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Kaiser CEO Bernard Tyson Dies Unexpectedly, Here Is His Impact

In stunning news, healthcare lost a major leader today. Bernard J. Tyson, the Chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente, unexpectedly passed away in his sleep at just 60 years young. Unexpected is an understatement since it was only yesterday when Tyson was a guest speaker at the AfroTech gathering in Oakland as shown by this tweet:

                               

And three days prior, he had been in New York City to speak at the Fast Company Innovation Festival as seen in this picture:

Today In: Innovation

Discussing and advocating for key health issues was a big part of Tyson’s life. Through my career, I have met many hospital, health clinic, and insurance executives, and Tyson without a doubt has stood out from most of the rest. He was far from a “mind the store and pick up the paycheck” CEO. Sure, we can rattle off what happened to the typical metrics used to measure hospital and insurance CEO’s since he became Kaiser Permanente’s CEO in 2013 and it’s Chairman of the board of directors in 2014. Kaiser Permanente went from having 9.1 million members to 12.3 million, employing a workforce of 174,000 to 218,000, and generating $53 billion in annual revenues to $82.8 billion. These are all very impressive jumps but do not begin to capture the larger and what I think are the more important steps that have occurred.

Tyson has helped Kaiser Permanente become a leader in transforming how healthcare systems can have a greater impact on population health. Historically, many hospitals and much of the health care system in the U.S. have been way too focused on inpatient and “sick” care, because surprise, surprise, that’s where the immediate money seems to be. You can make a whole lot more money today trying to fix a medical problem (and even failing horribly to fix it) than preventing the problem in the first place.

This has made much of healthcare far too reactive, waiting for problems to occur, too focused on repairing people after they have already been broken. It’s like waiting at the of the wall for Humpty Dumpty to fall rather than helping him down from the wall or at least installing some seat belts. It can also be analogous to waiting for a car to fall into pieces before you take it (or rather carry it in a bag) to the shop and ask the mechanic, “hey, can you do something about patching everything together? I need to drive to a date tonight.”

Under Tyson’s leadership, Kaiser Permanente has taken major steps to expand the role of health care beyond the walls of hospitals and clinics. For example, as I reported previously for Forbes, there are the ongoing initiatives to address obesity and homelessness in the communities surrounding Kaiser facilities. Tyson covers the latter in this Kaiser Permanente video:

                                  

Another example is their first-of-its-kind partnership with the National Basketball Association (NBA) to tackle (or rather, since it’s basketball, assist with) children’s health issues, which I also have written about for Forbes.

Then there’s climate change, which for Pete’s and everyone else’s sake exists. Recognizing the impact that all of their facilities and many employees can have on pollution and the climate, Kaiser Permanente has been taking steps to become carbon neutral by 2020.

If this doesn’t sound like your typical hospital system or clinic, it isn’t. Tyson hasn’t been your typical healthcare system CEO either. When I spoke to Tyson earlier this year, the conversation was more about a vision of how healthcare should be and what a good healthcare system should be doing rather than a review of how great things already are. He didn’t dwell on dollar signs and listing the clinical services that Kaiser and its many physicians offer. Instead, he talked at length about how Kaiser was trying to not just be reactive but rather address the “social determinants of health” such as “improving basic infrastructure, promoting healthy eating, working on exercise, and taking care of the key ingredients to promoting health.” As he emphasized, “great health care is not just engaged with treatment.”

Tyson also pointed to a part of the body that healthcare systems frequently neglect. No, not the feet or the spleen. It’s the head or more specifically the mind, which incidentally should be connected to the rest of your body. As Tyson mentioned, Kaiser has been “extremely focused on the mind, as in mental health and well-being,” and “looking at the whole person.” He spoke of the “comprehensive package, looking at health and health care.” Again, while healthcare systems may talk about mental health and well-being, talk is cheap. They often don’t mind the gap or rather address the gap in taking care of the mind in the community. How many have actually invested in community well-being programs as Kaiser Permanente has?

Of course, Kaiser Permanente does have strong incentives to keep its millions upon millions of members healthy since it serves the dual purpose of insurer and healthcare system. However, this dual role alone may not necessarily lead to transformative change. When you talk to Tyson, you never got the sense that he was just spewing platitudes. Rather, expanding healthcare these directions seemed to be a passion.

For example, take a look at his experiences as a child. As he related to me, he was “greatly impacted by a wonderful mother, who was sick all of my life and wonderful doctor who take care of her and us.” This combined with the fact that his “father was a minister” meant that his “line of sight was always the community of the congregation. The community was the family.” He spoke of “having resources in the community and encouragement with multiple ‘moms’ who raised me as a child. The community came together,” and offered “a support system that you can rely on, that was in your corner,” that was encouraging, “you to be all that you can be.”

Certainly, Tyson was much more than the color of his skin. Nevertheless, in this day and age, color of the skin still unfortunately can be a major barrier in healthcare. It was an important step that Tyson, as a racial minority, became the leader of the largest nonprofit health plan and integrated delivery system in the United States. This brought a little more demographic diversity to healthcare leadership, which remains way too homogeneous. If you look at pictures of many healthcare system executives, the colors of the neckties are often more diverse that the colors of the skin. Tyson helped get many people more used to seeing an effective and forward-thinking healthcare system leader from a different background.

Tyson didn’t shy away from talking about how race, ethnicity, gender, and sexual orientation either. These demographic characteristics still unfortunately affect healthcare inside and outside hospital and clinic walls. In fact, he had strong interests in reducing disparities of care as well and said, “The fact that someone may not be getting what they should be getting because color of skin or sexual orientation is unacceptable. Period. No sentence to follow.”

The Kaiser Board of Directors has named Gregory A. Adams to fill Tyson’s shoes as Chairman and CEO on an interim basis. These are certainly big shoes to fill. Adams is no stranger to the Kaiser system as he had been reporting to Tyson as the Executive Vice President and Group President, overseeing all eight Kaiser Permanente Regions that includes 38 hospitals and 651 medical office facilities. Additionally, Adams has led Kaiser Permanente’s national Medicare care delivery strategy and was responsible for Kaiser Permanente’s partnership with the NBA. Adams appears in this video covering the launch of the NBA partnership:

                                

Adams has been with Kasier Permanente since 1999, beginning at Kaiser Permanente in Southern California and subsequently holding positions with increasing leadership responsibility. Adams’ Kaiser Permanente biography includes more information on his background.

In a statement, Ed Pei, Kaiser Permanente board member and Chair of its Executive Committee and the Governance, Accountability and Nominating Committee, said: “Bernard was an exceptional colleague, a passionate leader, and an honorable man. We will greatly miss him. The board has full confidence in Greg Adams’ ability to lead Kaiser Permanente through this unexpected transition.”

Indeed, in his five years as CEO and over 30 years in the Kaiser system, Tyson made a major impact on healthcare that went well beyond hospital and clinic walls in many ways. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to see all that he could have done with more years at the helm.

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I am a writer, journalist, professor, systems modeler, computational and digital health expert, avocado-eater, and entrepreneur, not always in that order. Currently, I am a Professor of Health Policy and Management at the City University of New York (CUNY), Executive Director of PHICOR (@PHICORteam), Associate Professor at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, and founder and CEO of Symsilico. My previous positions include serving as Executive Director of the Global Obesity Prevention Center (GOPC) at Johns Hopkins University, Associate Professor of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Associate Professor of Medicine and Biomedical Informatics at the University of Pittsburgh, and Senior Manager at Quintiles Transnational, working in biotechnology equity research at Montgomery Securities, and co-founding a biotechnology/bioinformatics company. My work involves developing computational approaches, models, and tools to help health and healthcare decision makers in all continents (except for Antarctica) and has been supported by a wide variety of sponsors such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the NIH, AHRQ, CDC, UNICEF, USAID and the Global Fund. I have authored over 200 scientific publications and three books. Follow me on Twitter (@bruce_y_lee) but don’t ask me if I know martial arts.

Source: Kaiser CEO Bernard Tyson Dies Unexpectedly, Here Is His Impact

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The Kaiser Permanente model is all about integration and partnerships, and how everything comes together for patients, said Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard Tyson. Tyson thus has to balance his time with both internal and external constituents, which is a non-trivial task for an organization of Kaiser Permanent’s size. “The outside influences so much of what happens on the inside, that I have to spend a lot of my time with customers, the government and other key parties.” In his visit to Systems Leadership on April 25, 2019, Tyson spoke with Lecturer Robert Siegel on the challenges of running an $80B per year company in a complex world while still focusing on the goal of keeping patients healthy.
Read more on Medium: https://stanford.io/2XZKhTZ

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Getting To Know The Man Who Did The Most To Nourish Free Enterprise In China: Jack Ma

Most everyone has probably heard of Jack Ma and Alibaba. But, few understand the true immensity—and importance—of what Ma, the co-founder and former executive chairman of Alibaba Group, has done. We had a fascinating conversation at the Forbes Global CEO Summit in Singapore, where we discussed what he did at Alibaba, one of the most formidable e-commerce companies in the world, and his future plans and aspirations.

