Category Archives: Company Focus

Plantagon Building New Indoor Farming Office Building

Business and sustainability are becoming increasingly linked as innovative companies begin to focus on our carbon footprint and potential contribution to the environment. At the same time, the world’s population is growing rapidly, and especially in urban areas, leaving cities in need of creative solutions for feeding all of those people.

Plantagon, a Swedish food-tech company, is currently developing what they believe to be the future of farming: enormous office buildings which combine work spaces and giant indoor vegetable farms. The first of such structures is being built in Linkoping, Sweden.

According to experts, the building will operate hydroponically, which means that the plants will grow without soil. Instead, they will be based in a water solution which is enriched with the nutrients the plants need to flourish. Plantagon has said that the farm will be mostly automated, to cut back on operational costs.

According to Plantagon CEO Hans Hassle, the generate more food while using less land and water than an outdoor farm of the same size, while saving 1,100 tons of CO2 emissions and 13 million gallons of water each year.

The tower will feature a wide range of office spaces, conference rooms and eateries, as well as a market where people can shop for fresh vegetables. The farm will also supply produce directly to local restaurants and other food retailers.

Plantagon has designed similar buildings in other shapes, in hopes of appealing to cities all over to world.

Toys ‘R’ Us Expanding in Asia

Children’s retailer Toys ‘R’ Us is currently looking to expand its Asia business. As income levels in the region increase, the demand for higher-end toys is growing. The U.S. company has teamed up with the billionaire Fung Brothers to further their dealings in the Asia Pacific sector.

Bloomberg reports:

Amazon to Move Into Health Sector

Amazon recently decided to enter the health industry, despite some misgivings.

CEO of Walgreens Stefano Pessina believes the health sector is too complicated to be a good market for Amazon.

Amazon has “opportunities around the world and in other categories, which are much, much simpler than health care, which is a very regulated business,” he said.

However, other industry leaders disagree. Former Amazon director Curtis Kopf now works at Premera Blue Cross as senior vice president, and thinks the move is plausible. Having been involved in some of Amazon’s previous projects, such as digitizing every book every printed, have demonstrated to Kopf that seemingly impossible tasks often bear fruit.

“At this point, I don’t think there’s anything they would be afraid to do,” Kopf said in an interview, referring to Amazon’s latest move. “”Every industry has thought that Amazon wouldn’t disrupt them,” he pointed out.

Aaron Martin, also a former Amazonian, has also shifted into health at Providence St. Joseph Health. He still has ties with Amazon, and has confirmed that a large portion of his current team used to work for the company. Martin thinks Amazon’s expansion into health is quite strategic.

“At Amazon, we learned to pick our battles and didn’t look at anything that was less than $500 million,” said Martin. “Meanwhile, health care is a fifth of the economy,” he said. “Amazon could build the compliant infrastructure but let entrepreneurs come in and do the heavy lift.”

Disney Entfernt Filme von Netflix, Startet Einen Separaten Streaming-Service

Disney hat kürzlich angekündigt, dass es seine Filme von der Online-Streaming Plattform Netflix entfernen und stattdessen einen eigenen direkten Streaming-Service starten wird. Der neue direkte Streaming-Service von Disney wird in 2019 eingeführt, zuerst in den USA und später für internationele Zuschauer.

Gemäß des Disney CEOs Bob Iger hat Disney eine gute Partnerschaft mit Netflix. Die Filme der Firma, welche alle Filme, die bei Disney und Pixar produziert wurden, umfasst, werden bis Ende 2018 auf der Platform bleiben, zu welchem Zeitpunkt sie zu dem privaten Service geschoben werden, zusammen mit Filmen wie Die Eiskönigin 2 und Toy Story 4, als auch einer große Sammlung an anderen exklusiven Filmen und TV Serien. Disney plant zudem eine eigene ESPN Video Streaming Plattform zu Beginn nächsten Jahres zu starten, welche MLB, NHL, MLS und mehr anbieten wird. Marvel TV Episoden werden in der Netflix Bibliothek bleiben.

Disney hat in BAM Tech investiert und die Mehrheit der Firma für $1.58 Milliarden akquiriert, um den neuen Service zu unterstützen.

“Dies repräsentiert eine große strategische Verschiebung für die Firma”, sagte Iger während eines Interviews mit CNBC. “Wir hatten das Gefühl, dass die Kontrolle zu haben über eine Plattform von der wir sehr beeindruckt gewesen sind nachdem wir vor einem Jahr 33 Prozent gekauft haben, uns Kontrolle über unser Schicksal geben würde.”

Disney to Remove Movies from Netflix, Launch Separate Streaming Service

Disney has recently announced that it will be removing its movies from online streaming platform Netflix, and launching its own direct streaming service instead. The new branded direct-streaming service is expected to launch in 2019, beginning in the US and later branching out to international viewers as well.

