The Rees Hotel Queenstown achieves rare dual Qualmark Gold

first_imgThe Rees Hotel Queenstown Achieves Rare Dual Qualmark Gold Second Year RunningThe Rees Hotel Queenstown achieves rare dual Qualmark GoldTwo of the tourism sector’s highest official marks of quality, the ‘Qualmark 5 Star Hotel and Gold Tourism Business Sustainability Award’ have been achieved for the second year running by The Rees Hotel, Luxury Apartments & Lakeside Residences.It’s the first time the independently owned luxury operator has been assessed across all three of its different accommodation offerings. Situated overlooking Lake Wakatipu, the property has 60 hotel rooms, 90 apartments and 5 brand new private lakeside residences that opened in December 2017.The Rees is one of only 5 hotels amongst 900 accommodation providers in New Zealand to receive both awards – 5 Star and Gold Sustainability certification, that encompasses the triple bottom line (social, environmental and financial performance). According to Qualmark only ten percent of total Qualmark license holders (1837 internationally ready tourism businesses) have ever received Gold Status.A year ago the tourism rating system received a rigorous makeover after being considerably upgraded. Back then The Rees was one of only two hotels in the South Island that won the gold seal of approval signifying it met the standard for reaching the most high-quality experience New Zealand has to offer.After being benchmarked twelve months later for best practice against all other top hotel operators across the country, the Gold Qualmark sustainability award is particularly satisfying for The Rees CEO, Mark Rose.He believes it’s an “important tool from a very relevant organisation that ensures our New Zealand offerings are world class, safe and sustainable”.The Rees team he says have consciously focused on being responsible operators through leaving a “light footprint” through many staff-initiated actions that both reduce the impact on the natural environment and preserve it.“This Gold status underlines our total commitment to our environment, for both our visitors and the generations to follow us – we all need to do whatever we can to protect our pristine country” Rose says.“Being audited by an independent assessor who is able to compare us with the best hotels across New Zealand is such an important tool. Every day we put a huge amount of effort in to keep The Rees in the best condition with the most up to date offerings and services – so to be officially recognised with a 5 Star rating is terrific” says Rose.The Rees Lakeside ResidencesDuring peak season, while running at high occupancy The Rees was subjected to an on-site assessment and document audit by Amanda Cushen, a Tourism Business Advisor at Qualmark New Zealand.In her report, she rated The Rees as being at the forefront of the industry leading by example and continuously improving noting “excellent examples of robust systems and procedures in place that are underpinned by documented processes that continue to add value”.Using an expansive brief, Cushen scored The Rees performance across a wide range of areas such as; operational sustainability practices, cultural interpretation and integration, service standards and product knowledge, team culture, health and safety systems, décor and cleanliness.“The Rees within the industry are seen as leaders with some outstanding practices in place so every area is evolving, not just one in particular. Excellent systems are embedded within the business like the Optii housekeeping software that has improved efficiency. It’s also an employer of choice with strong team relationships. It is obvious staff are selected very carefully as they all have a very welcoming and friendly manner. Never complacent, they’re always on the lookout to improve as excellence is a journey, not a destination” she says.A Gold Award recognises the best sustainable tourism businesses in New Zealand, with the delivery of exceptional customer experiences. A Gold Sustainable Award identifies businesses leading the way in making the New Zealand tourism industryaworld class sustainable visitor destination.The Rees polled hundreds of travellers in March about how important sustainable practices were to them. 65 percent said it was “very important” which matches figures released in a global study by showing that 65 percent of travellers seek out green accommodation – nearly double that of last year and forty five percent consider themselves a sustainable traveller.The top initiatives travellers’ rated in order of preference in the Rees survey were recycling and paperless communications, followed by recycling towels daily. In its Qualmark Award The Rees was recognised for its many environmental and social practices on-site including Bees at The Rees (the hotel’s apiary operation), native tree planting, electric car charging station, waste management and philanthropic social community commitments.Qualmark was first established in 1997 and is wholly owned by Tourism New Zealand. It is the tourism industry’s official quality assurance organisation for accommodation providers, and an endorsement programme for attractions and leisure activities.The Rees Hotel Queenstown blends chic five-star accommodation with all the comforts of home and the service and facilities of an elite international hotel. Situated on the absolute lakefront, The Rees’ terraced construction delivers complete privacy and showcases panoramic views overlooking Lake Wakatipu and The Remarkables Mountains in Queenstown, New Zealand.Its landmark restaurant is the True South Dining Room. Source = The Rees Hotel Queenstownlast_img read more

Derrick Hall satisfied with Dbacks buying and se

first_img Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Following player cuts on Saturday afternoon, the Arizona Cardinals have started to claim players off waivers.Tackle Blaine Clausell from the Carolina Panthers, defensive tackle Garrison Smith from the Atlanta Falcons, guard Jeremy Vujnovich of the Indianapolis Colts and defensive end Zach Moore of the Carolina Panthers have all been claimed by Arizona, the Cardinals said in a release on Sunday.To make room, the Cardinals waived defensive end Vontarrius Dora, safety A.J. Howard and released offensive linemen Evan Boehm and Will Holden. Top Stories Denver Broncos quarterback Chad Kelly throws under pressure from Arizona Cardinals defensive end Alec James during the first half of a preseason NFL football game Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri) Following the Saturday cut downs, the Cardinals had 10 offensive lineman and nine defensive lineman. They now have an equal amount of 10 lineman on each side of the ball.Related LinksNotable Cardinals cuts include Evan Boehm, veteran wide receiversCardinals wide receiver room down to five after weekend cutsArizona Cardinals announce official 53-man roster on deadlineClausell played college football at Mississippi State and has had stints on five different practice squads since 2015. He has appeared in four regular season games, three with the Redskins in 2016 and one with the Panthers in 2017.Smith played his college football at Georgia and appeared in 11 career games all with the Seattle Seahawks. He has 14 career tackles. Smith signed with the Falcons in April 2018, but was cut on Saturday.Vujnovich was a 16 game starter for the Indianapolis Colts last season at guard but did not make the team in 2018. The Cardinals are Vujnovich’s third NFL franchise after spending time with the Green Bay Packers and Colts.Moore, a sixth-round draft pick by the Patriots in 2014, he has appeared in 10 NFL games recording three tackles and 0.5 sacks. The Cardinals are the sixth different NFL franchise Moore has been a part of.The Cardinals re-signed seven players to the practice squad including Alec James, Will House, Charles Kanoff, Elijhaa Penny, Pasoni Tasini, Jalen Tolliver and Andrew Vollert. The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Comments   Share   Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impactlast_img read more

Gilles Marchand Marko Filli and Tonio Portughese

first_imgGilles Marchand, Marko Filli and Tonio PortugheseThe European Broadcasting Union (EBU), the organisation that represents European public broadcasters, has unveiled its new executive board line-up, with three new additions.The new board members are Gilles Marchand, Marko Filli and Tonio Portughese.Marchand was named as the new director of Swiss pubcaster SRG SSR last month ahead of taking up his new role in October 2017.Filli has served as director-general of RTV Slovenia since 2010, while Portughese has been chair of Maltese pubcaster PBS since 2013.Standing down from the board are Alexander Wrabetz of Austria’s ORF and Faïçal Rachid Laraïchi of Morocco’s SNRT.The executive board will continue to be led by Jean-Paul Philippot of Belgium’s RTBF and Monica Maggioni of Italy’s Rai, who were elected earlier this year to serve as president and vice-president respectively for the 10-year term from 2017-27.The 11-member executive board is responsible for ensuring the implementation of the EBU’s strategy and policies.last_img read more

Bruce McClelland Arris said it remains on track to

first_imgBruce McClellandArris said it remains on track to achieve results within its full year 2017 guidance ranges, despite reporting year-on-year declines in both earnings and revenue.Announcing its second quarter results, Arris said it made a net income of US$30.3 million (€25.6 million), down 64% year-on-year from US$84.2 million in Q2 2016.Revenue came to US$1.664 billion, down US$66 million or 4% compared to the second quarter of 2016.“We entered the second quarter with significantly increased momentum across both our segments and exceeded our expectations,” said Arris CEO, Bruce McClelland.“Growing consumer internet usage delivering high value video content fuels the increasing investment in broadband capacity. With respect to the third quarter 2017, we expect performance to improve further with revenues in a range of US$1.740 billion to US$1.790 billion, GAAP net income per diluted share of US$0.23 to US$0.28, and adjusted net income per diluted share of US$0.66 to US$0.71.last_img read more

