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The companies boycotting Facebook in an effort to fight hate speech have been advertising for years on VK.com, “a Russian social media platform that bans gay-rights groups and is known as a haven for white supremacists,” the Washington Free Beacon said in a report this week.

VK (short for VKontakte), based in Saint Petersburg, describes itself as the largest social network in Russia.

In the past few weeks, advertisements for hundreds of brands — including Adidas, Starbucks, Patagonia, and Pepsi – have been disappearing from Facebook as the Stop Hate for Profit boycott campaign gears up.

The campaign is an effort to pressure the social network led by CEO Mark Zuckerberg into cracking down on hate speech.

But advertising has continued on VK.com, according to the Washington Free Beacon — though it’s not clear if these companies are, as of Wednesday, actively running ads on VK.

AMID FACEBOOK BOYCOTT OVER HATE SPEECH, ADS FOR 530 BRANDS SET TO DISAPPEAR FROM PLATFORM

The Free Beacon report cites, from July of last year, the Anti-Defamation League when it said that the Russian social media service has become “‘an international hub for white supremacists’ who have been kicked off mainstream U.S. social media websites such as Facebook” but continue to be active on VK.

In this photo illustration the VKontakte (VK) logo is seen displayed on a smartphone.

In this photo illustration the VKontakte (VK) logo is seen displayed on a smartphone.
(Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Back in 2016, The Atlantic cited VK in a report, “American Neo-Nazis Are on Russia’s Facebook.”

That report said “white supremacists” had been migrating to VK for several years after Facebook took measures at that time to crack down on hate speech.

The Free Beacon added that though VK has taken steps to cull hate groups from its site, “organizations like the National Socialist Movement and the Ku Klux Klan still maintain an active presence on the website.”

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“We completely disagree with the statement claiming that we are ‘an international hub for white supremacists.’ VK has never tolerated calls to violence, nor nationalist or extremist propaganda, regardless of their place of origin. If such content is found, the VK Team reacts quickly to remove it and block offenders,” VK told Fox News in a statement.

“Thanks to user reports and proactive monitoring, we delete hundreds of thousands of pieces of content and block thousands of profiles every month for promoting violence and cruelty or distributing shocking content on our platform, regardless of where the offender is from,” VK said.

“There is more information about what we do to fight against calls to violence in our ‘Safety Guidelines’ section,” according to VK.

Fox News sought comments from companies cited in this story; only a few responded.

Starbucks told Fox News it is not doing any paid advertising on VK.com.

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Adidas told Fox News in a statement: “The swift and resolute action taken with Facebook and Instagram was only a first step. We are already underway with developing criteria that we will hold every one of our partners accountable to. We all have a responsibility for creating and maintaining safe environments, and we will soon address this across any company we may work with.”

Fox News’ Christopher Carbone contributed to this article.

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Months after government officials warned public companies that received small business loans through the Paycheck Protection Program that they could face “criminal liability” for taking the stimulus money, dozens of such companies have apparently not returned the funds.

The list of businesses that received PPP loans, released by the U.S. Treasury Department Monday, includes scores of companies whose stocks are publicly traded in such venues as the Nasdaq and the New York Stock Exchange. While the database of PPP borrowers does not include companies that returned their loans, including Shake Shack and Potbelly, it does list at least 38 other public companies that received loans of between $5 million and $10 million—the maximum amount allowed by the program, Fortune’s analysis found.

Those companies run the gamut from tech companies such as Nasdaq-traded Telenav, which has a market valuation of $255 million, to retailers such as Stein Mart as well as biotech and medical firms including Endologix, which received as much as $10 million in early May—but filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Sunday.

Under the stimulus package’s rules, government-guaranteed PPP loans can be forgiven if borrowers meet certain requirements. In April, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin pledged that PPP loans of more than $2 million would be reviewed, and that companies have to show that they needed the money to support their operations.

“It is unlikely that a public company with substantial market value and access to capital markets will be able to make the required certification in good faith,” according to the Treasury Department’s official guidance.

