Posts tagged with "companies"

Analysis for use by 360 Magazine

Health and Wellness Company Plexus Contributes Greatly to the Economy

A new independent study by the L. Seidman Research Institute at Arizona State University shows Plexus Worldwide (Plexus®), a leading health and wellness company, had an estimated $128.5 million gross domestic product (GDP) economic impact in Arizona and more than $1.1 billion GDP impact on the U.S. economy in 2020. The study analyzed the scope and scale of Plexus’ economic impact and investment across the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Mexico.

“The purpose of this study was to measure the economic impact of Plexus’ U.S. operations in the state of Arizona and in each market where the company does business including Canada, Mexico, Australia, and New Zealand in 2020,” said Dennis Hoffman, Director of the L. William Seidman Research Institute at the W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. “Our findings show the tremendous impact that Plexus has had, including a $1.15 billion economic impact on the global GDP and more than $128.5 million economic impact in the local Arizona community.”

Highlights of the 2020 economic impact study include:

  • $1.15 billion GDP impact on the global economy
  • $1.1 billion GDP impact on the U.S. economy
  • $128.5 million GDP impact on the state of Arizona
  • $791.6 million in U.S. labor income
  • 8,593 U.S. jobs supported
  • $26.8 million in sales tax revenues to state and local governments, responsible for $59.1 million GDP, 619 jobs, and $41.9 million labor income in the U.S. economy.

“Everyday Arizonans deserve opportunities to build better lives for themselves and their families. As Arizona’s senior senator, I’ll continue supporting economic opportunities helping Arizonans grow and thrive in their own direction. I look forward to working with our business leaders and independent business owners as we continue to expand jobs and fuel economic recovery,” said Senator Kyrsten Sinema.

Plexus is dedicated to changing lives and promoting health, wellness, and success. “Our products, team members, and Ambassadors are the foundation of these goals, which is why we are committed to the highest standards of quality,” said Tarl Robinson, CEO and Founder of Plexus. “Thanks to our hardworking leaders and employees, and in a year like no other, Plexus was able to grow and have a real impact on economies at the local, national, and global communities where we operate.”

This study demonstrates that Plexus is a major economic driver, contributing millions to the U.S. economy, including $95 million in labor income statewide. “In 2020 alone, Plexus supported more than 9,000 jobs worldwide, with a total of $821.6 million in total earnings for our employees and hundreds of thousands of Ambassadors, who serve as independent business owners,” said Kim Drabik, Senior Director of Corporate Affairs at Plexus.*

Plexus, a privately held company was established 13-years ago in Arizona, has more than 400 employees at its Scottsdale headquarters, which consists of a 73,000 square foot office building and 28,000 square foot warehouse. In 2020, Plexus welcomed more the 462,000 new Ambassadors and customers, growing the number of Ambassadors receiving monthly income by 23%. 

About Plexus Worldwide

Plexus Worldwide, LLC, is a leading health and happiness company featuring health and wellness products that enable people to improve their lives and well-being. With hundreds of thousands of independent business owners (“Ambassadors”) worldwide, Plexus is among the top 30 largest direct sales companies globally according to Direct Selling News. The combination of Plexus products and opportunities help individuals to meet their health-wellness and financial goals.

LGBTQIA via Gabreille Archuletta for use by 360 Magazine

Ten Reasons Brands Should Celebrate Pride Month

By: Skyler Johnson 

As Pride Month approaches, it’s expected that we’ll see a number of pride-related products pop up. There are people that think brands celebrating Pride Month is “tacky” or “preachy.” However, it’s still important for brands to show their support for the LGBTQIA+ community, even if it’s just in the month of June. Here are a few reasons why:

10. Celebration of Pride Month Wasn’t As Good In 2020

Because of the Black Lives Matter Protests and Covid-19, brands didn’t celebrate Pride Month in 2020 the way they had in previous years. While they could have done both, a lot of companies didn’t. So, it’s extra important this year for brands to show that they still care about LGBTQIA+ individuals through celebrating Pride Month extra hard.