In This Issue… A late morning rush to sell euro

first_imgIn This Issue… * A late morning rush to sell euros… * Spain & Italy to auction debt tomorrow… * China’s Trade Surplus narrows slightly… * The BOC’s bunker mentality… And, Now, Today’s Pfennig For Your Thoughts! Chinese Exports Holding Steady Eddie! Good day… And a Wonderful Wednesday to you! Each morning when I arrive, and turn on the TV’s and my computer screens (4!) I go quickly check out what’s on each TV for news, then after my email comes up, I go through all the “alerts” that I receive… This morning, the TV’s and my email box is full of stories on the outcome of the New Hampshire primary… Well, not that I don’t care about that stuff, but it’s not the stuff I’ll write about, so it doesn’t help me any! So, get it out of here! Also getting out of here is the risk asset rally that went on yesterday… The currencies are sliding a bit this morning, but Gold is up again, so it’s not all bad for the risk assets. Both Italy and Spain are auctioning a total of 17 Billion euros in debt/bonds tomorrow, and that is weighing heavily on the currencies at this point of the day. The price action of Italian & Spanish bonds before the auction was good though, with yields falling 11 & 20 basis points respectively. But… having to go to the markets and ask them to take on 17 Billion euros more of debt, is another thing, and so… the euro is weaker this morning, as it should be. The good news from the Eurozone this morning comes from Germany, where the economy is saying, recession? What recession? German GPD was weaker in 2011 than it was in 2010, but it still beat the consensus forecasts, coming in right at 3% for 2011… (2010 was 3.7%) Given all that Germany has had to deal with this past year, I find 3% pretty amazing. The bad news is that the ratings agency, Fitch, said yesterday that Italy faces a “significant chance of a downgrade”. Fitch also announced that they would make a decision by the end of the month on both Italy and Spain… So, tomorrow’s debt auction by these two becomes even more important! I see where U.S. Treasury Sec. Tim Geithner, not only has pressured Russia & China to not buy Iranian Oil, he’s now going to go to a full court press on the Chinese about their currency policy. And once again, a U.S. official will visit the Chinese leaders, they will smile and say they will seek a faster appreciation of the renminbi, shake hands and send the U.S. official home, his chest swelled with the pride that he got the Chinese to move faster, only to find out a couple weeks later that the Chinese have simply continued on with their gradual appreciation of the renminbi. Save the tax payers some dough, Mr. U.S. Treasury Secretary, and save yourself the time and effort that you’re going to put into this meeting… You know, if we had not ever made one trip to China by U.S. officials over the years to get them to move off their slow, gradual appreciation of their currency, we would have saved taxpayers a truck load of cash! None of the visits ever helped and we could have saved money… But since when has it ever occurred to U.S. officials that saving money is a novel idea? Ok… move on from here Chuck, you’re about to go down a road that won’t endear yourself to the authorities! Speaking of China… Chinese officials have to be smiling like Cheshire Cats with the latest round of data. First we saw home price inflation back off, then we saw the manufacturing index improve, and now Exports look like they are holding up very nicely, even with the slowdown in the U.S. and Europe. Chinese export growth in December rose 13.4% from a year earlier. It did slip a bit from November’s 13.8% increase, but it looks like the naysayers were wrong once again about China… It appears that with exports to the U.S. slowing down, shipments to Japan and the emerging economies remained Steady Eddie… The Chinese Trade Surplus widened in December to $16.5 Billion from $14.5 Billion in Nov. You’ve just gotta love a Trade Surplus! I think that given all the things / data we’ve seen recently from China that my call that it would be moderation for the Chinese economy and not “collapse” that a boat load of economists have called for the last two years! Closer to home… Canada printed a very nice and strong Housing Starts number for December yesterday. Housing Starts increased 7.9% in December from a year earlier… This is another flashing red light for the Bank of Canada (BOC) to hike interest rates… But the BOC is in their “bunker mentality” as they believe the rot on the vine from Europe and the U.S. will be too much for the Canadian economy to handle… Hmmm… I have to disagree with the BOC here… if your economy is in need of a rate hike now, then do it! If the rot does begin to show up later, then cut the rates, but don’t hesitate to hike them now! Inflation is a bad thing, BOC… please remember that! Yesterday, I referred to the now X-Swiss National Bank President, as Hildegard… Well, as my new friend in our Corp FX group, Agnes, (who’s Swiss) pointed out… his name is Hildebrand. Hildegard is a woman’s name! Geez Louise! I really flubbed that one, eh? Any way it doesn’t look like the Swiss franc is going to give us that “pop” I was thinking could happen if Hildebrand resigned… I gave the desk some numbers last week that were very interesting regarding Gold & Silver and their highs and lows for each year since 2001… One thing that was as evident as a man with a hatchet in his forehead was that each and every year since 2001, Gold & Silver booked their lows for the year in either January or February… Which indicates to me that unless the trend is no longer in place, the only months to buy are January and February… Which is NOW! And one of my chartist friends, sent me a note yesterday that his charts indicate that Silver is about to break out to the upside… This is technical talk that is difficult to understand until they tell you what they are talking about… here’s Scott… He is referring to a chart that you can see if you go to his blog… “The daily chart has now formed a Bullish “Inverted Head and Shoulders” pattern that I have noted on the daily chart on the right hand side below. The Bears seem to have run out of gas when they formed the “Head” on a decrease in volume from the left shoulder. The right shoulder showed a lack of commitment from the Bears again. A breakout and close above the neckline, which I have drawn with a dashed blue trend line, will put pressure on the Bears, especially those who are short from the prior Bearish “Head and Shoulders” pattern that has not gotten fulfilled yet.” Chuck again… You know, I’m a fundamentals guy… but every now and then the technicals play well with what I’m saying fundamental wise… and this is one of those cases! The euro is really getting socked right now, as I get ready to head to the Big Finish. I don’t see anything on the screens that would tell me the reason for the rush to sell euros… but it looks like the 1.27 handle for euros is about to be taken out on the downside… And, it was just taken out… this is something, watching this rush to sell euros, right here, right now… And if the euro is getting socked right now, you all know the drill… the rest of the currencies are getting socked too… UGH! Cheaper levels that’s the only silver lining… Then there was this… Last week, I briefly mentioned our new Corp FX or actually they are called Business FX Group… We have always dabbled in this going back to our days at Mark Twain Bank, but we now have a group of people dedicated to small & mid-sized Corporations and their currency needs, payment orders and hedging of future obligations. If you do currency payments in your Corporation, you should give us a call or send an email because I do believe we can save you money in execution costs. The phone number is: 855.417.4843. And the website is here. To recap… The risk assets rally that was so strong yesterday, has been reversed and then some, except with Gold. There’s a rush to sell euros this morning for no apparent reason other than the ones that have been already beaten to death. Italy & Spain will sell debt/ bonds tomorrow, but recent bond price performance has been good for both countries. China continues to book strong data, albeit a bit weaker. Canada also continues to book good data reports that warrant a rate hike, but the Bank of Canada has gone into its “bunker mentality”… That’s it for today… The guys over at the 5-Minute Forecast were kind enough to quote something I said in the Pfennig yesterday. The 5-Minute Forecast is one of my daily reads that I find to be chock-full-o-info that’s important to what I do! This is it for me this week, as I’m slipping out of town to warmer weather for a few days. I’ll be back next Wednesday. I don’t know if those of you who subscribed to the Currency Capitalist have noticed but I’m no longer writing for that publication. My friends at the Sovereign Society decided to go in a different direction with the letter… So my first “paid writing gig” has ended… Oh well, I gave it my best shot! And so, another chapter in my life comes to a close. Time to move along! No worries… I’ve always wondered why people would pay me to write any way! HA! And with that… let’s get working on making this a Wonderful Wednesday! Chuck Butler President EverBank World Markets 1-800-926-4922 1-314-647-3837 read more