Still, it may be possible that companies, even publicly traded ones, with lower market capitalizations and more limited liquidity could argue that they needed the PPP funds to survive the pandemic, especially as store closures sunk stock prices. It’s unclear how regulators will treat such companies when they review their loans, as well as companies owned by large investors like private equity funds. Bojangles’, for one, a fast food restaurant specializing in fried chicken, is owned by two private equity firms, but still received a PPP loan of as much as $10 million.

Meanwhile, more companies have also been returning PPP funds: Although public companies have only returned just over $436 million in the stimulus funds, according to research firm FactSquared, a government official told CNBC that a total of $30 billion in PPP loans had been returned or canceled.

More must-read finance coverage from Fortune:

  • If Ernst & Young auditors had done this one thing, they might have uncovered Wirecard’s $2 billion fraud years sooner
  • After overbooking flights in a pandemic, American Airlines is now paying passengers to get off
  • Should Facebook investors ride out the ad boycott—or cash out?
  • Safelite’s CEO on steering the company through crisis—and getting sales back to pre-pandemic levels
  • Former Honeywell CEO David Cote just wrote one of the best guides ever on how to lead a company

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These companies want you to have your pasta and eat it too with low-carb, high-protein alternatives.

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4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


There are few things more comforting than a big bowl of pasta. Noodles of one kind or another are a staple in virtually every culture worldwide. Fom soba to spaghetti, these carby basics — most commonly made from wheat or rice — have their place in world-class restaurants and the most amateur of kitchens.

But even if noodles are a universally-loved culinary cornerstone (and a $60 billion industry, globally), they’re not impervious to the winds of change. As alternative and restricted diets become better-known in the mainstream, food scientists and startups are finding new ways to make noodles that offer something different. And consumers are taking notice.

As awareness continues to spread about celiac disease and related intolerances or allergies, consumers are looking more and more into gluten- and wheat-free pasta alternatives. And it’s big business: Currently estimated around $909 million, the gluten-free pasta market is expected to reach a valuation of over $1 billion by 2025. And gluten avoiders aren’t the only ones pushing for different kinds of pasta. Thanks in part to the continued popularity of the keto diet, weight- and health-conscious consumers are shying away from carbs in favor of diets high in protein and fat. For a slew of reasons, people today are hoping to get something else out of their favorite pasta and noodle dishes. It’s no longer enough for a gluten-free pasta to just taste like the regular kind — it’s got to have some additional nutrition benefits as well.

Related: Algae Is the New Popcorn. And Pasta. And Bacon.

Pasta that packs a punch

For those looking to skip gluten or just add more protein to their favorite meals, new options abound. The company Explore Cuisine sells a variety of pastas made from non-traditional, high-protein plant ingredients like edamame, chickpeas, and lentils. Their spirulina and edamame spaghetti, for instance, packs a whopping 24g of protein and 60% of your recommended daily iron – a big difference for such a simple swap from traditional pasta. They also make high-protein rice alternatives, made from chickpea and lentil, called “risoni” for those looking to bulk up their rice dishes with some added protein and fiber.

And they’re not the only ones. Banza’s chickpea-based pastas continue to earn high marks from the gluten-sensitive as well as gluten lovers. The plant-based dry noodles are an easy and tasty swap to make for some extra fiber and protein in a simple at-home meal. Ancient Harvest is another leader in the space, making not only high-protein gluten-free pastas out of lentils, but also noodles made from organic blends of corn, brown rice and quinoa that are renowned for their taste and texture. For even more power in your pasta, they also make veggie noodles which are also gluten-free and include kale, cauliflower, and spinach – perfect for picky eaters of any age looking to get some more vitamins and nutrients in their diets. Also packing veggies into their pasta is Veggiecraft Farms. The brand makes simple, high-fiber, high-protein pastas out of cauliflower, sweet potato, and zucchini – for when you want your veggies, but zoodles just won’t cut it.

Related: The Seed of an Idea: How Buckwheat, Hemp, Chia and Flax Are Taking Over

Not your grandma’s rice

Not all innovators in the alternative pasta and rice space are completely taking out the traditional ingredients, however — some are simply supplementing them. RightRice makes a rice-based, rice-shaped grain bolstered with chickpeas, peas, and lentils for added protein, fiber, iron, 40 percent fewer net carbs and a lower glycemic index than regular rice. For a quick meal on busy nights, they also sell ready-to-cook rice medleys in varieties like cajun spice and harvest pilaf.