By providing people in China with a powerful online platform to market their products and services with Alibaba, he nourished millions of small businesses — and the cause of free enterprise. Thanks to Ma, countless numbers of Chinese businesses and individuals can obtain loans and other financial services that would otherwise be unavailable from traditional institutions within China. He also enabled small enterprises everywhere, including the US, to easily trade with entities in China.

Having recently stepped down from Alibaba, Ma is moving into philanthropy, big time, to promote entrepreneurship and education, among other things.

Struggling students will take heart at the fact that Ma was a poor student, frequently flunking his exams. Furthermore, his success was not immediate; numerous employers turned him down when he first entered the workforce.

Ma’s story validates Adam Smith’s truth that commerce benefits us all, and free markets are the best poverty fighters ever created.

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Steve Forbes is Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Media.
Steve’s newest project is the podcast “What’s Ahead,” where he engages the world’s top newsmakers, politicians and pioneers in business and economics in honest conversations meant to challenge traditional conventions as well as featuring Steve’s signature views on the intersection of society, economic and policy.

Steve helped create the recently released and highly acclaimed public television documentary, In Money We Trust?, which was produced under the auspices of Maryland Public television. The film was inspired by the book he co-authored, Money: How the Destruction of the Dollar Threatens the Global Economy – and What We Can Do About It.

Source: Getting To Know The Man Who Did The Most To Nourish Free Enterprise In China: Jack Ma

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Jeff Bezos Is No Longer The Richest Person In The World After Amazon Stock Plunges

Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos lost his title as the richest man in the world during after-hours trading on Thursday, following a lackluster third-quarter earnings call from his ecommerce behemoth.

Amazon shares fell 7% in after-hours trading, knocking Bezos’ fortune down to $103.9 billion. That puts him at number two among the world’s richest. The new number one: Microsoft cofounder and fellow Washington state resident Bill Gates, who is worth $105.7 billion.

Bezos became the richest man in the world in 2018 and the first centibillionaire to ever appear on the The Forbes 400 that year with a net worth of $160 billion, ending Gates’ 24-year run as number one.

Today In: Billionaires

But the Amazon chief executive’s net worth drop isn’t entirely due to the decline in Amazon shares. Bezos transferred a quarter of his Amazon stake to his ex-wife MacKenzie Bezos as part of their divorce settlement, which was finalized earlier this year. MacKenzie Bezos is worth $32.7 billion, and among the top twenty wealthiest people in the world.

On Thursday afternoon, Amazon reported a 26% drop in net income in its third quarter, its first profit decline since 2017.  In after-hours trading, Amazon dropped nearly 9% to $1,624 per share in the 20 minutes after the market closed. It has since rebounded slightly, hovering at $1,657 per share at 7:30 p.m. ET.

The company said it is investing heavily in logistics and delivery infrastructure, with the goal of making one-day shipping the norm for Amazon Prime members. The company disclosed during its second quarter earnings call in July that it had spent “a little bit” more than the estimated $800 million that it has previously said it would invest in one-day shipping infrastructure. The company declined to disclose how much it had spent on one-day shipping in the third quarter. But chief financial officer Brian Olsavsky did disclose Thursday that the company plans to spend $1.5 billion in the fourth quarter, presumably to finance the one-day shipping initiative.

Gates, meanwhile, has been out of Microsoft since 2014 when he stepped down as chairman of the storied company, though he remains a board member. He has sold or given away the majority of his Microsoft stake and diversified his wealth over time. He is now the co-chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the largest private charitable foundation in the world.

Bill Gates debuted on Forbes’ first ever billionaire list in 1987 with a net worth of $1.25 billion. Bezos first joined The Forbes 400 list of richest Americans in 1998, one year after Amazon went public, with a net worth of $1.6 billion.

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Angel Au-Yeung has been a reporter on staff at Forbes Magazine since 2017. She covers the world’s wealthiest entrepreneurs and tracks how they use their money and power.

 

Source: Jeff Bezos Is No Longer The Richest Person In The World After Amazon Stock Plunges

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A detailed look at the most expensive divorce in history where Jeff Bezos, the richest person in the world is set to lose almost half of his net worth. Follow us! Twitter: https://twitter.com/MrLuxuryBrand Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/MrLuxuryBrand Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MrLuxuryBrand Support the Channel! https://www.patreon.com/MrLuxury Why Jeff Bezos Will No Longer Be The Richest Person

Singapore Startup: This HR Tech Firm Worth $100 Million Is Ready To Conquer Asia

In the dizzying world of technology startups, it’s easy to get lost in the hype of hot trends such as AI, blockchain, VR/AR and machine learning. What is often forgotten is the fact that some of the best startups in the world solve the simplest of problems.

This is exactly the approach that Pascal Henry, who is the CEO and cofounder of HReasily, took when he identified the fundamental needs of rapidly growing SMEs–to manage their human resources more efficiently.

Henry launched his Singapore-based HR firm in late 2015 as a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) business that enables companies to increase productivity by using technology to streamline traditional processes such as payroll processing, leave management and expense claims.

When I was running my first startup in Singapore, I had to do a lot of the manual processes myself. I felt the pain and the drain of it,” explains Henry. “It was taking up a lot of my time and energy, when I should have been focusing on building my business.”

Today In: Asia

 

Improving productivity and efficiency

HReasily’s mission is simple: To innovate and automate HR throughout the world. As one of the fastest-growing cloud-based HR SaaS companies in the region, their simple modules and features aim to transform many of the legacy HR processes and automate them to be accessible anytime and anywhere. Currently the company offers seven modules including payroll, staff leave, employee contracts and attendance. As HReasily grows, it continues to add product lines aimed at empowering companies to scale faster.

Previously, many businesses used solutions that each looked after a particular silo of an HR department. So you’d have one system to manage your payroll calculations, one for leave and others for other functions.

“What happened was you had to log in and out of many various systems, and these systems cost a huge amount of money,” says Henry. “What we’ve done is build a solution that is very affordable that integrates with all the functions on a unified platform.”

A simple but elegant business model HReasily runs a subscription-based revenue model. Starting with payroll, which is at the core of every traditional HR office, the company offers premium versions that run on monthly or yearly subscriptions, with add-on modules available such as staff leave and time attendance. This past summer at the RISE 2019 conference in Hong Kong, Henry and his team unveiled their latest benefits management module which will soon allow customers to acquire group level insurance, healthcare and even apply for credit cards or loans.

HReasily says its competitive advantage lies in its customer base, which is mostly SMEs. By initially focusing on the fundamental needs of this particular segment, the company has earned the support of larger banking and government agencies and has become known as an “SME champion.” Not surprisingly, as the company has grown it says that it began to attract larger corporations, publicly listed companies, multinational corporations and even payroll outsourcing firms.

“As we grew we acquired a more diverse customer base,” Henry says, “because a lot of larger companies are tired of the older and expensive solutions because they need to be installed on premise and they require a refresher every year when rules and regulations change.”

Partnerships are the key to rapid growth

Being based in Singapore has allowed HReasily to capitalize on the rapid growth in Southeast Asia. SME’s account for 97% of all the enterprises in the region, and employ half of the workforce, according to data from Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). HReasily’s growth has been nothing short of impressive. With nearly 30,000 companies on their platform and more than 100 new companies onboarding every day, HReasily is said to be growing rapidly in Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

Some of HReasily’s notable customers include Love Bonito (in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Hong Kong), Sambat Finance (Cambodia), OnlinePajak (Indonesia) and TechInAsia. As the company looks to complete their coverage of Asia, the next major market they look to tackle is mainland China followed by Taiwan, Japan, Myanmar and Australia.

Investors have taken notice of the company’s growth as well. Fresh off a pre-series A funding round of $5 million from Envy Capital, HReasily is currently estimated to be valued at more than $100 million. Henry admits that the company’s rapid growth in the region has only been possible with the early support from their key strategic partners.

HReasily has been working with Citibank, Mazars and Stripe. The partnership with Mazars, which was a lead investor from the startup’s first round of funding, gives them access to a global audit, advisory and payroll outsourcing firm with 300 offices in 100 countries. Henry says it allows HReasily to localize its solutions to each individual market.