The Casey Research Metals and Mining team has rece

first_imgThe Casey Research Metals and Mining team has received a number of worried and angry emails about gold’s recent rollercoaster ride. I’d like to respond to them. First, I understand. I’m an investor, too, and I also manage money for family members. We have positions that are underwater, a few dramatically so. Worse, in many cases a full position had been built, seemingly leaving no room to average down and lower our cost basis. This predicament isn’t fun, and there are a limited number of options. However, instead of responding emotionally, let’s look at some facts and consider their implications. The drop in stock prices came with no drop in the quality of the companies’ assets. This is important to recognize, because it highlights the difference between value and price, and points to opportunity. Even at lower gold and silver prices, the value of these companies is higher than they’re currently priced. This will eventually correct, as all mispriced markets do. Investors must be willing to hold through down or sideways markets to realize profits. The trend we’re betting on took an unusually large detour, but it has not changed in any material way. It may take some time for the market to stabilize before it makes a significant move up, and with summer knocking on the door (often gold’s low season), we could easily see the gold market remain weak for a few months. A huge rally in the immediate future is unlikely unless a black swan hits (for example, a deterioration in European sovereign debt, a sharply lower US dollar, bank failures, etc.). The message is that, like any market with favorable fundamentals, you must have the mental wherewithal to stay in the game, however painful, in order to seize a big profit. A lifetime buying opportunity is shaping up. By any analysis, gold stocks are about as cheap as they’ve ever been. Therefore, focus on positioning yourself ahead of what we think will be an extraordinary reversal. The more spectacular the selloff, the more spectacular the opportunity – and this selloff has been one for the record books. We’re witnessing a setup that only comes along a few times in an investor’s life. Our goal is to prepare for it, not lament an unexpected trend interruption. Be honest with yourself about risk and volatility. Investment decisions based on emotions rather than facts rarely work out. I know it’s not easy, but look ahead and not behind. Stock prices don’t care how you feel – and they still won’t when the market reverses to the upside with you on the sidelines looking on. The bottom line is that you’ve got to hang in there and let the big-picture forces guide your gold investing decisions. It’s only natural that investors who haven’t experienced this kind of situation before might be wondering exactly what the big-picture forces are indicating today. To address that issue, along with the many other questions surrounding gold investments today, Casey Research and TheStreet have brought together some of the sharpest gold-investing minds around. They include: Doug Casey, legendary contrarian and speculator; Jim Cramer, founder of TheStreet and host of CNBC’s Mad Money; and Steve Feldman, cofounder and CEO of Gold Bullion International. You’ll hear their thoughts on what’s happened in the gold markets over the past two months… what is likely to be ahead in them… and how gold investors should position themselves. You’ll get specific, actionable advice in this free webinar, so reserve your spot now. Gold: Dead Cat or Raging Bull? will premier on Tuesday, June 25 at 2:00 p.m. EDT. You don’t want to miss it – learn more and register today.last_img read more

what was popular in the past will improve I ha

first_img what was popular in the past will improve. I have two experiences as a pundit for the future. In 2007 I said on CNBC that Facebook would one day be worth $100 billion. At the time it was worth maybe $1 billion. Everyone on the show laughed. I then invested in every Facebook services provider I could find. And in my book, Choose Yourself!, written mostly in 2012 but out in 2013, I said that we can look forward to having a “smart toilet” that will diagnose all of our illnesses in our fecal matter and urine… a mini-lab in our bathrooms. Anyway, this weekend, MIT said it’s working on just such a toilet. Cost: $2,000, but it was going to bring the cost down to $100. Count me in. But there are 10 trends from the past 100 years that I think are important to respect and will be important trends for the next 100 years. Knowing this can help us make money off of them. 1) Deflation Most people are scared to death of inflation. If most people are scared of something (like Ebola), it probably means it was a media or marketing-manufactured fear that will never come true. The reality is, we live in a deflationary world. Warren Buffett has said that deflation is much more scary than inflation. It’s scary to him because he sells stuff. It’s great for everyone else because we buy things. However, to be fair, it’s a mixed bag. When prices go down, people wait to buy, because prices might be cheaper later. This is why some of the scariest points in our economic history were in the 1930s and in 2009 when there was deflation. How did the government solve the problem? By printing money and going to war. That’s how scary it was. To solve the problem, we gave 18-year-old kids guns, sent them to another country, and told them to shoot other 18-year-olds. People have all sorts of statistics about the government debt and the dollar decreasing 97% in value since 1913, etc. I don’t care about all of that. I want to make money no matter what. Here’s what I see: my computers are cheaper. Housing prices haven’t gone up in 10 years. And people are finally starting to realize that paying for higher education isn’t worth as much as it used to be (too much student loan debt and not enough jobs). All electricity is cheaper. All books are cheaper. And I don’t have to go to the movies to watch a movie. All my music is basically free if I watch it on YouTube. Don’t get me wrong: inflation exists because the government and the corporations that run it are preventing deflation. But the natural order of things is to deflate. Eventually something bad will happen, and the carpet will be pulled out from under everyone. Perhaps if we have an inflationary bubble. Then deflation will hit hard, and you have to be prepared. In a deflationary world, ideas are more valuable than products. If you have ideas that can help people improve their businesses, then you will make a lot of money. For instance, I know one person who was sleeping on his sister’s couch until he started showing people how to give webinars to improve their businesses. Now he makes seven figures a year. This “webinar trick” won’t always work. But then he’ll have ideas for the next way to help people. Ideas are the currency of the 21st century, and their value is inflating, not deflating. 2) Chemistry The last 50 years was the “IT half-century,” starting with the invention of the computer, the widespread use of home computers, and then the domination of the Internet and mobile phones. Okay. Done. It’s not like innovation will stop in that area. It won’t. Every year computers will get better, more apps will be useful, etc. But the greatest innovations are over for now (DNA computing will happen, but not until after what I’m about to say does). As an example: the next versions of my laptop and my cellphone have already come out. But, for the first time ever, I have no real need to get them. And I’m an upgrade addict. But the upgrades just weren’t big enough. I don’t even think I understand the differences between the next generation of cellphones and last year’s generation (tiny changes in battery and pixel numbers, but only tiny). Here’s what’s going to change: chemistry. The number of grad students in chemistry is at an all-time low versus the number of grad students in computer science or information technology. And yet, we’re at a point where almost everything we do requires advances in chemistry rather than IT. For instance, Elon Musk is creating a billion-dollar factory to make batteries. Well, for Elon’s sake, wouldn’t it be better if we had a more efficient way to use lithium so that batteries can last longer? DNA computing, while it would create a great advance in computer technology, is almost 100% dependent on advances in biochemistry. Many people call the US the “Saudi Arabia of Natural Gas.” But what good does it do us if we can’t convert the gas into liquids that fill up our car? Right now every country uses Fischer-Tropsch technology—a chemical process that is 90 years old—to turn gas into liquids. And it’s expensive to use it. Wouldn’t it be better if someone could develop a groundbreaking change here? I can list 50 problems that chemistry can solve that would make the world better. But it’s not sexy, so people have stopped studying it. This will change. Not because it’s a futurist trend, but because for 3,000 years, changes in society were largely due to chemistry advances (e.g., harvesting wheat) rather than computer advances. I’m just taking an old trend and saying, “Hey, don’t forget about it. We still need it.” A simple example: DuPont and Dow Chemical, the two largest chemical companies, have had 50% and 38% year-over-year earnings growth respectively compared with Apple (12%). But nobody cares. 3) Employee-free Society Before 200 years ago, we never really had employees. Then there was the rise of corporatism, which many confused with capitalism. I’m on the board of a $1 billion in revenue employment agency. We’ve gone from $200 million in revenues to $1 billion just in the past few years. Why did we move up so fast when the economy has basically been flat? For two reasons: The Pareto principle, which says that 80% of the work is being done by 20% of the people. So a lot of people are being fired now, since 2009 gave everyone the carte blanche excuse. Dan Steinhart Managing Editor of The Casey Report Three Trends for the Next 50 Years By James Altucher I’m not a big believer in the future. I mean, it will exist—we know that. But that’s about it. CXO Advisory Group has analyzed the predictions of hundreds of pundits. Are the talking heads on TV right or wrong? You know, the ones who say Ebola will end the world, or the ones who said Enron was just having accounting problems. It turns out the pundits’ predictions are right only 47% of the time. I think they are being nice to the pundits. I would say pundits are right about 12% of the time. But I pulled that number out of a hat, and they did a statistical study, so who knows? I don’t like making predictions. They get in the way of my digestion. All of that future thinking clogs up the pipes. But there’s a great way to evaluate whether a prediction is true or not. It involves a simple phrase we all know: “This time things will be different.” We know that phrase is always wrong. We know that things stay the same. I’ll give a great example: my 15-year-old doesn’t have email. She doesn’t really use a computer except for homework. But she does use her phone. She texts everyone. Email has been popular for almost 20 years. But the phone has been popular for over 100 years. Not that new things are bad. We’re not using the phone from the year 1900. We’re using a phone that is a more powerful computer than the top supercomputers from 20 years ago, and it fits into our pocket. Two things happen: what was popular in the past will be popular for at least as long in the future (expect at least another 100 years of teenage girls texting relationship advice to their friends); and Dear Reader, Today we welcome back one of our most popular contributors, James Altucher. A serial entrepreneur, James started, built up, and sold two companies for $10 million each. Now he’s a fund manager at Formula Capital, where he manages a portfolio of angel investments. He’s also one of the best writers and thinkers I know. James wrote the following piece exclusively for Casey Research subscribers to explain three investable trends that he expects to dominate the next few decades. Enjoy. And to all of our American readers, Happy Thanksgiving! Because of the holiday, we won’t be publishing a Casey Daily Dispatch tomorrow. It will be back on Friday, however.center_img Regulations that are too difficult to follow. It’s getting pretty difficult to figure out what you need to do with an employee. Health care is a great example, but there are 1,000 other examples. So what’s happening, for better or worse, is a rising wave of solo-preneurs and lifestyle entrepreneurs—exactly what happened for the hundreds of years that capitalism was around before stiff and rigid corporatism (teamed with unions) became the primary but fake “stable” force in our lives. This is why companies like Uber are flourishing. You have a workforce (the drivers), logistics software in the middle, and people willing to pay for that workforce. Our GDP and our startups are going to start to drift in the Uber direction. Uber in San Francisco last month did three times as many rides as all the cab drivers in SF combined. Corporate life was never really stable, and now we know that. The problem is: while we were all in our cubicles (and I’ve been guilty of this for many years as well), we stopped being creative, stopped having ideas, and just took orders from the gatekeepers: bosses, colleagues, government, education, family. We let other people choose what was best for us instead of doing the choosing ourselves. If you let someone else do the choosing for you, the results won’t be good, and you’ll get resentful. Bad things will happen. I don’t have a direct stock tip on this. This is not about stocks. It’s about taking an approach where you get your life back so you can have wealth and abundance over the next 50 years. One thing to try is to write down 10 ideas a day. This exercises the idea muscle and gets you 100x more creative than the average person over time. They could be business ideas, ideas to help other businesses, book ideas, or even ideas to surprise your spouse. Another trick is to take Monday’s ideas and combine them with Tuesday’s ideas. “Idea sex” is an awesome source of creativity. Ideas are the true currency of this next century. I don’t care about the dollar or gold or health care. Any movement in those will just create opportunities for people who know when to take advantage of them. The key is to become an idea machine. People say “ideas are a dime a dozen” or “execution is everything.” These statements are not really true. It’s difficult to come up with 10 new ideas a day (try it), and execution ideas are just a subset of ideas. I was going to make this 10 trends I see coming over the next 10 years. But at 1,900 words, I already shared three solid ones. Maybe I’ll do a part 2 for the rest, but these three trends are an important start. They’re already here, they’re already deeply affecting our society, and being ready for them will be the key to success in the coming years.last_img read more

