The rise of electric vehicles in the United States is by no means a fad, temporary trend or mistake. From my perspective, leading an electrical components manufacturer for nearly a decade, I have seen the rapid growth of the EV space firsthand. At the outset, I was optimistic about the growth potential of the EV sector. Today, I’m ecstatic. Just look at some of the numbers:
Consulting leaders McKinsey & Co. say EVs will largely dominate the truck market by 2035, and Mordor Intelligence forecasts that the commercial EV market will grow to roughly $258 billion by 2027 (compared to around $67 billion in 2021). In response, almost every major manufacturer is retooling production lines for a largely EV future.
Those trends have many suppliers eager to break into the electrification scene, but few know how to effectively penetrate the market. When we committed to breaking into the electric vehicle market in 2015, we were well positioned for the space because of our experience in designing and manufacturing for safety-critical sectors such as aerospace, defense and medical devices. We also did extensive research on the electric vehicle industry.
Today, I often hear from executives in the manufacturing or services sector considering the same questions we faced then. The first is whether to move toward the EV market in the first place. I recommend they start by asking themselves a simple question: Do you believe that vehicle electrification is the future? Once you are committed to this rapid transformation, you can begin to discover ways in which your business can contribute to the industry.
Next, they want to know, “How do I break into the EV space, especially when my core expertise is in other segments?” or “How am I going to get customers in this space?” Some want to know how they apply their previous expertise to the EV space, while others are seeking ways to set their business apart from all the other players. I advise the following steps:
1. Do your homework.
I advise company leaders to spend substantial time researching the current services and products that are in demand within the EV space. Great ways to conduct said research include attending conferences, listening to industry discussions on a variety of topics and learning about electric vehicles and their architecture. I would recommend absorbing everything from how the vehicles are made to the individual players involved to gain a true understanding of the industry.
Go beyond your comfort level when it comes to complex subject matters. Everybody knows electric vehicles have batteries and that they run on an electric motor. But how does everything connect? How does it all work as one, cohesive piece of technology? How do the operators of these vehicles use them and what requirements are they looking for? These are the questions I encourage newcomers to answer themselves.
2. Identify industry needs.
At this stage, the line of questioning changes a bit. This is where I believe business owners should be asking themselves, “Which companies are manufacturing products for the space? What are the goals of these manufacturers, and why do they have these goals?”
This is an opportune time to reflect on the current value that your business brings to customers. Once you have done so, this is a great time to ask the next question: Given my existing value proposition, what can we contribute to this space?
For example, maybe you lead a metal fabrication business and you have years of experience fabricating high-precision metal parts for aerospace. You need to identify how to leverage these competencies in an electric platform. You could look at which high-precision parts are needed to power electric vehicles, and let’s say it turns out that there is one very high-precision part that is always included in electric vehicle battery packs. Because you understand both the architecture of the EV and are well aware of the major manufacturers in the space, you can now identify the value of the battery pack opportunity.
3. Supply the demand.
Continuing with our high-precision metal parts example above, upon delving into the internal structure of said battery packs, you realize that the development of this product would relate to a core competency of your existing business. You can now begin to take the steps necessary to identify customers, determine value proposition, produce prototypes and hopefully produce these items at a high volume to meet the growing demand of the EV industry.
4. Speak up.
This tip is very important: In my experience, you should never be afraid to reach out to companies that have already achieved success within the EV space (that are not competitors of course!). As I mentioned, the sector is still very much expanding. I am constantly talking to industry newcomers about what roles their existing businesses could play within the market and am happy to provide them with realistic resources and investment guidance that is required to get their new operation off the ground.
5. Embrace change.
Internal changes are necessary. There is no way around this. You will need to onboard more teams, enhance your engineering efforts and increase the number of hands you have working in sales, quality control, manufacturing and any other department within your business that will help you work with these types of products and build out the new segment of your business.
Breaking into a new-to-you industry may seem daunting, but it’s an exciting time in the electric vehicle industry. Apply these tips and remember: Without risk, there is no reward!
German industry is bracing for a tougher 2022 as lockdowns in China and the war in Ukraine compound ongoing supply chain problems, leading two associations to downgrade their forecasts for the year.
The VDMA engineering association cut its machinery production growth outlook for a second time on Monday. It now expects production of industrial machinery carrying the “Made in Germany” label to grow 1% this year, having already slashed its forecast to 4% from 7% two months ago.
