Posts tagged with "Forbes"

BARK Air, a new dog-centric airline, is taking off this May

April 16, 2024

Traveling with a dog can be challenging—but one dog brand is helping to change that. BARK, known for their subscription BarkBoxes and dog products, announced on Thursday, April 11, that the company is launching a new travel service, BARK Air, reports Forbes.

In partnership with a charter jet company, BARK Air is designed to prioritize four-legged travelers, followed by their humans, so they can travel together comfortably and conveniently.

At launch, routes will serve the New York City metro area via Westchester County Airport (HPN) with flights to the Los Angeles area via Van Nuys (VNY) and London, England via Stansted Airport (STN). BARK Air’s first flights will take off from New York on Thursday, May 23.

“When we started BARK in 2011, we were on a mission to disrupt the dog space and create products designed for dogs and their humans. We are excited to take the insights we’ve learned over the years to create an experience that is truly dog-first, which is drastically different from just accepting dogs – from the ground to the skies,” said Matt Meeker, co-founder and CEO at BARK.

“We believe this initiative will elevate awareness of our brand’s mission and values, introduce more dog lovers to the BARK family, and help enrich the lives of dogs and their people around the world.”

BARK Air aims to replicate the ethos of a human’s first-class experience—pampering pooches throughout the long haul flight.

Following booking, a BARK Air concierge will collect information about each dog and their human’s travel plans to ensure the best possible experience. Travelers will only need to arrive at the airport an hour before takeoff for an easy check-in experience (no TSA for this private carrier), and humans can enjoy a chef-prepared meal before boarding.

To help dogs experience the voyage, the plane will be equipped with calming pheromones, music, and colors that pups prefer. All furry passengers will have access to calming treats, noise-canceling earmuffs, and calming jackets.

In air, dogs will be served their beverage of choice during ascent and descent to ensure they do not experience any ear discomfort commonly caused by changes in cabin pressure. Additionally, BARK-branded treats, snacks, and surprises will be provided throughout the flight to pampering furry passengers and their humans.

“We believe this initiative will raise awareness of BARK’s mission in a cost-effective manner,” said Zahir Ibrahim, CFO at BARK. “Given we are not committed to booking flights far in advance, we have a lot of flexibility to opportunistically charter flights during times of high demand. In parallel, we believe the additional traffic to BARK.co will raise awareness of our full offering, benefitting our core business in the long term.”

Tickets on BARK Air start at $6000 for one dog and one human between New York and Los Angeles; and 

 For booking, visit DogsFlyFirst.com and follow along on Instagram @barkair.

Research contact: @Forbes

USA announces 500 new sanctions against Russia following Alexei Navalny’s death

February 27, 2024

President Joe Biden announced more than 500 new sanctions against Russia on Friday, February 23, in response to the death of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny and the ongoing war in Ukraine, reports Forbes.

In a White House statement, Biden said the sanctions will target “individuals connected to Navalny’s imprisonment,” as well as Russia’s financial sector, the country’s defense industry and “sanctions evaders across multiple continents.”

The sanctions also include additional export curbs targeting 100 entities “providing backdoor support for Russia’s war machine.”

Biden’s statement hailed Navalny as a “courageous anti-corruption activist and Putin’s fiercest opposition leader.

“History is watching. The failure to support Ukraine at this critical moment will not be forgotten. Now is the time for us to stand strong with Ukraine and stand united with our Allies and partners,” Biden said.

In the statement, Biden urged members of the House to pass the national security supplemental bill to allow for additional military aid for Ukraine—warning that Russia is receiving weapons from North Korea and Iran.

The Treasury Department said the new round of broad sanctions will target Russian financial companies—including banks, investment firms, venture capital funds and fintech firms; as well as further restrictions on the nation’s drone manufacturers, the 3D printing industry, and even diamond mining industries.

Additionally, the sanctions will target dozens of firms in other countries that U.S. authorities have identified as doing business with Russia’s military-industrial complex, including companies based in China, Serbia, North Korea, the UAE, Liechtenstein, Kyrgyzstan; and NATO members Estonia and Finland.

Last Friday, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was found dead in a prison in the Russian Arctic, where he was serving a 19-year sentence for extremism. The popular politician has been an outspoken critic of the Russian government and President Vladimir Putin, and remained an important symbol of political resistance after his 2020 poisoning and 2021 arrest.

Since his death last week, Western leaders have begun to target individuals directly connected to Navalny’s imprisonment. On Wednesday, February 21, the U.K. Foreign Office announced sanctions on six Russian prison leaders, freezing their assets in the country and instituting a travel ban. The office expanded those sanctions one day later to include 50 more Russian individuals and businesses associated with the war effort in Ukraine.

