First things first, it should go without saying that the Gender Recognition Act is a mess. The entire process is a cruel shambles, and no one should have to pour their heart out to a panel of strangers to be accepted legally as the gender they are. It’s genuinely audacious that this happens, and yet, it will continue to happen following Tuesday’s semi-announcement. At a time when non-binary and genderqueer identities are more visible and accepted in other auspices than ever in the UK, it’s a bit of an unfunny joke that the government didn’t take advantage of this key opportunity to ensure legal gender recognition for all of our siblings.None of this is to say that any of the lacklustre, surface-levels proposed changes to the GRA go far enough. But it would be a lie to say the glib complacency from government is in any way a surprise to those of us who’ve been campaigning on this for years. What is a surprise is that we miraculously ended up in a position a thousand times better than what we were expecting from the government just a few months ago.Against all odds, and an endless slew of denigration, we emerged a united front, refusing to allow our existing protections to be touched.Mooted plans were about tightening the screw of exclusion of trans people from public life altogether, and of making things exponentially more difficult for trans young people to access healthcare. But we came together, we fought this, and they listened, albeit partly. With the full weight of an institutionally transphobic British press against us and an uncaring government minded to swat away the justified concerns of trans people, we fought the law and… well, no one really won. But all things considered, knowing what we do about the incredibly vocal anti-trans lobby and their ability to invade all discussion about trans lives, we came out not just to fight another day, but having stood with pride and in unison, we ever so slightly advanced something. That is the monumental win I’m talking about – against all odds, and an endless slew of denigration, we emerged a united front, refusing to allow our existing protections to be touched.Related... The Queer British Rappers Rising Above Hip Hop Homophobia How Long Can The NHS And Queer Community Share The Rainbow Flag? Widespread social and legal progress are a bit “chicken and the egg”. Do stronger legal protections and basic recognition come first, or do we need a stronger framework of knowledge around gender diversity first? People overwhelmingly want to make things less difficult for our communities, and are prepared to throw the weight of their institutions behind us when we need them to. If the rigmarole that was the consultation and the cruelly protracted period while we waited for a response taught us anything, it’s that there are 20 people on trans people’s side for every one person insinuating we have big Stranger Danger energy when we try to exist in the public realm. Allow me this moment to force a silver lining out of every cloud, OK?When the government runs a torturous consultation and the overwhelming majority of respondents are in favour of wide and positive change, you may expect to see that reflected in proposals. In more normal times, that might be the case. But this is a government and press which appears to actively want to ride roughshod over trans people’s rights and interests in favour of propagating some imagined culture war we’re neither interested in nor prepared to fight. We can’t afford to waste more time when the ground has completely shifted beneath our feet. We have bigger fish to fry and other things to campaign on for the genuine betterment of all trans people.Despite years of very real torment and anguish foisted upon our communities, that we managed to eke out (minor) concessions and continue to plough ahead is testament to our strength and resilience.As one of the few trans-led organisations working within the UK, we operate under a double-edged sword. We witness first-hand all the indignity transphobes and an uncaring government have to offer us, while taking flak from our trans comrades for not openly sharing their righteous fury. Trust us when I say, we do share it, but we also know all too well the costs of giving out only crushing wave after wave of negativity and hopelessness. I also believe we have to move on from the conversations around GRA: they open the door to too much toxic, one-sided debate, with too few asks that will result in meaningful improvements to trans people’s material conditions. Frankly, no one could have anticipated the changes to the political structure of England and Wales since the consultation was originally launched: we can’t afford to waste more time when the ground has completely shifted beneath our feet. We have bigger fish to fry and other things to campaign on for the genuine betterment of all trans people.We’re all tired. But we know what we have to fight for and where we have to shift our collective energies: informed consent in healthcare, and a continued, wider unpacking of the systems which force discrimination, hate, and misinformation against our trans communities. Together, we plough on. Solidarity.Cara English is Head of Public Engagement at trans-led charity Gendered Intelligence.Related... Government Confirms It Will Not Allow Trans People To Self-ID I’m Gender Non-Conforming, And Dreading Using Public Toilets Again Most Women Support Self-Identification For Trans People, Study Finds Daniel Radcliffe Supports Trans Community Following JK Rowling Tweets: 'I Feel Compelled To Say Something'
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With Newer Doubts Creeping in the Tiktok deal & the power concerns on the forefront, is it still a silver lining for the U.S or just a darker cloud?Times have been tough and countries are at crossroads trying to figure out ways that will ensure the safety and security of their assets, including data assets.Not long back, President Trump announced that the U.S will be alienating the famous-infamous Chinese video-social networking app, TikTok from the citizens of the U.S. keeping in mind the security concerns that come with it.Soon after the announcement made headlines, the topnotch industry giants of the U.S., Oracle, Walmart, and Microsoft entered into a bidding war to acquire the U.S. control of TikTok.Oracle happened to surpass and win the deal.Now, Oracle and Walmart together were said to gain control of the U.S operations of TikTok and form a new joint entity named “TikTok Global.” President Trump stated that Oracle will have complete control over TikTok Global, whereas ByteDance (the owner of TikTok) commented that it would hold 80% control of this new entity, which led to silence over conflicting views from both countries.Present Climate –Trump promised the country that Oracle will have all the control and China will be out of the picture.At present, there cannot be seen a definite future of TikTok in the States, as Trum said, “If we can save (TikTok), we will save it, if we can’t we will cut it off.We have to have total security.” So, it is uncertain as to whether or not the deal will go through, with both parties seeking major authority.If the deal sees the light of the day and ByteDance holds 80% control over the operations and data of TikTok Global, the security concern that led to the emergence of the deal in the first place will still prevail.If ByteDance restraints control of the operations to TikTok Global operations, the data generated will be under the company’s purview, again inflicting the concerns to the security of data of around 100 million U.S users majorly comprising teens and 20-somethings.
