Google Play Is Offering 99¢ Video Rentals This Thanksgiving

Google announced its Cyber Week deals for 2018 Wednesday, one of which is a special Thanksgiving deal on movie rentals.

On Thanksgiving only, Google Play is offering rentals for all the films in its library for just 99¢. If there are movies you’ve been hoping to score a digital copy of, Google is also offering discounts on a number of those. Prices for hit films start at $4.99 over the weekend.

Discounted films include old favorites such as Fight Club and Office Space as well as recent hits such as Deadpool 2 and The Spy Who Dumped Me.

The movie discounts are just a part of Google’s digital discounts for the weekend. The Google Play store is also offering a $2 discount on any app or game, 80% off a number of games, and 50% off a number of apps on the service.

The Google Play store is a big business for Google. Last year app sales on the platform reportedly rose 35% from 2016. Between Google Play and Apple’s App Store, app sales totaled more than $58.6 billion last year.

SpaceX's crew rocket set for January test flight

ORLANDO, Fla. (Reuters) – The first flight of a SpaceX rocket tailored to fly astronauts to the International Space Station is set for liftoff from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Jan. 7, NASA said on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: The top of a replica Crew Dragon spacecraft is show at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, U.S. August 13, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

The launch test is a crucial milestone in the space agency’s Commercial Crew Program, which aims to launch humans to space from U.S. soil for the first time in nearly a decade.

The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration said SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft – which will shuttle three astronauts to space from the same launch pad that sent Apollo 11’s three-man crew to the moon in 1969 – will make its debut flight atop SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket on Jan. 7.

While NASA did not detail the flight path, it said the test would provide data on the performance of the Falcon 9, Crew Dragon capsule, and ground systems, as well as on-orbit, docking and landing operations.

SpaceX and Boeing Co (BA.N) are the two main contractors selected under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to send astronauts to space as soon as 2019, using their Crew Dragon and CST-100 Starliner spacecraft respectively.

Since the U.S. space shuttle program was shut down in 2011, NASA has had to rely on Russia to fly astronauts to the space station, a $100 billion orbital research laboratory that flies about 250 miles (402 km) above Earth.

The Demo-1 launch is the latest test in a rigorous certification timeline imposed under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. While SpaceX is targeting early January, NASA spokeswoman Marie Lewis said the demo mission could be pushed back because “flying safely has always taken precedence over schedule.”

Founded by Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) Chief Executive Elon Musk, SpaceX said if the Jan. 7 test is successful, it plans to launch its first crewed mission in June 2019, but the timeline may shift.

Boeing plans a similar test launch of the Starliner spacecraft atop its Atlas 5 rocket as soon as March, with a crewed mission following in August.

The Jan. 7 launch date announcement comes a day after NASA said it would conduct a “cultural assessment study” of the companies, “including the adherence to a drug-free environment,” prior to crew test flights. [nL4N1XW01J]

Reporting by Joey Roulette in Orlando, Florida; Editing by Eric M. Johnson and Lisa Shumaker

In 2019, The Most Coveted Employee Perk Will Be This 1 Thing

Two years ago, I made the decision to move my company to a 35-hour workweek. The results have been incredible. Particularly in how I believe it made me a better CEO. And financially, we’ve done much better too. My company, Work It Daily, is not alone. More and more companies are starting to adopt shorter workweeks and more generous time-off policies. As a result, I predict the hottest trend in employee benefits for 2019 will be focused on shaping how employees achieve the work-life balance they want and deserve.

3 Smart Reasons to Jump on the Work-Life Balance Benefit Bandwagon (Right Now!)

While being told to “go home” and “get a life” is usually meant to insult us, it’s actually welcomed by your staff. Successful leaders with big visions of greatness for their organizations know they can’t go it alone. Which means making sure employees feel like the company cares about their happiness and well-being–especially during times of extremely low unemployment, when it’s easy for your most talented employees to find a better job at another company. Here are three reasons why your company should focus on enhancing its work-life balance benefits in 2019:

1. Most companies still aren’t doing it–which makes you more attractive as an employer.

Old school managers are struggling to figure out how they can manage performance without tying it to the clock. If your definition of a good job is “butt in chair” then it’s going to be hard to let go. Meanwhile, companies that have well-defined OKRs (Objectives and Key Deliverables) have a much easier time trusting employees to get their work done, regardless of how much, or how little, time it takes them.

2. Your employees will become talent magnets for your company. 

Fact: Employees love to brag about their great work-life balance to friends and family. Want to have an easier time finding and hiring top talent? Creating an incredible work-life balance program will save you thousands in recruiting costs. That’s because your employees will be walking employer-brand billboards for why the best people work at your company.

3. Working smarter, not harder is a sign of strength.

Companies with a leadership team and staff who are well-rested, happy, and believe their goals can be achieved in a reasonable amount of time are more trusted and respected. Not to mention, studies show they perform at higher levels, too. If you want to look like a stable company on a sustainable growth track, getting the job done in less time is the way to do it.

P.S.–A Shorter Work Week Won’t Cost You in a Recession

For those of you worried how making changes like this will impact your business during a recession, remember this: Employees like to keep jobs that treat them well. I guarantee the appreciation and loyalty you gain from creating an attractive work-life balance benefit strategy will help you in an economic downturn. Your employees will do whatever it takes to make sure they can keep the company going so they can keep this coveted benefit. As someone who has had her team rally around her in the darkest of life’s moments, I know first-hand the powerful ROI of making sure your staff knows you respect and support their life outside of work.

Lime Manufacturer Hits Back Over Claims It’s Responsible for Recalled Scooters

Electric scooter startup Lime last week recalled scooters that broke in half and blamed a manufacturer—but now that manufacturer is fighting back, saying it’s not to blame for Lime’s faulty scooters.

