Meet the world’s newest call center billionaire. Laurent Junique is quite the globe-trotter: He’s a French citizen, his company is based in Singapore and he just listed that company, TDCX Inc., on the New York Stock Exchange last week.
Junique, TDCX’s 55-year-old founder and CEO, also just joined the billionaire ranks: Junique’s 87% stake in the firm is now worth $3 billion, thanks to a 34% rise in TDCX shares since the IPO on October 1—an offering that raised nearly $350 million for the company.
Started in 1995 in Singapore as Teledirect, an outsourced call center that handled calls, emails and faxes for a variety of clients, the company rebranded as TDCX in 2019 to reflect its expansion into a range of services including content moderation, marketing and e-commerce support. (CX is short for “customer experience” in the customer service industry.)
TDCX reported a $64 million net profit on $323 million sales in 2020, an improvement from the $54 million profit and $242 million in revenues it recorded in 2019. That growth came in part due to greater use of the services that TDCX offers, including tools that help companies improve the performance of employees working from home. Still, TDCX is highly dependent on two clients—Facebook and Airbnb—which collectively accounted for 62% of sales in 2020.
“Our successful listing reflects the world-class company that we have built and our position as the go-to partner for transformative digital customer experience services,” Junique said in a statement on the day of the IPO. “We are grateful for the support of our clients, many of whom are global technology companies that are fuelling the growth of the digital economy.”
Junique is the second call center billionaire that Forbes has tracked. The first, Kenneth Tuchman, founded Englewood, Colorado-based TTEC Holdings (formerly called TeleTech), in 1982; at nearly $2 billion, the firm had about six times the revenues of TDCX last year. Tuchman first became a billionaire in 2007. Several Indian billionaires, including HCL Technologies cofounder Shiv Nadar and Wipro’s former chairman Azim Premji, offer call centers as some of the services their firms provide.
Junique will maintain an iron grip on TDCX as a public company, controlling all of the firm’s Class B shares, which make up more than 86% of the firm’s equity and represent 98.5% of voting power. He owns those shares through Transformative Investments Pte Ltd, a company based in the Cayman Islands that is entirely owned—according to public filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission—by a trust established for the benefit of Junique and his family. While its headquarters are in Singapore, TDCX has also been incorporated in the Cayman Islands since April 2020; prior to the IPO, the firm was controlled by Junique through a Caymans-based holding company. A spokesperson for TDCX declined to comment.
Before launching TDCX as a 29-year-old in 1995, the French native cut his teeth studying advertising at the École Supérieure de Publicité in Paris and business administration at the nearby École Supérieure Internationale d’Administration des Entreprises, graduating in 1989. After a two-year stint at consumer goods giant Unilever, Junique—who had reportedly been cooking up business ideas since he was a child, including a glass recycling proposal he came up with at age 13—decided he wanted a more international career, but struggled to find a gig as a young graduate with little experience.
Armed with a suitcase and just enough cash to get by, he decamped to Singapore in 1995 to try his luck on the other side of the planet. Singapore offered a strategic location as a modern, English-speaking city at the heart of fast-growing Southeast Asia, and Junique started a call center called Teledirect aimed at businesses looking to cut costs and outsource customer service. Soon enough, Junique scored the firm’s first big client, an American credit card firm based in Singapore.
Two years later, in 1997, Junique sold a 40% stake in Teledirect to London-based advertising giant WPP for an undisclosed amount. Since then, TDCX expanded beyond call centers and now has offices in 11 countries across three continents, including locations in China, Japan and India. In 2018, Junique bought back WPP’s 40% stake in the call center business for about $28 million. Three years of growth later, the company now has a market capitalization of $3.5 billion.
With 2020 marking a record year for TDCX, Junique is hoping that the Covid-induced transition away from offices has made the firm’s products more necessary for its clients. “As consumers live more and more of their lives online, the expectation for things to be done simply, conveniently and on-demand will only increase,” Junique said in a statement.
