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Dara Khosrowshahi says Uber remains committed to India but offers no concrete plans

Uber said on Tuesday that it has won a bid to work with subway system in India’s capital in one of its rare announcements in India, a key overseas market where it is facing an upheaval battle with local giant Ola.

The ride-hailing giant said it has partnered with Delhi Metro Rail Corporation to deploy parking spots and introduce new products at 210 subway stations in Delhi, Gurgaon, and Noida. Neither of the parties offered a clarification on how many years it would take for these deployments to materialize.

The company has also started to roll out a software update to its app to include real-time public transportation options from within the Uber app. It’s the same feature — which is limited to offering details such as navigation data — that Uber introduced in several markets in recent months as it attempts to make Uber app “an operating system” for a user’s every transportation need.

But the company, which has retreated some of its businesses in India, had nothing more concrete to say. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said onstage that Uber was “here to stay in India” — a familiar promise that he made in Southeast Asia early last year before selling the local business to Grab a month later — but avoided a question about future of UberEats, the ride-hailing firm’s food delivery option.

In recent months, many restaurants have ceased their tie-up with UberEats, and the company has lowered the discounts it was bandying out to compete with local rivals Swiggy and Zomato .

UberEats has lost more than a third of its business in India in recent months, industry sources told TechCrunch. Last year, Uber held talks with both Swiggy and Zomato to sell its UberEats business in the country but failed to attract any meaningful offer, people familiar with the talks said.

Bhavik Rathod, UberEats’ India and Southeast Asia head, Deepak Reddy, head of central operations for UberEats in India, and several more executives have resigned in recent weeks, people familiar with the matter said. Uber’s spokespeople have not returned TechCrunch’s emails since last month.

At the event today, Uber executives miserably escaped questions surrounding UberEats’ future in India. Uber’s local rival Ola, which leads the market, is increasingly expanding its footprint in the nation. In an interview in 2017, Khosrowshahi said India was one of the key regions where the company planned to invest heavily.

Source: TechCrunch
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Supermercato24 acquires Szopi, an on-demand grocery delivery service in Poland

Supermercato24, the Italian same-day grocery delivery service, has acquired, an on-demand grocery delivery service in Poland.

Terms of the deal remain undisclosed, although I understand it is a mixture of cash and stock. Szopi had raised €1.7M from various investors, including Impera Alfa.

The acquisition sees the two companies join forces to speed up the growth of Supermercato24’s expansion in Poland. Full integration of the respective platforms will be completed at the beginning of 2020. Szopi’s founders are joining Supermercato24 where they’ll be focusing on Business Development and Operations.

Similar to Instacart in the U.S. and claiming to be the leader in Italy, Supermercato24 lets customers order from local supermarkets for delivery. The startup uses gig economy-styled personal shoppers who go into the store and ‘pick’ the products ordered and then deliver them same-day, or for an added cost within an hour. It’s live in 31 Italian cities.

The company raised €13 million in Series B funding in June 2018. Leading that round was FII Tech Growth, with participation from new investor Endeavor Catalyst, and current investors 360 Capital Partners, and Innogest.

Meanwhile, I’m told that one of the key assets being acquired is the network of partnerships that Szopi has been able to develop with retailers such as Auchan and Carrefour. In Italy, Supermercato24 has partnered with +20 retailers such as LIDL and Carrefour.

“The acquisition marks the first step for the international expansion of the company, aiming to lead the way and expand into Europe,” a spokesperson for Supermercato24 tells TechCrunch.

Source: TechCrunch
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Lilium releases new flight footage and details factory plans for 2025 launch

Lilium, the Munich-based startup developing an on-demand “air taxi” service, has released its latest flight video — this time demonstrating a successful transition from vertical flight (liftoff) to horizontal flight.

The company is also announcing the completion of its first manufacturing facility and plans for a much larger second factory in preparation for a 2025 commercial launch.

In the flight footage (embedded below), the five-seater all-electric Lilium Jet can be seen taking off and then transitioning to vertical flight, where it functions along broadly similar lines to conventional airplane.

Describing this type of transition as one of “aerospace’s greatest challenges,” Lilium claims this is what gives the Lilium Jet a range advantage over some other all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) competitors, with its two sets of wings contributing to much higher levels of efficiency than in aircraft lifted solely by rotors.

