The Spacestation, a creator-focused company that operates a variety of businesses in categories like talent management, esports, and influencer marketing, is launching a new TikTok content house in September.  The company is looking to spend between $5 and $8 million on a Los Angeles mansion where its new comedy collective, "Camp Sike," will produce content for platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok.  The Spacestation hopes that Camp Sike's comedy niche will serve as a differentiator when pitching to brands against other TikTok content groups that lean into dance challenges and lip-syncing trends for their videos. Subscribe to Business Insider's influencer newsletter: Influencer Dashboard. The creator-focused media company The Spacestation is currently shopping for a $5 to $8 million mansion in Los Angeles.  Its plan — which has been continually delayed due to restrictions tied to the coronavirus pandemic — is to move six recently signed TikTok stars into a mansion in September in order to launch a new creator group focused on humor. "This collective is a comedy collective," said Jaxon Cooper, a talent manager and producer at Spacestation Integrations, a division of The Spacestation focused on managing creators and coordinating brand deals. "It's sketch comedy. It's written out, whether it's dialogue or monologues." TikTok is just a launching-off point for Spacestation's comedian group It may seem like an inopportune time to invest millions of dollars in a content house for a group of digital stars whose biggest audiences are on an app that politicians are considering banning in the US. But TikTok has also exploded in popularity in recent months, with its trends spilling over onto Instagram, YouTube, and TV shows like Saturday Night Live. The app set a global downloads record in the first quarter, and based on data from a sample of Android users, the analytics firm SimilarWeb estimates TikTok's number of daily active users in the US is up 8.3% this month from June. Still, Spacestation Integrations is hedging its bets by focusing on a variety of social platforms for its new comedy collective, which is going by the name "Camp Sike" and will operate within a yet-to-be-announced company division called Satellite Studios. The collective is already working on a scripted series for YouTube (Spacestation hired a writer to help script and direct) and plans to diversify across a variety of platforms and mediums, including podcasting. The collective's managers know TikTok's moment could be fleeting — as was the case for the short-form video app Vine — and they've planned for a possible demise. "We saw these guys and we were like, 'These are the next David Dobrik and Vlog Squad,'" said Spencer Lowder, who works alongside Cooper as a talent manager and producer at Spacestation Integrations. "If you look at them and see what happened, Vine was essentially a funnel for them. Vine was basically put to rest and disbanded, but it funneled all that attention [for them] into these other social-media platforms." Dobrik quickly rose to fame on YouTube and more recently, TikTok, after being a Vine star. Jack Innanen, one of Camp Sike's founding members who has around 2 million followers on TikTok, said the team has aspirations to eventually pitch comedy shows to traditional media companies and streaming platforms.  "[We'll] continue doing our individual videos and the way that we create on TikTok, and then come together and really take over TikTok as a collective, and then transition that to YouTube," Innanen said. "[We're] working on higher production content to be produced and then sold or shopped around." Camp Sike is focused on comedy — not dancing Camp Sike is one of several TikTok groups that have chosen to bunk together in Los Angeles this year in order to collaborate on content and score brand deals. Two creator groups, The Hype House and Sway LA, made splashy entrances into the city at the start of this year. And a series of upstart TikTok collectives like Clubhouse, Drip Crib, and Girls in the Valley have recently made moves into the city to try to capitalize on TikTok fame. The collab house model has a long history among YouTubers and Vine stars like Logan Paul, who moved into an apartment complex in 2014 with other top Vine creators on the aptly named Vine Street. Content houses offer creators the opportunity to cross-promote each other's accounts and create videos with other influencers passing through (when shelter-in-place policies are lifted). Camp Sike also isn't the first content house that The Spacestation has launched. The company's gaming division, Spacestation Gaming, previously opened collab houses for its esports players in cities like Atlanta and Las Vegas. But Spacestation's decision to buy rather than rent a house for its Camp Sike talent — a seemingly much larger investment — is a departure from what other TikTok-focused management groups have done. For instance, TalentX Entertainment, a new talent management company that launched late last year, opted to rent rather than purchase a Bel Air mansion for six of its talent in January (naming it Sway LA). "This is planned to be a long term investment, so purchasing the home would prove more cost-effective than leasing for Spacestation and partners," said Lowder, who declined to share the names of other participating investors. Spacestation hopes that Camp Sike's comedy niche will serve as a differentiator when pitching to brands against other TikTok content groups that lean into dance challenges and lip-syncing trends for their videos.  "Dancing isn't always going to be the best way to present a product or service, whatever it is," Lowder said. "With comedians we're able to tell a story in a way that people find funny and relatable and they get something from it." "Everybody out there is focusing on a house," Cooper said. "The Hype House. The Clubhouse. Sway LA. It's all focused on a house, whereas our goal is this comedy collective and moving and driving them to really a place of presence in this new digital Hollywood space." How the group formed Before the Camp Sike project was formalized earlier this year, Spacestation Integrations had worked with the group's creators to secure brand deals for one-off campaigns as part of its influencer-marketing business. "We were working on a few campaigns with some of them, and they had actually all rented an Airbnb at Playlist Live in Florida," Cooper said, referring to the annual creator-fan event held in Orlando. "They had basically tested [living together] out, and were thinking about the idea of getting together. When we caught wind of that, it made absolute sense that we had to go down this road with them." Spacestation flew the group out to its headquarters in March to meet everyone in person before agreeing to manage the group full-time.  "Before we start investing in creators we want to know who they are and make sure we all vibe together," Lowder said. "After that initial introduction all the guys went home and the plan was to move to LA about a month or two after that, but because of the pandemic it really put things on hold." Camp Sike is currently 'collabing' in Utah until it's safe to move to Los Angeles While a move to LA was put on indefinite hold following the coronavirus outbreak, five of the group's members — Daniel Muthama, Grant Beene, Frankie Lagana, Asaf Rovny, Jericho Mencke — are currently living together in a house in Utah (The Spacestation is headquartered in Layton, Utah, a 25-minute drive from Salt Lake City). Innanen, who is based in Toronto, is waiting for travel restrictions between the US and Canada to lift before joining the group in-person. "We're taking the precautions of making sure everyone's social distancing," Cooper said. "When we go out to stores, throwing on masks. There's a mandate here in Salt Lake. It's required to wear a mask." The group is already working on making content together and helping to plan out each other's daily TikTok posts, Cooper said.  "Every day they'll wake up, sit down, and they'll help write ideas for one another's TikToks," he said. "They'll whiteboard everything. They'll do key points for a video, and some of them are scripted." The collective will eventually live rent-free in LA (with some supervision) When the six members of Camp Sike (all of whom are 18 years of age or older) do move to Los Angeles, they won't need to pay rent to live in the company's mansion. But they'll be joined by Spacestation's Cooper who plans to also move to the city to help make sure everything goes smoothly for Satellite Studios' first venture.  "With everyone moving out to LA, first time going out to California, we want there to be on-site management," Cooper said. "That will be me living out there making sure the house is in order and everything's being run well. We definitely don't want it to be any type of party house. It's a creator house. It's a production studio set." Living together in "collab" houses hasn't been without controversy for other TikTok stars this year. Members of the popular influencer group The Hype House have tussled over trademark disputes, and several residents of the TikTok house Sway LA recently left their Bel Air mansion shortly after two of the house's members were arrested on drug charges in Texas. Lowder said Camp Sike will have a production schedule to make sure the house stays on task. "There will be a schedule," he said. "Tuesday we will be [recording] the podcast. Thursday we will be filming the TV series. Even the guys came up to us and said we don't want to have crazy rager parties." For more on how creators and talent managers are building businesses on social media, check out these other Business Insider posts: A new TikTok influencer mansion 'Drip Crib' wants to snag brand sponsorships with an in-house waterfall and music talent: While the Hype House and Sway LA have dominated media coverage recently, smaller upstart "collab" houses like Drip Crib are opening up in the city. A TikTok influencer group shares the exact 8-page media kit it's using to pitch brand sponsorships of a new collab house: Girls in the Valley, a new TikTok collab house, is launching at a time when in-person socializing is off limits because of the coronavirus outbreak. A crew of TikTok stars lives rent-free in a Bel Air mansion, but at Sway House you have to meet your content quota: TalentX Entertainment put six of its top TikTok stars in a house in Los Angeles. Here's what the agency has planned for its influencers this year. Inside YouTube star Brent Rivera's content company, which created a superhero for TikTok and wants to become the next Disney Channel: Amp Studios is a talent incubator and content group founded by the 22-year-old YouTuber Brent Rivera and his manager and business partner, Max Levine. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: What it's like inside North Korea's controversial restaurant chain
We've identified 24 of the high-powered executives that Microsoft has assembled in a team to fight its rivals in the cloud wars, based on information from insiders and experts. Microsoft reported 2020 fiscal-year earnings this week and said it achieved $50 billion in annual revenue for its commercial cloud business, which includes sales of Microsoft Office and Azure to businesses, for the first time. Microsoft has long been considered the No. 2 cloud provider versus dominant Amazon Web Services, but that perception has started to change through recent and significant victories, such as landing a $10 billion cloud computing contract with the Pentagon. Of course, Microsoft still has a lot of catching up to do. Gartner estimated Amazon's 2018 cloud market share was three times the size of Microsoft's. Click here to read more BI Prime stories. Microsoft's cloud business is on the rise and the Redmond, Washington-based company has assembled a team of high-powered executives to upend its rivals. Microsoft Azure has long been considered the No. 2 cloud provider versus dominant Amazon Web Services, but that perception has started to change.  "Azure is the primary growth engine for the company and positions them to have a leading market share in a potentially multitrillion-dollar opportunity in the future of computing," RBC Capital analyst Alex Zukin said.  To be sure, Microsoft still has a lot of catching up to do. Gartner in a report released over the summer pegged the 2018 market share for AWS at 47.8% and that of Microsoft Azure at 15.5%. But Microsoft has scored some significant wins and recent moves indicate the company is prioritizing the cloud above all else. When Microsoft reported 2020 fiscal-year earnings this week and said it surpassed $50 billion in annual revenue for its commercial cloud business, which includes sales of Microsoft Office and Azure to businesses, for the first time. To lead the charge, Microsoft has assembled a team of high-powered executives to guide its all-important cloud strategy. We spoke with insiders and experts who said that these were the 24 power players to watch within Microsoft's cloud business. Meet Microsoft's ace cloud team:SEE ALSO: Amazon reportedly restricted partners at its New York conference from mentioning competitors like Microsoft and Google Alysa Taylor. corporate vice president of business applications and industry Alysa Taylor runs the marketing teams for Microsoft's customer relationship management software Dynamics 365 — a competitor to Salesforce — as well as the Power Platform, a line that includes products like business-analytics service Power BI and app development tool PowerApps. Taylor first joined Microsoft in 2004 as a general manager and her role within Microsoft's cloud organization is significant as Power Platform could be an important part of Microsoft's ability to compete against Amazon Web Services.     Bharat Shah, corporate vice president of Cloud and AI Security Engineering Shah's job is to make the Azure cloud platform secure. He's spent more than 30 years at Microsoft, including a decade in the cloud computing business, and now runs services that help cloud customers protect against security threats including Azure Security Center, Azure Sentinel, and Azure Key Vault. Shah also leads security product development teams for user and infrastructure-oriented security and runs the Microsoft Security Response Center, which responds to attacks against Microsoft's cloud, as well as the data center security team, which protects the physical security of Microsoft data centers. Charles Lamanna, corporate vice president of low code application platform Lamanna leads the engineering and program management teams for the business applications group's Low Code Application Platform, which includes products such as Microsoft's Dynamics 365 customers relationship management platform and PowerApps, which helps companies create business apps without coding. Offering products that require little or no coding — part of the so-called low-code/no-code movement in the developer tech market — has become a priority for Microsoft. "Microsoft has a very big commitment not just to true software developers, but citizen developers [or non-professional developers," Daniel Newman, Futurum Research principal analyst and founding partner, said. "They're trying to drive low-code, no-code adoption where you can do it all without needing to be an experienced coder."  Lamanna's team includes nearly 1,000 people in Redmond, Hyderabad, Paris, and Toronto. Charlotte Yarkoni, corporate vice president of Cloud and AI Yarkoni's job is to attract customers and partners including developers, startups, and independent software vendors into Microsoft's cloud business. Her team is responsible for the Microsoft for Startups program, which provides sales, marketing, and technical support for startups, and Microsoft's Imagine Cup student competition.  Yarkoni's team also runs developer relations for Microsoft, Microsoft's Channel 9, which publishes videos behind-the-scenes at Microsoft, and learning resources and forums such as developer.microsoft.com and doc.microsoft.com, making her a visible part of the company's all-important push to appeal to developers. Deb Cupp, corporate vice president of industry Tailoring products to fit specific use cases is becoming more common for cloud companies. Google announced industry-specific cloud initiatives earlier this year, including for healthcare, financial services, media and entertainment, and manufacturing. IBM also has a specific cloud for financial services, and touts Bank of America as a client. Amazon Web Services offers industry-specific products too. Cupp, who joined Microsoft in 2018, is a big part of that effort within Microsoft. Microsoft recently introduced its first industry-specific cloud, which includes versions of existing products — such as Dynamics 365 Marketing, Dynamics 365 Customer Service, and Azure IoT — with tweaks designed specifically for the healthcare industry.  Corey Sanders, corporate vice president of Microsoft Solutions Sanders sets the sales strategy and runs the corporate technical sales team for Microsoft's Azure cloud business, its productivity apps, and Dynamics 365, its competitor to Salesforce.  Sanders joined Microsoft in 2004 and has worked on the Azure team since before its release. "I find Corey Sanders as one of the well-trusted names in the space," Gartner research director Sanjeev Mohan said.   Eric Boyd, corporate vice president of AI Platform Boyd runs Azure AI, the artificial intelligence platform for Microsoft's Azure cloud business. Microsoft formed the Azure AI group during a company wide reorganization last year. It is charged with finding a way to sell the artificial-intelligence research and technologies already used in the company's products to customers – and making it easy for any type of company to use. Simplifying artificial intelligence and machine learning for cloud customers could make Microsoft more competitive in the fierce cloud-computing battle with AWS, and Boyd is a leader in that effort.  Erin Chapple, corporate vice president of Azure Compute Chapple is the head of product for Azure Compute, which provides the infrastructure customers need to build applications. She joined Microsoft in 1998 and has spent much of her time at the company working on Windows Server, Microsoft's server operating system. "She has domain expertise and knowledge," Gartner research director Sanjeev Mohan said. "She can transcend the legacy Windows Server and the Azure business. That is a very important combo right there." Gayle Sheppard, corporate vice president of Azure Data Sheppard oversees strategy for Microsoft's data and analytics products and services.  