Bill Gates will purchase a majority stake in the Four Seasons hotel chain for $2.21 billion, the company announced Wednesday.
Cascade Investment LLC, which manages the Microsoft cofounder’s massive fortune, agreed to buy half of Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s stake in the hotel chain. The all-cash deal pushes Gates’ ownership from 47.5% to 71.25% and values the Four Seasons at $10 billion in enterprise value. The deal is expected to close in January 2022.
The purchase is a bet by Gates in part on the rebound of high-end business travel to big cities, which has suffered a blow during the pandemic. At least two Four Seasons hotels —including the one in midtown Manhattan— are currently closed; the midtown Manhattan location, which is owned by Beanie Baby’s billionaire founder Ty Warner, is “undergoing substantial infrastructure and maintenance work,” according to a note on its website.
However, one industry insider told Forbes that luxury hotels such as the Four Seasons lose money unless they operate at very high occupancy rates. In a statement, the hotel operator said the deal “marks a pivotal point in the evolution of Four Seasons” and affirms Cascade’s commitment to provide the Four Seasons “with resources to accelerate growth and expand its strategic goals.”
Through his investment vehicle Kingdom Holding Co., Prince Alwaleed will hold onto his remaining 23.75% stake. Forbes long counted the Saudi Prince as a billionaire — and one of the richest people in the world, but removed him from the Forbes billionaires list after November 2017, when Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman kept Alwaleed and other princes and business leaders captive in the Ritz Carlton hotel in Riyadh and reportedly extracted billions of dollars from them.
Isadore Sharp, Four Seasons Founder and Chairman, will also retain his 5% stake through Triples Holdings Limited, the company said. Bill Gates is currently ranked by Forbes as the fifth richest person in the world, worth an estimated $132.8 billion fortune.
In addition to its Four Seasons investment, Cascade is the largest private owner of farmland in the U.S. Gates’ investment firm also owns stakes in car dealership AutoNation, farm equipment manufacturer John Deere and other stocks.
Kingdom will retain 23.75%. Four Seasons Founder and Chairman Isadore Sharp, through Triples Holdings Limited, will keep his 5% stake. Cascade first invested in Four Seasons in 1997. It was public at that time, but the company went private in 2007. Founded in 1960, Four Seasons manages 121 hotels and resorts and 46 residential properties in 47 countries. It also has more than 50 projects at various stages of development.
“As we mark our 60th anniversary and look back on the profound impact that Four Seasons has had on luxury hospitality we also look forward with tremendous excitement and confidence in the future of the industry,” Four Seasons CEO John Davison said in a statement. “The unwavering support and partnership of our shareholders has been and continues to be critical as we capitalize on growing opportunities to serve luxury consumers worldwide.”
Today, we live in a world where business, degrees and even entire relationships are conducted behind a screen. As a result, employee frustration and miscommunication is at an all-time high, with tone alone being misinterpreted almost half of the time in email, leading to endless wasted hours and heightened anxiety.
For better or worse, digital communication, whether it’s through email or direct messages on platforms like Slack, don’t let us see each other’s immediate reactions — which is why we look for ways to “politely” express irritation. The key word is “politely,” but it isn’t always interpreted that way.
So let’s take a look at the five most common phrases employees use that actually make them passive aggressive and petty:
1. “Per my last email…”
What it actually means: “You didn’t really read what I wrote. Pay attention this time!”
2. “For future reference…”
What it actually means: “Let me correct your blatant ‘mistake’ that you already knew was wrong.”
3. “Bumping this to the top of your inbox…”
What it actually means: “You’re my boss [or employee]. This is the third time I’ve asked you. I need you to get this s*** done.”
4. “Just to be sure we’re on the same page…”
What this actually means: “I’m going to cover my a** here and make sure that everyone who refers to this email in the future knows that I was right all along.”
5. “Going forward…”
What it actually means: “Do not ever do that again.”
It’s likely that you’ve used one of these phrases before without even realizing that it could be perceived as passive aggressive. Or, you may have been on the receiving end, which can also be frustrating.
(Even as a digital body language researcher, whenever I see “Thanks for your patience” in an email, I can’t decide if they’re brushing me off with an undefined future date, or if they really only need a few days longer than expected to get back to me. In most cases, though, I know they’re just saying “Sorry I’m late with this; it’s taking longer than I thought.” That’s all.)
The right way to express what you mean
So how should we frame our own “Just following up on this” without engaging in any passive aggressiveness? When is it okay to loop in our boss without seeming like a jerk? When do we use the phone to call and clarify something?
Here are four things successful communicators do:
1. Don’t respond to messages or emails when you’re angry or frustrated.
This prevents miscommunication, wasted time and regret. If you feel emotionally hijacked, save your email message as a draft and revise and send it when you’re in a better mood.
2. Assume good intent.
Instead of calling someone out for screwing up, step into their shoes and ask yourself, “What are some reasons why they might have made this mistake?”
It’s better to people exactly what they need to take action. Sometimes just adding a quick brief so that they don’t have to go back and read through previous emails and writing “Here’s what I need from you” or “Here are the open dates again” is helpful.
3. Show empathy and encouragement.
Replace imperative words like “Do this” with conditional phrases like “Could you do this?” When delivering feedback, begin your message by expressing appreciation using words like “Thank you for [X]” or “Excellent job on [X].”
If your boss, or even a client, sends you a passive aggressive email, fight that urge to send an even more petty reply. Lowering your actions down to their level will only escalate the tension and increase anxiety.
4. Avoid digital ghosting.
Need to get back to someone? Here’s a quick guide to remember:
If you can answer in 60 seconds or less: Respond immediately.
If it’s urgent: Respond immediately or let the sender know you are working on it. Make an appointment with yourself on your calendar if you need to.
If it’s a matter lacking urgency: Don’t stress; block out time to follow up after at your convenience.
If you’re the one waiting for a response: Unless it’s critical that you get a reply ASAP, remember that people may have a lot on their plates. If you follow up twice and don’t get a reply, switch to a different medium (e.g. a phone call).
In October 2018, Florida-based internet porn baron Leonid Radvinsky, now 39, bought an estimated 75% of a growing but largely unheard-of business called OnlyFans. At the time, London-based OnlyFans was a fledgling video and social site that allowed adult performers to make money from the comfort of their own homes.
“Content creators” – mostly porn stars — set up accounts via the company’s platform and charge a subscription fee to viewers (whom the company calls “fans”) that ranges from $4.99 to $49.99 a month —and the performers keep 80% of whatever they charge.
With all film production – adult or otherwise – shuttered during the pandemic and millions of lonely people stuck at home, OnlyFans’ business has boomed. In the year through November 2020, OnlyFans posted revenues of $400 million, up 540% over the prior year, 80% of which came from American customers.