Today, building a solid ecosystem of strategic partners is very important because you come from different angles, but you all serve one customer, which is the SME or the business,” says Henry. “By coming together, we collectively create a great end-to-end experience for them. There’s strength in numbers.”

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Jay Kim is a full-time investor and the host of the popular podcast The Jay Kim Show, Hong Kong’s first dedicated podcast on entrepreneurship and investing in Asia. Inc. Magazine has named The Jay Kim Show one of the top three podcasts from Asia which are inspirational and useful to entrepreneurs. Jay is an avid supporter of the start-up ecosystem in Asia and frequently consults with leaders in local government on topics related to technology, entrepreneurship, early-stage investing and startups

Source: Singapore Startup: This HR Tech Firm Worth $100 Million Is Ready To Conquer Asia

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Is your administration work taking too much out of your time? HReasily provides HR solutions for payroll processing, leave and claims management, employee scheduling and time attendance, so that business owners can focus on growing their businesses.

 

Borderless Investing: Eduardo Saverin And Raj Ganguly Grow B Capital

Eduardo Saverin and Rajarshi “Raj” Ganguly are two of the three cofounders of B Capital Group, a venture capital firm with close to $800 million, split between a first and a second fund (still being raised). The third cofounder is legendary investor Howard Morgan. Brazilian Saverin, 37, is based in Singapore and best known for being the cofounder of Facebook – whose shares in it give him a net worth estimated at about $10 billion.

Americans Ganguly, 43, and Morgan, 73, come from diverse backgrounds. Ganguly, based in Los Angeles, spent his early career at Bain Capital, overseeing a number of investments. Morgan, based in New York, helped start ARPAnet, the internet’s precursor, in the 1970s, and later was president of hedge fund Renaissance Technologies.

B Capital has dual headquarters in Los Angeles and Singapore, as well as offices in New York and San Francisco, with a total of 40 full-time staff. B Capital focuses on companies already in series B or C rounds, generally over $10 million in revenue, and looks to invest roughly $20 million. The trio would like to keep the total number of companies in each fund to about 20.

The firm has the slogan “innovation without borders,” reflecting the founders’ belief that innovation can originate anywhere, not just in Silicon Valley. B Capital also uses global consultancy Boston Consulting Group (BCG) to help it grow startups and match them with larger firms. Saverin and Ganguly sat down with Forbes Asia in an exclusive interview in September at Singapore’s Shangri-La hotel to discuss their goals for B Capital.

Today In: Asia

Forbes Asia: How are you deploying your capital into startups?

Eduardo Saverin: Primarily we focus on companies that have an existing level of traction. There are a lot of places where you could invest in technology, but you need to have an edge and focus. For us, together with our relationship with BCG, it’s about accelerating growth. Most companies we invest in have a B2B angle. When the company is still an idea on a napkin, it’s hard for us to introduce them to some of the largest companies in the world. So we tend to invest where there’s a particular amount of value that we can bring through those corporate introductions and value acceleration, which means they tend to translate to series B and beyond. But frankly the staging is fungible. It’s about traction.

Raj Ganguly: As we build the firm we want to be really conscious of being able to invest into some companies really early, probably smaller amounts of capital, and as some of those companies scale and grow, we want to bring larger amounts of capital to those companies. Then finally for some of the companies that really continue to go into highly accelerated growth mode, we would actually not just double-down, but we would take outsized ownership stakes. As we’re growing the capital, we’re increasing our ability to invest across multiple stages. The best use of our capital, rather than finding a new investment, is finding a company in our portfolio where we can see the trajectory of the company before an outsider can see it.

What is the value-add you want to bring to your entrepreneurs?

Ganguly: We focus on doing three things really well ourselves and then partnering with BCG and others for everything else. We focus on helping make introductions and really helping get that growth flywheel going. The second part is we are focused on hiring key C-level talents into companies once we invest into them. We find that every single time we make an investment, if we can help them with one or two better hires on the margin, it fundamentally changes the direction of the company. And third, we help them raise strategic capital. We think, while it’s great to have other venture capital firms and folks like that, there are so many large enterprises sitting on over $1 trillion of capital and many of them want to invest and partner with startups. They could be much more strategic in the capital and the value that they bring.

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Juliana Tan for Forbes Asia

Can you give an example of this value-add to a portfolio company?Saverin: One of our early investments was in a company in the clinical trials space called Evidation Health. It’s a perfect example of a business where they can develop all the technologies that they would like. The truth is, success will come from adoption of virtual clinical trials from the largest pharma companies in the world. When we first met the business, it was working with a lot of smaller biotech firms, which are the traditional early adopters of such technologies. But leveraging our partnerships, including BCG, we had a chance to meet with some of the largest pharma companies in the world.

Through those discussions we understood that, unlike traditional tech innovation cycles where things over time get a little bit cheaper and faster, in the pharma world, you were seeing kind of a reverse innovation cycle where it was getting more expensive and taking longer to get to market.

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Juliana Tan for Forbes Asia

And one of the largest pharma companies in the world took one of their existing trials that they had already done, and then just replicated it through a virtual standpoint, and saw both the speed, the cost effectiveness, and the depth of the data. That gave us conviction to invest, because we knew there was a real appetite for experimentation. Today, that business has most of the largest pharma companies in the world as customers. Some of them have become investors.

Ganguly: It just announced, a few weeks ago, a landmark partnership in dementia with Apple and Eli Lilly. We’ve been a part of helping make some of those connections.

What’s unique about B Capital’s approach to investments?

Ganguly: There are four key parts of our model. It’s about global thematic investing, one single team leveraging global data. It’s about deep local expertise in each market that we invest in. It’s about being the single highest value-add investor in every company and having the capital through partnerships with our investors and through our own capital to fund the growth of these companies as they scale. Our risk model is a lower risk model than early stage, which is about investing in ideas on a napkin, and having one of 20 companies that you know will drive your whole returns. Our model is about backing companies that have customer traction, that have a founding team that has high potential. We are looking for large potential customers and large potential partnerships that further mitigate risks. We believe our approach has upside because we’re investing in companies that are growing at 100% plus a year.

Saverin: The VC game is an information edge game. You need to leverage it not just in the first investment, but across the lifecycle of the company. Our model is about rolling up our sleeves and getting deeply involved, where entrepreneurs want us to, and where we can tremendously add value.

You believe in innovation without borders, can you expand on that idea?

Saverin: Companies are becoming global increasingly by design. There’s no border to where innovation can be received and used. Whether you start a company in Silicon Valley or in Africa or any part of the world, there really is the increasing impetus to go beyond your existing borders. When you start thinking about the evolution of innovation, some of it is the enablers, including the engineering talent. When you go to Silicon Valley, that’s actually one of the hardest places in the world to get engineering talent because of the massive competition. In other parts of the world you can ask is there enough raw talent, even though it’s not as competitive? So we’ll see a broader equalization. It would be hard for me to believe that as tech enablement becomes a big part of much larger industries, that all that innovation will come from one place. If that were to happen, I’d do anything I can to change it because the truth is the whole world is consuming technology.

What opportunities do you see in Southeast Asia?

Ganguly: We understood early that e-commerce was being inhibited in the region because e-commerce companies had to do their own delivery. That’s what really convinced us that we wanted to invest in all the picks and shovels around e-commerce, but no longer invest in e-commerce, or at least not focus on e-commerce. So today we’re investors in Ninja Van, BlackBuck, Mswipe and Bizongo, all companies that enable e-commerce.

Given WeWork’s pulled IPO, have valuations gotten overdone?

Ganguly: Where we are in the cycle and when it changes, that’s not our business. We don’t time the market, but we fundamentally take a long-term perspective. There are times when you’re in a cycle and you have to pay a little bit more for that. But if you have the right time horizon, we think it’s still far better to do that than to be looking for value plays where you’re looking at the second- or third- or fourth-best company. We always say that you might sleep better if you have a value play, but you won’t sleep very well when you exit because the valuation differential is even more stark when you exit a lower-tier player. It used to be that you were forced to go public because you had to pay out early investors. That’s no longer the case. You can now continue to stay private, and have access to very large amounts of private capital. Your early investors can cash out because later stage investors are willing to buy them out. There’s a very active secondary market. What’s changed is I think there’s no longer this belief that going public is something that you have to do. There are a lot of questions about whether going public drives long-term value. While it’s worked for some companies, it hasn’t worked for others.

What would be the process if a portfolio company might fit with Facebook?

Saverin: We are trying to facilitate introductions with any enabler, hopefully a win-win on both sides. So Facebook of course would be part of that equation, and parts of its strategy that converge with some of our focus areas, especially in financial services. Many companies will already have some type of relationship with Facebook, given where Facebook is today, through WhatsApp or otherwise. The innovation ecosystem touches Facebook all the time, so it’s just a question of extent.

