The Wacky Meditation Tool That Serial Entrepreneur Rob Dyrdek Swears

Rob Dyrdek takes a measured approach to his daily activities. The serial entrepreneur and venture studio founder, who happens to also host MTV’s hit show Ridiculousnessa comedy show featuring famous guests like Kylie Jenner–says he schedules out nearly every minute of every day on his calendar, with the goal of maximizing his time and energy.

To wit, Dyrdek organizes his calendar by categories and subcategories, like time with his wife or kids, hitting the gym, brain training, and work. He also wakes up every day and rates from 0 to 10 how he slept, how motivated he feels, and how he felt about various aspects of the previous day, like his life, work, and health. All of this data gets scraped together and aggregated into dashboards, using a program that he paid someone to build.

With that insight, he says, you can move things out of your life you don’t like doing and focus on what makes you happy. “It’s all about how much can you automate and systematize in your existence in order to really live as light as possible,” he says.

What else helps? A little dome time. At 6:30 a.m. almost every day Dyrdek says he spends about 20 minutes time in a Somadome, a large meditation pod that uses colors and binaural beats that play through a headphone (essentially sound therapy) set to help you relax. You climb in, pull down the door, and then choose ambient noise or a specific meditation session like “love” or “heal.”

Dyrdek discovered the pod in January 2018, when a friend told him about it, and his children’s health specialist offered to connect him with the company’s CEO, Sarah Attia. At that time, Dyrdek was unsure of how to tackle a meditation practice, despite the long list of potential benefits. “It just was so ominous a mountain that I wasn’t ready to climb,” he says. “As soon as I wake up, I go. So it’s hard for me to even think, how am I ever going to get myself into a meditative state.”

The Somadome, along with Dyrdek’s other life optimization techniques, he says, makes it easier–especially when meditation has become so useful for helping him reach his goals. In 2018, Dyrdek was negotiating a TV deal for Ridiculousness and was hoping to bolster an eventual sale of his production company, Superjacket Productions, by maximizing the number of episodes slated for the show. During the negotiations, he would sit in his Somadome and visualize how it would feel to stand on stage and say, “Welcome to Season 30.”

He landed on a deal with an “unprecedented” 500-episode order that would mean he’d finish the show in season 30. “So I can’t tell you that the dome did it, but I had clarity,” he says, adding that entrepreneurs often underestimate the extent to which mental precision can help them both design their lives and evolve their businesses. In late 2019, Thrill One Sports & Entertainment acquired Dyrdek’s portfolio companies Superjacket Productions and Street League Skateboarding.

For Dyrdek, the best part about the Somadome is the various features that make difficult things, like remaining calm and clear about what you want out of life and meditating consistently, easy. He paid $25,000 for the device when he bought it and says he’s used it almost daily since. “It’s paid for itself a thousand fold,” he says. A smaller and less expensive version–about $4,000–will soon become available to consumers, according to the company.

By Gabrielle Bienasz

Source: The Wacky Meditation Tool That Serial Entrepreneur Rob Dyrdek Swears By | Inc.com