The number of creators nearly quintupled to 1.6 million, including more mainstream stars like Cardi B, DJ Khaled, Fat Joe, and Rebecca Minkoff. The total number of paying fans rose more than 500% to 82 million. Profits after tax rose to $60 million from $6.6 million. Forbes estimates that Radvinsky’s stake in Fenix International – OnlyFans’ parent company — makes him a new billionaire, worth some $1.8 billion.
Outside of these eye-popping financials, which were published in the U.K., little is known about Radvinsky, who didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment. A representative for OnlyFans also declined to comment. We do know that OnlyFans was founded in 2016 by a British entrepreneur named Timothy Stokely, now 37, alongside his retired banker father, Guy Stokely, and brother Thomas. In U.K. filings, Radvinsky and Guy Stokely are listed as the company’s sole directors. Timothy, Thomas, and Guy Stokely all declined to comment for this story.
What little else is known about Radvinsky is not flattering. Some twenty years ago, before Internet pornography was widely available for free, he ran a small empire of websites that advertised access to “illegal” and “hacked” passwords to porn sites, including ones that were advertised as featuring underage performers. In the late 1990s such link sites were common and were used to market not just pornography but online gambling and other grey market activities.
But Radvinsky was particularly aggressive. Looking through the Wayback Machine’s website archive, Forbes uncovered 11 such sites, all created in the late 1990s and early 2000s by Radvinsky and his Glenview, Illinois-based business, Cybertania. They included Password Universe, which, in 2000, published a link directing web users to a site claiming to offer pedophiles more than 10,000 “illegal pre-teen passwords.”
In 1999, a site called Working Passes had a link for “the hottest underaged hardcore” containing 16-year-olds. Also in 2000, another site, Ultra Passwords, promised a link containing “the best illegal teen passwords” and “the hottest bestiality site on the web.” The legal age for porn actors in the U.S. is 18, while bestiality (the act of having sex with an animal) is illegal in most American states. (The Wayback Machine removed Radvinsky’s old websites from its archive after speaking to Forbes.)
But there’s no evidence that any of Radvinsky’s sites actually linked to child pornography or bestiality. Instead, the sites appear to have been a way for Radvinsky to earn money by charging his partners (actual porn sites) for every click. Forbes, prohibited from accessing such imagery, asked the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), a specialist group engaged in the removal of such content on the web, to look at archived webpages containing links advertising underage pornography. According to the IWF, none linked to illegal material.
It was a scummy business, but it was a profitable one. One of Radvinsky’s sites was bringing in revenues of $5,000 a day in 2002, or $1.8 million for the year.
Instead, the links typically went through to similar sites offering more links to free porn passwords or other adult content. In 2002, a year before Radvinsky graduated from Northwestern University, where he majored in economics, his company Cybertania sued domain name registrar and internet backbone provider Verisign, claiming that Verisign transferred one of its websites to someone else.
In that suit, Radvinsky’s company said that it was in partnership with those same sites from which it had claimed to have “hacked” logins: “Cybertania earned a sum of money for each hyperlink connection or password, used from the respective owner and operators of those referral sites,” Cybertania’s lawyers wrote. In another lawsuit against Radvinsky, the plaintiff stated that Ultra Passwords “presents the deceptive image of providing ‘hacked’ (stolen) passwords to get free services from other pornographic sites, but which is in fact a lucrative affiliate referral site.”
It was a scummy business, but it was a profitable one. In the Cybertania suit against Verisign, Radvinsky’s company said its Ultra Passwords site was bringing in revenues of $5,000 a day in 2002, or $1.8 million for the year.
Radvinsky remained elusive during the nearly 20 years between the start of his sex link farm businesses and his purchase of 75% of OnlyFans. In the early 2000s, he created a handful of sites linking to celebrity sex tapes and MyFreeCams, a site that claims to be the world’s number one porn-via-webcam service. He has also occasionally popped up in lawsuits. In 2003 and 2004, Amazon and Microsoft sued Radvinsky in U.S. district court in Seattle for alleged spam campaigns that used the Amazon name and Microsoft email tools to offer spam recipients “free money from the government” or links to adult websites. Radvinsky denied all allegations.
The cases were settled out of court in 2005, and Radvinsky and his businesses were barred from using Amazon’s name in spam or using any of Microsoft’s email tools. His Cybertania business was sued in 2005 by a model, Sheila Lussier, for using her (clothed) image on one of his porn sites, an allegation the company fought. Lussier says she settled for an undisclosed sum.
OnlyFans has run into its own issues with underage performers. Since the site doesn’t independently verify its sex workers’ ages, it’s fairly easy for people to lie. In late May, a BBC investigation revealed that a 14-year-old girl had been able to register an account as a performer on OnlyFans using her grandmother’s passport.
A senior police officer told the BBC that OnlyFans is “[N]ot doing enough to put in place the safeguards that prevent children exploiting the opportunity to generate money, but also for children to be exploited.” In response, OnlyFans issued a statement that it used “state-of-the-art technology” and “human monitoring” to try to prevent under-18s sharing content on the platform and it took the issue “very seriously.”
Signy Arnason, associate executive director of The Canadian Center for Child Protection, says her group often receives notifications about OnlyFans’ models potentially being underage. She describes OnlyFans’ efforts to protect underage performers as “minimal.” OnlyFans has “a moral and ethical responsibility to be doing better here,” she adds.
I’m associate editor for Forbes, covering security, surveillance and privacy. I’m also the editor of The Wiretap newsletter, which has exclusive stories on real-world surveillance and all the biggest cybersecurity stories of the week. It goes out every Monday and you can sign up here: https://www.forbes.com/newsletter/thewiretap
I’ve been breaking news and writing features on these topics for major publications since 2010. As a freelancer, I worked for The Guardian, Vice, Wired and the BBC, amongst many others.
Tip me on Signal / WhatsApp / whatever you like to use at +447782376697. If you use Threema, you can reach me at my ID: S2XY9B9U.
If you want to tip me with something sensitive? Get in contact on Signal or Threema, and we can use OnionShare. It’s a great way to share documents privately. See here: https://onionshare.org/
I am a wealth reporter at Forbes, based in London covering the business of billionaires, philanthropy, investing, tax, technology and lifestyle. I studied at Goldsmiths, University of London and joined from Spear’s Magazine, where I covered everything from the Westminster bubble to world of wealth management, private banking, divorce law, alternative assets, tax, tech and succession. Notable bylines include an investigation into Switzerland’s bi-lateral bonds to the European Union, and a journey through Bhutan – testing the hunger for democracy, and the love for their King. I joined Forbes in May 2019.
OnlyFans is a content subscription service based in London, England. Content creators can earn money from users who subscribe to their content—the “fans”. It allows content creators to receive funding directly from their fans on a monthly basis as well as one-time tips and the pay-per-view (PPV) feature.
The service is popular with and commonly associated with sex workers but it also hosts the work of other content creators, such as physical fitness experts, musicians and other creators who post regularly online.
