Posts tagged with "Fortune Magazine"

Cheap thrills: Goodwill launches an e-commerce site

October 6, 2022

Goodwill is the go-to place for secondhand goods. Indeed, many a first couch has been found at one of the organization’s 3,300 community based brick-and-mortar stores in the United States and Canada. And now, the marketplace is expanding its reach even further, to the online world, reports Fortune.

 GoodwillFinds.com, a new e-commerce version of the chain, has launched—offering everything from the used clothes that make up most of the store to oddities like a crystal bowling ball with a skull. Other items in the current inventory of roughly 100,000 range from books and home decor to additional specialty and collectors’ items.

 While the sales are available to anyone in the online world, proceeds will go back to the region where the item was sourced.

 “Goodwill has built a legacy of strengthening communities through the power of work,” said Steve Preston, CEO of Goodwill Industries Internationalin a statement. “GoodwillFinds furthers that mission through a modern online shopping experience—backed by a century-old philosophy—to harness resale with purpose.”

 Before the launch of GoodwillFinds, the stores had no central online presence, although some stores would work with third-party vendors to sell select items on eBay or Amazon.

 The launch of the portal comes as the secondhand clothing business is exploding, with sales expected to hit $77 billion by 2025. The number of first-time buyers of secondhand clothes in 2020 jumped by 33 million—and three-quarters of those shoppers planned to increase their spending in that market.

 Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

Pepsi out, Apple Music in as sponsor of 2023 Super Bowl Halftime Show

September 26, 2022

Apple Music will replace Pepsi as the sponsor of the Super Bowl Halftime Show starting in 2023, reports Fortune Magazine.

The tech giant and the NFL made the announcement on Friday, September 23, and—while they didn’t announce the talent that would perform—they did hint that sneak peeks would be dropped via Apple’s social media channels.

“Music and sports hold a special place in our hearts, so we’re very excited Apple Music will be part of music and football’s biggest stage,” Oliver Schusser, Apple’s vice president of Apple Music and Beats said in a statement. “We’re looking forward to even more epic performances next year and beyond.”

No price on the deal was given, but the NFL had reportedly been shopping the sponsorship for roughly $50 million.

The announcement comes amid growing rumors that Apple is in talks to stream Sunday NFL games on Apple TV+, which would be a big blow to current Sunday Ticket provider DirecTV. (The NFL is reportedly seeking $2.5 billion for the rights, which is $1 billion more than the current price.)

The NFL is a proven way to lure viewers to a streaming service. Last week’s premier of Thursday Night Football on Amazon Prime attracted 13.2 million viewers and resulted in more new Amazon Prime memberships in a three-hour period than at any other time, including Prime Day and Cyber Monday.

(Amazon paid $13 billion to carry those games for the next 11 years.)

Earlier this year, of course, Apple kicked off its live sports coverage with the debut of Major League Baseball on Apple TV+. This season, the streamer will carry 24 games over 12 weeks—and the company has struck a seven-year deal with the league, paying $85 million for the rights to Friday night games. Apple has also secured the streaming rights in a historic deal for Major League Soccer.

Being front and center in the Super Bowl Halftime Show also will help Apple in its ongoing battle with Spotify for music streaming. The Halftime Show is the biggest musical event of the year by most standards, giving Apple Music a chance to raise its profile and offer incentives to attract subscribers.

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

Canada has no plans to replace the image of Queen Elizabeth on its currency with one of King Charles

September 12, 2022

Canada, a former British colony, has a new head of state. But the face of Queen Elizabeth II will continue to appear on its currency, reports Fortune magazine.

Queen Elizabeth’s image is featured on the backs of coins and on plastic-based C$20 (US$15.28) banknotes that were first introduced in 2011. Those bills will remain in circulation; and the central bank said it’s up to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to decide if new notes will feature the image of her successor, King Charles III.

 “The current polymer $20 banknote is intended to circulate for years to come. There is no legislative requirement to change the design within a prescribed period when the Monarch changes,” Paul Badertscher, spokesperson for the Bank of Canada, said by email on Thursday, September 8.

 “As always, the Minister of Finance is responsible for approving the form and material of any new bank note, including the portrait subject,” he added.