In the U.S.A., three of the individuals targeted by Friday’s sanctions are Russian government officials who had a “connection with Navalny’s death,” according to a release from the Treasury Department. The department did not identify the Russian officials or where they worked.

Research contact: @Forbes

Vietnam’s richest man is bringing a tiny, $20,000 electric car to America

January 21, 2024

VinFast, an electric carmaker from Vietnam owned by the country’s richest person, Pham Nhat Vuong, unveiled a tiny, ultra-affordable electric vehicle on Tuesday, January 9, at CES 2024 in Las Vegas. And the company is preparing to take reservations in the United States this year, reports the Observer.

The reveal, a two-door hatchback named VF3, measures just 125.6 inches long, 66.1 inches wide, and 63.8 inches tall—making it shorter and narrower than the Chevrolet Bolt EV, one of the most compact and affordable U.S. EVs. And the VF3 is even cheaper, reportedly priced below $20,000. That’s less than half of the average price of a new U.S. EV. (Chevy Bolt starts at $26,500.)

VinFast has revealed few specs for the VF3, but said it’s aiming for a 125-mile driving range. Other features include a 10-inch screen for the infotainment system, Android Auto, and Apple CarPlay connectivity. The diminutive vehicle has two rear seats that can fold flat to create as much cargo space as a compact four-door hatchback.

Electric vehicles saw sharp price declines in 2023, but are still more expensive than their gas counterparts. The average sale price of a new EV last year was $50,683, according to Kelley Blue Book data. This makes low-priced EVs like the VF3 particularly attractive to prospective buyers, at least initially. The problem is that a lot of companies offering such cars have a limited track record in automobile manufacturing and few made it to the delivery stage.

VinFast may have a unique advantage since it’s already one of the largest automakers in Vietnam—producing electric SUVs, scooters and buses. The company currently sells an electric SUV called VF8 in the United States and a larger model called VF9 is expected to arrive this year. Last July, VinFast broke ground on a new factory in North Carolina, which is expected to have the capacity to produce 150,000 vehicles a year.

At this week’s CES, VinFast also revealed a concept electric pickup truck named the Wild. If it ends up entering production and coming to America, the Wild could be a rival to Tesla’s Cybertruck, Rivian’s R1T, and Ford’s F-150 Lightning.

VinFast was founded in 2017 as a subsidiary of Vingroup, a major Vietnamese conglomerate chaired by Vuong. Vuong, 55, is estimated to be worth $4.6 billion, according to Forbes.

Research contact: @observer

Little Golden Book biography of Taylor Swift is a smash hit: Sells 1M copies in seven months

December 22, 2023

A biographical children’s book about Taylor Swift has created a new record for the Little Golden Book brand, Fox Business reports.

Random House Children’s Books, part of Penguin Random House, said in a press release last week that “Taylor Swift: A Little Golden Book Biography” has become “the fastest-selling Little Golden Book” since the line started over 80 years ago.

The feat was reported earlier by The Washington Post.

 he popular children’s biography, authored by Wendy Loggia, achieved that status after racking up over 1 million book sales in seven months. Its 24 pages contain illustrations by Elisa Chavarri.

“I’m incredibly touched by the reaction to the book, but I can’t say I’m surprised,” Loggia said in the press release. “Taylor’s fandom is unparalleled, and to see readers of all ages, from adults to mini Swifties, embrace the book has been, well, sweet like honey!”

“Taylor Swift: A Little Golden Book Biography” has garnered some attention on TikTok, with the hashtag  #taylorswiftlittlegoldenbook clocking 477,700 views; and a similar one, #taylor swiftgoldenbook, receiving 380,400 views.

The Swift-focused children’s book, which currently costs $5.99, became part of Little Golden Book and its lineup of gold spine books upon its debut in May. In the four-week span following the publication of “Taylor Swift: A Little Golden Book Biography,” people bought 170,000, The Wall Street Journal reported over the summer—citing publisher-provided data.

Swift, herself, has set some records this year. The global “Eras Tour”—which Swift kicked off in March with a trio of performances in Arizona—has produced a gross of $1.04 billion over the course of a 12-month period ending November 15, according to Pollstar. That estimate, the industry publication said, represented the first instance of a billion-dollar tour.

The 2023 Time Person of the Year also has been dubbed a billionaire by both Bloomberg and Forbes, and has seen major success on music streaming platforms.