OnlyFans was launched in 2016 as a platform for performers to provide clips and photos to followers for a monthly subscription fee. The parent company is Fenix International Limited. Two years later, Leonid Radvinsky, owner of MyFreeCams, acquired 75% ownership of Fenix and became its director.
In 2019, OnlyFans introduced an extra safeguard into the account verification process so that a creator now has to provide a selfie headshot with their ID in the image in order to prove that the ID provided belongs to the account holder. The site has over 24 million registered users and claims to have paid out US$725 million to its 450,000 content creators.
After the site was mentioned by Beyoncé in the song “Savage” in April 2020, CEO Tim Stokely claimed OnlyFans was “seeing about 200,000 new users every 24 hours and 7,000 to 8,000 new creators joining every day.” In the same line, Savage also mentioned Demon Time, a social media show, and shortly after the release of that song, OnlyFans announced a partnership with Demon Time to create a monetized virtual night club using the site’s dual-screen live feature.
In January 2020, 20-year-old American Kaylen Ward raised more than US$1 million in contributions to charity during the wild bushfires in Australia. OnlyFans teamed with her for their first partnership for a charitable cause.This started a trend with some OnlyFans creators who have been raising money through their accounts.
As of June 2021, top OnlyFans creators Jem Wolfie, an Australian fitness model, and Mia Malkova, an American pornographic actress, reportedly earn over $7 million per month in subscription income through the platform.
As pornography is allowed on OnlyFans, the website is mainly used by pornographic models, both amateur and professional, but it also has a market with chefs, fitness enthusiasts, and musicians.Users must be at least 18 years old to register, regardless of the content consumed. In March 2020, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of OnlyFans content creators increased by 40%, and the number of users on the site increased from 7.5 million to 85 million.
Most of us, including you, have bad habits that get in the way. If you are able to abandon the following habits, you must be able to understand that becoming a millionaire is not as far from reality an idea as you think. We all want to be.
For me, as for many other people, these 20 habits were what kept me from becoming a millionaire.
1. Sleep when you shouldn’t
If you wake up until noon and work 12 or more hours per day to make up for a late start. Here’s the thing. I understand perfect, because I struggled with it for years. We are not all active people in the morning. Me, I still stay in bed on cool, rainy mornings.
Successful people are known to wake up early, usually before everyone else at home, so they can get started early on to get work started, catch up on the news, answer emails, and exercise without sacrificing time. they spend with their family.
When you’re unhealthy, you’re tired, less productive, more stressed, and much more likely to get sick. How can you focus on building your health, if you fight those factors every day?
3. Don’t read
People with money invest the time and effort necessary to expand their knowledge, keep up with the news and trends within their industry, learn from others and take responsibility for continuing to innovate.
As Lipovsky wrote, reading brings different perspectives, allows you to gain various points of view that will in turn expand yours, giving you the necessary push to dream big and motivate you to never give up.
People with a lot of money have several sources of income. Which means that for those of us who aspire to wealth, we have to invest part of our income to pay off our debts, and reserve for retirement and invest.
This doesn’t mean you have to get a second job while waiting for results (not a bad idea until you have a better option). It could be something you’re passionate about, like writing about technology. You can do it through a blog and start earning a passive income through the market.
5. Not setting a budget
Everyone needs to create a budget and stick to it, but unfortunately, there are many people who do not. Since they can’t see if they are spending more than they are accurately earning, it often leads to financial problems. If you notice that this is your case, then you need to start reducing unnecessary expenses and you should talk to an advisor to claim you.
In fact, this is another habit discovered by millionaire authors such as: Thomas Stanley and William Danko after analyzing millionaire people for their book The Millionaire Next Door.
6. Don’t think ahead
“In my study, ninety-five percent of poor people did not save and most of them accumulated debt to subsidize their quality of life. Consequently, they do not have money either for the time of their retirement or for the their children’s education, or for the opportunities that come their way, “wrote Tom Corley in” Change Your Habits, Change Your Life. ”
Just like Corley says. “Not saving and spending more than you earn creates long-term poverty with no hope of escaping.”
7. Not paying attention to small expenses
You may think that spending $ 40 a day on a cup of coffee has no effect on your wallet. The same goes for that $ 500 gym membership you hardly ever use. But, despite the fact that in the scheme of things these are small expenses, believe it or not, they add up quickly.
I recently randomly checked my company’s credit card payments. I found that 35 percent of people who buy coffee at least 4 times a week or go to the cafeteria every day only pay the minimum on their credit card monthly.
Again, this is why a budget is so helpful. It helps you manage these small expenses so you can adjust and focus on the important things. Remember to only keep the subscriptions that you actually use.
8. Dating the wrong people
Replace the toxic and negative people in your life with those who are optimistic, motivating and supportive. “In life, you will only be successful if you surround yourself with the right people,” says Corley.
It is one thing to say that you want to become a millionaire and quite another to start doing it. If you want to get out of financial stagnation, then you need to take action as soon as possible. If you sit down with a financial professional to adjust your budget, this would be a great step to start doing rather than talking.
10. Drink and gamble
“There’s nothing like getting rich quick”; “Financial success takes time, initiative and requires relentless effort”; “Those who gamble are deluded into thinking there is a shortcut to success,” Corley writes.
Instead, millionaires “get in the habit of pursuing their dreams and goals.”
On the other hand, excessive alcohol consumption prevents you from becoming a millionaire since it damages your memory, the ability to think clearly and your health. That doesn’t mean that you can’t occasionally have a glass of wine or beer. Don’t make drinking a habit.
“Rich people have small televisions and big libraries. Poor people have small libraries and big televisions,” Zig Ziglar once said.
Do not misunderstand. I like to watch Netflix from time to time. But, as in Corley’s discovery, the wealthy prefer to read, exercise, or educate themselves rather than waste time watching television. “Making productive use of time is a hallmark of millionaires.”
“Wasting time belongs to poor people,” says Corley.
12. Not finding a mentor
I’m sure if I had found a mentor years ago I would have gotten rich since then. Why do I believe it? I could have learned from the successes and mistakes of someone who has developed in those fields, their advice could have helped me to omit so many mistakes that I have experienced and instead I could have obtained some benefit.
Instead of going out to get a mentor, open your eyes, they are all around you. You can take the advice of a college professor or your parents.
13. Stay in your comfort zone
Taking risks and getting out of your comfort zone is unsettling. I understand. But until you take that leap, you will find financial success. This is a habit that worked very well for Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Larry Ellison, and Warren Buffet.
“The pursuit of wealth requires risk, most people do not, so they are not rich,” says Corley.
You don’t know everything. Put your ego aside for a moment. I hate being the bearer of bad news, but that’s a fact and it will keep you from being rich until you deal with it.
I learned the hard way that trying to guess the future leads to failure and poor decisions. If you are not sure about an investment or an idea for your business, do not hesitate to ask for feedback and advice.
15. Being consumed by failure
Entrepreneurs wear failure as a badge of honor. That doesn’t mean they enjoy or want to fail. Going out of business and losing almost everything is rubbish, but those bumps of life are necessary to become as strong as you can be.