The Chinese manufacturer, Okai, rejected Lime’s claims that scooters from its factory were the ones that easily broke apart when customers used them.

“We feel it necessary to make cautions to the public on the credibility of such statements made by Lime,” Okai said in a statement, according to CNN Business. “Obviously, Lime has other suppliers whose scooters broke.”

Lime recalled all the scooters made by Okai in its fleet worldwide. The manufacturer has sold 32,000 scooters to Lime, according to CNN Business.

“We are actively looking into reports that scooters manufactured by Okai may break and are working cooperatively with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the relevant agencies internationally to get to the bottom of this,” Lime told Fortune last week. “Safety is Lime’s highest priority and as a precaution we are immediately decommissioning all Okai scooters in the global fleet. The vast majority of Lime’s fleet is manufactured by other companies and decommissioned Okai scooters are being replaced with newer, more advanced scooters considered best in class for safety.”

Lime didn’t immediately respond to request for comment from Fortune about Okai’s comments.

Along with questioning Lime’s placement of blame for its recalled scooters, Okai is pushing the company to take responsibility for the deterioration of heavily used scooters in its fleet.

“It is the operator’s responsibility to ensure proper and prompt management and maintenance of the scooters it puts into the co-sharing market,” Okai told CNN Business.

Lime’s scooter recall was its second in recent months, following a recall over Segway Ninebot scooters whose batteries caught fire.

It's Official: Apple Just Killed the Laptop

Do you really need a laptop anymore?

That’s a good question to ask, because the answer depends greatly on how you use it on a daily basis. For me, the new Apple iPad Pro 12.9-inch released this month is a no-brainer as a laptop replacement. It’s so powerful that I haven’t noticed any slowdowns in all of my apps, even the processor-intensive ones like Skype and Texture (a magazine reader).

That last point is incredibly important. When you think of “going mobile” these days, it usually means taking notes at a meeting, staying in contact with people, researching things on the fly, and talking to a bot like Siri to ask about directions…to your next meeting.

More and more, I’ve been using the Apple Pencil to jot down notes and sketch out ideas on an iPad. I’ve explained many times how bots have taken over my working life. I use Siri in the car, Alexa at home, and the Google Assistant everywhere in between (usually on an iPhone–yes, I know that is sacrilegious). I’m even more of an iPad user than before.

I feel the future is already being built for us, one device at a time. Bots and tablets are the answer. A laptop is almost quaint. A big screen fused onto a keyboard, usually powered by Windows. The question is why do we still use them. If you can run Photoshop and every other app you use on a normal day but also benefit from the portability and power of the iPad Pro, why keep using a laptop? I don’t drag a laptop around anymore unless I know I’m going to do some video editing or longer-than-usual typing sessions (say, a book).

As far as typing, the iPad Pro works symbiotically with the Smart Keyboard Folio, and I’ve been finding that I can actually type faster during normal writing sessions at Starbucks.

I like how the keys feel, because they don’t have the excessive springiness of a Google Pixelbook or even the Apple MacBook. I’m typing right now with fingers flying faster than ever. Now, I do prefer Microsoft Word on a desktop or laptop connected to a massive display in my office. I’m not sure when that will change, because I doubt I’ll ever haul around a 32-inch display.

More and more, the iPad Pro 9.7-inch (and now the new iPad Pro) is what goes into my backpack. I know I can type, I know I can benefit from all of the apps. It’s just faster. It’s instant-on access to Chrome for doing research on the 12.9-inch display.

The new model sports the Apple A12X Bionic chip, which runs faster than any previous tablet I’ve tested. I tested Netflix, Skype, the Chrome browser–all faster. I know some readers have told me they could never use an iPad because they do web programming, video editing, or play high-end computer games, and I understand those reservations.

I believe mobile is changing, though. When I see people using the Microsoft Surface tablet in meetings, they are usually taking notes. As far as younger workers, they tend to use their phones, even for typing up docs. Laptops were once a primary productivity machine, but with bots and apps we’ve moved away from that mentality. We don’t need to use a laptop to organize a schedule, or set up reminders, or hold a Skype session. With each passing year a tablet becomes more like a laptop anyway, especially in terms of raw processing power.

Still not convinced? I understand. It took me about three years of using an iPad during meetings to realize it makes me more productive. I also never use a laptop at home anymore. If I’m sitting in the living room by the fire, it’s with a book or an iPad these days.

The only slight ding to mention about the iPad Pro 12.9-inch is that it’s quite spendy. The base model costs $999, which is a much higher price tag than many Windows laptops. If you pick the version with 1TB of storage and cellular service, it’s a jaw-dropping $1,899.

I’m not seeing any other downsides, especially once Photoshop debuts next year. It’s maybe a bit bulky at 1.39 pounds, and I could see the tablet slipping out of my hands–it feels a bit slippery. I’m still adjusting to the lack of a Home button a little (you swipe up to unlock like you do on an iPhone X). Those are minor factors. I like how the Pencil attaches to the side of the tablet. The Smart Keyboard Folio is pure genius for typists like myself (it costs an extra $199). And make sure you try out a magazine on the 12.9-inch display. Wow.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about why you still use a laptop and compare notes. I know there are use cases where the iPad doesn’t work. For me, it’s killed the laptop.

During Chicago Toy And Game Week, Products Get Licensed

Last week, I had the pleasure of interviewing a remarkable toy inventor named Mary Couzin. In 2003, Couzin founded Chicago Toy and Game Week — affectionately known as ChiTAG — to bring toy inventors, toy companies, and toy lovers together. Now in its 16th year, the annual celebration of play and innovation has become the event for toy inventors of all ages and degrees of experience. Currently taking place right now, this event is unlike any other I’m aware of for inventors in the best way possible.