first_img – But it’s not the only major warning sign. Earnings for companies in the S&P 500 have also fallen for five straight quarters. That’s the longest earnings drought since the 2008–2009 financial crisis. Stocks almost never rise during such prolonged periods of declining earnings. • To be clear, we aren’t saying the market has topped… Only fools make calls like that. We’re saying it looks like the market’s topped. And it would be just as foolish to ignore these red flags. Today, we’re going to tell you another reason why we think stocks may have peaked. This same warning sign flashed before the last two major stock market crashes. That’s the bad news. The good news is that you can still make money (possibly triple-digit returns) in the coming months if you make the right moves today. We’ll tell you how to do this at the end of today’s issue. But before we get to that, let’s take a close look at this new warning sign. • Last month set a record for deal-making… Bloomberg reported a week ago: October as a whole was a record month for dealmaking, with almost half a trillion dollars of mergers and acquisitions announced globally. CenturyLink Inc.’s $34 billion acquisition of Level 3 Communications Inc., as well as General Electric Co.’s deal to combine its oil and gas division with Baker Hughes Inc., pushed October’s deal volumes to about $489 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That’s the highest amount for at least 12 years, topping the previous record of $471 billion in April 2007, the data show. • You might not think this is a big deal… After all, what’s so bad about companies buying each other? But mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity spiked before the last two major stock market crashes…and that has many Wall Street analysts worried. USA Today reported last week: October’s frenzied deal activity has caught the eye of analysts who note that similar bursts of corporate M&A activity in 1999-2000 and 2006-2007 occurred near stock market tops.… The robust M&A activity is sending up a yellow flag, as the past two times deal activity has spiked in a cluster of back-to-back years was in the run-up to the 2000 dot-com stock crash and 2008 financial crisis. As you may recall, the NASDAQ plunged 78% during the dot-com crash. The S&P 500 fell 57% during the 2008–2009 financial crisis. • Most companies don’t buy other companies when business is good… They buy other companies when their business is struggling. You see, a company can make itself bigger, practically overnight, by buying another company. And that can boost sales or profits. That’s the reasoning behind the biggest deal proposed this year… As you’ve probably heard, telecom giant AT&T (T) offered to buy media powerhouse Time Warner (TWX) for $85.4 billion two weeks ago. According to The Wall Street Journal, AT&T hopes the blockbuster deal will help the company grow: In the U.S., AT&T lost 268,000 mainstream wireless phone customers. Phone additions are considered important because they provide more service revenue than tablets, and customers with postpaid phone accounts tend to stay longer.… In all, AT&T’s total wireless revenues dipped 0.7%, to $18.2 billion, which the company blamed on decreases in service and equipment revenue.… The Time Warner deal is seen helping AT&T potentially find new areas of growth as its core wireless business has become saturated and its share of the mobile market leaves little room for acquisitions. • AT&T isn’t the only major U.S. company that’s used M&A to grow… Bloomberg reported last week: Just eight transactions account for more than $300 billion of the October total as megadeals continue to find favor among dealmakers.… So far this year, 32 deals valued at more than $10 billion have been struck. That puts 2016 on track to beat every year since 2007 except for last year, when a bumper 52 transactions of that size or more were announced. Given that corporate earnings have been falling since 2014, it’s safe to assume that companies are using M&A to offset the poor performance of their “core” business. Recommended Links • We see the recent spike in M&A activity as a major red flag… But many investors don’t see it this way. That’s because takeovers can boost a company’s profits…at least in the short term. And that can lift a company’s share price. Legendary investor Carl Icahn thinks those investors are making a big mistake. Icahn, who has one of the greatest trading records ever, warned last year: [What companies] do with the money is almost perverse. They just go in and buy another company to show analysts on Wall Street that their earnings are going up so their stock will go up. It’s financial engineering at its height. Icahn is specifically referring to “cheap money.” He added: [I]t’s like taking a drug, borrowing money very cheaply, taking over another company. You feel good. It’s like steroids. The athlete’s jumping pretty high. And so those companies can show a huge EBITDA number that we all know is not going to be there in two or three years.… So, these earnings are fallacious. • You see, the Federal Reserve has held its key interest rate near zero for the last eight years… This has made it incredibly cheap for companies to borrow money. According to the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), U.S. corporations have borrowed $9.1 trillion in the bond market since 2010. That’s 55% more than they borrowed in the seven years leading up to the 2008–2009 financial crisis. Companies have racked up huge debts even though corporate profits have been falling since 2014. And now, corporate balance sheets are weaker than they were during the last financial crisis. The Wall Street Journal reported last month: Median debt at junk-rated companies is five times earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, or Ebitda, according to Moody’s data. That compares with 4.2 times in 2008. The debt ratio for investment-grade companies is 2.6 times Ebitda, compared with 2.2 times in 2009, Moody’s data show. • Icahn is betting U.S. stocks will crash… Icahn’s investment fund, Icahn Enterprises, had a “net short position” of 138% at the end of last quarter. This means the fund had 138% more bearish bets than bullish bets. For example, if you own $100,000 worth of stocks and also short (bet against) $238,000 worth of stocks, you’re 138% net short. Last week, Barron’s reported that “[m]uch of that position is in the equity market, including major indexes.” • Doug Casey is betting U.S. stocks will fall, too… Earlier this year, Doug made a HUGE bet on gold. He invested about $1 million of his own money in gold stocks. These stocks, as Dispatch readers know, are leveraged to the price of gold. In other words, the price of gold doesn’t have to rise much for them to soar. Consider the VanEck Vectors Gold Miners ETF (GDX), which tracks large gold stocks. It’s up 74% this year, or nearly four times the 21% jump in the price of gold. • Now, to be clear, Doug didn’t buy GDX or any fund like it… He bought tiny gold stocks with massive upside potential. Most analysts have never even heard of these stocks. But Doug found them because he’s spent four decades developing a secret method of finding gold stocks with huge upside. Doug’s approach, which we call “The Casey Method,” has handed him incredible gains on gold stocks. We’re talking returns of 487%, 711%, and even 4,329%. You can learn more about The Casey Method by watching this new presentation. You’ll also learn how to access nine gold stocks that Doug and his team recently found using this same method. Each of these stocks could double in the coming months. Some could go even higher. To learn about The Casey Method—and how to access the names of these nine stocks—click here. Chart of the Day The entire global stock market appears to have peaked. Today’s chart shows the performance of the FTSE All-World Index, which tracks stocks from all around the world. You can see this key index set an all-time high last year. But, like the S&P 500, it didn’t hold its new high for long. After rallying earlier this year, the FTSE All-World Index is “rolling over” again. This is a bad sign for investors around the world. It means stocks from Tokyo to London could be headed lower. If you’re nervous about stocks, we encourage you to own physical gold. As we often say, it’s the ultimate safe-haven asset. Investors buy it when they’re nervous about stocks or the economy. If stocks keep falling, investors across the world could take shelter in gold. And that could send the price of gold much higher. If you’re as wary of the broad stock market and the economy as we are, you might also want to own gold stocks. As we explained above, they’re the best way to profit from rising gold prices. — Regards, Justin Spittler Delray Beach, Florida November 7, 2016 We want to hear from you. If you have a question or comment, please send it to We read every email that comes in, and we’ll publish comments, questions, and answers that we think other readers will find useful. Doug Casey’s Urgent Prediction for Today Until tonight, the founder of Casey Research is sharing a prediction that could have a huge impact on your wealth in the months to come. According to Doug, thousands of Americans are overlooking a huge opportunity right now. The last time we saw this market opportunity, you could have doubled your money 15 times. Click here for details before tonight at midnight. Signs of a market top are popping up everywhere. As you probably know, the S&P 500 set a new all-time high in early July…its first since May 2015. Normally, it’s a bullish sign when an index like the S&P 500 sets a new high. But U.S. stocks didn’t keep rising after “breaking out.” Instead, they’ve fallen. Just take a look at the chart below. You can see that the S&P 500 has fallen nine days in a row, its longest losing streak since 1980. It’s now below the high it reached in early July. That’s not a good sign. Even if Hillary Beats Trump, She LOSES… Does it really matter if Hillary comes out on top in the election? Maybe not. Because, guess what… According to a new finding by an ex-advisor to the CIA and Pentagon… winning the White House may work out to be a DISASTER for Hillary. No, it’s got nothing to do with her husband’s scandals… or the unwinnable War on Terror. It’s a whole different kind of threat, one even she didn’t count on. Click this link and find out what it is. Hillary must be terrified…last_img read more