 The queen died peacefully at age 96 at her estate in Balmoral, Scotland, earlier on Thursday.

 Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

Steve Jobs’ daughter aims a not-too-subtle dig at Apple’s new iPhone 14

September 9, 2022

The daughter of the late Steve Jobs, a founder of Apple, has thrown some not-so-subtle shade at the company’s new iPhone 14, unveiled on Wednesday, September 7, at a product-launch event, dubbed Far Out that showcased the device’s features along with other “new and improved products,” reports Fortune magazine.

 Following the launch, Eve Jobs, 23, shared a meme to her Instagram site—showing the image of a man gleefully buying the same shirt that he is currently wearing, with the caption “Me upgrading from iPhone 13 to iPhone 14 after Apple’s announcement today.”

The mocking meme shared by the former Apple CEO’s youngest child aligns with an opinion shared widely on social media—that the company is offering an upgrade that is too similar to the previous model, yet still wants consumers to drop hundreds of dollars on it. 

 Users who buy the pro version of the new model will get the most advantages, including a 48 megapixel camera, a faster A16 processor and a redesign of the notch at the top of the screen—in essence transforming it into an interface called the Dynamic Island. It also features an “always-on display,” meaning notifications can be viewed even when the phone is locked.

 The standard version has a new action mode feature to stabilize videos, a car-crash feature similar to the latest Apple Watch, and satellite connectivity to allow users to send SOS messages in an emergency. Consumers also can purchase a plus version of the phone with a larger, 6.7-inch display, but there’s no mini version available. 

 Among the other improvements on the iPhone 13, the new model boasts a longer battery life and a larger light sensor for low-light photography.

Expanding on Eve Jobs’ dig, critics have pointed out that the standard iPhone 14 still has the same screen size, refresh rate, storage, CPU, and cameras as the iPhone 13, while the larger version of the model is still the same size as the iPhone 13 Pro Max. Those who aren’t willing to splash out on the Pro will also have to put up with the previous model’s A15 processor for a while longer.

The iPhone 14 can be purchased starting September 16, and the iPhone 14 Pro will be available on October 7.

 Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

Donald Trump gets a tax break by burying ex-wife Ivana at his golf club

August 2, 2022

Donald Trump’s first wife Ivana was buried in a gold-hued coffin at the former president’s New Jersey golf club last month, following an Upper East Side funeral service  at which she was remembered as a woman who was “adored,” reports Fortune Magazine.

However, the Trump family has been accused of having ulterior motives, Fortune says, for choosing the golf course as her final resting places—motives that could benefit the family patriarch’s finances.

Trump’s first wife—and mother to his three oldest children Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric—passed away in July.

She was laid to rest at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, according to the New York Post, which reported that her grave was “not too far from the main clubhouse” and below the backside of the first tee.

Documents  published by ProPublica show that the Trump Family Trust previously sought to designate a property in Hackettstown—around 20 miles from the golf course where Ivana now is buried—as a non-profit cemetery company.

Indeed, defining the golf course as a cemetery could grant the business a whole raft of tax breaks.

Under New Jersey law, land being used for cemetery purposes is exempt from real estate and personal property taxes, as well as sales tax, inheritance tax, business tax and income tax.

Cemetery property is also exempt from sale for collection of judgements, with cemetery trust funds and trust income exempt from both tax and sale or seizure for collection of judgments against the company.

Ivana Trump is the only known person to have been buried onsite at Trump National Golf Club, according to reports.

Brooke Harrington, a tax researcher and professor of sociology at Dartmouth, said in a tweet on Sunday, July 31, that using the golf course as a cemetery was “a trifecta of tax avoidance.”

She added that in New Jersey, there was “no stipulation regarding a minimum [number] of human remains necessary for the tax breaks to kick in.”

“Looks like one corpse will suffice to make at least three forms of tax vanish,” she said.

A representative from the Trump Organization told Fortune in an email on Monday that links being made between Ivana Trump’s grave site and tax laws were “truly evil.”

Trump himself has previously expressed wishes to be buried at his New Jersey golf club, telling the New York Post  in 2007 that he wanted to be laid to rest in the “beautiful land” of Bedminster.

