scaled to a point where the founders don't need to turn their own homes into mini greenhouses, the level of care and attention remains: they source the highest-quality greenery from US growers, and all plants are stored under conditions that imitate their native climates.
Customers can choose from a collection of attractive plants, like the dense Little Hope philodendron or the summery Parlor Palm, then pair their selection with a simple and stylish ceramic planter. You can also shop by "Benefits" (easy care, air purifiers, safe for pets) and "Light" (medium-to-bright, low). Everything is included in the $139 price: the plant, pot, wood stand, care instructions, and shipping.
I ordered the Zanzibar Gem, namely because the website told me it's "near indestructible" and can "handle long periods of neglect" — music to the ears of traditionally terrible plant owners like myself. It can also handle low-light environments, so I could plan to keep it right at my office desk instead of a distant window sill.
The potted plant arrived upright in a box, and thanks to layers of cardboard support and bubble wrap, it emerged from the shipping journey fresh and unscathed.
Caring for my Zanzibar Gem has been a breeze. I basically water it whenever I think to (which is really not often) and it's still thriving a couple weeks after it first arrived. If you're worried about plant care falling by the wayside, Léon & George sends Weekly Plant Care Reminder emails to nudge you to pay a little more attention to your plant.
My experience with the service couldn't have been easier. Since I live in a big city, it's inconvenient and tiring to visit a nursery and haul a large plant onto the subway, so having it delivered (the company delivers nationwide) instead was a major boon. The potting was already done for me, and the site offers a lot of support if you run into any trouble while caring for your plant. Buying greenery from Léon & George is also an investment back into the Earth because the company plants one tree in a US National Forest through the National Forest Foundation for every plant sold.
Léon & George's selection of high-quality plants will appease plant parents of all types. If you're new to plant care, the site offers guidance and low-maintenance options, and if your room is already filled with greenery, Léon & George's all-in-one service makes it that much more convenient to add to your collection.
Preparing for a colonoscopy isn't pleasant.
In a colonoscopy, a doctor uses a scope to take a look at the inside of the colon, often to check for growths that could indicate cancer. So that the doctor can get a good look, you have to start eating a low fiber diet several days before the procedure, and then transition to a clear liquid diet the day before and take lots of laxatives —a regimen known as bowel prep.
Sometimes, though, patients don't follow the instructions, and the doctor can't get a good look, leading to wasted time and money. Or they don't show up to their appointments at all.
The Harvard-affiliated hospitals called Brigham Health and Massachusetts General Hospital have been experimenting with a startup that says it can help solve both problems. And the initial results exceeded expectations.
"Both saw decreases in no show rates of over 30%. That's a very significant ROI right then and there," said Adam Landman, the chief information officer of Brigham Health.
The startup is called Medumo, and the experiment is part of a strategic collaboration between PULSE@MassChallenge and the Brigham Innovation Hub, which the health system started in 2013 with the mission of testing new ideas in clinical settings. Brigham Health has tested out some early stage pilots and studies to see what parts of new technology does and doesn't work.
The innovation hub also serves as a connection point between clinicians, researchers, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists.
"What we're trying to do is create a learning environment. We want to work with startups that have great ideas and great people. Because we don't have all the answers either," Landman said at the Financial Times Digital Health Summit in New York.
From doing this, Landman said they hope to find 5 or 6 different programs that can be implemented. Moving forward, different elements from the different programs may be patched together into one seamless experience for the patient.
"I think right now we're in the fertile field of innovation where lots of solutions are popping up, and pretty soon, I think we're going to see some consolidations, particularly focusing on the patient experience side, where we're seeing incredible solutions coming up," Landman said.
Success in poop texts
Here's how the Medumo system works. It sends appointment reminders to patients as text messages, and gives them information on the bowel prep regimen. That can be pretty detailed. It tells them what their stools should look like, color and consistency-wise, and provides daily reminders and a list of tasks.
It also provides patients with a phone number they can call to reach the endoscopy clinic for help if their stools don't look like what the texts say they should look like after trying a few things suggested by the program.
On the morning of the procedure, the app sends directions from the patient's front door to the exact endoscopy clinic inside the hospital. After the procedure, the app sends a patients a survey about their experience. When the results are available, the app can tell patients how to view it in the patient portal, or send a sign-up link.
The program has made a big difference for colonoscopy patients, according to the health system. The proportion of patients whose insides weren't prepared for the procedure dropped from 11.5% to 3.8%, while the number who didn't show up for their appointments fell to about 4% from 6%.
"We have some very encouraging results and we've started to spread to other procedural areas and other use cases," said Landman.
By keeping the form of delivery to something as simple as texting, Landman said they've been able to observe good results and high engagement.
"Over time, as our population ages, I think this will be second nature to many. And I think there's services and opportunities to think about, as digital becomes more important, such as how do you support that in the home," said Landman.
A possible solution, he mentions, is to have a 'Genius Bar' at the hospital, like the one created by the Ochsner Clinic in Louisiana to help patients and families troubleshoot technology problems.
One of the challenges for health systems is choosing between competing priorities, said Landman. That includes making a decision between building a billion-dollar patient tower with inpatient rooms, or investing money in digital technologies, telehealth and virtual health.
And that's the crux of some of the key discussions coming up in the health system, according to Landman.
"It's a very difficult decision, but I think we are going to be disrupted by Amazon and Apple and many of the companies here in this room if we don't change," he said.
When he launched Gympass in summer 2012, Cesar Carvalho never imagined that the company would one day scale to include 38,000 fitness facilities across the globe.
That was a problem.
Gympass is a corporate fitness program similar to ClassPass. Once a company signs up, its employees have access to a range of gyms in different locations, at a discounted rate. Current global clients include Uber, PayPal, and Deloitte.
When Carvalho, the company's cofounder and CEO, started building Gympass, he was a student at Harvard Business School; he dropped out soon after to work full-time on his business.
Carvalho told Business Insider that his inability to envision a bigger future for the company — which currently employs about 800 people worldwide — negatively influenced his hiring strategy. Specifically, he made the mistake of looking for people who could do the job that day, as opposed to people who would still excel in their role years into the future.
"The hiring decisions that we made in the beginning were not optimal," Carvalho said. "We had to continuously bring more senior people to the company. And what I learned from it is that being able to plan for the next two to three years helps a lot on that."
Today, he seeks candidates "who are going to be great [working on] not what has to be done today, but two to three years from now."
You probably won't regret over-investing in hiring top talent
Carvalho's observations about hiring recall those of Patty McCord, the former chief talent officer at Netflix. McCord previously told Business Insider that managers should always be considering whether the team they have now will still be able to push the company forward in six months. If not, the manager may need to replace some people on their team.
To be sure, a stellar candidate may not necessarily want to join your fledgling startup.
"It's actually super challenging to make the decision to hire someone for what the company needs three years from now," Carvalho said. "At the point in time that you're making the decision, you might not have at the bank the cash that you need to support that person."
That means "taking two leaps of faith on the future of the company," Carvalho said. Not only are you assuming that this person will still be a good fit in three years — you're also assuming that the business will still be successful in three years.
That said, Carvalho wishes he'd invested more in the people running his company from the outset: "Had we done it, we would have been at a much better stage today than we currently are."