Last year, production grew by 6.4%. The BDI industry association said it now expects exports to grow by only 2.5% this year, after predicting a rise of 4% in January. read more
The lowered forecasts come despite many companies having strong backlogs of orders, as they are struggling to fill them: A survey by the Ifo institute said 77.2% of companies complained about bottlenecks and problems procuring intermediate products and raw materials.
One in two companies affected by material shortages said the China lockdowns made the situation even worse than before, the IFO survey published on Monday showed. VDMA President Karl Haeusgen said in a statement that before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, 80% of companies described their business prospects in Russia as good or satisfactory. Now, 75% expect it to deteriorate in the next six months or want to abandon it altogether.
“This shows the extent to which the war has changed everything,” Haeusgen said. BDI predicts production will grow by nearly 2% – less than expected before the war began – with the caveat that this forecast depends on supply chain problems easing and Russian gas continuing to flow in.
Exports may also be a concern. Last year, machinery made up a substantial part of the 26.6 billion euros ($28.5 billion) in goods that Germany exported to Russia.
Critics by Carlos Caceres, Mai Chi Dao, and Aiko Mineshima
IMF European Department
Germany’s economy contracted by just under 5 percent in 2020, outperforming most European peers. New waves of infections and associated lockdowns during late-2020 to early 2021 hampered the rebound from the first wave. But forward-looking indicators suggest further growth in exports and a brightening outlook for the services sector, in line with re-opening plans and anticipated pent-up demand.
For the year as a whole, growth of about 3.6 percent is expected. The recovery pae
th, however, is beset with risks, particularly regarding the progress of the pandemic and supply shortages in key industries. Retaining supportive fiscal policy until there is clear evidence of a sustained recovery while also using the fiscal space to lift potential growth over the medium term will be crucial.
The government has extended various COVID-19 measures from 2020, such as grants to firms and an expansion of the short-time work subsidy, while also introducing several new measures to support households and businesses. Maintaining adequate support while the economy is still weak is important to minimize scarring effects. As the recovery firms up, more targeted policies and a focus on facilitating resource re-allocation becomes important.
Over the medium term, it is important that Germany’s fiscal space is used to boost growth potential by investing in physical and human capital, accelerating digitalization, incentivizing innovation, bolstering labor supply, and increasing disposable income for low-income households. Making progress towards these goals would also help with external rebalancing.
A green transition is key to Germany’s recovery program, yet there are opportunities to improve the cost-effectiveness of its climate mitigation measures. Following a constitutional court ruling in May, Germany tightened its greenhouse gas emissions targets aiming for a 65 percent reduction by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2045. Germany could bolster its mitigation program with a better-specified schedule of carbon prices over a longer time horizon, complemented with sector-specific feebates (revenue-neutral tax/subsidy schemes).
Continued government support for green infrastructure and technologies is also essential for the transition and to spur the economic recovery. To mitigate the potential adverse impact of higher carbon prices on households, further relief targeted at lower-income earners can be considered.
Germany’s expanded short-time work subsidy or Kurzarbeit remains important until the recovery takes hold, while groups not covered by Kurzarbeit need to protected by different means. The unprecedented take-up of Kurzarbeit helped keep unemployment in check and supported aggregate demand. However, as the recovery takes hold, normalizing Kurzarbeit parameters becomes essential so as not to inhibit labor reallocation toward growing firms and industries. Job search assistance and appropriate training programs can facilitate workers’ transition into post-pandemic jobs.
For groups not covered by Kurzarbeit, maintaining expanded access to the current basic income program would be beneficial until the job market recovers sustainably. To arrest widening inequality, the government could consider reducing social security contributions on lower incomes, which would also spur hiring and labor supply.
Safeguarding financial stability during the nascent recovery is essential. So far bankruptcies and financial losses have been limited, while bank capital has actually increased since the onset of the pandemic. But bankruptcies may rise as support measures are phased out, warranting continued targeted liquidity and solvency support for viable firms.
Meanwhile, specifying an appropriately gradual timetable for banks to rebuild capital buffers is important to mitigate the risk of curtailed lending when it is most needed. Banks also need to improve their cost structures to address chronic low profitability. Progress has been made in narrowing data gaps that have hampered the full assessment of macro-financial risks. But the buildup of financial vulnerabilities in real estate markets calls for close monitoring and for expanding the macroprudential toolkit to include income-based instruments.
