Category Archives: Company Focus

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 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:

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.

Healthier Eating Trends Forcing Companies to Re-Brand and Re-Formulate

Limited Edition Mini Trix Cereal Closeup. Photo by

As consumers begin to move away from prepared and processed foods and towards fresher, more wholesome ingredients, giant companies like General Mills and ConArgra Brands have had to make changes to keep market share.

General Mills has been steadily removing synthetic dyes from their breakfast cereals such as Trix for years, and are finally seeing a turnaround in sales. Sales of their reformulated cereals are up by 3 percent in the US in the last reported quarter. However, the good news comes with bad as sales of yogurt is in decline.

The company is adding products perceived as healthier, such as organic yogurt and completely new products such as yogurt snacks and drinks which are not packaged in traditional yogurt cup packaging.

This week General Mills will be presenting their successes and failures to their investors. They are expected to report underwhelming earnings of 87 cents per share on $4.23 billion in revenue, down from $4.42 billion one year ago.

ConArgra has been down-sizing, spinning-off its commercial foods operation and selling its private label business. Chief Executive Sean Connolly, who joined ConAgra less than two years ago, explained that off-loading divisions will allow the company to concentrate on building up their older brands which had lost their appeal.

Reddi-wip is now advertising that it is made with “real-cream” in place of hydrogenated oils, and that there is no artificial growth hormone is found in the ingredients. Hunt’s has been bragging that it steams off the tomato skins rather using a chemical process. ConAgra state’s on the Hebrew National Website that there are no artificial flavors, filler or byproducts, because “The shorter the ingredients list, the better.”

Later this week ConAgra is expected to report flat earnings of 45 cents per share on $2.11 billion in revenue for the last quarter reported.

Greencore Buying US Food Company Peacock

Still live by Pompeian painter around 70 AD.

Still life by Pompeian painter around 70 AD.

Patrick Coveney took over the Irish food company Greencore in March 2008. At that time the company did not even earn  one penny of revenue in the United States. The CEO saw his mandate as changing that, in a big way.

Coveney got going right away with several strategic acquisitions, organic growth, while constantly speaking about launching a business in the US to eventually be worth one billion dollars.

With Greencore’s announcement of the $746 million acquisition of Peacock Foods, based in Illinois, Coveney’s target seems utterly reachable. The deal is expected to gain approval before the end of the year.

This deal is certainly a big one for Greencore. It is by far their largest takeover to date. Their next biggest was a $113 million deal when it bought British sandwich maker Uniq in 2011.

In the revenue department, the change is certainly “transformational.” The company’s US revenue will expand by a factor of five when Peacock is integrated into the firm. The acquisition of Peacock will add 2 million square feet of manufacturing space, 1,150 new employees, and some important customers like Dole, Tyson and KraftHeinz.

The company’s US business now accounts for about 15 percent of total revenues. After the acquisition US revenues will be about 45 percent of Greencore’s overall business.

Non-Profits Can Benefit from the Unique Services Diversegy Offers

Whether an organization operates as a for-profit or non-profit, it can benefit from the services of Diversegy, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Genie Energy Ltd. Diversegy can help all types of companies, large small and everything in between, save money. Using their purchasing power and expertise, Diversegy can reduce operating expenses and bring added value to a company’s bottom line.

Think of Diversegy as an in-house energy consultant, without being on your payroll.

How does Diversegy do what it does best? Highly skilled energy professionals work with and represent their clients in a variety of ways:

  • Through tough negotiating of energy supply rates and terms.
  • Doing in depth utility bill audits to uncover areas of inefficiencies and opportunities for potential savings.
  • Looking for and discovering ways to improve consumption efficiency proposing ways to conserve energy optimize usage.
  • Researching and delivering the best products and services available; for example, demand meters, solar, wholesale supply and uniquely structured pricing options.
  • Following the commodities markets for the best timing to lock-in to the best rates.

With the costs of energy constantly rising and falling, it makes sense to have an energy advisor like Diversegy working on your behalf to cut back on what is likely one of your greatest expenses. They are truly experts in the field, with experience that extends beyond advisory, to include in-house supply-side procurement experience.

Non-profits can especially benefit from the services provided by Diversegy. An energy advisor can really make every hard-earned dollar go the distance. Having a larger percentage of funds raised going to the causes supported by the organization is a valuable asset for non-profits. Reducing operating expenses is a high priority of responsible non-profits, and Diversegy can be the answer to achieving that goal.