9. Generates Profit for Brands

Statistically, being in support of the LGBTQIA+ community has been shown to increase company sales. People will have more respect for those companies, and will be more likely to purchase their products. 

8. Supports LGBTQIA+ People for No Cost

While brands may have to change the packaging, that’s all they need to do to support Pride Month. There’s no real loss that can be had towards brands celebrating Pride Month, except for a few people thinking that it’s “preachy.”

7. Shows the Power of Brands

Brands are more powerful than you might think. After all, we’re constantly seeing them, and they are always affecting our lives, even if we don’t realize it. Everything we do– from brushing our teeth to putting on clothes–has us interacting with brands. And the actions of brands do affect us. Think about the uproar that Discord received over changing their logo. People got legitimately upset over the actions of a corporation. So people will be affected by brands that are supporting the LGBTQIA+ community, and may change a negative stance if their favorite brand supports it.

6. Recognizes the History of Hate Towards LGBTQIA+ People in the U.S.

It’s sickening how much hatred has been directed towards people just trying to live their lives. For a long time, there were laws that prohibited homosexuality and being trans was virtually impossible. 2015 was the year when gay marriage was declared legal, and that was only six years ago. Because of the long struggle with homophobia and transphobia, it’s important to recognize these people, and show them we care through the brands we as Americans deem as important.

5. Decreases Homophobia and Transphobia in the World

Although Americans are more accepting of LGBTQIA+ individuals compared to other countries (and even we’re not perfect), there are other countries that are much worse. A lot of countries still have laws that prohibit gay and trans individuals from being themselves. Given the international nature of these brands, they can help change the mindsets of people in countries that are much less accepting than the U.S.

4. Encourages Workplace Diversity

If members of the LGBTQIA+ community see that companies support them, they’ll be more likely to apply for jobs within the company. Diversity in the workplace has been shown to increase profit margins. 

3. Raises Awareness

I wouldn’t know about Marsha P. Johnson if they weren’t honored by Google during Pride Month. Brands can give people information on important people in the LGBT community, and makes people aware of history that would otherwise be forgotten. I was never taught about the Stonewall Riots in school, but Google allowed me to find information on this important piece of LGBTQIA+ history.

2. Supports LGBTQIA+ Individuals

LGBTQIA+ artists and creators have been historically marginalized due to their identity. There was a time, not long ago, when your career would end as a result of coming out. Now that there are more and more creatives able to have careers despite, or even because of, their identity. Brands should support those individuals via including them in their ad campaigns or creating a product inspired by them. Smirnoff’s partnership with drag queen Alyssa Edwards is a great example.

1. Gives Brands a Reason to Donate to Show they Care

A lot of brands have donated part of their proceeds to charity. LGBTQIA+ people are thus given the resources they need to survive and thrive.

LGBTQ+ illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Corporate Leaders × Anti-Lgbtq Bills

Corporate leaders: Companies should work against anti-LGBTQ bills in Texas, other states 

Chris Adamo, vice president of Federal and Industry Affairs at Danone North America; Brad Figel, vice president of Public Affairs North America at Mars, Inc.; Molly Fogarty senior vice president of Corporate & Government Affairs at Nestlé USA; and Tom Langan, North America director of Sustainable Business & External Affairs for Unilever:

  • “As four of the largest food companies and major employers in the United States, we view the growing number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills under consideration in state legislatures, including those that target transgender people and particularly children, with increasing alarm.
  • “These bills are bad for families, for communities, for businesses and for the U.S. economy, all still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic…This motivates us to continue using our influence to advocate for policies that establish full equality at the federal and state levels, including swift Senate passage of the Equality Act.
  • “Discriminatory legislation — in threat and in practice — directly and negatively impacts the ability of our businesses to compete. It undermines our ability to recruit our future workforces and retain existing talent in states like Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Texas and others enacting and considering draconian legislation.”
  • “Such policies are out of step with the views of most Americans. The overwhelming majority of Americans support full equality for LGBTQ+ people, according to recent data released by the Human Rights Campaign.”
  • Companies have a responsibility to actively work with federal and state legislators to advocate against bills that harm our employees and our customers, and to advance fairness and equality for all Americans”

We condemn dangerous, discriminatory legislation that serves as an attack on LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly transgender and non-binary people.