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Murthy, Nagesh N.; Challagalla, G. N.; Vincent, L. H.; Shervani, T. A.; et al. (2008). “The Impact of Simulation Training on Call Center Agent Performance: A Field-Based Investigation”. Management Science. 54 (2): 384–399. doi:10.1287/mnsc.1070.0818. S2CID17749514.
Goldberg, L.S.; A.A. Grandey (2007). “Display rules versus display autonomy: emotion regulation, emotional exhaustion, and task performance in a call center simulation”. J Occup Health Psychol. 12 (3): 301–18. doi:10.1037/1076-8922.214.171.1241. PMID17638495.
Hudson, Dale (2009). “Undesirable Bodies and Desirable Labor: Documenting the Globalization and Digitization of Transnational American Dreams in Indian Call Centers”. Cinema Journal. 49 (1): 82–102. doi:10.1353/cj.0.0164.
Can blue foods help protect the planet and meet the looming crisis of how to feed a fast-growing population? The United Nations, which has made foods from the water one of the key pillars at its special summit on Food Systems this week, thinks it can. But with a third of our oceans overfished, we must act now to harness its potential for future generations.
With the global population set to reach 10 billion by 2050 and hundreds of millions of people already undernourished, food from our oceans offers huge potential to alleviate hunger. This potential can only be unlocked, however, if governments work together to create sustainable and well-managed food systems.
The Blue Food Assessment (BFA) published last week provides one of the most comprehensive overviews to date of how blue foods can play a vital role in addressing the combined challenges of climate change, sustainable development and malnutrition.
However, as our ocean is already under immense pressure, and with the growth in demand for blue foods set to roughly double by 2050, sustainable management of ocean resources is crucial if the benefits of these aquatic food sources are to be reaped.
The urgency of this issue is spelled out in another of the scientific papers published as part of the BFA. The study, by some of the world’s leading food systems researchers, doesn’t pull its punches. Without the help of better policy and governance, it argues, shocks to small-scale fisheries and aquaculture could threaten the food and nutrition security of millions worldwide. Those in regions currently most vulnerable to food insecurity and the impact of climate change face the highest risks.
But this problem isn’t an unsolvable equation. We already know what works. We know, for instance, that tackling overfishing is a win-win for the planet and people. Fish stocks can recover and replenish if they are managed carefully, providing more people with the nutrients they need to live healthily. In fact, it is estimated that 16 million tonnes more in catch could be generated every year if all wild-capture fisheries used sustainable practices. The MSC’s own analysis, where I serve as chief executive, suggests that this would meet the protein needs of 72 million more people around the world every year.
At a time when we need more success stories like this, many governments however are struggling to co-operate over fishery management measures that will ensure healthy fish stocks for future generations. Take the situation in the North East Atlantic, where some of the richest nations on the planet have consistently failed to find consensus on how to share quotas for herring, mackerel and blue whiting. As a result, catch quotas for these fisheries exceed the scientifically recommended limits needed to ensure their long-term sustainability, and these fisheries have consequently lost their certification to the MSC’s sustainability standard.
History shows us that taking more fish from the ocean than can be replenished, leads to stock collapse and, ultimately, impacts negatively on those fishing communities that rely on the sea for their livelihoods. Yet despite the mistakes of the past, this problem remains — the Mediterranean, for instance, remains the most overfished sea in the world. Despite the good news on some tuna species, many individual tuna stocks remain at risk and regional management authorities struggle to agree on international measures to manage those stocks sustainably for the long term.
Governments have a responsibility on behalf of the public to safeguard our oceans for current and future generations. As climate change, population growth and overfishing are converging to create a perfect storm that threatens the future health of our aquatic resources, and the billions of people that depend on them, it’s time for a revitalized global approach to the management of our oceans’ riches. The world is looking to the UN Food Systems Summit as an opportunity for decision-makers to decide on a meaningful, coordinated and cooperative change. Let’s hope they deliver.
Endter-Wada J, Keenan S (2005). “Adaptations by Long-Term Commercial Fishing Families in the California Bight: Coping with Changing Coastal Ecological and Social Systems”. Human Organization. 64 (3): 225–237. doi:10.17730/humo.64.3.0c2uc20ct6mgdmjf.