The governments Office for Disability Issues is a

first_imgThe government’s Office for Disability Issues is apparently failing to take any action to address “worrying” concerns about disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) that are being forced to close because of funding problems.Earlier this month, two prominent user-led organisations spoke out about the “urgent” need for research into the falling number of DPOs across the country.Shaping Our Lives said it was seeking funding, and partners, for a major piece of research to uncover the scale of the problem, with its own figures suggesting that more than 60 user-led groups that were members of its network had been forced to close since 2014.And Inclusion London, which supports Deaf and disabled people’s organisations across the capital, also raised concerns and said there were now a number of London boroughs without their own DPO.But when asked if the Office for Disability Issues (ODI) was aware of and concerned about the problem, and if it was taking any action, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said it was concerned about closures but failed to suggest any measures it was taking to address the concerns.A DWP spokeswoman said: “The ODI is aware that DPULOs [disabled people’s user-led organisations] close on a fairly frequent basis, and are obviously concerned by this.“The government takes the opportunity to work with them and support their work wherever possible.”But when asked again whether it was taking any action to address the concerns about closures, another DWP spokeswoman said the department had “nothing to add”.Last month, Disability News Service reported that the number of staff working in ODI had plummeted by more than two-thirds under the coalition and Conservative governments.In March 2010, just before the Tory-led coalition came to power, there were the equivalent of 48 full-time staff working in ODI, but there are now just 15, while the ODI website has now not been updated in more than seven months.Professor Peter Beresford (pictured), co-chair of the national service-user network Shaping Our Lives, said it was “reassuring” that ODI was “aware of and ‘concerned’ about the loss of these much-valued organisations”.But he said: “It is very worrying that even though aware of what increasingly looks like a crisis, the [ODI] has no plans or even comment to make in response to the situation.“Given that the ODI was originally established as a central government agency to support the independent living of disabled people and the development of a strong network of disabled people-led organisations, this makes especially troubling reading.“There seems to be no plan A and no plan B. The only plan this government seems to have any confidence in is attacking the welfare rights of disabled people with its much-discredited welfare reform policies.“The loss of DPOs is part of an even bigger crisis facing disabled and older people who are increasingly being denied a voice.”last_img read more

Bad News Day for Bitcoin Its Destroying the World and Bank Accounts

first_imgBitcoin 2019 Entrepreneur 360 List November 6, 2018 You won’t believe how much energy it takes to get just $1’s worth. Image credit: Mark Garlick/Science Photo Library | Getty Images Even though cryptocurrencies technically have no physical presence, they really do a make a impact on the environment — and even could affect the amount of money people have in their accounts.From January 2016 to June 2018, the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education in Cincinnati monitored how much energy it took to mine Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Monero on a daily basis.The researchers found that Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin and Monero respectively consumed 17 million, 7 million, 7 million and 14 million joules of energy to get $1 worth of each cryptocurrency.When you compare that to how much energy it takes to mine precious metals, the difference is pretty stark.Related: IBM Is Experimenting With a Cryptocurrency, Which It Says Is More StableFor example, Bitcoin takes three times as much energy to mine than gold. For copper you need 4 million joules, gold 5 million joules and platinum requires 9 million joules to get a dollar’s worth of the precious metals.While those figures might give you pause, this week also saw bitcoin being used for some nefarious ends.Publisher Pantheon Books had its Twitter account hacked and was made to look like Elon Musk’s personal account. A tweet was sent out saying that the Tesla and SpaceX CEO was going to be giving away 10,000 bitcoin — which amounted to $64 million — to people who deposited anywhere from 0.1 ($640) and 2 bitcoin (a whopping $13,000) into a provided account. In just a few hours hackers had swindled more than $150,000 with 326 transactions.The fraud was discovered and Twitter is apparently on the case, but it just goes to show that even if something seems abstract, it can have significant real-life implications. Next Article Nina Zipkin –sharescenter_img Staff Writer. Covers leadership, media, technology and culture. Add to Queue 2 min read Entrepreneur Staff The only list that measures privately-held company performance across multiple dimensions—not just revenue. Apply Now » Bad News Day for Bitcoin: It’s Destroying the World and Bank Accountslast_img read more

Microsoft Wins Landmark Appeal Over Seizure of Foreign Emails

first_img 35shares Free Webinar | July 31: Secrets to Running a Successful Family Business Next Article Microsoft Wins Landmark Appeal Over Seizure of Foreign Emails Add to Queue Reuters Learn how to successfully navigate family business dynamics and build businesses that excel. Register Now »center_img 4 min read This story originally appeared on Reuters A federal appeals court on Thursday said the U.S. government cannot force Microsoft Corp. and other companies to turn over customer emails stored on servers outside the United States.The 3-0 decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan is a defeat for the U.S. Department of Justice and a victory for privacy advocates and for technology companies offering cloud computing and other services around the world.Circuit Judge Susan Carney said communications held by U.S. service providers on servers outside the United States are beyond the reach of domestic search warrants issued under the Stored Communications Act, a 1986 federal law.”Congress did not intend the SCA’s warrant provisions to apply extraterritorially,” she wrote. “The focus of those provisions is protection of a user’s privacy interests.”Microsoft had been challenging a warrant seeking emails stored on a server in Dublin, Ireland, in a narcotics case.It was believed to be the first U.S. company to challenge a domestic search warrant seeking data held outside the country.Thursday’s decision reversed a July 2014 ruling by then-Chief Judge Loretta Preska of U.S. district court in Manhattan requiring Microsoft to turn over the emails. It also voided a contempt finding against the company.”We obviously welcome today’s decision,” Brad Smith, Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer, said in a statement.He said the decision gives people more confidence to rely on their own countries’ laws to protect their privacy, rather than worry about foreign interference, and helps ensure that “legal protections of the physical world apply in the digital domain.”Peter Carr, a Justice Department spokesman, said the agency was disappointed by the decision and reviewing its legal options.”Free-for-all” was fearedThe case has attracted strong interest from the technology and media sectors, amid concern that giving prosecutors expansive power to collect data outside the country could make it harder for U.S. companies to compete there.Dozens of companies, organizations and individuals filed briefs supporting Microsoft’s appeal, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Inc., Apple Inc., Cisco Systems Inc., CNN, Fox News Network, Gannett Co. and Verizon Communications Inc.Had the court gone the other way, “it would have been like the Wild West, with no clear, stable legal rules applying,” Greg Nojeim, senior counsel with the nonprofit Center for Democracy & Technology in Washington, D.C., said in an interview.Microsoft had said the warrant could not reach emails on the Dublin server because U.S. law did not apply there.The Redmond, Washington-based company also said enforcing the warrant could spark a global “free-for-all,” where law enforcement authorities elsewhere might seize emails belonging to Americans and stored in the United States.Modernizing a 30-year-old lawFederal prosecutors countered that quashing warrants such as Microsoft’s would impede their own law enforcement efforts.But Judge Carney said limiting the reach of warrants serves “the interest of comity” that normally governs cross-border criminal investigations.She said that comity is also reflected in treaties between the United States and all European Union countries, including Ireland, to assist each other in such probes.Some law enforcement officials have said obtaining such assistance can, nonetheless, be cumbersome and time-consuming.The Justice Department is working on a bilateral plan to streamline how U.S. and British authorities request data from companies in each other’s country.A bipartisan bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate in May to clarify when and where law enforcement may access electronic communications of U.S. citizens.Circuit Judge Gerard Lynch, who concurred in the judgment, urged Congress to modernize the “badly outdated” 1986 law to strike a better balance between law enforcement needs and users’ privacy interests and expectations.Lynch said the law, as it stands now, lets Microsoft thwart an otherwise justified demand to turn over emails by the “simple expedient” of choosing to store them outside the United States.”I concur in the result, but without any illusion that the result should even be regarded as a rational policy outcome, let alone celebrated as a milestone in protecting privacy,” he wrote.The case is In re: Warrant to Search a Certain E-Mail Account Controlled and Maintained by Microsoft Corp, 2ndU.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 14-2985. Image credit: Reuters | Lucy Nicholson July 15, 2016 Microsoftlast_img read more