And as proof that it’s not just the meat-heavy ketoers taking a turn toward alternative pasta, note that Trifecta Nutrition’s vegan meal plans include lots of pasta dishes, all of which are gluten free. The meal delivery service recognizes that few consumers are single-issue eaters nowadays.

As health-conscious eaters try to get less of certain things and more of others — trading carbs for protein and gluten for veggies — there’s money in it for companies that can keep up. Brands that offer nutritious noodle and rice alternatives – especially those that manage to taste good – might just get a share of the growing market.

Related: The Protein Bar Game Is Going Vegan

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Here’s what you need to know about stock option compensation strategies.

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5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Stock option compensation strategies are hard for small firms and startups to get right even in the best of times given the myriad of rules that apply. The Covid-19 crisis has made it harder, underlining the importance of smart planning around equity-based pay to avoid unexpected tax outcomes for companies and employees.

One problem is the market volatility that has accompanied the pandemic, and the potential for more to come. Depending on where the options were priced when they were issued, this could either result in a lack of incentives for employees because their options are severely “underwater” or an unexpectedly large windfall for them that could hurt current shareholders.

The other complicating factor is the general uncertainty over how key parts of the economy will recover. That’s making it unusually hard to arrive at an accurate valuation, which usually determines the strike price for stock options. Valuations are usually driven by cash flow, which for many firms has evaporated or become highly erratic since March.

This can be especially difficult for tech startups, which rely heavily on stock options to incentivize their staffs when cash is in short supply. Unlike more established firms, they often lack the resources to thoroughly analyze the complex tax and regulatory issues around stock options that could come back to bite them and their employees.

The following are three key things that companies should be considering about stock options right now.

1. Avoid valuation risks

Companies need to protect themselves and stock option recipients from the potentially dire tax consequences of issuing options with a strike price that is lower than the current fair value of the stock. One way to avoid these dire consequences is for companies to obtain a Section 409A valuation. Still, many startups take a casual or overly aggressive approach on valuation in order to save the cost of a valuation or to boost incentives for employees. If that gets uncovered in an IRS audit, employees could be on the hook for extremely heavy penalties and the company could suffer a reputational blow as well as further tax consequences. Although a Section 409A valuation can be done in-house, the safest way is to hand the task to a third-party appraiser with experience in this area. One big advantage of using a qualified third party is rather than you having to prove that the valuation is reasonable, it puts the burden on the IRS to prove your valuation is unreasonable.

2. Pick the right option

Choosing the right form of stock options is another area that many companies don’t put enough thought into, resulting in tax outcomes that can undermine their incentive strategies. The two main types – incentive stock options (ISOs) and non-qualified stock options (NSOs) – come with very different tax consequences and many potential outcomes depending on how employees exercise them. In general, NSOs are treated as ordinary income for employees and deductions for employers when they are exercised. Startups often see ISOs as a better incentive tool because the proceeds can be taxed at the lower capital gains rate at the time the underlying stock is sold rather than as ordinary income at exercise, so long as employees do not sell the stock before the later of two years after the grant date and a year after the exercise date.

3. Know the tax landscape

Things can get complicated if, as is common, companies allow employees to conduct a “cashless exercise” of ISOs, in which some options are sold in order to fund the exercise of the rest. That results in a “disqualifying disposition” that requires the proceeds to be taxed as ordinary income and is reported on the employee’s W-2 form. Other complicating factors about ISOs that need to be considered are the Alternative Minimum Tax preference and the $100,000 annual limit. The latter can be a big obstacle in companies that expect to have a very strong growth trajectory. ISOs are also often issued in scenarios where they are unlikely to be exercised until an exit event is imminent, causing the anticipated tax benefits to be lost. While ISOs can be powerful planning tools, they are simply not always the best choice in many fact patterns.

These are just some of the important points to consider in what is a very complex tax area strewn with pitfalls.

Each company will need a tailored solution to suit its stage of development, its growth plan, its company culture, and its talent requirements. Company leaders need to understand the different options and the best fit for the firm. They then need to communicate to employees and help guide them through the risks and opportunities from different choices.