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Sign up for FREE ezineHandbook contents 5. Editor’s letter: Time to shine 12. Spa Foresight 26. Development Pipeline 68. Industry insights: Industry Predictions 102. Industry insights: The Future of Spa Design 126. Industry insights: Future-Proofing Wellness Design 130. Industry insights: Best of Both Worlds 136. Industry insights: The Colour of Spa 138. Industry insights: Nature & Well-Being 142. Industry insights: Adapting to a post-COVID world 144. Industry insights: Well Rated 148. Industry insights: Future Shock 150. Industry insights: Eating Well 154. US Research: Manner of Speaking 158. UK Research: New Perspectives 162. Global Research: Rest & Relaxation 166. Global Research: The Wellness Effect on Real Estate 170. Global Research: Matter of Minds 174. Global Research: All Booked Up 178. Asia Research: Luxury Travel in the Post COVID-19 World 182. Consultant profile: bbspa_Group 184. Consultant profile: Blu Spas, Inc. 186. Consultant profile: Devin Consulting 188. Consultant profile: Global Project & Spa Advisory 190. Consultant profile: Impact Business Health & Wellbeing 192. Consultant profile: ISM SPA 194. Consultant profile: Robert D Henry Architects 196. Consultant profile: Spa Bureau 198. Consultant profile: The Wellness 200. Spa consultancies & franchises: Contract Management 202. Spa consultancies & franchises: Spa Consultants 211. Spa consultancies & franchises: Spa Franchises 214. Products & services: Company Profiles 304. Products & services: Spa-Kit 312. Products & services: Contact Book 384. Listings: Spa Training Directory 396. Listings: Spa Course Selector 407. Listings: Trade Associations 410. Listings: Events CalendarCompany/Consultancy profiles Aquaform Art of Cryo Barr + Wray Ltd bbspa_Group BC SoftWear Ltd Beltrami Linen S.r.l. Bioline Jatò Blu Spas, Inc. Booker by Mindbody Circadia Comfort Zone Concept Spa & Golf Crown Sports Lockers (UK) Ltd Devin Consulting Dröm UK Ltd Gharieni Group Global Project & Spa Advisory Impact Business Health & Wellbeing IONTO Health & Beauty GmbH ISM SPA Iyashi Dome J Grabner GmbH Kemitron GmbH KLAFS GmbH & Co KG Lemi Group Living Earth Crafts Matrix MCCM Medical Spa Oakworks Inc Phytomer Red Light Rising Ltd ResortSuite RKF Luxury Linen Robert D Henry Architects Soleum Sothys Paris Spa Bureau Spa Vision Starpool TAC | The Assistant Company TechnoAlpin Thalion Laboratories The Wellness TylöHelo Unbescheiden GmbH Universal Companies Vinésime VOYA WDT Werner Dosiertechnik GmbH & Co. KG Wellness Solutions Yon-Ka Zenoti Zimmer MedizinSysteme GmbH
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With Toyota’s Help, This Secretive Entrepreneur May Finally Give Us Flying Cars

JoeBen Bevirt first thought about building an airplane that could take off and land like a helicopter in second grade while trudging up the 4.5-mile road to his family’s home in an off-grid hippie settlement among the redwoods in Northern California. “It was a lonnnnng hill,” Bevirt says, laughing. “It made me dream about a better way.” 

Four decades later, Bevirt is closing in on that goal. On a ranch outside Santa Cruz, the surfing mecca near where he grew up, Bevirt has secretively developed an electric airplane with six tilting propellers that he says can carry a pilot and four passengers 150 miles at up to 200 miles per hour, while being quiet enough to disappear among the hum of city life. He envisions the as-yet-unnamed aircraft, which experts speculate could cost $400,000 to $1.5 million to manufacture, as the foundation for a massive rooftop-to-rooftop air-taxi network—one he plans to build and run himself. His aspiration is to free urbanites from snarled roads and save a billion people an hour a day at the same price (he hopes) as an UberX ride, or roughly $2.50 a mile. 

It sounds crazy, but Bevirt, 47, has some powerful believers. Toyota pumped roughly $400 million into his Joby Aviation in January, joining investors including Laurene Powell Jobs’ Emerson Collective and Jeff Skoll’s Capricorn Investment Group, the latter of which was also an early Tesla backer. In all, Joby has raised $745 million, most recently at a valuation of $2.6 billion. Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda told Bevirt he hopes, through Joby, to realize the flying-car dreams of his grandfather Kiichiro, Toyota Motors’ founder, who developed aircraft before World War II. Toyota engineers are refining components of Joby’s aircraft to make it easier to build on a mass scale more akin to the auto industry than aviation, and helping Bevirt set up a factory in Monterey County where he plans to produce thousands of aircraft a year.

Joby is the best-funded and most valuable of an explosion of startups leveraging advances in batteries and electric motors to try to wean aviation off fossil fuels and create new types of aircraft, including autonomous ones, to serve as air taxis. No one knows how big the industry could get—or if it will get off the ground at all—but Wall Street is spitballing some big numbers. One report from Morgan Stanley estimates the category could generate $674 billion a year in fares worldwide by 2040. 

“If we can fly, we can turn our streets into parks and fundamentally make our cities much nicer places to live in,” Bevirt says. 

Dreamers have been trying (and failing) to build flying cars for 100 years. Skeptics think Joby and its competitors are still at least a decade too early: Today’s best batteries pack 14 times less usable energy by weight than jet fuel. Given how much brute power is needed to propel an aircraft straight up, they say, until batteries improve, electric air taxis will have too little range and carrying capacity to make business sense. Then there’s the tough task of convincing regulators they’ll be safe to fly. 