As four of the largest food companies and major employers in the United States, we view the growing number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills under consideration in state legislatures, including those that target transgender people and particularly children, with increasing alarm.

These bills are bad for families, for communities, for businesses and for the U.S. economy, all still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic.

We condemn dangerous, discriminatory legislation that serves as an attack on LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly transgender and nonbinary people. Such laws not only threaten hard-won progress to bring greater awareness, support and equality to transgender Americans, they also threaten the livelihoods and safety of their communities and their families.

This motivates us to continue using our influence to advocate for policies that establish full equality at the federal and state levels, including swift Senate passage of the Equality Act.

Member companies of the Sustainable Food Policy Alliance, including Danone North America, Mars, Inc., Nestlé USA and Unilever United States, urge the entire U.S. business community to do the same.

This issue is not political. Providing the same basic protections to LGBTQ+ people as are provided to protected groups under federal law is the right thing to do for businesses and for society.

We employ tens of thousands of people in communities across the country. We embrace diversity in our workforces. Inclusive principles already guide the way we work, run our successful businesses, and engage with our employees and communities.

Discriminatory legislation — in threat and in practice — directly and negatively impacts the ability of our businesses to compete. It undermines our ability to recruit our future workforces and retain existing talent in states like Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, Texas and others enacting and considering draconian legislation.

In Kentucky, for example, proposed legislation would allow health care providers to turn away LGBTQ+ and other patients, and bar trans youth from K-12 public school and university sports. Similarly, in Texas, legislators have proposed bills that would ban transgender girls from youth sports.

When states legislate this way, not only do they create an environment where not everyone feels safe and welcomed, they endorse it. Such environments deny transgender and nonbinary people the opportunity to fully contribute to the economies in places where they work and live. This harms them and their families and hinders businesses and local communities.

We applaud Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s decision this week to veto legislation that would have banned gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth. Unfortunately, the Arkansas legislature overrode the governor’s veto Tuesday.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signs a bill in March 2021 to ban transgender athletes from competing on girls or women’s sports teams.

Such policies are out of step with the views of most Americans. The overwhelming majority of Americans support full equality for LGBTQ+ people, according to recent data released by the Human Rights Campaign.

Legislation hurts states’ economies

The ramifications of these discriminatory bills on states’ economic and financial health are also well-documented. A UCLA study found that the social, economic and health effects of stigma and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people negatively impact Texas’ economy by tens of millions of dollars each year. Another study by the Texas Association of Business estimated that discriminatory legislation could result in an estimated economic loss to Texas’ gross domestic product ranging from $964 million to $8.5 billion.

The impacts of such bills are not limited to the states where they are passed. Researchers that studied 39 countries found a clear link between LGBTQ+ discriminatory practices and legislation and the corresponding loss of potential economic output. For LGBTQ+ youth, the study found that discrimination harms their learning, resulting in increased dropout rates and, consequently, reduced participation in the workforce.

We acknowledge that words are powerful. But for companies to engage new generations of workers and consumers, while fostering an environment good for people and for business, we must move beyond only public statements of support for LGBTQ+ issues.

Companies should protect employees

Companies have a responsibility to actively work with federal and state legislators to advocate against bills that harm our employees and our customers, and to advance fairness and equality for all Americans.

We four SFPA companies are committed to stepping up and taking action, including through our advocacy on this important issue. Doing so will support an environment in which all people can grow, thrive, compete and succeed as their true, authentic selves.

Chris Adamo is vice president of Federal and Industry Affairs at Danone North America. Brad Figel is vice president of Public Affairs North America at Mars, Inc. Molly Fogarty is senior vice president of Corporate & Government Affairs at Nestlé USA. Tom Langan is North America director of Sustainable Business & External Affairs for Unilever.