MarTech Interview with Mike Myer Founder and CEO at Quiq

first_imgRecognized as a 2017 Gartner Cool Vendor, Quiq makes it easy for customers to interact with a company via Messaging. Customers can now engage customer service via SMS/text messaging, Facebook Messenger, Live Chat, and Kik for help with their Pre-Sales questions and Post-Sales support.Our mission is to improve the way customers communicate with companies. We believe mobile message-driven communications will replace a significant portion of the traditional phone and email interactions, reducing costs while improving customer satisfaction.Quiq makes it easy for customers to contact a business via Messaging, the preferred channel already in use with our friends and family. With Quiq, customers can now engage customer service via SMS/text messaging, Facebook Messenger, Live Chat, and Kik for help with their pre-sales questions and post-sales support. Quiq Messaging can be purchased as a stand-alone customer channel or companies can take advantage of one of our pre-built CRM integrations, including Oracle, Zendesk, and Salesforce. “Messaging is at the early stages of adoption and many of the brands that have adopted it have only scratched the surface of what is possible.” About Quiq The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick. About MikeAbout QuiqAbout Mike MarTech Interview Seriescenter_img Mike Myer is the Founder and CEO of Quiq. Before founding Quiq, Mike was Chief Product Officer & VP of Engineering at Dataminr, a startup that analyzes all of the world’s tweets in real-time and detects breaking information ahead of any other source. Mike has deep expertise in customer service software having previously built the RightNow Customer Experience solution used by many of the world’s largest consumer brands to deliver exceptional interactions.RightNow went public in 2004 and was acquired by Oracle for $1.5B in 2011. Mike led Engineering the entire time RightNow was a standalone company and later managed a team of nearly 500 at Oracle responsible for Service Cloud. Before RightNow, Mike held various software development and architect roles at AT&T/Lucent/Bell Labs Research. Mike has earned BS and MS degrees in CS from Rutgers University.Mike splits his time between two of the best (and most opposite!) places: Bozeman, Montana and New York City. Tell us about your role and journey into Technology. What inspired you to start Quiq?I have been in tech most of my life, having degrees in Computer Science and then beginning my career at Bell Labs. I spent a good portion of my professional life as the CTO at RightNow – a leading provider of SaaS customer experience software.I started Quiq because I saw a huge gap between the way consumers could communicate with companies and how they communicate with family and friends. Everyone has busy lives, and phone calls don’t always fit in with everything that’s going on at the moment. But, we need an answer right away, so waiting hours for an email response doesn’t work either. Texting is how we get stuff done in our personal lives. It should be the same for business communication too.What is Quiq and how does it fit into a modern Mobile Marketing Technology stack? Quiq is a messaging platform that helps companies and their customers engage in conversations at any stage of the customer journey. Customers are mobile and on-the-go. They want to interact and hear from companies at their moment of need. One way Quiq is used is by online retailers to deliver notifications regarding the order, shipping, and delivery status. Because Quiq is a conversational platform, if a customer has a question after receiving a notification, they can just text back and be immediately connected to a human or bot to have their questions answered.Quiq is also used in Pre-Sales conversations, when, for example, a customer needs advice on finding the right product e.g. a rug and a lamp to match a room remodel. Marketers can also use Quiq to communicate product promotions, with existing customers, like new home loan rates, discounts on a re-order for a subscription business, or an alert that a new brand/product is being carried, etc. Quiq is also often also used by our clients to replace the phone or email as a more efficient communications channel for customer service.Just to highlight some of the messaging channels we support: SMS/text messaging, Apple Business Chat, Google Rich Business Messaging (RCS), webchat, Facebook Messenger, Twitter, In-App, etc.Which businesses are fastest to the adoption of B2B/B2C Messaging platforms? How does it impact Branding and Marketing operations?The fastest adopters of messaging have come from three categories: 1) incredibly competitive industries like online retail which needs to build brand loyalty; 2) from innovative brands who like to lead with new technology; 3) creative individuals at brands who see technology and the customer experience as a differentiator. Messaging communications have been primarily adopted by B2C or businesses with a high number of customers and customer interactions.We work with our clients to understand their customer journey and touchpoints to find the best moments to use proactive messaging and to present the option for 2-way texting. The technical effort involved in adding messaging is low. It’s just a simple addition of a button or link to the website to invite clients to message or the invocation of our messaging API from existing campaigns or internal systems to send proactive messages. We have standard CRM connectors with Salesforce, Zendesk, and Oracle that make implementation easy.How have your customers utilized your technology? What marketing/business goals do you help them to achieve? Our clients span a number of industries/verticals. Our online retail clients use web chat and messaging to help shoppers do research and make a purchase, as well as for post-purchase customer service. Additionally, they use outbound notifications to deliver order status and shipping updates, as well as Product Promotions or Sales. When used during a purchase journey, our clients have seen a 33% increase in conversion rate. When used to support customers, our clients have improved customer satisfaction scores by 5-20 percentage points, while simultaneously decreasing the cost to serve their customers by 5X or more – a win-win!Our clients in the online and subscription services industries have used messaging to improve communication during the customer lifecycle. For instance, by delivering messages at key moments in the onboarding processes and being available to answer questions via text at the customer’s moment of need, one of our clients saved millions in potential subscription churn.Our banking and credit union clients use messaging in a multitude of ways, including improving loan processing velocity, serving existing customers, and for collections and other proactive notifications. Because text messages are read 96% of the time and are read within a few minutes, messaging is an invaluable way for financial institutions to communicate critical information and be better engaged with their customers.Every client we have is trying to grow their business and expand relationships with their customers. Whether that means attracting new members to a credit union or helping consumers select the right product, companies want to make the experience as convenient and frictionless as possible. Messaging is how it’s done!How can the Sales and Customer Support team better drive Digital Transformation using “Calls-to-Text” features?People often don’t want to make a phone call, but they feel that it’s the only way to get personal help right away. Because messaging is emerging, callers may not always be aware that texting with a brand is an option. Offering the option to text from within the IVR is a great way to promote the messaging option. For example, if you call a company and there is hold time, how cool would it be if you could get off the phone and text the company instead of waiting on hold? Since an agent can handle 5-10 messaging conversations at the same time, converting calls to messaging has a very significant ROI for companies.What brands are using your technology and how has it transformed their relationships with customers?Some of the brands using our messaging platform include Overstock, Pier 1, Men’s Wearhouse, Office Depot, Bissell, Brinks Home Security, Club Med, Jackson Hole Resort, and Thumbtack.Whether these brands are talking to shoppers, customers, travelers or members, messaging has transformed their engagement. Customers love the convenience and ease of messaging because it fits into their busy lives, allowing the customer to drive the communication and the pace of the conversation.We’ve repeatedly seen companies whose agents have worked on other channels receive much higher customer satisfaction scores when serving customers over messaging. Since it was the same agents who were giving the same answers, we know that it’s the messaging channel that is making the difference!Tell us about your technology integrations with other Marketing Technology platforms such as Contacts, Social Media, Automation, Contracts, Email, and Customer Service.Our list of standard integrations is long, including Salesforce, Zendesk, Oracle and Shopify. In addition, we have a state-of-the-art integration framework that makes it easy to trigger messages from other systems and to publish messaging conversation data into internal customer data master systems and reporting systems.In addition, our bot framework makes it easy for bots written in any conversation dialog tool to participate in a conversation in Quiq.Which Marketing and Sales Automation tools and technologies do you currently use?We currently use Marketo, Salesforce, and internally.What are your predictions on the most impactful disruptions in Customer Engagement technology for 2019-2020?Messaging is at the early stages of adoption and many of the brands that have adopted it have only scratched the surface of what is possible. The potential of messaging is so much more than just sending and receiving text messages.Conversational commerce and rich messages will change the way people shop and interact with a brand. Using rich messages, brands can send product cards and carousels, and purchases can be completed just by clicking on a message blurb – no credit card entry needed. Buying something through a message is the easiest way to complete a transaction!In the upcoming year, brands will feel pressure to adopt messaging on two fronts. First, consumer demand for messaging will increase as customers begin to expect to be able to message with all their favorite brands. Second. the focus of Apple, Google, and Facebook on business-to-consumer messaging is going to create awareness in the C-suite of large brands as the tech titans promote their business messaging capabilities. The savvy marketer needs to prepare now to be able to respond to both their customer’s and management’s messaging focus.What startups in the technology industry are you watching keenly right now? At the moment, the most interesting thing to me is not startups, but it’s the messaging teams at Apple, Google, and Facebook. They are rapidly innovating on their messaging platforms, just like a start-up would. The possibilities of what is possible in a messaging conversation are rapidly advancing. For instance, Augmented Reality in messaging. A customer can text a picture of their room to a company and get back a special AR message that shows a piece of furniture that the customer is considering placed in the room. The customer can drag the furniture around in the room to see what their new decor will look like. This exists today!How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a Business Leader?I’m excited to be helping to lead business transformation with AI. But I’m also realistic about what can be accomplished in the near term using AI. Certain categories of interactions between companies and their customers can be automated with conversational AI now, such as order status or returns/exchanges. But current generation AI is not ready to replace humans for issues that require a question/answer dialog to understand the issue and then reasoning to reach an answer.We have brands using conversational bots today to gather input, verify the information and perform directed dialogs (e.g. identity verification). The Quiq platform is open, allowing our clients to use whatever bot platform they wish to build conversational dialogs even combining bots from multiple vendors seamlessly with human agents.How do you inspire your people to work with technology? At our very core, we’re a tech company, so tech is part of our DNA. No inspiration needed!One word that best describes how you work. Persistence.What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? My iPhone and the Apple Messages App (we are a messaging company!)What’s your smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack? Prioritize! Know what needs to be done now and what can be done later. Maintain a task list to organize the things to be done later.What are you currently reading?I don’t have big blocks of time so I tend to prefer to consume things that come in bite-size pieces – more blog and online content than books. I read the WSJ religiously to get an unbiased view of what’s happening.What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Manage both up and down.Something you do better than others – the secret of your success?Persistence (again)Tag the one person (or more) in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read: Rob Locasio, CEO LivePerson.  We compete with them all the time.Thank you, Mike! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon. MarTech Interview with Mike Myer, Founder and CEO at Quiq Sudipto GhoshJune 24, 2019, 1:30 pmJuly 23, 2019 AIinterviewsMarTech InterviewQuiqSaas Previous ArticleMarTech Interview with Vrahram Kadkhodaian, CEO at PROLIFIQNext ArticleThe Benefits of Empowering Agents to Go Omni-Digitallast_img read more