She's in charge of product management and customer experiences for Microsoft products and services including Microsoft's SQL Server database management system and other products related to SQL, the programming language designed for managing data, plus additional data and analytics products within Azure. Sheppard joined Microsoft in April about six months after leaving Intel, where she was vice president and general manager of the Saffron AI Group. Microsoft is still in the "first innings" of data and artificial intelligence, CEO Satya Nadella said when he recently listed the technologies that will guide the future of the company. James Phillips, president of business applications Phillips leads Microsoft's business applications group, in which his teams build and operate Microsoft business applications including Dynamics 365 customer relationship management, the Power Platform that helps customers customize cloud applications with minimal coding, and Microsoft's artificial intelligence and mixed-reality business applications. He started at Microsoft in 2012 as a strategic adviser to Satya Nadella, the company's current CEO.  Phillips' team had more than 5,000 employees globally as of 2018.   Jason Zander, executive vice president of Microsoft Azure Zander is the top executive within Azure, Microsoft's overall cloud platform and its rival to the market-leading Amazon Web Services. He's run the team since Microsoft reorganized in 2018, dismantling its traditional Windows organization in favor of a focus on cloud computing.  That means Zander is in charge of everything from product management to engineering withing Azure. The Azure group is part of the Cloud & AI group – also created during the reorganization – and Zander reports to Scott Guthrie, the head of that group. Judson Althoff, executive vice president of Worldwide Commercial Judson Althoff leads Microsoft's worldwide commercial business, which sets the sales strategy for the overall company, and helps make sure customers, partners, and developers are getting the most out of the company's technology. Althoff first joined Microsoft in 2013 as president of Microsoft North America, where he was responsible for customers and partners in the US and Canada.  Before joining Microsoft, Althoff served as a senior vice president at Oracle, where he worked for 11 years. Similarly, he also managed and supported the company's partners and sales. Prior to that, he worked at EMC.  Jeff Sandquist, corporate vice president of developer relations Jeff Sandquist is in charge of a key part of Microsoft's cloud business: developer relations. While Microsoft has long excelled in its relationships with large business customers, analysts have pointed out that one of Microsoft's biggest strategies now is winning over developers. If Microsoft really wants to catch up with Amazon Web Services, its dominant rival in the market, analysts say it needs to keep on winning the hearts and minds of the developers who do the dirty work of building software.  Sandquist joined Microsoft in 2015 and became a corporate vice president last year. Joy Chik, corporate vice president of identity Joy Chik, a 22-year Microsoft veteran, is responsible for identity, an important cybersecurity component within the company's cloud business. Chik's team manages user authentication for what Chik's LinkedIn profile says is more than 1 billion users every month across Microsoft products and services like Azure, Office 365, Windows, Xbox, and Surface hardware. Julia Liuson, corporate vice president of Developer Division Julia Liuson leads the developer division at Microsoft, which is responsible for many of Microsoft's popular products for software engineers. One of these is Visual Studio Code, an open source code editor that has become the top open source project on GitHub. Another is .NET, which is a leading standard for developing Windows applications. Liuson first joined Microsoft in 1992 as a software design engineer working on Office and developer products. Since then, she has held a variety of technical and management positions, working on products like Visual Studio, as well as its server and developer tools. Liuson holds the distinction of having been the first woman at Microsoft ever promoted to the title of corporate VP of development. This year, she was inducted into the Women in Technology International Hall of Fame.   Julia White, corporate vice president of Azure Marketing Currently, Julia White serves as corporate vice president of Azure marketing, focusing on Microsoft's cloud, enterprise security, and IT management businesses. In 2001, she left Intuit, where she started her career, and joined Microsoft as a product manager. Since then, she has held various management positions in product management, channel sales, and marketing.  Besides working in tech, White was an Olympic hopeful in the synchronized swimming event. She garnered attention for a stylish leather jacket she wore to a Microsoft event in 2014.    Mark Russinovich, chief technology officer of Microsoft Azure Mark Russinovich is the CTO of Microsoft Azure. He's particularly focused on leading Microsoft's efforts in serverless computing —which allows developers to build and run applications without having to manage the infrastructure behind it.  Russinovich has worked at Microsoft for 13 years. Before serving as Azure's CTO, he started as a technical fellow, where he helped architect Microsoft's cloud. Before joining Microsoft, Russinovich cofounded Winternals Software, where he worked for nearly a decade. He also spent three years working at IBM as a researcher. Noelle Walsh, corporate vice president of Cloud Operations and Innovation Noelle Walsh joined Microsoft in 2017 as corporate vice president. Currently, she's leading the cloud and infrastructure operations which underpin services like Azure and Office 365. She focuses on security and reliability of the cloud, as well as increasing datacenter sustainability and renewable energy. Prior to joining Microsoft, she spent nearly three decades at the Dow Chemical Company, where she made use of her background in chemical engineering There, she served as corporate vice president, as well as various other positions in multiple businesses. Rohan Kumar, corporate vice president of Azure Data Rohan Kumar heads Azure Data at Microsoft, where he leads the engineering, product strategy, development, and design of Microsoft's data applications, analytics software, and databases for data scientists, developers, and IT professionals to use. Kumar joined Microsoft after he received his masters degree, and has stayed for the last 21 years. One of Kumar's efforts includes leading data applications on Microsoft's hybrid cloud, which allows customers to run applications both on their private data centers and Microsoft's cloud. Kumar previously told Business Insider that hybrid cloud is a key part of Microsoft's strategy. "I think he's very influential because he oversaw a wide spectrum of Azure's data and analytics offerings," Gartner research director Sanjeev Mohan said. "The fact that he's now more focused on engineering, to me it tells me that Microsoft is doubling down on engineering efforts so they needed him to focus on the engineering side and let someone move over to the planning side." Sam George, corporate vice president of Azure IoT Sam George leads Azure Internet of Things (IoT), the organization that creates software that allow customers to access Microsoft's cloud from any connected device, whether it's computers, mobile phones, factory sensors, mapping technology, or even smart cars.  George has worked at Microsoft since 1997, serving various roles in development, testing, and program management. Currently, George is a major proponent of IoT and says that companies are increasingly using this technology for manufacturing, construction, agriculture, oil and gas, and other industries. Scott Guthrie, executive vice president of Cloud and AI Scott Guthrie has worked at Microsoft for over 22 years. As executive vice president of Microsoft's cloud and AI group, he is responsible for Microsoft's cloud, servers, artificial intelligence technology, databases, security, business applications, and more. These include products like Microsoft Azure, HoloLens, GitHub, and Visual Studio Code.  Guthrie joined Microsoft after graduating college. Since then, he has served in various management and executive roles, leading the Microsoft Azure team and the developer division. He was one of the original founders of Microsoft's .NET framework, which is used for developing Windows applications — and is one of the most famous developers in the world, at Microsoft or otherwise. Takeshi Numoto, commercial chief marketing officer Takeshi Numoto became Microsoft's commercial chief marketing officer in March. That means he's in charge fo the company's marketing strategy for the products its sells to businesses, including Azure and commercial cloud products like Office 365. Numoto has spent nearly 23 years at Microsoft after starting out in 1997 as a business development manager within the company's Windows division. Ulrich Homann, corporate vice president and distinguished architect of Cloud and AI Ulrich Homann has worked at Microsoft for over 24 years and currently heads engineering for Microsoft's cloud and artificial intelligence products. He spent most of his career at Microsoft as a systems architect at various businesses at the company.  Most recently, he was the distinguished architect for Microsoft's cloud and enterprise business, building out Microsoft's business applications.  Before he joined Microsoft in 1995, he worked at several consulting companies. Vasu Jakkal, corporate vice president of security, compliance, and identity marketing Vasu Jakkal joined Microsoft in July 2020 from cybersecurity company FireEye, where she was chief marketing officer. Now she's one of the people driving Microsoft's security strategy, important for its cloud business.  
Some financial firms are evaluating their post-pandemic office needs. Wells Fargo is not renewing its lease in a 750-person WeWork space in Charlotte, N.C. Citi meanwhile has signed a lease for a roughly 100-person WeWork space that's not in a major city. UBS is pushing ahead with working with WeWork remodelling a large space in New Jersey, now incorporating a social distancing-geared design.  Charlie Morris, head of Avison Young's US Flexible Office Solutions practice, said he's seen financial services remain "active" in the flex-office market, and that his firm's consulting with a "very large" player on committing a large percentage of space to flex-office. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Big financial firms now have had the experience of operating largely remotely for the first extended period of its kind.  Many of these companies' plans for fully returning employees to buildings are up in the air — particularly in the US — as the coronavirus pandemic's path changes by the day.  Some are taking this opportunity to reevaluate their office needs. But there's no industry-wide consensus yet on how it will shake out.  Of the 400 chief human resource officers, chief information officers, and chief operating officers across US-headquartered banks, insurers, and capital markets firms polled in an Accenture survey published on Tuesday, 51% expected to keep their real-estate footprints, and 42% expected reductions. Here's a look at some of the biggest financial firms' real estate and flex-office plans: Wells Fargo is leaving a 750-person Charlotte WeWork space In Charlotte, N.C., a big financial-services hub, Wells Fargo has chosen not to renew its lease in a prominent WeWork location in the city, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.  The bank, headquartered in San Francisco with a large presence in Charlotte, had a 24-month lease for the 750-person space at 128 South Tryon Street starting in September 2019, according to this person. A clause in Wells Fargo and WeWork's contract provided the bank the option to exit the lease after one year, this source said. WeWork has touted the seven-floor, 130,000-square feet location inside the First Citizens Bank Plaza building as its largest office in the Southeast US when it opened, the Charlotte Business Journal reported.  A spokesperson for Wells Fargo declined to comment. A spokesperson for WeWork also declined to comment. Wells Fargo, meanwhile, is planning to keep more than 200,000 employees working from home until at least September, according to a second-quarter earnings call transcript on the investment research platform Sentieo. For Wells Fargo, reducing expenses was a key objective for Chief Executive Charlie Scharf even before the pandemic hit.  On the earnings call with analysts on July 14, Scharf said he found some $10 billion in expenses Wells Fargo would need to cut. He said he expected the bank to start taking action in the second half of 2020, and that could mean consolidating branches, field offices, and corporate sites. It's likely the bank will have to house fewer employees, regardless. Wells executives are drafting plans that could cut tens of thousands of jobs starting this year, Bloomberg News reported in early July. The bank reported some 263,000 global employees as of March. TIAA has moved out of a temporary Midtown Manhattan WeWork space it rented while its headquarters are being renovated The $1.1 trillion manager TIAA moved into four of WeWork's five floors at 575 Lexington Avenue in Manhattan as temporary space while its nearby headquarters undergoes renovations. TIAA didn't renew its WeWork lease and moved out as originally planned in June. Employees will work remotely until renovations wrap up. In 2018, WeWork leased five floors at the location totaling 117,000 square feet. According to July marketing materials from WeWork viewed by Business Insider, the coworking giant is currently looking to fill one 20,070-square-foot full-floor space on the 16th floor, as well as 12,000-square-foot and 10,000-square-foot partial spaces on the 15th floor at 575 Lexington.  TIAA's real-estate subsidiary, Nuveen, was WeWork's second-biggest US landlord last year, based on CoStar Group data, Business Insider reported in August. Nuveen leased more than 600,000 square feet of space to WeWork in the US as of last June, per CoStar, which declined to provide more recent figures. Nuveen does not own 575 Lexington Avenue. That building's trio of private owners put the property up for sale earlier this year, The Real Deal reported in January.  Others are adding flex space, and more deals could be in the future Citi and Mastercard are among the companies that have signed new leases with WeWork recently, according to a July 12 report in the Financial Times.  The lease agreement Citi signed with WeWork is for a small office intended for some 100 people, and is not in a major metropolitan US area, a person familiar with the matter told Business Insider. A spokesperson for Mastercard said the company could not comment on specific real-estate deals.  WeWork Chairman Marcelo Claure told the Financial Times that the office company was on track to be cash-flow positive in 2021, thanks to aggressive cost cutting and strong in-demand from companies seeking flexible-office arrangements because of the pandemic.  Charlie Morris, head of Avison Young's US Flexible Office Solutions practice, said that he's seen financial services remain "active" in the flexible-office market, and that for some firms, the pandemic has been an accelerator.  He said that his firm has been consulting with "one very large financial-services firm" on committing a large percentage of its office space into flexible-office in the future. The plan pre-dated coronavirus, but he said that the firm is "definitely involved more so post-COVID." Read more: WeWork is leasing a big new office in Jersey City to house the headquarters of a planned spin-off from pharma giant Merck UBS say it's thinking about flexibility UBS Chief Executive Sergio Ermotti told analysts on a Tuesday earnings call that the Swiss bank has already been looking at its global real-estate footprint. "There is an acceleration that more and more you will have a situation in which people don't have necessarily their own desks, but they have a space in which they need to share. And that creates a lot of flexibility in the way we manage our real-estate footprint," he said.  Last month, the firm's chief operating officer, Sabine Keller-Busse, told Bloomberg News that she could envision about one-third of UBS's workforce of some 70,000 people permanently working remotely. Ermotti largely reiterated that outlook on Tuesday. UBS, with North American regional headquarters in Midtown Manhattan, is working physical-distancing design plans into a previously instated renovation program in conjunction with WeWork for 100,000 square feet of UBS's Weehawken, N.J. office, according to a person familiar with the matter. Morgan Stanley looks to keep its presence in big cities For some firms, the prestige and appeal of big cities could be hard to let go.  "I think headquarters will always be in these iconic cities, and the symbol of that — it's kind of the Mecca of the finance industry," said Jocelyn Kung, the founder and CEO of organization development consulting group the Kung Group, referring to New York City. "I would think that symbol will never go away."  "But the way that work happens and transactions occur more and more through electronic transfer and remote work — that is not just in the finance industry, but all over it's happening," she said.  On a call with analysts last week, Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman said having 90% of the bank's total workforce working remotely has given management a chance to rethink office strategy — but shot down the notion the New York-headquartered bank would meaningfully cut back in big cities.  "We're committed to the major cities in this world where we have our headquarters: here in New York, where I am today with [finance chief Jon Pruzan] although socially distanced; London; Frankfurt, which we've moved and consolidated, is our European headquarters; Tokyo and Hong Kong. That doesn't change. Morgan Stanley will remain a major player in the commercial real-estate market globally," he said.  In wealth management, Morgan Stanley's force of some 15,400 financial advisers have been gradually returning to offices in some areas of the US where local mandates allow, a person familiar with the matter said. The wealth business had already been trimming branches — it had 584 through June 30, down from 591 in March. But that was planned pre-pandemic, this person said, and those offices could wind up with even smaller footprints in the future. Read more: Facebook is eyeing offices in cities like Dallas, Atlanta, and Denver to act as 'hubs' to support 50% of its workers staying remote — and it's a move that could upend Silicon Valley and NYC real estate A startup that uses AI to scan Wall Street chats is flagging more people for cursing and complaining — and it could be a sign of bigger compliance issues while people work from home Wall Street is starting to return to the office — but not everyone is heading back. Here's which finance jobs are the most likely to remain virtual.SEE ALSO: LEAKED DOCUMENTS: WeWork is looking to fill 2 million square feet of vacancies in New York City, its biggest market. Here's what's sitting empty. SEE ALSO: Wall Street's disaster playbook never included work-from-home trading. Insiders explain how banks rapidly adjusted during one of the most chaotic markets in history. SEE ALSO: IBM is ditching a big WeWork office in NYC, revealing the risks of the popular flex-space model as the pandemic prompts Blue Chip companies to rethink real estate Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why electric planes haven't taken off yet