Make all the plans you want for how things will be during and after pregnancy, but it rarely goes to plan.This was especially the case for me and my pregnant partner as we approached the due date of our newborn’s birth amid the coronavirus pandemic outbreak. Our world changed when our newborn son arrived on 22 March. Then, everything changed again two days later – when the government announced its national lockdown.From labour, to birth, to all the chaos that comes with bringing a newborn home, to adapting to everyday life in the pandemic, our time as new parents has been an experience that we won’t ever forget.But while looking after a newborn at a time when we were being restricted to our homes was daunting at first, eventually it became a blessing in disguise. In fact, I’ve come to believe the pandemic allowed me to become a much more present father and partner. Here’s why.Had the pandemic not happened, after my two weeks of paternity leave I would have had to go back to the office, back to the nine-to-five, and be forced to spend the majority of the day only able to see my son through pictures and videos. I would have had to come home later in the evening and, in just a few hours, cram in all my time with the baby and my partner, and time for myself, before going to sleep and getting up to do it all over again.But lockdown eliminated these worries. Working from home, and being ordered strictly to stay inside, meant I was able to be with my partner and our son 24 hours a day. It meant I was able to support my partner in looking after the baby on a much more consistent basis than I ever would have otherwise. And it means I’ve been able to appreciate the little things more: family time; our son looking into my eyes and smiling; seeing him develop from week-to-week.Lockdown brought home to me that you can be present physically, yet still emotionally and mentally distant – your body physically present, but your thoughts elsewhere.Pre-coronavirus, life was fast-paced and relentless. There was always something to do or something to distract us from our realities: work, going out with friends, exercise, and son. Lockdown brought home to me that you can be present physically, yet still emotionally and mentally distant – your body physically present, but your thoughts elsewhere on other pressures and distractions in life. This can remove you from being in the moment for things like supporting your partner at home.In the early stages of the lockdown, I was still heavily in the mindset of trying to sort out my work-life balance, with dealing with the management of my workload at my job while working from home and coping with the new and ever-changing demands of parenthood. I found that despite my best efforts, I was getting the balance wrong. I was focusing too much on work that my mind was not fully engaged in my household responsibilities. Quickly, I saw how important it was to make sure I was 100% present for my partner, and on hand to fully support our baby as a priority.Even more than we planned, I have on hand for washing bottles, changing, feeding, and more. I’ve also had the joy of giving my partner more rest during the day, which proved helpful to her as a recovering new mother. Whatever I do during this time, I know I could have done much more to support her, knowing how much new mums can be affected mentally and physically.At home, my partner developed routines for the baby with my support, and lockdown meant that we were free to implement what we thought was best without interruption. With people unable to visit due to Covid-19, our baby saw nothing but us for months, and as a result, we have a much stronger connection than we would have if I had been out the house working as planned.Being present emotionally and mentally is equally, if not more, important than being there physically.Of course, this period has not come without its challenges. While transitioning into fatherhood has shown the importance of being attentive, it’s also shown areas that I need to continue to grow in to become the father and husband I’ve been called to be. I’m still working on seeing the things my partner and child will need and acting before I’m prompted, and on being someone that can be so relied on for support that my partner never feels like she is doing things on her own.Lockdown has meant I can’t simply avoid or ignore these areas of growth – I need to face them head on now to be the best influence I can be on our child. That means getting myself together so I can break the negative cycles in my life that have affected me. This period has taught me that anyone can be a dad, but not everyone can be a father. It requires consistent action rather than words and being present emotionally and mentally is equally, if not more, important than being there physically.Our family has slowly started coping with the fact that things are getting