Research contact: @FoxBusiness

‘Watershed moment’ for U.S. rail as Biden gives $8.2B to train projects

December 11, 2023

President Joe Biden is a self-described train fan—commuting between Washington, D.C., and Delaware on Amtrak for decades when he was a U.S. senator. Now, in an effort to beef up U.S. passenger rail, his Administration is doling out more than $8 billion—including funds for two high-speed trains in California and Nevada, reports Forbes.

The Transportation Department’s Federal Railroad Administration is releasing $8.2 billion from the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to help fund ten passenger rail projects nationwide—including about $3.1 billion for California to complete the first 171 miles of its $100 billion bullet train system; and $3 billion for Brightline West, a 218-mile high-speed line from Las Vegas to suburban Los Angeles.

Additional grants will improve busy passenger rail corridors in Virginia, North Carolina and Washington, D.C., and upgrade Chicago’s Union Station.

Biden is to discuss the projects today in Las Vegas. The funds come from the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and are the country’s biggest investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak a half-century ago, White House Infrastructure coordinator Mitch Landrieu told Forbes.

“This is kind of a watershed moment in the history of rail in the United States of America,” Landrieu said. “As the president has often said, when he talks about Xi Jinping and China and competing with them, the United States ought to have world-class high-speed rail and this is a pretty good stake in the ground toward that goal.”

Japan debuted its shinkansen bullet trains six decades ago, and high-speed rail now connects major cities across Europe, South Korea, Taiwan; and especially China, which has a sprawling 26,000-mile system. New train lines also race across Morocco, the Saudi Arabian desert, and Indonesia’s Java island at 180 miles per hour or more.

The fastest train in the U.S. is the Acela on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor network between New York and Boston, topping out at 150 mph in limited segments. (The Biden Administration announced $16.4 billion of Infrastructure Law funding last month to upgrade tracks, bridges, and tunnels; and faster new trains to help Acelas travel at up to 160 mph.)

Brightline West, created by private equity billionaire Wes Edens and operating passenger trains connecting Orlando to Miami, intends to run at up to 200 mph through the desert when it opens by 2028.

California’s system, built mainly on an elevated viaduct, aims to run trains at up to 220 mph in its initial Central Valley corridor connecting the cities of Bakersfield, Fresno, and Merced. That segment could open as early as 2030.

Brightline West and California plan to operate their trains on renewable power—mainly from solar farms—and promote them as much greener forms of transportation than driving or flying.

“There’s no turning back now – America’s high-speed rail revolution is coming,” Ray LaHood, former U.S. Transportation Secretary and co-chair of the U.S. High Speed Rail Coalition said in a statement. “With climate disasters bearing down on us, it’s time to kick these transformative, planet-saving projects into high gear.”

Edens is studying additional places to build more bullet trains, putting them alongside existing highway corridors connecting major cities with ground-level tracks to reduce construction costs. These include systems connecting Atlanta to Charlotte, cities in Texas and Los Angeles and San Diego, although Brightline hasn’t announced plans to move ahead with those projects.

“This is [an] historic moment that will serve as a foundation for a new industry and a remarkable project that will serve as the blueprint for how we can repeat this model throughout the country,” Edens said by email earlier this week after Brightline’s federal grant was announced.

Research contact: @Forbes

Headspace is partnering with Oura

Octrober 11, 2023

Over the years, Headspace has transformed from purely a meditation app to a platform that has become synonymous with empowering the value of mental health well-being. Now, the company wants to get even more up-close and personal, reports Forbes.

On Tuesday, October 10, at HLTH 2023—a meeting focused on health information and transformation, held in Las Vegas, October 8-11—the company announced that it will be partnering with Oura, the developer of the “smart ring” health and activity tracker, to further Headspace’s mission to revolutionize mental health wellness.

Oura’s smart ring provides a robust user experience—helping track sleep metrics, oxygen saturation, heart rate, and numerous other advanced functional metrics.

Concurrent with the Headspace announcement, Oura stated that it would be launching its “Daytime Stress” feature, which will help users identify specific stress triggers via constant monitoring of changes in heart rate and temperature by the ring. With more frequent capturing of this information, users can more closely find out what triggers their anxiety to help better manage and mitigate sources of stress.

This is where Headspace steps in. After being alerted to a high stress situation, Oura users will now be able to access stress-focused Headspace content such as guided meditations, breathing exercises, and muscle relaxation techniques. This will provide users with tactical measures to counteract stress and enable actual, tangible ways to overcome the specific trigger.

Russell Glass, CEO of Headspace, explains that Headspace’s mission is to provide every single person with access to comprehensive mental health wellness services. He also explains that the company is incredibly mindful about how it creates content for users: “Headspace’s approach to creating great content is to think really deeply about the user experience. We realize that great content leads to great engagement, and great engagement leads to great outcomes.” This vision to ultimately drive better mental health outcomes is the company’s primary goal, Glass says.