“Mr. Trump … specifically chose this property for his final resting place as it is his favorite property,” his company wrote in a 2014 filing  seen by The  Washington Post.

The filing sought approval to build a ten-plot private family mausoleum at Trump National Golf Club.

Resistance from local decisionmakers reportedly led to withdrawals and resubmittals of proposed burial sites over the years, with Trump’s ideas ranging from a small but opulent family mausoleum to a 1,000-grave site that would see plots for sale to members of the golf club.

While registering the golf course as a cemetery would exempt it from taxes, the former president already found a way to slash his tax bill for the New Jersey club by registering it as a farm, the Huffington Post  reported in 2019.

Trump reportedly owns several goats and farms hay at the resort, which reduced his tax bill by around $88,000 a year, according to a Huffington Postanalysis

Under this arrangement, the golf course was taxed at just over $6 an acre in 2019, rather than $462 an acre.

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

Hired help: Professional bridesmaids are a booming growth industry in China—but height rules apply

July 25, 2022

Traditionally, being asked by a friend or a relative to be a bridesmaid has been considered an honor—but, in China, the job of being at a bride’s side is becoming a booming growth industry, reports Fortune.

Indeed, the magazine says, professional bridesmaids are increasingly becoming the norm for Chinese women as they plan their wedding days.

One bridesmaid and groomsman rental company based in the Chinese city of Hangzhou  that its number of registered members has grown to 50,000 since its February launch, and that it has received 10 to 20 orders per day over the past month.

Bridesmaids can be hired through wedding planners or companies that specialize in the niche industry, but services also are advertised on social media platforms like Weibo.

On TikTok—known as Douyin in China—a hashtag that translates to “rent bridesmaids” presents users with multiple videos on the topic, and  a video  from a Guangdong-based bridesmaid rental studio offers professional bridesmaids who can “save worry and effort,” but “will not steal the limelight.”

Brides reportedly are able to make demands about prospective bridesmaids’ looks, weight, and personality, and even their academic accomplishments.

Xie Yuke—a 22-year-old woman who has traveled more than 140,000 kilometers (around 87,000 miles) to earn a living as a professional bridesmaid all over China—told Chinese state-run news outlet Sixth Tone on Monday, July 18, that the pandemic had helped the rent-a-bridesmaid industry.

According to Xie, bridesmaids need to be unmarried and cannot be taller than the bride. She said an ideal height for an aspiring professional bridesmaid was between 5 feet 11 and 5 feet 8.

Generally, pro bridesmaids earn a daily rate between 500 and 2,000 yuan ($74 and $295), Xie told Sixth Tone.

A typical day on the job would see Xie wake up at 4:30 a.m. to get ready for the wedding, and she would be expected to spend the day taking photos, entertaining guests, and making toasts until the wedding banquet ends at around 8 p.m. When she works at a wedding, Xie said, she usually pretends to be a friend or classmate of the bride.

While Xie attributed the boom in demand for professional bridesmaids to the pandemic, there is also a darker side to why some women opt to rent strangers to join their wedding party.

According to Yang Hu, a senior researcher at the University of Essex’s Department of Sociology, some women take the hiring route because of “the dangers of being a bridesmaid in China.”

“[Bridesmaids] are expected to fend off drinking requests and in a lot of cases drink Chinese rice wine on behalf of the bride,” he explained in a 2016 blog post.

“It is a widespread tradition that the newlyweds should toast bottoms up to every wedding guest on an individual basis—meaning that the bridesmaid often ends up drinking on behalf of the bride and overconsuming alcohol. In fulfilling their obligation, some of them suffer from alcohol poisoning or even risk death.”

He added that bridesmaids also act as the final “hurdle” before the groom can enter the bridal suite after the wedding, which often leads to the groom and groomsmen carrying out “stunts laced with sexual innuendo.”

“In many cases, bridesmaids are unwillingly involved in sexual stunts designed for the newlyweds,” Yang said. “In extreme cases, some are stripped of their clothes and molested, or attacked.”

He noted that most reports of alcohol poisoning, sexual harassment, and abuse of bridesmaids are concentrated in China’s rural areas and provinces.