Adam Singer, a former Google marketing manager, said that after living in the Bay Area for over a decade, he's had enough of the astronomical home prices and the city not making strides to improve living conditions. In a 2019 tweetstorm, Singer aired his hang-ups with San Francisco and announced that after a trip to Austin, he and his wife purchased land and would be moving to Texas' capital. "None of my San Francisco or Bay Area friends were surprised," Singer told Business Insider of his relocation. "They're like, 'It's totally reasonable to leave.' No one's fighting to keep me here." A recent report by the real-estate company Compass found that to afford a median-priced home in the San Francisco Bay Area, a person would need to earn more than $340,000 per year. In another vote of confidence for the area, Elon Musk announced Wednesday that Tesla's new Cybertruck factory would be coming to Austin after expressing displeasure with California's regulations. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Adam Singer is tired of San Francisco. The former Google marketing manager said that after living in the Bay Area for over a decade, he's had enough of the astronomical home prices and the city not making progress to improve living conditions. In a tweetstorm in August, Singer aired his hang-ups with San Francisco and announced that after a trip to Austin, he and his wife (and their rescue dog, Dash the Dingo) would be moving to Texas' capitol, increasingly known for its hot startup scene as much as its barbecue. Might as well just share while here & excited (got to meet so many creative, energizing people). Pulled trigger & purchased land today. Done deal. Will be in SF awhile longer while they build our house my wife is designing. Plenty of time to say goodbye. New adventures soon! — Adam Singer (@AdamSinger) August 15, 2019 "So Austin suburbs are beautiful. Houses really reasonably priced. Easy ride to the city. Great food and music scene nearby. What's the catch," Singer tweeted, adding: "For same price of your SF rental you can afford basically as much house as you want here. Crazy." Singer said he recently purchased land in Austin and would work with a local design center to construct his home. Read more: 11 facts about San Francisco's housing market that will make you glad you live somewhere else With housing prices in the San Francisco Bay Area continuing to reach record highs, many like Singer are questioning whether it's worth it to live in the region at all. In a survey of Bay Area residents in February, 44% said they were likely to leave within the next few years. They cited high housing prices as the top reason they were feeling pressure to move. Another report by the real-estate company Compass found just how costly it can be to buy a home in the San Francisco Bay Area. Including mortgage payments, taxes, and insurance, owning a median-priced home in the Bay Area costs about $8,500 per month — and in order to afford that kind of monthly expense, a person would need to earn more than $340,000 per year, the report said. The area has continued to attract top talent, and tech businesses have followed. Amazon, Facebook, and Google all have office space in the city, and on Wednesday Elon Musk announced that Tesla's new Cybertruck factory would be coming to Austin after expressing displeasure with California's regulations and high costs of doing business. Singer, a former Googler, told Business Insider in an interview this week that after two years of house-hunting across the Bay Area, he became all too frustrated seeing the type of homes he could actually afford. "I'm not paying $2 million to live in some boomer's starter home next to a strip mall," Singer said of certain houses he looked at south of San Francisco, near San Jose. In Austin, Singer said, he was able to find "gorgeous" homes for under half a million dollars. Same price SF/Austin (viewed this one but didn't buy). Sure live in the filing cabinet where you hear neighbors play who let the dogs out at 4am or have the custom built bespoke castle with same if not more professional opportunity closeby + prop values have insane room to run. pic.twitter.com/RMGI3iwXyx — Adam Singer (@AdamSinger) August 15, 2019 'A Nimby state' The former Googler put much of the blame for San Francisco's housing prices on city officials who don't want to increase the number of condos and apartments in the area. Other cities, such as Austin and Seattle, Singer said, have been able to keep housing prices from reaching untouchable rates because they've been willing to develop. "People think supply-and-demand economics don't exist as soon as you get into the Bay Area," Singer said. "It's not a thing here." Singer also pointed the finger at longtime San Francisco residents who bought their homes years before prices spiked. Those owners are cashing on the demand from renters, Singer said, and thus have little incentive to advocate for the city to increase its supply of homes. "For the people who already own here, I think they quietly don't give a f---," Singer said. "They have theirs. Whether they want to admit it or not, this is a Nimby state. What they will accomplish — they will squeeze out the middle of San Francisco." (Nimby, an acronym for "not in my backyard," is often used to describe opposition to development in a particular area.) On top of the extravagant housing costs, the Bay Area faces major problems like how to best support its homeless population and provide adequate transportation options for residents, Singer said. He also said he sees much of what initially appealed to him about San Francisco — like local cafes and restaurants — being displaced by trendy restaurants with "$500 prix fixe menus." Good weather and FOMO So why are some San Franciscans still choosing to stick around? Singer said he thinks that, besides the weather, some people, especially those in tech, stay in the Bay Area because of FOMO, or fear of missing out. The thought, he said, is that if you're not in San Francisco, you won't have the chance to work for top tech companies like Uber or Pinterest or Google. That might be true for those just starting their careers, said Singer, who now works as a digital marketing lead at the biotech company Invitae. But for someone who has worked at a company for at least a couple of years and has proved to be a "linchpin" for their team, it's unlikely that the company wouldn't let them work remotely, Singer said. "The unwritten rule at any given mega-corp is if you're a talented individual contributor they will let you work from wherever you want," Singer said. "It is not posted on their website. They will not admit that to you ever. But I've never seen that not be true at any big company." As for the reaction to his Austin relocation, Singer told us that none of his friends or family were all too shocked. "The biggest reaction is 'Why did you stay in San Francisco so long?' from all my non-San Francisco friends," Singer said. "None of my San Francisco or Bay Area friends were surprised. They're like, 'It's totally reasonable to leave.' No one's fighting to keep me here."SEE ALSO: What life is really like in the most expensive place in the US, where the typical home costs $1 million and it feels like everyone works in tech Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why Pikes Peak is the most dangerous racetrack in America
Listen to our weekly podcast Am I Making You Uncomfortable? about women’s health, bodies and private lives. Available on Spotify, Apple, Audioboom and wherever you listen to your podcasts.One in three women has been asked to wear more makeup or change their hair while working from home, new research suggests, because while we’re interacting through a screen, sexism is alive and well. Almost as many women were asked to dress more sexily or provocatively during video calls, according to the research by employment law firm Slater and Gordon.  In general, more than one in three women have experienced at least one sexist workplace demand since the lockdown started in March, the survey of 2,000 men and women found.  The most common ways bosses justified lurid comments about dress included saying it would “help to win new business”, it is important to “look nicer for the team”, and “it would be more pleasing to a client”, according to the study.The law firm said it had hoped there would be a dramatic decline in reports of sexist behaviour as offices closed down, but that sexism had instead found “new and insidious” ways to thrive online.Around two out of five women said demands were targeted at them or other women in their teams, rather than equally with male employees, leaving them feeling “objectified, demoralised and self-conscious” about their appearance.Most women told to dress more provocatively did not report their boss to their HR department, and one in four actually agreed to change the way they looked for fear of a negative impact on their career.Slater and Gordon employment lawyer Danielle Parsons said: “It is categorically wrong for a manager or anyone in a position of power to suggest, even politely, for a woman to be more sexually appealing in the workplace.“This is a powerful form of coercion which makes women feel as if they must adhere to the manager’s request and be more visually pleasing to be successful at their job. This is demeaning to women.”Slater and Gordon urged women to report any demands to change their appearance to their HR department, or seek legal advice.Sue Harris, legal director of the GMB union, said: “The way women are treated in our society is absolutely reflected in the findings of this poll.“Nobody ever considers what a man looks like or suggests he change appearance for the purposes of a team call.”TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Sexism and harassment at work has a huge impact on women’s lives, even during a pandemic.  Trade union reps can help members who experience it, but we need better laws to stop it happening in the first place.“Ministers should strengthen the law by giving employers a legal duty to prevent sexual harassment at work. This would help put an end to toxic workplaces where sexism and harassment are an everyday experience for women.”READ MORE: Opinion: You Don't Need To Pretend To Not Have A Family To Be Professional Frustrated, Upset, Forgotten: How Pregnant Women Feel With No End Of Lockdown In Sight Vagina Brush Designed To Sweep Away Period 'Debris' Disappears From Sale
We asked some of the top fintech investors to recommend up-and-coming fintechs that cater directly to businesses. Investors could nominate their own portfolio companies, as well as fintechs they haven't backed, with the caveat that nominees couldn't have raised beyond a Series B round of funding. While responses were wide-ranging, a central theme was automation, with a focus on fintechs that help businesses streamline processes like data management and payments. Here are the 38 up-and-coming B2B fintechs investors are watching. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. When it comes to early-stage investing, any investor will tell you that there's more risk. That said, there's also more reward for backers willing to bet on a young company. And while direct-to-consumer startups like Robinhood and Chime often draw much of the attention in the fintech ecosystem, startups that deal directly with businesses have enjoyed some significant success recently. Look no further than Plaid, which is in the process of being acquired by Visa for $5.3 billion, or Stripe, whose latest funding round put it just shy of a $36 billion valuation.  Read more: Here's how 44 insiders at powerful banks, buzzy startups, and big investors are thinking about financial innovation — and why the term 'fintech' may be on its last legs Fintechs investors, it appears, have noticed. Business Insider asked 27 of the top fintech investors to pitch us on up-and-coming fintechs. It's worth noting more than 63% of the submissions were startups that cater to businesses, not consumers. While investors could nominate both their own portfolio companies and those they haven't invested in, we set a fundraising limit of no startups that had moved beyond a Series B raise. Investors' picks varied, but a major theme was automation — fintechs that help other companies streamline things like data management, expense tracking, and payments. Here are the 37 up-and-coming B2B fintechs to watch. See more: 22 fintechs that VCs and big investors say are on the brink of becoming household namesSEE ALSO: 22 fintechs that VCs and big investors say are on the brink of becoming household names SEE ALSO: 4 top VCs explain why Stripe, Square, and Finix are going to be big winners in a post-COVID-19 world Alloy Cited by: Bessemer Venture Partners (investor), Insight Partners, Index Ventures Total raised: $19 million What it does: Alloy streamlines the process of onboarding and managing clients for financial firms, helping companies collect customer data from various sources. The New York-based startup helps firms with identification and compliance concerns.  Why it's hot in 2020: "As digital transactions continue to increase, so does the rate of financial fraud, thus companies must walk a tightrope between maintaining robust compliance methods and offering a low-friction customer experience; Alloy does exactly this," said Brad Fiedler, investment associate, and Teddie Wardi, managing director at Insight Partners. "Their client base grew by more than 800% in 2019 and their team has been scaling nicely since then." "Banks and fintechs need help understanding the identity of their customers, and Alloy has built a platform that makes it easy to do so. We're not investors but are big fans of the team and the market opportunity," said Mark Goldberg, partner at Index Ventures.  "Alloy is growing quickly, having differentiated in a crowded market of data vendors and software providers by taking a developer-first approach and positioning themselves as a key partner to the top legacy and emerging vendors in the industry and as an orchestration layer that sits above them all." said Charles Birnbaum, a partner at Bessemer Venture Partners.  Altruist Cited by: Clocktower Ventures Total raised: $8.5 million What it does: Altruist helps financial advisors improve on the customer experience they provide. The California-based startup offers cutting-edge tools to RIAs that allow them to operate more efficiently. Why it's hot in 2020: "This is the first time we see a platform that focuses on allowing financial advisors to provide the same all-around top-notch experience that has been so far reserved only to D2C roboadvisors or self-directed neo brokerage apps — RIAs can now operate more efficiently and delightfully with frictionless onboarding and account opening, a UX first design, and commission-free trading," Adriana Saman, associate at Clocktower Ventures, said.  Bambee Cited by: QED Investors Total raised: $18 million What it does: Bambee, a Los Angeles-based startup, offers human-resource managers for small businesses starting at $99 a month. After setting up policies, the manager continues to work with the company to insure they are maintained and managed correctly. Why it's hot in 2020: "96% of small businesses do not have an HR manager and Bambee is seeking to fill that gap. The extraordinary team, led by CEO Allan Jones, is providing full HR-in-a-box solutions to companies that would otherwise have no dedicated HR, reducing risk, anxiety and inefficiency and allowing SMBs to focus on their businesses," QED Investors cofounder and managing partner Nigel Morris said. Beacon Cited by: Centana Growth Partners (investor) Total raised: $41 million What it does: The New York-based startup caters to developers at financial firms looking to improve on the speed at which they are able to build out new solutions or tools. Thanks to their use of the cloud, Beacon helps users improve their efficiency around how they develop and deploy new tech.  Why it's hot in 2020: "Beacon's founders are innately innovative. They've built similar technology at Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, and Merrill Lynch, and this time they are building this technology on the cloud. Their vision has always been to make modern, efficient capital markets software available to a broad range of clients in addition to the biggest banks," said Eric Byunn, cofounder and partner at Centana Growth Partners.  BillGO Cited by: Commerce Ventures (investor) Total raised: Declined to disclose What it does: BillGO aims to update how bill payments are processed. The Colorado-based startup's bill payments engine includes real-time payments and advanced capabilities for customers.  Why it's hot in 2020: "Bank-based online bill pay hasn't changed much in a decade, which has enabled billers to persuade more and more consumers to store their payment credentials directly on biller sites. This makes it harder for consumers to track all of their bills and expenses in one place, and thus keep on top of their finances. BillGO enables banking and personal finance players to once again centralize bill payment for consumers as well as, for the first time, deliver broad, and rich access to digital bill presentment. This will shake up the $4 trillion bill pay industry in the next 12 to 24 months," said Dan Rosen, general partner at Commerce Ventures. Bison Trails Cited by: Kleiner Perkins (investor) Total raised: $30.75 million What it does: Bison Trails is a New York-based fintech focused on helping companies manage infrastructures built across multiple blockchains. The startup includes coverage of over 24 different blockchain protocols.  Why it's hot in 2020: "Bison Trails is democratizing access to blockchain infrastructure, akin to what AWS did for storage and compute. They currently support more than 20 protocols and often work closely with the builders, developers and investors to ensure these protocols launch smoothly. That infrastructure will be key to the next wave of blockchain innovation, serving as a developer tool and distribution building block," said Monica Desai Weiss, an investor at Kleiner Perkins.  Built Cited by: Index Ventures (investor) Total raised: $55 million What it does: A provider of construction finance technology, Built ensures efficient flow of money between all parties of a project. The Nashville-based startup offers updates in real-time to mitigate risk and speed up the process.  