It’s beloved by the industry, for starters. Event sponsors include industry titans like Mattel, Hasbro, Spin Master, LEGO, and Goliath Games. And get this: Product acquisitionists from more than 90 companies, representing 26 countries, will be there. Wow. That’s a lot of decision-makers in one place. Every year, new inventors, professionals, and even young inventors license their toy and game ideas as a result. That makes ChiTAG a uniquely successful event for inventors.

Unlike typical trade shows — such as Toy Fair in New York City — the focus at ChiTAG is squarely on invention, not retail. There are several distinct components. This weekend, more 30,000 attendees (half of whom are children) will peruse and interact with toys and games exhibited at the fair. Retailers including Target also make a point of attending the fair, because they can observe how customers interact with the toys and games on display.

Before the fair gets underway, there’s a two-day conference for new inventors focused on education, including how to pitch. Professional toy inventors — who set their own meetings with companies looking for ideas — are provided with meeting space. Young inventors are encouraged to compete in a challenge by submitting videos of their invention ideas, and receive feedback and mentorship in return. And finally, there’s an awards gala. (This year, my former bosses David Small and Paul Rago from the startup Worlds of Wonder are being recognized for their decades of innovative toys with a Lifetime Achievement award.)

In the 1990s while she was in real estate, Couzin pursued her love of inventing as a side-hustle. After achieving some success, she began advising and representing other toy inventors.

“Coming together can only help the industry,” she explained in a phone interview. “We really make a point of this feeling like a community. People who don’t carry that out are not invited to return.” Industry leaders make themselves available because they view this as their time to give back, she added. Opportunities to network are a core part of the experience. “You could sit down to breakfast with the head of Hasbro,” she said.

I personally know of inventors who have licensed their ideas because of ChiTAG. When novice inventor Eduardo Matos had an idea for a new toy that he thought was a hit, he considered his options. Sharing his royalties with a toy broker didn’t appeal to him. What he heard about ChiTAG on LinkedIn sounded too good to be true. But after an executive convinced him it was the real deal, he took the risk and paid to participate in the conference for new inventors, included the opportunity to pitch.

It paid off. He received a lot of interest, and eventually secured a licensing deal with a leading toy company. His invention is scheduled to debut next fall.

“ChiTAG a must,” he said. “The information shared was hugely valuable. For example, I learned that when a company asks to option your product, the typical fee paid is $5,000 a month. When my invention was optioned later that same day, I knew to ask for that.”

His recommendations? Take as many notes as you can, attend the entire conference, make your prototypes look as professional as possible, and have a hit on your hands.

When you have an idea for a new product that you want to commercialize, determining how to spend your resources is incredibly important, because they’re always limited. This is true for startups that raise millions of dollars as well as independent inventors. What’s worth it? What’s not? When? These questions are especially relevant when considering industry events like trade shows, as costs quickly add up.

At the end of the day, being able to access the people in your industry who are decision-makers is remarkable. I wish more trade events provided access like this. (If you’re looking to license your product idea, I don’t recommend buying a booth and waiting for someone to walk up. Read more of what I believe inventors need to know about trade shows.)

Missed out this year? There’s a wealth of information on the ChiTAG website, including a regularly updated blog and white papers.

Mary Couzin’s Tips For Inventors

1. Do your research first. Does your product idea already exist? Use Google to find out. You could also visit a local retailer or toyshop. Ask, has this been done? Will it sell?

“It’s so easy to check. It’s not like the old days when you had to visit every show and store. Otherwise, you’re just spinning your wheels.”

2. Don’t give up too soon. “Persistence is the number one quality you must have to become successful at toy inventing,” Couzin said. “Believing in what you have will carry you for the most part.”

Remember, no one has all the answers all the time. So take the opinion of others with a grain of salt. Couzin says she abstains from passing judgment on any toy or game for this reason.

3. Tell your story in the media. She emphasized the importance of storytelling, and referenced the success of the startup GoldieBlox. “Their marketing was brilliant. Before the product was as good as it is today, it had sold the public.” (Interestingly, GoldieBlox describes itself as a disruptive media company on its website.)

Toys are part of the entertainment industry, she pointed out, which means they compete for attention with movies, music, books, and television. “We’re the only ones not telling our story!”

If you want to succeed in the toy industry, you absolutely must attend this show.

General Electric's Major Lunge Forward Is A Hint At The Future

We all knew this day was coming, but few of us could have guessed it would have happened this quickly. In an announcement made public on its investor relations page, the management team at General Electric (GE) announced a major acceleration of its strategy to unwind from it its current ownership of Baker Hughes, a GE Company (BHGE). Not only that, the firm also announced plans to deepen its ties with BHGE in an effort to preserve synergies now that they will be moving closer to becoming fully separate from one another. These developments, while disappointing in a sense, should generate value for General Electric and its investors in the near term and push the business closer to the good standing it yearns.

A look at the deal

When the management team at General Electric announced plans to spin off its oil and gas business back in 2016, I was intrigued. As part of the transaction, the firm had agreed to contribute to Baker Hughes $7.4 billion in cash that would be allocated to that company’s shareholders in the form of a special dividend totaling $17.50 per share. In addition, General Electric contributed all of its oil and gas business and, in return, received a 62.5% ownership stake in BHGE. The remaining 37.5% of BHGE was allocated to shareholders of Baker Hughes.