Where is B Capital going to be in 10 years?

Saverin: That’s an important question. I usually think about it in two ways. We are incredibly ambitious, and we want to have an institution that will outlive us, so we are always thinking of the very long term. One thing I say every single day, whether in our partner meetings, or when we speak to our entrepreneurs, is to always push focus. Focus on what you’re doing today, that’s how you’re going to get to a bigger vision ten years from now, and even a vision well past our lifetimes. But at a really top level what I want us to do is to enable technology to get into the hands of consumers faster by leveraging the existing distribution networks of the largest companies in the world. Push intrapreneurship, it doesn’t necessarily need that push, but enable them to not only think of disruption but a positive win-win transformation. It’s not about the top ten tech companies that will take over a market by themselves, but the enablement of every company in the world with technology in collaborative innovation.

What do you mean by collaborative innovation?

Saverin: This is a really high-level idea, that can be seen in the platform technologies, such as Facebook, WeChat and others. They have created massive innovation acceleration by enabling other businesses to come on top of their platforms to gain distribution and engagement. What we are looking for is a win-win using the distribution assets of the largest companies in the world to ultimately get API-ed to the innovation ecosystem. If we get even 0.5% of the way in driving that, we will be doing the right thing for ten years from now. I think it’s not always a success when a startup out-innovates and massively disrupts a big company, when it could have leveraged a big company’s distribution, the licenses, the regulatory know-how, and so on, so that consumers could get the advantages of technology much faster.

This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Pamela covers entrepreneurs, wealth, blockchain and the crypto economy as a senior reporter across digital and print platforms. Prior to Forbes, she served as on-air foreign correspondent for Thomson Reuters’ broadcast team, during which she reported on global markets, central bank policies, and breaking business news. Before Asia, she was a journalist at NBC Comcast, and started her career at CNBC and Bloomberg as a financial news producer in New York. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School and holds an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Yahoo, USA Today, Huffington Post, and Nasdaq. Pamela’s previous incarnation was on the buy side in M&A research and asset management, inspired by Michael Lewis’ book “Liar’s Poker”. Follow me on Twitter at @pamambler

Source: Borderless Investing: Eduardo Saverin And Raj Ganguly Grow B Capital

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Eduardo Saverin, Co-Founder, Facebook & Co-Founder at B Capital Group alongside Raj Ganguly, Co-Founder at B Capital Group discuss how global trends in innovation and venture capital can be leveraged to benefit entrepreneurs beyond Silicon Valley. Fore more news and insights visit SuperReturn365: https://goo.gl/9nEbXA

 

How This Founder Learned to Trust Her Gut and Grow Her $3 Million Probiotics Company

When it comes to business, Harris would rather listen to her own instincts than to advice from well-meaning MBAs: “If they knew exactly how to do it, they’d be doing it,” she says. “We’re learning as we go, and trusting our gut has been the best lesson so far.” Here, Harris holds a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast–scoby for short–which ferments kombucha.
Amy Lombard

After Ashley Harris and her family began experimenting with probiotics at a doctor’s recommendation, they saw digestive issues clear up, eczema disappear, and moods improve. She wanted to help other families overcome similar ailments, so in 2015 she founded LoveBug Probiotics, a New York City-based supplements business that grew its revenue 2,621 percent in three years, and landed deals with major retailers like Target and CVS. Despite having limited business experience, here’s how she pulled from her previous career as a 19th-century European paintings​ specialist at Sotheby’s to get LoveBug started. –As told to Anna Meyer

We launched selling our products on Amazon and on our website. But those early days were tough. The space is competitive, and my startup didn’t have the kind of budget for marketing that other probiotic companies have.

With my art background, I focused on creating bold-colored packaging and tongue-in-cheek branding messages like “Feel good from the inside out” and “Yeast is a beast.” It helped us stand out among competitors that had very clinical marketing and branding. Our approach resonated with customers, and incoming positive Amazon reviews helped more and more eyes land on our page. By the end of that first year, my startup took in around $115,000 in revenue.

Amy Lombard

In 2016, my instincts and art background served me again: I traveled to Anaheim, California to an industry trade show, Natural Products Expo West, to create an over-the-top display booth with Ikea furniture and bookcases that I put together on the spot. Throwing a corporate banner over a folding table wasn’t going to cut it. Compared to the bland, run-of-the-mill corporate booths around us, we stood out and buyers from national retailers all came looking, and after hearing my story, became interested in doing business.

Fast forward three years, and by the end of 2018, I grew the brand 2,621 percent, landed deals with national retailers like Target and CVS, put product through the doors of more than 10,000 retail locations, and brought in over $3.1 million in revenue in 2018.

Courtesy Company

As a first time founder with a background in art and literature, a lot of well-meaning people with MBAs told me how I should run my business. I felt pressured to listen to them, but I learned to trust my own instincts. If they knew exactly how to do it, they’d be doing it. My team and I are learning as we go, and trusting our gut has been the best lesson so far.

In addition to growing my business, I like to experiment with fermenting probiotic-rich foods in my own kitchen. From wild yeast in a homemade bread starter that produces an insanely satisfying sourdough bread, to lacto-fermented pickled vegetables that add the needed balance to a dish, or to the yeast and grape fermentation that makes a varietal of wines–fermenting has been a joy to experiment with.

Fermentation requires balancing acidity, temperature, and time, and I’ve grown to view my business the same way. It’s not just about how fast you can scale, it’s about putting the right things in and letting it grow.

 

By: Anna Meyer

 

Source: How This Founder Learned to Trust Her Gut and Grow Her $3 Million Probiotics Company

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After the review, check out our list of the 10 Probiotic Supplements! http://www.probioticsguide.com Want to know what I think of this probiotic? This is an in depth review of Lovebug Probiotics. See what real experts and actual users have to say about this probiotic supplement! People are always asking me which probiotic is best. In this review I’ll go over everything you need to know about this one. Here’s a breakdown of what I’ll cover: First, I’ll give you my overall rating of the product based on how it compares to all the other probiotics I’ve tried. You don’t want to miss this part! Then, I’ll tell you how easy or difficult it is to use. This includes the size of the pills, the taste and what form they come in. There are so many options nowadays, so I break it down for you. Next, I talk about the ingredients and strain profile. There are many strains out there and they all target different things. At the end of my Lovebug Probiotics review I’ll go over any side effects I got while using the probiotic. These include both positive and negative things I experienced. To sum it up, if you want to learn all about this probiotic, I’d recommend checking out the full video. Here’s our list of the 10 best probiotics! http://www.probioticsguide.com/best-p…

 

How MarQuis Trill Gained Millions Of Followers And What He Can Teach You About Millennial Marketing

The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that millennials are projected to outnumber Baby Boomers as the largest living adult generation in America. With the millennial generation making up such a huge portion of American consumers, it is imperative that companies understand how to effectively market products and services to this group. For this generation, social media has become an integral part of their lives. Many companies have taken notice and are using social media to craft their marketing strategies, however, many organizations struggle to understand and determine how to successfully capture the attention of millennial consumers.

One person that companies can learn a lot from is MarQuis Trill, a social media influencer, investor, and entrepreneur who has figured out how to authentically gain and capture the attention of young audiences. MarQuis made his social media debut on Myspace in 2003, at the tender age of 12. In 2017, he was listed as one of the most influential people on the internet. Now, through his social media platforms, MarQuis reaches millions of people every month, with a large percentage of his audience being millennials and Generation Z. After deciphering the formula for success, MarQuis started an agency called Entertainment 258, which is focused on helping businesses, influencers, athletes and artists develop and expand their brands. What are companies getting wrong when it comes to millennial marketing strategies?

How does MarQuis keep his audience engaged? What are some best practices when it comes to millennial marketing on social media? MarQuis sat down with Forbes to discuss these questions and more.

Janice Gassam: Who is MarQuis Trill? How did you develop such a huge following on social media?

 MarQuis Trill: It basically developed in college. I went to Prairie View A&M University on a full-ride scholarship. I had a chance to go to other big schools like Baylor, Texas A&M, USC…but I decided to go to an HBCU, just to change the culture…once I started attending the school, I saw the culture of the community. I went from playing basketball to [be] an artist, to [be] a promoter online and it just grew from there. I always had that marketing strategy inside me and my school kind of just brought that out of me.

Gassam: What are some mistakes that companies make when it comes to branding and marketing to millennials?

