Troopers Stay informed With Department Of Public Safety Info Via Nixle

first_imgTo receive emergency alerts from the city, text your zip code to 888-777 to be enrolled in SMS messaging alerts. You can also go to www.Nixle.comto sign up for email alerts and create a free resident account. The Alaska State Troopers: “I highly encourage all Kenai Peninsula City residents to sign up for Nixle notifications so that we can keep you informed in the event of an emergency or important advisory. Nixle notifications have saved lives in other communities, but we can only reach you if you sign up.” Recently Nixle alerts have been utilized to alert residents of closures along the Sterling Highway due to the heavy smoke from the  Swan Lake Fire. Facebook0TwitterEmailPrintFriendly分享Residents can sign up for Nixle to receive notices of emergency situations and other community advisories throughout the Kenai Peninsula. For more details you can contact the troopers at 262-4453.last_img read more

5 Things To Do In Wilmington On Thursday January 17 2019

first_imgWILMINGTON, MA — Below are 5 things to do in Wilmington on Thursday, January 17, 2019:#1) Great Songs From Great Movies At LibraryThe Wilmington Memorial Library (175 Middlesex Avenue) is hosting a special concert at 2:30pm. Join musician David Polansky as he performs great songs from great movies on the trumpet and keyboard and sings a few as well.  Favorites such as Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Moon River, The Shadow of Your Smile, and many more will take you down memory lane. Register HERE.#2) Drop-In Meditation At Wilmington LibraryThe Wilmington Memorial Library (175 Middlesex Avenue) is hosting a meditation class at 12:30pm. Join technology librarian Brad McKenna for his weekly drop-in meditation sessions. It will be a mixture of silent and guided meditations. The Insight Timer app will be used so you can continue your practice at home. No registration required.#3) English Conversation Group At Wilmington LibraryThe Wilmington Memorial Library (175 Middlesex Avenue) is hosting its monthly English Conversation Group at 7pm. Practice speaking English with fellow English language learners in a relaxed environment.  Open to all ability levels.  Led by ESL Teacher and Program Coordinator Susan MacDonald. Register HERE.#4) Wilmington Elderly Services Commission MeetingThe Wilmington Elderly Services Commission meets at 1:30pm at the Senior Center. Read the agenda HERE.#5) Wilmington Water & Sewer Commission MeetingThe Wilmington Water & Sewer Commission meets at 5:30pm in Town Hall’s Room 9. Read the agenda HERE.Like Wilmington Apple on Facebook. Follow Wilmington Apple on Twitter. Follow Wilmington Apple on Instagram. Subscribe to Wilmington Apple’s daily email newsletter HERE. Got a comment, question, photo, press release, or news tip? Email wilmingtonapple@gmail.com.Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:Like Loading… Related5 Things To Do In Wilmington On Thursday, July 18, 2019In “5 Things To Do Today”5 Things To Do In Wilmington On Thursday, May 16, 2019In “5 Things To Do Today”5 Things To Do In Wilmington On Thursday, May 30, 2019In “5 Things To Do Today”last_img read more

California shooting kills 3

first_imgPolice in California on Saturday said three people were killed and four were injured in a shooting at a bowling alley near Los Angeles.Sergeant Ronald Harris of the Torrance Police Department confirmed to AFP that officers responded at 11:54 pm on Friday to reports of gunfire at Gable House Bowl.He added all seven victims were male. Three were pronounced dead at the scene, with two others taken to hospital.Witnesses told The Los Angeles Times there had been a fight at the gaming complex.In a tweet posted shortly after midnight, the Torrance Police Department had warned people to “please stay away from the area.”Torrance, a coastal city, is located around 20 miles (32 kilometers) southeast of downtown Los Angeles in the South Bay region.According to health authorities, nearly 40,000 people died in the United States as a result of firearms in 2017 — a figure that includes suicides.last_img read more

Texas Senate School Safety Committee Recommends Focusing on Mental Health Avoids Gun

first_img Share Rachel Zein for The Texas TribuneLeft to right: State Sens. Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownville, and John Whitmire, D-Houston, at the second day of hearings held by the Senate Select Committee on Violence in Schools and School Security on June 12, 2018.A special Texas Senate committee devoted to fighting school violence has recommended improving mental health resources for students and increasing funding for a program that arms some members of school staff, but shied away from any measures aiming to limit access to guns.Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, a Republican, formed the Senate Select Committee on Violence in Schools and School Security following the mass shooting at Santa Fe High School south of Houston. Committee members heard testimony during four meetings in June and July on ways to improve school safety infrastructure, address mental health issues among students and consider controversial “red flag” policies that would take guns away from those deemed a risk to others.Several of the committee’s recommendations focused on “hardening” schools, adding funding for metal detectors and other security apparatuses on campuses. The committee also recommended that the state explore increasing financing for school marshal programs, which allow certified staffers to have access to firearms in schools. During its public hearings, committee members heard testimony that marshal programs can strain school budgets, since they require training and lockboxes for guns. The committee hopes to alleviate that strain with state funds, though it didn’t give specific dollar amounts for any of its recommendations.The recommendations were in line with Republican Gov. Greg Abbott‘s proposal to expand the school marshal program, included in a 44-page school safety action plan he released soon after the Santa Fe shooting.School marshal programs are one of two ways the state allows schools to arm teachers. School districts can also allocate “guardians” who can carry firearms in schools without a minimum amount of training. The committee recommended considering a minimum training requirement for school guardians.A proposal raised by state Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, during the committee’s June 12 meeting to arm school staff with rifles was not in the recommendations.Committee members also pushed for increased mental health resources for students, including expanding mental health first aid training for school staff who interact with students and videoconferencing psychiatric help to students who wouldn’t otherwise have access to mental health professionals.Testimony from counselors and school social workers showed a pattern of schools using counselors for administrative work. Committee members recommended considering legislation that would enumerate counselor duties. They also proposed looking into ways to make counselors more accessible to students, particularly in rural areas with fewer school personnel.Stephanie Rubin, CEO of advocacy and research group Texans Care for Children, lauded the focus on mental health care, but expressed concern at the report’s lack of specific methods to implement its recommendations. In a statement released soon after the report, Rubin said the Legislature will still have to work out several of the details in the upcoming session in 2019 for any substantive change to occur.“We hope state leaders build on these efforts and take real action, with meaningful increases in state funding, to support student mental health,” the statement said.The committee did not recommend the implementation of “red flag” laws, which Abbott proposed in his school safety recommendations but Patrick has fiercely challenged. Instead, members proposed clarifying legislation on whether people convicted of domestic violence can own firearms to begin with and on returning guns to people who have been detained but declared not to be a risk to themselves or others.That drew a rebuke from Mike Collier, the Democrat who is challenging Patrick for lieutenant governor.“Red flag laws work, and the only language in this report regarding red flag laws is the recommendation to clarify current statutes,” Collier said in a statement.last_img read more

Protesters Take to the Streets After Davis is Confirmed as Baltos Police

first_imgProtesters took to the streets on Oct. 19 after members of the Baltimore City Council voted to confirm Police Chief Kevin Davis as the head of the city’s police department.Protester Mecca Verdell cries as she chants during a demonstration, Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, in Baltimore. Protesters marched after the City Council confirmed Kevin Davis as the city’s permanent police commissioner. The council’s vote came five days after a committee voted in favor of hiring Davis and demonstrators held a sit-in to demand meetings with Davis and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)Davis won the vote 12-2 with City Councilman Carl Stokes, who is running for mayor, and Councilman Nick J. Mosby, who is rumored to be considering a run, voting no. Davis was a former deputy under Anthony W. Batts who was fired from the position earlier this year.“We need stability in the Police Department,” said Brandon Scott, city councilman, during the hearing. “We cannot have a temporary captain of the ship with all the violence in the city and the [Freddie Gray] trials coming up. … I have confidence that the commissioner will do a better job of working with everyone to get the crime rate down.” Following protests last week, Bernard C. “Jack” Young, council president ordered the balcony overlooking the chamber closed citing safety concerns. Many of the people who had come to witness the proceedings were unable to get in. About 20 minutes into the meeting, many protesters spilled out of the meeting, chanting things like “No justice, no peace, no racist police!”The group of about 40, marched from City Hall to the Inner Harbor – often walking directly in the streets and stopping traffic. They stopped at McKeldin Square and eventually headed back to City Hall, where police had set up barricades.Organizers told the group to follow police orders and avoid getting arrested. The group had dispersed by around 6:30 p.m.Activist Kwame Rose said that Davis went back on his word after a meeting that was held Oct. 18 involving several activists and Davis.Protesters block traffic, Monday, Oct. 19, 2015, in Baltimore, after the City Council confirmed Kevin Davis as the city’s permanent police commissioner. The council’s vote came five days after a committee voted in favor of hiring Davis and demonstrators held a sit-in to demand meetings with Davis and Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)“Last night the Commissioner met with four young activists including myself and he agreed to the 19 rules of engagement. We went and we reworked every word of those 19 rules of engagement and even added a 20th rule of engagement which was that Baltimore City Police would designate one community liaison from the police department to coordinate with the protesters so that our First Amendment rights would be respected.” “Today he had until 12 p.m. to adhere to that and make a public statement and we agreed. We left that meeting with an agreement that that would happen and that did not happen. The Commissioner has continued to show that he is not interested in the respect of black young people in this city who care about their lives and their first amendment rights.”Baltimore mayoral candidate Calvin Young was inside the City Council meeting. He was in the overflow room officials had set up since the balcony was closed. People inside the overflow room could watch the proceedings on a monitor.“The vote came up and it was passed. After it was passed that’s when the demonstrators – those that were in the overflow room where I was – they all proceeded to get up and go towards the chambers. Also, from the screen we could see that demonstrations had begun in the chambers. I got up, the group that I was with, and we started paying attention and they had actually closed the doors to the chambers so those who were in the overflow room from what I could see did not make it into the actual chambers. Eventually everybody was escorted out and they started marching.”Damon Mathews-Bey, a Baltimore City employee who said he had come to the meeting because he was concerned about an issue unrelated to Davis’ confirmation, said he was upset that he wasn’t let into the meeting.“I was disturbed, very disturbed, because it’s supposed to be open to all the citizens in Baltimore and I’m a tax paying citizen also a worker for the city of Baltimore. I felt a little let down.”Following the vote, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake swore Davis in as new commissioner at a community meeting. “We have to fight violent crime in a new and different way,” Davis told reporters. “It’s going to take our best efforts and building relationships with the community.” Davis’s five year, $200,000 annual salary, contract will face another vote on Wednesday in the form of the Board Estimates. The Board of Estimates is in charge of spending for the city and is controlled by Rawlings-Blake.last_img read more