Do not get confused. Failure is horrible. But you shouldn’t let that stop you. Take risks, and if you fail, learn from your mistakes and move on.
16. Not setting daily goals
One of the best habits I have adopted in recent years was writing my goals daily and first thing in the morning. This inspires and encourages me to achieve my goals.
I found that setting daily goals helps prioritize from the most important to the least important. For example, instead of looking for my $ 100 overdue bills, I focus on one or two of $ 1,500. Prioritizing means doing what really matters.
17. Thinking negatively
“Long-term success is only possible when you have a positive mindset,” Corley writes.
Here are some examples of the most common negative thoughts we have that most can overcome:
– Doubting yourself. Training, education, and a mentor can change this thinking.
– Believe that your goals cannot be achieved. Focus on reaching your daily goals and pushing yourself.
– Have bad grades. No. Grades and learning difficulty do not determine success. Ask Richard Branson who overcame dyslexia.
– The competition is too tough. You will never know until you try. And, in the worst case? Just turn around.
– Lack of concentration. Living healthy and setting daily goals can keep you focused.
18. Don’t save
“A job will never make you rich. Nor will saving all your money in a piggy bank. So how do you build wealth?” Asks Brandon Turner, vice president of growth at BiggerPockets.com.
So how is it achieved? Through tangible assets such as a profitable business, a growing stock portfolio or investing in real estate law.
Remember, your car and toys are responsibilities that take away the income from your future wealth. Focus on acquiring things that will make you money in the long run.
19. Make excuses
Excuses were one of the biggest obstacles between me and wealth. Making excuses is easy when we are trying to understand why we have so much debt and if we don’t have a six-figure income. Saying that we want to “live in the moment” is an excuse not to work and create a better future. Stop making excuses and start working.
For example, don’t worry about saving when you’re drowning in debt. Pay first, and that way you can start saving and investing. If you’re not making enough money, find another source of income like selling things online or delivering pizzas. That won’t solve all your problems, but at least it’s a start to ditching excuses.
20. Failure to follow the 70/30 Rule.
Jim Rohn, one of the county’s leading business authority figures, has a simple formula for building your wealth.
“After paying your taxes, learn to live with 70 percent of your income for your necessities and luxuries”, “it is important to see how you allocate the remaining 30 percent after that.” Mentions Rohn.
Rohn suggests giving one third to charity, one third to equity investments and the last third to savings. You won’t notice anything at first, but “let five years go by and the differences will be noticeable. 10 years later, they will be completely solid.”
Let’s be clear: This idea that wealthy people always live in mega-mansions and wear $500 jeans is a myth. Being successful with money is as simple as living a modest lifestyle that follows a few basic principles. The more of these habits you follow, the more successful you’ll be with money. Just ask Warren Buffett.
We’re here to tell you, building wealth has almost nothing to do with your income or background. We studied 10,000 U.S. millionaires—the largest study on millionaires ever conducted—and found that most of them don’t look the part. The majority live in normal, middle-class neighborhoods and drive modest cars.
So if you’re ready to get serious about wealth-building, talk with the financial professionals in our SmartVestor program. They’ll help you build a clear wealth-building plan and keep you focused on your way to becoming a millionaire. It’s up to you!
Consumers and marketers alike have noticed a significant upward trend in video content over the last few years, but what does this trend look like practically? A recent report by Hubspot sheds light on some key figures: 85% of business people use video as a marketing tool, up from 61% just five years ago.
Perhaps the most important stat for marketers, though, is that 99% of those that use video content do so again the following year. Once video is deployed, the results speak for themselves.
That is, if you use the medium correctly. Video can take brand voice to new levels, but the form is not an easy one to master. If you want to get the most out of your video strategy, you’ll need to tread carefully. Here are a few key things to keep in mind:
Though video-embedded banner ads are becoming increasingly popular, the best destination for your video content is on platforms already based around video: YouTube, Tik Tok, Snapchat, Hulu, and so on. If users can seamlessly go from watching content of their choice to watch well-curated ads, they’re more likely to respond to what they’re seeing.
Experts say that YouTube Ads are the next “blue ocean,” a place where marketers can expect to make between four and five times their typical ROI. Consumers on platforms like YouTube are already primed for video content — it’s up to you to deliver it to them. And instead of waiting for those customers to find your videos organically, you can shortcut the process by targeting them using YouTube’s ad platform.
With so much excitement about the future of video, it can be tempting to jump in headfirst. An important thing to understand, though, is that users are already bombarded with more videos than they could ever hope to watch in their lifetimes. If you’re hoping to cut through all that noise, you’ll need to produce top-quality video content.
Related: Tell Me a Story: 4 Ways That Video Can Create Brand Fanatics — Maybe Even Your Brand Fanatics
Hootsuite has published a helpful guide for knowing what video formats and qualities work best for each platform, but your quest for great content needs to go beyond orientation and pixels. Make videos that you yourself would want to watch, videos that will stick with people after they watch.
It’s one thing to tell someone to make great videos, but actually demonstrating how is something else entirely. Step one is to make videos that have a fundamental respect for their viewers. Consumers know how valuable their time and attention are to you, and your content will have to earn it.
It’s important to keep in mind that over 70% of people feel that ads are more intrusive now than they were three years ago, according to consumer insights agency Kantar. Your video should blend in naturally with the content around it and should never explicitly sell your product. Instead, demonstrate your product’s value and emphasize some of its key elements – you can trust consumers to connect those dots on their own.
If you can land content on a platform that supports long-form content, lean hard into the storytelling aspect of things. Video is perhaps the best-suited of all marketing media towards storytelling, and consumers are ready to respond in turn: 55% of customers who love a brand’s story are willing to make a purchase according to researchers at the University of West Alabama.
Related: How Brand Storytelling Is The Missing Link To Building a Loyal Community of Followers
All of the information you’re hoping to share through video content can be molded into a narrative. Hoping to share product specs? Weave them into the story of the product’s conception and development. Want to promote a new discount? Show what went into making that price drop possible. Customers will recognize and respond to your efforts, meaning serious ROI down the line.
If all else fails, you have three simple commandments to follow: engage, educate, and energize. You engage potential customers by placing your video content in the right place at the right time, ensuring that your audience is exactly who and where you want them to be. You educate them with well-written content that is elegantly produced and contains information relevant to them. Most importantly, you energize them to engage with your brand further, securing a new relationship for your business.
While no two companies will want to produce the same content, following a few of these guidelines can go a long way in refining your output. 2021 is poised to show just how far video content has come, and every business worth its salt should ride that wave as far as it takes them.
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Tesla has invested $1.5bn in bitcoin and plans to begin accepting it for payment in one of the highest-profile endorsements of the cryptocurrency sector by a major US company. The disclosure from the electric carmaker sent bitcoin rallying to a record high of $44,100, extending its 50 per cent surge so far this year.