Today In: Leadership

 Trill: I think companies are getting things wrong, first, inside the company itself. They’re hiring people that are not a part of the culture—that’s the first thing. Everything we see on TV is a copy. We’ve seen multiple videos, multiple commercials from our favorite influencers. The people that work in those places are copying exactly what the millennials are doing, instead of coming to us and collaborating with us and actually hiring us and giving us jobs…instead of paying an influencer, how about hiring an influencer? It should start inside.

Second…I call it ‘camouflage marketing.’ And what camouflage marketing is, is when you’re marketing something, but it’s not focused on the actual brand. So that could be merchandise, that could be accessories, that could be sponsorships, that could be a flash of your logo…I think they should focus more on that, and creating cool content…collaborations, collaborations, collaborations. As time goes on, a 13-year-old turns 21…you always have to change…you always have to connect with the millennials and with the new generation.

If you don’t do that, you’re going to be disconnected. Once you become disconnected, it doesn’t matter if you’re a million-dollar company or a billion-dollar company—you’re going to lose revenue dollars…that’s what I feel a lot of companies are missing. You don’t necessarily have to hire someone, like a kid, to be the CMO of your entire company, just a collaboration or maybe you can give them a smaller job where they are just over marketing strategies for Instagram…all you need is five millennials in the office space for Twitter and Instagram and you’re going to have a hundred thousand followers, a million followers and they’re going to run it all for you…they don’t need big budgets because they’re young kids and as time goes on and they start doing more for your company, you’ll be able to pay them anyway.

 

Gassam: What are some trends you anticipate on social media when it comes to millennial marketing?

 

Trill: Well…it’s always something new and something fresh…what I try to focus on is fast news and fast content. That’s where you’ll get most of the engagement and most of your following from. That’s how I grew my following originally. I was taking videos from YouTube and putting them on Twitter. I was taking videos from Facebook and putting them on Twitter because different platforms have different videos and different followings. Something that’s been posted on YouTube probably hasn’t been seen by the people on Twitter…Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, they don’t all have the same following.

Different people get on different platforms because they like the functionalities of that platform. Kids that are on TikTok might not necessarily be on Twitter. People that are on Snapchat might not necessarily use Instagram all the time. That’s what people fail to realize. Every single influencer, they may not have every single social media platform. That’s where a lot of people miss out on…Twitter is for news information and text. Instagram is for pictures. Snapchat is for, right there on-the-spot videos. Basically, live videos…TikTok, [for] six seconds dancing. You have to be creative…young kids are on [TikTok] all the way from eight years old all the way up to 21.

 

Gassam: So, companies need to learn that they can’t post the same social media content on every single platform and expect it to stick?

 

Trill: Exactly. They also have to use camouflage marketing. Using influencers, creating dope content that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with their products. They can flash the product in between the content or at the end or the person that’s inside the content can actually say the product. It can be a one-minute music video and five seconds out of the music video, that artist is pouring cheerios…he’s not necessarily saying ‘I eat cheerios.’ Now the consumer and the person that is watching the content, they’re smarter now…they know what’s fake, they know what’s an ad now…with the rules and everything you even have to put ‘ad’ or ‘promo’. So now, when you put that, your engagement goes down even more…you have to do it in a camouflage sense.

 

Gassam: Is there a social media platform you would recommend companies use when marketing to millennials?

 

Trill: It depends on what their product or service is. If you’re selling merch, I would definitely say go with Instagram and YouTube. If you’re already a super known company, I would say go with Twitter because the engagement there reaches faster…you get more retweets, you get more favorites, more impressions. If you’re trying to sell anything, if you’re trying to become a brand yourself, if you’re trying to conquer a market, I would say use YouTube because Google owns YouTube and they create all [the] SEO that’s on the internet…when you search something like ‘how to dance,’ whoever made a video on ‘how to dance’ on YouTube, that’s what’s going to pop up for a search and that’s free marketing, free viewership for the person, influencers or brand that made that video. Now content is becoming the search. That goes for marketing and branding as well.

 

Gassam: How can companies stand out to millennials on social media?

 

Trill: They should be more direct with the consumer. The consumer is getting smarter because they’ve seen so much content, so they can tell if something is fake, something is real, something is being promoted and they won’t engage as much to it. If the consumer and the people that are selling products, if they intertwine and they come more direct with people that are in the communities…then that’s when you start getting more product sales and more distribution in your product. I wouldn’t buy anything that I’m not tapped into or that I didn’t see anyone else wearing.

iPhone is hot because everyone has an iPhone, not because it’s the best phone…they keep developing different products. They have apps, they have iTunes, they have podcasts…they’re tapped into every culture…they’re basically competing against themselves…subscription-based is what’s coming next. AR is coming next, virtual reality is coming next. And these are the things that these companies need to focus on…someone will always develop something new; someone will always come up with something that’s greater than the other platforms.

Gassam: Popeyes recently came out with a very successful marketing campaign for their new chicken sandwich. Should companies copy these campaigns in order to be successful? In regard to the millennial consumer, do you think controversy sells?

 

Trill: I wouldn’t say copy. But they should come up with their own strategy. Once you see something so much, you are making the consumer smarter. Your next marketing campaign is going to have to be harder.

I think controversy is always great…but if you’re deliberately doing things on purpose and expecting a great outcome, nine times out of ten, it might not go your way. But if you have a whole marketing strategy behind it and if you know exactly what you’re doing and where you’re trying to go, then it’s definitely going to work…we don’t have to pay for press.

This interview has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.

To learn more about MarQuis, visit his website or connect with him on Instagram.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

I grew up in five different states and across two continents, which was the catalyst to my interest in diversity. My ultimate goal is to help leaders infuse more love into the workplace, creating a culture that is more equitable and productive. Currently, I work as a professor at Sacred Heart University, teaching courses in management. In addition, I am a consultant, helping organizations create a more inclusive environment. I earned a Ph.D. in applied organizational psychology from Hofstra University, and I enjoy conducting research in the areas of diversity, equity, inclusion, hiring, selection, and leadership.

Source: How MarQuis Trill Gained Millions Of Followers And What He Can Teach You About Millennial Marketing

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Social media influencer “MarQuis Trill” aka @6billionpeople shows you how he got thousands to millions of followers on Twitter and Instagram. MarQuis Trill has over 1 million followers on Instagram and over 4.5 Million on Twitter. Watch the video, susbcribe, follow and support the movement. Click the link below to subscribe to my youtube account. http://www.youtube.com/subscription_c… “MarQuis Trill” Instagram http://www.Instagram.com/MarQuisTrill… Download Songs – https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/ma… For Booking or Features Visit ( http://MarQuisTrill.com ) | Email: Marquistrillbooking@gmail.com Download Mixes from DJ 6BillionPeople for free here — http://www.Soundcloud.com/Marquistril… Follow Me on all social networks Twitter http://www.twitter.com/6BillionPeople Instagram http://www.Instagram.com/Marquistrill… Facebook http://www.Facebook.com/Marquis-trill Company http://www.entertainment258.com Personal Website – http://MarQuisTrill.com Follow – https://twitter.com/6billionpeople Instagram – http://Instagram.com/MarQuisTrillShow MarQuis Trill Albums- Dreams Happen, Twerk Radio, Twerk GOD & 100K Followers Subscribe To The Channel for more Video & Music Support the TRILL Movement Buy MarQuis Trill Music — https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/yo… More Music on Itunes —https://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/ma…. Buy MarQuis Trill Lastest Album – http://youngsolar.bandcamp.com/ Download Free Album – http://www.datpiff.com/Young-Solar-Ma… MarQuis Trill Free Music — http://www.Hulkshare.com/MarQuisTrill Soundcloud – http://soundcloud.com/Marquistrillmusic

MacKenzie Bezos Is Now Worth $36.1 Billion. But Who Is She?

MacKenzie Bezos was not fussy, which was helpful, as there was no time for fussiness at Amazon headquarters in early 1996. She shared her office with a junior employee in a space that doubled as the company kitchen. For 12 hours a day, as workers squeezed by to use the microwave, she presided over the accounting. At night she headed to the warehouse to pack orders.

She “was a huge contributor,” says Mike Hanlon, Amazon’s seventh employee. “She really is a talented person in a way that I think gets lost when you’re the billionaire’s wife.”

The mystery around MacKenzie, 49, seems carefully cultivated. She largely slipped into anonymity after Amazon’s early years and has granted no interviews since January, when her split from husband Jeff became public. The couple finalized their divorce in July, with MacKenzie getting 25% of his Amazon stock. That stake is currently worth $36.1 billion, enough to put her 15th on this year’s Forbes 400.

“She should have gotten 50% of the company,” says Nick Hanauer, one of Amazon’s first investors. “MacKenzie was an equal partner to Jeff in the early days.”