Why it's hot in 2020: "Every year, banks lend trillions of dollars to builders to fuel the construction market. But most banks still rely on spreadsheets and paper to manage payouts — leading to project delays and additional costs," Index Ventures' Goldberg said. "Built is creating a new category of software to bring this market into the 21st Century. Based in Nashville, it's one of the fastest-growing (and least well known) companies in our early stage portfolio." Checkout.com Cited by: Insight Partners (investor) Total raised: $380 million, according to Crunchbase What it does: Checkout.com is an API-based payments startup that enables merchants to accept electronic payments from around the world through one integration. Why it's hot in 2020: "It's been a busy year for Guillaume and his team — from May 2019 to May 2020, transactions increased by 250% and the business added 500 new employees. Riding their recent momentum, the team raised a Series B at a $5.5B valuation in June, which is up 3x from their first institutional round just one year ago and makes it one of the highest valued (yet still not a household name!) fintechs in Europe. The Checkout platform has a unique global presence with footprints on every continent, a growing set of proprietary value-add services, and a long list of innovations to come. Perhaps most impressive in an age of high-burn startups, the business has been profitable since its founding in 2012," said Deven Parekh, managing director at Insight Partners. Cherry Cited by: DCM (investor) Total raised: Declined to disclose What it does: Cherry is a point-of-sale financing startup that enables merchants to offer flexible payment plans to their customers. Why it's hot in 2020: "Think 'Affirm for offline businesses.' Particularly in the current recession, customers value payment flexibility and most local businesses are hurting for customers. Auto repair shops, for example, is a category Cherry serves, and they've been growing rapidly through Covid-19," Kyle Lui, partner at DCM, said. Read more: Buy now, pay later startups are surging. But Affirm CEO Max Levchin says the industry will see a shakeout as the pandemic hits borrowers. Codat Cited by: Point72 Ventures Total raised: $18.9 million What it does: Codat looks to improve the flow of data between small businesses and the banks and fintechs they're working with. The London-based startup allows companies to avoid exchanging information regarding accounting or payments via email, instead offering a more fluid channel for the two sides to connect.  Why it's hot in 2020: "Business financial data is siloed across different software platforms. As a result, delivery of business-facing financial services is slow and full of manual processes. Codat has the opportunity to become the central hub for all business data — accounting, banking and commerce — and improve the delivery of financial services to small businesses." said Tripp Shriner, a partner at Point72 Ventures.  CyberCube Cited by: Pivot Investment Partners Total raised: $35 million, according to Crunchbase What it does: CyberCube works with insurance companies to help them better understand their cyber risk. Its risk analytics and modeling help to determine the financial impact of a cyberattack. Why it's hot in 2020: "CyberCube is poised to benefit by operating at the intersection of two powerful forces: A) Cyber has become the fastest growing line of insurance to emerge in decades, yet, most firms still lack the data and analytic tools to effectively participate in this market. B) Companies are increasingly vulnerable and stand to lose billions in value from amorphous cyber-crimes," said Atit Amin, fintech investor at Pivot Investment Partners.        Digits Cited by: Sapphire Ventures, Sequoia Capital Total raised: $32.5 million, according to Crunchbase What it does: Digits is an expense management platform for small businesses. Why it's hot in 2020: "This is another early-stage company that's disrupting the financial sector. Companies have to apply for access, so it's pretty stealthy. In fact, they're still in stealth mode. Digits plays in the expense-management space. Digits' tech sits top of a company's existing accounting package, connects with existing financial institutions, and amplifies and reinforces accountants' work," said David Hartwig, managing director at Sapphire Ventures. "Digits is solving an important problem for companies: real-time cash management. The founders Jeff and Wayne are excellent product thinkers, and their technology is lightening the load on finance teams," said Shaun Maguire, partner at Sequoia Capital. DriveWealth Cited by: Point72 Ventures (investor) Total raised: $54.3 million What it does: DriveWealth enables companies to offer investing products without having to worry about managing an entire brokerage operation. The New Jersey-based startup has also helped foster the rise of fractionalized trading via a tool known as "the fracker." Why it's hot in 2020: "They enable anyone from large technology companies (Square) to smaller banks provide trading and digital wealth experiences. With a set of APIs, anyone can launch a product like Robinhood or Betterment. We're seeing that financial-services providers need to offer a full suite of products to their customers, and we believe DriveWealth is the best way to offer new investment experiences," Point72 Ventures' Shriner said.  Read more: Robinhood, Fidelity, and Charles Schwab are racing to give customers the chance to buy $1 slices of stocks. We talked to a dozen insiders about who wins, who loses, and what it says about trading today. Earnest Research Cited by: Pivot Investment Partners (investor) Total raised: $19.4 million What it does: This New York startup offers data analytics for financial firms, consumer brands and consultants. Earnest Research analyzes and processes transactional data to give a sense of customer trends and behaviors.  Why it's hot in 2020: "As the amount of stored electronic data grows exponentially, extracting value from that information will provide the means to which firms stay relevant. Working with data partners, Earnest creates consumer and market research analytic products derived from the aggregated and anonymized transactional data of millions of US consumers. Leading buy-side firms and Fortune 100 corporates deploy its software to gain a deeper understanding into the KPIs impacting performance at public and private companies, as well as the secular shifts in consumer behavior that drive the US economy," Pivot Investment Partners' Amin said.     Eventus Systems Cited by: Jump Capital (investor) Total raised: $18.5 million, according to Crunchbase What it does: This Austin, Texas-based startup offers trade-surveillance and risk-management software. Eventus offers a holisitic view to customers, covering trading, operations, compliance, and risk management.  Why it's hot in 2020: "Rising trading volumes have only increased market and regulatory risk for financial market participants who are already spending $1 billion per year on trade surveillance technology. Eventus' market-leading solution has enabled the company to become a default choice for large established firms seeking a better surveillance and risk solution, and the dominant player in rapidly growing crypto trade surveillance market," Peter Johnson, principal at Jump Capital, told Business Insider.    Fidel Cited by: Citi Ventures (investor) Total raised: $22.9 million What it does: Fidel offers an API for businesses to access real-time card payment data.  Why it's hot in 2020: "During the last decade we have seen tremendous value generated by startups that create a connectivity layer on top of disparate legacy systems. Improving and creating the digital 'plumbing' has produced tremendous outcomes for companies such as Plaid, Stripe and Twilio. By making the underlying payments infrastructure more accessible, Fidel empowers developers to build applications and services that drive value back to the end user. A user's payment card holds a huge amount of information that once unlocked can produce a new wave of innovation that benefits the users," said Luis Valdich, managing director at Citi Ventures. Finix Cited by: Insight Partners (investor) Total raised: $65 million What it does: Finix is a provider of payments infrastructure for companies that want to embed and manage payments in-house, as opposed to relying on a third party. Why it's hot in 2020:  "The company's explosive growth started in 2019 when they began processing billions of dollars worth of payments for dozens of customers including Kabbage, Lightspeed POS, and Passport — a 20x growth in payments volume. Over the past 12 months, Finix has raised capital from firms including Insight, Sequoia, Bain, and Visa, added former Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker to its board, and recently launched a new product — Flex — to make their product accessible to smaller platforms," said Rebecca Liu-Doyle, vice president at Insight Partners. Read more: A startup aimed at disrupting payments and taking on Square and Stripe just raised a $35 million Series B led by Sequoia Capital Glean Cited by: Sapphire Ventures Total raised: $2.9 million What it does: Glean is software for businesses to manage their vendor spend. Why it's hot in 2020: "This very early-stage, business-oriented fintech startup was founded by 2x CFO Howard Katzenberg. Howard was the CFO of Better Mortgage and OnDeck, which was a Sapphire Ventures investment prior to going public. Glean goes after a problem that Howard noticed during his time at Better Mortgage and OnDeck, namely that managing spend, even within a small business, is like playing wack-a-mole, which takes a lot of energy and doesn't use a lot of intelligence. Glean's technology enables SMBs to lower vendor costs by analyzing core drivers of spend and finding non-intuitive insights — all with the power of machine learning," said David Hartwig, managing director at Sapphire Ventures. Glia Cited by: Insight Partners (investor) Total raised: $29 million What it does: Glia is a digital communications startup that offers its clients – banks, credit unions, and insurance companies – a customer service platform with messaging, video chat, phone calls, and AI, all consolidated into a single system. Why it's hot in 2020: "Everyone at some point has experienced the frustration of speaking with an agent at a traditional call center — enduring long wait times and a battery of security questions before finally reaching an agent, only to be transferred to a different agent who has no context around what the customer was doing on the web or mobile and what they've already explained to other agents. By allowing interactions to switch seamlessly between various channels, and allowing the agents to help customers navigate through web and mobile experiences (e.g. applying for a mortgage) in real-time, Glia reduces average handle times while improving both the end-to-end customer and agent experiences,"  said Lonne Jaffe, managing director at Insight Partners. Global Data Consortium Cited by: Edison Partners Total raised: $3.5 million What it does: Global Data Consortium functions as a singular touchpoint for businesses looking to verify the identity of customers across the globe. Based in North Carolina, GDC offers verification capabilities in over 50 countries.  Why it's hot in 2020: "I am excited about Global Data Consortium in the digital identity and compliance space. Big fan of the founding team and what they've built so far with their global identity verification platform, with a unique, international data play; and they just announced a partnership with Experian. Definitely one to watch, especially given how identity market continues to be of a significant focus and growth in this time of accelerated digitization." said Jennifer Lee, principal at Edison Partners.  Groundspeed Analytics Cited by: Oak HC/FT (investor) Total raised: $32 million, according to Crunchbase What it does: Groundspeed Analytics focuses on helping insurance carriers and brokers organize and analyze their data, the vast majority of which traditionally went unused. Customers are able to improve on margins and customer experience by accessing the unstructured data via the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based startup.    Why it's hot in 2020: "Most innovation relies on having access to quality structured data as a starting point. This data allows innovators to run analytics and use AI/ML to change how products are priced, serviced and delivered. However, today that data is not organized or standardized in a format that brokers or carriers can actually use and benefit from," said Tricia Kemp, cofounder and managing partner at Oak HC/FT. "[Groundspeed] has many of the top brokers and carriers as customers and have already positioned themselves as the leader in data structuring and friction-less analytics for the industry," she added. Investor Cash Management (ICM) Cited by: Visa Ventures Total raised: $6 million What it does: ICM partners with asset and wealth managers to offer cash management investment vehicles to consumers. Through ICM's accounts, consumers get access to government money market funds, ETFs, and other high-yield products. Why it's hot in 2020: "ICM leadership is passionate about promoting financial inclusion: ICM converts individuals into investors, and then enables them to earn ~10x higher returns on their liquid assets and savings. ICM is seeing strong demand for its cash management account (CMA) product. ICM clients include trillion-dollar asset managers such as Invesco and leading wealth management firms such as Cabana. ICM has also launched programs in India with affiliates of large foreign banks. Furthermore, ICM is now working with large community organizations to promote savings and reduce the racial/gender investment and wealth gaps," said Kevin Jacques, VP of Visa Ventures Mantl Cited by: Point72 Ventures (investor) Total raised: 11.3 million, according to Crunchbase What it does: New York-based Mantl aims to improve how banks and credit unions open up accounts for customers. The startup's solution can embed with a customer's older tech stack, meaning an entire overhaul isn't required to improve the client experience.  Why it's hot in 2020: "They're a consumer and business account opening that helps banks and credit unions provide their users with a modern experience without having to change their underlying core infrastructure. We like this name because A) They enable the country's smaller financial institutions to compete with the big guys and fintechs on digital experience. B) Covid has highlighted how critical account opening is," Point72 Ventures' Shriner said.  Read more: Investors at Point72 and Goldman Sachs believe industry giants like FIS and Fiserv will be the next to be disrupted by fintech. Here's where they are most susceptible. Modern Treasury Cited by: Activant Capital Total raised: $10 million What it does: Modern Treasury is an API-based payments operations system. It helps companies automate things like sending payments and reconciling money movement. Why it's hot in 2020: "They're automating the treasury function within companies, which can be very expensive from an opex perspective — Goldman estimates that the global costs associated with accounts payable (AP) is ~$2.7 trillion. In the US alone ~$187 billion is spent annually on the direct processing and labor costs and ~$510 billion if you include indirect costs like working capital and cross-border fees. We've seen the opportunity across our portfolio and as the ACH payment rails shift closer to real-time payments massive opportunities exist to embed payments automation into the workflows of large organizations," Steve Sarracino, founder and partner at Activant Capital, said. Moov Cited by: Activant Capital, Kleiner Perkins, and Bain Capital Ventures (investor) Total raised: $5 million  What it does: Moov allows users to create banking and payment functionality in their app seamlessly. From client onboarding to money transfers, the startup covers a variety of banking services.  Why it's hot in 2020: "Moov.io is bringing the open-source movement to fintech, which could serve as a huge unlock for the next wave of builders. They're navigating both sides of typically complicated negotiations, allowing fintechs to work with traditional financial services and data providers with a new level of ease and implementation velocity," Kleiner Perkins' Desai Weiss said.  "Over the next five to 10 years we expect to see substantial advancements in the infrastructure layer for banking and financial services. nCino's IPO listing was a great example of this wave picking up steam and the legacy incumbents like Fiserv and FIS (with a combined market cap of $150 billion) are ripe for disruption. One company we're following is Moov, an early-stage banking-as-a-service startup that works in the cloud or on-prem and offers a suite of services from account creation through bill pay, KYC, wire transfers and more," said Activant's Steve Sarracino. "Moov.io is a developer-first, open source banking-as-a-service offering that enables banks, fintechs, and technology companies to seamlessly embed financial services into their product suites," said Matt Harris, a partner at Bain Capital Ventures.  Mulberry Cited by: Two Sigma Ventures Total raised: $12.75 million What it does: The New York startup allows ecommerce sites to embed warranties seamlessly in their platform at the point of sale. In doing so, merchants can tap into additional revenue and increase customer loyality. Why it's hot in 2020: "It can be difficult to identify a solution that addresses pain points across different stakeholders in a mutually beneficial way, but that's exactly what Mulberry has managed to do with its platform. They are helping retailers quickly and easily launch warranty programs (that also generate revenue), while also improving customer experiences with simple, low-cost warranty options at the point of sale. It's a true win-win for merchants and their customers. They have identified a niche space that has been overlooked that is ripe for disruption and have a solution that can be scaled globally," said Colin Beirne, partner at Two Sigma Ventures. Neuro-ID Cited by: Jump Capital Total raised: $9.7 million What it does: This Montana-based startup offers insight into the behavior of financial firms' customers. As a result, Neuro-ID helps firms lower the chances of fraud and improves the client-onboarding experience.  Why it's hot in 2020: "As financial institutions rush to onboard new customers, they are struggling to balance the desire to increase conversion rates by reducing friction with the need to manage risk and fraud. Neuro-ID's solution is empowering leading online lenders, payment processors, and insurance companies to personalize and enhance the digital customer journey in ways that smartly increases conversion rates," Jump Capital's Peter Johnson said.      Nova Credit Cited by: Kleiner Perkins (investors) Total raised: $70 million What it does: Nova Credit helps immigrants get approved for financial products in the US despite their lack of credit history in the US. The startup works with international credit bureaus to develop a US credit rating. Why it's hot in 2020: "Nova Credit was built around a recurring pain point in a globalized economy — when you move, your credit doesn't move with you. They've done the incredibly operationally-intensive work to change that, and to unlock financial products like credit cards, auto loans and even cell phone plans to immigrants. With that mission, Nova Credit is leading the way in thinking about alternative data sources as we expand access in this next wave of fintech," Kleiner Perkins' Desai Weiss said.  