Bevirt says he can produce a viable, safe aircraft now with top-of-the-line lithium-ion battery cells that currently power electric cars. And Joby is the only startup to commit to Uber’s ambitious timeline of launching an urban air-taxi service in 2023. Bevirt says he’s on track to win safety certification from the Federal Aviation Administration that year, which would likely make Joby the first electric air-taxi maker to clear that daunting hurdle. 

Bevirt was raised in a back-to-the-land community in which he got an early education in engineering, helping fix farm equipment and building homes alongside his father, Ron Bevirt, who was one of the LSD-tripping Merry Pranksters back in the 1960s. (JoeBen is named after a character in Sometimes a Great Notion, written by Pranksters ringleader Ken Kesey, famous for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

As an adult, Bevirt re-created that community with a decidedly capitalistic twist on his secluded 440 acres of woodlands and meadows overlooking the Pacific. The sprawling property, which he purchased with the proceeds from selling earlier businesses—Velocity11, which built liquid-handling robots used for testing potential drugs, and the company behind GorillaPod, a flexible camera tripod—includes a former quarry where Bevirt conducted early test flights. Employees have lived in small cottages on the property and built houses nearby. Before locking in on developing an aircraft, he incubated other startups there, with everyone working together in a cavernous barn. Bevirt started an organic farm to feed them, with chickens and bees yielding eggs and honey. 

The environment bred a tight-knit team – some Joby Aviation staffers start their day surfing together and end it with pizza parties around an outdoor oven. Group meetings are punctuated by choruses of “woots.”

“It’s a high-fiving, hugging culture, and that really flows from JoeBen,” says Jim Adler, managing director at Toyota AI Ventures, who convinced his colleagues to invest in Joby in 2017. “He’s high-energy, and it’s contagious.” 

While Joby is participating in Uber’s aerial ride-sharing plans, a big part of Bevirt’s business model involves running his own ride-sharing network. That helped attract investors. “If it was just a vehicle, I would not have been moved to invest if there wasn’t a service wrapped around it,” Adler says. 

Building the required landing pads, booking software and other infrastructure, though, will require a lot more cash—and patience—from investors. Joby has no plans to sell its aircraft outside of building its own fleet, further delaying the day when investors can recoup the billions that will likely be needed to scale up. 

Joby’s five-seat design boosts its revenue potential for ride sharing compared to the smaller, more mechanically simple two-seat multicopters being developed by Germany’s Volocopter and China’s EHang. The downside of Joby’s size: weight. A big part of that heft comes from the batteries, and it’s unclear if they’ll have enough juice to do the job, according to modeling by the lab of Carnegie Mellon battery expert Venkat Viswanathan, based on aircraft specs Bevirt shared with Forbes. 

For Joby to achieve the 150-mile range it says the 4,800-pound gross weight aircraft is capable of (but has yet to achieve in flight testing), plus FAA-required reserves, Viswanathan’s team estimates it needs a 2,200-pound battery pack. Subtracting 1,000 pounds for five passengers leaves only 1,600 pounds for the airframe, seats and avionics—a slim 33% of gross weight. That’s 35% lower than any certified production airplane. The upshot: Either Joby has built an unprecedentedly light and efficient airframe, as Bevirt maintains, or its range will turn out to be lower. (For more details on Joby’s batteries, click here.) Another concern: Getting approval from the FAA might require safety tweaks that weigh it down. 

“What we’re doing, it’s an insanely hard undertaking,” Bevirt says. “Not only the technical challenge of the aircraft [but] then changing the way everyone on Earth moves around on a daily basis.”  

See also: ‘Has Joby Cracked The Power Problem To Make Electric Air Taxis Work?’

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Joby’s five-seat design boosts its revenue potential for ride sharing compared to the smaller, more mechanically simple two-seat multicopters being developed by Germany’s Volocopter and China’s EHang. The downside of Joby’s size: weight. A big part of that heft comes from the batteries, and it’s unclear if they’ll have enough juice to do the job, according to modeling by the lab of Carnegie Mellon battery expert Venkat Viswanathan, based on aircraft specs Bevirt shared with Forbes. 