Kurt Piwko is a Partner in Plante Moran’s National Tax Office. Michael Krucker, a Partner in Employee Benefits Consulting at Plante Moran, also contributed to this article.     

 

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5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Always being on the lookout for emerging technologies with high growth potential is the basis of successful investing, particularly if you’re open to making bold decisions. And when it comes to new tech, nothing’s quite as exciting as space exploration.

Space — the final frontier — offers more than a few opportunities for the exploring investor. Moon rockets and space stations don’t come cheap, and space was once the exclusive domain of national governments. But public and private companies are now involved in satellites, research, mining, communications and space tourism. The space business has branched into several distinct sectors, with hundreds of companies involved, and has even developed its own market index and specialized research sources.

Related: How This AI Company Is Working to Transform Space Exploration in an Age of Global Change

According to the Space Foundation, the revenue of the global space industry totaled almost $415 in 2018. More importantly, however, predictions by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch put the worth of the industry at a massive $2.7 trillion by 2045. So, if innovative technologies are your thing, now’s the time to get in on the action and begin investing in space companies.

We’ve all heard about SpaceX – the company behind the development of a reusable rocket and launch system, founded by Elon Musk. SpaceX is a privately funded company with no plans of going public, however, so at the time of writing it doesn’t present any investment opportunities.

Related: NASA Astronauts Successfully Dock SpaceX Crew Dragon at ISS

However, there are several public companies on the market working in different areas of space exploration. Although they might not be receiving the same publicity as SpaceX, they’re no less worthy of attention and investment.

1. Virgin Galactic (SPCE)

Virgin Galactic — part of Richard Branson’s Virgin Group empire — was the first publicly traded commercial space tourism company. The majority of the company’s efforts are focused on making passenger flights into space a reality.

Related: Virgin Galactic Signs NASA Deal to Take Private Citizens to the ISS

In addition to its ambition to conquer space, Virgin Galactic is also developing hypersonic travel technology, having entered into a Space Act Agreement with NASA. Hypersonic flights would revolutionize intercontinental travel, cutting down the transit time between London and New York to as little as two hours, instead of the eight it takes with current flight technology. A trip from London to Australia, meanwhile, would take just four and a half hours — instead of almost 22.

2. Boeing (BA)

In addition to designing, manufacturing and selling airplanes, telecoms equipment, missiles and rotor craft, Boeing is also working on rockets.

Boeing’s history with space travel reaches back further than most people realize: in 1969, the company was involved in the creation of the Saturn V rocket, which propelled Apollo 11 to the Moon. In the course of its work with NASA, the company has also built numerous satellites, as well as being responsible for managing the International Space Station.

Currently, Boeing is developing spacecraft capable of carrying astronauts to and from the International Space Station. The company’s largest space project is the Space Launch System rocket, intended to explore deep space.

3. Northrop Grumman (NOC)

Northrop Grumman is one of the world’s leading weapons manufacturers, with an annual revenue of over $30 billion. Although recently, the company’s been known mostly for its development of stealth bombers, it has been working in the field of space tech development for over 60 years.

At the moment, Northrop Grumman is working on building NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope. The company is also involved in the development of the Chandra Space Telescope and the Dawn asteroid explorer, as well as taking part in programs intended to develop technology for observing Earth from space.

4. Lockheed Martin (LMT)

The world’s largest defence contractor, Lockheed Martin is one of the major players in the space industry, too. As a contractor to NASA, the company built parts for the Apollo 11 spacecraft in the 1960s — as well as satellites and space probes. Lockheed Martin’s other major space projects include the deep-space Orion spacecraft and the Mars InSight lander.

In terms of stock prices, Lockheed Martin is the highest on this list, having reached almost $440 in February this year. During the crisis-related crash in mid-March, the company’s stock dropped to just under $300, suffering much less than the vast majority of other stocks. It also recovered very well, reaching over $400 in the first week of June.

5. Procure Space ETF (UFO)

This exchange-traded fund focuses on investing in companies that are already profiting from the space industry, rather than looking to in-development tech and far-off revenue streams like space tourism. Specifically, the ETF’s policy is that 80 percent of investments are into companies that receive at least half of their profits from the space industry.