Read more: American Express is adding cross-border credit checks from startup Nova Credit — giving it an in with potential card customers that used to be tough to approve Ocrolus Cited by: Oak HC/FT (investor) Total raised: $33 million What it does: This New York-based startup uses artificial intelligence to automate the analysis of documents such as bank statements, IDs, tax forms, and invoices. Operating at more than 99% accuracy, Ocrulus can speed of back-office processes that were previously highly manual.  Why it's hot in 2020: "The company is also incredibly nimble and after the CARES act was announced, quickly created a tailored product to help banks process the applications faster and get these key funds in the hands of small business," Oak HC/FT's Kemp said. "They have ubiquitous market share with online lenders, providing mission critical analysis on top of their data and are moving quickly into other verticals," she added. Read more: Fintechs working with lenders and small businesses explain the pain points still plaguing the latest $320 billion round of PPP loans Privacy.com Cited by: Oak HC/FT  Total raised: $17 million What it does: Privacy.com gives users additional security when making payments online with the ability to control how their card is used. Customers can create single-use cards or put spend limits on cards to limit fraud and provide increased protection.  Why it's hot in 2020: "Privacy has built all-in-one platform enabling technology providers to issue virtual cards all through an API, in a secure, user-controlled manner on top of almost any platform. In the past there needed to be 5+ separate agreements and negotiations to issue a card that can make payments in a virtual online transaction," Oak HC/FT's Kemp said. "The use cases span from using a different card for any transaction, setting spend amount or type limits, and will evolve to enable technology companies to build countless financial use cases and products on top and putting the control of the transaction, data, and privacy back into the hands of the consumer," she added.   Railsbank Cited by: Visa Ventures (investor) Total raised: $14.4 million What it does: Railsbank is a banking-as-a-service offering. It provides APIs to fintechs and financial institutions who want to deliver digital banking and financial services to their own end customers. Why it's hot in 2020: "Despite COVID-19 impacting businesses around the world, Railsbank is growing at an exceptional rate, more than 350% per year as there is actually heightened demand to enable modern digital-banking experiences. Railsbank just announced their expansion into North America last week and the launch of their enabling 'credit-as-a-service' offering. The credit-as-a-service offering is relatively unique. Only a handful of companies can do this in North America today, and it will allow clients to launch some exciting new products," said Kevin Jacques, vice president of Visa Ventures. Ramp Cited by: DCM Total raised: $25 million What it does: Ramp is a corporate card with automated savings features and cash back. Why it's hot in 2020: "[Ramp is a] real challenger to Brex in the corporate card space, but focused on larger growth-stage companies with larger cash balances but serious about saving money — particularly relevant in this post-Covid recessionary market," said DCM's Kyle Lui. Read more: A startup that's raised $25 million from Keith Rabois and Coatue is going up against $2.6 billion Brex and pitching itself as the Honey of corporate cards Roger Cited by: Financial Venture Studio (investor) Total raised: $9.5 million What it does: This startup automates accounting for small and midsize businesses. Roger can handle all bills, invoices and expenses, speeding up the time it takes to manage accounts.  Why it's hot in 2020: "The impact of COVID-19 on the workplace has only accelerated the need for firms to digitize the accounts payable process, and we expect the company's strong early growth to continue to accelerate in the coming years," said Ryan Falvey, managing partner of Financial Venture Studio.         SentiLink Cited by: Bessemer Venture Partners Total raised: $15 million What it does: The San Francisco-based startup stops synthetic fraud, or the use of fake identities to defraud financial firms. SentiLink's technology is able to suss out fake profiles and applications through the analysis of statistical anomalies.  Why it's hot in 2020: "SentiLink has a really strong, experienced team and is solving a very fast-growing problem in the market with a unique platform and developing data asset," Bessemer Venture Partners' Birnbaum said.  Stratyfy Cited by: Point72 Ventures Total raised: $1.8 million  What it does: Stratyfy aims to help lenders avoid unfair bias when viewing an applicant. The New York-based startup uses machine learning to help empower analysts with a model that is explainable.   Why it's hot in 2020: "Outdated credit risk assessment models lead financial institutions to reject too many good applicants and introduce unintended bias that results in reputational damage and lost revenue. Stratyfy's industry-agnostic decisioning engine enables analysts to better understand decisioning and detect bias, leading to fairer lending to more people." Point72 Ventures' Shriner said.      Trellis Cited by: Bain Capital Ventures Total raised: Declined to disclose What it does: Trellis expedites the process of getting the right insurance coverage. Customers are able to share private information to make sure they are able to get the most personalized coverage.  Why it's hot in 2020: "Through modern software and APIs, Trellis makes it faster and easier for consumers to get the best value offering. The offering enables users to share their private insurance information, which in turn allows insurers to replace the cumbersome, complex journey of finding the right insurance, with a personalized, easy experience." Bain Capital Ventures' Harris said. Unqork Cited by: Activant Capital and Centana Growth Partners Total raised: $158.2 million What it does: Unqork is a no-code platform for legacy financial institutions like banks and insurance companies to build software. Why it's hot in 2020: "We've seen first-hand with Truework the massive opportunities for modern infrastructure not just at large banks but also the long tail of credit unions and community banks. Similar to the RPA revolution we've seen over the past few years with companies like UI Path, we see a similar opportunity for UnQork," Steve Sarracino, founder and partner at Activant Capital, said. "Unqork is led by senior management with a depth of knowledge for the financial services and enterprise software space. Its no-code platform has been rolled out at major financial services institutions and governments, enabling quick response to customer onboarding and COVID-19, among other applications," said Ben Cukier, cofounder and partner at Centana Growth Partners.  Vise Cited by: Sequoia Capital (investor) Total raised: $18 million What it does: Vise uses artificial intelligence to help independent financial advisors offer more personalized portfolios to their customers. As a result, advisors can focus on managing clients and building their business.  Why it's hot in 2020: "Vise is rethinking decades of institutional wisdom and disrupting the wealth management industry, one of the biggest markets on Earth. With the compelling tailwinds of a push for more personalization from consumers, advisors seeking advanced technology and the industry moving toward zero-commission trades, Vise is in a prime position to be the central nervous system of the wealth management industry," said Shaun Maguire, partner at Sequoia Capital.  Read more: Sequoia Capital is betting zero commissions will transform wealth management — and it's placing a big bet on an AI-based stock-picking startup for financial advisers
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“Remember Futureproof? No, of course you don’t. And that’s why you shouldn’t bother remembering One Direction either,” music writer Stuart Heritage wrote in The Guardian in 2010. “Like Futureproof, One Direction are an X Factor boyband slung together from solo audition leftovers. And, like Futureproof, they aren’t long for the world. What a waste of so many good Justin Bieber haircuts.”It isn’t easy to remember that small window of time early in the audition phases of X Factor 2010 when One Direction were just another budding boyband, but it makes perfect sense that critics would have denounced them as just another bunch of wannabes.After all, even by 2010, The X Factor had already developed a reputation for producing artists that struggled to hold onto their fame for longer than five minutes.“This isn’t the last you’ll see of us!” became the death croak of many bands and solo artists as they tearfully clutched onto Dermot O’Leary for support as Simon Cowell and his cohort of judges clapped sympathetically. But One Direction were so different. Others X Factor acts did enjoy major success too - let’s not forget Little Mix, Olly Murs, Alexandra Burke and Leona Lewis. But One Direction’s level of fame surpassed anything that modern audiences had seen.Fans and non-fans alike widely agree that such intense levels of fandom hadn’t been seen since The Beatles in the 1960s, and records stacked up: One Direction sold 70 million records in five years.To give some context, David Bowie just sold double that across his 54-year career.Directioners, as the band’s fans were affectionally called, made news for forming unprecedented mobs outside hotels, at airports and outside concert venues. For years, the boys would discreetly exit buildings to remain safe, and to keep fans safe too.Ten years on since the band were formed on The X Factor, how has the One Direction fandom shaped the lives of fans today? “I got my first job in music eight years ago from trying to sneak backstage to a 1D concert,” says Claudia Villarreal, 26, who lives in Los Angeles. “I met someone who offered to help me and in return, when I told them I’d love to work a show, they called me and I never stopped working. Claudia describes herself as a One Direction superfan and first began following the band when she realised they were the same age as her, and seemed to share the same sense of humour. “The One Direction fandom completely changed my life and I wouldn’t be living in LA and working in music, had I not found them,” she adds. “They gave me the drive to do what I didn’t know I wanted to do as a career.”Claudia now works at the record label KYN as the Community and Engagement Manager and was employed by CEO Sonny Tahkar, who is the ex-president of Syco Records, Simon Cowell’s label.“My work is dependent on what I experienced, and the relationships I built, from the 1D fandom,” says Claudia, who is based in the US but travelled to the UK, Australia and Canada to see the band perform in their heyday.“I spent my free time with friends I had made from the fanbase. Friendships that still hold strong even all these years later. I would definitely say One Direction is a part of my identity, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Never in a million years did I think being a ‘professional superfan’ would be a job, but it’s mine.“I actually turned 20 years old on the tarmac of a private airport (Luton) in London waiting for 1D to arrive with my friends,” she adds. “I saw them three nights running at Wembley Stadium and the longest I camped was for fourteen hours to get front-row barrier. I stayed outside with friends I had met on Twitter, lived off McDonald’s and the free cookies from the Double Tree where I was staying. I would do it all over again.”Dimple Ambasana, 21, from London, created a fan account on Twitter for One Direction in 2011 and has gained over 25,000 One Direction fan followers. “I still talk to a few of the same people that I followed nine years ago,” she tells me. I'd never seen anything like it... People running after SUVs and ultimately risking their lives...Dimple, 21, who runs a One Direction fan Twitter accountDimple believes One Direction fans on Twitter shaped social media stan culture as it exists today. “I’d never seen anything like it,” she says. “Seeing people running after SUVs and ultimately risking their lives on the streets of New York just to catch a glimpse of five guys from different parts of the UK and Ireland was insane.“I vividly remember major moments that happened amongst the fandom purely because of the way everyone on Twitter reacted. The fight between One Direction and The Wanted, songs getting leaked, brand new pictures or videos from their tour, One Direction performing in front of the Queen of England and at the Olympics...the list could go on!”Gaining a following on social media allowed fans like Dimple to form communities and support networks, which were formative for her at an early age. Dimple was eleven when she started tweeting about One Direction and the fandom helped her form her identity as a young person.“Not only did those five men give me the confidence to break out of my shell as a 11/12 year old, but the fandom was a safe space for so many, myself included,” she reflects.“I definitely would not be the person that I am today if it wasn’t for everything that I learned from so many incredible people within the fandom that were constantly willing to talk, no matter what time of the day it was.” I definitely would not be the person that I am today if it wasn’t for everything that I learned from so many incredible people within the fandomDimple, a One Direction superfan“Everyone just seemed to have each others’ backs and enabling myself to have that kind of safe haven as someone growing up in suburban West London, where people aren’t as open minded as I’d like, definitely helped me in so many ways,” she adds.Perhaps part of the reason One Direction managed to encourage fans to embrace themselves as individuals was because each of the band members had their own distinct sense of style. Unlike the highly engineered boy bands that came before them like Boyzone and Westlife, One Direction didn’t wear matching suits, perform naff choreography or just sing cheesy ballads. Instead, they embraced their differences. “I think they broke the boyband mould in that they were themselves, as much as they could have been. They each had a personality somewhat created for them (Zayn was the moody one, Niall was the cute one), but outside of that they were still themselves,” says Jennifer, 20, an account manager in London.“They’ll be remembered for their individuality within the band, alongside their amazing humour, talent and genuine love for their fans,” adds Millie, 15, who was only 6 years old when the band formed in 2010. They may have retained more of their individuality than other boy bands, but ultimately Millie believes the pressures of being signed to a major label restricted their independence and made them unhappy. “I think being in the band kind of messed them up a bit personally,” she says. “I’d like them to have a reunion and tour again, but only if that makes them happy and it’s what they want.”The band’s image gained them a male fanbase too, as young guys their age lived vicariously through how the boys appeared to be living the dream: they enjoyed freedom through travelling, and seemed to have great banter in interviews.“I always think of One Direction as basically just university boys that never went to uni,” says Richard, 25, a civil servant who works in London. “Had they not been international stars they probably just would have ended up in a similar situation to me,” he adds. “It was a novelty being a One Direction fan. If you manage to find a group of likeminded fans, normally girls, you’d connect and have a crazy little dance session. These were magical.” Many of the Twitter fan groups that were hotly posting tips and news about the boys back in the day are quiet now, not least because many fans may have moved to TikTok and Instagram in the years since the band went on hiatus. Of course, others will simply have moved on. Jennifer believes the fandom will live on though, and Dimple still receives five to ten messages a day to her Twitter account about the band. “I definitely think the fandom has lasted,” says Jennifer. “We may not be as vocal day-to-day as we once were when the boys were touring and making music day in and day out, but a lot of the fans are still friends with each other thanks to the internet.” I’ve vowed to buy a ticket to their first ever show back, no matter where it is in the worldJennifer, 20, from LondonShe adds: “I’ve made friends for life through One Direction. I went to LA in February and stayed with a friend I met through the boys. It was my birthday over the weekend and a friend I met in Sydney came to my picnic in the park in Primrose Hill. Lifelong friendships were made during One Direction’s prime and we don’t necessarily need annual albums to maintain those relationships.”Naturally, those that still identify with the fandom hope the band will eventually release more music. “Once a reunion - and there will be a reunion one day - is announced, the fandom will be just as noisy and just as obsessed as we were back in the day,” believes Jennifer. “I’ve vowed to buy a ticket to their first ever show back, no matter where it is in the world.”The only thing we don’t want is a goodbye tweet: we don’t want One Direction to be over.Alivia, 17“We would all love a reunion and for the band to get back together, but not if that costs their happiness and freedom,” adds Alivia, 17, a student from Michigan who was just 7 when the band were formed. “The only thing we don’t want is a goodbye tweet: we don’t want One Direction to be over. Even though it has been five years, they still made us a promise that this is not the end.”MORE ONE DIRECTION: 19 Batsh*t Crazy Photos That Show Just How Dedicated One Direction's Fans Were Quiz: How Well Do You Know One Direction's Tattoos? 10 Years Of One Direction: Their Story In Pictures
(NewsUSA) – Amy bought her first house in Grand Rapids, Michigan at age 23.Fast forward two years and she has since sold that house and relocated to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.The relocation shuffle Although Amy was perfectly happy with her first little house and made lots of friends in Grand Rapids, a job opportunity popped up that was too good to turn down.She recently relocated to Pittsburgh, where she serves as a regional sales manager for a major food distribution company.Before her move, she experienced the ups and downs of both buying and selling houses in two different states.I didn’t have a chance to make any improvements on my house, a farmhouse built in 1904, but I did add a simple deck and lots of flowers and new bushes.Plus, coffee shops and restaurants are within walking distance.She explains, "I could have used all of the proceeds from the sale of my house as my down payment.