“Powered by 36 all-electric jet engines, the aircraft has zero operating emissions and requires less than 10% of its maximum 2000 horsepower during horizontal cruise flight thanks to the lift generated by having two sets of wings,” explains Lilium.

The company — which we reported is currently raising a large round of funding, thought to be between $400 million and $500 million — is also disclosing that its jet has now been flown at speeds exceeding 100 km/h and undergone “increasingly complex” manoeuvres. It says it is still on track to be able to complete journeys of up to 300 km in one hour and on a single charge.

In a call with Remo Gerber, Lilium’s chief commercial officer (CCO), he reiterated the company’s plans for a “meaningful” 2025 launch and talked up the 300 kilometre target range. Specifically, he explained that this means Lilium will be able to operate an air taxi service that connects cities and country regions, rather than simply speeding up travel time across a single city.

“We’re actually quite clear in our mind what our goal is,” Gerber told me when asked to elaborate on Lilium’s 2025 ambitions. “We want to be live and a real meaningful part of transportation ecosystems in several cities around the world. So what does that mean? We’re having talks around the world with a number of different cities and governments and then entire regions to look at how we best connect them”.

Describing England in the U.K. as one example of an ecosystem, where the main hubs are reachable within a 300 kilometre range, he says we could imagine services between London-Manchester, Manchester-Birmingham, Birmingham-London, “or maybe down to Brighton and several other places”.

“So that is really a meaningful new addition to transportation opportunities for customers and for people to use every day,” says Gerber. “And that wouldn’t be just something that will be useful for Londoners, but it would be just as useful for people living in the other larger towns but also – and that’s where the timeline is [hard to predict] – how quickly other smaller cities jump on the opportunity”.

The upside for building the landing pads, which will need to be close to other transport links, is that it will require a “manageable investment” compared to much larger and more capital intensive infrastructure projects. The smallest and most affordable sizes of a pad will cost as little as half a million pounds to build, says Gerber.

“I can all of a sudden make one investment into a pad the size of a football field and be connected to all of these other 10 different pads in the country. And that’s where we’re coming in,” he explains, revealing that Lilium is already having conversations with various different parties who are interested in creating a landing site.

“We are developing the blueprints for people and we will be advising people what they need to build. Of course, we cannot go and build all around the world all of these landing sites, but where we will come in is to work with these cities to say ‘how do we connect you in a meaningful way into the network, into the Lilium service’. That’s how you have to imagine it”.

It won’t all be tax payer-funded or public money, but private companies will also be courted. These could be shopping malls that want additional footfall or large businesses that want their business parks to be connected in different ways or want a 10 minute transfer to a specific airport.

However, Gerber says Lilium will remain “ultra-cautious” with regards to where Lilium landing pads are created so that there is “no negative impact” on communities.

“We see the landing infrastructure to a very large extent is the public good,” he tells me. “We see it a bit like on the scale of a train station, because it should have a use to the community that it serves and that’s where really our whole philosophy comes in”.

Meanwhile, Lilium’s first manufacturing facility is a 3,000 square meter space located at the company’s headquarters in Southern Germany. It will soon be complemented by a second, much larger, facility which is already under construction at the same site. The plan is to be capable of producing hundreds of Lilium aircraft per year by the time commercial services begin in 2025.

“There’s a tremendous opportunity when you have the manufacturing sitting next to the engineers because they can work together…,” says Gerber. “Now we know the performance is right, how do we tweak it so that it’s actually also easy to make, so that we can get that scale? We’re building the first manufacturing line to really produce this aircraft at scale”.

Source: TechCrunch
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FT launches a new consulting arm focused on helping businesses use consumer data

As more and more news businesses turn to paywalls and subscriptions, The Financial Times looks like an early model and success story — a few months ago the organization announced that it’s passed 1 million paying readers, with digital subscribers accounting for more than three-fourths of its circulation.

Now The FT is looking to share some of what it’s learned (and further diversify its business) by launching a new consulting unit called FT Strategies.

Chief Data Officer Tom Betts told me that The FT built a lot of the technology behind its subscription efforts. At first, the team assumed that it might be able to build a business selling that technology to other publishers. After all, Vox Media and The Washington Post are both trying to do something similar with their content management systems.

