Fashion tech startup raised funding round entirely over Zoom during Covid - Tech Insider

Fashion tech startup raised funding round entirely over Zoom during Covid - Tech InsiderFashion tech startup raised funding round entirely over Zoom during Covid - Tech InsiderPosted: 26 May 2020 03:30 AM PDT E-commerce platform Blackcart is set to launch later this month having raised $2 million in venture funding, solely over Zoom, during the coronavirus pandemic. The try-before-you-buy fashion startup has fast-tracked its launch process with Covid-19 closing physical clothes stores across North America."We were going to keep the platform in beta for a few more months, but then Covid came along," Blackcart founder and CEO Donny Ouyang told Business Insider in an interview. "We messaged all potential investors to fast-track the fundraising process to launch, it was five weeks of back and forth, 100s of emails and five or six meetings every day." Click here for more BI Prime stories.E-commerce platform Blackcart is set to launch later this month having raised $2 mil…

Spanish Justice Divided In Glovo’s Business Model - Forbes

Spanish Justice Divided In Glovo’s Business Model - Forbes

Spanish Justice Divided In Glovo’s Business Model - Forbes

Posted: 13 Oct 2019 11:30 PM PDT

The Superior Court of Justice of Madrid (TSJM) has ruled that a deliveryman of the Spanish start-up Glovo is not a false self-employed. The ruling equals the number of sentences endorsing Glovo's business model with the number of sentences in favor of the 'riders'.

The Spanish start-up, founded in Barcelona four years ago, has become an international platform operating in more than 20 countries worldwide with millions of users. Its case is not very different from many other digital platforms that have succeeded and share a common concern: lack of regulation.

No legal framework has been agreed for Glovo's deliverymen. So, while the start-up keeps expanding, new court proceedings keep coming up. The latest ruling on October 7 gave the reason to the company, endorsing the self-employed status of Glovo's riders. "Deliverymen's freedom of choice of the time slot, the possibility of refusing an order even after it has begun to be executed or the freedom to choose the route to reach the destination set by the customer," were some of the grounds on which the judgment was based.

Far from clarifying the situation, this verdict highlights the division of views on the issue in the Spanish Justice. After 18 rulings on individual cases, neither the company nor the riders have achieved legal certainty. However, if the case reaches the Supreme Court, judges will unify doctrine.

Although the last Glovo's sentence is final, the fact that other judges have ruled the opposite on equal cases makes it appealable to the highest judicial instance. It will be the Supreme Court who decides whether the case met the necessary conditions for pronouncement.

Other collective trials on deliverymen's labor status

Glovo is not the only app struggling in court. The British company Deliveroo has different judicial proceedings opened in Spain. In its case, the trials have not only focused on individual cases. This summer a Court of Madrid ruled that 537 Deliveroo riders working in the Spanish capital were employees operating under a false appearance of self-employed. The same judgment was dictated by a Court of Valencia affecting 97 riders a few weeks before.

Madrid's judge exposed that the Deliveroo riders "had executed a personal work under conditions organized and directed by the company, which is the only one that controls the Deliveroo brand, the digital application, and all the information about it." The judge of Valencia also pointed out that "the real means of production are not the bicycle and the mobile that the rider uses but the digital platform that matches the supply and demand, which is owned by the company."

For the time being, the delivery sector keeps awaiting a final doctrine that clearly defines the figure of riders and its labor relationship with home-delivery companies. Both Glovo and Deliveroo have asked the Spanish government to remove the regulatory obstacles that prevent their business models from expanding faster. The companies agree that there must be a legal framework that will not destroy the business model "which has proven practical and useful for all parties involved."

Meanwhile, Spanish riders ask the Executive for protection against precariousness. Deliverymen are not back by collective agreements, they must finance the necessary means to do their activity, and they must pay their own Social Security fees under the status of self-employed.

The EU will "address" the situation digital platform workers

During the hearing sessions last week at the European Parliament to form the new European Commission, commissioner Margrethe Vestager said that riders should "be able to form unions to defend their rights." The Danish candidate expressed her intention to address the situation of digital platform workers during her next mandate as Executive Vice President for "A Europe Fit for the Digital Age", although she did not give much detail on the issue.