Through the partnership with Oura, Headspace is trying to empower users with real-time, actionable insights and methods by which they can better manage their mental health.

What’s more, the company announced last month that it would soon be partnering with Meta to launch its content on the Quest 3 virtual reality headset as yet another means by which patients can access the platform.

Research contact: @Forbes

Animals going crackers: Finalists in the Comedy Pet Photo Awards

July 17, 2023

A cat performing its best victory pose, a smiling ferret, and a flower-eating turtle are among the 25 comical images that made it to the shortlist for the 2023 Comedy Pet Photo Awards, reports Forbes.

Created by professional photographers Paul Joynson-Hicks and Tom Sull

Above, an entry named ‘Football Free Kick’ from Fukuoka, Japan. (Photo source: Kenichi Morinaga)

am, the contest also seeks to encourage public engagement around animal welfare—and, “through the wonders of photography and film, we want to share the hilarious expressions, antics, and naughty capers that your joyous pets get up to and share the love and laughter with the world.”

“Pets keep us fit, sane and grounded. They listen to us when no one else does; they know how to cheer us up and will do anything for us (unless we’re talking about cats, but they have special superpowers of their own that we dare not talk about).”

On the Gallery page, you can see all 25 finalists and if you fancy voting for your favorite click to the Comedy Pet Photo Awards. The last date to vote is August 6.

Research contact: @Forbes

Container Store goes after $10 billion dorm market with Dormify shops

June 23, 2023

The demise of Bed Bath & Beyond left a big chunk of the $10 billion dorm room furnishings market up for grabs. The Container Store wants to capture some of that spending through an innovative partnership with social-media savvy online retailer Dormify, reports Forbes.

This week, The Container Store unveiled Dormify shops in five of its stores, and Dormify displays in an additional 35 stores. It also is selling more than 90 Dormify products on its e-commerce site.

Dormify—which started as a dorm-decorating blog and began selling dorm bedding and decor merchandise online in 2011—has a strong social media presence, with #dormify videos drawing 44 million views on TikTok.

Dorm and college apartment furnishings accounted for $10 billion of the $74 billion American parents spent on back-to-college expenses in 2022, according to the National Retail Federation—making it a prime sales opportunity for retailers.

Bed Bath & Beyond, which is in the process of liquidating and closing its stores after declaring bankruptcy, considered the back-to-college season as its biggest sales driver of the year, and worked hard to court new college students, and their parents. With its large number of stores ,it could enable parents and students to pick out everything they needed for their dorm at their local store—and then pick up the items at the store closest to their college.

The Container Store always had a niche in the back-to-college space, as the place to stock up on storage bins and other storage solutions, organization tools, and closet accessories. The Dormify partnership allows it to expand its offerings to include bedding and dorm room decor items.

In addition to the Dormify products, The Container Store this year has added small appliances, such as fans and personal blenders, to its back-to-college mix in an effort to become more of a one-stop college shopping destination.

“For us, the collaboration with Dormify really helps us complete that full basket, in the sense of adding on-trend bedding, and some of the really fun decor they have that is not in our wheelhouse per se,” said Stacey Shively Chief Merchandising Officer of The Container Store said in an interview.

The Container Store began collaborating with Dormify last year with displays that referred shoppers to Dormify’s online offer. Now, shoppers can buy items directly from five The Container Stores with the full Dormify in-store shops, with the items in-stock in those stores.

Part of the goal for The Container Store is to draw more Gen Z shoppers into its stores, as they are setting up what, in effect, is their first apartment—their dorm rooms – and win them over as long-time customers for all of their future homes.

“We view it as a really nice entry point for all of our product categories,” Shively said.

For Dormify, The Container Store collaboration also is a way to reach new customers—the parents of the Gen Z students who are watching Dormify’s Tik Tok videos and Pinterest posts.

“The dorm room shopping experience is very much a collaborative experience between the parent and the student, so that makes for a great marriage between our brands,” said Dormify Co-founder and President Amanda Zuckerman said in an interview.

“The parent is already shopping at The Container Store, so it’s a way to get in front of the parent,” Zuckerman said.

The five Container Stores where the Dormify in-store shops are located—in New York City, Austin, Houston, Nashville, and Costa Mesa—were chosen for their proximity to college campuses where students might opt to buy online and pick up in those stores when they arrive on campuses, or where they might shop for last minute dorm items.