Temperature likely to go up as downpour comes to a halt

first_imgKolkata: The temperature in the city may go up in the next 48 hours, predicted the Regional Meteorological Centre at Alipore on Friday.According to the weather office, there is a possibility of scattered rainfall in the city and some South Bengal districts as well. North Bengal districts will continue to receive heavy to very heavy rainfall in the next two days, the weather office said.The temperature in the city and its adjoining areas has dipped for the past few days, due to rain caused by the arrival of monsoon current in the region. According to the prediction, there will be a marginal rise in the mercury in the next two days. Also Read – Speeding Jaguar crashes into Merc, 2 B’deshi bystanders killedThe temperature this season touched 40 degrees due to the advent of westerly winds, which were bringing a heat wave to the city. This occurred after the monsoon current got stalled for few days in the last week.The situation improved after the monsoon current got active and brought moderate to heavy rainfall in the South Bengal districts. This came as a relief to the city dwellers and also the people from the districts in South Bengal, from the scorching summer heat. Also Read – Naihati: 10 councillors return to TMC from BJPAccording to the weather office, the rise in temperature may also lead to uncomfortable weather, with the relative humidity going up.A senior official of the weather office said that North Bengal is expected to receive heavy to very heavy rainfall in the next few days as well, while in Kolkata and most parts of South Bengal, the mercury may soar high.However, there is a prediction of thunderstorm, accompanied with gusty wind and lightning, in the South Bengal districts.It may be mentioned here that various North Bengal districts have been receiving heavy rainfall for past few days, as a result of which an alert was also issued to the local administration to take adequate steps to check any untoward incident.last_img read more

Commemorative circulation coin on Tatya Tope released

first_imgOn the occasion of Tatya Tope’s Martyr Day, Dr Mahesh Sharma, Minister of State for Culture and Tourism, released a commemorative coin of Rs 200 and a circulation coin of Rs 10 in the national Capital on Monday. Narendra Kumar Sinha, Secretary, Ministry of Culture was also present on the occasion.Ministry of Culture has been celebrating the 200th birth anniversary of Tatya Tope in the year 2015-16, in association with the State Government of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.  Also Read – ‘Playing Jojo was emotionally exhausting’The government of India is also considering the creation of infrastructure in the memory of Tatya Tope by constructing a Memorial at Yeola and Nasik, Maharashtra and a war museum at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh in association with the respective State Governments.Recently, in the month of February, the State Government of Maharashtra organised the inaugural function at Shaniwar Wada in Pune. Before that, a three-day celebration- ‘Shaurya Mahotsav’ was held.Also, a special lecture and conference on Tatya Tope was organised by Nehru Memorial Museum & Library (NMML) in the national Capital on February 16. One of the most outstanding leaders of India’s first war of Independence, Tatya Tope was a patriot.last_img read more

Three more days of deals with Sunwings Back to School sale

first_img Wednesday, September 14, 2016 Three more days of deals with Sunwing’s Back to School sale Tags: Promotions, Sunwing Posted by TORONTO — Sunwing Vacations’ ‘Back to School’ promotion continues through Sept. 16, offering passengers who purchase two flights savings worth 50% on the base fare of the second seat. Departure dates are available for travel between Nov. 1, 2016 and April 30, 2017.Sunwing has flights from over 30 different gateways to 34 vacation destinations this winter.One resort available in the sale, Royalton Blue Waters, is set to open this November. The new property will offer specialty dining across 11 restaurants, varied water sports and evening entertainment together with full exchange privileges with sister resort, Royalton White Sands.And opening in early 2017, Hideaway at Royalton Saint Lucia is pegged to be a hit with couples and honeymooners seeking relaxation in a stylish tropical setting. The adults-only beachfront oasis allows guests to take advantage of the luxurious amenities and features within Royalton Saint Lucia Resort and Spa.center_img Share Travelweek Group << Previous PostNext Post >>last_img read more

Indian government changes its visa rules

first_imgThe Indian government has unveiled changes in the existing rules to liberalise, simplify and rationalise the visa regime in order to encourage more foreign nationals including Omanis, to visit India for tourism, business and other purposes.The government, as part of this policy initiative has modified the existing e-Tourist Visa scheme. In a statement, the Indian Embassy in Muscat stated, “The e-Visa will now be issued for the specific purpose of the visit viz e-Tourist Visa, e-Business Visa and e-Medical Visa. While e-Tourist Visa will be issued for visits aimed at recreation, sight-seeing, casual visits and to attend yoga programmes, e-Business Visa will be issued for enhancing business activities, including establishing business ventures, purchase or sell commercial products, attending technical meetings, discussions, board meetings, recruitment of manpower etc. Similarly, e-Medical Visa will be issued for treatment in India.”The window for issuing visas under e-Visa has also been increased from 30 to 120 days, meaning that the applicant can travel to India within 120 days of the issue of e-Visa. Similarly, the duration of stay under e-Visa has also been increased from existing 30 to 60 days. In the case of e-Medical Visa, extension can be granted for stay up to six months on the case to case basis by the Foreigners Regional Registration Officer (FRRO) concerned.Foreigners, under e-Tourist Visa and e-Business Visa, will now be allowed to undertake two visits as against the current one. Applicants availing the e-Medical Visa will be issued triple entry visas enabling them to visit India three times on the same visa. e-Visa, except for e-Medical Visa, will be non-extendable and non-convertible.The government has also permitted e-Visa holders to enter India through five major ports including Mumbai, Kochi, Goa, Chennai and Mangalore to tap the potential of cruise tourism. They are also allowed to enter India through 16 airports including Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Goa, Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Gaya, Jaipur, Lucknow, Thiruchirapalli and Varanasi.last_img read more

May 7 2008 Continuing with our report on the Silt

first_imgMay 7, 2008 Continuing with our report on the Silt-Cast bell technique from Monday, we follow the bells through to their next stage of creation. Here, you see the bells in an early phase. The moisture content of the air and the amount of sunlight on the day that the bells are poured affects their drying rate. At this particular point, the excess slip has been removed with a ladel and suction device to ensure a uniform thickness around the edges of the bell. Continuing with our report on the Silt-Cast bell technique from Monday, we follow the bells through to their next stage of creation. Here, you see the bells in an early phase. The moisture content of the air and the amount of sunlight on the day that the bells are poured affects their drying rate. At this particular point, the excess slip has been removed with a ladel and suction device to ensure a uniform thickness around the edges of the bell. [Photo: Joelle McTigue & text: Amber Klatt] At the next stage, you see that Ceramics Manager Edward Werman carefully plucks the bells from their silt molds and lines them on the front counter. The bells are not completely hardened at this point. Instead, they have dried to the point that the Ceramics artists can handle them without misshaping the bells. On the Ceramics webpage, Edward notes a unique aspect of the Silt-Cast method: “Since the walls are firm but not solid, it is possible to make indentations directly into the silt mold walls which also get filled with slip. These negative impressions translate into positive relief patterns on the surface of the bell when it is removed from the mold. This feature cannot be duplicated with the plaster molds since they are solid structures.” [Photo: Joelle McTigue & text: Amber Klatt] Finally, the Silt-Cast bells are lightly doused with water, to remove the residual silt from their outer edges. Edward points out some more of the variations between Plaster-Cast and Silt-Cast bells: “Another difference concerns the surface of the silt mold which has a rough texture reflecting the characteristic of the sand and this feature is picked up by the surface of the bell. The plaster molds have smooth interior surfaces and its bells also pick up and reflect a smooth surface.” This report continues on 5/9/08. [Photo: Joelle McTigue & text: Amber Klatt]last_img read more

Rep Leutheuser supports plan to protect unborn children in Michigan

first_img House approves measure to ban dismemberment abortions State Rep. Eric Leutheuser on Tuesday voted in support of a plan to protect a mother and child from a dismemberment abortion.“We must recognize that unborn children feel pain and should be treated with respect and dignity like any other human being,” said Leutheuser, of Hillsdale. “I will continue this fight to protect the unborn.”A dismemberment abortion, or “dilation and evacuation” (D&E), is an abortion in which a health care worker intentionally uses an instrument, device, or object to dismember a living fetus out of a uterus.The plan approved by the House bans the procedure and defines penalties for workers who violate the act.Abortion is the leading cause of death in Michigan. Twelve states already have had legislation signed into law that bans dismemberment abortions.According to data published by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, there were 1,777 D&E abortions in Michigan in 2017. That is nearly five dismemberment abortions per day.House Bills 4320 and 4321 now move to the Senate for consideration, where identical bills have been adopted.### 15May Rep. Leutheuser supports plan to protect unborn children in Michigan Categories: Leutheuser Newslast_img read more