In keeping with character, MacKenzie wouldn’t talk for this story. To shed some light on her, we spent weeks contacting more than 100 friends and former classmates and coworkers; even that yielded only a hazy picture, one of an intensely private but talented woman who has, quietly, excelled at every stage of her life.

MacKenzie grew up in San Francisco, a middle child with two siblings. At 6, she wrote a 142-page book called The Book Worm. Her parents, a homemaker and a financial planner, sent her to Hotchkiss, the Connecticut boarding school, where she graduated a year early. She studied at Cambridge, then Princeton, where she majored in English; Nobel Prize-winning novelist Toni Morrison was her thesis advisor. “She was generally a very poised and a quiet and brilliant presence,” says Jeff Nunokawa, one of her English professors.

After graduating, she took a job at the hedge fund D.E. Shaw, where she began dating Jeff Bezos, who left to found Amazon in 1994. From the outset, MacKenzie was heavily involved. “No one really had job titles . . . so she did just about everything,” says Tod Nelson, another early employee.

MacKenzie pulled back around the time Amazon went public, in 1997, to focus on fiction writing. She kept a low profile until 2005, when HarperCollins published her first novel, The Testing of Luther Albright. Morrison deemed it “a rarity.” MacKen­zie followed it in 2013 with Traps.

The more recent chapters of her life are largely unknown. In 2018 she and Jeff committed $2 billion to fight homelessness and support nonprofit preschools. In May, as their divorce neared completion, she signed the Giving Pledge, promising to donate at least half her wealth. True to form, she hasn’t said a word about where those billions will go.

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.

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I’ve been a reporter at Forbes since 2016. Before that, I spent a year on the road—driving for Uber in Cleveland, volcano climbing in Guatemala, cattle farming in Uruguay, and lots of stuff in between. I graduated from Tufts University with a dual degree in international relations and Arabic. Feel free to reach out at nkirsch@forbes.com with any story ideas or tips, or follow me on Twitter @Noah_Kirsch.

Source: MacKenzie Bezos Is Now Worth $36.1 Billion. But Who Is She?

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A new book about Amazon.com and its CEO, Jeff Bezos, “The Everything Store,” is not receiving positive feedback from Bezos’ wife. John Blackstone reports.

Health Testing Startup UBiome Files For Chapter 7 With Plans To Shut Down

In October 2018, microbiome testing startup uBiome was riding pretty high. Less than a month before, the company had announced a shift to more therapeutic products, raised $83 million in a venture capital round, and added a former Novartis CEO to its board.

Fast forward a year later: the company’s cofounders have resigned, it faces law enforcement scrutiny over its billing practices, it’s currently in bankruptcy proceedings, and it filed a motion Tuesday to move from Chapter 11 to Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which would mean liquidating its assets and shutting down.

A lot can happen in 12 months.

The San Francisco-based company was founded in 2012, and its first product was an at-home kit where people could provide fecal samples and send them in for genomics testing. The company then purported to provide a report about its customer’s microbiome—the bacteria present in the intestines that can have a big impact on people’s health.

Today In: Innovation

The company then began offering a test for irritable bowel syndrome and a test for vaginal health. These tests required a doctor’s order. The company’s practices involving doctors who ordered those tests are reportedly under scrutiny by law enforcement, and its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing included notes about millions of dollars owed to insurance companies as refunds. In July, the company’s cofounders and co-CEOs, Jessica Richman and Zac Apte, resigned from the company.

During the company’s Chapter 11 filing, the company had indicated that it would be looking into a sale. However, according to the motion it filed in court today, the company wasn’t able to secure lending that would enable it to continue operations. As a consequence, it has requested the court allow it to cease operations and liquidate its assets in order to pay off its creditors.

The bankruptcy court still needs to approve the motion. If it is accepted and the company moves to Chapter 7, the liquidation of uBiome’s assets will happen under the supervision of a court-appointed trustee.

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I’m an Associate Editor covering science and cutting edge tech.

 

Source: Health Testing Startup UBiome Files For Chapter 7 With Plans To Shut Down

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Jessica Richman, Co-founder and CEO of uBiome and Kimmy Scotti, Partner at 8VC, discuss making the move from academia to startup world, applying data to health problems and what’s going on in health tech. — In 2017, Slush brought together 20,000 attendees, including 2,600 startups, 1,600 investors and 600 journalists from over 130 countries. The cold and dark Helsinki welcomed these tech-heads to a week long celebration, including Slush Music, new Slush Y verticals, and hundreds of side-events and activities around the city. Slush 2018 takes place on 4.–5.12.2018 Slush 2017 in pictures: https://www.flickr.com/photos/slushme… Website: http://www.slush.org Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/slushHQ Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/slushHQ Instagram: http://instagram.com/SlushHQ Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/company/slush Slush Music: http://music.slush.org Slush Tokyo: http://tokyo.slush.org Slush Shanghai: http://shanghai.slush.org Slush Singapore: http://singapore.slush.org Intro videos by: VAU (http://vau.company) VELI.fx / Veli Creative (http://velicreative.fi) Slush is a non-profit event organized by a community of entrepreneurs, investors, students and festival organizers. Slush has grown from a 300-person event to become the leading event of its kind in the world. The philosophy behind it has remained the same: to help the next generation of great, world-conquering companies forward.

This ‘Force of Nature’ and Her $132 Million Company Are Why You Eat Organic Meat

“It’s the hallway of death!” Ariane Daguin is cheerfully leading a strange parade through a barn’s dim back corridor. Normally, this passage conveys fattened ducks from their feeding pens to the slaughterhouse; today, it marks the end of a sales tour.

This duck farm, nestled in the foothills of New York’s Catskill Mountains, is where it all began for Daguin, a blunt and unfussy Frenchwoman who keeps geese and chickens as pets, and who has spent a lifetime selling slaughtered poultry. D’Artagnan, the gourmet meat distributor she co-founded in 1985, took in more than $130 million last year from organic chicken, grass-fed beef, pasture-raised lamb, and other, more exotic animal proteins. But her business started here, with the ducks of Hudson Valley Foie Gras–and the controversial, luxurious livers that give the farm its name.

And it’s here where Daguin now shepherds her salespeople and chef clients past the oblivious animals, greeting them with her usual mixture of familiar delight and wry unsentimentality. “Tomorrow!” she sing-shouts, playful at a formidable six feet. “Foie gras tomorrow!”The founding pride of D’Artagnan, foie gras has also landed Daguin back in the middle of a familiar, and fierce, regulatory fight–but in the 35 years since she started her company, she’s expanded far beyond that niche delicacy. Today, D’Artagnan operates a nearly nationwide network of small farmers who raise chickens, ducks, cows, and other animals by Daguin’s exacting organic, free-range standards.

The company then buys this meat from the farmers and sells it to high-end restaurants; around 7,500 mainstream grocery stores; and, increasingly, directly to the growing numbers of home cooks who care about where their meat comes from and are willing to pay a premium for it.Daguin, 61, has established a high-profile circle of famous friends and clients: fellow French-born chef-entrepreneur Daniel Boulud; New York restaurateur and Shake Shack founder Danny Meyer; the late Anthony Bourdain, who featured Daguin on No Reservations and named his daughter Ariane. She’s less of a household name than these men, but she’s quietly just as influential. Since the early 1980s, her company has been changing how Americans eat meat, by selling sustainably raised, non-factory-farmed animal products long before terms like sustainable or factory farm went mainstream.

 

“She knows every aspect of what it takes to raise an animal, but also what it takes to transform the animal, and how it should taste,” says Boulud, the chef-owner of Manhattan’s Daniel and several other restaurants, who’s served D’Artagnan meat and game for 30 years. “She has definitely helped many chefs–and many Americans–have access to better meat.”Along the way, Daguin overcame several near-catastrophes, including a wrenching co-founder breakup. Through it all, her relentless drive allowed her to maintain control–and sole ownership–of her company, even as fellow boutique-meat pioneers like Niman Ranch and Applegate Farms sold out to industry giants; to return it to profitability despite her massive post-breakup debts and the Great Recession, which decimated many of her customers; and even, in the past decade, to expand oper­ations to a near-national footprint. Within five years, she declares, D’Artagnan’s sales will reach $250 million.

She’s also food royalty. Ariane is the oldest child

Daguin, with a Barred Rock chicken–which will soon be one of the 18,000 chickens her company sells each week.Sarah Wilmer. Yet the same determination that’s bent the world to her will has at times blinded Daguin to looming problems–or exacerbated them. Take foie gras: Lawmakers and animal-rights activists keep trying to ban the stuff, claiming there’s “immense cruelty” in force-feeding ducks to enlarge their livers. But for Daguin, selling foie gras is a point of tremendous personal and cultural pride. She’s fought threats to it across the country­–including the one under way on her home turf of New York City. But defending this much-contested niche product complicates the tightrope she must walk, owing to the peculiar paradox behind D’Artagnan: Ariane Daguin built a business from slaughtering animals–but she really built it by caring about how they live.