In the history of spaceflight, only five spacecraft ever launched by humanity possess enough energy to leave the gravitational pull of our Solar System. While thousands upon thousands of objects have been launched into space, overcoming the gravitational pull of planet Earth, the Sun is more than 300,000 times as massive as our home planet, and is far more difficult to escape from. A combination of fast launch speeds and gravitational assists from other planets were required to leave our Solar System, with only Pioneer 10 and 11, Voyager 1 and 2, and New Horizons attaining “escape velocity” from our Sun.
While Pioneer 10 and 11 are now inactive, New Horizons and both Voyager spacecrafts remain operational, powered by radioisotope thermoelectric generators. Voyager 1 has overtaken all other spacecrafts and is now the most distant: 22 billion km away, pulling away from the slightly slower Voyager 2 at “only” 18.8 billion km distant. Since the coronavirus pandemic in mid-March, NASA has had no contact with Voyager 2, but an upgraded deep space network dish made a successful call on October 29. Here’s the fascinating science that keeps us in touch with the most distant objects ever launched from Earth.
When it comes to sending and receiving signals across astronomical distances, there are three enemies you have to overcome:
The farther away a spacecraft is from you, the farther a signal that you send has to travel before it reaches it, the longer it takes to get there, and the lower in power that signal is when it arrives. If a spacecraft is twice as distant as another, the distance to it is twice as great, the time it takes a light signal to travel to it is twice as great, and the signal power that it receives is only one-fourth as great, since light signals spread out in the two dimensions perpendicular to the spacecraft’s line-of-sight. The farther away a spacecraft is, it’s harder to contact, it takes longer to contact it, and it requires more energy to send-or-receive the same signal.
The way an electromagnetic signal works — whether you’re detecting it with a refracting lens, a reflecting dish, or a linear antenna — is straightforward: it spreads out in a spherical shape from its source. Because there’s a certain amount of inherent background noise to any observation you’d make, from both terrestrial and celestial sources, you need your signal to cross a certain threshold to be detectable, rising above the noise background. On the receiving end, that means larger detectors are better, while on the transmitting end, that means a higher-powered transmitter is better.
Unfortunately, the spacecraft that have already been launched cannot have their hardware upgraded in any way; once they’re launched, they’re simply stuck with the technology they’ve been outfitted with. To make matters worse, the spacecraft themselves are powered by radioactive sources, where specially chosen material, such as plutonium-238, radioactively decays, emitting heat that gets converted into electricity. As time goes on, more and more of the material decays away, decreasing the power available to the spacecraft for both transmitting and receiving signals.
As the amount of heat energy produced by radioactive material decreases, the conversion from heat energy into electrical energy becomes less successful: the thermocouples degrade over time and lose efficiency at lower powers. As a result, the power available to the spacecraft through radioisotope thermoelectric generators has decreased precipitously. As of 2020, the plutonium-238 onboard is producing just 69% of the initial heat energy, and that translates into only about ~50% of the original output power.
Even though Voyager 1 and 2 are now 43 years old and farther from Earth than any other operating spacecraft in history, however, they’re not lost to us yet. The reason is simple: as we improve our transmission and receiving capabilities back here on Earth, we can both send out more powerful signals to be received by these distant spacecraft, and we can do a better job of detecting the spacecrafts’ responses even at low powers. The key is through NASA’s Deep Space Network: a collection of radio antennae designed to communicate with humanity’s most distant spacecraft.
There are three major radio antenna facilities around the world: one in Canberra, Australia, one in Madrid, Spain, and one in Goldstone, California. These three facilities are spaced roughly equidistant around the globe; for almost any location that you can imagine putting a spacecraft, at least one of the antennae will have a direct line-of-sight to that spacecraft at any given time.