Analysts have put the meteoric rally down to growing enthusiasm from institutional investors seeking returns in the era of low interest rates. In a regulatory filing on Monday, Tesla said it purchased the bitcoins after changing its investment policy last month to “diversify and maximise” returns on its cash. Line chart of $ per coin showing Bitcoin soars after Tesla reveals $1.5bn investment For years Tesla was short of cash as it invested heavily in developing its electric vehicles.
Although its finances have improved, the bitcoin investment still represents about 8 per cent of the $19.4bn it held in cash and liquid assets at the end of December, according to the filing. The group said it expected to accept bitcoin as a form of payment for its products, although initially on a “limited basis”, adding that it might sell the digital assets for hard currency once payments are processed.
Elon Musk, Tesla’s founder, has been a vocal supporter of digital assets on social media, particularly about dogecoin, which he said was the “people’s crypto”. In December he wrote on Twitter that bitcoin was his “safeword” in an apparent joke. Robyn Denholm, an Australian telecoms executive who took over from Musk as chair of Tesla’s board in 2018, is head of the audit committee that signed off on the change to the company’s investment policy.
The change allows Tesla to invest “a portion” of its cash in “alternative reserve assets including digital assets [and] gold bullion”. Recommended John Gapper Electric vehicles need to arrive as fast as vaccines The carmaker is the latest consumer-facing company to venture into cryptocurrency markets, following PayPal. However, cryptocurrencies remain highly volatile and are risky to hold due to frequent hacking and fraud, as well as difficulties in transferring them to cash.
“We believe our bitcoin holdings are highly liquid. However, digital assets may be subject to volatile market prices, which may be unfavourable at the time when we want or need to liquidate them,” Tesla said on Monday. “[This] is a potential game-changing move for the use of bitcoin from a transactional perspective,” said Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities.
Ives said the announcement from Tesla could prompt other companies to make similar decisions given the growing interest in digital currencies. “Investors and other industry watchers will be watching this closely to see if other corporations follow the lead of Tesla on this crypto path or on the other hand does it remain a contained few names that make this strategic jump around bitcoin.”
In an investment industry known for big egos, overconfident analysts and “activists” who routinely tell CEOs how to run their companies, investor Nancy Zevenbergen and her team of four portfolio managers differentiate themselves by simply listening.
Zevenbergen, 61, founder of $5.7 billion (assets) Zevenbergen Capital Investments, believes the crucial job of an investor in today’s economy is to uncover the next great entrepreneur or technological innovation early on. The style is about “optimism and a view toward what the future might be,” she says. According to Zevenbergen, her task is to be curious and “understand the ‘crazy’ visions of new leaders and become investors alongside them.” If she likes a company, her Seattle-based firm will load up and watch from the sidelines, tracking the business patiently and holding their shares so long as growth doesn’t stall. Rarely do they worry too much about valuation.
This humble approach to investing has yielded results that make Zevenbergen among the best investors in the world. She has stuck by mercurial Elon Musk and owned Tesla for about a decade; Tesla’s stock is up 730% this year, and is the top performing stock of the ten years. She discovered Ottawa, Canada-based ecommerce company Shopify and its founder CEO Tobi Lütke in late 2016 when it was trading below $50; it now trades for $1,170.
Last September, Zillow chief executive Rich Barton decided the real estate platform would begin buying homes, leading to complaints from skeptics who sent its shares cratering 20% to below $30. Zevenbergen’s team liked Barton’s experimentation and built a large position. Fifteen months later, Zillow now trades for $140.
With stock-picks like these, Zevenbergen’s Innovative Growth Fund (SCATX) and Genea Fund (ZVGNX) are up a staggering 126% and 154%, respectively, in 2020. Of over 1,000 peer funds tracked by Morningstar, the two mutual funds rank in the top percentile.
Zevenbergen created her firm from her living room in the late 1980s with just $500,000 in assets while she nursed a young child. Her flagship strategy has beaten the S&P 500 Index by around four percentage points annually since 1987, but 2020 was a watershed. Assets more than doubled soaring towards $6 billion, based on performance and inflows to her mutual funds.
Zevenbergen is not the only woman fund manager who has crushed competition in 2020. Forbes found at least a half a dozen firms led by women-led funds that have blown away their peers and drawn in tens of billions of dollars in assets collectively since the start of January.
Cathie Wood, founder of Ark Investments, had the best year of anyone. In 2014, Wood, 65, created Ark with the idea of packaging stock-picking into tax-efficient exchange traded funds, and focusing exclusively on breakthrough innovations in genomics, robotics, financial technology, autonomous driving, digital services, and artificial intelligence.
Six years later, Ark manages nearly $44 billion in assets, up from just $300 million at the end of 2016. This year, Ark funds have pulled in over $10 billion in new assets, led by extraordinary returns. Her flagship Ark Innovation Fund (ARKK) has seen assets soar to $17 billion, fueled by a 154% gain in 2020 and a 46% average annual return over the past five years. Her $6 billion Ark Genomic revolution ETF is up even more this year. “I wanted individual investors to catch the wave,” says Wood of today’s enormous technological change. Her funds were designed for those “willing to step out and away from fixed income and into some of the most exciting stocks in history.”
Ark publishes its financial models, trading logs, and research to the investing public, and the firm’s analysts are happy to engage in discussion on Twitter, opening themselves to criticism and mockery. Wood’s $4,000 a share valuation of Tesla a year ago drew many scoffs on Wall Street. But her heady valuation was spot on. Short sellers have been burned by Tesla’s rise, while female investors like Zevenbergen and Wood have been patient bulls. On Friday, Tesla was added to the S&P 500 Index.
Female investing success in 2020 extends well beyond soaring growth stocks. Women-run funds are leading the way in everything from small cap stocks, to emerging market debt portfolios, dividend paying companies, and sustainable investments.
Amy Zhang, portfolio manager of the Alger Small Cap Focus Fund (AOFIX) and Mid Cap Focus Fund (AFOIX) was hired in 2015 to expand Alger’s presence in niche small and mid-cap stocks. When Zhang arrived at Alger, the Small Cap Focus Fund had just $16 million in assets. Now, after a 54% return in 2020 and a 30% annual average return over the past five years, Zhang’s Small Cap Focus Fund has $7.5 billion in assets.
Top holdings include refrigerated logistics upstart CryoPort and fast casual restaurant Wingstop. Her Mid Cap Focus Fund, launched in mid-2018, has attracted over $500 million in assets as it has soared by 84% in 2020, bolstered by casino operator Penn National Gaming and power equipment manufacturer Generac.
Long before sustainable investments became a prolific buzzword, Karina Funk, an MIT-educated engineer at Baltimore-based mutual fund giant Brown Advisory, was a pioneer in bringing sustainable investments mainstream. Funk, 48, a vegetarian who watches her carbon footprint by biking to work, launched the Brown Advisory Sustainable Growth Fund in June 2012, alongside David Powell, with a goal to back about 35 companies with products improving social and environmental sustainability, or efficient operating footprints.