Corporate leaders: Companies should work against anti-LGBTQ bills in Texas, other states

Sceenic illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Sports Innovation Lab × Sceenic

Sceenic, a leading software solutions provider for real-time experiences, has been named a Game Changer in the growing Co-Watch trend in the latest Sports Innovation Lab Power Play Index.

Sports Innovation Lab’s Power Play Index for the Fluid Fan Behavior of Co-Watch identifies those companies that are best positioned to create immersive viewing experiences for fans at home. Sceenic is the only Game Changer in the index, which charts the top 10 technology providers that offer co-watch solutions in the market.

The Power Play Index ranks companies in two categories: 

  • Technology Alignment: determined through a company’s signal score as it relates to watch parties, video chat, and voice chat.
  • Market Validation: determined through a company’s signal score as it relates to leagues, venues, people, and partners.

“When we publish a Power Play Index, we let the data do the talking. Our methodology identifies companies with both the market validation and technology depth that allows them to enable the Fluid Fan,” said Josh Walker, Co-founder and President of Sports Innovation Lab. “Sceenic is our Co-Watching Game Changer for 2020, proving that powerful co-watching technology isn’t the future, but the present.”

Sceenic is identified as the highest-ranking company for each measure due to the seamless turnkey nature of its offering for video, OTT, IPTV or STB providers, and the ease of integration for the Sceenic Watch Together SDKs and APIs into existing platforms with customization. The report also noted Sceenic’s partners and the experiences that they power in the market for clients such as BT Sport (UK), NPO (NL), ScreenHits TV (EU and US), LaLiga (ES), among others.

Key facts:

  • Sports Innovation Lab focused their recent fan behavior research on “Co-watch” presented in the Power Play Index. Getting fans to watch sports content – a live game, a recorded stream, or highlights – is simply getting them to show up. To keep Fluid Fans hooked, to get them coming back more frequently, and for longer periods of time, sports organizations must enable them to learn more about the sport and the athletes. When fans learn, they dive deeper into storylines, get invested in matchups, and come back again and again because they have a greater appreciation for the sport. When fans watch more, revenue opportunities from sponsorships, as well as ancillary behaviors like shopping merchandise or betting, increase
  • Sceenic is a leader in proving co-watch solutions to enhance the fan experience inside their clients’ platforms. Sceenic created the Watch Together software solution in 2013 to provide Broadcast, Telcos and Media companies with an engaging experience inside their platforms. The technology is available to be quickly deployed for video, OTT, IPTV or STB providers to integrate into their existing platforms
  • Sceenic was the first company, in 2019, to showcase and offer the Watch Together software solution on 5G
  • EE (the UK Telco) launched Matchday Experience on the BT Sport app in October 2020, with all BT Sport customers able to access the service from January 2021
  • BT Sport’s Watch Together is available on all broadcast content, 24/7 and on all devices (mobile, tablets, TV)
  • Powered by Sceenic during the 2020 Tour de France, NPO, the Netherlands Public Broadcaster enabled their users to meet the former cyclist Michael Boogerd inside their NPO Start web platform to share insights, answer questions and take online selfies with fans. 

“Seven years in development and refinement, our Watch Together technology stack is proving its worth in large scale deployments with BT Sport, T-Mobile Germany, NPO – Tour de France and others,” said Paul Bojarski, CEO, Sceenic. “What is now exciting is seeing how Watch Together actively supports our customers’ business objectives: the organic multiplier effect it brings to subscriber acquisition and retention, the powerful compliment of C2C word of mouth recommendations to machine learning, and the emergence of wholly original in-room interactive marketing/advertising opportunities.”

About Sceenic

Sceenic is an innovator and leader in understanding today’s customer behaviors and their expectations. In 2013, the company created the Watch Together software solution, adding value to fan-engagement and keeping the conversation within their clients’ platforms: BT Sport, T-Mobile Germany (Deutsche Telekom), NPO, ScreenHits TV, LaLiga, Virgin Connect, WeLoveGaming eSports, FIFAe, among others. You can read more about Sceenic here.