The robot revolution is always allegedly just around the corner. In the utopian vision, technology emancipates human labor from repetitive, mundane tasks, freeing us to be more productive and take on more fulfilling work. In the dystopian vision, robots come for everyone’s jobs, put millions and millions of people out of work, and throw the economy into chaos.
Such a warning was at the crux of Andrew Yang’s ill-fated presidential campaign, helping propel his case for universal basic income that he argued would become necessary when automation left so many workers out. It’s the argument many corporate executives make whenever there’s a suggestion they might have to raise wages: $15 an hour will just mean machines taking your order at McDonald’s instead of people, they say. It’s an effective scare tactic for some workers.
But we often spend so much time talking about the potential for robots to take our jobs that we fail to look at how they are already changing them — sometimes for the better, but sometimes not. New technologies can give corporations tools for monitoring, managing, and motivating their workforces, sometimes in ways that are harmful. The technology itself might not be innately nefarious, but it makes it easier for companies to maintain tight control on workers and squeeze and exploit them to maximize profits.
“The basic incentives of the system have always been there: employers wanting to maximize the value they get out of their workers while minimizing the cost of labor, the incentive to want to control and monitor and surveil their workers,” said Brian Chen, staff attorney at the National Employment Law Project (NELP). “And if technology allows them to do that more cheaply or more efficiently, well then of course they’re going to use technology to do that.”
Automation hasn’t replaced all the workers in warehouses, but it has made work more intense, even dangerous, and changed how tightly workers are managed. Gig workers can find themselves at the whims of an app’s black-box algorithm that lets workers flood the app to compete with each other at a frantic pace for pay so low that how lucrative any given trip or job is can depend on the tip, leaving workers reliant on the generosity of an anonymous stranger. Worse, gig work means they’re doing their jobs without many typical labor protections.
In these circumstances, the robots aren’t taking jobs, they’re making jobs worse. Companies are automating away autonomy and putting profit-maximizing strategies on digital overdrive, turning work into a space with fewer carrots and more sticks.
A robot boss can do a whole lot more watching
In recent years, Amazon has become the corporate poster child for automation in the name of efficiency — often at the expense of workers. There have been countless reports of unsustainable conditions and expectations at Amazon’s fulfillment centers. Its drivers reportedly have to consent to being watched by artificial intelligence, and warehouse workers who don’t move fast enough can be fired.
“It would have been prohibitively expensive to employ enough managers to time each worker’s every move to a fraction of a second or ride along in every truck, but now it takes maybe one,” Dzieza wrote. “This is why the companies that most aggressively pursue these tactics all take on a similar form: a large pool of poorly paid, easily replaced, often part-time or contract workers at the bottom; a small group of highly paid workers who design the software that manages them at the top.”
A 2018 Gartner survey found that half of large companies were already using some type of nontraditional techniques to keep an eye on their workers, including analyzing their communications, gathering biometric data, and examining how workers are using their workspace. They anticipated that by 2020, 80 percent of large companies would be using such methods. Amid the pandemic, the trend picked up pace as businesses sought more ways to keep tabs on the new waves of workers working from home.
This has all sorts of implications for workers, who lose privacy and autonomy when they’re constantly being watched and directed by technology. Daron Acemoglu, an economist at MIT, warned that they’re also losing money. “Some of these new digital technologies are not simply replacing workers or creating new tasks or changing other aspects of productivity, but they’re actually monitoring people much more effectively, and that means rents are being shared very differently because of digital technologies,” he said.
He offered up a hypothetical example of a delivery driver who is asked to deliver a certain number of packages in a day. Decades ago, the company might pay the driver more to incentivize them to work a little faster or harder or put in some extra time. But now, they’re constantly being monitored so that the company knows exactly what they’re doing and is looking for ways to save time. Instead of getting a bonus for hitting certain metrics, they’re dinged for spending a few seconds too long here or there.
The problem isn’t technology itself, it’s the managers and corporate structures behind it that look at workers as a cost to be cut instead of as a resource.
“A lot of this boom of Silicon Valley entrepreneurship where venture capital made it very easy for companies to create firms didn’t exactly prioritize the well-being of workers as one of their main considerations,” said Amy Bix, a historian at Iowa State University who focuses on technology. “A lot of what goes on in the structure of these corporations and the development of technology is invisible to most ordinary people, and it’s easy to take advantage of that.”