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Affirm said on Wednesday it will power Shopify's buy now, pay later product, Shop Pay Installments, set to launch later this year. The partnership dramatically expands Affirm's reach to US consumers looking for an alternative to credit cards. Shopify has been on a product-launching spree, with a focus on ways to boost sales for its merchants. Offering a buy now, pay later option like Affirm can help retailers convert browsers to buyers online. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Shopify has been on a product-launching spree recently, moving beyond its e-commerce enabling software and eyeing more consumer-facing products.  In early May, it released a consumer-shopping app. Later that month it announced plans to roll out a new buy now, pay later feature for its merchants called Shop Pay Installments, set to go live later this year. On Wednesday, Affirm said that it will be Shopify's exclusive partner powering the buy now, pay later offering. "We're super excited to be part of Shopify's growth," Max Levchin, founder and CEO of Affirm, told Business Insider. Read more: POWER PLAYERS: Meet the 12 key execs driving Shopify, the breakout e-commerce star that's inking partnerships with Walmart and Facebook and seen its stock price triple since March Shopify powers over one million merchants, more than half of which are based in the US. That opens up a huge market of retailers, and in turn, shoppers, that Affirm will now have access to. "Tens of millions of US consumers are going to be exposed to Affirm, which is a huge leap for us in terms of just being visible," Levchin said. Currently, Affirm is available at check out for more than 6,000 merchants. Prior to the announcement, Affirm was available to Shopify merchants through its app store. But retailers needed to integrate Affirm's tech, which, at times, was more complicated.  By powering Shop Pay Installments, the integration on the merchant side will be more seamless, Levchin said. "You just flip the switch and off you go," Levchin said. "It eliminates all forms of complexity and makes it a choice for the merchant that's super easy." Affirm's brand will still be featured on Shop Pay Installments Often, fintechs will sell their tech to other companies, letting them rebrand it themselves. Startup Bread, for example, does this with its buy now, pay later tech, selling it directly to retailers. But with this partnership, Affirm's brand will still be featured on the Shop Pay Installments product. In fact, keeping Affirm's name was a sticking point for Levchin. "We get full credit and visibility. We actually insist. Part of the adherence of our mission is that people need to know who their heroes are," he said. "We are bringing transparent and honest financial products, and people need to know that it's us who are doing it." As they grow in stature, buy now, pay laters are increasingly considering their brand awareness. For example, Klarna recently announced a loyalty program for customers. Valued at $2.9 billion, Affirm has raised $800 million to-date from investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Spark Capital. See more: From Affirm to Klarna, buy now pay later startups are booming. But experts warn juggling explosive growth with responsible lending is a tricky balance. Levchin, who was a cofounder of PayPal, has been vocal about Affirm's 'mission of honest finance,' offering consumers a more transparent alternative to credit cards. As part of that, Affirm has never charged late fees. "We think it is incredibly important that we be transparent with our merchants and buyers," Kaz Nejatian, vice president and general manager of financial solutions at Shopify, told Business Insider in emailed comments. "Like Affirm, we believe that products that hide behind late fees and hidden fees are bad for everyone," he added. And Levchin says Affirm's commitment to working with its users that are unable to pay has been key to its success during recent months. "That's the brand Affirm stands for. We will work with you and treat you like a grown up," Levchin said. "Part of that requires the end customer knowing that they're dealing with Affirm, so we really have never white labeled." Offering buy now, pay later can help merchants boost sales Shopify's consumer-focused products — like its Shop app — are all about driving more business to the network of merchants running on its platform. And Shop Pay Installments is no exception. Offering a buy now, pay later product at checkout can help retailers increase sales and convert online browsers to buyers. Affirm, which already partners with brands like Casper and Peloton, says that it can increase average order values by 85% and up repeat purchase rates by 20%, as of May this year. Read more: Buy now, pay later startups are 'having a moment' — here's why retailers like Walmart and Target are betting on installment payments to keep consumers spending "We're looking forward to partnering with Affirm to power Shop Pay Installments in the U.S. for eligible merchants, helping them give their customers better shopping experiences while boosting their overall sales," Nejatian said. Affirm, in addition to other buy now, pay later players like Afterpay and Klarna, continue to see a growing number of consumers sign on for their products, often marketed as a more flexible alternative to credit cards. "Today's consumers want more flexibility when they're shopping and making purchasing decisions," Nejatian added. "By giving our merchants the ability to offer more payment choice and flexibility, we're helping them meet their customers' wants and needs." Read more Buy now, pay later startups are surging. But Affirm CEO Max Levchin says the industry will see a shakeout as the pandemic hits borrowers. $85 billion e-commerce giant Shopify is trying to make banks irrelevant for small businesses. Its chief product officer lays out why. Buy now, pay later startup Affirm just launched a high-yield account with an eye-popping rate. Its CEO explains why the startup wants to cater to both saving and splurging.SEE ALSO: POWER PLAYERS: Meet the 12 key execs driving Shopify, the breakout e-commerce star that's inking partnerships with Walmart and Facebook and seen its stock price triple since March SEE ALSO: Buy now, pay later startups are 'having a moment' — here's why retailers like Walmart and Target are betting on installment payments to keep consumers spending SEE ALSO: Shopify's general manager reveals its last-minute sprint to include a tool for a new app to help small merchants take on Amazon and Walmart during COVID-19 Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Leslie Odom, Jr.'s $500,000 gamble that led to a starring role in 'Hamilton'
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Technology improves with every passing day with innovations, mobile technology has surprised every aspect of our lives, especially in the business field.Through progress in technology, and easy accessibility, we can now track inventory very conveniently and effectively at the mobile inventory management platform by using our smartphones.For small to large businesses involved in retail the industry, inventory management is a crucial responsibility, which can be made easy using inventory management software.Technology has made it possible for inventory management applications with various effective features to help businesses or industries to implement an entire system built around optimizing every step included in the inventory process and gives real-time data at the mobile inventory management system.In this article, we have tried to provide you the benefits of using mobile inventory management applications.If you are also planning to take your business to the next level and looking for the best and easily accessible software to get real-time data?Innovapptive is one of the best software providers, which provides effective solutions to turn your business challenges into tangible, competitive advantages to achieve success toward your desired results.Being the best software provider our mission and vision to innovate the next generations' solutions to make your business achieve greatness with effective results.We provide world-class products that are working as turnkey, field-ready, and compatible with virtually any mobile device and platform such as enterprise asset management, SAP Asset manager, fixed asset management software, mobile work order, warehouse management software, mobile workforce management software, and many more.However, we at Innovapptive understand that each business and industry has unique needs and challenges to perform and if the task is not performed correctly, it could affect the productivity and management of the company.
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We’re here to guide you through the coronavirus pandemic. Sign up to the Life newsletter for daily tips, advice, how-tos and escapism.Two in five Brits have spent more time outdoors in the sun during the pandemic, compared to the same time last year. So what impact is this having on our skin?A YouGov survey, commissioned by Cancer Research UK and Nivea Sun, found that while Brits are good at applying sun cream for days out and activities, they aren’t taking steps to protect themselves from the sun when they’re at home.The survey of 2,060 UK adults found more than a third don’t take care in strong sun in their own outside spaces – such as gardens and balconies. This means not using sun cream, wearing sun hats, or sitting in the shade. But when they’re going to the beach, visiting a park, or going on a picnic, they’re more likely to keep their skin protected. Adults aren’t applying sunscreen often enough, either. Only 60% of those who use sunscreen apply it before going out in the sun, the survey found, and 37% take it with them to apply throughout the day. Some respondents (7%) admitted they don’t do anything to protect their skin when the sun is strong. Related... Skin Cancer Symptoms Explained, Plus How To Stay Protected With more people exercising outside and spending time in the garden due to Covid-19, Cancer Research UK is urging people to use sun protection.Claire Knight, the charity’s senior health information manager, says confusion and myths about sun safety could be putting people at risk of skin damage. “The sun isn’t only strong abroad,” she explains. “It can be strong enough to cause damage in the UK from the start of April to the end of September.“So even if it doesn’t feel that warm, or it’s a cloudy day, it’s still possible to get burnt.”Risk of sunburn varies from person to person, and sun damage can look different depending on skin type – for people with darker skin types, their skin might feel hot or itchy rather than change colour. Related... Here's How To Tell If Your Mole Is Cancerous Getting sunburnt just once every two years triples the risk of melanoma, a potentially deadly form of skin cancer. There are two main types of skin cancer: melanoma – which is less common but more serious, as it can spread to other organs in the body – and non-melanoma, the more common type of skin cancer.Statistics published last year showed melanoma skin cancer rates in the UK have soared by 45% over the course of a decade, with young people also developing the disease. Rates have increased by more than a third (35%) for women and 55% for men – and while melanoma is still more common in those over 65, rates for 25 to 49-year-olds have increased by 70% since the 1990s.So if you’re spending more time outdoors during lockdown, it’s really important that you protect your skin. There are easy ways to do this, says Knight. For example, using a gazebo or a beach umbrella for shade in the garden and taking regular breaks inside when the sun is strongest between 11am and 3pm.“When you’re heading out pop on a T-shirt, hat and sunglasses and pack some sunscreen so you can keep it topped up throughout the day,” she says. You should regularly and generously apply sun cream with at least SPF 15 and 4 or more stars, even when it’s cloudy – and remember to do your eyelids too, as these are frequently missed. Experts believe almost nine in 10 cases of melanoma skin cancer could be prevented if people protected their skin with a high factor sun cream.Related... How Does Covid-19 Affect Your Immune System? 13 Cancer Warning Signs You Should See Your GP About – Even In Lockdown I Wasn’t Ready For How Cancer Treatment Changed My Sense Of Femininity
When you are being interviewed for a job, you are also interviewing your prospective employer.So when they ask, “What questions do you have for me?” that is your time as a job seeker to evaluate the company’s values ― including those on racial diversity and inclusion ― and see if they align with yours.Asking these questions can help you learn what you’re getting into before you agree to join an organisation.Here’s how to do it strategically:1. ‘How do you define diversity?’Simply asking your interviewer how they define diversity can be revealing, said Lauren Ruffin, chief external relations officer for Fractured Atlas, an organisation that supports artists.“If the person is just rattling off a whole bunch of identity markers, rather than them demonstrating a real understanding of systemic racism and inequity, that ends up being a pretty easy way” to know if the person has thought deeply on this topic, Ruffin said.Pay attention to how they answer the question as much as what they tell you. “People who get it are eager to talk about it,” Ruffin said. Ruffin asks this question in her own interviews with candidates, and she pays attention to their body language. For example, when she asked one candidate to share his definition of diversity, he deeply sighed and “legit looked up at the sky like he was asking a prayer,” Ruffin said.You can also make it a dialogue with the hiring manager and ask them what they personally have done to make their workplace more equitable, Ruffin said.The brief interactions that we have that signal that we might be devalued because of our identity, those tiny moments accumulate over time in a significant way to undermine health, well-being and performance.Social psychologist Evelyn Carter2. ‘What are the racial demographics of the team?’You can be more direct when asking about the structure of the team, with questions like, “What is the racial diversity at the team level?” or, “What’s the manager’s understanding of what it’s like to be the only person of colour or of a specific race on a team or in a meeting?” said Erin Thomas, the head of diversity, inclusion and belonging at Upwork.In these answers, “look out for thoughtfulness, rigour, honesty and authenticity,” Thomas said. “They should be approaching their diversity, inclusion and belonging efforts as strategically as top-line business needs. And, at the end of the day, you need to believe what you hear. Even if you can’t codify why you don’t believe what you hear, trust that feeling.”Research has found that when it comes to evaluating psychological safety in workplace environments, people from underrepresented groups are attuned to subtle signals beyond what a person is saying. In one study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Black professionals were presented with a consulting firm brochure that contained group photos of team members and featured either “colourblind” language that asked employees to “embrace their similarities” or language that asked staff to embrace what made them diverse.When few minorities were depicted in the brochure photos, the Black participants presented with the similarity-based language felt less trust and comfort than did participants presented with the language valuing diversity.Such feelings of mistrust and discomfort are relevant information to consider, because they may not go away once you have the job, said social psychologist Evelyn Carter.“The brief interactions that we have that signal that we might be devalued because of our identity, those tiny moments accumulate over time in a significant way to undermine health, well-being and performance,” Carter said. “I do think candidates should take it seriously.”3. ‘How has the company responded to Black Lives Matter protests?’Carter said you can also ask an interviewer about the company’s stance on protests and the Black Lives Matter movement with questions like, “What kind of conversations are happening? What kind of resources are being provided for managers and teams to have these conversations? How have you been supporting your Black employees or other employees of colour right now?”This line of inquiry also applies to questions you can ask around political actions targeting certain groups, like anti-immigration legislation, for example. When asking how the company is addressing the present moment, the goal is to listen for what it has done to live its values on diversity and inclusion.4. ‘What are you doing to retain racially diverse talent?’If you want to learn about turnover for people of colour at a company, ask about its programs that ensure that diverse talent stays and grows, Carter said.You could phrase it like, “What are some of the processes that you have to make sure that it’s not just bringing in folks ― because I know we talked about how diversity is so important for you ― what are the processes that you have to keep an eye on retention and growth for the talent you are working so hard to hire?” Carter said.In these answers, you want to hear about the formal and informal ways managers are investing in their team members’ growth to ensure equity, so that employees from marginalised groups have the same opportunities to advance as people from the dominant group at the company.The biggest red flag is if there is no answer that these interviewers can give you, Carter said. “Not knowing the answer is worse,” she said. “If the company does not know the answer, that means they have not started to look at the data to understand how they can improve.”Beyond the job interview, get multiple perspectives from people who actually work there. If you want the honest truth about how people of colour are treated in a company, it’s helpful to talk with people beyond the hiring manager. The best thing you can do is get the inside scoop from someone who knows both you and the organisation, Thomas said.“Comb your LinkedIn network or post to your social channels to connect with people who can serve as your eyes or ears,” Thomas said. “Even with that, you shouldn’t be shy about requesting to talk to a member of an employee resource group or the diversity, inclusion and belonging team if they have one. The more trust you have in your information sources, the more confident you’ll be in the decision you make.” Also, do your own research on demographics by looking at the company website and social media bios of staff and leadership, and seeing who is represented and in what capacity.These probing questions would not need to be asked if companies were more transparent about where they stand with regard to racial demographics and pay equity, though. When companies are upfront with every applicant, Carter said, that can remove the burden of asking from candidates of colour.“Having the company take the responsibility for providing that information proactively, rather than waiting for the candidate to ask it, you are making sure that you are reducing that power imbalance and you are proactively giving that signal of safety,” she said.Related... Staring At My Own 40-Something Face On Zoom Has Shattered My Self-Esteem No Cash, No Wi-Fi, No Help: One Mum's Story Reveals Sheer Inequality Of Home-Schooling Exclusive: Former Staff Call Out 'Culture Of Racism' At Top US African Art Museum