So it was surprising to hear Betts say that FT Strategy is actually “a pure consulting business.”

Asked whether The FT might eventually start selling a tech product as well, he replied, “Never say never about the technology dimension, but I think as we did our market research and started talking to customers and looking more at the technological landscape out there, we realized that over the years, many of the elements of the technology we have built have become commoditized.”

That doesn’t mean there’s a technology stack that publishers can buy off-the-shelf that can meet all their needs (there’s at least one startup called The News Project trying to piece that stack together).

But Betts argued, “Even if you go and buy best-of-breed technology, that doesn’t mean you can assembly it in the right way to make it useful and meaningful to scale and grow direct-to-consumer revenues. And most importantly it doesn’t mean that you know how to operate it with teams and how to actually use it to successfully scale and grow your business.”

That’s precisely what FT Strategies is trying to provide. In fact, Betts said the company has already been quietly testing out the idea in beta and built up a customer list that includes Bonnier, The Business of Fashion, Penguin Random House and the V&A — so not just news companies, but also a book publisher and an art and design museum.

“I believe that the capabilities that we’e built, clearly they are salient to other news publishers, but I believe that they span far beyond that,” Betts explained.

He went on to argue that FT Strategies could potentially work with any company that’s “either facing disruption as the news media industry has” or that’s in a sector that’s part of the broader direct-to-consumer trend — basically, any company that needs help figuring out “how do we market to individuals, how do we build relationships to individuals, how do we leverage those relationships both so that the consumers have the most positive and engaging experience with our products and to maximize revenue.”

As for whether any of these business might be leery about giving another company — and, in some cases, a competitor — access to their customer data, Betts said that philosophically, the FT believes that “a healthy paid content ecosystem is good for the FT and it’s good for all the publishers that participate in it.”

More concretely, he said his team is “very clear internally about having the Chinese walls and professional standards for FT Strategy that ensures the right levels of confidentiality of clients’ data [so] their confidential information doesn’t leak back into the core operation.”

Source: TechCrunch
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Former Stitch Fix COO Julie Bornstein is rewriting the e-commerce playbook

More than two years after Julie Bornstein–Stitch Fix’s former chief operating officer–mysteriously left the subscription-based personal styling service only months before its initial public offering, she’s taking the wraps off her first independent venture.

Shortly after departing Stitch Fix, Bornstein began building The Yes, an AI-powered shopping platform expected to launch in the first half of 2020. She’s teamed up with The Yes co-founder and chief technology officer Amit Aggarwal, who’s held high-level engineering roles at BloomReach and Groupon, and most recently, served as an entrepreneur-in-residence at Bain Capital Ventures, to “rewrite the architecture of e-commerce.”

“This is an idea I’ve been thinking about since I was 10 and spending my weekends at the mall,” Bornstein, whose resume includes chief marketing officer & chief digital officer at Sephora, vice president of e-commerce at Urban Outfitters, VP of e-commerce at Nordstrom and director of business development at Starbucks, tells TechCrunch. “All the companies I have worked at were very much leading in this direction.”

Coming out of stealth today, the team at The Yes is readying a beta mode to better understand and refine their product. Bornstein and Aggarwal have raised $30 million in venture capital funding to date across two financings. The first, a seed round, was co-led by Forerunner Ventures’ Kirsten Green and NEA’s Tony Florence. The Series A was led by True Ventures’ Jon Callaghan with participation from existing investors. Bornstein declined to disclose the company’s valuation.

“AI and machine learning already dominate in many verticals, but e-commerce is still open for a player to have a meaningful impact,” Callaghan said in a statement. “Amit is leading a team to build deep neural networks that legacy systems cannot achieve.”

Bornstein and Aggarwal withheld many details about the business during our conversation. Rather, the pair said the product will speak for itself when it launches next year. In addition to being an AI-powered shopping platform, Bornstein did say The Yes is working directly with brands and “creating a new consumer shopping experience that helps address the issue of overwhelm in shopping today.”

As for why she decided to leave Stitch Fix just ahead of its $120 million IPO, Bornstein said she had an epiphany.

“I realized that technology had changed so much, meanwhile … the whole framework underlying e-commerce had remained the same since the late 90s’ when I helped build,” she said. “If you could rebuild the underlying architecture and use today’s technology, you could actually bring to life an entirely new consumer experience for shopping.”