But more on all that unpleasantness in a bit. First, as with all good French meals, let’s have some wine.

“Champagne?”

Non! Shots!”

Daguin is standing at the front of a large black bus, of the sort rented out for wine tours and bachelorette parties, pouring generous splashes of sinus-stripping white Armagnac into plastic cups. “You drink this, and all the calories disappear,” she jokes, an unlikely party animal in a duck-printed scarf and mom jeans. “Okaaay, bottoms up!”

This is her “Cassoulet Crawl”–a gut-busting Manhattan restaurant tour tied to a competition over the hearty French stew that’s largely made from several kinds of D’Artagnan-endorsed fatty meats. It’s February, and Daguin’s fifth year organizing and judging the showdown, one overseen by an official French body called the Great Brotherhood of the Cassoulet. (Really. Because France.)

 

The Great Brothers on hand, in red velvet robes accented with yellow trim and cassole-shaped hats, resemble an order of Harry Potter wizards devoted to duck fat and slow-cooked white beans–especially when they bestow an honorary membership upon John Lithgow, who’s come straight from rehearsing a new Broadway play, and who accepts this silly honor with a sincere speech in decent French. If he’s charmingly bemused by the whole thing, he’s also unstinting in admiring his friend, its organizer. “Ariane,” he says, “is a force of nature.”

of André Daguin, a renowned chef in France’s Gascony region, who earned two Michelin stars for the family restaurant-hotel he’d inherited. He became internationally known as “the undisputed leader” of Gascon cuisine, especially for foie gras, as The New York Times declared in 1982. All his offspring followed some version of the family vocation–but Ariane, who knew that her gender meant she wouldn’t be heir to the restaurant, moved to New York City in the late 1970s to study at Columbia University. There she met George Faison, an MBA candidate from Texas who shared her love for French food and humanely raised meat.

Daguin and Faison became friends, and then colleagues at Les Trois Petits Cochons, a New York City charcuterie company that now competes with D’Artagnan. There, Daguin first met Izzy Yanay, an Israeli immigrant and entrepreneur who was trying desperately to find buyers for his products. Yanay was raising ducks at his farm 100 miles northwest of Manhattan, to produce foie gras–which was then largely unknown to Americans, and not an easy sell.

Unless you were dealing with the daughter of André Daguin. As soon as Yanay started his pitch, Ariane exclaimed, “Of course–foie gras!” Still, Les Trois Petits Cochons passed, so she and Faison formed their own company in late 1984, to sell Yanay’s foie and the ducks that created it. “I owe her everything,” Yanay says today. “She saved my life.”

Daguin and Faison named their company after another Gascon–the 17th-century musketeer who inspired Alexandre Dumas’s fictional hero–and adopted the motto made famous by Dumas: All for one, one for all. The co-founders knew the rising chefs at the forefront of what would become the locavore movement, who wanted great-tasting, transparently raised ingredients and would pay a premium for them.

“My interest at D’Artagnan became: How do we change the way Americans eat?” Faison says.Gradually, they built up a network of small farmers who provided those ingredients and followed D’Artag­nan’s specifications for feeding, housing, aging, and slaughtering animals. Soon, the partners started selling other meat and game–rabbit, quail, Berkshire pork, bison–and finding suppliers who made high-quality terrines, sausages, and other European-style charcuterie. Within two years, D’Artagnan was profitable; within 14, its revenue neared $20 million.

 

It was also beginning to live up to Faison’s vision. In 1993, before the USDA finalized its recognition of “organic” as an official designation, D’Artagnan became one of the first companies to sell free-range organic chickens in the U.S., ones that “taste the way your grand­mother says chickens used to taste,” according to the Times in 1994. It wasn’t the only high-end meat company: Applegate Farms was founded in 1987, while Bill Niman was building Niman Ranch into a national brand. But those companies have since been sold–to Spam maker Hormel Foods and poultry giant Perdue, respectively–while Daguin still owns D’Artagnan. And industry experts say her company was and remains unique in the breadth of products it offers and its role in introducing Americans to truffles, venison, wild boar, and the like.

 

“Other organic suppliers are out there, but D’Artagnan takes it to the next level for game meats,” says Mike LoBiondo, who oversees meat and seafood for Rochester, New York-based grocery chain Wegmans. He also praises D’Artagnan’s salesforce for teaching Wegmans, and its customers, how to cook and enjoy these more exotic proteins: “Nobody provides the same level of education.”

But as the company grew, internal tensions mounted. When Daguin had a daughter in 1988 and then brought her infant to the office, Faison felt she was distracted from the business. A listeria outbreak in 1999 sickened customers, triggering a voluntary recall of 70,000 pounds of meat during the all-important holiday season. Then, in 2001, D’Artagnan opened a well-reviewed but doomed Manhattan restaurant–weeks before the September 11 terrorist attacks upended the local economy. The restaurant–one of Daguin’s passions, and another source of friction with Faison–closed in early 2004.

 

Months later, Faison decided that their differences were irreconcilable and that he wanted out. Or, rather, that he wanted Daguin out. As chronicled in a 2006 Inc. feature, Faison stunned Daguin in June 2005 with an offer to buy her D’Artagnan shares for several million dollars. A shotgun clause in their partnership agreement gave her 30 days to accept his offer, or to buy him out for the same price.

Daguin started cold-calling banks, and eventually scraped together enough from a French lender and some savings to buy out Faison. He went on to help run another high-end meat purveyor–DeBragga and Spitler. Daguin was left with sole control–but was deeply in debt and overseeing a staff with sharply divided loyalties, not long before the global economy collapsed.

“It was–oof,” she says, with Gallic understatement. Today, asking the former co-founders about each other is a bit like talking to parents who went through a nasty split but still see each other at functions for their adult child. “Sometimes, divorce is the best thing. It was for Ariane and me,” says Faison. “We are cordial.” Daguin, who retains a sense of betrayal, is less diplomatic. The breakup “was all his fault,” she says. They have done their best “to avoid each other” at industry events for years. Will they ever be friends again? She snorts: “Friends? Non.

Last year, Faison co-founded the Great American Turkey Company, a startup selling humanely raised, antibiotic-free turkey products to supermarkets and online customers. Perhaps coincidentally, D’Artagnan is expanding its turkey offerings later this year.

That first year on her own was terrifying. Taking on another partner or giving up control was out of the question–“I learned my lesson,” she says–but she knew she needed someone to take over Faison’s operational and financial duties.

 

“We were iconic, but we were a little close to the cliff,” is how Andy Wertheim, a consumer­-products veteran who became D’Artagnan’s president, describes what he found when he came on board in 2006. “Our margins were very low. We were in debt. And while we were ubiquitous in an East Coast/chef world, we were largely unknown everywhere else.” Daguin and Wertheim raised prices and slashed their product line, from 2,500 SKUs to 800. They also stopped selling to other distributors, to cut down on the inventory they were freezing instead of selling fresh. To broaden the customer base, Wertheim stepped up marketing, and launched an e-commerce line to ship meat directly to the well-heeled food obsessives who’d absorbed factory-­farming exposés like Fast Food Nation and Super Size Me and The Omnivore’s Dilemma. Some were adopting the reduced-but-deliberate meat consumption habits endorsed by the likes of Omnivore’s Michael Pollan.

 

“We agree with the vegan people, up to a point,” says the ever-droll Daguin. “And that point is when I kill my animals.” By 2009, D’Artagnan had climbed back into the black, overcoming new setbacks from the ongoing recession. (Spending $20 on an uncooked organic chicken is tough to justify if you’ve just lost your job or home.) Still, by 2011 Daguin had paid off her loan–and was mulling what she could do with her company’s returning profit. Half goes to annual employee bonuses, which Wertheim says “virtually everyone” gets–and which can help with retention in a company that’s as intense as its founder. (“The hours are crazy; the chefs are crazier,” one former employee recalls.) The rest has helped fuel expansion. To get beyond those East Coast/fancy-chef confines, D’Artagnan needs farmers and slaughterhouses and warehouses across the country: The company can overnight whatever a chef in California needs for dinner service, but if it wants to become a staple in West Coast shops, it needs to supply such stores with chickens or ducks that were raised a couple of hours away, so that days of shelf life are not wasted as they get schlepped across the country.