Its focus on companies like Ball Corp. and American Tower has made it one of the best funds on the planet during down markets. Even in 2020, the fund has gained 38% despite its defensive posture, thanks to savvy picks like life sciences conglomerate Danaher and Etsy, which has empowered many small businesses during the pandemic. Funk can be a tough customer. She exited Facebook in the fall of 2018 due to data privacy concerns.
“Sustainability is a means, not an end in and of itself,” she told Forbesas part of a profile three years ago, when the fund’s assets were just $1.1 billion. “Our end goal is performance. We achieve that by finding fundamentally strong companies using sustainability strategies to get even better.” The fund’s assets have since soared to $4.6 billion.
Other female-led funds that have done well include Capital Group’s $128 billion American Funds New Perspective (ANWPX), led by a team of managers including Joanna Jonsson and Noriko Chen, and the $36 billion in assets JPMorgan Equity Income Fund (HLIEX), led by Clare Hart. The New Perspectives fund has beaten its benchmark by four percentage points annually over the past decade, while Hart’s Equity Income Fund has returned an annualized 11.65%, two percentage points annually above its benchmark, according to data from Morningstar.
Rebecca Irwin, Natasha Kuhikin and Kathleen McCarragher of the $1.3 billion in assets PGIM Jennison Focused Growth Fund (SPFAX) have returned 68% in 2020 and 25% over the past five years, ranking in the top decile of peer funds. At Alger, Ankur Crawford, co-manager of the Alger Spectra Fund (ASPIX) and Alger Capital Appreciation (ACCAX) has seen returns surpass 40% this year.
In fixed income, Tina Vandersteel of the $4.4 billion in assets GMO Emerging Country Debt Fund (GMCDX) has been able to outperform emerging market bond indices despite underweighting China and many Gulf-states due to her skepticism of the veracity of their economic data.
The bull market of 2020 is also creating new opportunities for female fund managers to shine. Two years ago, Julie Biel of Los Angeles-based Kayne Anderson Rudnick, was a rising star at the $30 billion (assets) firm and excited about the looming public offering of software company DocuSign. Known for investing in established businesses, Kayne had never participated in an IPO. Biel was late in her pregnancy as the IPO progressed and trying to win an allocation. She needed a doctor’s note to fly to the Bay Area to meet with DocuSign’s management. Kayne eventually won a large block of shares, quickly becoming one of its largest outside investors.
Biel also began to manage the firm’s KAR Small Mid- Sustainable Growth strategy around that time and made DocuSign the fund’s top holding. Its shares have risen 225% in 2020. This year, Biel’s fund has returned 42% through November. In December, Kayne decided to launch a mutual fund version, launching the strategy, called the Virtus KAR Small-Mid Cap Growth Fund (VIKSK), with Biel in charge.
Like Zevebergen and Wood, Biel is starting small and manages just $60 million. But the investment industry rewards performance above all, hinting at much larger things to come. Entering 2021, Biel’s portfolio is loaded with hidden gems like Ollie’s Bargain Outlet and MarketAxess that could grow for years to come. Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Send me a secure tip.
I’m a staff writer and associate editor at Forbes, where I cover finance and investing. My beat includes hedge funds, private equity, fintech, mutual funds, mergers, and banks. I’m a graduate of Middlebury College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, and I’ve worked at TheStreet and Businessweek. Before becoming a financial scribe, I was a member of the fateful 2008 analyst class at Lehman Brothers. Email thoughts and tips to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow me on Twitter at @antoinegara
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Entrepreneurship is, in large part, reliant on decision making for success. After creating your business plan, you’ll have a blueprint for what you want your business to be and how you’re going to develop it; but moving forward, you’ll be faced with countless tough decisions. On a small level, how do you want to prioritize your day? How are you going to negotiate this deal? On a larger level, who are you going to hire for this position? How will you challenge this new competitor? How are you going to pivot the business to escape bankruptcy?
It’s no surprise that some of the best entrepreneurs also happen to be the best decision makers. They’re able to take any decision, big or small, and address it in a way that’s both objective and appropriate. That doesn’t mean they make the right call every time; we all make mistakes, and successful entrepreneurs are no different. But over time, their decisions tend to lead them in better directions.
Decision fatigue is a simple psychological concept that many of us underestimate, but the more decisions we make in a given period, the weaker our decision-making abilities become. Over time, we become bogged down with stress and distractions, and ultimately make worse decisions for ourselves and our businesses. This even occurs with tiny, seemingly inconsequential decisions.
Many famous entrepreneurs and leaders, including Barack Obama, Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg, have strategies in place to reduce decision fatigue by stripping away unimportant decisions. For example, you might wear the same thing every day or have the same thing for breakfast. It may not seem like much, but over time, making fewer decisions each day can make you a better decision maker.
Get all the facts
As a leader, it’s important to be decisive, but it’s also important to have all the facts before you move forward with any decision. Are you sure that all the information you have is accurate? Are there any details you might be missing? What are the alternatives?
When it’s time to make a final decision, you have to remove emotion from the equation as much as possible. If you’re making an impulsive call about an emergency situation, this can be extremely difficult. However, there are a number of techniques that can help you, such as:
Walking away. Sometimes, moving to a different physical location is all it takes to shift your mindset. If you’ve ever experienced road rage, you know that as soon as you’re parked, away from the road and out of your car, the situation doesn’t seem so bad. Try walking away and thinking through your decision in another, less intense location.
Meditating. Many people swear by the power of meditation. Simply taking a few minutes to reflect on your own state of mind can be enough to dissolve the emotions that might otherwise influence your decision.
Considering the decision from an outside perspective. You can also get a better sense for the objective reality of the situation by considering it from an outsider’s perspective. A common trick is to make your decision as if you’re advising a friend: If one of your closest friends were in this position, what would you tell them to do? You’ll suddenly consider more variables, and you’ll feel more detached from the situation (in a good way).
Talk to other experts
While the final decision is yours, it can be helpful to learn about the perspectives of other experts in this area. Do you have employees or partners who can share their ideas and gut feelings? Do you know of mentors or experienced professionals you can call for some quick advice? If you don’t have anyone to personally contact, you can substitute reading or podcast listening; what do other experts have to say about this situation?
“Good” decisions and “bad” decisions aren’t defined by the outcomes to which they lead; instead, they’re defined by the process used by the person making them. You can make better decisions by reducing decision fatigue, getting more information, clearing yourself of emotion and talking to other experts. This doesn’t guarantee all your decisions will work out, but it will increase each decision’s likelihood of success.
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On the surface, Eric Lefkofsky’s Tempus sounds much like every other AI-powered personalized medicine company. “We try to infuse as much data and technology as we can into the diagnosis itself,” Lefkofsky says, which could be said by the founder of any number of new healthcare companies.. But what makes Tempus different is that it is quickly branching out, moving from a focus on cancer to additional programs including mental health, infectious diseases, cardiology and soon diabetes. “We’re focused on those disease areas that are the most deadly,” Lefkofsky says.