back to a new normal. Happy as I was to have been at home for so long, I’ve had to return to work daily again, which we knew was going to happen eventually (my partner, the super mum and woman that she is, has taken it fully in her stride). We’ve been having friends and family over, which our son has appreciated. And we even managed to move from a studio flat to a two-bedroom apartment.As a family, we have grown stronger during this pandemic. Although coronavirus has caused so much chaos and negativity across the world, in our household I have managed to find a silver lining in being able to be more present for my partner and my son. And I can wholeheartedly say I am much better off for it.Tonte Bo Douglas is a writer. Follow him on Twitter at @TalkWithTonteHave a compelling personal story you want to tell? Find out what we’re looking for here, and pitch us on [email protected] from HuffPost UK Personal I Gained Weight In Lockdown. It Was The Healthiest Thing I Could Have Done I’m Hosting #BlackVoicesHPUK, A New HuffPost Series About Being Black In Britain. Here’s Why I’m Leaving Britain, In The Middle Of A Pandemic, Because Of Brexit
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COVID-19 pandemic is changing all our lives.This health catastrophe that has inflicted unimaginable destruction by causing the death of millions has also turned out to be a global economic disaster.This is mainly due to the preventive measures taken by authorities which include strict rules of social distancing and lockdowns that has adversely affected almost all the business sectors.However, even this gloomy scenario has a silver lining for a few businesses like on-demand grocery delivery and food delivery.There has been an unprecedented surge in the number of downloads of on-demand grocery apps around the world.As per Apptopia, grocery players in the US like Walmart Grocery, Shipt, and Instacart saw a surge in their daily downloads by 160%, 124%, and 218% respectively.
(SPIE--International Society for Optics and Photonics) Researchers David Omar Oseguera-Galindo and Eden Oceguera-Contreras, both of the University of Guadalajara, Mexico, and Dario Pozas-Zepeda of the University of Colima, Mexico, recently studied the effect of habanero pepper in the synthesis of silver nanoparticles. Their research, published in the Journal of Nanophotonics, resulted in a simple, low-cost, ecofriendly method of obtaining silver nanoparticles.
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Layoffs in tech are not letting up, and many tech workers are worrying about where to find their next role.  But some companies are trying to reduce the burden on job seekers by creating databases where they can input their information and get a call from a relevant recruiter.  Parachute, Silver Lining, Torch Capital, Layoffs.fyi, and Drafted are all offering layoff databases for workers to find their next role, and some even offer extra resources, like layoff newsletters and one-on-one career coaching. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Layoffs in tech have left many qualified tech workers looking for new roles. The coronavirus recession has prompted layoffs on a massive scale. Major companies like Boeing and IBM have recently laid off thousands of workers. Uber, LinkedIn, Airbnb, and Lyft have all laid off workers since March, and in July, LinkedIn laid off nearly 1,000 workers. Over half of Bay Area tech workers are now concerned that they'll be laid off as the industry continues to suffer during the pandemic.  In response to this issue, an increasing number of companies have created job databases that allow employees to enter their information and let recruiters match them with opportunities. Many of these began as simple spreadsheets passed around to friends and coworkers who were recently laid off, and have since become comprehensive databases attracting the attention of tech giants like Facebook and Amazon. And they're available as a resource for anyone in tech, from account executives to software engineers. Many even have listings from professionals in different industries, even if the focus is in tech.  Here are five databases that tech employers can use to find recently laid off talent.SEE ALSO: Programmer interviews at tech companies could unfairly advantage white men. Here's how to fix that. Parachute Founded by the creator of AI recruiting platform Rocket, Parachute provides a database for workers laid off by companies as large as Lyft down to smaller startups. The database is primarily centered around the tech industry and is free both for recruiters and job seekers.  Recruiters from companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Apple have used Parachute to seek out talent from its layoff database. The startup was launched in mid-April in response to the waves of layoffs that began in the tech industry in March. Parachute also offers free one-on-one coaching sessions to recently laid off professionals.  "There's the mindset of how you expect recruiting to work, and how you expect getting hired to work, that is no longer true," Parachute CEO Abhinav Agrawal said about the pandemic-era job market. "So we're helping more people to think about that and improve their job search and hiring process."  Silver Lining Silver Lining offers a job board for recently laid off workers to enter their information to attract the attention of recruiters. It also gives members access to a community where they can share their experiences and seek guidance from others. More than 800 tech companies hire from Silver Lining's talent exchange, and members also get access to online learning modules and exercises.  It's free to sign up for a membership, but job seekers can also sign up for Silver and Gold memberships, which provide access to features like a résumé and LinkedIn makeover and one-on-one coaching.  Torch Capital Talent Connect Venture capital firm Torch Capital founder Jon Keidan worked with his investment partner, Katie Reiner, to create a layoff database in response to the initial COVID-19 layoffs that were affecting portfolio clients. The database started off as a Google spreadsheet, but has since grown into a full website with laid-off workers from Amazon to PayPal. There are also open listings from recruiting companies, many of which come from startups. The website has listings of people from different industries, too, like healthcare and education.    Layoffs.fyi San Francisco entrepreneur Roger Lee has been tracking the coronavirus layoffs since they began to surge in March. Since then, he built Layoffs.fyi as a source for people who were laid off from their tech jobs. The database has more than 12,800 laid off workers listed as of Thursday, and is formatted so that recruiters can easily track down qualified candidates and get in touch through LinkedIn or email. The website's blog also updates readers on recent layoffs so that they can stay informed as they apply for new roles.  Drafted Layoff Network Drafted is a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based startup connecting laid off people with recruiters through its database. The website's live layoff tracker places an emphasis on referrals, with a feature that allows people to include endorsements and recommendations written by colleagues. Once a laid off employee has an endorsement, they're added to the website's talent feed, where recruiters can search for prospective employees. As of Thursday, the site features nearly 1,500 employers, over 11,000 job seekers, and over 1,200 colleague endorsements.  It's free to use for laid off employees, but offers paid services for recruiting companies. 
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(NewsUSA) – Older Americans have actually been coping far better than younger ones during the coronavirus pandemic, according to new research.The Edward Jones and Age Wave Study goes where few have ventured before in focusing exclusively on how different generations have held up emotionally and financially in the months since all the lockdowns began."COVID-19’s impact forever changed the reality of many Americans, yet we’ve observed a resilience among U.S. retirees in contrast to younger generations," said Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D., the founder and CEO of Age Wave, a leading research think tank on aging, retirement and longevity issues.While acknowledging upfront that the virus itself disproportionally struck aging adults, the five-generational sampling of 9,000 people age 18 and over revealed more than a few surprises.That would seem to run counter, as does the results for Boomers (age 56 to 74), to early dire warnings that prolonged social isolation made older adults especially vulnerable to depression, anxiety and cognitive decline.* Nearly 68 million Americans have altered the timing of their retirement due to the pandemic, and 20 million stopped making regular retirement savings contributions.Dychtwald attributed the two older generations’ resilience to their having "a greater perspective on life.I mean, I was supposed to go to college or I was starting a new job, and now everything has changed.’"Most retired Boomers and Silent Gens also had monthly Social Security checks to fall back on.Which explains why – though the pandemic has significantly reduced the financial security of a quarter of Americans – younger generations were slammed the hardest: Nearly one-third of Millennial and Gen Z respondents characterized the impact as "very or extremely negative," compared to 16 percent of Boomers and 6 percent of Silent Gens who admitted to similar hardship.Looking for any silver lining that’s come out of the COVID-19 crisis?Well, 67 percent of respondents did say it’s brought their families closer together.
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Boston Scientific spent the last four years overhauling its IT department.  The medical device manufacturer improved its hardware, pivoted to agile-like teams, and created new innovation studios to pursue the latest in digital health technology, among other improvements.  When the coronavirus hit, that transformation proved critical to keeping the business afloat.  "It's because we made all of those changes in the last few years that we were so well-positioned to make the swift, dramatic changes that COVID forced upon us," Chef Information Officer Jodi Eddy told Business Insider.  Sign up here to receive updates on all things Innovation Inc. MARLBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS — Back in February, Boston Scientific chief information officer Jodi Eddy extolled the medical device company's four-year digital transformation, detailing the many improvements to operational speed and efficiency to Business Insider.  This was just as COVID-19 was beginning to make more headlines in the US, but still weeks before the pandemic overtook daily life the way it has now. But those advancements would prove to be a lifeline for the company after it, like many other firms, transitioned the majority of its employees to remote work and suddenly had to make difficult decisions about the future.  It's yet another example of how digital investments enabled businesses to accommodate — nearly overnight — entirely new operating procedures and stay resilient during an unprecedented global health crisis.  "We have been preparing for this moment for the past four years through this transformation," Eddy told Business Insider in a July interview. "It's because we made all of those changes in the last few years that we were so well-positioned to make the swift, dramatic changes that COVID forced upon us." The digital transformation included improvements to basic IT functions but, on a deeper level, required a pivot to more cross-functional teams that paired tech professionals with business experts to dramatically cut-down the time it takes to get new products or innovations out the door — a management style commonly referred to as agile, one that companies like Fidelity have also used to improve productivity in the last few months.   Boston Scientific — which reported $10.7 billion in revenue for 2019, a 9.3% boost over the prior year — also propped up new innovation studios that could capitalize on the latest tech in digital health and launched an automated dashboard to give senior leaders a quick overview of everything from day-to-day financial metrics to cybersecurity incidents. The overhaul also enabled Boston Scientific to quickly handle increased usage of tools like augmented reality-based device support and online medical education courses.  "This global pandemic has broken down barriers that were there in the past," said Eddy. "It was just, 'Are you ready to go from zero to a hundred overnight?' And I would say we went from zero to a hundred in like a week. Maybe not overnight."  Offense sells tickets, defense wins championships For Eddy, most of the past four years was spent building up Boston Scientific's defense against something as significant as the coronavirus pandemic.  It tapped Office 365 and Microsoft Teams prior to the shift to remote work, which made the pivot to virtual collaboration easier. The company also created what Eddy calls an "omnichannel" experience for employees, under which they could access their documents and other data on any device.  Boston Scientific also used zScaler for its cloud security needs — a platform that other CIOs also relied on during the outbreak for its ability to rapidly grow with business needs. So when COVID hit at full-force and remote work became the norm, there was "minimal" work that Eddy had to do apart from increasing the user licenses for its virtual private network.  "Because we were so well-positioned on the defense side, we were able to quickly shift our priorities to offense," she said.  Reports that the executive team used to look at quarterly were now being viewed daily — and sometimes, like when it came to admission numbers at hospitals across the globe, the cadence picked up to hourly dispatches. The information came in use as Boston Scientific plotted out its immediate response and plan for the rest of 2020.  "We basically had to rewrite our annual operating plan like everybody else in like a period of weeks, something we usually spend months on," she said.  And like at other firms, the pandemic had the silver-lining at Boston Scientific of highlighting just how critical IT — a department that is historically used to operating in the shadows — is to the enterprise.  "It went overnight from 'nice to have' and important for efficiency to drive optimization, to business-line critical for operations," said Eddy. "The big opportunity and innovation is now: How do I leverage digital? For the CIO, that puts you squarely in the middle of commercial operations."SEE ALSO: The top 16 companies using artificial intelligence to revolutionize drug discovery, according to experts Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Pathologists debunk 13 coronavirus myths
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Failing or succeeding depends upon whether or not the person is able to see the silver lining of a dark cloud.Everyone across the globe has got affected in some way or another.Buying groceries, milk, and vegetables or going to that small shop downtown to buy peppermint has now become memories for people they want to cherish again.But other than the wave of nostalgia, people have also started to realize the importance of supporting small businesses and the importance of buying from mom and pop stores.Unlocking creativity amongst crisis-While a lot of people might sulk over video calling and work from the home regime.The fear of unemployment, financial crisis, and foggy future will leave many with jobs grateful for being able to back to work.Social media users are on the rise every day.Its time to realize that the future of retail significantly lies in the hands of social media as well; therefore, as soon as the retailers embrace it, the better results they can gain.The economic stimulus-Retailers have realized that there is no coming back from the damage wreaked by Covid-19 as it has forced them to close their doors entirely.
You see, there is a COVID-19 silver lining. For employers. For the rest of us, welcome to the machine Google has gone all-in on its work-from-home policy, telling techies they don’t need to return to the office until July 2021 at the earliest.…
The horrors of the pandemic could have a silver lining for startup founders: The turbulent economy has investors focusing more on sustainable cashflow, meaning less pressure on achieving hypergrowth, according to research from executive coach the Jocelyn Kung. Silicon Valley is famous for its "hustle culture," as founder-turned-VC Mac Conwell describes it —which caused him to spiral into workaholism and stress some years ago while he was running his startup. He still struggles with those feelings, he says.  Now that he's a VC, he believes the breathing room some founders are experiencing will be short-lived as VCs will soon be feeling the heat to make good returns for their investors as soon as the economy comes back. Coach Kung is not so sure. She believes founders may have been handed a unique moment to prove that they can succeed without working themselves into the ground. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Mac Conwell, known as Mac the VC on Twitter, recently tweeted a confessional. "While running my first startup, I turned into a workaholic, bought into hustle culture, and developed anxiety from it making it hard to live a normal life," he tweeted. He added: "It was the 'hustle' that killed my best friend Devin. He died from a failed liver transplant. Instead of follow-up appointments, he worked on his #startup and he paid for it with his life." Conwell came to investing from a previous life as a programmer who launched a series of startups. He tells Business Insider that his fall into workaholism was a classic tale: for his first startup, he worked a full day at his desk job, then came home and did another 4 to 7 hours of coding for his startup every night. As CEO with two cofounders, he felt immense pressure to find customers and raise venture capital money — without any background or experience in any of it. Mistakes were made. "Everything I was reading told me to quit my full-time job and get funding from investors. So I quit my job earlier than I should have. I wasn't as financially stable as I needed to be," he said. He attended conferences and pitch contests and booked coffee meetings with everyone who shared a business card. He had no life, didn't keep up with friends, couldn't even sit through a movie without being on email. "I looked up and realized I couldn't live like that," he said. "I had to realize that I had to be okay if someone said, 'let's go get a drink,' and be okay not looking at my email. But I'm still working through it." A hardly unique story Conwell's story is hardly unique. Silicon Valley culture famously celebrates workaholism, where startup founders and employees sleep under desks or in designated nap rooms in between marathon stints building what they hope will be world-changing technology.  So amid all the horrors of the pandemic, there's some good news for startup founders. Rougher economic conditions have led venture investors to emphasize the preservation of cashflow, rather than project unreasonable expectations of hypergrowth on the startups in which they invest, says executive coach and consultant Jocelyn Kung, founder of the Kung Group. Kung's clients range from startup founders to companies like 23andMe, Oracle, Microsoft and Juniper Networks. In a survey of over 400 venture-backed tech founders by the Kung Group, 67% of founders felt pressure, prior to COVID-19, to grow their companies faster than they were capable of, they said, and 43% report that they are relieved that the current business climate has lessened pressure from investors to grow at lightning speed. Meanwhile, 53% believe it would be "better for the world" if the tech sector was less focused on hypergrowth. 'Slower growth is the norm' "For Silicon Valley, all that false valuation and crazy hours is not what we're looking for in the future," Kung told Business Insider. While a few sectors are doing exceptionally well like tech related to remote work or health care, many other industries — travel, real estate, retail, restaurants  — are suffering. "I see with some of the VCs I'm working with, they had to slow down expectations in certain ways," she says. "58% founders say slower growth is the norm." Will this be a permanent reset or will the pressure for hypergrowth return once the virus fades away? "It will short lived. It has to be. You have to understand venture," says Conwell, who is now an investor running a pre-seed fund for the Maryland Technology Development Corp. "The life of a fund is 10 years. So even if we're saying slow down so you can stay alive, it's for a short time because I [as a VC] need to start growing again. The only way I stay alive is if you go public or get acquired for the largest dollar amount." But Kung believes that the founders who guide their companies through the slowdown intact and with modest growth will get to choose their destiny. They can tell their investor board members: "Whether you like it or not things are going to just slow down and we get a chance to decide who do we want to be as humans," she says. And there are some good examples of founders who have prioritized work/life balance for themselves and their employees and still posted big growth for investors. For instance, Shopify founder and CEO Tobi Lutke said in a viral Twitter thread in December that insisted  long hours aren't necessary for success, and said he's home every evening by 5:30pm.  Even Andy Jassy, CEO of cloud computing giant Amazon Web Services, said in May that the pandemic taught him that people don't need to travel as much to be productive and being less scheduled has been refreshing for his personal life. Now that founders have tasted life outside the fast lane, they, like Conwell, may not want to go back.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: We tested a machine that brews beer at the push of a button
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Mumbai Rains 2020The month July has always been synonymous to “Mumbai Rains”.As a resident of Mumbai, only a Mumbaikar can understand the plight of having to go to work in the monsoon month (July to September)  We have been through a lot of unfortunate events in 2020, but if we have to spot the silver lining - it is here.That silver lining is right in the fact that 2020 is perhaps the only year where Mumbaikes are not struggling to go to work or come back home and have the opportunity to enjoy the rain from their windows.Waking up to the dilemma of whether to get dressed or text:There have been mornings when you would switch to the news at 6 am and calculating mentally if it is safe to go to work today or not.Texting “Is it raining in ?”This year, we didn’t send this text simply because most of us are either working from home or not at all.M-Indicator chatsFrom asking “Are trains functioning” to giving unsolicited advice to strangers - we have done it all!
The short-term rental industry has seen two big trends during the pandemic: a collapse in demand leading to liquidity challenges for urban operators, and a surge in demand for rural properties.  Airbnb-backed Lyric has shrunk to a single hotel in New York after slashing staff. Stay Alfred, one of the earliest venture-backed short-term rental companies, has shut down entirely.  But Sonder, the largest venture-backed short-term rental operator, and CorpHousing Group, a privately-owned operator, say they picked up more urban properties during the pandemic. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. It's become one of the classic images of the coronavirus era: city-dwellers renting an Airbnb in a rural area a couple hours outside of the city, looking to trade a cramped quarantine for open air and trees.  More recently, these same locations have seen another big bump, as vacationers look to more local rural and beach destinations instead of cities or international trips. Airbnb said on Wednesday that rural hosts in the US earned 25% more this June than they did in June of last year.  Meanwhile, rental operators focused on urban markets have struggled. Airbnb-backed Lyric, once one of leaders of the space, has shrunk to a single hotel in New York after slashing staff. Stay Alfred, one of the earliest venture-backed short-term rental companies, has shut down entirely.  Short-term rental operators run networks of professional Airbnb stays, providing accommodations with hotel-like amenities and trendy decor to tourists and business travelers. They are essentially property managers for vacation and travel properties, though many of them actually pay leases instead of being paid a fee for managing a property.  But with some downsizing their portfolios, landlords have been eager to offload those properties to other operators with experience running a short-term rental business. Surviving players say that's creating an environment where they can scoop up new locations to bet on an eventual comeback in urban-focused travel.  We spoke to the CEO of Sonder, the largest venture-backed short-term rental company, and the CEO of CorpHousing Group/SoBeNy, a private short-term rental company, about why they are doubling down in cities instead of heading for the country. Growing in a pandemic As the pandemic ground travel close to a halt, operators were forced to reevaluate their portfolios. Some, unable to pay their rent, negotiated with their landlords to reduce rents, change fixed leases to more fungible management contracts, or even exit leases. Francis Davidson, Sonder's CEO and founder, told Business Insider that the ability to sign deals for properties that they wouldn't have had access to before the pandemic is one "silver lining." Davidson said that the company has signed some management contracts, but that it has mostly continued to sign leases. Davidson said that the company plans to add hundreds of properties, funded by its recent $170 million fundraise. Sonder's $225 million July 2019 fundraise valued the company just north of $1 billion, while this June's fundraise brought its value up to $1.3 billion. "We view the next 12 to 18 months as a really great time to grow," Davidson said. Sonder has been able to bring back or restore hours for over 100 employees since slashing staff at the height of the pandemic, he said.  The company is focusing its expansion on the European market, where it has properties in London, Edinburgh, Rome, and Dublin, and is also continuing to expand in US markets to locations that are able to be licensed as hotels. Davidson said that Sonder had also dumped some properties during the thick of the pandemic, but many of them the company had already planned to leave because they were economic under performers, underwhelmed guest's expectations, or the regulatory environment had shifted. The company is exiting every non-hotel-licensed property it holds in New York and San Francisco, where it isn't allowed to accommodate stays shorter than 30 days, by either declining to renew the lease or reaching an agreement with the landlord to exit early. Sonder sued one San Francisco landlord this week to exit a property that it began to lease last year, citing an early-termination clause because the city and state's response to the pandemic "crippled Sonder's efforts to draw potential tenants to the premises." Brian Ferdinand, the CEO of CorpHousing Group and SoBeNy (the front-end and marketing arm of the business) said that the company has actually doubled the number of units it operates since the start of the pandemic, with potential to grow even larger because of partnership deals it has signed with 26 different landlord partners.  "We probably will be able to do in 10 months what we thought we would do in 10 years," Ferdinand said. Ferdinand said that the company has grown "naturally" by finding properties that had not previously been short-term rentals and by acquiring properties that other companies had stopped operating.  Read more: Here's which real-estate tech startups will soar and which will flop in the new normal of how we occupy space, according to 7 top proptech VCs These newly-empty properties became targets for well-capitalized players looking to expand, setting off a wave of consolidation in the short-term market, according to Omer Rabin, managing director at short-term rental software company Guesty.  Guesty's software helps short-term rental operators big and small manage their properties, acting as the digital connection between operators, guests, and the marketplaces like Airbnb that they operate on. As a result, the company has a close view on operators' inventory, pricing, and occupancy. Rabin said that the fact that operators are willing to take over these empty properties is a sign that some players are betting that the asset will come back stronger than ever after the virus. He also said that these properties may be cheaper now that the coronavirus is lowering rental prices and pressuring the sector.  Though Stay Alfred and Lyric are the most public examples of short-term rental companies that backed out of a large amount of properties, other companies have also released non performers. Outlook for short-term rentals in cities Rabin told Business Insider that urban markets are seeing a rebound of occupancy rates, but that the average daily rate charged for a unit has slipped substantially. Ferdinand said that CorpHousing Group is continuing to focus on urban markets because they are operationally easier to run at scale, and because he expects their original strategy to hold true after a recovery.  Rural properties, by their nature, are less plentiful and further apart, making it a challenge to acquire enough to make it feasible for a larger operator to keep them clean and functioning. Ferdinand focuses on new properties in cities that have major hospitals, universities, convention centers, and corporate headquarters that will draw potential guests in. As a result, the company was able to sign three national deals with nursing agencies at the start of the pandemic.  "The urban core, we believe, saved our business," Ferdinand said. Read more: Hospitality startup Sonder is pushing ahead with plans to open its largest NYC apartment hotel yet Playbook for surviving the pandemic Of course, the companies first need to weather the pandemic.  One key strategy was to try to lure some of the only people traveling during the thick of the pandemic: nurses and other essential workers. While CorpHousing Group worked directly with nursing agencies, Sonder offered a 40% discount for traveling nurses. This was essential to help pay the rent, Rabin said, even though many operators who did this saw their revenue compared to costs crater from three to four times down to less than one time the cost.   There is also something of a silver lining to less frequent travel: guests they do have are staying for a longer period of time. Ferdinand said his companies' average stay has increased to 63 days up from approximately 30 days before the pandemic. To be sure, with money likely to still go out the door, the firms also had to think of firming up their balance sheet. CorpHousing Group, which is small and self-funded, applied for and received a Paycheck Protection Loan in order to protect 58 jobs. PPP loans were part of the federal response to the coronavirus, offering forgivable, low-interest loans to small businesses. Ferdinand said the PPP loan kept the company from having to furlough or cut any employees. Venture-backed competitor Blueground confirmed to Business Insider it had received a PPP loan, Lyric Hospitality was listed as having been approved for a PPP loan but didn't comment when asked by Business Insider about the loan. Zeus Living applied for and then returned a PPP loan. Sonder is venture-backed and had too many employees to apply for a PPP loan. The company instead laid off or furloughed a third of its staff or roughly 400 employees.  How short-term rental companies renegotiated leases Sonder, which mostly signs master leases instead of management agreements, has worked out a clause that lets them pay a lower cost during a recession into 80% of the leases they've signed since 2018, a time in which they've grown rapidly. The company also includes a "mark-to-market" clause in lease renewals which allows them to renew at current market price, which has been beneficial as the residential markets in big cities are sliding. Davidson also said that the company signs shorter leases, which may require higher prices, but allow much greater flexibility. Ferdinand said that CorpHousing Group is focused on signing revenue-share agreements with landlords instead of leases, which allows the company to grow at the speed it has.  CorpHousing Group is a tenant in properties owned by some of the largest landlords and operators like The Related Companies, Vantage Management, and Boston Properties. Ferdinand said that CorpHousing Group's private ownership also allowed him to operate the company in the way that he thought would be most successful, even if that meant the business taking high losses during the worst of the crisis while also spending money to expand. He said the business was profitable before the pandemic. Sonder's Davidson said that the company's ability to survive and even grow during the pandemic indicated to investors that the company would be a safe place to put their money. "I'm interested in building a company that's around in 100 years from now," Davidson said. "It has to be really antifragile."  Axel Springer, Insider Inc.'s parent company, is an investor in Airbnb. Correction: The original article stated that Sonder has added hundreds of properties since the start of the pandemic. It has been amended to say that Sonder plans to add hundreds of properties,  Read more: A growing group of lenders are looking to unload hundreds of millions of dollars of souring hotel loans. Teams hired to sell the portfolios say it's just the beginning of a surge in activity. After 2 layoff rounds, a valuation nosedive, and chaotic landlord negotiations, Airbnb-backed Zeus Living is shifting its business model. Here's how the corporate-housing startup is moving forward.SEE ALSO: Billions of dollars of Las Vegas development hang in the balance right now, but the owner of Caesars Palace sees the city's crisis as an opportunity to imagine its next mega-project. SEE ALSO: Here's the pitch deck used to raise a $4.4 million seed round for an AI chatbot looking to transform how people find apartments Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Tax Day is now July 15 — this is what it's like to do your own taxes for the very first time
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