Bouygues Telecom Altice could be open to acquiring

first_imgBouygues TelecomAltice could be open to acquiring French service provider Bouygues Telecom, according to the Patrick Drahi investment vehicle’s CEO, Dexter Goei, cited by Dow Jones Newswires.Goei, speaking at a Morgan Stanley conference in Barcelona, said that there was a great potential to realise synergies between the two companies.Goei said Altice would not need to implement a capital increase to acquire Bouygues Telecom, despite the heavy debts incurred in acquiring SFR.Altice has also recently tabled a bid for Portugal Telecom’s domestic assets.Bouygues was recently involved in a bitter contest with Altice and cable operator Numericable, of which it is majority owner, for Vivendi-owned SFR, with Numericable emerging triumphant.Bouygues has maintained that Bouygues Telecom will continue to operate as a standalone unit and will become profitable and competitive as part of a big four-dominated French telecom sector.Bouygues Telecom is ranked number three amongst French mobile players but has limited penetration in the fixed line market.last_img read more

In This Issue Durable goods disappoint Mar

first_imgIn This Issue.. * Durable goods disappoint * Market on hold for Fed * QE3 still an option * Quiet day for currencies And, Now, Today’s Pfennig For Your Thoughts! FOMC held the cards… Good day…and welcome to the last Thursday in April. As Chuck mentioned, I’ll be steering the ship today while he travels to Florida for some conferences, so the call to the bullpen has been made. All in all, it was a fairly quiet day and if I had to make a call one way or the other, I would have to say Wednesday turned out to be a risk on type of day. While the US earnings season has definitely fueled the risk on campers, it was touch and go for a while. We started the day pretty flat as the euro traded at 1.32 and gold was in a holding pattern at $1,643, neither of which showed any direction. All of the other currencies were either trading at breakeven or very close, so the markets were obviously waiting for something. The first bit of market moving material was staring us down right out of the gate yesterday morning, which was the durable goods figure from March, and it wasn’t pretty. The headline durable goods number decreased 4.2%, which is the most since January 2009, as demand for transportation equipment, namely aircraft, fell quite a bit from February’s robust numbers. Orders for aircraft, which can be volatile from month to month, does act as a gauge for the broad domestic and global economy, but I think the auto portion of transportation is more telling of the domestic and local economies. Bookings for cars and associated parts only increased 0.1%, which was quite lower than last month’s 2% rise, but they at least held steady. Still, it was a mixed bag at best. The durable goods minus transportation fell 1.1% from the revised 1.9% gain in February. The piece of the puzzle and the spin that had economists talking was the goods shipped portion, which is one of the components in calculating GDP. The gauge of shipped goods actually increased 2.6% and has some calling for a higher than expected first quarter GDP reading. We won’t have to wait long as the initial reading is due tomorrow morning. The markets all but overlooked the fall in durable goods as nothing really moved and the currencies were still sitting in the same place before the report was released. While it was a light day in the data department as far as the number of reports, the focus of the day fell squarely on the shoulders of the Fed. That’s right, the Fed rate meeting was yesterday so everyone was sitting on seat’s edge just waiting to see what would happen. Of course, it wasn’t the rate decision itself that held the market hostage, but instead, the sound bites that would follow garnered all of the attention. The rate decision was announced at 11:30 central time, so I looked up at the currency screens shortly thereafter and saw that gold was down about $15 and that silver was trying to stay above $30. I wasn’t expecting any earth changing developments, so it took me for surprise. I saw rates remained on hold so it wasn’t that. As it turned out, there was a knee jerk reaction immediately following the meeting to the fact that unemployment forecasts were reduced and no additional stimulus measures were announced or planned. In fact, the unemployment rate estimate was reduced down to a range of 7.8%-8.0% by year end from January’s projection of 8.2%-8.5%. Oddly enough, the currency market didn’t have much of a reaction and seemed unfazed by the initial release. About an hour later, it was Bernanke’s turn on stage as he spoke at the proceeding press conference and reversed previous thoughts that QE3 was all but out of the picture. I think the big headline from Bernanke was his announcement that the Fed is prepared to do more, if needed, to make sure the recovery continues and that inflation stays close to target. In other words, additional stimulus is still on the table and the recent strides forward aren’t enough to rule out future action. For the most part, everything he explained yesterday didn’t change much from the past several meetings as the European crisis remains a concern, economic growth is expected to moderately continue in the coming quarters, and unemployment isn’t falling as fast as they would like. As quickly as gold lost ground prior to the press conference, it quickly climbed back to where it began the day since QE3 wasn’t totally removed as an option after all. The last notable news bits from the meeting were a couple more revisions to growth and inflation. We did see an upward revision to GDP this year from a range of 2.2%-2.7% to 2.4%-2.9% so it looks like the Fed is hopeful jobs growth will continue moving in the right direction. They also increased the inflation outlook to 1.9%-2.0% and acknowledged it has picked up due to higher oil and gas prices. They still maintain gas prices will only affect inflation temporarily, but I’m not sure how that would be the case if they expect continued expansion in the US economy. Speaking of oil, we did see it rise back above $104 after the higher growth outlook, so US demand still remains in the driver’s seat when it comes to price action. I think I’ve gone on long enough with the Fed meeting, so let’s take a look and see what reports are due today. We’ll see the usual Thursday reports on weekly initial jobless claims and the continuing claims number, both of which are supposed to show slight improvement from last week. The initial claims are expected to come in at 375k, but with the constant revisions, it’s tough to maintain a firm comparison point. With that said, we’re still far from a range needed to firmly put a dent in what I would consider the most telling and important economic figure. The March jobs numbers of 120k sure doesn’t go far in my book to justify the Fed’s rosier employment outlook. We will also see the results of pending home sales from March, another area of concern by the Fed. Housing has been flailing around with no sense of direction as prices continue falling, albeit at a much slower pace than in the past, but purchases have been slow to rise as buyers try to guess the market bottom. The estimates I’ve seen aren’t much to write about, but maybe that summer like weather in March coaxed more buyers into signing contracts. Other than that, we get a gauge of consumer confidence and a regional manufacturing report, so it looks like today will be a balancing act between that ever present lake of lava, which is employment and housing. Depending how those reports turn out, we could see the market remain in a holding pattern until tomorrow since we get some big reports. We’ll see the initial printing of first quarter GDP, personal consumption, and inflation so this trio certainly has enough clout to hold the market captive until then. As I mentioned earlier, the currencies remained in a very tight range so there isn’t much to talk about on the currency front today. In fact, yesterday turned out to be one of the narrower trading days that we’ve seen lately as the euro floated within a 0.5% window between the high and low of the day. Usually, we’ll see at least a full cent deviation throughout the course of a given day, but that wasn’t the case. Since the Fed left the door open for QE3 if needed, the dollar did finish down on the day but only by a small margin. The top currencies were all commodity based as the rand broke away from the pack with a 0.7% gain. The rest of the currencies ranged from breakeven to slight gains as the Aussie and Canadian dollar took the silver and bronze medals respectively. The only sizable moves came from gold and silver, when they fell 0.7% and 2.25% immediately following the rate announcement, but they did regain all lost ground by the time I left the office last night. The rise in equities kept most currencies in positive territories to finish the day. I did see where S&P lowered India’s sovereign credit outlook to negative from stable, citing slower economic and investment growth along with a wider current account deficit as the rationale. While the actual rating was not downgraded, they did say if steps to reduce structural fiscal deficits and improvement in the investment climate are taken, they will reevaluate. The Indian finance minister quickly stepped in to say that reforms are on track and economic growth should remain intact, but only time will tell. Surprisingly enough, the rupee actually finished slightly higher on the day. Other than that, the only other development I saw before I called it a day was in New Zealand. The central bank met late in the afternoon, our time, and kept rates on hold as expected. The statement released after the meeting said the economy is still growing at a slower pace and inflation isn’t presenting any problems, so rates will probably be on hold for quite a while. The central bank governor, who is known for talking the currency down, went on the say that if the exchange rate remains strong and isn’t justified by stronger data, they might reassess the rate outlook. In other words, nothing new here since he frequently expresses concern of a strong currency. As I came in this morning, everything is trading in yesterday’s clothes and there is an ever so slight bias to sell the dollar so far. There aren’t many headlines to speak of, but we did see a report on European economic confidence fall more than expected as more austerity and economic uncertainty loom on the horizon. Even though the UK economy slipped back into recession following yesterday’s negative GDP print, we saw a report of investor sentiment rise this morning. Then there was this… If Congress and President Barack Obama can’t agree on extending some of the tax breaks set to expire at year-end, the U.S. economy will be harmed so greatly that there is nothing the Federal Reserve can do to compensate for it, Chairman Ben Bernanke said. “If no action were to be taken by the fiscal authorities, the size of the fiscal cliff is such that there’s absolutely no chance that the Federal Reserve could or would have any ability to offset that effect on the economy,” I saw this article in Bloomberg this morning, so hopefully this is yet another wake up call to get things under control. To recap…We started the day with the worst durable goods print since January 2009 but the markets were focused on the Fed rate meeting. They did keep rates on hold, as we expected, but an increased economic growth forecast initially sent some investors calling for no more QE3. Once Bernanke held the press conference, he said additional stimulus is an option if the economy stumbles. Gold and silver went for a ride around the block but the currencies stayed home. S&P lowered India’s outlook and New Zealand kept rates on hold. Currencies today 4/26/12… American Style: A$ $1.070, kiwi .8165, C$ $1.0173, euro 1.3215, sterling 1.6188, Swiss $1.0996… European Style: rand 7.7547, krone 5.7216, SEK 6.7166, forint 217.53, zloty 3.1673, koruna 18.7394, RUB 29.2812, yen 80.83, sing 1.2416, HKD 7.7591, INR 52.5375, China 6.3057, pesos 13.1581, BRL 1.88, Dollar Index 79.02, Oil $103.92, 10-year 1.96%, Silver $30.70, and Gold… $1,646.75 That’s it for today… Even though it was a quiet day in the currency market, it was a busy day at the office yesterday as it felt like I needed a couple extra hours in the day to get everything done. We found out the first game of the next playoff series for our St. Louis Blues starts Saturday against the LA Kings, so let’s go Blues!! Tonight marks a big night for football fans as the draft kicks off with the first round in primetime. The first two picks are basically made, but I’m hoping the Rams finally put together a solid and lasting draft class. With that said, I’ll you get the day started. Until next time, Have a Great Day!! Mike Meyer Assistant Vice President EverBank World Markets 1-800-926-4922 1-314-647-3837 www.everbank.comlast_img read more