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

Federal regulations are finally taking aim at the ‘Wild West’ of clean beauty

July 18, 2022

Three years ago, several makeup products at Claire’s, the national retail chain beloved by teenagers, tested positive for the presence of asbestos—a mineral that has been known for decades to be linked to several types of cancer and lung disease, reports Fortune.

The Food and Drug Administration did what it could legally do about the fact that teenagers had been applying asbestos to their faces and possibly absorbing it through their pores: It recommended Claire’s recall the products. Claire’s  disputed  the test results, but ultimately recalled the products, even though the FDA had no further authority to act.

“To be clear, there are currently no legal requirements for any cosmetic manufacturer marketing products to American consumers to test their products for safety,” then-FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb wrote candidly in a March 2019 statement with Susan Mayne, director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at the agency.

Not much has changed since then. Federal law regulating the beauty industry hasn’t been updated since 1938—the year that Adolf Hitler marched into Austria and set off the Second World War.

“Cosmetics is the least regulated category in the marketplace: There are more restrictions on the pesticides that we spray on crops to kill weeds than the stuff we spray on our bodies every day,” said Scott Faber, head of Government Affairs at the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

All the same, Congress, where several female legislators—including Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, and Sen. Patty Murray of Washington—have introduced bipartisan proposals to update the laws, expand FDA authority to oversee beauty brands, and ban the most harmful chemicals. 

At the same time, several states including California, Maryland, Maine, and Colorado have already moved to increase supply-chain transparency in an industry known for its opacity. 

Last month, those proposals were tucked into the FDA Safety and Landmark Advancements Act—legislation that would reauthorize the agency’s user fee agreements related to prescription drugs and medical devices. Since this reauthorization needs to pass, the ride-on cosmetics regulations have their best chance in over eight decades to move through a gridlocked Congress.

The proposals have widespread support from the beauty industry, including Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oréal, Sephora, and Procter & Gamble, because many mainstream brands and retailers have already started moving into the clean-beauty space.

Olivia Tong, an equity analyst at Raymond James who follows Ulta Beauty, Estée Lauder, Sally Beauty, and other cosmetics and personal care companies, said regulations could establish some consistency in what “clean beauty” means.

“It’s a little bit of the Wild Wild West right now with anything that has a label of ‘clean,’” Tong said. “Investors along with consumers are typically on board with some consistency in terms of what everybody is talking about.”

David Swartz, equity analyst at Morningstar who covers Ulta, said big retailers don’t have much to fear when it comes to proposed regulations. “If anything, it would allow Ulta to promote its brands and bolster its links with the key suppliers,” Swartz said. “There could be some negative impact on Amazon and others that sell counterfeit and unauthorized beauty products, which could benefit Ulta, Sephora, and other stores.”

Indeed, while not everyone in the industry welcomes stricter regulation, it’s clear that current law has fallen far behind global industry standards and consumer preferences. Clean beauty was the fastest-growing segment as of May, according to NPD Group. Clean-beauty market revenues are up 19% from last year, while vegan makeup revenue is up 27%, and vegan skin care 23%, the market research firm told  Fortune.

“There’s way more concern for what goes into products today than there was even ten years ago,” said Larissa Jensen, industry adviser and vice president at NPD Group.

In response to growing consumer demand, the nation’s largest retailers, including Ulta, Sephora, and Target, are launching clean-beauty standards and disclosing more information about how these products are made.

There are no legal definitions for “clean,” “natural,” or “green” beauty products—so companies can use those terms as they wish without fearing legal consequences. “Organic” is the only industry label regulated in the United States.

“What’s clean to one brand might mean something different to another,” said Emily Spilman, science analyst on EWG’s Healthy Living team. “The onus is on the consumer to do that research.”

The nonprofit advocates for stronger regulation of the beauty industry and has launched the Skin Deep cosmetics database as an alternative way for consumers to check ingredients in the products they use in the interim. An accompanying mobile app makes it possible to scan barcodes in a store to see how an item rates.

Credo, a San Francisco–based clean-beauty retailer, has established a Clean Standard for the products it carries. It bans the use of 2,700 mainstream beauty ingredients that raise safety and sustainability concerns; restricts animal-derived ingredients and animal testing; and poses questions about ethics, sustainability, and transparency.