Almost, of course. You might recognize that the facility in Canberra, Australia, is the only one located in Earth’s southern hemisphere. If a spacecraft is very far south — so far south that it’s invisible from locations like California or Spain — then the Australian dish would be the only one capable of communicating with it. While both Pioneers, New Horizons, and the Voyager 1 spacecraft could all be contacted (in theory) by all three of these facilities, Voyager 2 is the exception for one major reason: its 1989 flyby of Neptune and its giant moon, Triton.
The trip to Neptune still, even to this day, represents the only close encounter humanity has ever had with our Solar System’s eighth and final (for now) planet, as well as with Triton, the largest known object to originate in our Kuiper belt. The discoveries from that flyby were spectacular, as a number of fantastic features were discovered: Neptune’s ring system, a number of small, inner moons, and a series of features on Triton, including cryovolcanoes and varied terrain similar to what we’d discover some 26 years later when New Horizons flew past Pluto.
In order to have a close encounter with Triton, however, Voyager 2 needed to fly over Neptune’s north pole, deflecting Voyager 2’s trajectory far to the south of the plane in which the planets orbit the Sun. Over the past 31 years, it’s continued to follow that trajectory, rendering it invisible to every member of the Deep Space Network except for the one dish in Australia. And since mid-March, 2020, that dish — which includes the radio transmitter used to talk to Voyager 2 — has been shut down for upgrades.
The dish itself is a spectacular piece of technology. It’s 70 meters (230 feet) across: a world-class radio antenna. The instruments attached to it include two radio transmitters, one of which is used to send commands to Voyager 2. That instrument, as of early 2020, was 47 years old, and hadn’t been replaced in all that time. Additionally, it was using antiquated heating and cooling equipment, old and inefficient electronics, and a set of power supply equipment that limited any potential upgrades.
Fortunately, the decision was made to upgrade all of these, which should enable NASA to do what no other facility can do: send commands to Voyager 2. While the spacecraft is still operating — including sending health updates and science data that can be received by a series of smaller dishes also located in Australia — it has been unable to receive commands, ensuring that it will just keep doing whatever it was last doing until those new commands are received.
On October 29, 2020, enough of the upgrades had been executed that mission operators for Voyager 2 decided to perform a critical test: to send a series of commands to Voyager 2 for the first time since the upgrades began. According to the project manager of the Deep Space Network for NASA, Brad Arnold:
“What makes this task unique is that we’re doing work at all levels of the antenna, from the pedestal at ground level all the way up to the feedcones at the center of the dish that extend above the rim.”
Although it takes about 36 light-hours for a signal to travel round-trip from Earth to Voyager 2, NASA announced on November 2 that the test was successful. Voyager 2 returned a signal that confirmed the call was received, followed by a successful execution of the commands. According to Arnold, “This test communication with Voyager 2 definitely tells us that things are on track with the work we’re doing.”
The upgrades to this member of the Deep Space Network are on track for completion in early 2021, where they will not only be critical for the continued success of the Voyager 2 mission, but will prepare NASA for a series of upcoming missions. The upgraded infrastructure will play a critical role in any upcoming Moon-to-Mars exploration efforts, will support any crewed missions such as Artemis, will provide communication and navigation infrastructure, and will also assist with communications to NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover, scheduled to land on Mars on February 18, 2021.
This particular dish was constructed in 1972, where it had an original size of 64 meters (210 feet). It was expanded to 70 meters (230 feet) 15 years later, but none of the subsequent repairs or upgrades compare to the work being done today. According to NASA, this is “one of the most significant makeovers the dish has received and the longest it’s been offline in over 30 years.”
As Voyager 2 and the other escaping spacecraft continue to recede from the Sun, their power levels will continue to drop and it will become progressively more difficult to issue commands to them as well as to receive data. However, as long as they remain functional, even at incredibly low and inefficient power levels, we can continue to upgrade and enlarge the antennae that are a part of NASA’s Deep Space Network to continue to conduct science with them. As long as these spacecraft remain operational in some capacity, simply continuing to upgrade our facilities here on Earth will enable us to gather data for years, and likely even decades, to come.
