Author: Jonathan Shieber

FDA chief summons Altria and JUUL to Washington to discuss teen vaping

The head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is calling Altria and Juul to meet in Washington to discuss their tie-up and how it impacts the companies’ plans to combat teen vaping. Earlier this year, Altria  href=”https://techcrunch.com/2018/12/20/juul-labs-gets-12-8-billion-investment-from-marlboro-maker-altria-group/”>invested $12.8 billion investment in Juul. “After Altria’s acquisition of a 35 percent ownership interest in JUUL Labs, Inc., your newly announced plans with JUUL contradict the commitments you made to the FDA,” Commissioner Scott Gottlieb wrote in a strongly worded letter addressed to Altria chairman and chief executive, Howard A. Willard III. “When we meet, Altria should be prepared to explain how this acquisition affects the full range of representations you made to the FDA and the public regarding your plans to stop marketing e-cigarettes and to address the crisis of youth use of e-cigarettes,” Gottlieb wrote. The commissioner sent a similarly worded message to Juul’s chief executive, Kevin Burns. As part of that deal, Juul is getting access to Altria’s retail shelf space; the company is sending out direct communications pitching Juul to adult smokers through cigarette pack inserts and mailings to the company’s database of customers; and the two will combine the power of their respective sales and distribution backend which reaches roughly 230,000 retailers across America. The recent deal comes only months after Juul released its plan to combat teen vaping — something the FDA had required of...

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How to prepare for an investment apocalypse

Micah Rosenbloom Contributor More posts by this contributor Business school grads and quants are winning the battle to create the next P&G Startups need to respect the laws of retail physics Unlike 2000 and 2008, everyone in the startup world is expecting a crash to come at any moment, but few are taking concrete steps to prepare for it. If you’re running a venture-backed startup, you should probably get on that. First, go read RIP Good Times from Sequoia to get a sense for how bad it can get, quickly. Then take a look at the checklist below. You don’t need to build a bomb shelter, yet, but adopting a bit of the prepper mentality now will pay dividends down the road. Don’t wait, prepare The first step in preparing for a coming downturn is making a plan for how you’d get to a point of sustainability. Many startups have been lulled into a false sense of confidence that profit is something they can figure out “later.” Keep in mind, it has to be done eventually and it’s easier to do when the broader economy isn’t crashing around you. There are two complicating factors to keep in mind. You’ll have to do it with less revenue In a downturn, business customers skip investing in capital equipment and new software. Likewise, consumer discretionary spending goes way down. The result is...

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Foot Locker invests $100 million in GOAT Group

Foot Locker, the mostly mall-bound retailer of mass market sneakers, has invested $100 million in the sneaker marketplace and retailer of primarily rare and exclusive high-end athletic and lifestyle shoes, GOAT Group. The companies said that the investment would eventually lead to Foot Locker and Goat Group combining their efforts across their digital and physical retail platforms. GOAT said in a statement that the company would use the investment to accelerate its global operations, expand its omnichannel experience and its technologies. IT Manager Clint Arndt, CEO Eddy Lu In an interview, GOAT co-founder and chief product officer declined to...

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The Green New Deal is long on vision, short on details, and a potential windfall for startups

The Green New Deal has landed. Proposed by the rising star of the Democratic Party, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Senator Edward Markey, a longtime advocate for decarbonization in both the House and the Senate, the sweeping proposal is a grand vision for what a progressive push to rebuild American institutions for the 21st century looks like. But it’s a plan that’s long on promise and short on details. And it’s unlikely to gain much traction in Washington. The proposal is notable for the support it has received in the Democratic party, particularly in the Party’s progressive wing, and could...