About Sports Innovation Lab 

Sports Innovation Lab is leading a sports research revolution. Sports Innovation Lab exists to educate clients on the technological possibilities for their brand and how to ultimately drive value to the end consumer: The Fluid Fans. Sports Innovation Lab inspires brands to create breakthrough fan experiences through data-driven technology insights and industry-leading research. You can learn more about Sports Innovation Lab here.

Online shopping illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Digital Transformation: ByondXR

Digital Transformation: ByondXR Develops virtual commerce platform used by World-leading Retailers

Web-based Virtual eCommerce: Transforming the Future of Retail

The online shopping landscape is continuously changing, with companies finding new solutions to bring unique experiences to their customers. When the coronavirus pandemic shook the world, brands had to adapt to the virtual landscape, as in-store shopping became nearly impossible quickly. With the fear and apprehension that the pandemic created, naturally, people lost the motivation to shop in-person as much as they used to.

Companies that rely on physical shopping lost their customers and floundered, while companies that already had a significant digital presence increased their business. As businesses struggled to stay afloat, ByondXR, a company specializing in building online virtual storefronts and showrooms, was positioned to assist them in building their digital presence and offering new experiences for customers despite the pandemic.

Industry veterans Noam Levavi and Eran Galil founded ByondXR in 2016, intending to help businesses acclimate themselves to the growing virtual commerce market. Having as much familiarity and expertise with online retail merchandising as they did, after COVID-19 quarantining forced people to isolate themselves and remain in their homes, companies like Lancôme, Target, and P&G turned to ByondXR for their technical know-how.

Their innovative technology caters to wholesale and retail businesses who seek to improve their digital marketing presence. With their team of experts, they truly revolutionize the virtual commerce market by creating the most stunning visual web experiences that significantly improve conversion rates, engagement, and reduced return rates.

The virtual showrooms allow customers to browse through a store as if they were moving through a physical space. Customers can pan around, viewing colorful and appealing displays of items. By simply clicking on an item or display, an information box pops up where the customer can view more info about the product, interact with the product in 3D, or place the product in their physical space using ByondXR AR capabilities. To close the loop, users can click to purchase the products directly.

Using the full 3D store simulation that ByondXR creates for top fashion retailers, the Virtual Merchandising teams invite VM, store managers, and customers to take immersive virtual tours of their digital storefront. Visitors can view and interact with new clothing and merchandise hanging on racks and displayed on tables or mannequins by visualizing the store, its fixtures, and garments.

This kind of experiential retail provides customers with a far more interactive and engaging experience than simply scrolling mindlessly through pages and pages of products on Amazon or any other retail website. Customers can view items and read product descriptions on a company website as much as they like, but online shopping can rarely be as effective as shopping in a real, physical store. These virtual storefronts give customers the feeling of in-person shopping without leaving their homes and risk getting sick.

The broad range of clients that ByondXR has worked with have found that customers are looking for new shopping experiences, different from the ones that they are used to, especially when over-use of traditional digital shopping venues has rendered them mundane and unengaging. Virtual storefronts like those they have built for Lancôme and P&G are only the beginning of ByondXR’s technological revolution.

Take, for example, 3D visualizers that they have created for home decor companies like CaesarStone. In these online stores, customers can view a realistic 3D room like a kitchen or a child’s bedroom. With a click of a button, they can place down a crib or a wardrobe in this 360 environment, viewing the item in a digital space as if it were actually in their home and use AR to visualize the product in their own home. They can change the decorations and furniture’s colors and designs and pan around, viewing the items with the depth and authenticity that they would get from a physical store.

One of the most important parts of buying a piece of furniture is visualizing what it might look like in a customer’s own home, and with technology like this, customers won’t be left scratching their heads in the middle of a store. No more wondering what a product might look like when delivered to the customers’ houses with ByondXR storefronts, and they get what they see.