The future of Uber isn’t driverless cars, it’s drivers
In 2016, former CEO Travis Kalanick told Bloomberg making an autonomous vehicle was “basically existential” for the company. After a deadly accident with an autonomous Uber vehicle in 2018, current chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi reiterated that the company remained “absolutely committed” to the self-driving cause. But in December 2020 and after investing $1 billion, Uber sold off its self-driving unit. A little over four months later, its main competitor, Lyft, followed suit. Uber says it’s still not giving up on autonomous technology, but the writing on the wall is clear that driverless cars aren’t core to Uber’s business model, at least in the near future.
“Five or 10 years from now, drivers are still going to be a big piece of the mix on a percentage basis [of Uber’s business], and on an absolute basis, they may be an even bigger piece than they are today even with autonomous in the mix because the business should get bigger as both segments get bigger,” said Chris Frank, director of corporate ratings at S&P Global. “In addition, drivers will need to handle more complex conditions like poorly marked roads or inclement weather.”
In other words, they’re going to need workers to make money — workers they would very much like not to classify as such.
Gig economy companies such as Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash are fighting tooth and nail to make sure the people they enlist to make deliveries or drive people around are not considered their employees. In California last year, such companies dumped $200 million into lobbying to pass Proposition 22, which lets app-based transportation and delivery companies classify their workers as independent contractors and therefore avoid paying for benefits such as sick leave, employer-provided health care, and unemployment. After it passed, a spokesman for the campaign for the ballot measure said it “represents the future of work in an increasingly technologically-driven economy.”
It’s a future of work that might not be pleasant for gig workers. In California, some workers say they’re not getting the benefits companies promised after Prop 22’s passage, such as health care stipends. Companies said that workers would make at least 120 percent of California’s minimum wage, but that’s contemplating the time they spend driving only. Before the ballot initiative was passed, research from the UC Berkeley Labor Center estimated that it would guarantee a minimum wage of just $5.64 per hour.
Companies say they’ve been clear with drivers about how to qualify for the health care stipend, which is available to drivers with more than 15 engaged hours a week (in other words, if you don’t have a job and are waiting around, it doesn’t count). In a statement to Vox, Geoff Vetter, a spokesperson for the Protect App-Based Drivers + Services Coalition, the lobbying group that championed Prop 22, said that 80 percent of drivers work fewer than 20 hours per week and most work less than 10 hours per week, and that many have health insurance through other jobs.
Gig companies have sometimes been cagey about how much their workers make, and they’re often changing their formulas. In 2017, Uber agreed to pay the Federal Trade Commission $20 million over charges that it misled prospective drivers about how much they could make with the app. The FTC found that Uber claimed some of its drivers made $90,000 in New York and $74,000 in San Francisco, when in reality their median incomes were actually $61,000 and $53,000, respectively. DoorDash caused controversy over a decision to pocket tips and use them to pay delivery workers, which it has since reversed.
Even though Uber is charging customers more for rides in the wake of the pandemic, that’s not directly being passed onto their drivers. According to the Washington Post, Uber changed the way it paid drivers in California soon after Prop 22 passed so that they were no longer paid a proportion of the cost of the ride but instead by time and distance, with different bonuses and incentives based on market and surge pricing. (This is how Uber does it in most states, but it had changed things up during the push to get Prop 22 passed.) Uber’s CEO pushed back on the Post story in a series of tweets, arguing that decoupling driver pay from customer fares had not hurt California drivers and that some are now getting a higher cut from their rides.
In light of a driver shortage, Uber recently announced what it’s billing as a $250 million “driver stimulus” that promises higher earnings to try to get drivers back onto the road. The company acknowledges this initiative is likely temporary once the supply-demand imbalance works itself out. Still, it’s hard not to notice how quickly Uber and Lyft have been able to corner most of the ride-hailing app market and exert control over their drivers and customers.
“When a new thing like this comes on, there’s huge new consumer benefits, and then over time they are the market, they have less competition except one another, probably they’re a cartel at this point. And then they start doing stuff that’s much nastier,” said David Autor, an economist at MIT.
One of the gig economy’s main selling points to workers is that it offers flexibility and the ability to work when they want. It’s certainly true that an Uber or Lyft driver has much more autonomy on the job than, say, an Amazon warehouse worker. “People drive with Lyft because they prefer the freedom and flexibility to work when, where, and for however long they want,” a Lyft spokesperson said in a statement to Vox.
