Posts tagged with "Fortune Magazine"

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

Marriott is looking for three travelers to serve as TikTok correspondents

January 24, 2022

For TikTok enthusiasts and influencers—or anyone seeking a significant change amid the “Great Resignation”—Marriott has a unique new job opportunity.

The global hotelier is launching a contest to recruit three individuals who will essentially serve as TikTok correspondents—chronicling their experiences at Marriott properties around the world over the course of nearly a year on the popular video social media app, reports Fortune.

Dubbed 30 Stays in 300 Days, the program is an extension of Marriott Bonvoy’s Power of Travel campaign, launched last year to promote the healing nature of travel after pandemic lockdowns in 2020.

“As the world inches back to a place of normalcy, travel is one of those primal needs that we feel needs to be met,” Brian Povinelli, SVP of Brand, Loyalty, and Portfolio marketing at Marriott International, tells Fortune. “This initiative will amplify wanderlust and spark the motivation to travel by facilitating a true trip around the world that allows viewers and potential adventurers to experience each destination to the fullest.”

Marriott has a strong social media presence already—across Instagram especially, with frequently updated and numerous accounts for the parent company and subsidiaries, as well as individual locations. Marriott Bonvoy joined TikTok last year. But why TikTok (over say, Instagram or Snapchat) for this particular program?

Povinelli answers simply: TikTok is where people are at. “It’s what they’re paying attention to, and it reaches the audience that we are keen on engaging. TikTok, by necessity—due to the parameters of the platform—encourages would-be travelers to be creative, succinct, and brief in their appeal to be a Marriott Bonvoy TikTok Correspondent,” Povinelli continues. “It forces people to use a finite amount of time to make a big impact. And because TikTok is so pervasive, we feel it creates an inviting environment for anyone who feels moved by this initiative to be able to participate.”

Winners will get to stay at properties across the entire Marriott Bonvoy portfolio, including The Ritz-Carlton and Westin Hotels and Resorts, Courtyard by Marriott, and Autograph Collection Hotels. It also includes at least one stay in one of the over 50,000 luxury home rentals listed on Homes & Villas by Marriott International.

The stays are only the beginning of what the correspondents will be receiving. Other perks include airfare between destinations; Uber vouchers; a $10,000 Marriott Bonvoy Gift Card to cover items such as on-property meals, spa services, and activities; a “Take Me Away” kit featuring items from branded online retail stores on Marriott Bonvoy Boutiques; progression toward Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status, giving participants the opportunity to unlock exclusive benefits like late check-out, room upgrades, and more, even once their 300-day travel experiences are over; and a $15,000 check to use as desired.

Prospective applicants must be at least 21 years of age and be permanent residents of the United States. And for anyone who wants to (and can) continue their existing day jobs while working remotely, Marriott says the trips are flexible, and will allow for both work and travel for those with a position that allows.

“This opportunity is not for the faint of heart, but it is also open to all travelers, whether seasoned or just starting out on their journey,” Povinelli says. “We recommend that applicants think realistically about their ability and desire to travel around the world for up to 300 days (divided amongst several trips) ….While arguably an experience of a lifetime, the right person should be well equipped for the adventure.”

While Povinelli notes that Marriott doesn’t want to see the correspondents glued to their phones for the entire experience, the goal is to see each person post at least once per day while on a trip—whether that be about the current hotel stay, the food, locals, cultural experiences, or whatever else may be important or interesting to that correspondent that day. There is no prescribed length for the videos—some may be a minute or longer if a winner has an interesting story to tell our members, while others may be a few seconds of a funny or inspiring moment from the road, or just chiming in on a TikTok trend, Povinelli explains.

“We want to see energy, paired with genuine excitement and an attitude that embraces change and new experiences with optimism and wonder,” Povinelli says.

‘They should also have a vigor for life and a desire to challenge the status quo,’ Povinelli says. ‘They should be curious, empathetic, inquisitive and able to adjust and be nimble when things don’t go as planned. People that are interested in growth and pursue it with tenacity and enthusiasm.’