For Joby to achieve the 150-mile range it says the 4,800-pound gross weight aircraft is capable of (but has yet to achieve in flight testing), plus FAA-required reserves, Viswanathan’s team estimates it needs a 2,200-pound battery pack. Subtracting 1,000 pounds for five passengers leaves only 1,600 pounds for the airframe, seats and avionics—a slim 33% of gross weight. That’s 35% lower than any certified production airplane. The upshot: Either Joby has built an unprecedentedly light and efficient airframe, as Bevirt maintains, or its range will turn out to be lower. (For more details on Joby’s batteries, click here.) Another concern: Getting approval from the FAA might require safety tweaks that weigh it down. 

“What we’re doing, it’s an insanely hard undertaking,” Bevirt says. “Not only the technical challenge of the aircraft [but] then changing the way everyone on Earth moves around on a daily basis.”  

See also: ‘Has Joby Cracked The Power Problem To Make Electric Air Taxis Work?’

Get Forbes’ daily top headlines straight to your inbox for news on the world’s most important entrepreneurs and superstars, expert career advice, and success secrets.Jeremy Bogaisky

I help direct our coverage of autos, energy and manufacturing, and write about aerospace and defense. Send tips to jbogaisky[at]forbes.com

Joby’s five-seat design boosts its revenue potential for ride sharing compared to the smaller, more mechanically simple two-seat multicopters being developed by Germany’s Volocopter and China’s EHang. The downside of Joby’s size: weight. A big part of that heft comes from the batteries, and it’s unclear if they’ll have enough juice to do the job, according to modeling by the lab of Carnegie Mellon battery expert Venkat Viswanathan, based on aircraft specs Bevirt shared with Forbes. 

For Joby to achieve the 150-mile range it says the 4,800-pound gross weight aircraft is capable of (but has yet to achieve in flight testing), plus FAA-required reserves, Viswanathan’s team estimates it needs a 2,200-pound battery pack. Subtracting 1,000 pounds for five passengers leaves only 1,600 pounds for the airframe, seats and avionics—a slim 33% of gross weight. That’s 35% lower than any certified production airplane. The upshot: Either Joby has built an unprecedentedly light and efficient airframe, as Bevirt maintains, or its range will turn out to be lower. (For more details on Joby’s batteries, click here.) Another concern: Getting approval from the FAA might require safety tweaks that weigh it down. 

“What we’re doing, it’s an insanely hard undertaking,” Bevirt says. “Not only the technical challenge of the aircraft [but] then changing the way everyone on Earth moves around on a daily basis.”  

See also: ‘Has Joby Cracked The Power Problem To Make Electric Air Taxis Work?’

Get Forbes’ daily top headlines straight to your inbox for news on the world’s most important entrepreneurs and superstars, expert career advice, and success secrets.Jeremy Bogaisky

I help direct our coverage of autos, energy and manufacturing, and write about aerospace and defense. Send tips to jbogaisky[at]forbes.com

Jeremy Bogaisky

I help direct our coverage of autos, energy and manufacturing, and write about aerospace and defense. Send tips to jbogaisky[at]forbes.com

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Santa Cruz Works

JoeBen Bevirt from Joby Aviation at The Second Annual – Titans of Tech on Jan. 25, 2018. http://santacruzworks.orghttp://www.jobyaviation.com Filmed by Bitframe Media – https://www.bitframemedia.com

Verizon Launches Yahoo-Branded Smartphone For $50

Verizon is launching a purple Yahoo smartphone for $50, the first device from the once-ascendant tech company, which comes at a time when Verizon seems to be figuring  out what to do with the former search giant.

With its budget-friendly price point, the Yahoo Mobile ZTE Blade A3Y doesn’t have the latest and greatest specs: The phone will ship with a 5.4-inch 720p display, an Android 10 operating system, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, a fingerprint scanner and face unlock.

Yahoo’s apps will come pre-installed, including Yahoo Mail, News, Sports and Weather.

The phone won’t be able to access Verizon’s newly launched 5G network, which isn’t a surprise considering its low price.

Verizon has already pushed Yahoo into a smartphone industry with Yahoo Mobile, a phone plan launched in March that charges customers $40 for unlimited talk, text and data on Verizon’s 4G LTE network. 