Dormify will be deploying brand ambassadors in those markets to share tips on dorm essentials, and move-in and shopping advice. Dormify and The Container Store are hosting a giveaway on Instagram and The Container Store is offering college students and their parents a 25% off discount that they can access through September 4.

Research contact: @Forbes

Stressed out? Drive a tank and crush a car for the ultimate venting experience

June 6, 2023

Although the COVID-19 pandemic is officially behind us, its battle scars remain in terms of lives lost, long-haul COVID suffering, and lingering stress levels—especially among employees returning to the office after an extended period working at home. According to the World Health Organization, there was a 25% increase in anxiety and depression worldwide as we entered the post-pandemic era, reports Forbes.

Everyone has their own set of coping mechanisms. Some turn to drinking and/or drugs, while others have sought refuge from the contents of their refrigerators. But what has to be one of the most innovative remedies to salve a still-COVID-clouded mind can be found up in Kasota, Minnesota (about 72 miles southwest of Minneapolis), where the solution is to drive a bona fide military tank and crush a car.

Now that’s stress reduction on steroids.

The appropriately named Drive A Tank offers a camp-like setting that affords the unique experience of engaging in heart-pounding quasi-military adventures, with a choice of eight size-XXXL mobile machines that can flatten virtually anything in their paths.

Then it’s a move up to a FV432 APC—only this time using just the tank’s vision periscope to navigate its way through a challenging course, combat-style.

After a trip back to the motor pool in a military transport vehicle, Drive A Tank attendees finally get the chance to mash a once-roadworthy car into smithereens, also with an instructor at hand for the annihilation. There’s even an opportunity to take photos with the tanks driven and cars crushed afterwards.

In addition, attendees get schooled about and get their hands on various historic military firearms; and test-fire them in an enclosed range under closely controlled conditions for an added dose of mental release.

Drive a Tank’s packages start at $374 for the Three-Star General experience, although it’s an extra $649 for a single car crush, and $849 for a double dose of destruction. Other, costlier packages include the ability to bring one or two passengers along for the ride, shoot military machine guns; and pilot multiple tanks, including a Sherman E8, with the top Ultimate Package packing the most activities and going for a whopping $5,499.

Not destructive enough? Those having especially deep pockets can drain their coffers to get behind the tillers of a four-ton weapon of war and completely obliterate a mobile home. Those choosing this package get ample opportunity to take out one’s frustration with the universe by first taking a bat to the structure to smash windows, doors and just about anything in sight before using the PV432 APC to demolish whatever remains standing.

Did we mention that this makes for a great Father’s Day gift for the dad who has everything, including destructive tendencies? Though we seriously can’t imagine why, children may attend as drivers or passengers, but only if they’re at least 11 years old, meet height requirements, and are accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Click onto the Drive A Tank website to obtain more information and to book an experience. Corporate packages also are available.

Research contact: @Forbes

Going down? Elon Musk’s drop in fortunes breaks world record

January 12, 2023

Elon Musk has broken the world record for the largest loss of personal fortune in history. From November 2021 through December 2022 he lost around US$165bn (£137bn), Guinness World Records has announced in a blog on its website.

The figures are based on data from publisher Forbes, but Guinness said other sources suggested Musk’s losses could have been higher. The drop in valuation follows a plunge in value of shares in Musk’s electric car firm Tesla after he bought Twitter last year.

His US$44bn (£36bn) takeover of the social media company has sparked concerns among investors that Musk is no longer giving Tesla enough attention, reports the BBC.

Musk’s losses since November 2021 surpass the previous record of US$58.6bn (£47bn), suffered by Japanese tech investor Masayoshi Son in 2000.

The estimated loss is based on the value of his shares, which could regain their value—meaning that Musk’s wealth would increase again.

In December, the Tesla boss lost his position as richest person in the world to Bernard Arnault, the chief executive of French luxury goods company LVMH, which owns fashion label Louis Vuitton.

The value of Tesla shares dropped around 65% in 2022, in part because of Tesla’s performance. The firm delivered just 1.3 million vehicles during the year—falling short of Wall Street expectations.

However, Musk’s takeover of Twitter—where he has sparked controversy by firing large numbers of staff and changing content moderation policies—is behind most of the share slump.

Many Tesla investors believe he should be focusing on the electric vehicle company as it faces falling demand amid recession fears, rising competition, and COVID-linked production challenges.

“Long-term fundamentals [at Tesla] are extremely strong. Short-term market madness is unpredictable,” Musk tweeted after the stock markets closed for the year in December 2022.

Musk is now worth about US$178bn (£152bn), according to Forbes, while Bernard Arnault has an estimated value of US$188bn (£155bn).

Research contact: @BBCNews