First modeling system developed for testing agespecific human immune responses to vaccines

first_imgReviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Nov 20 2018A team of scientists at Boston Children’s Hospital has developed the first modeling system for testing age-specific human immune responses to vaccines — outside the body. The practical, cost-effective new platform, using all human components, is expected to accelerate and de-risk the development, assessment and selection of vaccines.In a study published today in Frontiers in Immunology, a team from Boston Children’s Precision Vaccines Program, directed by Ofer Levy, MD, Ph.D., describes a three-dimensional human tissue culture construct that is able to reproduce immune responses of different populations and age groups in a laboratory setting. The platform is designed to enable researchers to test, evaluate and select human vaccine candidates for age-specific target populations, such as newborns and the elderly, before initiating costly human or animal trials.”By allowing us to select specific formulations based on individual characteristics, we can save time and money in the development of new, more effective vaccines,” says Levy, a physician-scientist in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Boston Children’s. “We believe this system could disrupt and galvanize the entire field of vaccinology and ultimately save lives.”New approach to an old problemImmunization is one of modern medicine’s greatest success stories. Yet we still lack vaccines for common diseases, such as HIV and respiratory syncytial virus — the number one cause of infant hospitalization in the United States — while other vaccines, such as those against tuberculosis or pertussis, are only moderately effective. Moreover, the average vaccine can take a decade or more to develop, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. The biggest stumbling block occurs late in development: Vaccines that worked flawlessly in mice regularly fail in clinical trials. Because of the high costs, many companies are reluctant to enter into vaccine development, despite the overwhelming need.”It’s simply not possible to conduct large-scale, phase 3, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies of every potential vaccine for every pathogen we want to protect against,” says Levy. “We need a way to rapidly assess the candidates earlier in the process.”In 2010, Levy and his colleague Guzman Sanchez-Schmitz, MSc, Ph.D. received a grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to create an in vitro model of the human immune system to test vaccines. It was a “man on the moon” effort, says Levy. The team set out to create a system that would not only faithfully replicate human biology but would also enable the study of targeted age groups.”We were radically committed to being age-specific in our approach,” said Levy. “Vaccines work differently in kids, and yet they are the group that needs the most protection.”Infants and the elderly are most at risk from infection, suggesting broad age-based differences in immunity. And while infants receive the most vaccinations, many vaccines don’t provide sufficient protection initially, requiring multiple boosters to confer full immunity.Personalized modeling of immune responsesThe team designed the construct to replicate a human capillary vein and interstitium — the fluid-filled spaces that line the circulatory system. It consists of a layer of endothelial cells, which typically line blood vessels, grown over a three-dimensional network of human proteins. To model the immune system of a newborn or an adult study participant, the researchers apply the participant’s plasma and immune cells known as monocytes to the surface of the construct.Related StoriesGeorgia State researcher wins $3.26 million federal grant to develop universal flu vaccineMore effective flu vaccine begins clinical trials across the U.S.Scripps CHAVD wins $129 million NIH grant to advance new HIV vaccine approachThe monocytes naturally migrate down through the endothelium into the human proteins below. During this process, many differentiate to dendritic cells, immune cells that initiate specific immune responses from T cells. After two days, these dendritic cells rise back through the endothelial layer, just as in the body they would pass through the walls of lymphatic capillaries en route to the lymph nodes.When effective vaccines are added to this system, the emerging dendritic cells pick up the vaccine antigens. These cells are then harvested and cultured with T cells to gauge immune response to the vaccine.”We relied on only human components, ensuring that the only thing that is not human-derived is the vaccine,” said Sanchez-Schmitz, first author on the paper. “That’s what makes this platform powerful. You can detect small amounts of foreign material in a way that other systems cannot, because you lower the threshold of background noise. Just as nature intended it.”The team successfully validated the system using two common, licensed neonatal vaccines: Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), a live-attenuated bacterium widely used to immunize against child tuberculosis, and hepatitis B vaccine (HBV), containing inactivated fragments of the pathogen coupled with alum, added to boost immune response to the vaccine. “We started with vaccines that are recommended by the World Health Organization and given to newborns in resource-poor settings,” says Levy. “If we were going to model responses by age, it made sense to choose vaccines that are given to newborns, such as BCG and HBV.”The system will also enable researchers to model the immune systems of other vulnerable populations, such as pregnant women, the elderly or the chronically ill, and open the door to testing individual responses.”This construct is highly versatile. It can be newborn, if you use newborn cells and plasma. It can be your own cells and plasma. That’s how personalized this system can be,” says Sanchez-Schmitz.The system marks a major advancement for Boston Children’s Precision Vaccines Program, which was founded to bring precision medicine principles to vaccinology and catalyze collaboration between academia, government and industry, with the goal of accelerating vaccine development for vulnerable populations.”Our in vitro systems are part of a larger precision vaccines paradigm that also includes special adjuvant systems to boost immune responses in distinct populations, targeted clinical trials, systems biology and animal modeling,” says Levy. “This is an opportunity to bring molecular biology and innovative immunology to human settings, and to do science that not only is sophisticated, but has a real chance in the near term to enhance human health.” Source: read more

Bloodsuckers carrying malaria parasites can be traced back up to 100 million

first_img Source: Reviewed by Alina Shrourou, B.Sc. (Editor)Nov 27 2018The microorganisms that cause malaria, leishmaniasis and a variety of other illnesses today can be traced back at least to the time of dinosaurs, a study of amber-preserved blood-sucking insects and ticks show.In addition to demonstrating the antiquity of vectors and their long-term association with parasitic microorganisms, the findings are remarkable for several reasons.First, bloodsuckers like mosquitoes, fleas, sand flies, ticks and biting midges aren’t frequently found in amber, and rarer yet is evidence of any microorganisms they might have been carrying.But a review by entomologist George Poinar of Oregon State University showed that amber from five regions around the world contained hematophagous arthropods carrying preserved, identifiable pathogens and parasites.”Feeding on vertebrate blood evolved as an efficient way for certain insects and acarines to get protein for growth and reproduction,” said Poinar, professor emeritus in the College of Science and an international expert on plant and animal life forms found preserved in amber. “It’s likely that primitive mosquitoes and other arthropod vectors were present back in the Jurassic and were even transmitting pathogens at that period. This would have resulted in widely dispersed diseases, many of which were probably fatal to vertebrates when they first appeared.”Poinar looked at bloodsucking insects and ticks encased in Dominican, Mexican, Baltic, Canadian and Burmese amber dating back from 15 million to 100 million years.Among the vectors were mosquitoes, sand flies, biting midges, bat flies, black flies, fleas, kissing bugs and ticks. They carry a cornucopia of microorganisms that today cause diseases such as filariasis, sleeping sickness, river blindness, typhus, Lyme disease and, perhaps most significantly, malaria.Related StoriesHealthy blood vessels could help stave off cognitive declineScientists identify malaria’s Achilles’ heelMathematical model helps quantify metastatic cell behaviorMalaria remains a relentless public health concern, with multiple nations reporting increases in infections for 2018. In Venezuela alone, Poinar notes, more than 650,000 new cases of malaria have been reported this year.”Numerous malaria species parasitize vertebrates today, and we now know that over the past 100 million years, malaria was being vectored by mosquitoes, biting midges, bat flies and ticks,” Poinar said. “Obtaining fossil records of pathogens carried by biting arthropods establishes a timeline when and where various diseases appeared and how they could have affected the survival, extinction and distribution of vertebrates over time.”Poinar stresses, however, that while his research shows what parasites and pathogens specific bloodsuckers were transmitting at particular periods and locations in the past, “these fossils are not old enough to tell us when and how associations between vectors, pathogens and vertebrates originated.”Poinar believes that the microorganisms first infected blood-sucking arthropods and only after equilibria had been reached between them were the microorganisms then vectored to vertebrates.”That topic has been and will continue to be under discussion for years to come,” he said.last_img read more