“They can choose to accept a ride or not, enjoy unlimited upward earning potential, and can decide to take time off from driving whenever they want, for however long they want, without needing to ask a ‘boss’ — all things they can’t do at most traditional jobs.” The spokesperson also noted that most of its drivers work outside of Lyft.
But flexibility doesn’t mean gig companies have no control over their drivers and delivery people. They use all sorts of tricks and incentives to try to push workers in certain directions and manage them, essentially, by algorithm. Uber drivers report being bothered by the constant surveillance, the lack of transparency from the company, and the dehumanization of working with the app. The algorithm doesn’t want to know how your day is, it just wants you to work as efficiently as possible to maximize its profits.
Carlos Ramos, a former Lyft driver in San Diego, described the feeling of being manipulated by the app. He noticed the company must have needed morning drivers because of the incentives structures, but he also often wondered if he was being “punished” if he didn’t do something right.
“Sometimes, if you cancel a bunch of rides in a row or if you don’t take certain rides to certain things, you won’t get any rides. They’ve shadow turned you off,” he said. The secret deprioritization of a worker is something many Lyft and Uber drivers speculate happens. “You also have no way of knowing what’s going on behind there. They have this proprietary knowledge, they have this black box of trade secrets, and those are your secrets you’re telling them,” said Ramos, now an organizer with Gig Workers Rising.
Companies deny that they secretly shut off drivers. “It is in Lyft’s best interests for drivers to have as positive an experience as possible, so we communicate often and work directly with drivers to help them improve their earnings,” a Lyft spokesperson said. “We never ‘shadow ban’ drivers, and actively coach them when they are in danger of being deactivated.”
The future of innovation isn’t inevitable
We often talk about technology and innovation with a language of inevitability. It’s as though whenever wages go up, companies will of course replace workers with robots. Now that the country is turned on to online delivery, it can be made to seem like the grocery industry is on an unavoidable path to gig work. After all, that’s what happened with Albertsons. But that’s not really the case — there’s plenty of human agency in the technological innovation story.
“Technology of course doesn’t have to exploit workers, it doesn’t have to mean robots are coming for all of our jobs,” Chen said. “These are not inevitable outcomes, they are human decisions, and they are almost always made by people who are driven by a profit motive that tends to exploit the poor and working class historically.”
Chase Copridge, a longtime California worker who’s done the gamut of gig jobs — Instacart, DoorDash, Amazon Flex, Uber, and Lyft — is one of the people stuck in that position, the victim of corporate tendencies on technological overdrive. He described seeing delivery offers that pay as little as $2. He turns those jobs down, knowing that it’s not economically worth it for him. But there might be someone else out there who picks it up. “We’re people who desperately need to make ends meet, who are willing to take the bare minimum that these companies are giving out to us,” he said. “People need to understand that these companies thrive off of exploitation.”
Not all decisions around automation are ones that increase productivity or improve really anything except corporate profits. Self-checkout stations may reduce the need for cashiers, but are they really making the shopping experience faster or better? Next time you go to the grocery store and inevitably screw up scanning one of your own items and waiting several minutes for a worker to appear, you tell me.
Despite technological advancements, productivity growth has been on the decline in recent years. “This is the paradox of the last several decades, and especially since 2000, that we had enormous technological changes as we perceive it but measured productivity growth is quite weak,” Autor said. “One reason may be that we’re automating a lot of trivial stuff rather than important stuff. If you compare antibiotics and indoor plumbing and electrification and air travel and telecommunications to DoorDash and smartphones or self-checkout, it may just not be as consequential.”
Acemoglu said that when firms focus so much on automation and monitoring technologies, they might not explore other areas that could be more productive, such as creating new tasks or building out new industries. “Those are the things that I worry have fallen by the wayside in the last several years,” he said. “If your employer is really set on monitoring you really tightly, that biases things against new tasks because those are things that are not easier to monitor.”
It matters what you automate, and not all automation is equally beneficial, not only to workers but also to customers, companies, and the broader economy.
Grappling with how to handle technological advancements and the ways they change people’s lives, including at work, is no easy task. While the robot revolution isn’t taking everyone’s jobs, automation is taking some of them, especially in areas such as manufacturing. And it’s just making work different: A machine may not eliminate a position entirely, but it may turn a more middle-skill job into a low-skill job, bringing lower pay with it. Package delivery jobs used to come with a union, benefits, and stable pay; with the rise of the gig economy, that’s declining. If and when self-driving trucks arrive, there will still be some low-quality jobs needed to complete tasks the robots can’t.