Now, the billionaire founder has an additional $200 million to reach that goal. The Chicago-based company announced the series G-2 round on Thursday, which includes a massive valuation of $8.1 billion. Lefkofsky, the founder of multiple companies including Groupon, also saw his net worth rise from the financing, from an estimated $3.2 billion to an estimated $4.2 billion.
Tempus is “trying to disrupt a very large industry that is very complex,” Lefkofsky says, “we’ve known it was going to cost a lot of money to see our business model to fruition.”
In addition to investors Baillie Gifford, Franklin Templeton, Novo Holdings, and funds managed by T. Rowe Price, Lefkofsky, who has invested about $100 million of his own money into the company since inception, also contributed an undisclosed amount to the round. Google also participated as an investor, and Tempus says it will now store its deidentified patient data on Google Cloud.
“We are particularly attracted to companies that aim to solve fundamental and complex challenges within life sciences,” says Robert Ghenchev, a senior partner at Novo Holdings. “Tempus is, in many respects, the poster child for the kind of companies we like to support.”
Tempus, founded by Lefkofsky in 2015, is one of a new breed of personalized cancer diagnostic companies like Foundation Medicine and Guardant Health. The company’s main source of revenue comes from sequencing the genome of cancer patients’ tumors in order to help doctors decide which treatments would be most effective. “We generate a lot of molecular data about you as a patient,” Lefkofsky says. He estimates that Tempus has the data of about 1 in 3 cancer patients in the United States.
But billing insurance companies for sequencing isn’t the only way the company makes money. Tempus also offers a service that matches eligible patients to clinical trials, and it licenses de-identified patient data to other players in the oncology industry. That patient data, which includes images and clinical information, is “super important and valuable,” says Lefkofsky, who adds that such data sharing only occurs if patients consent.
At first glance, precision oncology seems like a crowded market, but analysts say there is still plenty of room for companies to grow. “We’re just getting started in this market,” says Puneet Souda, a senior research analyst at SVB Leerink, “[and] what comes next is even larger.” Souda estimates that as the personalized oncology market expands from diagnostics to screening, another $30 billion or more will be available for companies to snatch up. And Tempus is already thinking ahead by moving into new therapeutic areas.
While it’s not leaving cancer behind, Tempus has branched into other areas of precision medicine over the last year, including cardiology and mental health. The company now offers a service for psychiatrists to use a patient’s genetic information to determine the best treatments for major depressive disorder.
In May, Lefkofsky also pushed the company to use its expertise to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The company now offers PCR tests for Covid-19, and has run over 1 million so far. The company also sequences other respiratory pathogens, such as the flu and soon pneumonia. As with cancer, Tempus will continue to make patient data accessible for others in the field— for a price. “Because we have one of the largest repositories of data in the world,” says Lefkofsky, “[it is imperative] that we make it available to anyone.”
Lefkofsky plans to use capital from the latest funding round to continue Tempus’ expansion and grow its team. The company has hired about 700 since the start of the pandemic, he says, and currently has about 1,800 employees. He wouldn’t comment on exact figures, but while the company is not yet profitable he says Tempus has reached “significant scale in terms of revenue.”
And why is he so sure that his company’s massive valuation isn’t over-inflated? “We benefit from two really exciting financial sector trends,” he says: complex genomic profiling and AI-driven health data. Right now, Lefkofsky estimates, about one-third of cancer patients have their tumors sequenced in three years. Soon, he says, that number will increase to two-thirds of patients getting their tumors sequenced multiple times a year. “The space itself is very exciting,” he says, “we think it will grow dramatically.” Follow me on Twitter. Send me a secure tip.
I am the assistant editor of healthcare and science at Forbes. I graduated from UC Berkeley with a Master’s of Journalism and a Master’s of Public Health, with a specialty in infectious disease. Before that, I was at Johns Hopkins University where I double-majored in writing and public health. I’ve written articles for STAT, Vice, Science News, HealthNewsReview and other publications. At Forbes, I cover all aspects of health, from disease outbreaks to biotech startups.
To impact the nearly 1.7 million Americans who will be newly diagnosed with cancer this year, Eric Lefkofsky, co-founder and CEO of Tempus, discusses with Matter CEO Steven Collens how he is applying his disruptive-technology expertise to create an operating system to battle cancer. (November 29, 2016)
Sherika Wynter was on a roll. Since releasing an insulated luxury tote bag for professionals in 2018, and subsequently selling out three times, her Maryland-based research and development company Thomas & Wynter had been featured in British GQ and the International Business Times and on several local news segments.
She walked into February 2020 with more notches on her belt: a Google small-business award and a joint venture deal with a prominent Black law firm to create another product for professionals.
“We were growing exponentially,” says Wynter, a Black entrepreneur who, with cofounder Shallon Thomas, started the business in 2014.
As the coronavirus threat escalated in early March, their sales declined, nearly hitting zero by April. That same month, Wynter laid off almost every member of her five-person team, save for one contract worker.
“Right now, we’re treading water and have applied for ten different grants with no success. It’s a little daunting, but we’re trying to carry the company on our backs,” Wynter says.
It’s no exaggeration to say that the pandemic has decimated small businesses and early-stage ventures, especially those owned by women and people of color. Black women sit at this juncture, bearing a disproportionate share of the virus’ impact.
For years, Black women have created new businesses at a rapid clip, far outpacing other racial and ethnic groups. But strong financial headwinds from the pandemic and a lack of access to new funding sources threaten to wipe out decades of economic progress, leaving Black female business owners in a state of perpetual uncertainty, waiting for relief they fear will never come.
The face of female entrepreneurship overall is becoming a lot less white. Black women represent 42% of new women-owned businesses—three times their share of the female population—and 36% of all Black-owned employer businesses.
High levels of educational attainment, coupled with overcoming barriers to corporate advancement, have prompted Black women to pursue entrepreneurship, where they’ve become a potent economic force. Majority Black women-owned firms grew 67% from 2007 to 2012, compared to 27% for all women, and 50% from 2014 to 2019, representing the highest growth rate of any female demographic during that time frame.
“There’s this assumption that entrepreneurship is a tech startup that’s venture-capital-funded because we see so much about Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk. People discount informal entrepreneurship and part-time business creation, which creates a narrow view of entrepreneurship,” says Donna Kelley, who has led research on the rate of Black entrepreneurship and serves as a professor of entrepreneurship at Babson College.
But the decade-long boom in Black business creation masks deep inequities in access to the financial resources needed to create businesses that reach maturation, which is widely recognized as past the five-year mark. There are fewer established Black female business owners relative to their high rate of entrepreneurship, Kelley says. “This is persistent over time, which tells us that fewer of them are sustaining their businesses into maturity.”