To apply, submit a TikTok video using the hashtags #30stays300days and #contest from January 18 through March 18, answering the question, “How has travel shaped you?”

After the deadline passes, three individuals will be selected and begin their journeys in spring 2022; dates subject to change in accordance with CDC and international travel guidelines. While the winners are not guaranteed any full-time or permanent positions once the 300 days are up, Povinelli says the possibility is there for a continued partnership.

“Ultimately, we’re looking for that intangible star quality,” Povinelli says. “Travel has the unique ability to change perspectives, open people’s eyes to new ways of doing things while bringing people together. The ideal person would recognize the power of travel and embrace it throughout the trip by truly embodying what it means to be a travel correspondent with an attitude that is both curious and eager to welcome every experience.”

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

Netflix plans to offer video games in push beyond films and TV

July 19, 2021

Netflixmarking its first big move beyond TV shows and films—is planning an expansion into video games and has hired a former Electronic Arts and Facebook executive to lead the effort, Fortune Magazine reports.

Mike Verdu will join Netflix as vice president of Game Development, reporting to COO Greg Peters, the company said on Wednesday, July17. Verdu was previously Facebook’s vice president in charge of working with developers to bring games and other content to Oculus virtual-reality headsets.

In Verdu, the company has an executive who worked on popular mobile games at Electronic Arts, including titles in the Sims, Plants vs. Zombies and Star Wars franchises. He also served as chief creative officer for Zynga between 2009 and 2012.

The idea, according to a source, is to offer video games on Netflix’s streaming platform within the next year, Fortune says. The games will appear alongside current fare as a new programming genre—similar to what Netflix did with documentaries and stand-up specials. The company doesn’t currently plan to charge extra for the content, said the source, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private.

Netflix has been seeking ways to keep growing, especially in more saturated markets such as the United States. That’s included building out its kids’ programmingopening an online shop to sell merchandise, and tapping Steven Spielberg to bring more prestigious movies to its lineup.

The company remains well ahead of streaming rivals such as Disney+ or HBO Max, Fortune notes, but it added fewer subscribers than expected in its most recently reported quarter.

Netflix will be building out its gaming team in the coming months, according to the person familiar with the matter. The company has already started advertising for game-development related positions on its website.

Ultimately, the move may make it easier for Netflix to justify price increases in coming years. Games also serve the purpose of helping market existing shows.

Netflix has previously licensed the rights to games based on its shows—including Stranger Thing—but this new initiative is much larger in scope. The Los Gatos, California-based company has yet to settle on a game-development strategy, said the person.

In typical Netflix fashion, the company may start with just a few games and build from there.

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

Traveling light: Aussie brand launches ‘lightest’ carry-on suitcase ever in the United States

July 2, 2021

Australian brand July is bringing what it touts as the lightest carry-on suitcase in the world to the United States, just in time for the height of summer travel, Fortune reports.

After closing $8 million in a Series A funding round less than a year after launching in February 2019, the Melbourne-based luggage startup is now looking to expand and replicate its success in North America.

“Airlines around the world restrict traveler luggage on two points: the size and the weight,” July cofounder Athan Didaskalou recently told Fortune, adding, “With our original Carry On and Carry On Pro, we maximized their dimensions to be the biggest carry-ons that were allowed on any domestic or international flight [and] take as much volume as possible on board with you.”

But there is also a traveler who focuses on the total weight of his or her bag, Didaskalou continues, because of budget flights or tighter restrictions in some parts of the world. Most carry-on weight limits fall between 15 to 22 pounds.

“So we wanted to create something for them: a light carry-on that would weigh 3.9 pounds to give them maximum volume for the rest of their items,” Didaskalou says. “This product direction means that travelers who fly globally often don’t have to worry about the restrictions in one region over another. Light luggage is a global demand product, and something that a lot of the direct-to-consumer luggage brands have failed to see as an innovation point.”