The Yes, headquartered in Silicon Valley and New York City, has also brought on Lisa Green, the former head of industry, fashion and luxury at Google, as its senior vice president of partnerships, and Taylor Tomasi Hill, whose had stints at Moda Operandi and FortyFiveTen, as its creative director. Other investors in the business include Comcast Ventures and Bain Capital Ventures

Source: TechCrunch
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IBM Says Google’s Quantum Leap Was a Quantum Flop

Technical quarrels between quantum computing experts rarely escape the field’s rarified community. Late Monday, though, IBM’s quantum team picked a highly public fight with Google.

In a technical paper and blogpost, IBM took aim at potentially history-making scientific results accidentally leaked from a collaboration between Google and NASA last month. That draft paper claimed Google had reached a milestone dubbed “quantum supremacy”—a kind of drag race in which a quantum computer proves able to do something a conventional computer can’t.

Monday, Big Blue’s quantum PhD’s said Google’s claim of quantum supremacy was flawed. IBM said Google had essentially rigged the race, by not tapping the full power of modern supercomputers. “This threshold has not been met,” IBM’s blog post says. Google declined to comment.

It will take time for the quantum research community to dig through IBM’s claim and any responses from Google. For now, Jonathan Dowling, a professor at Louisiana State University, says IBM appears to have some merit. “Google picked a problem they thought to be really hard on a classical machine, but IBM now has demonstrated that the problem is not as hard as Google thought it was,” he says.

Whoever is proved right in the end, claims of quantum supremacy are largely academic for now. The problem crunched to show supremacy doesn’t need to have immediate practical applications. It’s a milestone suggestive of the field’s long-term dream: That quantum computers will unlock new power and profits by enabling progress in tricky areas such as battery chemistry or healthcare. IBM has promoted its own quantum research program differently, highlighting partnerships with quantum-curious companies playing with its prototype hardware, such as JP Morgan, which this summer claimed to have figured out how to run financial risk calculations on IBM quantum hardware.

The IBM-Google quantretemps illustrates the paradoxical state of quantum computing. There has been a burst of progress in recent years, leading companies such as IBM, Google, Intel, and Microsoft to build large research teams. Google has claimed for years to be close to demonstrating quantum supremacy, a useful talking point as it competed with rivals to hire top experts and line up putative customers. Yet while quantum computers appear closer than ever, they remain far from practical use, and just how far isn’t easily determined.

The draft Google paper that appeared online last month described posing a statistical math problem to both the company’s prototype quantum processor, Sycamore, and the world’s fastest supercomputer, Summit, at Oak Ridge National Lab. The paper used the results to estimate that a top supercomputer would need approximately 10,000 years to match what Sycamore did in 200 seconds.


The WIRED Guide to Quantum Computing

IBM, which developed Summit, says the supercomputer could have done that work in 2 ½ days, not millennia—and potentially even faster, given more time to finesse its implementation. That would still be slower than the time posted by Google’s Sycamore quantum chip, but the concept of quantum supremacy as originally conceived by Caltech professor John Preskill required the quantum challenger to do something that a classical computer could not do at all.

This is not the first time that Google’s rivals have questioned its quantum supremacy plans. In 2017, after the company said it was closing in on the milestone, IBM researchers published results that appeared to move the goalposts. Early in 2018, Google unveiled a new quantum chip called Bristlecone said to be ready to demonstrate supremacy. Soon, researchers from Chinese ecommerce company Alibaba, which has its own quantum computing program, released analysis claiming that the device could not do what Google said.

Google is expected to publish a peer-reviewed version of its leaked supremacy paper, based on the newer Sycamore chip, bringing its claim onto the scientific record. IBM’s paper released Monday is not yet peer reviewed either, but the company says it will be.

Source: Business Latest
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India moves closer to regulating internet services as it fears ‘unimaginable disruption to democracy’

India said on Monday that it is moving ahead with its plan to revise existing rules to regulate intermediaries — social media apps and others that rely on users to create their content — as they are causing “unimaginable disruption” to democracy.

In a legal document filed with the country’s apex Supreme Court, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology said it would formulate the rules to regulate intermediaries by January 15, 2020.