“The standard is really the nexus of how we evaluate ingredient and material safety, sourcing, sustainability, and ethics,” said Mia Davis, vice president of Environmental and Social Responsibility at Credo. The company explains on its website that it created the standard because current law is so limited.

Yet the brand does not think the standard is a stand-in for federal action. Instead, it’s one of the industry advocates pushing for Congress to act. The tide has turned in favor of regulation, and many mainstream cosmetics brands also supported an earlier bill introduced by Feinstein and Collins that is the foundation of the current proposal.

As is often the case in Congress, the extent of the regulation is the crux of debate. The Personal Care Products Council, which represents manufacturers, distributors, and suppliers of beauty products, says the industry is very responsible and responsive to consumer concerns about safety and sustainability. While critics point out that the European Union has banned over 1,600 ingredients; and the United States. fewer than a dozen, PCPC vice president Jay Ansell says the statistics are misleading.

“Nearly all of those ingredients banned in the EU have never been nor would ever be used in cosmetics, including jet fuel, radioactive substances, pesticides, pharmaceuticals like chemotherapy drugs, chloroform, hemlock, cyanide, and LSD,” Ansell said

.However, Credo’s Davis agreed that not all of the EU-banned ingredients are present in American products, but she added that the EU’s approach is demonstrably more precautionary than the one taken by U.S. regulators. Some beauty brands change the formula of their products for the European market, and she believes those versions are safer.

“This industry enjoys a lot of secrecy,” she said. “There’s very little federal information required of the industry. We need more in order to protect the consumer and the planet.”

Still, Tong of Raymond James noted that many other priorities are front and center for multinational beauty brands right now—including economic pressures, inventory and supply-chain challenges, and shifts in consumer behavior amid the pandemic. That means regulations are not the focus—at least not until current proposals advance further in Congress.

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

The Pringles spider has an arachnid doppelganger

July 11, 2022

Publicity stunts are nothing new in the retail world, but they are usually not centered around things that make large segments of the population squirm. That’s not stopping Pringles from rolling the dice, though. The potato chip brand has launched a petition to urge the International Society of Arachnology to recognize the arachnid currently known as the kidney garden spider as the Pringles spider, reports Fortune Magazine.

The move comes after someone noticed that the spider’s markings on its abdomen bear some resemblance to the famously mustachioed Pringles mascot.

“In 1968 the world was introduced to the iconic Pringles can and logo, but little did we know there was a creature amongst us who was unknowingly spreading the Pringles love,” said Mauricio Jenkins, U.S. marketing lead for Pringles in a press release. “We’re thrilled to rally fans to help us recognize this spectacular spider, and welcome it into the Pringles family.”

For those whose arachnophobia hasn’t kicked in yet, the company is letting them “adopt” one of the spiders.

Pringles is promising that the first 1,500 people who sign the petition will get a free can of chips—but only if at least one arachnid organization publicly acknowledges the spider as the “Pringles Spider” by October 31. If the scientists don’t lean into the stunt, no chips for anyone.

Already, the petition already has over 4,000 signatures.

The kidney garden spider is generally found in the southern, eastern, and southeastern parts of Asia. It’s non-venomous and grows to be as large as 9mm (about 3/8 of an inch).

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

How the Gen Y founder of Helaina may have solved the baby formula shortage

June 2, 2022

Despite the fact that instant baby formula represents a $50 billion global market, a recent shortage shows the need for innovation in the space, reports Fortune.

America has been facing a severe—and already deadly, in several cases—shortage of formula since March, when the FDA found traces of a potentially deadly bacteria at Abbott Nutrition’s plant in Sturgis, Michigan, and shut down production. Recently, the United States imported 70,000 pounds of baby formula from Europe to ease the crisis.

However, as young entrepreneurs in the food industry innovate, an alternative to baby formula is in the works. A case in point: 29-year-old Laura Katz has always been passionate about the food industry. As she learned about its broken parts, she decided to gravitate towards innovation and advancement. Aiming to revolutionize instant formula, she launched Helaina.