Since this transaction was completed back in 2017, there has been considerable speculation swirling around that management at General Electric might eventually sell off or trade its stock in BHGE in an effort to simplify the conglomerate and, sure enough, they announced plans to do just that when they stated that they would be completing restructuring of the firm. At the time this decision was announced, I wasn’t surprised, but I was disheartened because over the next several years BHGE has the potential to generate significant value for shareholders, especially since oil and gas production continues to rise.

It should be mentioned that originally there would be a delay in the timing of General Electric’s divestiture of BHGE’s shares. Previously, management had agreed not to sell any of its shares in the business (except for what BHGE would buy from it) until July of 2019. That idea has now been shelved as new management, led by CEO Culp, has pushed to reinvent the firm by taking drastic actions.

Now, in its latest press release discussing its ownership of BHGE, General Electric has announced that it will now be allowed to sell off its ownership to the market, plus it will see some of its ownership acquired by BHGE itself. Reports on the matter seem to indicate that the deal will bring in gross proceeds, at current prices, of around $4 billion; but that is, I think, off a bit. You see, as of the end of last year, General Electric did own around 706.98 million shares of BHGE, but in the first three quarters of this year, the firm sold back to BHGE stock valued at $638 million.

Because BHGE continued to reduce its stock outside of what General Electric owned of it, General Electric’s ownership of the firm still remained at about the 62.5% threshold, but the newest trigger now appears to be a 50%+ stake in BHGE. Assuming BHGE does not buy back any of its common stock outside of the units it has already purchased, General Electric should be able to reduce its share count in BHGE by around 136.39 million shares from 687.46 million to just north of 500 million units. Put together, and considering that BHGE’s share price as of the time of this writing is $23.80, this implies total sales proceeds, on a gross basis, of around $3.25 billion. This, combined with management’s decision earlier this year to slash the distribution to close to zero, should help the business in its goal of paying down debt.

There’s more to the deal than just that

Although I would love to see General Electric retain its ownership in BHGE, one part of the deal excited me: the notion that the two companies are positioning themselves to collaborate with one another for the long haul. You see, upon the later of either General Electric’s ownership in BHGE dripping below 50% and July 3rd of 2019, certain agreements to collaborate together will come into force.

First and foremost is that the two companies will form a joint venture in order to provide aeroderivative engine services and product management that will be applicable in the oil and gas space. You see, BHGE benefits from General Electric’s jet engine technology due to overlap between the conglomerate’s Aviation segment and how said technology can be used in the LNG, on-and-offshore production, pipeline, and industrial segments within BHGE’s TPS segment. Another part of this arrangement will involve supply and strategic coordination between the firms, plus they will work together to ensure that current pricing levels for heavy-duty gas turbine technology will remain unchanged. The last piece appears to be continued work regarding General Electric’s digital operations and the conglomerate essentially allowing those to be used by BHGE as well.

With the digital operations aside (that continuation is mostly due to integration and offering reasons), all of these agreements really center on one thing: shared buying power. In the past, whenever I have written that General Electric should divest of all or most of its Power segment, a frequent criticism I’ve heard is that the tie-in between Aviation and Power will harm Aviation’s margins, perhaps to the extent that the high-quality segment would no longer be attractive like it is today. What this agreement with BHGE proves is that, while a loss of synergies can be real during a divestiture, my thesis regarding the firm’s Power segment being a good candidate for the axe still holds. You see, through these joint ventures, General Electric and BHGE will both benefit as if the two firms have remained tied together in the way their assets have been. This also means, then, that this kind of strategy is viable for other parts of the firm moving forward.

Takeaway

General Electric’s deal with BHGE is significant for a number of reasons. First and foremost, it allows the conglomerate to extract cash from a valuable asset sooner than previously planned, and the second is that they are using joint venture arrangements to maintain the same kind of buying power that they would have had if General Electric had either kept all of its own oil and gas assets or if it had at least continued to hold a significant majority of ownership in BHGE for the long haul. All of this is incredibly valuable for shareholders, but perhaps just as important is the prospect that this confirmation and successful deal structure might prove to be a roadmap for shareholders to get the best of both worlds: a monetization and optimization of assets, while maintaining the same kind of market power that helps to grow and hold together the behemoth for so long.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Dell raises VMWare tracking stock offer to $120 per share

(Reuters) – Dell Technologies on Thursday raised its offer to buy back shares tied to its interest in software maker VMWare (DVMT.N) to $120 per share from its previous offer of $109, still way short of the $300 price suggested by activist investor Carl Icahn.

A logo of Dell Technologies is seen at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain February 28, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman

The computer maker in July offered to pay $21.7 billion in cash and stock to buy back shares tied to its interest in VMware, returning the computer maker to the stock market without an initial public offering.

Hedge fund manager Icahn, who owned a 9.3 percent stake in Dell, had opposed the deal calling it a “conflicted transaction that benefits the controlling stockholders, at the expense of the DVMT stockholders”.

Icahn sued Dell earlier this month and had said VMWare should be worth $300 per share.

In its previous offer, Dell had offered to exchange each share of VMware tracking stock for 1.3665 shares of its Class C common stock with cash consideration of not more than $9 billion.

The current offer equates to 1.5043-1.8130 Class C shares with a cash component of up to $14 billion.

Icahn did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The tracking stock is tied to an 81 percent economic stake in software company VMware. The transaction will allow Dell to bypass the traditional IPO process, which would likely have involved grilling by stock market investors over Dell’s $52.7 billion debt pile.

The cash part of the increased offer price Dell will be funded by new debt of up to $5 billion, the company said in a statement.

Reuters reported on Tuesday that Dell was working with investment banks to add more cash to its buy back offer.

Reporting by Vibhuti Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty

Samsung Faces Criminal Probe For “Intentionally” Overvaluing $2 billion IPO

Samsung Group’s biotechnology unit is facing a criminal investigation and potential delisting after South Korea’s financial regulator said the company “intentionally” violated accounting rules around an initial public offering.