At 3.96 pounds (1.8 kilograms), the Carry On Light is outfitted in a polycarbonate shell with 360-degree double spinner wheels, and is able to hold up to 38 liters in volume.

“The shape of the Carry On Light is unique in that it feels familiar for a new object. It has an eggshell curve to it that helps it bounce back on a drop, making the most of the polycarbonate flexibility. Eggs, like bridges, use the shape of an arch to bear heavy loads,” Didaskalou describes. “These curves give it a more retro feel, a shape that was popular in the golden era of flying.”

“The Light traveler is youthful or young at heart—preferring to keep their luggage minimal and feature-free—apart from the one killer feature of being able to lift it effortlessly,” Didaskalou says. “I love seeing people’s faces when they first pick it up; they don’t expect it to be that light! It weighs as much as two bottles of water.”

Didaskalou recalls one review he read that made him laugh, as he described read: “When I picked up the cardboard box it arrived in, my initial thought was “Did they forget to put it in?”

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine

Returning to the office? Picture yourself in a ‘work tent’

March 24, 2021

Many employees are growing accustomed to the comforts of home amid a widespread shift to remote work. The current situation—impelled by the coronavirus pandemic—presents a challenge for businesses: figuring out how to best accommodate people when they return to the workplace, Fortune Magazine reports.

However, some companies are seeing a profitable new niche in the re-population of U.S. offices. Steelcase, the Michigan-based office furnisher, is rethinking the ubiquitous, open space layouts it has long promoted, for one. The firm recently tapped Chris Pottinger, an outdoor gear designer and former REI creative, to draw up ideas for a new, post-COVID working environment.

Priority No. 1 is attracting people back to headquarters. “As organizations begin to think about what they’ll need to do to create a safe return for their employees, they’re also thinking of how to create a compelling work experience to bring people back to,” says Markus McKenna, Steelcase’s director of Global Design and Workplace Innovation.

Enter the work tenta modern take on the classic cubicle that’s inspired by the great outdoors, a place many of us longed for during COVID-related shutdowns. The concept “is rooted in the human desire to seek shelter and protection from natural elements. For millennia tents have been structures that have done so much for humans, the biggest being protection—from bad weather, to hypothermia and other elements,” McKenna tells Fortune.

The designers created the work tent to limit distraction, increase privacy, and make the office more playful. The pop-up products “were designed to be flexible and change on demand for spaces that reimagine collaboration and create balance between team and individual work,” McKenna says.

Another element is just plain old-fashioned fun—and coziness. “When we’re young kids, we start making tentlike structures out of forts with cushions and blankets. There is this double duty that tents have in making us comfortable. When we use them as we sleep, we’re typically in our most vulnerable state or completely unconscious. Tents cocoon us and make us feel safe when we’re inside of them,” McKenna notes.

“When using tents, there’s this inherent memory that reminds us of our experiences in nature or our experiences when we were kids playing in the living room,” McKenna adds. “This feeling of safeness carries over to the office with work tents.”

Steelcase is introducing the work tent as part of a new product line featuring 46 items for sale. Other gear include the Boundary Tent, a lightweight, versatile freestanding screen, and the Table Tent, a covering that converts any desk, bench, or table into a private place to work.

The collection is inspired by Steelcase’s ongoing research into the work-from-home experience, McKenna says. The company believes employees want—and expect—their future offices to be shaped by this new normal.

“Many workers are office nomads who may not have a set place to go in the office. Work tents provide that flexible structure and sense of privacy wherever people need it. Work tents provide a sense of protection not necessarily against the elements or predators, but maybe a different kind of weather, whatever is happening inside the office,” McKenna says.

Steelcase is now shipping the Boundary Tent ($570) to buyers in North America. Pricing is yet to be determined for the Pod Tent, which will ship this summer. The Table Tent ($435) will ship in April.

“What’s been surprising is how strongly the pandemic has reshaped so many aspects of our lives, including where and how people want to work,” McKenna says. “[People] don’t want to go back to what they had before. They expect a better work experience moving forward.”

Research contact: @FortuneMagazine