An example of how profit can be made from space without involving space flight or related tech is how satellites are used for emerging technologies on Earth. 5G, blockchain and crypto currencies, for instance, are all dependent on satellites and other space-based systems.

Key holdings of Procure Space include Boeing (described above), Iridium Communications, Airbus and Maxar.

Related: 25 Unforgettable Moments in Space Exploration to Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11

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The chorus of voices in unison with #StopHateForProfit swells; Facebook does damage control amidst falling shares.

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It has not been a great week for Facebook, but it’s not the only target of the Anti-Defamation League’s insurgent #StopHateForProfit social media campaign. Twitter has likewise taken its lumps as corporations — either out of conscience or calculation — ranging from consumer-goods giant Unilever to workout-apparel manufacturers Lululemon and ice-cream iconoclasts Ben & Jerry’s (see “Related” link below) beg off placing ads on social media sites until they take a definitive zero-tolerance stand against entities and individuals who use the platforms as megaphones for hateful and often falsified rhetoric. 

But Facebook has been the primary target, perhaps because Twitter has been viewed as a bit more assertive in moderating its more provocative content and exiling abusers of late. Or, possibly, because Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg continues to function as an avatar for the tech world’s historically laissez-faire approach to policing open forums. 

This past weekend was a bit of a bloodbath for the social media giants, as the likes of Starbucks (which has had to do a bit of its own image repair after returning a massive government-stimulus loan), Coca-Cola and global spirits titan Diageo all announced pauses on their social media ad-spend. (Though, somewhat significantly, none of those three companies chose to align themselves explicitly with #StopHateForProfit.)

Related: Ben & Jerry’s Joins Facebook and Instagram Boycott, Pushes for Transgender Rights

On Saturday, Facebook took the rare and prompt action of rolling out new warning labels and guidelines concerning hate speech and misinformation, although — like Twitter — it maintains that even inflammatory posts from figures like President Trump are newsworthy. 

Alas, that hasn’t helped the company’s valuation from taking a hit. Per Marketwatch, Facebook shares fell 2 percent ahead of open trading this morning (Twitter’s were down nearly 2.5 percent). 

Here is a complete list of companies specifically participating in #StopHateForProfit.

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This year’s Pride Month has been a study in contrasts. The power of our community was never more evident than when health and safety kept us physically apart. We saw genuine milestones of progress and tragic reminders of how much further we have to go. And all June long, across the U.S., we’ve seen firsthand that the ideal of equal dignity for all people is both powerful and elusive.

Equality has to be demanded, fought for, and won. As LGBTQIA+ organizations have written in an open letter, “Today, we join together again to say #BlackLivesMatter and commit ourselves to the action those words require.”

Pride commemorates the June 1969 Stonewall rebellion in New York City, a series of angry demonstrations against police brutality and harassment that lit the spark that became the modern-day gay rights movement. Over time, it has become part celebration and part protest—appropriate for a movement originally focused on sexual freedom and identity, but which has become an assertion of human rights and equal dignity for all.

For businesses that value diversity, honoring Pride in 2020 has required flexibility to adapt to a remote-work world. More importantly, it has also demanded an intentionally intersectional approach, focused on centering the experience of LGBTQIA+ people of color and supporting all those coming together to press for solutions to racial inequity and systemic injustice.

This has required strategic commitment and compassionate leadership (no small thing amid a deep economic downturn). And in the process, it has helped some companies develop a template for celebrating intersectional diversity in a remote-work world. Here are a few takeaways based on our experience at my company. 

Bring in outside experts on intersectionality

With schedules more flexible because no one can travel, companies have a unique opportunity to bring in more vital external perspectives. This proved especially important this June, as companies sought to broaden the voices they elevate, turning to experts on intersectionality to meet the demands of this moment.

At our company, we welcomed Jonathan Capehart, Pulitzer Prize–winning Washington Post columnist, who shared his experience as a Black gay man and his view on the shifting political terrain; Geena Rocero, a widely celebrated trans advocate and model whose powerful TED Talk about coming out has been viewed millions of times; and GLG social impact fellow Amit Paley, CEO of The Trevor Project, whose organization works to prevent suicide and safeguard the mental health of LGBTQIA+ young people, and which has focused especially this month on supporting young people of color.