Key Background

Yahoo was a major player in the 90s and early aughts, but it never figured out how to compete with Google, and even turned down an opportunity to buy Google for $1 billion in 2002. Yahoo then acquired Flickr and Tumblr in an attempt to grow past its email and search engine, but even those services were eventually eclipsed by other social media companies. Verizon bought Yahoo in 2017 for 4.83 billion, then a shell of its former self, and put it under its media arm. In its heyday, Yahoo’s market cap reached a whopping $125 billion in January 2000.

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Tangent

Verizon also bought HuffPost and TechCrunch through its acquisition of AOL in 2015. Now, Verizon is trying to sell off HuffPost, but is reportedly struggling to find a buyer. Follow me on Twitter. Send me a secure tip.

Rachel Sandler

 Rachel Sandler

I’m a San Francisco-based reporter covering breaking news at Forbes. I’ve previously reported for USA Today, Business Insider, The San Francisco Business Times and San Jose Inside. I studied journalism at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and was an editor at The Daily Orange, the university’s independent student newspaper. Follow me on Twitter @rachsandl or shoot me an email rsandler@forbes.com.

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Boyd Digital: Global Tech News 1.91K subscribers Reported today on The Verge For the full article visit: https://www.theverge.com/2020/3/11/21… Reported today in The Verge. Verizon launches Yahoo Mobile phone service Verizon is launching a Yahoo-branded mobile phone service called Yahoo Mobile in an attempt to use consumers’ total apathy toward familiarity with the Yahoo brand to kickstart a new wireless provider.

Yahoo Mobile works off of Verizon’s network and offers only one plan: unlimited LTE data for $40 per month, plus throttled tethering and a subscription to Yahoo Mail Pro. It’s a good price; Verizon charges $65 per month for a prepaid unlimited plan, and AT&T charges $45 per month. If this all just feels like a lazy attempt to recycle the Yahoo brand, well, it gets worse: Yahoo Mobile is basically just a rebranded version of Visible, which is another spinoff phone service operated by Yahoo.

The singular plan is the same, their websites match up beat for beat, and Yahoo Mobile even offers Visible’s phone insurance plan under Visible’s name. Verizon closed its purchase of Yahoo close to three years ago. The deal included the Yahoo brand and major web services like Flickr and Tumblr. But Verizon was mainly interested in Yahoo’s ad technology, and it’s done little with Yahoo.

Both Flickr and Tumblr have since been sold off, and Yahoo’s biggest announcements have been payouts for data breaches. Spinoff carriers like Yahoo Mobile and Visible let Verizon diversify its business and test out new ways of selling wireless service. Verizon isn’t exactly a beloved brand, but Visible has hip branding and a simple pricing structure – something that might appeal to younger customers. Yahoo Mobile offers another take on that, just with the extremely appealing added perk of… subscription Yahoo Mail.

Japanese Supercomputer Shows How Coronavirus Spreads In A Dining Setting

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised its guidance to say that the Covid-19 virus can “linger in the air for minutes to hours” and occur between people spaced more than six feet apart.  

This followed a CDC study last month that found that adults with Covid-19 were twice as likely to have dined out at a restaurant within two weeks prior to being infected.

A new simulation from the Fugaku supercomputer in Japan demonstrates how the seating arrangement can make a difference to how easily the coronavirus is transmitted to dining companions at the same table. Recommended For You

Japanese researchers from Kobe University and the research giant Riken tasked Fugaku, the world’s fastest supercomputer, to model how the coronavirus spreads in a typical dining situation. The simulation shows the emission and flow of aerosol particles when four people are sitting a table and speaking without masks on.

The first takeaway from the Fugaku simulation is that the seating arrangement matters. When an infected individual speaks to dining companions seated across the table, four times as many exhaled aerosol droplets reach the person seated directly across the table compared to the person seated diagonally from the speaker.

The person seated next to an infected person is the most at risk. When an infected person turns his head sideways to speak to the dining companion next to him, that individual is exposed to more than five times the amount of exhaled droplets than the individual directly across the table from the speaker.

This research also implies that diners can further reduce risk by keeping face masks on when conversing before food arrives and after they have finished eating.

“When people with Covid-19 cough, sneeze, sing, talk, or breathe they produce respiratory droplets,” explains the CDC guidance. “These droplets can range in size from larger droplets (some of which are visible) to smaller droplets. Small droplets can also form particles when they dry very quickly in the airstream.”

A second takeaway from the same Japanese research is that humidity levels can have a significant impact on how easily droplets are transmitted. The scientists found that fewer droplets are dispersed when humidity is higher, which suggests that the use of humidifiers in indoor settings may help limit infections if window ventilation is not possible.