A disabled former Liberal Democrat MP has refused

first_imgA disabled former Liberal Democrat MP has refused to criticise the Tory work and pensions secretary for covering up a report that linked the “fitness for work” test with a disabled man’s suicide.Stephen Lloyd, who narrowly lost his Eastbourne seat at last year’s general election, was a supporter of many of Iain Duncan Smith’s welfare reforms during his five years as a coalition MP.And now, in an email interview with Disability News Service (DNS), Lloyd (pictured) has refused to condemn the cover-up – even though his party is no longer in power – and has defended coalition cuts and reforms that cut billions of pounds a year from spending on disability benefits and services.Asked whether he stood by his backing for Duncan Smith, which he expressed several times as an MP, Lloyd said: “I actually believe that IDS is genuinely committed to helping disabled people into work, where possible.”He suggested that the blame for any failure of Duncan Smith’s policies lay instead with the chancellor, George Osborne.When DNS drew his attention to a trio of news stories that demonstrated the harshness of Duncan Smith’s policies on out-of-work disability policies and showed he had covered up a report that linked the work capability assessment (WCA) with the death of a man who took his own life, he refused to criticise the work and pensions secretary, although he said the three stories were “appalling”.He claimed he was not a “supporter” of Duncan Smith but believed that his “basic premise is to set up a system that tried to get people who have been out of work for a long time through disability into work”, which he said was “not easy”.The three stories show that Duncan Smith failed in his legal duty to respond to a coroner’s report into the death of 41-year-old Stephen Carre, who took his own life in January 2010 after DWP rejected his appeal against being found fit for work.In November, government-funded research concluded that the programme to reassess people claiming IB using the WCA could have caused 590 suicides in just three years.But when DNS asked why Lloyd refused to criticise Duncan Smith over the cover-up, he refused to comment further, or to express any concern about the deaths that may have been caused by the failure to respond to the report.And when asked if he had made a single political decision that he regretted during his five years as an MP, he said, “not really”, before talking instead about the failings of the government contractor Atos in carrying out the WCA.When asked if this meant that he believed he had not made a single political mistake in five years, he again declined to comment further.Asked about the billions of pounds of support cut by the coalition to spending on social care, disability living allowance and personal independence payment – that have led to thousands of people having to hand back their Motability vehicles – as well as increased sanctions for those on out-of-work benefits, and cuts to disabled students’ allowance, he refused to say which of those he supported.Lloyd, who is still active politically for the party in Eastbourne and also works as business innovations director for an international communications company based in Eastbourne, was widely praised for his constituency work during his five years as an MP.He was the first MP to launch a much-copied scheme to support the creation of 100 apprentices in his constituency in 100 days, and ensured his constituency team represented disabled people in more than 100 tribunals to appeal against being turned down for employment and support allowance, personal independence payment and disability living allowance, with a success rate he estimates at more than 80 per cent.He pointed out that hardly any MPs bother to ensure their staff attend such tribunals to advocate for their disabled constituents.He said: “This was something I very specifically set up, though there was no allocated budget, training or emphasis that we should do this.”He was a member of the work and pensions select committee and of several disability-themed all-party parliamentary groups, where he was, he says, “a constant advocate for equality of opportunity for disabled people”.And he said that, as a constituency MP, he did all he could to “fight for people who clearly were assessed inaccurately”.He said: “I do not think it wrong that people should be assessed – some after many years – as to their suitability for work, but [I] was a constant critic of Atos’s poor record.”He added: “Leaving people for years on the assumption they will never work is inherently wrong, in my view.“If after assessing they can be helped into work that has to be a good thing. The key – where my team came in – was to make the assessments fair.”last_img read more

Baker Institute panel to discuss Venezuelan presidential politics

first_imgAddThis ShareFranz Brotzen713-348-6775franz.brotzen@rice.eduBaker Institute panel to discuss Venezuelan presidential politicsWhen Venezuelans go to the polls next October, President Hugo Chávez is expected to seek a third term. Three Venezuelan scholars will discuss the elections from the standpoint of economics, politics and international relations at a Nov. 17 panel discussion at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy.Who: Francisco Monaldi, director of the Center for Energy and the Environment at the Instituto de Estudios Superiores de Administración, in Caracas, Venezuela, will speak on “Economic Aspects of Venezuela’s Oil-based Economy.”José Enrique Molina, professor of political science at Zulia University in Maracaibo, Venezuela, will speak on “Political Scenarios.”Carlos Romero, professor emeritus of international relations and foreign policy at the Universidad Central de Venezuela’s Institute of Political Studies, will speak on “Venezuela’s Role in the International Community.”Mark Jones, the Joseph D. Jamail Chair in Latin American Studies, professor and chair of political science at Rice and fellow in political science at the Baker Institute, will moderate the discussion.What: Panel discussion on “Venezuela: Challenges for the New President.”When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17.Where: Rice University, Baker Hall’s Kelly International Conference Facility, 6100 Main St.The panel discussion is part of the Baker Institute Latin America Initiative’s Vecinos Lecture Series.The event is by invitation only but open to members of the news media. It will be webcast at www.bakerinstitute.org/events/vecinos11-venezuela.Members of the news media who want to attend should RSVP to Franz Brotzen at franz.brotzen@rice.edu or 713-348-6775.last_img read more