Facebook launches audit of data leaked to Trump consultant

Explore further Facebook is conducting a forensic analysis of the leak that allowed a political research firm aligned with Donald Trump to gain access to data on 50 million users Citation: Facebook launches audit of data leaked to Trump consultant (2018, March 19) retrieved 18 July 2019 from Facebook announced Monday it has hired a digital forensics firm to investigate the handling of data on millions of Americans leaked to a consulting firm working on Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Cambridge Analytica: firm at the heart of Facebook scandal © 2018 AFP The move by Facebook came amid an onslaught of criticism after reports that British firm Cambridge Analytica harvested personal data from the profiles of 50 million users of the social network without their knowledge or consent.A Facebook statement said the forensics firm Stroz Friedberg would “conduct a comprehensive audit of Cambridge Analytica,” and that the company had agreed to comply and provide access to its servers and systems.Facebook said University of Cambridge psychologist Aleksandr Kogan, who developed the app used to harvest user data, also agreed to cooperate.It added that Christopher Wylie, a Canadian data analytics expert who worked with Kogan and who revealed the data leak to media, had declined to cooperate with the audit.”This is part of a comprehensive internal and external review that we are conducting to determine the accuracy of the claims that the Facebook data in question still exists,” the California social network giant said.It noted that the parties involved had certified to Facebook the data in question had been destroyed, but said that “if this data still exists, it would be a grave violation of Facebook’s policies and an unacceptable violation of trust and the commitments these groups made.”Facebook says its terms of service were violated when Kogan “lied” and used the results of his personality quiz to pass on data to Cambridge Analytica, which helped in Trump’s 2016 campaign.”We remain committed to vigorously enforcing our policies to protect people’s information,” Facebook said.”We also want to be clear that today when developers create apps that ask for certain information from people, we conduct a robust review to identify potential policy violations and to assess whether the app has a legitimate use for the data. We actually reject a significant number of apps through this process.” This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. read more

Girl power Allfemale teams compete at robotics event

Factories will have a need over the next decade for workers capable of operating and troubleshooting computer-directed machinery, including robots. Many of those future workers are in high school today and, if Kamen has his way, they will join—or start—a robotics team.”This is the only sport you’ll ever play where every kid on every team can turn pro,” he said.Valerie Alexander is one of those kids. The 14-year-old is a member of the Amazon Warriors, who qualified for the FIRST Championship in their rookie year.”I would definitely like to see more girls interested in this kind of thing,” Alexander said. “I think a big part of it is just to get the word out and to show people what it’s like.” In a photo from, Thursday, April 26, 2018, in Detroit, a member of the Ontario-based Build a Dream Amazon Warriors, who bill themselves as Canada’s only all-female high school robotics team, prepare to compete at the FIRST Championship in Detroit. High school teams competed this year in a game called “Power Up,” in which they were tasked with building wheeled robots capable of maneuvering in an enclosed playing arena and picking up and transporting yellow power cubes. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) In a photo from, Thursday, April 26, 2018, in Detroit, the Ontario-based Build a Dream Amazon Warriors, who bill themselves as Canada’s only all-female high school robotics team, prepare to compete at the FIRST Championship in Detroit. High school teams competed this year in a game called “Power Up,” in which they were tasked with building wheeled robots capable of maneuvering in an enclosed playing arena and picking up and transporting yellow power cubes. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) In a photo from, Thursday, April 26, 2018, in Detroit, Ontario-based Build a Dream Amazon Warriors, who bill themselves as Canada’s only all-female high school robotics team that is mentored and advised solely by women, control their robot, 6875, during a competition recently for the biggest prize in the sport at the FIRST Championship in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) In a photo from, Thursday, April 26, 2018, in Detroit, the Ontario-based Build a Dream Amazon Warriors, who bill themselves as Canada’s only all-female high school robotics team, prepare to compete at the FIRST Championship in Detroit. High school teams competed this year in a game called “Power Up,” in which they were tasked with building wheeled robots capable of maneuvering in an enclosed playing arena and picking up and transporting yellow power cubes. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) Or at least how to get the process started.The Ontario-based Build a Dream Amazon Warriors were among the thousands of young people from nearly four-dozen countries competing recently for the biggest prize at the FIRST Championship in Detroit. The team members bill themselves as Canada’s only all-female high school robotics team mentored and advised by women.”You know, nerds are the future. And here, nerds rule,” said Yvonne Pilon, president and CEO of WEtech Alliance, which helped spearhead the growth of FIRST robotics in Windsor, the Canadian city near Detroit.High school teams competed this year in a game called “Power Up,” in which they were tasked with building wheeled robots capable of maneuvering in an enclosed playing arena and picking up and transporting yellow power cubes.Participation has swelled since FIRST’s inception nearly three decades ago, but founder Dean Kamen is still looking for more of those nerds—especially female ones.”I will be totally satisfied when the day comes that the number of girls on teams and the number of boys on teams is randomly, statistically identical,” said Kamen, an inventor who created FIRST—For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology—in 1989. Canada hasn’t cornered the market on girl power; several U.S. teams that competed in Detroit also featured all-female lineups.One of those, the Fe Maidens (pronounced “Iron Maidens,” playing off the chemical symbol for iron), traveled to Detroit from New York City.”When you walk around the pits, you see a lot of the teams, although they’re co-ed, they’re dominated by boys. And to have a team that’s all girls is something that we’re all very proud of,” said Colin Morrell, the team’s coach and a physics teacher at its school, the Bronx High School of Science.Team captain Natasha Stamler, who will head to MIT after a four-year career with the Maidens, has this advice for newcomers: “Try to build things. It can be wood. It can be metal. It doesn’t matter. … You’re really learning real-world skills.” © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. In a photo from, Thursday, April 26, 2018, in Detroit, Valerie Alexander, right, works on the team’s robot at the FIRST Championship in Detroit. “You know, nerds are the future. And here, nerds rule,” said Yvonne Pilon, CEO of WEtech Alliance, which helped spearhead the growth of FIRST robotics in Windsor, the Canadian city that neighbors Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) Citation: Girl power: All-female teams compete at robotics event (2018, May 3) retrieved 18 July 2019 from Two Taiwanese teenagers win World Robot Olympiad in India In a photo from, Thursday, April 26, 2018, in Detroit, Valerie Alexander works on the team’s robot at the FIRST Championship in Detroit. “You know, nerds are the future. And here, nerds rule,” said Yvonne Pilon, CEO of WEtech Alliance, which helped spearhead the growth of FIRST robotics in Windsor, the Canadian city that neighbors Detroit. While participation has swelled since FIRST’s inception nearly three decades ago, founder Dean Kamen is still looking for more of those nerds, especially female ones. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) Explore further In a photo from, Thursday, April 26, 2018, in Detroit, Valerie Alexander, right, works on the team’s robot at the FIRST Championship in Detroit. “You know, nerds are the future. And here, nerds rule,” said Yvonne Pilon, CEO of WEtech Alliance, which helped spearhead the growth of FIRST robotics in Windsor, the Canadian city that neighbors Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) Half a dozen teenage girls from Canada know exactly how to narrow the skills gap. In a photo from, Thursday, April 26, 2018, in Detroit, a member of the Ontario-based Build a Dream Amazon Warriors, who bill themselves as Canada’s only all-female high school robotics team, prepare to compete at the FIRST Championship in Detroit. High school teams competed this year in a game called “Power Up,” in which they were tasked with building wheeled robots capable of maneuvering in an enclosed playing arena and picking up and transporting yellow power cubes. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. read more