The public interest in digital shopping has only grown since its inception, and the global pandemic has only sped up the growth of virtual commerce. The boom in digital shopping has led to such revolutionary techniques as ByondXR’s virtual stores and showrooms seem to have ushered in the future of shopping, where people can browse items and walk-through stores without ever leaving their homes.

As the pandemic continues, both in the US and abroad, the apprehension that people feel about shopping in person has only increased. People don’t want to risk getting the virus and then spreading it to their friends and family, and so they have turned to online shopping in droves to fill their needs. Although the most important aspect of retail business is to provide customers with quality products, the aesthetics and the art of the way these products are displayed play a large role in what brands customers decide to shop with.

With this kind of technology becoming more and more popular with companies and with the customers that they serve, the question arises: Will shopping ever return to the way it was before?

The pandemic has certainly altered the world forever, but many have wondered if customers will return to physical stores once they can safely and healthily do so. With specialized technical advancements in the virtual commerce market like those that ByondXR provides their clients with, customers may decide that they don’t have to visit stores in person to get what they need.

In fact, home decor technology of the kind they built for Caesar Stone is often found more useful to customers than shopping for furniture, tiles, or decorations in person. Why go to a physical store if customers can get the same experience by shopping online from the comfort of their homes while losing none of the in-person stores’ appeals?

There is also another angle to it: while utilizing VR, retail brands can improve brand messaging, boost online influence, and create unique touching points with customers, something that regular eComment lacks.

No matter what the future holds for the virtual commerce market, ByondXR and their CEO Noam Levavi have positioned themselves at the forefront of digital shopping innovation, and they are ready to meet the next challenge head-on.

Jean Button illustrated by Mina Tocalini for 360 MAGAZINE.

Covid-19 on Clothes

By Eamonn Burke

As a relatively new virus, new information is coming out about Covid-19 every day. While much is known, such as the fact that it spreads through air and is most dangerous to the elderly, there is much that remains unknown.

One of these unanswered questions is that if clothing: can the coronavirus survive on clothing? What we do know from evidence is that the virus can in fact live on other surfaces like plastic and steel for up to nine days. There is no evidence, however, that answers the question about clothes.

What we do know is that viruses similar to Covid – MERS, SARS – do not survive on clothes, as they are porous surfaces that can trap the virus and dry it out. A study from Johns Hopkins Medicine corroborates this, finding the probability of the virus being transferred through clothing is low. However, another study did find that the virus can live on shoes.

While the most important protective measures against COVID-19 remain social distancing and wearing masks, the CDC still recommends to air on the side of caution and wash clothes, specifically on the warmest setting to dry them out. The findings also pose issue for companies who need to handle clothing returns. Many large companies like Macy’s and Gap have amended their return policies to consider this, but it is also important for small businesses to do the same.

Rita Azar, 360 Magazine, illustration, corporation

Companies Profiting from BLM

By Eamonn Burke

As the nation grapples with the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, among many others over many years, protests have called for massive police and corporate reform. Changes have already been made, as major companies and institutions have begun to exclude forms of racism and include new reforms and statements. However, as with many corporate sentiments, the genuine nature of these statements is being called into question and exposed as hollow.

It has become a trend for major companies to undertake policies and claim responsibility for social issues, in what is known as “Political Corporate Social Responsibility.” Media is flooded with brands preaching change and pledging to be a part of it. In today’s instant society, however, it is difficult to discern the true motives of these businesses in their support of the BLM movement.

Major companies like Microsoft and Amazon have been actively projecting support for the BLM movement, yet both corporations have shockingly low involvement of black people within their company structure. Intel joined in the trend with a cringey tweet as well.

Fast food companies like Wendy’s and Burger King, and Popeyes have also seemingly been using the movement to boost their reputation using tweets and ads, despite the fact that they thrive on minimum wage workers who are often people of color. The stark insensitivity is reminiscent of Pepsi’s distasteful ad that was pulled amidst the movement in 2017. Some companies, however, didn’t even try to voice support. One such company was Starbucks, who announced that employees were forbidden from wearing BLM merchandise, a policy that has since been reversed. Other food brands such as Quaker Oats are making real changes – the Aunt Jemima brand will be dropped because of it’s racial stereotyping, as well as Uncle Ben’s.