The Biggest Trends in Business for 2013

first_imgEnergy-Drink Market Gets a Boost From Young ConsumersEnergy-enhancing products have grown into a multibillion-dollar industry fueled by young consumers. Goofing off: Designer Beau Bergeron at Ideo.Photo Courtesy of Ideo Whether it’s synthesized caffeine in a mass-produced beverage or a naturally occurring jolt in an organic snack, energy products are lifting off.Since flying in on Red Bull’s wings in the 1990s, energy-enhancing products have grown into a multibillion-dollar industry fueled by young consumers. Sales for the industry’s largest segment–drinks and shots–surpassed $8 billion last year, an increase of 124 percent since 2006, according to market research company Mintel.Tom Vierhile, innovation insights director for Datamonitor, a business information and market analysis firm, estimates that the energy drink category will grow 8.9 percent from 2010 to 2015, while the food and beverage industry overall will increase by just 2.9 percent. He notes a recent survey in which nearly 30 percent of U.S. consumers said they are highly influenced by energy-boosting benefits when choosing a soft drink.Supercharged food products are also on the rise. A PricewaterhouseCoopers market report on functional food divides the $20 billion-plus industry into categories according to health benefit, such as weight management, heart health and memory improvement, but the largest segment (29 percent) is made up of products claiming to boost energy.”Looking toward the future, you’re starting to see companies getting outside the beverage area and [talking] about energy as a viable benefit for food products,” Vierhile says. But he isn’t referring to novelty items like caffeinated waffles. “One of the trends we’re seeing in food these days is [that] consumers are seeking out products on the basis of what they naturally contain,” he says.YouBar, a Los Angeles-based manufacturer of customized energy bars, has been filling that need since its 2006 launch–and has grown every year since. At YouBars.com, users build bars from scratch by selecting from a variety of natural, healthful ingredients (including those with intrinsic energy enhancers); a nutritional label on the page automatically updates to reflect their choices. Owner Anthony Flynn says sales increased 100 percent in 2011, and he expects them to double again this year.Other companies are pursuing the all-natural energy path, too, even if it means diverging from their core business. Pyure Brands, a Naples, Fla.-based supplier of organic stevia products, branched out from the natural sweetener industry after founder Ben Fleischer saw an opportunity in energy shots. “We found a niche in the marketplace,” he says. “Our product is the first certified-organic, sugar-free [and calorie-free] energy shot.” Six months after introducing Pyure’s Organic Energy Optimization shot to distribution channels, Fleischer anticipates selling 250,000 to 500,000 units per month.Whatever the reason–staying awake to complete a business plan, cramming the night before a presentation or just remaining alert throughout the workday–clearly, says Datamonitor’s Vierhile, “there is an interest in energy.” Using Transparency to Build Consumer Trust Add to Queue Remember when virtual reality was all the rage? What about the daily-deal explosion?We love a good story and a quick cash infusion, but when it comes down to it, we’re far bigger fans of businesses built on a solid foundation — those that can weather the economy’s fits and starts; that can embrace what’s trendy but don’t crash when kids move on to the next big thing; that address the wants and needs of America’s increasingly diverse population.Our list of the trends we’ve got our eyes on will help anchor your business, present or future, in reality. From cooking up goodies that satisfy America’s growing taste for all things spicy — a sign of our shifting demographics — to helping workers who are locking the door on traditional office setups, these trends are built to last (at least for a while). Consider this a jumping-off point as you envision new products and services — and look at it as a heads-up on evolving ways to manage your current business. Now, to your future. Health Technology can’t cure all ills, but doctors (and entrepreneurs) are working on it.Market research firm Parks Associates reports that the digital health technology market will be worth $5.7 billion by 2015–up from $1.7 billion in 2010–with chronic care, wellness and medication management leading the charge. Meanwhile, consultancy ABI Research estimates that sales of wearable wireless health-monitoring devices will grow from less than 3 million units in 2011 to 36 million by 2017, pushed by rapid growth in the senior in-home care market.Early players in the mobile-health space include Happtique, an app-management company that helps healthcare professionals integrate digital technologies into their treatment programs, and Proteus Digital Health, inventors of a sand-grain-size ingestible sensor that monitors physiological and behavioral metrics from within a patient’s body.Startups, of course, want in. “Regulatory challenges still pose a problem, but the ability to scale healthcare absolutely has to happen,” says Leslie Ziegler, chief evangelist at San Francisco-based health-dedicated accelerator Rock Health, which is nurturing promising ideas like Cardiio, a $4.99 touchless biofeedback app that uses mobile-device cameras to measure pulse via light reflected off the face (changes correspond to the flow of blood underneath the skin), and Podimetrics, maker of Wi-Fi-connected mats that can detect burgeoning foot ulcers in diabetics.”Technology has finally caught up to the need, and the solution finally fits into people’s lifestyles,” Ziegler says.The money has caught up, too. According to Rock Health, nearly $1.1 billion has been invested in digital health startups this year, up from $626 million last year, marking an 84 percent increase in deals.In November 2011 Chris Hogg, co-founder and CEO of 100Plus, raised a $1.3 million seed round from big-name investors like Peter Thiel of Founders Fund and John Lilly, former CEO of Mozilla. Hogg’s company is developing an app that uses large data sets to assess behavior and spur healthier living habits–only now possible because of a sea change in the way people collect and share their own data.”People are hungry to learn more about themselves. They haven’t had this power and access to the tools and services to make it possible before,” he explains. So don’t be surprised if, in a few years, your (virtual) doctor’s visit ends with a prescription for both pills and apps. December 3, 2012 This story appears in the December 2012 issue of . Subscribe » Fireside Chat | July 25: Three Surprising Ways to Build Your Brand Beverage Next Article Manufacturing Magazine Contributor Using Transparency to Build Consumer TrustWeary consumers have had enough of false promises and conflicting marketing claims and are simply seeking brands they can trust. Beauty Seekers Favor ‘Cosmeceuticals’Consumers take a shine to advanced personal-care products. Photo Courtesy of hotsauce.com Energy-enhancing products have grown into a multibillion-dollar industry fueled by young consumers.By Katherine Duncan Illustration © Chris Philpot Customer Service Illustrations© Chris Philpot Domestic Production Makes a ComebackFactors like more affordable labor, higher shipping costs, a better financial climate and a surge of homegrown innovation mean the U.S. manufacturing startup universe is experiencing a renaissance. Consumers take a shine to advanced personal-care products.By Jennifer Wang By keeping production close to home, companies reap benefits on the connectivity front, translating into better products and systems. Case in point: San Francisco-based Everlane, which makes luxury apparel and sells it directly to consumers online, manufactures half its product line in the U.S. Founder Michael Preysman believed staying stateside would give him speed and more control over his inventory. He was right–over the summer, an endorsement on the popular lifestyle blog A Cup of Jo caused a flash sellout of 2,000 black V-neck T-shirts in a single day. If the tees had been sourced from overseas, rapid restocking would not have been possible.”It can take a minimum of 12 weeks to get something shipped from overseas, but we can do it in a month,” Preysman says. “It’s maybe a buck more for a T-shirt, but here you can sit and go over the design details and touch the product.” Unique Vending Machines Drive Stagnate Industry Forward Creative Financing Grows in Popularity Move over ketchup, hot sauce is now one of the 10 fastest-growing industries in the U.S.By Jason Daley Management Vending When high heels start to rub, consumers today can take the edge off with a visit to a vending machine–and not just for a soul-soothing candy bar. “Our customers love that they can walk right up, put money in and instantly get a pair of shoes,” says Ashley Ross, who sells ballet flats out of four Rollasole machines in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. “There’s no hassle or sales pitch. It’s simple, and they can go on their way.”Last year Ross and business partner Lindsay Klimitz bought the U.S. rights to Rollasole from its U.K. founder, Matt Horan. They plan to place seven additional machines in New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Chicago in the coming months.The size of the U.S. vending machine industry has stayed steady over the past few years, pulling in about $42 billion last year, according to the National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA). And while nearly 95 percent of that revenue came from traditional options such as beverages and snacks, NAMA president and CEO Carla Balakgie believes recent innovations like touchscreen technology, electronic payment options and unique products could drive the industry forward.Savvy entrepreneurs are engaging the always-open kiosks to offer everything from $5 works of art (artist Clark Whittington’s Art-o-mats, which utilize retired cigarette machines) to fresh-cut flowers (Raleigh, N.C.-based 24-Hour Flower).The U.S. is still a ways away from the vending machine dominance of Japan–where more than 5.2 million machines generated about $65 billion in 2009 from sales of everything from eggs to pet rhinoceros beetles. But new companies are bringing new products to stateside machines all the time. Enroll Now for $5 Health Care Goes Digital Healthcare Goes DigitalThe digital health-technology market will be worth $5.7 billion by 2015, with chronic care, wellness and medication management leading the charge. Technology Creative Financing Grows in PopularityTraditional business lending is still faltering, but more people are starting businesses, which means borrowers and lenders are getting creative. The Rise of Big Data The Workspace of the Future Traditional business lending is still faltering, but more people are starting businesses, which means borrowers and lenders are getting creative..By Michelle Goodman The Biggest Trends in Business for 2013 Assembled at home: The Tesla Motors factory in Fremont, Calif. Domestic Production Makes a Comeback Foodcenter_img Elon Musk of Tesla Motors Entrepreneur Staff Botox, schmotox. When it comes to anti-aging solutions, beauty seekers are starting to thumb their noses at injections in favor of “cosmeceuticals,” personal-care products with supposed skin-enhancing ingredients.Market research group IBISWorld estimates that cosmeceuticals accounted for 13.4 percent of the $54.9 billion wholesale cosmetics and beauty-products market in 2012–a whopping $7.4 billion. Another research firm, Freedonia Group, predicts that demand for cosmetic chemicals will jump 4.9 percent per year to reach $9.4 billion by 2016.This growth will be driven by products advertising “active and natural” ingredients like rice-enzyme powders and rainforest plant extracts, such as those from Lily Herbceuticals–which uses exotic ingredients like the Tibetan Snow Lotus, a flower that survives in the Himalayas at 