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Africa Roundup: Zimbabwe’s net blackout, Partech’s $143M fund, Andela’s $100M raise, Flutterwave’s pivot

Jake Bright Contributor More posts by this contributor Partech is doubling the size of its African venture fund to $143 million Zimbabwe’s government faces off against its tech community over internet restrictions A high court in Zimbabwe ended the government’s restrictions on internet and social media last month. After days of intermittent blackouts at the order of the country’s Minister of State for National Security, ISPs restored connectivity per a January 21 judicial order. Similar to net shutdowns around the continent, politics and protests were the catalyst. Shortly after the government announced a dramatic increase in fuel prices on January 12, Zimbabwe’s Congress of Trade Unions called for a national strike. Web and app blackouts in the southern African country followed demonstrations that broke out in several cities. A government crackdown ensued, with deaths reported. On January 15, Zimbabwe’s largest mobile carrier, Econet Wireless, confirmed that it had complied with a directive from the Minister of State for National Security to shutdown internet. Net access was restored, taken down again, then restored, but social media sites remained blocked through January 21. Throughout the restrictions, many of Zimbabwe’s citizens and techies resorted to VPNs and workarounds to access net and social media, as reported in this TechCrunch feature. Global internet rights group Access Now sprung to action, attaching its #KeepItOn hashtag to calls for the country’s government to reopen cyberspace soon after digital interference began. The cyber-affair adds Zimbabwe...

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Weather and climate-related disasters cost the US $80 billion in 2018, but go ahead and say climate change isn’t real

Weather and climate-related disasters cost the U.S. economy $80 billion last year — and have hit the nation’s bottom line to the tune of roughly $100 billion per year over the last five years, according to a new survey from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. That tally comes as NASA reported that 2018 was also the fourth warmest year ever recorded — continuing a trend of record-breaking global temperatures. It looks like the anthropogenic causes of climate change are becoming harder to ignore. Indeed, the NOAA’s Climate.gov report was very blunt about the causes of the increasing frequency with which natural disasters are occurring across the country: The past three years (2016-2018) have been historic, with the annual average number of billion-dollar disasters being more than double the long-term average. The number and cost of disasters are increasing over time due to a combination of increased exposure, vulnerability, and the fact the climate change is increasing the frequency of some types of extremes that lead to billion-dollar disasters. In total, the U.S. was hit by 14 separate disaster events whose costs were more than $1 billion: the litany of climatological horrors included two tropical cyclones, eight severe storms, two winter storms, prolonged drought and wildfires (that probably burned all the partridges out of their pear trees). As the NOAA report notes, this tally is the fourth highest number...

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How students are founding, funding and joining startups

Shawn Xu Contributor There has never been a better time to start, join, or fund a startup as a student.  Young founders who want to start companies while still in school have an increasing number of resources to tap into that exist just for them. Students that want to learn how to build companies can apply to an increasing number of fast-track programs that allow them to gain valuable early stage operating experience. The energy around student entrepreneurship today is incredible. I’ve been immersed in this community as an investor and adviser for some time now, and to say the least, I’m continually blown away by what the next generation of innovators are dreaming up (from Analytical Space’s global data relay service for satellites to Brooklinen’s reinvention of the luxury bed). Bill Gates in 1973 First, let’s look at student founders and why they’re important. Student entrepreneurs have long been an important foundation of the startup ecosystem. Many students wrestle with how best to learn while in school —some students learn best through lectures, while more entrepreneurial students like author Julian Docks find it best to leave the classroom altogether and build a business instead. Indeed, some of our most iconic founders are Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, both student entrepreneurs who launched their startups at Harvard and then dropped out to build their companies into major tech giants. A sample of...

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Profits at The New York Times show media dinosaurs are ruling the internet

Today’s news that the (failing?) New York Times reported net income of $55.2 million, after losses a year earlier — and that its digital business raked in $709 million — is just one indicator that some of the nation’s oldest media properties are finally crossing the bridge into the 21st century. The Times managed to turn a profit while employing 1,600 journalists — an all-time high. Fourth-quarter digital advertising revenue increased 22.8 percent, while print advertising revenue decreased 10.2 percent. Digital advertising revenue was $103.4 million, or 53.9 percent of total advertising revenues, compared with $84.2 million, or 46.1 percent,...

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