A securities panel of South Korea’s Financial Services Commission said Samsung Biologics Co. deliberately overstated the value of affiliate Samsung Bioepis ahead of its IPO in 2016, which raised about $2 billion. The regulator fined Samsung Biologics 8 billion won ($7 million) and recommended dismissing the company’s CEO.

FSC Vice Chairman Kim Yong-beom said in briefing that stock trading of Samsung Biologics will be halted and it will be under review for possible delisting. Kim said no companies have been delisted on accounting issues in South Korea so far.

The company has lost $10 billion in market value since it disclosed in May that its accounts were being audited. On Wednesday, its shares rose as much as 16 percent before closing 6.7 percent higher, ahead of the announcement made after the market close.

Samsung Biologics, in an email statement, expressed regret over the financial regulator’s ruling, saying it was confident that the company didn’t violate accounting standards. Samsung Biologics said it will file an administrative lawsuit against the decision.

The country’s financial watchdog began auditing Samsung Biologics last year after several lawmakers and a civic group accused the company of improperly changing its Bioepis unit to an affiliate status, a move that they said inflated the company’s value ahead of the IPO. They also accused Samsung Group of orchestrating the accounting change to benefit the merger of Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries, which bolstered Samsung heir Jay Y. Lee’s succession plans.

Samsung Biologics has said its financial books were verified by outside accounting firms and fully reflected accounting standards in 2015. The company said it had no reason to “intentionally” manipulate the financial numbers. Samsung Biologics also said its accounting treatment could not have had any impact on the merger of Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries as it was completed before the accounting change.

The Biggest Difference Between Running a 76,000-Employee Company and a 10-Employee Startup, According to Someone Who Has Done Both

Real Talk is a series of candid conversation with women leaders in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Padmasree Warrior thrives on challenge. As an undergraduate studying chemical engineering, Warrior was one of five women in her class of about 250. She joined Motorola in 1984, eventually becoming vice president and CTO, and helping the company garner the National Medal of Technology. In 2007, she left Motorola to become the CTO at Cisco, and was soon handed responsibility for overseeing strategic partnerships, mergers and acquisitions, operational innovation, and investments in young companies.

Her position at Cisco made her one of the most visible women in technology, and one of the most visible Indian women in all of American business. In 2015, Warrior left Cisco intending to found her own startup. But a meeting with Nio founder William Li–popularly known as China’s Elon Musk–persuaded her to become the founding CEO of the self-driving car company’s U.S. operation. When she joined, Nio U.S. had 10 employees. It now has about 600, and its parent company went public in September.

Here, Warrior talks about women in technology, scaling a new company, and the future of driverless cars. 

What first attracted you to science?
I was always curious about how things work. When I was little, I would do all these experiments at home. I wanted to see what would happen if you burned plastic, so I set fire to a dish in my backyard. I would take something apart and try to figure out if I could put it back together and make it work again. 

As an undergraduate, you were one of five women in a class of about 250. What advice do you have for women who are working in overwhelmingly male environments?
Be confident. Cherish the fact that you are rare. The fact that you are the only woman in a meeting means people will probably remember you. Take advantage of that. And make people realize you are an expert in a particular domain. When I came to Nio I was an expert in cloud, and mobile, and technology. I wasn’t an expert in the auto industry, but I came across as a domain expert.

Since you began your career, the percentage of U.S. women with STEM degrees has fallen precipitously. And women leave technical jobs at an alarming rate. Why do you think that is?
I think a lot of it has to do with the work environment. People feel that with a STEM degree they will go into a work environment that is mainly male-dominated, very chauvinistic, and that you won’t have a life. It’s considered unsexy compared to other fields. It’s very sad.

What was it like to go from Cisco, a company with 75,000 employees, to Nio U.S., which had just 10?
It was scary the first week. I went from having 26,000 engineers to zero. At first we had two trailers in a parking lot, one street over from Cisco. We had no air conditioning, no Wi-Fi, no bank account. We were using personal credit cards to buy routers and phones and get set up. Former colleagues would call me and ask, “How’s it going? Do you miss us?” I would say, “I don’t miss you, but I miss the conference rooms with the air conditioning!”

Which have you enjoyed more: Being a leader at a big tech company or being a leader at a startup?
Both are hard in their own way. In a big company, what is hard is just motivating thousands of people, dealing with thousands of customers. You have to maintain the brand, so you feel like you’re under a microscope. What you wear matters–everything matters. In a startup none of that matters. It’s much more fun building something from scratch.

Now Nio U.S. has about 600 employees. What do you look for in a new hire?
Someone hungry to learn. If you’re going to a startup, you need a willingness to learn and roll up your sleeves. We had to let a few people go who had a lot of experience, but when I showed them an empty room and asked them to make a lab out of it, they had no idea where to start. I tell job candidates that their experience doesn’t help us, because we are doing something that hasn’t been done before.

I’m a very direct person. Sometimes it’s because I am pressed for time, but that is also my style. I need to know I’m working with other people who are direct, too.

What is your favorite interview question?
The question that gets the most fascinating answers is, “What is the toughest situation you have had in your life, and what did you do to overcome it?”

If Nio and other autonomous vehicle companies are successful, a lot of jobs will be eliminated. Do tech executives have some responsibility to make sure they’re creating jobs, too?
In terms of automation, will driving jobs go away, such as taxi drivers? Yes, some of that will happen, but there will be other jobs created. Fleet management roles, for example. Somebody has to get these cars cleaned up and charged up. Jobs will shift. We’ll still need people for a lot of infrastructure jobs.