Public health experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, have expressed concern about dining in dry, heated indoor environments during the the winter months. “People will be spending more time indoors, and that’s not good for combating a respiratory-borne virus,” Fauci told MSNBC.

Toward that effort, the leaders of New York City and Chicago and other cities are creating initiatives to make outdoor dining a reality throughout the coming winter.

Fugaku is the product of a $1 billion, decade-long mission by several thousand developers from the government-run Riken Center for Computational Science and computer maker Fujitsu. Since the pandemic began, Fugaku has been creating simulations that demonstrate the ease with which the coronavirus spreads in various settings, including on trains, in work spaces and in classrooms.

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Follow me on LinkedIn. Check out my website

Suzanne Rowan Kelleher

Suzanne Rowan Kelleher

I’m always looking for new ways to travel better, smarter, deeper and cheaper, and spend a lot of time watching trends at the intersection of travel and technology. As a longtime freelance travel writer, I’ve contributed hundreds of articles to Conde Nast Traveler, CNN Travel, Travel Leisure, Afar, Reader’s Digest, TripSavvy, Parade, NBCNews.com, Good Housekeeping, Parents, Parenting, Esquire, Newsweek, The Boston Globe and scores of other outlets. Over the years, I’ve run an authoritative family vacation-planning site; interviewed Michelin-starred chefs, ship captains, taxi drivers and dog mushers; reviewed hundreds of places to stay, from stately castles and windswept lighthouses to rustic cabins and kitschy motels; ridden the iconic Orient Express; basked in the glory of Machu Picchu; and much more. Follow me on Instagram (@suzannekelleher) and Flipboard (@SRKelleher).

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The Pandemic Plutocrats: How Covid Is Creating New Fintech Billionaires

n 2015, Nick Molnar was living with his parents in Sydney, Australia, and selling jewelry from a desktop computer in his childhood bedroom. Hocking everything from $250 Seiko watches to $10,000 engagement rings, the 25-year-old had gotten so good at online marketing that he had become Australia’s top seller of jewelry on eBay, shipping thousands of packages a day.

That same year, he teamed up with Anthony Eisen, a former investment banker who was 19 years his senior and lived across the street. They cofounded Afterpay, an online service that allows shoppers from the U.S., U.K., Australia, New Zealand and Canada to pay for small-ticket items like shoes and shirts in four interest-free payments over six weeks. “I was a Millennial who grew up in the 2008 crisis, and I saw this big shift away from credit to debit,” the now 30-year-old Molnar says today. Either lacking credit cards or fearful of racking up high-interest-rate debt on their credit cards, Molnar’s generation was quick to embrace this new way to buy and get merchandise now, while paying a little later.

Five years later, Molnar and Eisen, who each own roughly 7% of the company, have become billionaires—during a pandemic. After initially tanking at the start of lockdowns, shares of Afterpay—which went public in 2016—are up nearly tenfold, thanks to a surge in business tied to ecommerce sales. In the second quarter, it handled $3.8 billion of transactions, an increase of 127% versus the same period a year earlier.


Buy Now, Pay Later

After a steep drop in Afterpay’s stock in March, the ecommerce boom and credit card-weary Millennials have propelled the installment payment company’s stock to record highs, nearly doubling its value in six months. 

They are not the only ones whose fortunes have taken off in the last few months. According to Forbes’ analysis, at least five fintech entrepreneurs including the two Aussies have been vaulted into the billionaire rankings by the pandemic. Others include Chris Britt, founder of digital bank Chime, and Vlad Tenev and Baiju Bhatt, the co-CEOs of “free” stock trading app Robinhood. Several other founders from such companies as Klarna and Marqeta have also gotten boosts and are suddenly approaching billionaire status. 

As in other sectors, the Covid recession has created both fintech winners and losers. For example, LendingClub, which offers personal loans to higher-risk consumers, laid off 30% of staff; small business lender On Deck was sold in a fire sale.

But for a sizable crop of consumer-facing and payments-related fintechs, the virus has delivered a gust of growth, just as it has for e-commerce behemoth Amazon and work-from-home players Zoom, Slack and DocuSign. 