21,000 feet above sea level and 70 degrees below zero–and Personal Cell Sciences’ U Autologous, a skincare line that incorporates customers’ own stem cells in the service of anti-aging.Lindsey Guest, founder and CEO of San Francisco-based BeautyArmy, a year-old tech company that uses algorithms to match individuals with personalized beauty samples, says the number of skincare lines on the market has quadrupled over the last five years. It’s an especially lucrative category because of an urban and affluent customer base willing to pay a premium for the latest innovations. “They don’t want to use what their mothers and grandmothers used, and a new algae or deep-sea ingredient really resonates,” she says.Dan Obegi, CEO of Los Angeles-based DermStore, the largest e-tailer of physician-strength skincare products, agrees. “There’s new demand as beauty influencers and tastemakers get older and become more interested in these types of products,” he says. DermStore has seen annual growth of 50 percent for the last three years. Its parent company, Intelligent Beauty, which expects 2012 revenue of $450 million, has introduced a cosmeceutical slant into other verticals, such as shampoos that treat split ends.Katia Beauchamp, co-founder and co-CEO of Birchbox, a New York City-based discovery shopping service for beauty, grooming and lifestyle products, says that no matter the age of the consumer, spending is trending toward higher-performance products. A recent company survey revealed that BB creams–all-in-one products that work as a serum, moisturizer, primer, foundation and sunblock and were originally developed to protect skin after cosmetic surgery–are now finding mainstream use as a daily skincare option and are most popular among the under-21 set. And let’s not forget the ever-growing opportunities in the ethnic and male-grooming markets, worth $3 billion and $2.6 billion, respectively, by some counts.Beauty may only be skin deep, but consumers’ desire to chase it offers endless potential for companies’ bottom lines. The digital health technology market will be worth $5.7 billion by 2015, with chronic care, wellness and medication management leading the charge.By Jennifer Wang It’s no surprise that creative financing is on the upswing. More people are starting businesses than before the economy tanked–but traditional business lending is still faltering.”The majority of small businesses don’t need to borrow $1 million. They need to borrow $25,000 to $50,000,” says Charles Green, executive director of the Small Business Finance Institute, a nonprofit that educates entrepreneurs about financing. Little wonder that alternative financing methods–crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending sites, online pawn shops, you name it–have become so popular.Take microlending. In 2011 Accion East, a leading U.S. provider of $500 to $50,000 microloans, granted 19 percent more loans and lent $2.2 million more than the previous year. According to Accion East CEO Paul Quintero, it’s the same story at the four sister organizations in Accion’s national network: more entrepreneurs applying for loans and more microloans disbursed.Also gaining in popularity is revenue-based financing (RBF), which is repaid based on the lendee’s monthly sales. Since forming in 2010, Seattle-based RBF lender Lighter Capital has gone from making three investments per year totaling $250,000 to 13 totaling $1.5 million, says CEO BJ Lackland. HireAHelper.com, a booking site for moving and day labor, got a $200,000 business-expansion loan from Lighter Capital a year ago. “It ended up being a pretty important catalyst for our growth,” says Mike Glanz, the site’s co-founder.Entrepreneurs are also flocking to collateral-free loans, particularly short-term ones. Consider merchant cash advances, in which restaurants, retailers and other businesses doing a high volume of card transactions receive a lump sum in exchange for a cut of future credit or debit card sales–often about 25 percent. This year these advances will total $1 billion, up from $800 million in 2011, says David Goldin, president of the North American Merchant Advance Association.All this is good news for entrepreneurs seeking capital. “Alternative lending is becoming more mainstream,” says Rohit Arora, co-founder and CEO of Biz2Credit, an online credit marketplace. “And as it becomes more mainstream, the cost of those products is going down.”  Image: Shutterstock Factors like more affordable labor, higher shipping costs, a better financial climate and a surge of homegrown innovation mean the U.S. manufacturing startup universe is experiencing a renaissance.By Jennifer Wang These days more CEOs are getting the memo on the value of fun in the workplace and its contribution to the bottom line. The prevailing wisdom is that a spirit of playfulness builds teamwork by bringing employees together in a collaborative setting. Just look at one of Zappos’ core values:”Create fun and a little weirdness.”Southwest Airlines has been the poster child for playfulness in the workplace since its founding in 1971 by fun-loving Herb Kelleher. More recently Cartoon Network CEO Stuart Snyder–named the “Most Playful CEO” of 2012 by Playworks, an Oakland, Calif.-based nonprofit–can be seen gliding about company headquarters in Atlanta on an oversize tricycle.”For me,” says Playworks founder and CEO Jill Vialet, “it’s a constant effort around getting the message out that work is not the antithesis of play–by no means at all. The opposite of play is depression.”Stuart Brown, founder of the National Institute for Play, says a positive spirit should start from the top. “The key to leadership is being flexible and open and playful … in a way that is really natural to your own personality,” Brown says. “When work and play can be joined in a way that works and is sensible, that, to me, is an ideal.”Each spring Brown teaches a course at Stanford University titled “From Play to Innovation” with Brendan Boyle, a partner at Ideo, the Palo Alto, Calif., design consultancy known for promoting play to inspire imagination. Boyle touched on this idea during a presentation at the 2011 Creative Innovation conference in Melbourne, Australia. “If you can incorporate [play] into your innovation process,” Boyle told the gathering, “you’re going to make it more enjoyable, and you’re going to be better at it.”These days playful leadership may be most famously reflected in the businesses of Silicon Valley–but not just in the grand, in-house gaming arcades and bowling alleys of the early internet days. Fun-based leadership has gone in a decidedly more grown-up and community-anchored direction. At Thumbtack, a San Francisco firm that helps consumers find and hire local service professionals online, employees sit down to lunches prepared by a professional chef. “Eating all our meals together is a great way to build camaraderie,” says co-founder and CEO Marco Zappacosta.The company culture grew organically from Thumbtack’s origins, Zappacosta notes, when most of the founders all lived–and worked–in his brother’s house. “We keep things casual,” he says. “We work hard and care about what we do. But at the end of the day we’re not so wrapped up in it that we can’t joke about it.”  Photo Courtesy of momentimages Managers Who Understand the Importance of Goofing Off Beauty Seekers Favor ‘Cosmeceuticals’ Managers Who Understand the Importance of Goofing OffCEOs get the message about the value of fun in the workplace and its contribution to the bottom line. Data Hot Sauce Goes MainstreamMove over ketchup. Hot sauce is now one of the 10 fastest-growing industries in the U.S. CEOs get the message about the value of fun in the workplace and its contribution to the bottom line.By Christopher Hann Beauty Machines in Las Vegas, New Jersey and New York peddle pieces of 24-karat gold under the name Gold to go. The Semi-Automatic machine at New York City’s Hudson Hotel is stocked with a rotating array of quirky items, such as copies of The Catcher in the Rye, designer threads and a rental agreement for a Ferrari 599 GTB. The Sandbox’s Beach Shop in a Box dispenses essentials like sunscreen, sunglasses, beach balls and towels. And Greenaid’s seedbomb vending machines–part of the company’s “guerrilla gardening efforts”–dispense balls of clay, compost and seeds that can be thrown into sidewalk cracks or barren parking lots to grow a little green.”Gen-Y, who has grown up with technology that allows them to define their own experiences, is driving much of the innovation in the industry,” Balakgie says. “They love the anonymity and to be able to get what they want, when they want it.” The office is getting a new look–or being phased out altogether.By Matt Villano Experts agree: Weary consumers have had enough of false promises and conflicting marketing claims and are simply seeking brands they can trust.”In most categories, products are essentially the same and offer the same rational benefits,” says Jim Joseph, branding expert and author of The Experience Effect for Small Business. “It’s the emotional benefits that make you a brand and get you into people’s lives so they come back time and time again.”Jim Gregory, CEO of New York- and Los Angeles-based CoreBrand, a full-service brand consultancy that works with corporations, says, “Trust is a critical component of overall brand reputation today. People are more likely to do business with a company they trust, which means [trust] generates revenue and increases the enterprise value of the company.”A survey conducted by Concerto Marketing Group found that when people trust a brand, 83 percent will recommend it to others; 82 percent will use its products and services frequently; 78 percent will look to it first for the things they want; and 78 percent will give its other products and services a chance.How do you earn that trust? Start with a brand story containing a human element to which consumers can relate, says Mark Lawrence, co-founder and CEO of SpotHero, a Chicago-based online parking reservation provider. “A lot of people associate negative feelings with parking, and we started this company because we’ve had those same feelings and wanted to make them positive,” he says. “We’re building a brand based on a personal problem of ours that others also identify with.”Once an emotional connection is made, it’s important to stay true to that brand promise to prolong the sense of trust. “Authenticity is coming back as an emotional connection that people want to make with their brands,” Joseph says. “It’s about speaking truthfully; doing what you say, saying what you do and not exaggerating who you are.”For Lawrence, a big part of that delivery comes in the form of 24/7 customer support–which has paid dividends for SpotHero. “We want our customers to feel comfortable, so if they have questions, if they’re lost or if they want to get a hold of an actual human being, they can call us,” he says. “We take that engagement very seriously, so parking is not scary or frustrating, and we’ve found that in doing so, our customers get so excited about their experience they tell their friends all about it.” The Rise of Big DataCutting-edge entrepreneurs are stepping up to crunch the vast (and ever-growing) stockpile of information too large for companies to store and analyze in-house. The Workspace of the FutureThe office is getting a new look — or being phased out altogether. 15+ min read Hot Sauce Goes Mainstream Grandpa can stop complaining: “Made in the USA” is making a comeback. Early this year a New York Times poll revealed that 52 percent of the public thinks it’s “very important” that products they buy are made in America. This past summer Starbucks generated all sorts of feel-good headlines for its Create Jobs for USA Fund. In one instance the corporation chose one of the last remaining U.S.