In the legal filing, the government department said the internet had “emerged as a potent tool to cause unimaginable disruption to the democratic polity.” Oversight of intermediaries, the ministry said, would help in addressing the “ever growing threats to individual rights and nation’s integrity, sovereignty and security.”

The Indian government published a draft of guidelines for consultation late last year. The proposed rules, which revise the 2011 laws, identified any service — social media or otherwise — that have more than 5 million users as intermediaries.

Government officials said at the time that modern rules were needed, otherwise circulation of false information and other misuse of internet platforms would continue to flourish.

The Monday filing comes as a response to an ongoing case in India filed by Facebook to prevent the government from forcing WhatsApp to introduce a system that would enable revealing the source of messages exchanged on the popular instant messaging platform, which counts India as its biggest market with more than 400 million users.

Some have suggested that social media platforms should require their users in India to link their accounts with Aadhaar — a government-issued, 12-digit biometric ID. More than 1.2 billion people in India have been enrolled in the system.

Facebook executives have argued that meeting such demands would require breaking the end-to-end encryption that WhatsApp users enjoy globally. The company executives have said that taking away the encryption would compromise the safety and privacy of its users. The Supreme Court will hear Facebook’s case on Tuesday.

India’s online population has ballooned in recent years. More than 600 million users in India are online today, according to industry estimates. The proliferation of low-cost Android handsets and access to low-cost mobile data in the nation have seen “more and more people in India become part of the internet and social media platforms.”

“On the one hand, technology has led to economic growth and societal development, on the other hand there has been an exponential rise in hate speech, fake news, public order, anti-national activities, defamatory postings, and other unlawful activities using Internet/social media platforms,” a lower court told the apex court earlier.

Source: TechCrunch
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3 Popular Business-Naming Habits Worth Breaking

So it’s time to create a name for your new brand, business, product or app. You’ve read all the articles and guides, and now you’re even more confused than before. The biggest problem is that most naming experts have a specific clientele, as well as a branding and marketing philosophy. A bootstrapped tech startup, international rollout from P&G and small bakery in Maine will all need take very different approaches. With this in mind, here are three commonly accepted business-naming guidelines that may be worth reconsidering on your path to landing on an identity that you love.

Related: 8 Mistakes to Avoid When Naming Your Business

1. Shorter Is Better

Unsurprisingly, many experts tout the importance of a short brand name. With the success of companies like Xerox, Zara, Nike and Tesla, it’s easy to see why this is appealing. But naming is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and there are too many examples of companies that are highly successful with longer names to believe that brevity is of utmost significance. 

Take Forever 21. The founders might have gone the short route and named themselves simply 21, but the word “forever” is so more emotionally powerful and brings in a much deeper story. Or look at Lululemom. This athletic retailer created a name that has no specific origin story, other than the fact that its three “Ls” gives it a bouncy alliteration and pleasant lilt. And isn’t Lululemon more memorable than Lulu or Lemon on their own?

2. Describe Your Company in the Name

Some experts love descriptive names, as they explicitly express what the business is all about and are believed to make marketing easier, and even cheaper. Home Depot, SnapChat and even Bank of Hawaii — these names convey exactly what the retailers  provide. But on the flip side are experts who believe descriptive names are boring, uneventful and limit expansion. The truth is that descriptive names are great for the right business, and should definitely be considered, but there are also many other options that might be more abstract, but are also evocative and intriguing, from Rolls Royce and Gucci to Urban Decay and MailChimp. 

Relate: Need to Generate a New Business Name? Here’s How to Get It Right

3. Use Common English-Language Words

Widely understood English-language words and phrases are what many people think of when beginning their journey to find a business name (e.g. Boost, Apple, Oracle, Amazon, Puma, Open Door, First Choice), but this approach simply isn’t as feasible as it was in recent decades. Millions of businesses open each year, and 6.7 million trademarks have been filed with the USPTO since 1985. Markets such as cosmetics, real Estate, retail and nutrition have become particularly oversaturated. 

Our company has performed numerous trademark checks on standard words and phrases, often finding hundreds of registrations of a single word or phrase across the trademark database. And this doesn’t even touch on the high costs in acquiring a great domain. With this in mind, other naming strategies become much more appealing, and it’s important to expand your vision. Here are more than 15 name-types you can consider when creating a unique identity for your business that will not result in a cease and desist letter. 