Cyberattacks now cost small companies $200000 on average, putting many out of business - CNBC

Posted: 13 Oct 2019 07:30 AM PDT

Annette Riedl | picture alliance | Getty Images

In an age of ongoing digital transformation, cybercrime has quickly become today's fastest-growing form of criminal activity. Equally worrying for modern executives, it's also set to cost businesses $5.2 trillion worldwide within five years, according to Accenture.

With 43% of online attacks now aimed at small businesses, a favorite target of high-tech villains, yet only 14% prepared to defend themselves, owners increasingly need to start making high-tech security a top priority, according to network security leaders.

"Modern IT infrastructures are more complex and sophisticated than ever, and the amount of virtual ground that we've got to safeguard has also grown exponentially," explains Jesse Rothstein, CTO of online security provider ExtraHop. "From mobile to desktop interactions, cybercriminals can launch thousands of digital attacks designed to compromise your operations at every turn, only one of which ever needs to connect to cause serious disruption."

As a result, he says, it's guaranteed that virtually every modern organization's high-tech perimeters will eventually be breached. This being the case, for small business owners, it's no longer a matter of considering if security threats will arise, but rather thinking in terms of when.

Worse, the consequences of cyberattacks continue to grow, with digital incidents now costing small businesses $200,000 on average, according to insurance carrier Hiscox, and 60% going out of business within six months of being victimized. The frequency with which these attacks are happening is also increasing, with more than half of all small businesses having suffered a breach within the last year and 4 in 10 having experienced multiple incidents, reveals Hiscox.

At the same time, though, according to Keeper Security's 2019 SMB Cyberthreat Study, 66% of senior decision-makers at small businesses still believe they're unlikely to be targeted by online criminals. Similarly, 6 in 10 have no digital defense plan in place whatsoever, underscoring the need for heightened industry awareness and education across the board.

"Attackers are getting smarter, attacks are occurring faster, and incidents are becoming more complex," cautions Justin Fier, director of cyberintelligence and analytics at cyberdefense firm Darktrace. "The latest cyberattacks speedily exploit vulnerabilities in computer networks — which [can be infected] like human immune systems, changing thousands of times per second — and can overtake even major networks in an hour and a half."

A visualization of the Darktrace artificial intelligence in action.

Photo courtesy Darktrace. 

—What's more, given that digital threats tend to go an average of 101 days before being detected by business operators, the damage to an organization from such compromises can quickly add up.

Consider the case of humanitarian aid trip organizer Volunteer Voyages, a single-owner small business which suffered $14,000 in fraudulent charges after an online thief pilfered its debit card information, which the bank refused to reimburse. Or that of popular online food delivery startup DoorDash, which suffered a major data breach this past September, with hackers having accessed sensitive user data for over 4.9 million customers, resulting in tens of thousands in expenses. Likewise, government contractor Miracle Systems, which provides IT and engineering services to over 20 federal agencies, recently suffered losses of $500,000 to $1 million due to an internal server breach.

However, considerable as they are, these charges do not factor in additional damage to intangible assets such as brand reputation and customer goodwill. Case in point: Miracle and its clients were later shocked to discover that their data was openly being advertised for sale by hackers on international cybercrime forums for a starting price of $60,000.

The latest cyberattacks speedily exploit vulnerabilities in computer networks — which [can be infected] like human immune systems, changing thousands of times per second — and can overtake even major networks in an hour and a half.

Justin Fier

director of cyberintelligence and analytics, Darktrace

Factor in additional expenses such as regulatory compliance, attorneys' fees, technical investigations, and loss of customer revenue and relationships, and ancillary costs associated with cyber attacks can quickly compound for a small business.

Ironically though, even with 480 new high-tech threats now introduced every minute, according to anti-virus provider McAfee, human error still remains one of the greatest threats to organizations' well-being. With just 3 in 10 employees currently receiving annual cyber security training, it's all too easy for enterprising con artists or e-mail scammers to circumvent even the most cutting-edge digital safeguards.