UK companies are marketing and selling spy tech to countries accused of using such technology to abuse human rights. Official 2020 data analysed by Business Insider showed firms were licensed to sell surveillance kit to Pakistan, Oman, and the UAE, among other nations. Activists criticized the sale of such technologies to countries with questionable records on democracy and human rights. "These tools are used to indiscriminately monitor mobile phones, for example during protests, and seriously endanger activists and others around the world," said Edin Omanovic, the advocacy director of Privacy International. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. UK companies are selling and marketing spy tech to countries accused of using these kinds of technology to violate human rights,  according to export license data analysed by Business Insider. Such interception equipment can monitor and intercept mobile phones in a given area. The most common type is an IMSI catcher, essentially a fake mobile phone tower that logs the IMSI number, or international mobile subscriber identity, of every phone that connects to it. This can reveal the owner of the device and allows for more advanced snooping on communications. During the first three months of 2020, undisclosed British firms were granted licenses to export such tools to Pakistan, Indonesia, India, Oman, the UAE, and South Africa. Many of the licenses issued were temporary, allowing British companies to promote their products at international trade fairs, although these often become permanent once a formal deal with a client has been agreed. Since interception technology is a "dual-use" technology, or one that can be used for both military and civilian purposes, UK businesses must acquire a license from the Department for International Trade to sell these tools abroad. Like other dual-use products, exports of interception equipment are controlled due to "concerns about internal repression, regional instability or other human rights violations," according to UK government guidance. However, the government's own disclosures cast doubt over the extent to which authorities have prevented exports on these grounds.  Export license data covering the first three months of 2020 reveals that an unnamed British company was granted the right to export interception equipment to Pakistan during a time in which authorities have dramatically increased their surveillance capabilities on citizens in response to COVID-19. This has included using advanced technology normally reserved for counter-terrorism operations. Hija Kamran, program manager at the Pakistan-based nonprofit Media Matters for Democracy, said the use of this technology is particularly concerning in Pakistan, "where even acceptance of digital rights as basic human rights is still challenged." "Supporting the use of invasive technology in Pakistan puts citizens at risk of being disproportionately targeted with no recourse in sight, mostly for exercising or demanding their rights," Kamran said. A UK company was also authorized to export interception technology to the United Arab Emirates, a country with a long history of clamping down on dissent online. "By continuing to license the sale of interception equipment to the UAE, the UK government makes it painfully clear that it puts lucrative trade deals and its vision of a 'global Britain' ahead of human rights and fundamental freedoms," said Sofia Kaltenbrunner, campaign manager of the International Campaign for Freedom in the UAE. "The Emirati authorities have sought to utilize such technology to systematically crush freedom of speech and suppress peaceful dissenting voices," Sofia added. South Africa, a country whose judiciary only recently declared its bulk surveillance capabilities to be unlawful, also imported interception technology from the UK in the first quarter of 2020. The decision is indicative of the ways in which "a blind eye is turned to the digital rights implications of these services at the altar of lucrative markets associated with surveillance technologies," said Juliet Nanfuka of the digital rights advocacy organization, CIPESA. The secretive world of commercial spyware In 2016, Privacy International found 104 companies in the UK that manufacture surveillance technology designed for evidence and intelligence gathering, including many that made and sold IMSI catchers and other interception devices. The UK was second only to the US, which has 122 companies.  "These tools are used to indiscriminately monitor mobile phones, for example during protests, and seriously endanger activists and others around the world," said Edin Omanovic, the advocacy director of Privacy International. Aside from BAE Systems, one of the world's largest arms manufacturers, few of the British surveillance companies are household names. Despite that, international sales of the equipment is a lucrative business. A Guardian report published in 2019 found that the UK had licensed $95 million worth of interception equipment since 2015. In 2019, the UK approved the sale of interception tools to authorities in Hong Kong while protesters were increasingly surveilled as protests swept across the city. In 2017, a British company exported IMSI catchers to Macedonia while a bulk communications surveillance campaign was underway. Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Oman, all of which are deemed 'Not Free' by the US non-profit Freedom House, have also benefited from UK-made surveillance technology.  As the UK government's most recent data shows, the trend has continued.  Kian Vesteinsson, research analyst for technology and democracy at Freedom House, said: "Such surveillance chills free expression whether successful or not, causing known targets and potential targets alike to restrict their speech to protect themselves." Samuel Woodhams is a freelance journalist focused on the intersection of technology and politics. He also works at Top10VPN, a London-based VPN review website, where he researches global digital rights issues. Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: What it's like inside North Korea's controversial restaurant chain
Photo Illustration by Mateusz Slodkowski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images Snap has launched an investigation into accusations of racism and sexism within the company, anonymous sources have told Business Insider. Per the sources, the independent firm (Seattle-based Williams Kastner) have contacted both current and former staff. The investigation appears to concern stories that ex-employees recounted in a June 9th Mashable article about their experiences working for Snap between 2015 and 2018. Multiple sources told Mashable that they experienced a racist culture during their time at the company, and that leadership disparaged Black representation in media. One employee said they were asked to replace a lead image of Black performers with a “friendlier face.” The same manager told another employee that a story... Continue reading…
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Amazon is debating a price point over $1,000 for its new Alexa home robot under development, code-named "Vesta," according to people familiar with the matter. The high price tag would be a change for Amazon's hardware strategy, which typically releases affordable products that are more commonly used. The Vesta team has been dealing with launch delays, leading to higher-than-usual turnover. Some employees are questioning the rationale behind investing in a niche device with little mainstream appeal. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Amazon's next big disruptive product could come with a hefty price tag. Amazon is debating a sales price exceeding $1,000 for its Alexa home robot that is under development, according to people familiar with the matter. At that price point, the yet-to-be-released home-roaming device, code-named "Vesta," would become Amazon's most expensive hardware product to date, targeting the higher-income demographic. The premium market would be new territory for Amazon's hardware business, which typically makes affordable products that appeal to more budget-conscious users. Most of Amazon's hardware devices, including the popular Echo smart speaker, have been priced at about $100 or below to make them as widely available as possible. Even its most high-end Echo speaker, released last year, costs just $200, lower than Apple's $300 HomePod. The Vesta project, led by Gregg Zehr, the president of Amazon's Lab126 hardware unit, is one of the top priorities and major investment areas for the company, these people said. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is also directly involved, making frequent trips to the Lab126 office in Sunnyvale, California. But the Vesta team, which significantly expanded over the past two years, has faced constant launch delays that have partly sparked high turnover lately, people said. Internally, some employees are questioning why Amazon is investing in a niche product with little mainstream appeal at a time when the team needs to figure out how to monetize its wide user base. An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment. The Alexa-powered device is expected to be about waist-high and have the ability to move around the house on voice commands, the people familiar with the product said. One person described it as a "Roomba vacuum cleaner in human form" and said the basic idea was similar to a photo Bezos shared on Instagram two years ago, which shows the Echo speaker taped to iRobot's Roomba. Bloomberg previously reported on the existence of the project. The internal discussions are still fluid, and both the price point and the design could change as it nears launch, these people said. The price could drop, as the team is looking for ways to take advantage of existing technology from other parts of Amazon, like the Kiva warehouse robots it acquired in 2012. Further advances in Alexa's voice technology could offset the need for a dedicated screen, which is being considered for the Vesta device, potentially leading to more cost cuts. It's unclear when the product will launch. Amazon's hardware team usually holds an annual press event around September to showcase its newest gadgets, but it's unlikely to reveal the Vesta product this year, people said. Losing its luster? Employees who spoke with Business Insider said the Vesta project has lost some of its luster internally after having attracted top engineering talent to the team over the past two years. The team has shown slow progress because of disagreements over the broader product strategy, leading to a longer-than-expected launch timeline and turning off people who had joined in anticipation of a faster market release. These employees have questioned the rationale behind entering an unproven market with an expensive product that could stifle consumer adoption. Amazon's hardware strategy has historically been focused on expanding its user base by adding the Alexa voice assistant to more commonly used products, like headsets or microwaves, at affordable prices. The home-robot segment remains a niche market. Though it's expected to grow into a $9.1 billion market by 2024, according to the research firm Markets and Markets, previous attempts by other tech giants, like Sony and SoftBank, have largely failed to gain much traction. The price range for other home robots in the market went as high as $3,000 for Sony's robot dog Aibo to a few hundred dollars for Anki's Vector. In recent months, the Vesta team has faced "higher than average" employee departures, people familiar with the matter said. Some of the high-profile executives who have left in the past 18 months include: Aaron Bromberg, the former product lead who previously reported directly to Zehr; Christine Anderson, the former principal product manager; and Tiger Lan, an early director of the project who joined Facebook's Portal in 2018. Max Paley, who helped develop the team's computer-vision technology, also left in 2019. While internal sales projections are low, Amazon could benefit from the launch of an expensive home-roaming robot, people said. For example, it could test the high-end market and see if there's a willingness to buy pricier Alexa devices. Since the device is an amalgamation of the technology found in previous Alexa-powered devices, like computer vision and artificial intelligence, it could also help showcase Amazon's technological prowess to competitors. The team is also hoping for a "trickle down" effect of inspiring other Alexa products in the home as well. One person said the biggest benefit of releasing a home robot was data collection. A robot that moves around the entire home could help Amazon better understand home layouts and where voice commands are made most frequently within the household. But the privacy concerns over Alexa in recent years, including reports of the company monitoring certain user conversations, have caused the team to be much more wary of addressing those issues, this person said.  The Vesta project is led by a group of longtime Amazon hardware executives. Charlie Tritschler, an early member of the Kindle e-reader team, is one of the most high-profile vice presidents for the project, reporting straight to Zehr. Chris Green, the vice president of industrial design; Ken Kiraly, the chief technologist of Amazon digital products; and Gloria Whitaker-Daniels, a longtime Apple engineer, are also involved.SEE ALSO: Inside Jeff Bezos' delivery drone dreams: With fake team names, changing leaders and delays, Amazon Prime Air is fighting to finally take off Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why you don't see brilliantly blue fireworks
Microsoft is allowing third-party app developers to integrate into the Microsoft Teams meeting experience for the first time. The new developer-focused features will let apps integrate into Teams meetings during video calls, and even before and after meetings. Third-party apps will be able to display content during Microsoft Teams calls, and even display notifications during calls. It’s a big expansion of what third-party apps are able to do in Microsoft Teams right now. “Applications can span across chat and collaboration and easily have a workflow that expands into meetings now,” explains Michal Lesiczka, a group product manager of Microsoft Teams, in an interview with The Verge. Applications will be able to add a tab to meeting... Continue reading…
The Woolworths bunch is created own and exclusive brand food products that were of a best-in-class quality and perfect for our customers.With the launch of a new online community known as “The Bunch”, cerebrates the voice of its customers that permits people to taste Woolworths Own Brand food products at no cost and facilitate unfiltered reviews.A successful pilot of the community since late last year has observed over 4,000 customers.Through saving over $100 on products in just a few short months, Australia wide catering their honest opinions throughout the range of items.Brand food items including soups, ice cream, crackers, tomatoes, right through to lamb shanks, customers have sampled a broad range of own brand food items.To date, customers have taken sample of a broad range of personal brand food items from the worldwide store involving soups, ice cream, crackers, tomatoes, right via the lamb shanks.Gemma Howells, Woolworths Senior Own Brand Portfolio Manager revealed “rather than just getting the small size samples in place, we’re offering customers the opportunity to try full-sized portions for no cost price in their personal residences.
Without using the right tactics, you might not be able to get many leads.Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms.Hordes of users, including small start-ups to big companies and also consumers, widely use this media.Source:- Six Effective Tactics to Get More Leads on InstagramLearning a few tactics would help you grow and perform better.Lead ads are efficient in evaluating the demand for the product and also provide a scope to improve.The brand manager can declare gifts, prices, or even discount offers.Encourage people to take surveys and share their opinions on the product and the services or if they have any feedback for them.Even if the brand couldn’t end up selling many products, the engagement percentage will cause profit to the brand.InfluencersHaving good terms with influencers is a great way to market the product.
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Rental property inspection app designed for professional property managers and property owners.Use PH inspector for move in/out or regularly scheduled inspections.Easy to use yet packed with features for onsite property inspections.Conduct on-sight real estate property inspections with PH Inspector.Take notes, pictures and create work orders for repairs/replacements.PH Inspector is used by landlords, property owners and property managers for inspecting their real estate properties.Work Orders can be created at the time of the inspection.
Market HighlightsEvery organization requires immense paper usage for employee management and HR compliance that are often difficult to manage.The HR management software overcomes this difficulty by converting all the manual paper documents to a digital format.Another advantage associated with this software is a centrally available database of HR workflow through which a manager can monitor, evaluate, and reward respective employees, even remotely.Emerging technologies such as automation and digitization, have increased the productivity of the organizations.With the use of software such as human resource management, employee engagement and support are elevated since the time needed for repetitive work gets eliminated.This helps the organization to grow and achieve their objective sooner than expected.The major factors contributing to the growth of human resource management software is the growing adoption of cloud-based technologies in verticals such as BFSI, telecom & IT, manufacturing and others.
In early March, Verily Life Sciences, one of Alphabet's biotech arms, announced it would turn its attention to fighting the pandemic. Internally, it was called "Code Red." Many employees were already unhappy with the way the company was being run. When Code Red kicked in, some employees say things only got worse. These employees also say the culture is very different from Google's. "At Google, people are quite vocal and outspoken and speak their minds. That's definitely different at Verily," one employee said. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. In early March, as the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic was finally sinking in, a manifesto was being passed among some employees at Google's sister company Verily Life Sciences. "Leadership must be held accountable for pervasive toxicity at Verily," the title of the document read. In it, the author, a Verily employee, said the company had fostered an unhealthy work culture. The document, which was viewed by Business Insider, also referenced a Stat News article from 2016 that chronicled what former employees described as an "exodus" of top talent at the company, a "demanding, erratic, and unforgiving" work environment, and a "divisive CEO" in Andrew Conrad. The anonymous employee who wrote the document suggested little had changed in the four years since the article was published. "Have we all just gotten better at appearing happy?" they wrote. "People are crying. They are leaving. Some admit to leaving because they are unhappy, others to leaving against their will." They added: "Simply put, Verily is a toxic place." Meanwhile, sources said Verily was in upheaval. Conrad knew that with his connections in the medical field and potential access to testing kits, Verily had an opportunity to help fight the pandemic, so he swerved the company toward the global crisis, they said. Internally, it was referred to as "Code Red": Verily would pivot from its work on Project Baseline — a longitudinal study launched in 2017 to build a "map" of human health — and other programs to start fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Alphabet's most famous life-sciences arm suddenly found itself on a time-critical mission that had the potential to be its defining moment. But it also launched employees into grueling hours and stressful working conditions that exacerbated an already difficult work environment reminiscent of "Game of Thrones," according to nine current and former Verily employees who spoke with Business Insider on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing their jobs or retaliation from the company. 'Every single issue is a major fire drill' Code Red got off to a strange and noteworthy start. On March 13, President Donald Trump announced Google was building a virus-screening and test-scheduling tool — but that wasn't entirely correct. It was another Alphabet division, Verily, that was building the triaging service, which screens participants for COVID-19 symptoms, then lets them schedule an appointment at a nearby testing site — and later delivers their results. Two days after Trump's announcement, Verily launched its pilot service, which was far more limited in scale than the nationwide program the president had promised. Verily became the subject of national attention, which some employees said fueled an even greater sense of urgency to deliver. The company has since set up a handful of its own testing sites around California in conjunction with the state Department of Public Health. It also partnered with Rite Aid for others across the US. A company spokeswoman told Business Insider that Verily now has more than 300 sites across 15 states, and 31,000 people across 49 states have opted into COVID-19 research. But according to some of Verily's employees, all this has come at a high cost to their well-being. "The difference between pre- and post-COVID at Verily is night and day," one said. Verily, which has about 850 employees, according to internal data seen by Business Insider, brought in 1,000 volunteers from within Alphabet during the onset of the COVID-19 programs. When Code Red started, some employees said they were thrown into an extremely stressful period of feeling pressured to work around-the-clock to scale the company's COVID-19 programs. "The recalibration was reshuffling resources rather than adding new resources to the mix, which is why everyone was being overworked," one employee said. "When the shutdown happened, we were expected to work 24/7," a former employee said. "My own team worked every day, sometimes until as late as 2 a.m. We were expected to be available as needed. Pushing back against that was frowned upon." Several employees told Business Insider they were working seven-day weeks until after midnight when Code Red kicked in, and many continue to do so. "If you're not working on the weekend, you're seen as slacking off," one of them said. "There are people working seven-day weeks and trying to avoid burnout." It's not only the screening and testing service keeping employees busy. Verily has since launched more COVID-19-related initiatives, including an antibody study and a "Healthy at Work" program that combines COVID-19 screening, testing, and analysis to help businesses bring employees back to the office. For some teams, work conditions have begun to improve as Code Red has slowed its momentum, sources said, but many are still working around-the-clock to scale Verily's various COVID-19 programs — sometimes without additional compensation for the extra hours. "There are still teams working seven days a week, 12 hours a day," one employee said. "Every single issue is a major fire drill. Your adrenaline is constantly pumping with every message or chat you receive because you know that could result in the next two to three hours of heads-down work rushing to get something out of the door." In response to the negative work-condition characterizations, Verily spokeswoman Carolyn Wang provided Business Insider this statement: First off, I want to confirm that it is a stressful working environment at Verily. I can't imagine it's