When do you think we’ll have a fully self-driving car that costs less than, say, $25,000?
A car that is fully autonomous, mainstream, cost effective, and consumer-owned? 2030.

What are the biggest challenges in getting there? 
First, the technology still needs to be made robust and made safe. There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done. Second is getting the users comfortable and feeling like they can let go. Many of us grew up learning to drive. It will take a generation. Third is the infrastructure. If we do get to where 30 or 50 percent of cars are self-driving, there is a whole city infrastructure that has to be laid out differently. You don’t need to use premium real estate for parking.

Silicon Valley's Culture of Secrecy Hides Sexual Harassment. Google and Facebook Just Changed It

When an estimated 20 percent of Google’s global work force walked off the job this month in protest of the company’s handling of sexual harassment, they had several demands. But the first one was this: an end to forced arbitration–the agreement employees signed that obliges them to settle sexual harassment and discrimination claims in front of a private arbitrator rather than in court.

Last week, Google announced that it was ending that policy. It also ended the policy that forbade sexual harassment victims from bringing a companion or representative for support when discussing their complaints with HR–another change protesters demanded.

The following day, Facebook, which had a similar policy–that it defended as “official and appropriate” last year–announced that it was ending its forced arbitration policy as well. Microsoft, Uber, and Lyft all ended similar policies in the past year. But Google and Facebook’s changes are significant, not only because they are “FAANG” companies (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google), the most high-profile companies in Silicon Valley, but also because both are companies that have traditionally been very careful–almost fanatical–about keeping nearly everything they do confidential, a practice that goes way beyond new product ideas and designs and also covers internal policies, aspects of corporate culture, and much more.

Based on the dramatic success of these companies, it might be that keeping everything secret is good for the bottom line, at least for a while. But that culture of secrecy, which pervades Silicon Valley and Corporate America in general, allows employers to ignore the fact that they have an overwhelmingly white male workforce. They can also hide behind secrecy to avoid publicly disciplining powerful men who sexually harass or assault women–something The New York Times made very clear in a scathing exposé of Google that touched off the protests.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai first responded to the article by sending out a memo that said Google had fired 48 executives because of harassment complaints and had lots of resources in place to help victims of sexual harassment. When that clearly wasn’t good enough, he sent out a second memo that apologized and promised to support the protesters. In that second memo, he said Google would change its ways but stopped short of acquiescing to any of the protesters’ specific demands. Given the company’s longstanding practice of keeping nearly everything confidential, it’s easy to see why he didn’t want to.

17,000 unhappy employees.

But. Seventeen thousand employees reportedly walked off the job during the protests and even for Google, that’s a lot of people. Pichai must have decided it was better to make some big changes than risk alienating a large portion of its workforce. Most likely, his biggest fear is not further protests but the loss of Google’s cachet as a wonderful, enlightened workplace–something that helps the company tremendously when it comes to fighting for high-tech talent. Facebook is a rival employer which is almost certainly why that equally secretive company announced its policy change 24 hours later.

The protest’s organizers point out that, while the changes amount to real progress, Google is still ignoring some of their demands–particularly those that would systemically increase Google’s diversity and change its culture rather than just deal more fairly with sexual harassment. Among those further demands: That the chief diversity officer report directly to Pichai; that Google make a real commitment to greater diversity in its workforce; that an employee representative be added to the board; and that Google take concrete steps to end the persistent pay gap between men and women.

Even so, Google and Facebook’s changes are a very, very big deal. As The Wall Street Journal noted, forced arbitration remains the norm in U.S. companies large and small, and one study found that more than half of American employees are bound by arbitration agreements. But in the high-tech industry, they’re disappearing fast. Airbnb and eBay are the latest to confirm that they are ending their forced arbitration policies. And some companies, including Pinterest, Oath (the newly combined Yahoo and AOL, owned by Verizon), Twitter, and Reddit are proud to say they never had them.

If this trend continues throughout the tech industry, employers who keep demanding them may start losing talent–especially female talent–to those with more enlightened policies. In other words, it looks like Silicon Valley may be doing what it’s done so many times before–disrupting an outdated model that should have gone away long ago.

Don't Be Shy When Your Startup Gets Attention. Bragging a Little Is Good for Business

Suppose you, your company or your product was featured in a news story. Well done. Now it’s time to circulate and socialize that media coverage.

I find that people — usually entrepreneurs with smaller firms — often don’t know how to toot their own horns. One recently told me they worried about sounding like they were bragging. But what’s the point if your employees, customers, prospects and more have no idea you’ve gotten some media limelight for your big ideas, leadership or products and services?

It’s not bragging. It’s informing. Here’s how to do it.

Share with your team first.

You should share news first internally. Email employees your company’s news and post it to the intranet if you have one. Let your team members — your company’s ambassadors — know if you’d like them to share it through their own channels, including LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

For you customer-facing team members, such as your sales team, think about providing them with an email that includes a link to the story and that they can share with their business contacts. 

Socialize your media coverage.

Post the link to the article or TV segment everywhere you and your firm have a social media presence — LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram — with all of the relevant hashtags. (I don’t mind #humblebrag now and then.)

I usually post the link and tag the journalist — Hey, thanks, (INSERT NAME) at (INSERT MEDIA OUTLET) for (INSERT STORY) — and either point out something I liked about the article or make a little joke or inside reference that people will get after they’ve seen the content. Many reporters are under pressure to generate clicks for their stories, so they will appreciate not just the shout-out but you help getting more eyes on their stories. 

Another recommendation: Add a permanent link to the news story to your LinkedIn page — under your summary story, within your experience section or both. That way people can see it whenever they go to your profile even if they missed your status update.

Repurpose the news coverage.