D’Artagnan notched $132 million for the year that ended in June, $11 million more than it did the previous year, and triple what it made the year Faison left. Since 2011, it’s set up warehouses in Chicago, Houston, and Atlanta, expanding its network of farms and suppliers along the way. Daguin won’t disclose profit, but there was enough to buy a distribution center in Denver last year–and enough for her to start shopping for another in California, to give D’Artagnan a truly national footprint. The company continues to diversify its sources of revenue: Its third-largest line of business, direct-to-consumer online sales, brought in $13 million last year. (Sixty-five percent of revenue comes from restaurant sales, and 25 percent from grocers and other retailers.) To commemorate all this, Daguin plans to fly all 280 employees to New York for an elaborate 35th-anniversary party in early 2020. Which won’t be for the faint of heart: “In addition to being a fantastic entrepreneur and businesswoman, Ariane wants to have fun,” says Boulud, ruefully recalling Parisian bar crawls he barely survived. “And she wants to drag everyone with her.”

 

This April, Daguin talked expansion plans with her new banker, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, over lunch in his executive dining room. Yet while being courted by one of the world’s most powerful CEOs, Daguin was characteristically uncowed. JPMorgan’s corporate caterer isn’t a big D’Artagnan client, so Daguin ate the fish “to make a point,” she recounts, grinning about her “smart-aleck” order. “I said, ‘Oh, when I don’t know the provenance, I try to avoid factory-farmed chicken.’ “She’s a long way from begging banks to bail her out. (And JPMorgan Chase executives seem unruffled by their client’s sense of humor: “Ariane’s leadership and drive is inspiring,” commercial-bank executive Maria Lucas says.) But not all of D’Artagnan’s problems have stayed in the past. Today, Daguin is facing a resurgent threat, aimed straight at the heart of her company.

Which, of course, is its liver.

 

The New York City Council, in mid-June, debated a bill banning foie gras. No vote had been scheduled by presstime, but if it passes, the result could be especially damaging, particularly for Hudson Valley and the few other small U.S. farms that focus on producing foie gras, because it would prohibit restaurants from “the provision of foie gras in any manner.” (Chefs have protested other bans by giving away foie for free.)

The newest proposal is a significant threat to Hudson Valley Foie Gras; at least a third of its sales come from the city. Daguin estimates she stands to lose about 10 percent of her business–$15 million in sales of livers and the ducks that produce them. While the hit to her business seems survivable, her pride is another matter. For the daughter of the Gascon chef who made foie gras famous, such a ban is an attack on her identity and heritage. “Culturally, not just for our company but for the whole world of gastronomy,” Daguin says, “it would be a huge, huge loss–the beginning of the end.”

 

This summer, Daguin and Yanay and other farmers mobilized to counter the passionate editorials and protests of the foie gras foes. It’s a tricky issue for the woman who proclaims that she cares just as much about animal welfare as “vegan activists” do, even if she sometimes expresses this in a decidedly Daguin-esque way. “We agree with the vegan people, up to a point,” she says. “And that point is when I kill my animals.”

Such talk, of course, won’t charm her opponents. “The costly French delicacy involves force-feeding ducks and geese several times a day by shoving metal pipes down their throats and swelling their livers to 10 times a healthy size,” proclaimed, somewhat inaccurately, an op-ed written by the executive director of Nyclass, a controversial lobbying group that backed the New York bill. (See “Duck, Duck, Foe,” below.) “It is a disgusting practice and it must end.”

 

Yet foie gras is, at most, an asterisk to the meat industry’s substantial systemic issues, which have the United Nations and international coalitions of scientists sounding alarms. “I can’t believe we’re going through this again,” says Marion Nestle, the author and nutrition expert. “Other issues in meat-raising are much more critical.”

 

Barred Rocks and Brune Landaises at a D’Artagnan farm.Sarah Wilmer. It’s a generally weird time for the meat industry, which claims $1 trillion in U.S. “economic impact.” Americans are eating record amounts of animal protein. Only around 5 percent identify as vegetarian. Yet we’re increasingly aware of all of the downsides of how meat is produced, and seeking plant-based alternatives from the fast-growing likes of Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat, which raised $240 million in a May IPO.

Large factory farms have been widely criticized for releasing immense amounts of waste and pollutants into our air and water; for juicing their livestock with so many antibiotics that bacteria become resistant to their effects, causing potential health crises for humans; and for raising their animals in cramped, filthy, torturous conditions. And while Yanay processes maybe 500,000 ducks per year, factory farming churns through about nine billion chickens in the U.S. annually, and roughly 32 million cows.

Those are the horrific processes that Daguin has dedicated her life and her company to countering, and for which she provides her widely praised alternatives. But her fierce allegiance to foie gras–and the production process that sounds so inhumane, for what’s essentially a food for the 1 percent–puts her company in the cross hairs of the animal activists with whom she otherwise claims common ground. “My animals have one bad day,” she insists while driving to the farm, her long frame folded into the red Mini Cooper her daughter decorated with duck decals.

Such determination built Daguin’s company, rescued it from the wreckage of her breakup with Faison, and kept it independent when fellow organic-meat pioneers sold out. But it also has generated other obstacles for D’Artagnan–including the question of its future.

Daguin ducks this question as much as possible, perhaps because it’s a rare example of her plans getting thwarted. In her oft-told gospel of How Ariane Kept D’Artagnan, her daughter is Angel Gabriel, the herald who encouraged her mother to fight for the company. Alix, then 17, was visiting her grandparents in France when Ariane called to tell her that Faison might force her out. “And then she says to me, ‘Are you going to let George do that? What if, one day, I want to join the company?’ ” Daguin recounts, proud and wistful. “That’s the one thing–that one little sentence–that made me really fight hard for this.”

Today, Alix is an architect, with her own design firm and no plans to take over the company she inspired her mother to fight for. “My mom has raised me to think for myself,” she says. “At this point, I have my own path.”

At 61, Daguin does not seem to have retirement in her vocabulary, and she admits she’s not doing much planning for an Ariane-less D’Artagnan. Maybe she’ll sell some of it to her employees, through an ESOP–“as long as I can keep some control,” she muses.

 

But for now, there are foie gras battles to fight, a property in California to find, and sales to double. She’s also looking for a farm in upstate New York, planning to turn it into a D’Artagnan foundation and self-sustaining restaurant–one where people can milk the cows or learn how to make cheese and bread before dining at the sure-to-be-spectacular farm-to-table restaurant, which Alix will design. If it comes to fruition, the nonprofit could slyly accomplish goals that have long eluded Daguin: work with her daughter, resurrect her doomed restaurant–even, finally, become her father’s heir.

 

All of this is on her mind as she drives her tiny car across the George Washington Bridge, en route to Hudson Valley, a summer morning sky and the Hudson River stretched out endlessly on either side. “It’s good to get out of the office,” Daguin sighs, brightening as she contemplates her planned nonprofit. She’s just found the right farmland, she confides, and is waiting to hear if her offer is accepted. She lifts both hands, fingers crossed for her latest hope and dream. Letting go of the wheel, if only for a moment.

Duck, Duck, Foe

The process known as gavage is hard to describe in a way that doesn’t sound unpleasant, though what I observed at Hudson Valley Foie Gras in July did not seem to unduly distress the birds. Three times a day, a worker enters the in-barn but open-air pens holding about 10 ducks each, checks every duck’s gullet to make sure it’s fully digested its last feed, inserts a thin rubber tube down the duck’s throat, and dispenses liquid feed. Then the tube is removed and it’s on to the next duck. The feeding takes about five seconds per bird.

Animal-rights activists and foie gras foes call this process torturous. Foie gras producers, and some outside observers, however, argue that duck physiology is made for this; unlike humans, the birds have thick esophagi and livers that enlarge without showing signs of disease. “This has become an issue that people get angry over because it’s an easy target,” says Michaela DeSoucey, a North Carolina State associate professor and the author of Contested Tastes: Foie Gras and the Politics of Food. “People are nuts–on both sides.”

Many foie gras bans have been proposed around the country. The biggest so far was in California: In 2004, state law­makers passed a ban that went into effect in 2012, which has since ping-ponged through the appeals courts. (Current status: Upheld.) In 2006, Chicago aldermen passed a short-lived, much-mocked ban, which Mayor Richard M. Daley called “the silliest law that they’ve ever passed.” (It was repealed in 2008.) The bill New York City Councilwoman Carlina Rivera introduced in January would ban the sale of foie gras in the city by restaurants and vendors–which would affect businesses outside of the city, too. At presstime, the bill hadn’t been voted on, and producers were in limbo. “For us,” Daguin sighs, “it’s a big cloud over our heads.”

Source: This ‘Force of Nature’ and Her $132 Million Company Are Why You Eat Organic Meat

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