According to Disney CEO Bob Iger, Disney had a good relationship with Netflix. The company’s movies, which include all films made by both Disney and Pixar, will remain on the platform until the end of 2018, at which point they will be moved to the private service alongside expected films such as Frozen 2 and Toy Story 4, as well as a wide array of other exclusive movies and TV shows. Disney also plans to launch its own ESPN video streaming platform early next year, offering MLB, NHL, MLS and more. Marvel TV shows will remain in the Netflix library.

Disney has invested in BAM Tech, acquiring the majority of the company for $1.58 billion, in order to support its new service.

“This represents a big strategic shift for the company,” said Iger during an interview with CNBC. “We felt that having control of a platform we’ve been very impressed with after buying 33 percent of it a year ago would give us control of our destiny.”


Finding the Right Solution: West Lake Landfill

When looking at the issues that surround a landfill and whether or not to move it, there are many considerations at hand. There is the economic issue about moving a landfill like the West Lake Landfill and then there are social issues, health issues and more. Certainly, many people from firefighters and doctors to teachers and politicians have explained why it makes the most sense to simply leave the West Lake Landfill where it is. Moving it will not make the problem go away and it won’t fix it. Learn more with this video and the article below.

For more information about the issues involved in the West Lake Landfill and many others, see this article: Misplaced fears? Radiation risks from West Lake, Coldwater Creek low, say experts

Microsoft’s Cloud Business Boosts Fourth Quarter Earnings

Microsoft has reported a significant increase in profits last quarter a s a result of its expanding cloud business. In fact, Microsoft shares have doubled, reaching 19% this year alone with a 1% increase in after-hours trading last week as well.

Microsoft’s profits reached $6.5 billion in the fourth quarter, up from $3.1 billion last year, according to Forbes. Some items listed earnings of up to 98 cents per share, and revenue increased to $23.31 billion, or 13%.

CEO Satya Nadella said: “Innovation across our cloud platforms drove strong results this quarter. Customers are looking to Microsoft and our thriving partner ecosystem to accelerate their own digital transformations and to unlock new opportunity in this era of intelligent cloud and intelligent edge.”

Microsoft’s new cloud platform Azure revealed a 97% revenue increase, leading the company’s overall cloud business to $7.4 billion in revenue during the fourth quarter. Other cloud products and services increased in revenue as well, reaching as much as 15% higher than last year.

Small Business “Pays it Forward”. All of It.

Business is all about pleasing customers and making money, and small-town cookie shop RoRo’s Cookies is doing just that. This business, owned by Mom Rose Gebran, comes with a special twist though: all proceeds go to charity.

7KTBV reports:

Silverfern Releases Overview of 2016 Investments

The Silverfern Group recently held its annual 2017 meeting in NYC. The firm provided an overview of its investments and growth in 2016. Specializing in investment management in areas including middle market private equity, real estate and private debt, Silverfern is run by co-Managing Partners Clive Holmes and Reeta Holmes. At the event, they announced that the firm made five new investments in private equity and real estate: Tempo RiverPark Apartments, APR Energy, Continental Bakeries, Broad River Power Holdings and Waste Services Group. They also made three follow-on investments into APR Energy, O-Tex Holdings, Inc. and Sequitur Energy Resources. Silverfern made three investment exits as well.

Clive Holmes said: “Silverfern’s two largest, global networks- our base of investors spanning five continents and 23 countries, and our network of more than 50 operating executives and local operating partners- again provided us with a flow of private, off-market information that created unique investment opportunities. We continue to add global diversification to our portfolio, while at all times remaining an informed, local investor.”

Co-Managing Partner Reeta Holmes added: “2016 proved to be extremely productive for Silverfern as we made five new platform investments, three follow-on investments, and achieved three investment exits globally. The pace of our investments in middle market private equity, real estate and private debt globally has been accelerating, and we expect it will continue in 2017.”


Reaching Higher with the Harlem Children’s Zone

The Harlem Children’s Zone is a non-profit organization worth knowing about. They offer free support to families living within a 97 block of Harlem. They offer parenting workshops, a pre-school program, three charter schools, a health program and much more.

As they describe it, they are “aimed at doing nothing less than breaking the cycle of generational poverty for the thousands of children and families it serves.” And they are doing so with the help of so many business people and leaders in the community. Their board of trustees includes Chairman Stanley F. Druckenmiller and Chairman Anne Williams-Isom, while their list of donors includes financial executive Jeff Feig and many others.

The HCZ Project started out in the 1990s with just one block in Harlem. They launched a ten year strategic plan in 2000 to expand the depth and breadth of their programming and to move to 24 blocks. This then became 60 blocks, and eventually the 97 blocks they have today. Today, they serve more than 10,000 youth and almost 10,000 adults.

They have become a national model, with the help of many like Jeff Feig, for thought leadership in education, community development and the fight against poverty. And they are certainly a model worth looking at for business leaders in many other locations.