Chances are you have a lot more to say about whatever topic it was that you were interviewed about. So write a blog post or LinkedIn article and reference and link to the news item. Then revisit the previous steps above to circulate and socialize this new content, as well.

Congratulations again on getting the limelight you deserve.

From a Utah Basement to SAP’s $8 Billion Acquisition: The 2 Brothers Behind Qualtrics Are Tech’s Newest Billionaires

The tech industry’s newest billionaires are a pair of brothers who started a software company in their parents’ basement in Utah. Now Ryan and Jared Smith are selling Qualtrics International Inc. to European giant SAP SE for $8 billion—and they’ll get to keep running the business.

Ryan, 40, is the chief executive and public face of a startup that—unusually—resisted taking venture money for over a decade before finally agreeing to deals with Accel and Sequoia Capital. Last valued at $2.5 billion, Qualtrics makes customer-survey software used by the likes of Microsoft Corp. to General Electric Co., helping boost its revenue more than eight-fold over the past seven years.

Smith is something of a fixture in a Utah startup scene that encompasses Ancestry.com, Insidesales.com and recently listed Domo Inc. His ardor for the Beehive State means Qualtrics is a supporter of such events as the Silicon Slopes Utah conference, which showcases local companies as well as the region’s snowboarding and skiing. Ryan, who reportedly once turned down a $500 million offer for his company, his family members and other major shareholders are now poised to get about $7 billion for their shares. Not bad for a CEO who got paid $100,000 in salary last year.

“You do not forget your first meeting with Ryan Smith,” Sequoia Capital partner Bryan Schreier wrote in a blog post. “A go-to-market savant, Ryan complements his brother’s understated-engineer mindset. But they, their father Scott, and their co-founder Stuart, clearly have a shared set of values.”

Qualtrics had filed for an initial public offering in the U.S. and was planning to raise about $500 million. SAP CEO Bill McDermott preempted the IPO with an all-cash offer that was more than 75% higher than the company’s projected valuation. McDermott said in a conference call that SAP had to pay up because Qualtrics roadshow was going well.

Ryan is known as the more gregarious and outgoing in a family of brainiacs — both his parents held doctorates and his father lectured about market research at the University of Oregon. The Smiths moved to Utah around the time Ryan’s father opted to work at Brigham Young University, and in 2002, the pair started Qualtrics, originally targeting academics that needed to conduct field research. “We figured that if you could serve them, you could serve anybody,” Ryan told Bloomberg News in a 2013 interview.

As the company grew, Ryan eventually convinced his brother to quit a product director’s job at Google and run the technical side of things. Jared, now 43, is the company’s president. The Smith patriarch—a cancer survivor—came up with the idea to serve his fellow academics, while Jared wrote the code and Ryan sold it to customers.

“We just said, hey, there’s no rules. There’s no playbook,” Ryan said in an interview conducted for an Accel series profiling entrepreneurs.

Qualtrics’ approach is based on what it calls “experience management” or XM, according to Sequoia’s Schreier. That involves analyzing every aspect of the customer experience to drive loyalty and referrals, which it deems crucial at a time when social media gives individuals more power than ever to speak out.

That approach worked. Qualtrics expects 2018 revenue in excess of $400 million and forecast a forward growth rate of more than 40%. Ryan and his family hold 87.6% of Qualtrics through a holding company managed by the two siblings and father Scott. That’s worth about $7 billion based on SAP’s purchase price— though it’s possible other family members own shares as well.

Ryan will continue to run the company as an entity within SAP’s larger cloud business group, maintaining headquarters in Utah’s Provo as well as Seattle. That allows the Smith family to retain a formula that’s served it well. Sequoia singled out the company for running on its own money at the start, eschewing the cash-burning common to Silicon Valley’s hottest outfits—a phenomenon that often requires multiple rounds of outsized funding.

After college, Ryan said he wanted adventure and went to South Korea to teach English. One of his early lessons in entrepreneurship came there. While most foreign tutors were scraping by on next to nothing, he decided to try private tutoring by putting flyers offering his teaching services in mail boxes.

“I put those in, like, 5,000 apartments within a couple week period. I ended up making a lot of money,” he said in the video. “That was one of my early, better actions. Hey wait, there’s another way of doing this and it worked.”

Qualtrics’ other unusual element is its home base, far from a Bay Area regarded as the cradle of the American tech industry. The family-owned business has become deeply involved in everything from sponsoring the Utah Jazz to local philanthropic initiatives. Ryan, a Mormon, has often spoken publicly about his state’s potential.

“It’s awkward for a lot of people here,” Ryan said, citing a lack of diversity and lifestyle quirks. “We need to make it easier for people to be here, because we have all the makings to make this a major tech hub.”

Top 7 Brand Disasters of 2018 and They're All from the Airlines

Every year, I chronicle the brand disasters and brand scandals that did the most damage in the recent months. Previous years have drawn from multiple industries but in 2018 it’s all about the airlines. Here’s the worst of the worst:

1. Bow-Ow (United)

A French bulldog died in April when a United Airlines flight attendant insisted that his owner stow the animal in an overhead bin. The airline tried to position it as a regrettable but unusual mistake. Then the Washington Post pointed out that 75% of all airline animal deaths occur on United Flights. Oof.

2. Deep Doo-Doo (Delta)

Airplanes are not known for their fresh scent but a Delta passenger in October, after smelling something funky, reached under his seat to discover the digested outcome of either an incontinent service animal or a sick old man (depending on the story). According to the Washington Post, rather than have the flight cleaned, they handed HIM some paper towels and a mini-bottle of gin.