Helaina uses fermentation to recreate the proteins found in breast milk. At the company, the design and build team makes sure the yeast will produce first-of-its-kind, nature-equivalent breast milk components that build immunity.

These technologies will give parents access to a healthier option than instant formula, Katz believes. However, once the product hits the market, it will look like instant formula. The founder says the product will be “powdered” and “pretty recognizable,” but it will be different because it will be composed of the proteins that the yeast creates through the fermentation process. So “instead of relying on conventional sources of agriculture,” the founder explained her product was more

Six years ago, when Katz was 23, she learned through a podcast that there was a black market for breastmilk out there, and parents would go on the internet to buy breast milk from strangers because they wanted to give their infants the benefits of baby milk.

“As a food scientist at the time, seeing all this innovation going into alternative dairy and alternative meat, ok, we can make a burger bleed, but why aren’t we channeling that technology towards making the things that are so essential for babies and for parents?” she questioned.

So she set on a quest to make a product that empowered these parents and recreated the immunity properties in breastmilk, and Helaina was born.

“The infant formula category is highly regulated” and “there are a lot of safety steps.” The company has to prove that its product is safe in many different ways, which will take time, explained the founder. This means it could take years for the product to hit the market.

The founder is proud because they are the only company putting human proteins in food. “No one has done that before,” Katz said.

While the company still has a long way to go, Katz is hopeful that innovation will give many parents and infants the immunity they desire and that the food industry will shift towards healthier options.

“I think within the category that we’re in we’re starting to see—and I’m hoping to see—people shift more from focusing a lot of their effort on figuring out how to make food taste better” to “how we can use technology to make food healthier for us and more accessible,” shared the founder.

Research contact: @fortunemagazine

Sotheby’s suddenly canceled a $30 million NFT auction. Was it a ‘rug pull’ or were there no bidders?

February 28, 2022

Sotheby’s big NFT auction went from $30 million to zero in the blink of an eye on Wednesday night, February 23, reports Fortune magazine.

What exactly are NFTs? An NFT, which stands for non-fungible token, is a unique unit of data employing technology that allows digital content—from videos to songs to images—to become logged and authenticated on cryptocurrency blockchains, primarily Ethereum, Artnews says. Once content is logged onto the blockchain, every transaction from transfers to sales is recorded on-chain, creating an easily accessible ledger of provenance and price history. The main impact of NFTs is making it easy to own and sell digital content.

The auction house had planned the sale of a collection of 104 non-fungible tokens (NFTs) for up to an estimated $30 million at its New York City location on Wednesday evening. But 25 minutes after the auction was scheduled to begin, the consignor backed out of the sale, tweeting that he decided to “hodl,” or hold, on to the digital asset instead.

The anonymous collector who goes by 0x650d on Twitter then posted an aging 2015 Drake meme.

In the crypto world, Fortune notes, rug pulls or rugging are when a developer abandons a project after taking an investor’s funds.

The last-minute withdrawal of the collection of blockchain-based pixelated collectibles, otherwise known as CryptoPunks, shocked the Sotheby’s sale room according to a report by The New York Times, and deepened the valley between highbrow art institutions and the cyberpunk culture surrounding blockchain.

Sotheby’s spokesman Derek Parsons said in a statement on Wednesday night that “the lot was withdrawn prior to the sale following discussions with the consignor.” Other specialists told The New York Times that auction withdrawals typically happen when there are legal concerns or a fear that the reserve price won’t be met.

People in the NFT community are hurt and worried about credibility damage.

Others argue that Sotheby’s wasn’t rugged at all, but instead the collector 0x650d couldn’t clear the minimum reserve so he pulled out to save face.

Farokh.eth tweeted afterward, “It was embarrassing. For all of us in the space.”

On Reddit, user RdudeDdude posted, “It’s annoying to see how ‘successful’ these scammers seem to be. Regardless of whether they will get caught, it’s bad publicity.”

User XnoonefromnowhereX quickly retorted, “No one scammed here that I can see. Just a loss of face for Sotheby’s and this guy reinforcing some negative stereotypes about crypto culture.”

Others think this is a time of bubbles imploding. Still others made references to the approaching doomsday and whether or not any of this matters at all.

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine