Think Differently Apple!

In January of 2018, JANA Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, which collectively own about $2 billion in value of shares of Apple Inc., wrote an open letter to the technology giant. As they wrote, “As shareholders, we recognize your unique role in the history of innovation and the fact that Apple is one of the most valuable brand names in the world.” In the letter, they urge Apple “to offer parents more choices and tools to help them ensure that young consumers are using your products in an optimal manner. “

They cited the growing body of evidence that shows the consequences of technology for children. Such research includes:

* “67% of the over 2,300 teachers surveyed observed that the number of students who are negatively distracted by digital technologies in the classroom is growing and 75% say students’ ability to focus on educational tasks has decreased.”

*  “8th graders who are heavy users of social media have a 27% higher risk of depression.”

* “A study by UCLA researchers showed that after 5 days at a device-free outdoor camp, children performed far better on tests for empathy than a control group.”

JANA Partners and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, in the letter in the site called Think Differently About Kids, offered a number of suggestions for Apple.  Apple issued a statement saying, “We think deeply about how our products are used and the impact they have on users and the people around them. We take this responsibility very seriously and we are committed to meeting and exceeding our customers’ expectations, especially when it comes to protecting kids.”

Bitcoin Miners Turns Their Sights to Norway and Sweden

Interestingly, those looking for low commercial power prices for bitcoin and ethereum are starting to set their sights on Sweden and Norway. Their power prices are significantly lower than Iceland’s and than European prices. for Sweden’s Vattenfall and Norway’s Statkraft this is very good news.

Iceland has been Europe’s most popular location for miners of digital currencies such as bitcoin and ethereum. Bitcoin miners use approximately 130 terawatt hours of energy a year. As Olivier Roussy Newton, the director and co-founder of Canadian group HIVE Blockchain Technologies (HIVE.V), said, “We’re on a global hunt to secure as much power as we can,” and they started mining ethereum this past January in Sweden.

Read more about these fascinating developments.




A Women-Only Island: A Good Business Model?

Niche marketing has always been around but it’s interesting to see just how niche some people make it. Entrepreneur Kristina Roth has created SuperShe Island, a private retreat off of the coast of Finland. And the twist? It’s an island retreat only for women.
The island sleeps 10 in four luxury cabins and offers wellness activities and times to bond with other women. Roth used to be the CEO of a consultancy business and as she explains,
“I really lived in, worked, lived, breathed in a men-dominated world. When I really started to travel more the last couple of years […] I just met a lot of amazing women around the world.”
People shouldn’t get too excited about joining, however, since it’s an invite-only type of arrangement. And this has certainly sent some people into a tizzy. As Ruth Pearson told CNN Travel, “The retreat being a female-only space doesn’t make it inherently feminist. It is a space created by a rich, white woman for other women like her.” Pearson continued, “These factors will disproportionately affect people of color, people with disabilities, trans women and those who are gender non-conforming, meaning this island is only for one very narrow type of woman.”
Starting in June, she plans to have her first test group on the island and then she hopes to open for business in July.

Netflix Hits the $100 Billion Mark

Netflix has hit the $100 billion mark for the first time. Shares jumped 9% to over $248 in after-hour trading on Monday. The company now sits with their program in more than 50% of all US broadband houses and has spread out to 190 countries.They ended the year with 1.98 million additional subscribers in the US and 117.58 million streaming subscribers around the world.

They actually plan to spend as much as $8 billion this year on TV shows and movies to compete with Disney,, Hulu and others.

Read more about them and their steady growth.

Good News for Consumer Spending

Good news for the consumer goods industry. Mastercard Inc has reported that shoppers spent over $800 billion during the season. Their report cites sales in stores and online between November 1 and December 24 as having risen 4.9%. This is the fastest year-on-year pace of increase since 2011.

This is certainly good news since most U.S. retailers have found that their sales are tumbling due to online stores like Amazon. Read all the details to learn more.

Meredith Corp. to Buy Time Inc.

The U.S. media company Meredith Corp it will be buying Time Inc. for a $1.84 billion all-cash deal. When this deal goes through, the Meredith and Time brands will then have a readership of 135 million people and a paid circulation that comes close to 60 million. Meredith is expecting the deal to go through within the first three months of 2018.

In announcing the deal, the company said that it “underscores a strong belief in Meredith’s strength as a business operator, its strategies, and its ability to unlock significant value from the Time acquisition.”

 Meredith Chief Executive Stephen Lacy said “We are adding the rich content-creation capabilities of some of the media industry’s strongest national brands to a powerful local television business that is generating record earnings, offering advertisers and marketers unparalleled reach to American adults.”


Trust and Transparency with Essex Financial

It’s not always easy to step into the shoes of others who may have mismanaged or misstepped along the way. But it is important for those who are honest and open to get that message approach. This is what Essex Financial Services is doing in the aftermath of some bumpy times. Charles R. “Chuck” Cumello Jr. is the CEO and President of the company which is insisting on transparency and trust.

Today, they have close to 50 financial advisers and a reported $3.4 billion in assets and are one of the largest independent financial-services companies in the state of Connecticut.

When discussing how they approach the market, Cumello says that he usually recommends a percentage split of 60-40 between stocks and bonds. He continued, “Everything is possible if you have a plan. A lot of our work is retirement income planning.”

The planning process for the future is certainly made easier with the scenarios Essex Financial can run through their computers. They weigh many factors including life expectancy, charitable giving, paying for college and more.

Cumello explains that much depends on timing. Those who retired in 2007 or 2008 certainly needed more time to recoup their losses than do those retiring today. As Cumello said, “It’s been a heck of a run.”

Certainly, he offers sound advice when he says, “A bull market doesn’t just die of old age — something happens. Our biggest job is not to make emotional decisions.”

Google Investing in Adaptations to Work Environment

Over the next five years, Google is putting $1 billion into nonprofit organizations in an effort to help people adjust to the changing nature of work.  This marks Google’s largest philanthropic pledge ever.

Part of the reason Google is  making this investment is due to its sense of responsibility of its part in advancements in technology have impacted industries, reshaping them and eliminating the need for various jobs throughout America and the world.  As Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google explained:

“The nature of work is fundamentally changing. And that is shifting the link between education, training and opportunity. One-third of jobs in 2020 will require skills that aren’t common today. It’s a big problem.”

The money will be split into three main areas: education, economic opportunity and inclusion. The largest single grant — $10 million — is going to Goodwill, for the establishment of the Goodwill Digital Career Accelerator. Through this the non-profit will spend three years in an effort to provide “digital skills and career opportunities” to a million people.