Voyager 1 and 2 are already the most distant operational spacecraft ever launched from Earth, and continue to set new records. They’ve both passed the heliopause and entered interstellar space, probing different celestial hemispheres as they go. Each new piece of data they send back is a first: the first time we’ve directly sampled space outside of our Solar System from so far away. With these new upgrades, we’ll have the capacity to see what we’ve never seen before. In science, that’s where the potential for rich, new discoveries always lies. Follow me on Twitter. Check out my website or some of my other work here.
Anuvia Plant Nutrients is a Business Reporter client.
Innovative technology from Anuvia Plant Nutrients helps agriculture sustainably feed a growing population.
Our planet is tasked with producing food on a finite amount of land to meet the demands of a world population forecast to reach 9.6 billion by 2050. With recent data suggesting agriculture accounts for over 37 per cent of the Earth’s land use and two thirds of its water use, finding ways to maximise these precious resources in a cost-effective manner is one of the biggest challenges facing modern agriculture today.
Anuvia is an agricultural tech start-up that empowers farmers to implement new sustainable practices to produce abundant food while enriching the soil and the planet for future generations. Anuvia manufactures high-efficiency, bio-based plant nutrients made by reclaiming organic waste that otherwise would be discarded. For every ton of waste used, approximately a ton of new fertilizer is produced. Anuvia’s production facility in Zellwood, Florida is the first of its kind in the world, establishing a new standard in plant nutrient manufacturing and organic waste utilizationcrops.
The innovative technology is a proprietary nutrient delivery system called the Organic MaTRX™, which mimics organic matter in nature. As the nutrients are slowly released, better nutrient utilization is achieved, increasing efficiency and crop yield while reducing nutrient loss into air and water. Anuvia’s products return up to 16 per cent organic matter back to the soil. Anuvia fosters improved soil health and water quality, increased yield and profitability, and the assurance that we can sustainably produce crops for generations to come.
Anuvia is a tangible example of a circular economy in which resources are reclaimed, converted and then reused. In the case of agricultural crops, the circular economy begins with crops planted, fertilized and grown. Those crops are used for human and livestock consumption with waste being created. Anuvia reclaims this waste and converts it into a sustainable plant nutrient. The cycle is completed as Anuvia products return nutrients and organic matter to the soil, feeding the next crop while nourishing and improving the soil.
Reclaiming waste at the end of the food chain has been largely ignored thus far in production agriculture, creating a further burden on already crowded landfills. According to the EPA, agriculture accounts for nearly 10 per cent of all greenhouse gas emission in the United States. Greenhouse gases are produced when traditional fertilizers are manufactured and used, contributing N2O and CO2 into the atmosphere.
Recent results from a study conducted by Environmental Resources Management (ERM), a leading global environmental consulting firm, found that Anuvia’s technology reduces greenhouse gases on a crop production acre by up to 32 per cent, when compared with conventional fertilizers. The study indicates that, for every million acres of crops that use Anuvia’s technology, the reduction in greenhouse gases would be equal to the equivalent of removing 20,000 to 30,000 cars from the roads. With 90 million acres of corn in the United States alone, if these crops were treated with Anuvia’s plant nutrients, that would conservatively translate to 1.8 million cars removed from use.
With little to no financial or operational barriers to adoption, Anuvia is poised to make an overnight impact on the agriculture industry, helping farmers drastically reduce their environmental footprint while more efficiently feeding their crops, growing healthier crops and, ultimately, producing more from their current acreage. In a world where natural resources are becoming more and more finite, it’s the kind of environmentally responsible technology that also makes good business sense.
To learn more about Anuvia Plant Nutrients – SymTRX for agriculture, GreenTRX for golf and landscape, and ANUGREEN for home lawncare, visit www.anuviaplantnutrients.com.
Founded in 2006, Business Reporter is a long-established content marketing and events company. Through its business analysis content, Business Reporter now enjoys a key strategic relationship with the Telegraph Media Group and City A.M.; this has led to the company becoming one of the leading special interest reports publishers in the UK.