Noting this, the over 30.2 million small businesses in America now at risk of digital disruption are advised to adopt a comprehensive mix of both high- and low-tech strategies for combating cyber threats, including:

  • Making daily backups and duplicates of data and files that can be retrieved in the event of system compromise or ransomware (malicious software that holds accounts/networks hostage until large sums of money are paid).
  • Installing and regularly updating anti-virus, network firewall, and information encryption tools to scan for and counteract viruses and harmful programs; guard against incoming network or denial-of-service attacks; and keep sensitive information safe.
  • Routinely monitoring and scanning any device that's connected to a computer system or network, and prohibiting the use of removable media (e.g. USB drives) at work.
  • Limiting employees' access to only the files, folders, and applications that are required to perform routine on-the-job tasks.
  • Providing regular, up-to-date training for staffers at least every 90 days on the latest online threats and trends in cybercrime.
  • Engaging in teaching drills and exercises grounded in real-world everyday scenarios that test employees' ability to detect scammers and respond appropriately to fraudulent requests.
  • Instructing staff about the dangers of clicking on unsolicited email links and attachments, and the need to stay alert for warning signs of fraudulent emails (among the fastest-growing forms of "phishing," a.k.a. online con artistry, today).
  • Utilizing multifactor authentication (requiring multiple checks and approvals) before authorizing any major, uncommon, irregular, or allegedly time-sensitive requests.
  • Conducting ongoing vulnerability testing and risk assessments on computer networks and applications to seek out and address possible points of failure before they arise.
  • Implementing artificially-intelligent cyber analytics tools that can scan networks, user accounts, and applications to determine what passes for normal behavior, and auto-detect and immobilize suspicious activities before they spread.

Noting that threats can come from both internal staffers and external sources alike, and the growing amount of sensitive information that modern businesses must juggle, today's best cyberdefenses are now multipronged, experts warn.

"It's important to take a multi-faceted approach to cybersecurity," explains Dan McNamara, chief technology and security officer at MedReview, whose 300 employees provide medical and patient record support services to hospitals and healthcare providers nationwide.

"As our organization has grown, so has the number of cyberattacks it faces. ... In the last two quarters alone, we saw 12 to 15 million breach attempts, many of which take place during early morning hours and weekends. [To safeguard ourselves,] we try to embrace AI and autonomous services; implement real-time cybersecurity tools; and encourage every person on staff to play a role in combating online threats."

More importantly, says McNamara, whose company has yet to suffer a single data breach in 40 years, similar shifts in thinking can help other small businesses immediately start bolstering their digital defenses. "[We believe that] every employee is now responsible for helping maintain security; we try to train everyone from the person manning the front desk up to the CEO on what constitutes smart high-tech behaviors."

The Week in Business: Facebook’s Role in Impeachment - The New York Times

Posted: 13 Oct 2019 04:00 AM PDT

I get it: Your attention span has been consumed by impeachment news all week. But important stuff is happening in the business and tech worlds, too. Here's what you should know heading into Monday.

CreditGiacomo Bagnara

What role will big tech play in the Trump impeachment inquiry? We got a taste last week when President Trump's re-election campaign ran an ad on Facebook that claimed that Joe Biden had offered Ukraine $1 billion to scuttle an investigation of his son. Mr. Biden's campaign said the video (and Facebook, by extension) was peddling false information, as did a chorus of news outlets including CNN, which refused to air the ad. But when the Biden camp requested that the ad be removed, Facebook declined, claiming that it did not violate company policy. The platform's response set a laissez-faire tone toward the spread of misinformation about the impeachment inquiry — scary, considering the impact of social media on public opinion.