-based pottery manufacturers, American Mug and Stein, to create merchandise for its new “Indivisible” brand, which donates a portion of sales back to the fund.Same deal on the mass-production side. In September a PricewaterhouseCoopers report alluded to a “renaissance” in U.S. manufacturing stemming from factors like more affordable labor, higher shipping costs and a better financial climate–and the fact that “re-shoring” (returning production stateside) could mitigate $2.2 billion in losses from supply-chain disruptions in 2011. Also helping the cause: a surge of homegrown innovation in the manufacturing startup universe, including Tesla Motors’ release of the world’s first all-electric luxury sedan from its Silicon Valley headquarters earlier this year. (Robots help keep operational costs down.)”One of the things we learned in the downturn is how to do things leaner and greener than we used to. We can get the same kind of revenue figure with less cost,” says Karen Burns, co-founder of Oakland, Calif.-based East Bay Manufacturing Group, an organization that counts startups and multifactory operations among its members. A recent group survey revealed that 69 percent of members were “very positive” about the current business outlook, with 38 percent expecting sales growth of more than 10 percent in 2013. –shares Weary consumers have had enough of false promises and conflicting marketing claims and are simply seeking brands they can trust.By Paula Andruss Sites like Etsy and Kickstarter also have made it easier to buy and promote local goods and services. For example, Susan Sarich, founder of SusieCakes, a self-professed “All-American Bakery” with eight locations in California, sourced hand-sewn holiday aprons from a Portland, Ore.-based Etsy artist. The relatively high price point for the aprons–$49 for a set of two–reflects the use of organic cottons, incorporation of thoughtful design elements and the labor of custom embroidery, done in San Francisco. “I could have gotten it done for 3 cents an apron,” she says. “But customers appreciate the quality.”Indeed, customers who appreciate “Made in the USA” tags are in good (and historic) company. In 1815 Thomas Jefferson announced, “I have come to a resolution myself as I hope every good citizen will, never again to purchase any article of foreign manufacture which can be had of American make, be the difference of price what it may.” Illustration © Chris Philpot Learn from renowned serial entrepreneur David Meltzer how to find your frequency in order to stand out from your competitors and build a brand that is authentic, lasting and impactful. Recent innovations like touchscreen technology, electronic payment options and unique products could give the vending machines industry a boost.By Kara Ohngren Unique Vending Machines Drive Stagnant Industry ForwardRecent innovations like touchscreen technology, electronic-payment options and unique products could give the vending machines industry a boost. Cutting-edge entrepreneurs are stepping up to crunch the vast (and ever-growing) stockpile of information too large for companies to store and analyze in-house.By John Patrick Pullen Take it to go: Sprinkles Cupcakes in Beverly Hills, Calif.Sprinkles photo © Joy Cho of Oh Joy! Photo Courtesy of Veer/Corbis and Shutterstock Wondering about the office of the future? It might take more imagination than you think. “Who says there’ll be an office at all?” asks Tom Austin, vice president at Gartner, a Stamford, Conn.-based technology research firm. “Already we work from Starbucks, in the car and at our kids’ softball games.”Sure, experts like Austin have predicted the obsolescence of the workplace for years, but as technology empowers people to work from any place with an internet connection, it’s starting to look like more small- and medium-size businesses could very well decide to go without on the physical office front.Take, for instance, Floor64. The media and consulting company maintains a brick-and-mortar space in Sunnyvale, Calif., but also runs a bunch of Skype-powered chat rooms for remote workers–many of which are buzzing for most of the day.”These [chat rooms], more than anything else, represent our ‘office,'” says CEO Mike Masnick, “and they don’t exist in physical space.”Several developments have facilitated the rise of a virtual workplace. Nearly 6 million Americans work from home, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Cloud computing enables data backups and remote collaboration in real time. And group video chat–videoconferencing 2.0, if you will–has become dirt cheap (or, in the case of Google Hangouts, free).Even traditional back-office departments are moving toward virtualization. Recently a number of third-party companies have popped up to provide services such as human resources, payroll and benefits. Some of these providers, including Algentis and Insperity, offer customizable online portals for each employee.Of course many companies–big ones, especially–won’t give up on physical offices entirely. But experts say that in order to succeed, these firms should completely rethink their layouts, creating work environments that provide employees with a range of options.Gartner’s Austin predicts that rather than the cube farms and conference rooms of yore, workspaces will come to evoke areas of the typical home–open floor plans with couches and soft rugs; cozy, kitchen-like spaces with waist-high countertops; and covered outdoor patios with chaise longues.Or, says Kevin Kuske–chief brand advocate and general manager for Turnstone, an office-furniture company in Grand Rapids, Mich.–office planners will start to think more like city planners, clumping purpose-built spaces into distinct portions of a building. “Urban centers have entertainment zones, dining zones, even residential zones,” Kuske notes. “For an office to work it needs to take this approach, too.” Office Space Hot sauce has caught fire. In April research firm IBISWorld declared manufacturing of the spicy condiment to be one of the 10 fastest-growing industries in the U.S., with average company revenue jumping 9.3 percent per year over the last decade.Even though the segment is small–roughly 5,500 people employed by 218 sauce companies, an industry valued at $1 billion–it packs an entrepreneurial punch. Beyond established companies, thousands of kitchen and garage cooks have begun decocting their own spicy blends, with dozens of new sauces hitting local shelves and mail-order catalogs each year. A quick survey of recent entrepreneurial sauciers included a 13-year-old boy from North Carolina, a formerly homeless veteran who used sauce to rebuild his life and a Palo Alto, Calif., firefighter who grows his peppers behind the station. Even the industry’s largest player–Avery Island, La.-based Tabasco, which has an estimated 34 percent of the market–has been privately held by the McIlhenny family since 1868.Dave DeWitt, producer of the annual National Fiery Foods & Barbecue Show held in Albuquerque, N.M., and the authority on all things spicy, likens the hot-sauce explosion to that of craft beer. “It’s similar because it’s an industry in which people have a vision of a product that they want to create,” he says. “So just like in microbrewing, people are using innovation as much as they can.”So what has transformed Americans from ketchup slaves to salsa-swilling heat addicts? IBISWorld and DeWitt both point to the increasing popularity of and exposure to international foods. With that comes demand for zippy condiments like Vietnamese sriracha, Korean chili paste and more complex versions of Mexican salsas. Research firm Mintel reports that sales of sauces and marinades–including hot sauces–jumped 20 percent between 2005 and 2010 and are expected to increase another 19 percent by 2015, mainly because people are increasingly cooking at home to save money and want to re-create those international flavors they have come to enjoy while eating out.At the same time, DeWitt says, hot sauces are maturing. Instead of focusing on extreme heat or crude names like Slap Your Mama and Blow It Out Your Ass, companies are doubling down on flavor, experimenting with fruit-based sauces and toning down some of the heat to appeal to a wider consumer base. “The micro-hot-sauce industry and all the new brands are slowly eroding Tabasco’s market position,” DeWitt says. “These new chili-heads are trying to come up with a line of products that will appeal to people who like all kinds of cuisines.”Blair Lazar, who founded Highlands, N.J.-based Blair’s Sauces and Snacks 23 years ago (and holds the Guinness World Record for the hottest product on Earth), believes technology is a major driver of the sauce boomlet. “When I started it was hard to even find bottles. Now people can order bottles and get labels off the internet,” Lazar says. But the most important reason for the trend, he contends, is that Americans, like much of the rest of the world, have simply fallen in love with heat: “We’re not a bland society, that’s for sure, so why not turn it up a bit?” Step right up: Rollasole ballet flats.Photo courtesy of Rollasole Energy Drink Market Gets a Boost From Young Consumers A massive abstraction with a cute little name, Big Data is the vast (and ever-growing) stockpile of information too large for companies to store in-house–let alone analyze. All that info offers potential to cutting-edge entrepreneurs willing to step up and do the crunching.According to IBM, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are born every day (enough to fill more than 531 million DVDs), and 90 percent of the world’s digital information was produced over the last two years. “For so long, we’ve focused on human-powered businesses, and now we’re transforming into data-driven organizations that are bringing a level of customer centricity that we’ve never seen before,” says Graeme Noseworthy, marketing director for IBM’s Big Data Solutions Software Group.And this is just the Cro-Magnon stage of the info boom. By 2020, the annual data-generation rate will balloon 4,300 percent to 35 zettabytes of intelligence, according to Falls Church, Va.-based Computer Sciences Corporation. (That’s 7.35 trillion DVDs, in case you’re keeping track).From yesterday’s Dow Jones industrial average to a GPS tag on today’s Instagram image to tomorrow’s pollen count, every bit of information will be collected, cataloged, distributed, stored and analyzed by a rapidly evolving segment of companies. According to Reuters, venture capital firms invested $2.47 billion in fields around big data in 2011, nearly 10 percent of all money distributed. That’s up from $1.53 billion in 2010 and $1.1 billion in 2009.”Big Data represents a transformation of the entire IT industry and a $300 billion to $500 billion wealth-creation opportunity for entrepreneurs,” says Matt Ocko, co-managing partner at San Francisco-based investment fund Data Collective. “It’s as sound a bet for us today as investing in PC-related technologies in 1981 or in internet-enabling technologies in 1994.”Entire funds, like Data Collective, have popped up to support the category, using technology to inform investments in startups like Palo Alto, Calif.-based Continuuity, which helps developers make data-based cloud applications, and Portland, Ore.-based Cloudability, a cloud-computing dashboard that enables companies to monitor their online computing expenditures. And these investments appear to be solid bets. According to a report by the McKinsey Global Institute, the potential value of big data, if used creatively and effectively by the U.S. healthcare industry, would be worth more than $300 billion in that sector every year. Currently healthcare providers throw 90 percent of that information away.And that’s just one of many market segments Big Data will revolutionize. In June Ford Motor Company opened a Silicon Valley lab to process data from more than 4 million cars currently spitting out information. Twitter recently hooked 12 partners up to its massive fire hose of 340 million tweets per day, allowing fledgling firms like New York-based Dataminr to sell global event predictions and Boulder, Colo.-based Gnip to parse and resell post-related data.No matter how you look at it–as a consumer, marketer, investor, administrator or inventor–the numbers don’t lie. Big Data isn’t just changing business; it’s changing everything. Lendinglast_img read more