Whatever path you choose to take when selecting a name, just remember that it’s important to review as many options as possible, and consider breaking some of the rules. Follow the beat of your own drum and find your perfect name — whether it’s descriptive, playful, intriguing or anything else you can dream of.  

Source: Entrepreneur: Startup
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11 Quotes on Kindness That Every Entrepreneur Needs to Read

The business world is often portrayed as a highly competitive ecosystem in which you need to fight to get ahead. To a good extent, that’s very true. Entrepreneurs need thick skin, drive and intense focus to succeed. But it’s also important for entrepreneurs to remember the value of kindness. 

With World Kindness Day coming up on November 13, take a few minutes to read these 11 quotes. They can all teach us important lessons about business, entrepreneurship and being good human beings. 

1. “Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” — Scott Adams, Dilbert Creator and Author

Businesses give you the chance to change the world and influence others. Kindness does the same thing, and with a single act you can influence countless others. Pairing kindness with your business can make for a powerful opportunity. 

2. “Kindness can become its own motive. We are made kind by being kind.” — Eric Hoffer, Philosopher and Author

Sometimes in life, you have to fake it until you make it. Many of us don’t get up in the morning feeling generous. However, if you concentrate on thinking positively and bringing kindness to each interaction during the day, you might just start to feel the momentum spread to more of your interactions. The truth is, kindness can become a driving force in your business that you can encompass into your mission, story and even branding. 

3. “If you want to be a rebel, be kind.” — Pancho Ramos Stierle, Activist

In an often jaded world, kindness may be the ultimate act of rebellion. Volunteering for a nonprofit, donating a percentage of your business profits or serving as a mentor to young entrepreneurs can all help you stand out for the right reasons. 

Related: 5 Reasons Why Kindness Has Become the Key to My Happiness

4. “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” — Mahatma Gandhi

Kindness can be transformative. A volunteer experience might give you new ideas for a business or project. Helping another business owner or pairing up in a partnership may help you to better identify your own future business opportunities. Maybe it won’t teach you any of that and you’ll simply feel energized by being kind. Regardless, by helping others, you can grow as an individual. 

5. “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the figure of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

A nation doesn’t have to be cruel to be tough, and neither does your business. In designing your company with kindness in mind, customers and clients will recognize and respect both you and your business. 

6. “Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.” — Og Mandino, Author

In business and in life, it’s all too easy to put off those things that we really should prioritize. Find a way to make changes in your business, today. Be kind, start that new project and establish a personal connection with your clients. 

7. “You can be rich in spirit, kindness, love and all those things that you can’t put a dollar sign on.” – Dolly Parton

You may have started a business with the goal of becoming rich, but money is only one way to measure a fortune. Be sure to balance your business life with your personal life so that you can enjoy love, kindness and those other elements that can also build your fortune. 

8. “You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Emerson speaks here to the temporary nature of everything in life. Keeping this in mind might make you want to stop and evaluate how you treat people, whether they’re competitors or co-workers. How can you make a difference in someone’s life today? 

9. “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” — Sir Winston Churchill

Just think of how good you feel when you give a little to others. Consider donating a percentage of your business’s profits. It won’t just change your life; it will change others’s lives, too. 

Related: 8 Effortless Ways to Make Kindness Part of Every Day

10. “A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.” — Amelia Earhart

Your journey as an entrepreneur isn’t just about you, but what you do for others and how you affect their lives. Starting with kindness means you can leave a legacy that’s larger than you. 

11. “Life is an echo. What you send out, comes back. What you sow, you reap. What you give, you get. What you see in others, exists in you.” — Zig Ziglar, Author and Motivational Speaker

When you’re kind to others, that kindness comes back to you, too. You can make the journey easier for everyone simply by being kind. 

When you’re building a business, it’s easy to become so focused on your own goals and progress that you forget about how you’re treating others. But in a world full of entrepreneurs and new businesses, kindness is one quality that can quickly help you to stand out from everyone else. Work on incorporating kindness into your daily routine, and that routine may soon become a joyful experience.