Following a petition signed by more than 5,000 people, Trader Joe’s announced in July that they would be changing the names of their “racist packaging” such as “Trader Ming’s” and “Trader José.” San Francisco High School student Briones Bedell, who started the petition, claimed that “The Trader Joe’s branding is racist because it exoticizes other cultures — it presents ‘Joe’ as the default ‘normal’ and the other characters falling outside of it.”

The company is now going back on that promise, and have says in a new statement that “We disagree that any of these labels are racist,” arguing that they are meant to show appreciation for these cultures. Company spokeswoman Kenya Friend-Daniel originally had accepted the petition, acknowledging that it may have the opposite effect of its intended inclusiveness. Now, however, she says that they will only look into these types of changes from employees, not from petitions online.

The racial revolution in the wake of George Floyd’s death has seen the downfall of other brands and images such as Aunt Jemima and the Washington Redskins, but Trader Joe’s is the first prominent one to resist the “cancel culture.”

What consumers really want, however, is not posts on social media. They want real action and real change. This means companies should “Open Their Purse” and donate to anti-racism organizations. Many companies have, but many have also donated to campaigns for Congress people that are rejected by the NAACP.

The public is skeptical of these statements and promises, and not without reason. The history of major businesses like Bank of America and Goldman Sachs have in the past had to cover up allegations of discrimation, and others fail to include minority members in their top ranks. Other major institutions like the NFL condemned the kneeling for the National Anthem just a few years ago, but is now apologizing and admitting the players were right. The question remains: have sentiments truly changed?

Brands and institutions are recognizing that being anti-racist and pro-BLM is selling more than ever. “Costs Signals,” which are the cost that companies pay to undertake these policy changes, are what should be used for judgement, says UPenn Marketing Professor Cait Lamberton to ABC News. Andre Perry, another ABC correspondent from Brookings Institution, warns that “These statements are a sign of defensiveness more so than an indication that they are proactively working to deconstruct racism in this country.”

For a list of donations made by major companies click here.

Virgin Pulse, Health, 360 Magazine,

Tech Companies To Watch Out For In The Next Year

By now we should all be familiar with the pace of technology, one of the last great frontiers for the entrepreneur. Even though it doesn’t occur to us in the moment, new innovations continue to shape our world from year to year.

Compare the year 2020 to the turn of the century. In the first two decades of the 21st century, we’ve gotten used to social media, 3D printing, blockchains, eBooks, CRISPR gene editing, online streaming video and the wide-scale adoption of mobile phones. Likewise, we started the new millennium not knowing the names of Facebook, Spotify, YouTube, Uber, AirBnB or Twitter.

What do the coming years bring? Our best economic and technological forecasters have picked a few rising stars in tech innovation who just might sculpt the next horizon in industry.

StartApp

We’ve all heard of marketing companies collecting data on mobile users to use as research on user behavior, but StartApp simply has more data than anybody else. Tapping a billion active mobile users every month across 350K apps, StartApp anonymously logs this user data and then packages it for sale to companies to help them make better decisions about development, user interface design, and marketing. Having grown from $200K to $37 million in revenue, StartApp is poised to be the Amazon of customer service information.

Nauto

While we were all anticipating the advent of driverless cars, still a hazy future promise, it occurred to our AI scientists that the experience of driving just isn’t documented enough to teach it to a robot. Nauto is one company helping to fix that, by building an autonomous driving data platform. Using cameras both exterior and interior, Nauto systems track both the road conditions and obstacles and the driver’s reactions, showing us what we respond to and how fast. It’s also aimed at reducing driver distraction and fatigue. With over $1 million in investor funding raised so far, the company aims first to enable better driver-assistance technology, before aiming at removing the need for a driver completely.