“Consumer fintech adoption was already strong pre-pandemic, especially among the 20s to early 40s age group,” says Victoria Treyger, a general partner who leads fintech investing at Felicis Ventures. “The pandemic has become a growth rocket, fueling the rapid acceleration of adoption across all age groups, including 40- to 60-year-olds.”

Several Covid-driven developments are helping specific types of fintech players. For example, consumers’ shift to more online spending and delivery services is a boon to certain companies powering payments. Marqeta, a specialized payments processor whose clients include Instacart, DoorDash and Postmates, has been in talks to go public at an $8 billion valuation, four times what it was valued at in March of 2019. That would give CEO Jason Gardner, who owns an estimated 10% of Marqeta, a stake worth $800 million.

Meanwhile, the $2 trillion-plus CARES Act Congress passed in March, with its $1,200 per adult stimulus checks, student loan payment holiday and (now expired) $600 a week unemployment supplements, helped many Americans keep financially above water—and some digital banks like Chime to prosper. 

Debit It!

Spending on the travel and luxury items U.S. consumers typically put on credit cards has fallen with the pandemic, while spending on debit card necessities is up.

In the second quarter of 2020, amid Covid lockdowns and fears, consumers slashed spending on travel, restaurants and luxury items they usually put on their credit cards, but continued to spend on necessities and smaller items—the sort of things they’re more likely to pay for with debit cards. During that quarter, Visa credit card transaction volumes were down 24% from the year before, while debit card transactions were up 10%, according to research firm MoffettNathanson. And debit cards (rather than checks or credit cards) are the spending vehicle most frequently offered by fintech neobanks like SoFi, Dave and MoneyLion.

San Francisco-based digital bank Chime, in particular, has used the stimulus payments to its advantage. In mid-April, about a week before the $1,200 government-stimulus checks started hitting Americans’ accounts, the company advanced customers that money, eventually extending over $1.5 billion. “Following the stimulus advance, we had the largest day for new enrollments in the history of the company,” CEO Britt reports.

The pandemic has depressed total consumer spending, and the unemployment rate remains at a high 8.4%—two factors that affect Chime’s middle-income customer base. Yet on a per-user basis, “average spend per customer is up over last year,” Britt says. “Part of the reason for that is the government programs around stimulus payments and unemployment.” 

Today, Chime’s annualized revenue is running at a $600 million rate, according to a person familiar with the private company’s numbers. At its eye-popping new valuation of $14.5 billion announced along with a $485 million fundraise in mid-September, venture capitalists are valuing the company at 24 times its revenue. Some investors are asking if Chime should get such a lofty value when Green Dot, a publicly traded fintech that offers checking accounts and prepaid debit cards for low-income customers, trades at two times revenue. “We really look more like a payments-processing business,” answers Britt. That’s because virtually all of Chime’s revenue comes from interchange—the fees merchants pay when Chime’s users swipe their debit cards. The company doesn’t make money on interest through its new secured credit card (that’s a starter card where the holder puts up money to cover his or her credit limit), although Britt says he doesn’t rule out lending in the future. 

Now Britt himself has sailed into the “three comma club.” Forbes estimates his Chime stake is at least 10%, meaning his holdings are worth $1.3 billion-plus (Forbes applies a 10% discount to all private company holdings). And he’s planning an IPO. “Over the next 12 months, we have a number of initiatives to get done to make us even more IPO-ready,” he says. 

Then there’s the Robinhood phenomenon. The boredom of being stuck at home, wild stock market swings, and government stimulus checks have turned some Millennials and Generation Zers into day traders and options players. Robinhood’s most recent fundraising round in September gave it an $11.7 billion valuation and its cofounders a paper net worth of $1 billion each. But considering Morgan Stanley’s $13 billion February acquisition of E-Trade and Schwab’s earlier purchase of TD Ameritrade for $26 billion, some think Robinhood could garner a $20 billion valuation if it went public or were acquired.  

If there’s one fintech segment that has been an unalloyed pandemic winner, it’s the business Afterpay is in: online point-of-sale installment financing. It’s benefitting from both consumers’ shift to online buying and their reluctance, in these uncertain economic times, to take on new credit card debt.