“The issue that we’ve faced in the US economy is that we’ve lost a lot of middle-skill jobs so people are being pushed down into lower categories,” Autor said. “Automation historically has tended to take the most dirty and dangerous and demeaning jobs and hand them over to machines, and that’s been great.
What’s happened in the last bunch of decades is that automation has affected the middle-skill jobs and left the hard, interesting, creative jobs and the hands-on jobs that require a lot of dexterity and flexibility but don’t require a lot of formal skills.”
But again, none of this is inevitable. Companies are able to leverage technology to get the most out of workers because workers often don’t have power to push back, enforce limits, or ask for more. Unionization has seen steep declines in recent decades. America’s labor laws and regulations are designed around full-time work, meaning gig companies don’t have to offer health insurance or help fund unemployment. But the laws could — and many would argue should — be modernized.
“The key thing is it’s not just technology, it’s a question of labor power, both collectively and individually,” Bix said. “There are a lot of possible outcomes, and in the end, technology is a human creation. It’s a product of social priorities and what gets developed and adopted.”
Maybe the robot apocalypse isn’t here yet. Or it is, and many of us aren’t quite recognizing it, in part because we got some of the story wrong. The problem isn’t really the robot, it’s what your boss wants the robot to do.
Concepts of artificial servants and companions date at least as far back as the ancient legends of Cadmus, who is said to have sown dragon teeth that turned into soldiers and Pygmalion whose statue of Galatea came to life. Many ancient mythologies included artificial people, such as the talking mechanical handmaidens (Ancient Greek: Κουραι Χρυσεαι (Kourai Khryseai); “Golden Maidens”) built by the Greek god Hephaestus (Vulcan to the Romans) out of gold.
Adrienne Mayor (2018). Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines, and Ancient Dreams of Technology. Princeton University Press. pp. 205–206. ISBN9780691185446.
Haug, “Walewein as a postclassical literary experiment”, pp. 23–4; Roman van Walewein, ed. G.A. van Es, De Jeeste van Walewein en het Schaakbord van Penninc en Pieter Vostaert (Zwolle, 1957): 877 ff and 3526 ff.
See also P. Sullivan, “Medieval Automata: The ‘Chambre de beautés’ in Benoît‘s Roman de Troie.” Romance Studies 6 (1985): 1–20.
Hemal, Ashok K.; Menon, Mani (2018). Robotics in Genitourinary Surgery. Springer. p. 7. ISBN9783319206455.
Shares in China sportswear supplier Xtep ended the week at a new record high today after the company announced investment hook-ups with China private equity firm Hillhouse Capital Management, one of China’s largest private equity firms.
Xtep’s Hong Kong-traded shares rose 5.6% to HK$13.16 today; they’ve more than doubled since mid-May.
Xtep said it would raise HK$500 million from the sale to Hillhouse of bonds that can be converted into its own underlying shares. In addition, subsidiary Xtep Global raised $65 million from Hillhouse from the sale of bonds that can be converted into that unit’s shares. (See announcements here and here.) Funds will help boost sales of Xtep-owned brands.
The doubling of Xtep’s stock price has lifted the fortune of company’s controlling Ding family to $2.3 billion. Trusts held by chairman Ding Shui Bo, executive director Ding Mei Qing (his sister) and executive director Ding Ming Zhong (his brother) collectively own 1.3 billion shares that were worth $2.2 billion today. Xtep’s annual report doesn’t give a clear down of the ownership split among them. Shui Bo has another 60.7 million shares worth another $103 million.
Spending on sportswear in China has picked up amid a continuing economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. Xtep, whose rivals include Anta and Nike, said in April first-quarter sales had a mid-50% increase compared with a year earlier. Nike has faced backlash in China after a statement in March expressed concern about alleged forced labor practices its Xinjiang region.
Hillhouse is led by billionaire Zhang Lei, who is worth $3 billion today on the Forbes Real-Time Billionaires List.
I’m a senior editor and the Shanghai bureau chief of Forbes magazine. Now in my 20th year at Forbes, I compile the Forbes China Rich List. I was previously a correspondent for Bloomberg News in Taipei and Shanghai and for the Asian Wall Street Journal in Taipei. I’m a Massachusetts native, fluent Mandarin speaker, and hold degrees from the University of Vermont and the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Xtep engages mainly in the design, development, manufacturing, sales, marketing and brand management of sports equipment, including footwear, apparel, and accessories. Xtep is a leading professional sports brand with an extensive distribution network of over 6,300 stores covering 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities across the PRC and overseas.