Tensions between the United States and China plagued yet another industry last week: the N.B.A. An exhibition game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets, held in Shanghai on Thursday, was supposed to symbolize common ground between the two countries. (Hey, we all like basketball — maybe our governments can agree on other things, too!) But the N.B.A.'s multibillion-dollar relationship with China became another lightning rod for conflict when an executive at the Houston Rockets tweeted his support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong. Chinese television networks dropped the game and some ticket holders boycotted it. Meanwhile, Mr. Trump announced that officials from the two countries had reached a "phase one" trade agreement that would halt the next round of tariff increases on Chinese goods, which were set to go into effect on Tuesday. The deal provides a temporary détente in a yearlong trade war.

Once famous for defining female sexiness (cleavage, minimal body fat, salivating men), the largest lingerie company in the United States has had a long fall in the #MeToo era. The brand laid off 15 percent of its staff last week — an unusual move for a retailer heading into the holiday season, but these are unusual times. Sales have sagged for years as consumers' underwear tastes shifted toward more inclusive, body-positive brands. And it certainly didn't help that Victoria's Secret has been caught up in the Jeffrey Epstein sex-trafficking scandal ever since Lesley Wexner, the chief executive of the store's parent company, was revealed as one of Mr. Epstein's biggest financial clients and closest associates.

CreditGiacomo Bagnara

In an effort to prevent a repeat of last year's devastating wildfires, California's largest utility, Pacific Gas and Electric, shut down power to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses in the northern part of the state last week. Citing dry conditions and extreme winds that could damage power lines and spark flames, PG&E said the blackouts could last several more days while electrical equipment is inspected. The economic fallout from the power cuts could be huge, but most residents would rather be safe than sorry — especially as fires have already displaced over 100,000 people in the Los Angeles area.

Remember when Brexit's Oct. 31 deadline seemed ages away, giving Parliament plenty of time to sort out its differences with the European Union and create a sound plan for Britain's withdrawal? Well. Unless an 11th-hour agreement is reached, Britain will need to extend the deadline once more. Which worked so well the previous times, right? Queen Elizabeth will outline Prime Minister Boris Johnson's legislative plans when she opens a new session of Parliament on Monday, but lawmakers are expected to reject them. That could set off a no-confidence vote in Mr. Johnson's leadership, followed by a new election. All of the above leaves Brexit — and Britain's economy — in limbo for even longer.

The annual meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund take place in Washington this week, and it sounds like a real party! The I.M.F.'s new managing director, Kristalina Georgieva, will present its World Economic Outlook on Tuesday, and it won't be good. She recently warned that Mr. Trump's trade war with China could cost the global economy around $700 billion by 2020 — a loss equivalent to the size of Switzerland's entire economy. Expect more hand-wringing this week, only with a bigger audience and further discussion of the threat of a recession.

Boeing and Porsche have teamed up to create a "premium" flight vehicle that basically sounds like a flying car. But the news was overshadowed by a damning report that found both Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration at fault for a flawed certification process that led to two fatal crashes of the 737 Max plane. In other news, New York City's comptroller demanded that 56 companies adopt a version of the N.F.L.'s Rooney Rule, which aims to foster diversity in top roles by requiring leaders to consider women and ethnic minorities in their searches for chief executives and board members.

This woman-owned kombucha business booms after 'Shark Tank' - CNBC

Posted: 13 Oct 2019 05:58 AM PDT

With the popularity of specialty teas on the rise, it's no wonder Kombucha has made a name for itself in the beverage sphere. Kombucha, a fermented probiotic tea, earns gold stars for a number of benefits, including promoting a healthy digestive system.

But here's the downside: The fizzy tea is a little pricey – typically at $3 to $5 per bottle.

That's why Kate Field created a store-bought version to nix this dilemma. With only $800 in her pocket, she created an at-home kombucha brewing kit called The Kombucha Shop – and the rest was history.

"I had the entrepreneurial bug for a while but never quite landed on the right idea," Field said in an email to CNBC. "Pretty quickly after beginning to homebrew, the lightbulb went off. I thought to myself, 'It's so much more cost-effective to brew kombucha at home, and what I'm making tastes incredible, how has no one turned this into a business yet?'"