anywhere near as stressful as being a frontline healthcare worker, but we are throwing everything we have at the current pandemic. In fact - I don't know a single person that is working on COVID-19 at any organization (developing a treatment, diagnostic or service related to one of the most unique global pandemics we've ever confronted) that isn't working 24/7. We have many employees who are working long hours, with little time off, and who are at it because they feel they can have an impact on public health during this critical time. Verily employees are mission driven, and at the beginning of the pandemic many reached out to leadership with their own ideas on how we could support public health efforts. The team has risen to every challenge presented and I'm really proud to be a part of it. It's rare that a company of our size and scope could put so many relevant tools and resources towards a crisis like this, where we're operating physical COVID-19 testing centers, running or supporting multiple research programs in COVID-19 (HERO program, Baseline COVID-19 Research Project), launching a free and open-source tool for hospitals and health systems to use for community support, and endeavoring to get employees and students back to work and school with a new Healthy at Work program. I don't know if it says more about the entitled Silicon Valley culture or the state of journalism today that a few disgruntled employees could drive this type of narrative on a company (and its many hard working employees) that is committed to supporting the broader community around it. But insiders said the pandemic exacerbated what was already a "toxic" work culture where employees are overworked, publicly humiliated, and discouraged from speaking their minds. And according to current and former employees, leadership "cares more about the work than the workers." "It's 'Game of Thrones' in there," one former employee of Verily's leadership said. "There are people who are under pressure because they're afraid of Andy, and they turn around and put immense pressure on the people below them." They added: "It trickles down to the rest of the company. You hope in big companies there will be some sort of leadership style, and there is zero at Verily. They are just there to make money and get stuff done." Insiders said it was not uncommon for Verily employees to be openly berated, belittled, and "called out" during conference calls and on emails. "It's a culture of arrogance," one insider said. "If you're really vocal that you want to introduce change, whether it's from leaders or somewhere else, the people there are so political that they will blacklist you and then eventually not involved in conversations that are important to you. And then possibly fire you." The culture at Verily has led to a high turnover rate where "quiet exits" are a common occurrence, insiders said. "You don't realize that people have gone until the email bounces back," one employee said. According to sources inside the company and LinkedIn data viewed by Business Insider, there has been a steady stream of departures in the first half of this year. Multiple sources told Business Insider that Verily laid off a wave of employees in late March and early April. "We have done performance eliminations this year as we do on a regular basis," the company's spokeswoman said when asked whether these layoffs were because of performance or pandemic-related reasons. But the pandemic has caused an uptick in voluntary departures. The immense pressure on Verily's legal team, which had already lost several members this year before the pandemic hit, led to several resignations during Code Red. "Even yesterday, I got an email that one more legal person was leaving," an employee who spoke with Business Insider last week said. "It's pretty obvious that the legal team is shedding." Another employee said the legal team, which oversees Verily's numerous partnerships and collaborations, "felt they were being disregarded," which has led to the high number of exits in recent months. "Andy and other leaders are going to do whatever they want and legal just has to catch up and make sure the agreements are favorable and well-written," they said. One senior member of the legal team, who left in late June, sent around an email peppered with song lyrics that apparently alluded to the tough working culture at Verily. "Although things are looking a little like a Ghost Town right now and it may simultaneously feel like A Hard Rain's a Gonna Fall and that the Beds are Burning, I know that you Will Survive like the Dragonslayers that you are!" they wrote in the email, which was seen by Business Insider. "Although you Didn't Start The Fire, keep showing up, being Brave, and Dreaming the Impossible Dream." At the bottom of the email was a picture of the "Game of Thrones" character Tyrion Lannister. 'It was a slap in the face' Sources said tensions between employees and management came to a head that same week when leadership announced it was canceling spot bonuses, a type of bonus that recognizes employees for exemplary performance and achievements. The money, employees were told, would instead be redirected into internal and external diversity programs. "It was a slap in the face," one current employee said. "When we were sacrificing our weekends and time away from our family, we felt it was ultimately worthwhile. But we kind of assumed there was a light at the end of the tunnel." Some employees said they were not only annoyed that they wouldn't be rewarded for the extra work but also felt that the diversion of the money to causes such as [email protected] for HBCUs (historically Black colleges and universities) was a knee-jerk response to the Black Lives Matters movement. They thought it was strange that the Alphabet-backed company couldn't source this money from elsewhere. A group of employees wrote a petition to management, undersigned by one of Verily's product managers, asking it to explain their reasoning and reverse the decision.  "Verily taking away employee spot bonuses after what many consider to be the most grueling and difficult time of our careers shows a lack of recognition and gratitude," read the letter, which was seen by Business Insider and questioned why the social-justice programs Verily funded weren't "worthy of their own investment." During a video call with the Baseline team a few days later, Conrad dismissed the petition, according to an employee who was present. Verily denied Conrad was dismissive. "He expressed concern that people didn't feel they could come directly to him with their questions and disagreement," Verily's spokeswoman said. One employee wanted to sign the letter but didn't, saying they feared retaliation. They said they felt vindicated for not signing after seeing Conrad's response to the letter. The company has not changed its policy. 'We all know Andy is desperate for an IPO' Conrad joined Google's life-sciences arm in 2013, but it wasn't until 2015 that it became its own company under Alphabet and was named Verily. Conrad is one of the better-known figures in Alphabet's portfolio of characters — and one of its more controversial. The 2016 Stat News article on the company described the CEO as "impulsive," one who "rashly diverts resources from prior commitments to the next hot idea that might bring in revenue." Several employees who spoke with Business Insider and had interacted with Conrad described him as "erratic." One called him "an aggressive entrepreneur." Another employee used the word "mercurial." "If he sees you're on your laptop, but you're on Facebook while he's walking by, he'll call you out and make a fuss and let your manager know," one said. "He's not an emotional leader at all," another former employee said. "If anything, the thing he focuses on is moving the company forward, and he pushes that down to the leadership team below him." That former employee said Verily has a "command and control" process from the top down. "Andy Conrad says if you can't work the hours, you shouldn't come there," they said. "He also says that for every person that we hire, we should let another person go. That was a phrase I heard many times when I was there — the idea that if we have to hire another person, someone wasn't working hard enough." At all-hands meetings — which are now done over videoconference — Conrad is often present with Jessica Mega, Verily's chief medical officer. Casimir Starsiak, the head of Baseline and a Verily veteran who insiders said climbed the ranks as Conrad's "strategy guy," has also been a more prominent internal figure as the company has scaled its COVID-19 efforts. Verily has also undergone some leadership changes this year. Scott Burke, Verily's head of software, joined the company in January and replaced Thomas Stanis, who left to launch a new project. That same month, Deepak Ahuja, the Tesla chief financial officer who helped take Elon Musk's company public, was named Verily's new chief financial officer. Duncan Welstead, the company's prior chief financial officer, is still at Verily and oversees financial operations. But every current and former employee who spoke with Business Insider underlined the same thing: Everything starts and ends with Conrad. "Everyone is afraid of Andy," one employee said. "If they were not under that fear, I don't think they would behave in the same way." "You have to keep in mind that he's well-respected in the industry," another said. "He's known as the father of rapid viral testing. He has made a lot of impact. But he's definitely an eccentric character." As the pandemic has aggravated resentment for some employees, much of it has been directed at Conrad. A few days before the company nixed spot bonuses, Variety reported that Conrad and his wife had bought Malibu's Sundance Ranch for $10.5 million. Conrad also owns a property on the Hawaiian island of Lanai and, according to Variety, a house in the Malibu Colony community. "Meanwhile, the company was talking about shared sacrifice," one current employee said. "There was definitely some eye-rolling because of that." But the pandemic could be Conrad's defining moment at Verily, and as the company continues to grow, so do its chances of eventually finding independence from the bank of Alphabet. The company has already landed outside investment, and insiders said Verily was hoping to go public in 2020 before the pandemic hit. "We all know Andy is desperate for an IPO," one former employee familiar with the company leadership's thinking said. "There are not, and have been no plans to take Verily public at this time," Verily's spokeswoman said. Two employees told Business Insider an initial public offering had been mentioned on multiple occasions in 2019, with a goal to go public as soon as this year. The possibility of going public this year was also brought up during interviews for prospective new hires, according to multiple sources. Then COVID-19 hit. Verily is still tethered to Google, but insiders who have worked at each company described two very different cultures. "Verily try to treat themselves as a wholly different company, just with the Google benefits and perks," one former employee said. "You're working much harder than you would if you were at Google or another Alphabet company. It's a sexy part of Alphabet, but it's a smaller company." Since Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin relinquished control of Alphabet last year, insiders said the two have had little to do with Verily, but they said Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai and Conrad communicate frequently. "Verily is very much the darling of Alphabet's bets right now," one employee said. About 30% of Verily's hires are from Google or other Alphabet companies each year, according to insiders familiar with the company's hiring practices. One employee said that they and their colleagues sometimes talk about keeping an eye on Google Health jobs so they can transfer out of Verily and into the Google mothership. "At Google, people are quite vocal and outspoken and speak their minds. That's definitely different at Verily," they said. "Even at Verily all-hands sessions, questions are very tame." They added: "Feedback, dissent, and criticism are less encouraged or less fostered than it is at Google." Are you a Verily insider with insight to share? You can contact this reporter securely using encrypted messaging app Signal (+1 628-228-1836) or encrypted email ([email protected]).Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why thoroughbred horse semen is the world's most expensive liquid
Using payment processing CRM is highly recommended for businesses that want to sell their products/services online and want to integrate online payment facilities.It might seem something natural and obvious, considering that you make a lot of online purchases, but think about your business and how it operates without this ability.Maybe at a certain point you decide to expand activity, to activate on other markets and unless you have the needed resources, it is not very easy.Payments are constantly changing, and it is essential to find a provider that adapts to the changes and makes everything possible to anticipate them, to offer fast responses and services to clients.Agents need to dedicate their time to enter data, but this brings another subject into attention: human error.Generally, such reports took hours and even days, if they were managed manually, from different sources.As a business manager, you need to do the research and find out which solution is the best and which suits your company’s requirements the most.
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As remote work becomes more common and US visa laws are more restrictive, many in the tech industry are thinking about hiring more people outside of the US.   For any company that's not a huge multinational corporation, though, that's actually pretty hard to do. The former VP of product at fully-remote GitLab, Job van der Voort, recently launched a startup called Remote to make it easier.  Remote acts as the employer of record, so companies don't have to set up international entities in order to hire someone in a new country, and its subscription software platform handles hiring, onboarding, payroll management and benefits that comply with local employment laws around the world. The company just launched publicly three months ago and raised an $11 million seed round of funding in April led by Two Sigma Ventures. Van der Voort said his team is working quickly to grow the company and expand to 40 countries where it can hire by the end of the year.  Click here to read more BI Prime stories. Hiring people from anywhere in the world has never been so attractive for businesses of all sizes. Companies are starting to rethink making employees come to an office where after the coronavirus crisis proved how successful an all-remote work environment can be. Meanwhile, the Trump administration is banning work visas until the end of the year, which has the tech industry thinking about hiring outside of the US.   However, for any company that's not a huge multinational corporation, international hiring is a lot easier said than done. Job van der Voort, the former VP of product at all-remote company GitLab, wants to change that: His new startup Remote aims to let companies to hire anyone in any country while staying compliant with local employment laws.  GitLab is famously an all-remote company: None of its 1,200 employees work out of an office. Still, actually hiring and onboarding people in different countries was challenging, van der Voort said. When he made an offer to a product manager based in Germany, it took GitLab a year before it was finally was able to bring the candidate on board because it had to set up a German arm of the  company in order to hire them legally.  That challenge happened every time GitLab wanted to recruit someone in a new country: It had to figure out how to legally hire them and pay them. That experience stuck with van der Voort, and Remote aims to make the whole process "as simple as signing up for Twitter" for a company.  "There's no good solution to this other than setting up your own local entity, which is really complicated, really expensive, and it's different for every country in the world," van der Voort said. "I want to give more organizations the power to build a distributed company because the benefits are immense." Though van der Voort started working on Remote in early 2019, the startup just launched and started taking customers three months ago. It raised an $11 million seed round of funding in April led by Two Sigma Ventures, with participation from Index Ventures, General Catalyst, GitLab CEO Sid Sijbrandij, and HackerOne cofounders Jobert and Kirsten Abma. Van der Voort, who declined to share the startup's valuation, says Remote will use the funding to continue developing the product and add more countries to its roster.  "The interest is massive — it's  greater than we can help today, which is why we're quickly expanding to more countries," he said. "What we're seeing is that this is a clear need that many organizations have." Here's how Remote can help businesses hire people anywhere  Here's how Remote's platform works: It has set itself up in 15 countries where it can act as what's called an "employer of record." When a business wants to recruit someone in one of those countries, Remote can hire that person locally, managing payroll, taxes, and benefits for the remote employee through its onboarding and employee management software. The software costs $599 per month per employee, in addition to an invoice for that person's salary. Remote has learned the local laws about taxes, benefits, and time off requirements and built them into its platform — with the startup doing all the logistical work of setting up entities in each country, all companies have to do is sign up. Remote aims to have entities in 40 countries by the end of the year. Though it declined to share how many customers it has so far, but said it just signed on GitLab in June.  Van der Voort, who has a background in neuroscience not international employment law, says the process is not as simple as it sounds. Each country has different rules for registering as an employer of record and Remote has to open a local bank account and educate itself on employment laws, benefits and payroll in every country.  There's always little quirks van der Voort's team has to watch out for. For example, in the Netherlands people can put aside part of their salary to save up for a bicycle as an employment benefit, so that's something that has to be built into Remote's software for any company who wants to hire in the Netherlands.  Also, Remote itself is still a small company, with about 30 employees in 7 different countries, meaning that it's doing the work for itself, too, by setting up international arms of its business in so many countries.  "We anticipated it was going to be very hard to do this. And I think it's at least ten times harder than we thought," van der Voort said. "So we keep reminding ourselves we are doing this so that others don't have to." Got a tip? Contact this reporter via email at [email protected] or Signal at 925-364-4258. (PR pitches by email only, please.) You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.SEE ALSO: Meet the 24 rising stars at Salesforce who are playing key roles in helping CEO Marc Benioff grow the cloud computing powerhouse Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why electric planes haven't taken off yet
Global Cloud Monitoring Market offer detailed insights on the impact of COVID-19 at an industry level, a regional level, and subsequent supply chain operations.This customized report will also help clients keep up with new product launches in direct & indirect COVID-19 related markets, upcoming vaccines and pipeline analysis, and significant developments in vendor operations and government regulations.Market HighlightsCloud monitoring is the process of evaluating, monitoring, and managing cloud-based services, applications, and infrastructure.Including things like Office 365 and others.Pune, India, January 05, 2018 /MRFR Press Release/- Market Research Future published a half cooked research report on Global Cloud Monitoring Market.FREE PDF @https://www.marketresearchfuture.com/sample_request/5161The monitoring system for a service cloud needs to feed data into the Service Manager so that it can manage the services deployed on the cloud.The performance statistics and issues are reported to the cloud administrators for reviewing in a central dashboard or through email, SMS and other alerts and notifications.Regional AnalysisThe increased adoption of cloud based services among various business organizations in Asia Pacific, the cloud monitoring is expected to increase at a rapid rate in the coming years.
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Crypto entrepreneurs become a millionaire in starting bitcoin & crypto exchange website with escrow effective business models.Entrepreneurs who are all planning to launch a Bitcoin Exchange Platform with escrow services, This article aid you to know the information about escrow services,What are Escrow Services?Escrow is the mediator between the buyer and seller that holds and controls the payment for the transaction until the bitcoins are handover to the buyer.This escrow service gives the security for both parties & Escrow defends from fraudulent traders.Why use Escrow Services in the Bitcoin Exchange Platform?By using the escrow services in the Bitcoin exchange platform,1.Seller and buyer cannot deviate from any part of the agreement under escrow services.2.As Escrow holds the bitcoins, the seller can’t run away with the buyer’s payment.3.Dispute Monitoring - Escrow functions as a dispute manager when a serious problem arises between traders.4.
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