In America’s business ecosystem, it’s not uncommon for companies to operate in the red for years before becoming profitable. Their lasting power is often made possible because of outside investors or their ability to secure loans from commercial banking institutions or credit unions. But Black entrepreneurs have historically been locked out of these funding opportunities.
“A commonality for Black people, especially women, is that it takes longer to obtain capital, and so they have to put in a lot more sweat equity,” says Laquita Blockson, director of social innovation at Agnes Scott College and co-investigator on a study about the success of African American women-led entrepreneurial ventures.
The lack of access to capital also dictates, in part, to which industries Black women flock. “If you don’t have the personal resources to get your business up and running, you may pick businesses that are easy to get off the ground, but that are crowded with competition for similar products and services, and less opportunity for differentiation,” Kelley says.
Many of those businesses are in industries that have been severely affected by the pandemic, with about 40% of revenue generated by Black-owned businesses in the hardest-hit sectors, including leisure, hospitality, transportation and retail.
“Hair salons, catering, restaurants or anything related to events . . . all of that shut down, and so the success of business owners in those industries depends on how much they have in reserves or were able to get from the federal government—both of which pose challenges for Black entrepreneurs,” says Jeffrey Robinson, founding assistant director of The Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development at Rutgers Business School.
When Sundrae Miller was forced to close the doors to her Adara Spa on March 26, she immediately sought out new funding sources. She received $2,300 under the Paycheck Protection Program, a $64,000 Economic Injury Disaster Loan and deferred her spa’s mortgage payment for one month. The Small Business Administration covered the next six months.
“That was my saving grace. If I hadn’t received that mortgage break, I’m afraid I’d be out of business,” says the Raleigh, North Carolina, resident.
Adara Spa reopened to the public on May 22, but business remains slow, and she fears a second state-mandated closure as winter approaches. In November, she’ll have to restart her mortgage payments.
Hunting for business grants has become like a full-time job for Miller, who often finds herself searching and applying for sources of capital until 2 a.m. She has applied for 21 grants to date, securing $23,000 from five of them. While the additional funding may seem sizable, Miller says she lost $20,000 each month her spa was closed and is losing $10,000 monthly since reopening at half-capacity. “I have a few grant applications out right now and I’m thinking to myself, ‘Okay, Lord, please let something come through,’” she says.
Little of the $670 billion PPP funding reached Black business owners, largely due to built-in structural limitations, such as stipulations around minimum headcounts and revenue requirements. When Wynter received a $1,000 PPP loan for her research and development company, she laughed. “They said, ‘Here’s a 30-year loan for $1,000,’ and I said, ‘What am I supposed to do with this?’ It was a slap in the face.”
Others had some success. The majority Black-owned architecture and engineering firm Sabir, Richardson & Weisberg (SRW) received a $150,000 Economic Injury Disaster Loan and a $280,000 PPP loan less than one month after applying for each.
“We usually have far under three months of runway. Without the PPP loan, we would have had to lay people off and not take a salary,” says Yvette Richardson, one of the company’s four partners, three of whom are Black.
Access to capital is a major predictor of business success and Black entrepreneurs find it difficult to weather economic duress, reach scalability and pivot away from unsustainable business models without financial backing.
“A lot of Black businesses will not survive this pandemic without more help. That is the sobering truth,” says Asahi Pompey, president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation.
Black business owners who apply for funding have a rejection rate three times higher than that of their white counterparts, according to a Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses report that surveys participants in a program bearing the same name.
Some 43% of Black-owned businesses in Goldman Sachs’ entrepreneurial program say they are likely to lose their cash reserves by the end of 2020, versus 30% of the overall program’s population, and 31% say less than 25% of their pre-Covid revenue has returned, compared to 16% of the overall population. The report defines growth-oriented entrepreneurs as individuals with businesses that have revenues of around $150,000 and two to six employees.
“This data lays bare the structural inequities Black people face and that’s born out in their entrepreneurial endeavors,” Pompey says. Already, Covid-19 has shuttered 41% of Black-owned businesses, compared to just 17% of white-owned businesses.
Blockson warns that not only will Black female entrepreneurs find it difficult to survive this period of economic downturn, but also that those who temporarily close shop will find it far more challenging to reopen.
“It will be a huge shock in the economic system, and it is raising alarms,” she says. “But I am also very hopeful and optimistic that this could be a great opportunity for those who are positioned for it and able to make a shift.”
Some Black businesses are getting creative and diversifying their offerings to stay afloat. SRW, for example, has sought out more healthcare projects and is dabbling in HVAC technology, anticipating the services clients will need as the demand for indoor ventilation systems grows.
However, many small businesses aren’t easily adaptable without a massive infrastructure overhaul, which requires a significant financial investment. And most Black and women-led businesses only have a few weeks to a month of cash flow.
“This is a critical moment in time that is going to set us on a trajectory that could certainly be problematic in terms of the state of Black businesses for years to come,” says Goldman Sachs’ Pompey.
When small businesses flourish, so do their communities, and Black business owners often intentionally locate themselves in Black and Brown spaces, acting as economic spigots in these neighborhoods. Their erasure comes with far-reaching consequences, including the loss of jobs, community development and new economic opportunities for residents of underserved areas.
Nearly 75% of Black business owners in Goldman Sachs’ survey say they recently mentored others in their communities, compared to 50% of white business owners.
“It’s not just that it’s a single business that shuttered. It’s that it’s a pillar of the community and someone who’s a leader or a mentor. The blast radius impact of the pandemic on Black communities is something that can’t be overstated,” Pompey says.
The pandemic’s paradoxical silver lining is that it has brought increased attention to revitalizing small businesses, which provide almost half of all jobs in the U.S. At the same time, a resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement has generated an influx of support for Black-owned businesses and corporate grants that cater to Black entrepreneurs.
Wynter is capitalizing on this surge in public interest and has seen a spike in online sales since the national reckoning on racial injustice began in June. Sales jumped from 7 orders in May to 87 in June, she says. “People have really been a free marketing mechanism for small businesses, which has been a blessing.”
Even still, she and her cofounder are wary about the longevity of their company. They tapped into their savings in September, putting a combined $8,000 into the business, and are raising new funds through a friends and family round.
“As a business owner, you plan and you try to bob and weave through things,” she says. “But there is no way to bob and weave this pandemic. You have to take its hits and hope that you don’t get knocked out.”Follow me on Twitter. Send me a secure tip.
I’m a reporter covering the various aspects of diversity and inclusion in business and society at large. Previously, I was a reporter at CNBC, where I focused on leadership and strategic management. I’ve also dabbled in video journalism, working as a breaking news digital producer for New York Daily News, followed by a yearlong stint as a producer at Rolling Stone. My work has been featured on New York Daily News, Yahoo Finance and Time Out. I’m a proud alumna of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, receiving honors for my investigative thesis on the alarming number of physicians dying by suicide. Tweet me @ruthumohnews or send tips to email@example.com