Source: Entrepreneur: Startup
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New Facebook features fight election lies everywhere but ads

Heaven forbid a political candidate’s Facebook account gets hacked. They might spread disinformation…like they’re already allowed to do in Facebook ads…

Today Facebook made a slew of announcements designed to stop 2020 election interference. “The bottom line here is that elections have changed significantly since 2016″ and so has Facebook in response, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on a call with reporters. “We’ve gone from being on our back foot to proactively going after some of the biggest threats out there”

Facebook Protect

One new feature is called Facebook Protect. By hijacking accounts of political candidates or their campaign staff, bad actors can steal sensitive information, expose secrets, and spread disinformation. So to safeguard these vulnerable users, Facebook is launching a new program with extra security they can opt into.

Facebook Protect entails requiring two-factor authentication, and having Facebook monitor for hacking attempts like suspicious logins. Facebook can then inform the rest of an organization and investigate if it sees one member under attack.

Today’s other announcements include:

  • The takedown of foreign influence campaigns, three from Iran and one from Russia in order to protect users from deception.
  • Labelling state-owned or controlled media organizations like Russia Today on their Facebook Pages and the the Ad Library to help users identify potential propaganda.
  • Added Page ownership transparency for ePages with large US audiences and those verified to run political ads which will have to display their owner’s organization’s legal name, city, and phone number or website so it’s clear where information comes from.
  • New transparency features around political ad spend including a US presidential candidate spend tracker, more geographic spending details, info on what apps an ad appear on, and programmatic access to downloads of political ad creative.
  • Much more prominent fact-checking labels will now run as interstitials warnings atop photos and videos on Facebook and Instagram that were fact-checked as false, rather than smaller labels attached below the post to make sure users know information is false before consuming it. Users will also be warned before they share posts fact-checked as false to keep them from going viral.

04 misinfo 02

  • A wider ban on voter suppression ads that suggest it’s useless to vote, provide inaccurate polling or voter eligibility information, or threaten people if they vote or based on the outcome of an election to prevent intimidation and confusion.
  • A $2 million investment from Facebook into media literacy projects to develop new methods of educating people to understand political social media and ads.
  • Facebook Protect offering hack monitoring services to elected officials, candidates political party committees, government agencies and departments surrounding elections, and verified users involved in elections.

Facebook Page Transparency Spend Tracker

Combined, the efforts could protect both campaigns and constituents from misinformation while giving everyone more clarity about where content comes from. Yet the approach highlights Facebook’s tightrope walk between policing its networks and overstepping into censorship.

In a speech last week, Zuckerberg tried to firmly plant Facebook as erring on the side of giving people a voice rather than stifling speech. He raised the threat of China’s influence over foreign businesses by dangling its giant market in exchange for adherence to its political values. And he tried to defend allowing lies in political ads, arguing that banning political ads on Facebook as I’ve recommended the company do would benefit incumbents and silence challengers who don’t have media attention.

Trump Ad 1

A Trump ad spreads misinformation claiming Democrats want to repeal the second amendment

Yet throughout the call, Zuckerberg was hammered with questions about Facebook’s willingness to fact check what users share with friends, but not what politicians pay to show to millions of voters.

People should make up their own minds about what candidates are credible. I don’t think those determinations should come from tech companies . . . People need to be able to see this content for themselves” Zuckerberg insisted. Yet if Facebook is willing to cover photos containing misinformation with a warning label you have to click to see past, it’s strange that it’s unwilling to do the same for political ads.

Like farming out fact-checking to third-party news outlets as Facebook already does, banning political ads wouldn’t force Facebook to judge the truth of individual statements, and they’d still have the right to share what they want to their own followers.

When I asked why he believes banning political ads would favor incumbents, Zuckerberg admitted “You’re right that incumbents can raise more money” and he wasn’t sure there’d been a comprehensive study on the matter. His defense relied on anecdotal beliefs of unnamed sources:

I’ve talked to a lot of people. The general belief that they have, when they’re a challenger, is that they rely on different mechanisms like ads in order to get their voices into a debate more than incumbents do . . . 

From all of the conversations that I’ve had, the general overwhelming consensus from people who are participating in these things and who work on them has been that removing political ads would favor incumbents.”

While the rest of Facebook’s announcements today felt like sensible steps in the right direction, the company will need a stronger arguments for why it polices misinformation shared by users but not political ad campaigns.

If it wants to find a better middleground, it could offer standardized ad units for political campaigns that endorse the candidate and ask for donations, but can’t make potentially untruthful assertions about themselves or their competitors.

Source: TechCrunch
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