In 2019, Xtep has further diversified its brand portfolio which now includes four internationally brands, namely K-Swiss, Palladium, Saucony and Merrell. Xtep is a constituent of the MSCI China Small Cap Index, Hang Seng Composite Index Series and Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect.
In August 2019, Xtep signed on famous Asian basketball player Jeremy Lin as spokesperson, marking its foray into the basketball business realm. Xtep also unveiled its “Basketball Product Co-Creation Plan” to come up with basketball products via product co-creation.
To wit, Dyrdek organizes his calendar by categories and subcategories, like time with his wife or kids, hitting the gym, brain training, and work. He also wakes up every day and rates from 0 to 10 how he slept, how motivated he feels, and how he felt about various aspects of the previous day, like his life, work, and health. All of this data gets scraped together and aggregated into dashboards, using a program that he paid someone to build.
With that insight, he says, you can move things out of your life you don’t like doing and focus on what makes you happy. “It’s all about how much can you automate and systematize in your existence in order to really live as light as possible,” he says.
What else helps? A little dome time. At 6:30 a.m. almost every day Dyrdek says he spends about 20 minutes time in a Somadome, a large meditation pod that uses colors and binaural beats that play through a headphone (essentially sound therapy) set to help you relax. You climb in, pull down the door, and then choose ambient noise or a specific meditation session like “love” or “heal.”
Dyrdek discovered the pod in January 2018, when a friend told him about it, and his children’s health specialist offered to connect him with the company’s CEO, Sarah Attia. At that time, Dyrdek was unsure of how to tackle a meditation practice, despite the long list of potential benefits. “It just was so ominous a mountain that I wasn’t ready to climb,” he says. “As soon as I wake up, I go. So it’shard for me to even think, how am I ever going to get myself into a meditative state.”
The Somadome, along with Dyrdek’s other life optimization techniques, he says, makes it easier–especially when meditation has become so useful for helping him reach his goals. In 2018, Dyrdek was negotiating a TV deal for Ridiculousness and was hoping to bolster an eventual sale of his production company, Superjacket Productions, by maximizing the number of episodes slated for the show. During the negotiations, he would sit in his Somadome andvisualize how it would feel to stand on stage and say, “Welcome to Season 30.”
He landed on a deal with an “unprecedented” 500-episode order that would mean he’d finish the show in season 30. “So I can’t tell you that the dome did it, but I had clarity,”he says, adding that entrepreneurs often underestimate the extent to which mental precision can help them both design their lives and evolve their businesses. In late 2019, Thrill One Sports & Entertainment acquired Dyrdek’s portfolio companies Superjacket Productions and Street League Skateboarding.
For Dyrdek, the best part about the Somadome is the various features that make difficult things, like remaining calm and clear about what you want out of life and meditating consistently, easy. He paid $25,000 for the device when he bought it and says he’s used it almost daily since. “It’s paid for itself a thousand fold,” he says. A smaller and less expensive version–about $4,000–will soon become available to consumers, according to the company.
Expanding its strong footprint in Mexico, Rosewood Hotels & Resorts has been appointed by real estate development firm Grupo Sordo Madaleno to operate Rosewood Mexico City, a new hotel expected to open in 2024 in the Polanco district. More>> 03 Jun 2021
Global hospitality group the Jumeirah Group has reopened the 186-room The Carlton Tower Jumeirah, in the heart of London’s fashionable Knightsbridge area following an 18-month closure for refurbishment. More>> 03 Jun 2021
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company has opened its first Maldives resort with a tranquil overwater spa inspired by its natural surroundings, including the elements of swirling water and ocean breezes. More>>
Throughout the pandemic, the International Spa Association (ISPA) has championed the strength of the spa community and strived to support, inform and inspire the industry as it grapples with the new challenges of operating in a COVID-19 landscape. More>> 02 Jun 2021
A coalition of global organisations and business leaders from BP, BHP, Clifford Chance, Deloitte, HSBC, Salesforce, Unilever and WPP have launched an international initiative to advocate for and accelerate positive global change for mental health in the workplace. More>> 01 Jun 2021
Luxury resort and spa Velaa Private Island in the Maldives is welcoming back guests with a programme of visiting wellness practitioners to guide them on journeys of personal discovery. More>> 28 May 2021