6 Dating Apps That Are Putting a Fresh Spin on Finding Love

first_imgNews and Trends February 14, 2015 2019 Entrepreneur 360 List The only list that measures privately-held company performance across multiple dimensions—not just revenue. Next Article –shares Entrepreneur Staff Nina Zipkin Image credit: Wyldfire via Facebookcenter_img Staff Writer. Covers leadership, media, technology and culture. 6 Dating Apps That Are Putting a Fresh Spin on Finding Love Wyldfire app For something so abstract, love has a ton of industry around it – not so romantic, right? But it’s true. While February is bound to be a good month for florists, card companies, candy makers, and restaurants, it’s also bound to be a good month for dating apps.Everyone knows about Match.com, Tinder and OKCupid, but what else is out there? We’ve rounded up some of the latest and emerging apps on the market, many of which want to put the power in female user’s hands and make the dating experience a little more like it could be IRL.Related: 5 Things Entrepreneurs Can Learn from Online DatingThe League Image credit: The LeagueRecently launched in San Francisco, The League is positioning itself as the option for high-achieving folks who are looking for the other half of a potential power couple – the tag line is “Date intelligently.” The company was founded by a Stanford grad named Amanda Bradford who worked for Google, Sequoia Capital and Evernote before moving into the love game.Bradford thinks that what sets The League apart from others on the market is that it presents more information right up front. “The League combines data and social graphs from both Facebook and LinkedIn to offer separation between your work and personal life and much more context about a potential match…[which] allows young professionals to more easily connect on a less superficial level.”The app has roughly 80,000 registered users. 30 percent have advanced degrees, 18 percent are executives, VPs or founders and the user base is split 50/50 men and women. Even though the company is pulling info from Facebook and LinkedIn, it promises your profile will be hidden from your friends and colleagues, so no run-ins on the app will result in awkward in-person explanations later.Related: This Tinder-esque Dating App Allows Users to Swipe Right Based on a Potential Match’s LinkedIn BioTheCatchImage credit: TheCatch”We are different because we are gamifying the process,” says founder Shannon Ong, who describes TheCatch as a digital upgrade on a cross between The Bachelorette and The Dating Game. The app allows a female user to invite a group of men to answer a question about topics ranging from best Halloween costumes to the strangest place they’ve ever visited. The woman’s profile is invisible during the Q&A portion and narrows down a field of four to the one guy they want to chat with.TheCatch launches in beta on Feb. 14, with an iOS release expected in March, and plans to expand to other cities around the country. Ong says that ages of users range from 21 to 38, and so far the user base is slightly skewed towards women. “It’s not about what school you go to or what job you have… stop staring at just looks and start looking into other interesting things like chemistry.”Related: The Biggest Dating Problem Entrepreneurs HaveDapper Image credit: DapperThe free New York-based Dapper launched in November and co-founder Alexandra Partow says its user base is in the several thousands, the majority of whom are college educated professionals ranging from 25 to 40.Partow and co-founder Josh Wittman posit that a lot of online dating is something of a time suck – so in their app, you’re not allowed to talk with your matches before the first date. Instead you tell Dapper when you’re free and it figures out a time for you and your prospective date to meet. The Dapper team also chooses the location of the meeting — and your first drink is on them. The app also places a premium on old-school chivalry – the woman gets to choose the neighborhood where the first date takes place, and the guys have to take a Gentleman Pledge before joining the app.Given your interests and personality traits, Dapper assembles a small group of matches to choose from. “We are offering Dapper for free whereas a matchmaker charges hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. Dapper is unlike traditional dating sites and apps which mostly act as chat rooms for people based on mutual interest in profile pictures,” says Partow.Related: The Bizarre Ways Niche Dating Services Are Pairing People OffHappn Image credit: Happn via iTunesHappn first launched in Paris last February and in a year it gained 1.6 million users in cities all over the world – Barcelona, Berlin, Boston, Chicago, London, Los Angeles, Madrid and New York. Madrid. Ideally, the app is meant for the person who sees the same attractive guy or girl on their commute every day, but hasn’t worked up the courage to talk to them yet. Founder Didier Rappaport is the co-founder of video platform Dailymotion.Marie Cosnard, the app’s head of media relations says what sets Happn apart from other apps is that the experience begins offline. “Thanks to real-time geolocation, the app shows you a timeline of the people you have really crossed paths with. They are the people you have seen and that you would like to talk to and meet in real life once again.”Every time you run into someone, say on the street or at a coffee shop, their profile pops up. If you like them, you can hit a heart button, but they won’t have any idea unless they like you, too, at which point you can start talking. If you want to get their attention, you can send a “charm” notification.Related: New Dating App Startup Aims to Be the ‘Thinking Person’s Tinder’The Dating Lounge Image credit: The Dating Lounge via iTunesMatchmaker Samantha Daniels launched her iOS app The Dating Lounge at the end of January. She says her user base started with “several thousand invitations” to a list of “high-end affluent influencers” she had in her existing matchmaking database, and that there is a sizable waitlist. The Dating Lounge is invite-only – but new members can also join if they get approval from other users of the app. “I have recreated my high-end matchmaking service on the phone,” she says.Daniels says one of the things that she think sets her venture apart from the rest is that members can “play matchmaker” for one another. Users can refer one of their matches to friends if they feel there may be potential for a connection, and can ask mutual friends on the app for a reference on the man or woman they are talking with to take some of the guesswork out of the proceedings.Related: Hinge, the Less Random Tinder, Raises $12 MillionWyldfire Image credit: Wyldfire via FacebookWyldfire is all about decreasing the admittedly high creep factor for women in the online dating world, describing itself as “the dating network where ladies are the gatekeepers.” The women are the ones who vet and vote on the men that get to join the network through the app’s “Election” feature.Each profile includes info about the user’s job, education, height and their Instagram account. There is also a 20 message limit per person to start. The app launched in July 2013 and has had a predominantly West Coast focus, but co-founder and CEO Brian Freeman says a national campaign is in the works for 2015.The average age of women on the site is 23 and 28 for men, and Freeman says that daily active users have increased by 450 percent and monthly active users have tripled since last November. The site only allows users to sign up once as either male or female, and the profile is required to sync with Facebook (hence the Instagram) and have a “clear face photo.” Just no bathroom selfies, please.Related: So, You Want to Marry a Tech Mogul? Apply Now » 7 min read Add to Queuelast_img read more

Slack Raises 200 Million Boosting Valuation to 38 Billion

first_img Add to Queue Learn how to successfully navigate family business dynamics and build businesses that excel. Next Article Slack Reuters 2 min read Register Now » This story originally appeared on Reuterscenter_img Free Webinar | July 31: Secrets to Running a Successful Family Business Image credit: Slack | Enhanced by Entrepreneur Slack has raised $200 million in venture capital financing, boosting its valuation to $3.8 billion, the messaging software startup said on Friday.The latest funding round comes in spite of a contraction in venture capital investing for technology startups, amid widespread concern about high valuations. The market rout among tech stocks earlier this year caused some venture capitalists to further tighten their purse strings.Late-stage investments — series D or later — dropped 71 percent in February from a year earlier, according to venture capital database PitchBook.Slack’s $200 million round is its largest yet, the latest sign that some companies are still able to attract wary investors, many of which are flush with cash. In another instance, Snapchat, the ephemeral messaging app, raised $175 million last month.Investors boosted the Slack’s valuation by $1 billion, up from $2.8 billion a year ago.The latest funding, which brings Slack’s total venture financing to $540 million, was reported in recent weeks by multiple news outlets. Slack on Friday confirmed the round, which was led by Thrive Capital and included GGV Capital and Comcast Ventures, as well as existing investors.San Francisco-based Slack makes messaging software for businesses, designed to help teams collaborate and communicate more effectively. The company says it has 2.7 million daily active users, although many of them access the free version of the software. About 800,000 are paid users. Slack’s customers include media companies such as CBS and BuzzFeed, tech companies such as Samsung Electronics Co Ltd. and Salesforce Inc., retailers, universities and the U.S. government.(Reporting by Heather Somerville; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn) April 1, 2016 Slack Raises $200 Million, Boosting Valuation to $3.8 Billion –shareslast_img read more

Tech Moguls Such as Musk and Bezos Declare Era of Artificial Intelligence

first_img Learn from renowned serial entrepreneur David Meltzer how to find your frequency in order to stand out from your competitors and build a brand that is authentic, lasting and impactful. Tech Moguls Such as Musk and Bezos Declare Era of Artificial Intelligence Fireside Chat | July 25: Three Surprising Ways to Build Your Brand Reuters 3 min read Artificial Intelligence –shares Image credit: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg | Getty Imagescenter_img June 3, 2016 Artificial intelligence and machine learning will create computers so sophisticated and godlike that humans will need to implant “neural laces” in their brains to keep up, Tesla Motors and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk told a crowd of tech leaders this week.While Musk’s description of an injectable human-computer link may sound like science fiction, top tech executives repeatedly said that artificial intelligence (AI) was on the verge of changing everyday life, during discussion at a conference by online publication Recode this week. It is no secret that tech companies are diving into AI analytics research, an industry that will grow to $70 billion by 2020 from just $8.2 billion in 2013, according to a Bank of America report citing IDC research.AI, which combs through large troves of raw data to predict outcomes and recognize patterns, is already used in web search systems, marketing recommendation functions and security and financial trading programs. The technology will spread to driverless cars and service robots in the future, the Bank of America report said. Sundar Pichai, chief executive of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, said he sees a “huge opportunity” in AI. Google first started applying the technology through “deep neural networks” to voice recognition software about three to four years ago and is ahead of rivals such as Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp. in machine learning, Pichai said. But he and others acknowledged that the work of building machines that teach themselves is still in its infancy. Microsoft, for instance, apologized and went back to the lab after an AI chatbot talking on Twitter “learned” to make racist comments.Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos predicted a profound impact on society over the next 20 years.”It’s really early but I think we’re on the edge of a golden era. It’s going to be so exciting to see what happens,” he said. Amazon has been working on artificial intelligence for at least four years and now has 1,000 employees working on Alexa, the company’s voice-based smart assistant software system, he said.Big tech companies including Amazon have an edge at present because they have access to large amounts of data but hundreds of AI startups will hatch in the next few years, he said.IBM CEO Ginni Rometty said the company has been working on artificial technology, which she calls a cognitive system, since 2005 when it started developing its Watson supercomputer.”I would say in five years, there’s no doubt in my mind that cognitive AI will impact every decision made” from healthcare to education to financial services, Rometty said.But it was the comments by Tesla’s Musk, on how he would potentially develop the technology to implant humans with technology to augment brains, that captured the imagination of attendees, according to Adam Burrows, senior vice president of emerging businesses at HomeAdvisor, a unit of IAC/Interactive Corp. “It got people thinking on a philosophical level and away from what Google or Tesla will come out with next year,” he said. “It brings up the question, are we human anymore if we are part computer?”(BY Liana B. Baker; Editing by Peter Henderson and Matthew Lewis) Add to Queue This story originally appeared on Reuters Next Article Enroll Now for $5last_img read more