These three intersectional outside voices made inclusion and diversity come alive for our employees. In a remote-work world, take advantage of the increased flexibility to bring in the most powerful voices you can find.

Turn the floor over to your employees

As Pride Month began, our LGBTQIA+ employee resource group—many of whom, in their words, weren’t feeling very celebratory at all—decided to collectively issue a letter standing in solidarity with their Black colleagues and with all people of color fighting systemic violence and injustice. Leadership might pave the way, but when it comes to celebrating diverse groups, there are no more powerful voices than your own employees. Throughout the month, we turned the floor over to them. This included a series of op-eds on community issues on our intranet, and a wide range of virtual gatherings, coffee chats, and happy hours over Zoom.

Paradoxically, the context of remote work can give your LGBTQIA+ employees (and all employees from marginalized groups) greater visibility than they might have in a physical office. Zoom can level the playing field, in particular, for employees from smaller offices or from regions where LGBTQIA+ issues are less culturally acceptable. In these places, Zoom has allowed every participant to feel like they’re in the same “place,” with the same opportunities to make their voices heard.

Reaffirm your strategic commitment to diversity and inclusion for all

In a period when every company is facing the twin challenges of a pandemic and a deep recession, the time and resources it takes to celebrate intersectional diversity might not seem worth it. Don’t be tempted. Especially now, employees need to know you have their backs. The month of June has been an opportunity for companies to vocally affirm the right of Black and LGBTQIA+ employees—and employees from all underrepresented groups—to feel safe in who they are at your (and their) company.

These efforts must continue all year long, not only because they will help your employees be more engaged, fulfilled, and productive, but also because they’re simply the right thing to do (now more than ever). During a period of extended physical separation and often painful uncertainty, celebrating intersectional diversity is an opportunity for companies to assert leadership in their communities and sustain connection among their stakeholders.

And that’s important for all of us. Marginalized and underrepresented groups have much to teach the world in 2020—about how to cope with isolation, foster community, and vigorously stand up for the dignity of all people in the face of common vulnerability. And each of them deserves support from the companies where they work.

Those of us, like myself, who lived through the AIDS pandemic know that while times of crisis bring great pain and difficulty, they also present opportunities to strengthen community and common understanding. Even—and perhaps especially—during a time of social distancing, this Pride Month has been an invaluable opportunity for individuals and businesses to come together in support of the rights of all employees to be their most authentic selves.

Richard Socarides is executive vice president and chief communications officer at GLG, a former White House special assistant, a writer for The New Yorker, and a longtime LGBTQ rights activist.

More opinion in Fortune:

  • 19 Black economists to celebrate and know, this Juneteenth and beyond
  • Rep. Marcia Fudge: Black history is American history. Let’s start teaching it that way
  • We can’t breathe at work, either: John Henryism and the health impact of racism
  • A step toward justice: The pandemic is opening the theatre to BIPOC audiences
  • Why the future of financial markets is in the cloud

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Get ready for a boom—in bankruptcies.

“We are seeing an acceleration in bankruptcies that is unprecedented,” said James Hammond, CEO of New Generation Research which runs BankruptcyData. For 2020, he says, “I’m pretty confident we will see more bankruptcies than in any business person’s lifetime.”

Ranked by assets alone, says Hammond, the magnitude of bankruptcies this year has already surpassed that of 2008. And that’s not including what could happen when the government’s Paycheck Protection Program, which aims to keep small businesses up and running with loans that can be converted to grants if certain terms are met, runs out.

The largest Chapter 11 bankruptcy so far has been that of car-rental company, Hertz. Unable to hold on after the travel industry effectively hit the brakes, the company is now selling off much of its fleet in a bid to meet demands from creditors. Others in sectors ranging from oil and gas, to retail, to aviation have similarly suffered to navigate the pandemic.

bankruptcydata

Editor’s note: Chesapeake Energy, an oil and gas company, filed for bankruptcy protection on Sunday. With assets of roughly $16.2 billion and liabilities of $11.8 billion, the filing represents the fourth largest bankruptcy by assets so far in 2020, above that of Intelstat’s.