Evisort

Evisort is simple to explain: It’s “Google for contracts.” Except, rather than just automating text search, it’s an expert system trained for the legal profession, allowing it to parse out key dates, names, provisions, limitations, dollar amounts and legal clauses. This turns out to be a huge part of the day for anybody working in the legal profession, where the average lawyer might handle dozens of contracts numbering 30 pages or more per week. Human contract review is costly, time-consuming, and prone to errors, so an automated AI for contract management is something every legal worker wants. Evisort has raised over $5 million in investor funding and been praised in both Forbes and Harvard Law Review.

CloudBeds

The hospitality industry has been late to the party of industries changed by technology, but its turn has come. CloudBeds is a smart business management software for hotels, with an end-to-end platform that handles the unique challenges of property management and booking together with business management. The result is that hotels run better and make more money. Hotels, being a future-proof industry that online commerce can’t replace, are going to be around for a long time, and CloudBeds raising $20 million in investor funding shows that they’re going to be offering something every hotel wants.

SnapChat

The most senior member on this list, SnapChat has been in business for most of the 2010s, but it’s the social network platform with the brightest future. Just as Facebook took the crown from MySpace, everyone’s been counting the days until Facebook finds itself left behind by the next generation of web users. But which social network will it be? With a user base approaching 210 million people across 22 languages, SnapChat is a social network geared for the mobile platform and more favored by younger generations.

Conclusions…

Much of the technology in recent years is driven by the advent of large data and deep learning methods in artificial intelligence. There are many more industries that can be innovated to the same degree that the above list has been – aspiring entrepreneurs take note!

Contextual Advertising Report

In a recent study conducted by GumGum, the world’s leading computer vision technology company, 61% of US respondents reported they would continue to keep spending on contextual advertising. So what is contextual advertising, and why is it so important?

Contextual advertising is a form of artificial intelligence with the goal of creating targeted advertisements for its consumers. The advertisements are selected by an automated system based on the user and the content they enjoy. This approach allows companies to be more specific about the content they distribute and helps them deliver emotionally relevant branded messages.

GumGum recognizes the power of artificial intelligence and contextual advertising. They are dedicated to extracting valuable information from the public and proprietary data sets to implement it for industries across the board. With this knowledge, GumGum with the help of The Drum Studios, decided to conduct a study on contextual advertising. By doing so, GumGum determined the overall growing interest of this type of targeted advertising and why it has become so valuable for businesses.

I wanted to see if you would be interested in connecting with an executive from GumGum to discuss the recent study on contextual advertising. They are also available to discuss the misconceptions of artificial intelligence and contextual advertising. For more information on this study watch, A Walk Down Contextual Lane created by GumGum.

1/3 TripAdvisor Reviews Are Fake

HotelPlanner.com CEO Tim Hentschel explains how the recent report claiming 1 in 3 TripAdvisor reviews are fake.

Despite the report of fake reviews, Hentschel still trusts in TripAdvisor. “Tripadvisor has always kept a Chinese wall between its review department and advertising department,” according to Hentschel.

Hentschel elaborates that “TripAdvisor’s high traffic numbers mean it has always been able to have an independent review department. The site’s advertising sales have always been independently strong like Google or Amazon.”

Additional Tim Hentschel talking points:

  • “This debate is very old in travel tech circles. Everybody has been trying to build the perfect machine to spot fake reviews, but nobody has gotten close yet.”
  • “There are sites that make you verify a purchase before you can post a review, but those can be tricked as well, especially by a hotel or restaurant generating fake receipts.”
  • “Up to a few years ago the general consensus in travel tech circles was overall rating is a good indication of the quality of the project, i.e. anyone can fake a few reviews, but if you have hundreds and thousands of reviews and they are mostly positive or mostly negative, then that is good sign of the overall quality of the product.”
  • “A large problem are sites that charge companies a monthly fee to keep up positive reviews. Yelp is facing multiple lawsuits for this practice.”

HotelPlanner.com, the largest group hotel booking site in the world, was called the “go-to site” for travel planners by The New York Times.