While Afterpay’s Nick Molnar and Anthony Eisen hit billionaire status in July, their competitors aren’t far behind. Take Klarna, which was founded in Stockholm in 2005 and entered the U.S. market in 2016. Two of the three founders, Sebastian Siemiatkowski and Niklas Adalberth, met while flipping patties at a Burger King in Sweden. They pioneered the buy-now, pay-later model in fintech, calling it “try before you buy” and letting people own products for 30 days before making their first payment. (That’s a lot more attractive than old-fashioned layaway, the store system once popular for Christmas gifts and large appliance purchases, in which buyers had to make all their installment payments before getting an item.) 

Klarna charges retailers 3% to 4% of each transaction—slightly lower than the 4-5% Afterpay charges—to offer its service. One key difference that separates the two companies: Klarna is becoming a full-fledged financial services business. It became a licensed bank in Sweden in 2017 and offers longer-term financing of up to 24 months, with interest charged, for high-ticket items like laptops sold through a small number of retailers. Siemiatkowski has already turned Klarna into a digital bank in Europe with a debit card for spending on everyday purchases. He’ll likely do the same in the U.S. soon.

The pandemic has catapulted Klarna’s business onto a steep trajectory. By the end of 2020’s first half, its U.S. customer base hit nine million, up 550% from the same period the year before. Globally, 55,000 consumers are downloading the Klarna app every day, more than two times last year’s pace. Klarna is now available in 19 countries, has 90 million users and expects to bring in more than $1 billion in revenue this year. When it raised a new round of funding last week, its valuation nearly doubled from a year ago, hitting $10.7 billion.

Cofounder Victor Jacobsson has a 10% stake, while Siemiatkowski’s has 8% in the still-private company. (Niklas Adalberth retains just 0.4% after selling some shares to fund his philanthropic organization and investing in startups. Neither he nor Jacobsson are still involved in Klarna.)

Affirm has also enjoyed a special Covid kicker from pricey home fitness gear. Since 2015, it has powered financing for Peloton, whose sales have surged as affluent young consumers, missing the motivation of group exercise classes, have flocked to buy the $2,000-plus stationary bikes with their streaming workout classes. Affirm also now finances purchases of Mirror, the hot $1,495 in-home fitness coaching device acquired by Lululemon this summer. 

Of course, the fintech companies’ current lofty valuations depend on consumer spending staying strong and consumers retaining some of the online shopping habits they’ve developed over the past six months. With a pre-election agreement between Congress and the White House on a new stimulus package looking unlikely and the future course of Covid-19 unknown, there are no guarantees. But for now, these fintechs are riding high.

Jeff Kauflin

Jeff Kauflin

I cover fintech, cryptocurrencies, blockchain and investing at Forbes. I’ve also written frequently about leadership, corporate diversity and entrepreneurs. Before Forbes, I worked for ten years in marketing consulting, in roles ranging from client consulting to talent management. I’m a graduate of Middlebury College and Columbia Journalism School. Have a tip, question or comment? Email me jkauflin@forbes.com or send tips here: https://www.forbes.com/tips/. Follow me on Twitter @jeffkauflin. Disclosure: I own some bitcoin and ether.

Eliza Haverstock

Eliza Haverstock

I’m an assistant editor at Forbes covering money and markets. I graduated from the University of Virginia with degrees in history and economics. More importantly, I covered breaking news for its student paper The Cavalier Daily, while also writing for the school’s underground satire magazine. Since then, I’ve worked at Bloomberg and Pitchbook News, writing about everything from plastic straws to pizza robots. 

What are FinTech startups up to during Covid-19 lockdown? Smartphones becoming the primary means by which people access the internet lead to mushrooming of several FinTech players who brought about disruption in financial services. So, even as everyone is holed up in their homes but seamlessly connected through internet, how deeply are FinTech startups really impacted?

The answer is not as simple as it may look. Over the years, FinTech has become an umbrella term for a host of tech-enabled financial companies—digital payment platforms, online lenders and financial product companies—with starkly different business models. On one hand, insuretech startups are witnessing a sharp increase in demand during the COVID-19 crisis, but on the other hand online lenders are starting to worry about default in loan repayments.

Moreover, like most sectors, FinTech startups too are grappling with business challenges ranging from fundraising to employees to customer engagement. Through this webinar, we aim to learn how FinTech startups should look at ways to connect, innovate and disrupt the financial services industry further. For regular updates on entrepreneurship & business trends, follow us on: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Entrepreneur… Twitter: https://twitter.com/EntrepreneurIND LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/entr… Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/entrepreneu…

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