Notably, Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings means a company is struggling, but doesn’t mean that it will cease operating.

“You have an enormous pile of corporate debt that has been accumulating, which the debt and restructuring world had been concerned about for a couple of years, and all of a sudden in the space of almost no time at all, investors are asking questions about the ability to service debt,” says Hammond. “08′ 09′ was a financial crisis. This is now everywhere.”

By sheer number of bankruptcies, restaurants have been the hardest hit, per rankings from Bankruptcydata. Recently, CEC, the company behind restaurant and entertainment venue, Chuck E. Cheese, closed down locations and filed for bankruptcy protection as the coronavirus shuttered restaurants led to challenges for live-events companies.

Even as the U.S. reopens, Hammond is not optimistic. Bankruptcy filings, notes Hammond, are a lagging indicator. Now he says, “we are at the waterfall.”

More must-read finance coverage from Fortune:

  • Why black-owned businesses were hit the hardest by the pandemic
  • George Floyd protests force Britain to reckon with its role in slavery, leading some companies to pay reparations
  • This influential crypto CEO warns that hyperinflation will be “the next big problem”
  • Looking to invest in companies that care about equality? This NAACP-backed ETF may be the answer
  • 6 reasons Boeing’s financial picture may be brighter than most assume

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Innovating in real-time to stop the pandemic.


3 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Coronavirus cases in the U.S. have topped two million with 115,000 deaths (as of this writing). Innovations have been developed to specifically fight the spread of Covid-19. Winning this battle is crucial for America to reopen its economy and get millions of people back to work.

Here are different companies that have designed distinct solutions in a shared fight against the pandemic.

Operation StaySafe: Testing in homes, offices and labs

In the spring, there was an alarming lack of testing in the U.S. In comparison, South Korea had tested 4,000 individuals per million of its population by March. Whereas the United States tested just five Americans per million. As test kits became available, best practices began to emerge that accomplishes a few strategic goals in fighting the outbreak. Largely missing, however, was a solution for businesses desperate to maintain their operations.  

Without knowledge of who had been cleared, employees have been reluctant to return the workplace. And without tested employees, consumers have remained at home prolonging business angst. In a recent StaySafe survey of 130 CEOs, 88% said employee testing was critical to jumpstarting their business and yet 75% had no idea how to arrange for testing.  

Related: 198 Free Tools to Help You Through the Coronavirus Pandemic

Operation StaySafe delivers COVID-19 testing solutions for businesses inclusive of non-invasive test types like saliva and mid-nasal. The FDA-approved tests are administered at the workplace, employee homes, or lab. Analysis turnaround times are averaging 24 hours. 

MedsLOCK: Real-time COVID-19 insights for critical planning

In battle, it’s about designing a war plan, coordinating those plans between different military units so that personnel and resources can maneuver appropriately. China’s failure to share critical information with the global community and its efforts to silence critics exacerbated the virus’s spread.

MedsLOCK is a monitoring, control and communication system that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain to provide real-time COVID-19 insights. Information is processed, secured and shared with government agencies, non-profits, healthcare professionals and other key stakeholders. 

Related: 3 Major Opportunities That Will Come From This Pandemic

Scylla: AI-driven body temperature cameras

COVID’s most common symptoms are fever, dry cough and being tired. Early identification of symptoms is a key part of stopping the spread. One company can monitor large crowds in public places (such as streets, airports, hospitals, hotels and transportation hubs) and pinpoint individuals who have a fever and/or dangerously high body temperature.

Related: How Artificial Intelligence Is Helping Fight The COVID-19 Pandemic

Scylla uses thermal cameras (which have been used for decades by the U.S. military as reconnaissance tech) to remotely monitor body temperature even when there are large clusters of people in the vicinity. Military drones and aircraft have used thermal cameras to single out enemy vehicles, tanks and human combatants because they emanate heat signatures. In medical application, Scylla’s cameras can track temperature warning signs and prevent sick people from infecting others. The info can be used remotely to warn front liners and first responders of hazards nearby. 

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