3. Whoops, Your Bias is Showing (Delta)

Well-regarded obstetrician and gynecologist Tamika Cross (who happens to be a black female) volunteered to help an unconscious passenger on an October Delta flight. According to the Washington Post, she dismissively told “Oh no, sweetie, put [your] hand down, we are looking for actual physicians or nurses or some type of medical personnel, we don’t have time to talk to you.”

4. Staycation (American)

When a big airline cancels a flight, they typically book the stranded passengers on other flights, even if those flights are on other airlines. In October, however, The Detroit News reported that American Airlines now directs its booking agents to avoid using other airlines unless the passenger is going to a funeral, a wedding or would be forced to stay overnight in a hotel.

5. Race to the Bottom (Ryanair)

You’d think that after a passenger starts screaming racist slurs at another passenger, an airline would 1) intervene and 2) throw the racist off the flight. However, as The Guardian reported in October, bargain-basement Ryanair elected instead to move the victim to another seat and pretend it never happened. Needless to say, some passengers videoed and posted the October incident.

6. Abracadabra (Primera Air)

While one might expect to see a disappearing act during a stage revue, at an airport not so much. But that’s what happened when Primera Air announced they were out of money and “poof” all their scheduled flights suddenly disappeared in October. As the New York Times reported, even the gate agents didn’t have a clue as to what had just happened.

7. Class Acts (American, Delta, Southwest, United)

Things looked pretty bad for the industry as a whole when Forbes reported that “airlines failed to deliver nearly a third of their customers to their desired destinations at, or even reasonably close to their scheduled arrival times.” Then November saw a class action lawsuit filed against American, Delta, Southwest, and United for alleged price-fixing.

A New Study Ranked All 50 States By How Fat Their People Are, and the Results are Eye-Opening

A new study ranks all 50 states plus the District of Columbia by how fat their residents are. And there are some real surprises.

Across the United States, a staggering 70 percent of people are either overweight or obese. It’s part of what drives the $66 billion weight loss industry, which is always a good target for entrepreneurs.

But it also adds $200 billion a year to our nation’s health costs. 

So, this state ranking combines 25 different data points on each state’s population to help us figure out which states have the biggest problems. Each state was then assigned a combined score from 1 (best) to 100 (worst). The data included things like:

  • percentage of residents (adults and children) who are overweight or obese;
  • percentage of residents who are physically active (or not);
  • percentage of adults with high cholesterol;
  • percentage of adults with healthy diets (and who eat at least 1 serving of fruits and vegetables each day).

Obviously, the mere fact that someone lives in a supposedly fit or fat state doesn’t mean he or she personally is overweight or not. Heck, I live in the 11th fittest state according to this, and I’m well aware I could lose a few pounds.

But the ranking does challenge some of the stereotypes about where the healthiest people might live in the country. Here’s the list, which was put together by WalletHub. We’ll do this backwards, going from worst to first, and discussing the states briefly in tiers.

Tier V: The fattest states

All of the worst states on this list were in the South, and the absolute worst state in terms of fatness ranking was Mississippi, with a score of 72.97 out of a possible 100.

Mississippi also had the worst ranking in the country in terms of obesity and overweight prevalence. And in another study, Mississippi workers also reportedly got the least exercise of anyone in the country. The full bottom tier looks like this:

51.    Mississippi    72.97 out of 100 (1 is best; 100 is worst)
50.    West Virginia    70.14    
49.    Arkansas    69.69
48.    Kentucky    67.71
47.    Tennessee    67.67
46.    Louisiana    66.89
45.    Alabama        64.56
44.    South Carolina    63.64
43.    Oklahoma    63.09
42.    Texas        62.45

Tier IV

The second to the bottom tier largely consists of states in the so-called Rust Belt.  

41.    Indiana        62.44
40.    Ohio        62.39
39.    Delaware    62.27
38.    Georgia        61.46
37.    Michigan    61.30
36.    Missouri    59.70
35.    North Carolina    59.17
34.    Iowa        58.77
33.    Maine        58.36
32.    Kansas        58.30

Tier III

It’s a little more difficult to say exactly what states like Rhode Island, Florida and Alaska have in common. However, these are largely states with a larger percentage of senior citizen residents, which could be a factor.

31.    Wisconsin    57.87
30.    Rhode Island    57.86
29.    Nebraska    57.24
28.    Maryland    57.12
27.    Pennsylvania    56.83
26     Wyoming        56.72
25.    North Dakota    56.46
24.    Illinois    56.15
23.    Florida        56.12
22.    Alaska        55.90

Tier II

If you were to look at the list of states where people get the most exercise at work, you’d see that the top 20 in each list are almost identical. (The order is different, but the grouping is very close.) Seems like that could be a big clue.
21.    Virginia    55.83
20.    New Mexico    55.49
19.    South Dakota    55.15
18.    Washington    55.10
17.    New Hampshire    55.10
16.    Arizona        54.68
15.    New York    53.75
14.    Minnesota    53.64
13.    Nevada        53.07
12.    Idaho        52.52

Tier I

Here are the top 10 states (plus D.C.), with the most fit residents. Interestingly, they’re also largely (but not exclusively) urban states, where you’d think people have limited outdoor space and are more likely to work long, stressful, sedentary jobs.

But, apparently the people in metro areas around places like New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. are the ones who make time to exercise, eat right, and watch their weight.

And to the folks of Colorado, who topped both this list and the exercise at work list, keep up the good work. 

11.    New Jersey    52.40
10.    Oregon        52.13    
9.    Vermont        52.07
8.    Connecticut    51.80
7.    Montana        50.83
6.    California    49.97
5.    Washington, DC    49.49
4.    Massachusetts    48.09
3.    Hawaii        46.97
2.    Utah        44.41
1.    Colorado    44.35