To gain capital for the business, Field went on "Shark Tank," seeking $350,000 in exchange for 10% equity. The pitch itself was one to remember – Field brought out a tub of scoby, the key ingredient in Kombucha. It's a rubbery structure that doesn't look the most appetizing – and it's safe to say the Sharks were shocked. Especially Kevin O'Leary after hearing the $3.5 million valuation.

"I have an unsettled stomach until I hear a revenue."

Field responded by saying that the company was on track to make between $1.6 and $1.7 million that year. Plus, she wasn't spending any money on advertising or turning to crowdfunding sites – and that really impressed the Sharks.

"Getting on to Shark Tark was such a pie in the sky dream of mine for years," Field said. "When the opportunity actually came up to audition, I was too scared -- I almost didn't go. I thought I'd never get on the show, and if I did, I'd fail miserably and walk out crying and humiliated. I was so focused on all the possible bad outcomes that I failed to think about how capable I actually am. With practice and focus, it's amazing what people can do when they set their minds to something. I've kept that level of confidence and patience since the show, it's had a lasting effect on how I lead my business. Now, no goal or dream I have for myself or the business seems too crazy."

The Kombucha Shop received a nice bump in sales right after the airing. In a period of fewer than six weeks, Field said they packed and shipped out over 15,000 orders. Plus, they ended up getting into the Midwest region of Whole Foods this past spring and are also launching brewing kits across the region in November.

"Being an entrepreneur is one of the hardest yet most rewarding experiences in life," Field said. "And if I've learned anything over the last five years, no amount of success or money will make you happy in the end. With each new level you reach, you just set your sights higher and higher. There is no finish line for an ambitious person, so you have to spend time finding true joy and fulfillment away from the confines of success and failure."

Did Field end up locking down a deal in the end? Find out on "Shark Tank" Wednesday at 9P ET on CNBC.

Delta And Marriott Named Best Airline And Hotel Chain For Business Travelers - Forbes

Posted: 13 Oct 2019 09:41 AM PDT

Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines and Bethesda-based Marriott International have been voted as the top airline and hotel chain respectively for business travelers in North America. The honors were announced on October 7th and come from Business Traveller Magazine, a United Kingdom-based magazine that focuses specifically on business travel. To get the results, Business Traveller surveyed its readership across nearly forty categories including best hotels, best airlines and best airports around the world.

Among the winners in North America, Delta Air Lines emerged as the favorite carrier for business travelers. American Airlines came in second place while Air Canada took third.

This is the second year straight in which Delta was picked as the top airline for business travelers in North America by Business Traveller readers. In 2017, American Airlines took the top spot and was followed by Delta, JetBlue and Air Canada respectively. That year, however, American changed its loyalty program to use a spend-based model to calculate elite qualification – the same model that Delta and United used. As a result of those changes, many travelers in subsequent years may have voted for Delta over American based on product and operations alone without taking loyalty into account (Delta regularly beats American in on time performance).

Despite Delta's strong performance in the rankings, Oneworld, the alliance to which American Airline subscribes, still won as as the favored alliance. Part of that, however, may be because British Airways, the flag carrier of the United Kingdom, is also in the same alliance (indeed, British Airways won the 2019 awards in the best Frequent Flyer Program category).

This is also the second year straight in which American came in second place to Delta Air Lines.

On the hotel side of the equation, this is also the second year in a row in which Marriott International took top honors. In 2017, Marriott was second behind Hilton Hotels and Resorts.

Much of Marriott's traction may be coming from its recent merger with Starwood, which added a massive portfolio of hotel properties to an already gargantuan roster. The combined family of Marriott hotels now has properties in nearly every business destination on the planet, and has turned into a default standby for many road warriors.

Additional help for Marriott has likely come from Starwood's legacy loyalty program, which had dozens of relationships set up to transfer points from travelers' point balances to international airlines. That program, which carried over to Marriott, is regarded as one of the most useful tools in the hotel loyalty program industry.

Ironically, Marriott didn't take home the grand prize for the best hotel loyalty program this year. That award went to Hilton.

Full results from the 2019 Business Traveller awards have been published on the site's award page.


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