Innovative technology from Anuvia Plant Nutrients helps agriculture sustainably feed a growing population. Our planet is tasked with producing food on a finite amount of land to meet the demands of a world population forecast to reach 9.6 billion by 2050. With recent data suggesting agriculture accounts for over 37 per cent of the Earth’s land use and two thirds of its water use, finding ways to maximize these precious resources in a cost-effective manner is one of the biggest challenges facing modern agriculture today.
Our region of the Milky Way is dominated by red dwarf stars, but if you look up at the night sky you’ll not see any of them.
Smaller than our Sun, not one single red dwarf star is visible to the naked eye, not even the next star along, Proxima Centauri, which is just 4.24 light-years distant. Yet, being the most common and the longest-lasting stars of all, they dominate planet-hunting.
In fact, almost all of the 4,000+ exoplanets found by astronomers so far orbit red dwarf stars, which are dim and emit infrared radiation rather than visible light.
Despite the fact that life may have had longer to evolve on red dwarf stars, they have a tendency to flare often, with high-energy bursts of radiation presumed to make life on any surrounding planets unlikely.
What if we could find an Earth-like planet around a Sun-like star? Isn’t that the real prize among exoplanet-hunters?
Today the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Göttingen is reporting that a project it led has found just that; an Earth-like, probably rocky planet called KOI-456.04 that orbits a star called Kepler-160.
This promising star system is 3,000 light-years from the solar system.
This is how similar KOI-456.04 is to Earth:
A year on KOI-456.04 is 378 days.
It receives about 93 percent of the sunlight received on Earth.
Its surface temperature would be +5º Celsius, on average—about 10º Celsius lower than the Earth’s mean global temperature—if it has an Earth-like atmosphere.
It’s in its star’s “habitable zone” where liquid water could exist on its surface.
In fact, the only major difference between KOI-456.04 and Earth is that the exoplanet is almost twice the size of Earth. “It’s relatively large compared to many other planets that are considered potentially habitable,” said Dr. René Heller, MPS scientist and lead author of the new study. “But it’s the combination of this less-than-double the size of the Earth planet and its solar-type host star that make it so special and familiar.”
Besides, KOI-456.04 is much smaller than most “potentially habitable” planets found thus far.
However, what’s key here is the star itself. In terms of its own physical properties, Kepler-160 is a virtual mirror image of our Sun;
Kepler-160’s radius is a tenth bigger than the Sun.
Its surface temperature of 5,200º Celsius is just 300ºC cooler than the Sun.
It’s got a very similar luminosity.
It bathes KOI-456.04 in much the same kind of daylight as we receive on Earth.
In short, Kepler-160 is an astrophysical portrayal of our own parent star, says the MPS. “The full picture of habitability involves a look at the qualities of the star too”, said Heller.
Astronomers already knew that Kepler-160 hosts two other exoplanets—Kepler-160 b and Kepler-160 c—both of which are much larger than Earth and orbit closer to the star.
Traces of KOI-456.04 were found by using a new search algorithm to detect tiny variations in the orbital period of Kepler-160 c.
However, such is the mathematics involved in revealing the existence of, and conditions on, KOI-456.04 that it could, admit the astronomers, be a statistical fluke or a systematic measurement error instead of a genuine planet.
The team gives KOI-456.04 an 85% chance of being an actual planet, and given that obtaining formal planetary status requires 99% certainty, this Earth-like planet around a Sun-like star will need more robust evidence before it officially exists.
“For now, KOI-456.04 remains a good candidate,” said Heller.
Cue the PLAnetary Transits and Oscillations of stars (PLATO) space telescope that the European Space Agency (ESA) will launch in 2026. PLATO’s mission will be to discover Earth-sized planets around Sun-like stars.
If PLATO is pointed in the right direction then KOI-456.04 might just get a life of its own.
I’m an experienced science, technology and travel journalist interested in space exploration, moon-gazing, exploring the night sky, solar and lunar eclipses, astro-travel, wildlife conservation and nature. I’m the editor of WhenIsTheNextEclipse.com and the author of “A Stargazing Program for Beginners: A Pocket Field Guide” (Springer, 2015), as well as many eclipse-chasing guides.