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Published for students by students.

Next Gen Mobility 8 The newest wave of transportation technology

The life and death of the e-reader 20 Amazon and the book

interview with steve forbes 22 Editor-in-Chief of Forbes magazine and co-founder of Business Today

interview with wendy kopp 52 Founder and CEO of Teach for America and former President of Business Today

game changers

Editor’s Note A

lot can change in 50 years. The world as we know it is almost unrecognizable from the 1960s: wars have been fought, international trade deals have been made, climate change has clawed its way to the forefront of politics, technology has developed rapidly, and pop culture has moved on from The Beatles to focus on sporting leagues for video games. But despite drastic changes in the way we work, play, and live, Business Today has remained constant throughout. Since its debut in 1968, the magazine has never missed a print date. Now, with over 100 issues under our belt, we remain the most widely distributed undergraduate publication in North America. To understand why Business Today has remained so successful in the face of change, we must go back in time 50 years, to the founding of the magazine. In the 1960s, revolt and social unrest plagued college campuses. Students, frustrated with the USA’s involvement in Vietnam, expressed contempt towards capitalism and big business. When Business Today appeared on campuses in 1968, some students even burned their copies in a public display of revolt against “the establishment.” But the founders of Business Today—Michael Mims, John Perel, and Steve Forbes—were not miffed. In their eyes, the hostility of their peers pointed to a glaring need for conversation between business leaders and undergraduates. There was a chasm between the business world and college life, and Business Today aimed to bridge that gap. The magazine’s goal of facilitating open dialogue persisted, and succeeded, throughout the years. No matter what issues plagued America, the magazine responded as it always had—with insight from experts and honest student opinions. The Business Today mission statement has proven to be timeless, and for that reason there will always be a place for the magazine on college campuses across America. In the 50th anniversary issue of Business Today, we are celebrating “Game Changers”: the people, companies, and organizations who have created tidal waves of change in their respective industries. The world needs change, if we are to progress and improve. As the next generation of thinkers and workers, undergraduates must not only accept change, but thrive in, encourage, and embody change. Business Today has forever been a magazine that does not shy away from “the new.” So what better way to celebrate the BT legacy than by celebrating the innovations that keep us on our toes? As the world changes at an increasingly rapid pace, it’s all too easy for students to bury themselves in their studies and block out the world around them. Business Today challenges that idea, encouraging students to voice their opinions and be in contact with professionals. Undergraduates have a right, and a duty, to get involved in the outside world. After all, in a few short years, we will be the game changers.


HANNAH POULER Editor-in-Chief

CONTRIBUTORS Published at Princeton University, Business Today is the most widely distributed student publication in North America, and has extensive online readership at our website,

Business Today is dedicated to presenting the opinions of students and business leaders. By examining controversial issues facing our world and exploring life after college, we hope to help readers prepare for their futures. The magazine has been published by Princeton University undergraduates since 1968. NICOLE ZIVKOVIC President YIJIA LIANG Vice President, Director of Corporate Contacts and Finance NEEL AJJARAPU Director of Strategic Initiatives ARIA WONG Director of Membership & Outreach AIDAN CHODOROW Director of International Conference ENVER RAMADANI Director of Design Nation Conference MAYA EASHWARAN Director of Her Ventures HANSEUL NAM Director of Investments DAVID MAJOR Director of Seminars SHARON ZHANG Director of Design WILLIAM UGHETTA Director of Web, Tech & Analytics HANNAH POULER Editor-in-Chief of Magazine SWANEE GOLDEN Director of Executive Relations LIZA MILOV Editor-in-Chief of Online Journal SOPHIE HELMERS Director of Operations Business Today Princeton University 48 University Place Princeton, NJ 08540 609.258.1111 Business Today is a publication of the Foundation for Student Communication, Inc.. FSC, a 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation, is run entirely by students for students at Princeton University. In addition to the magazine, FSC sponsors International and Regional Conferences held across the country that bring together students and executives to discuss the future of business. For more information, visit our website,

Photo by Sam Souleles

HANNAH POULER Editor-in-Chief of Magazine RASHA SULEIMAN Executive Editor of Magazine SHARON ZHANG Director of Design MAXWELL CHUNG Magazine Business Manager AMANDA MORRISON Assistant Director of Executive Relations LIZA MILOV Editor-in-Chief of Online Journal GRACE HONG Executive Editor of Online Journal



Charles Bagin Emily Cheston Lyubomir Hadjiyski Jacqueline He Grace Kortum Molly Milligan Rhea Park Quang Trinh Amy Wang Mallory Williamson Grace Xu

Mark Agostinelli Enrique Bautista Lilly Chadwick Maxwell Chung Gabrielle Jabre Bailey Marsheck Emily Peters Austin Stiefelmaier Mallory Williamson Olivia Zhang

DESIGNERS Charlotte Adamo Wendy Ho Sonia Murthy Serena Ren Eloise Schrier Everett Shen Beverly Shen Wendi Yan

Cover design by Sharon Zhang




A look at the past 50 years of Business Today

Connecting People How developments in technology bring us together 8 Next Gen Mobility

Paving the way for contemporary transportation

Spring 1977

In celebration of Business Today’s 50th anniversary, we’re taking a look back at half a century of magazines

Sharing Information Groundbreaking methods of spreading knowledge 20 The Life and Death of the E-Reader

12 An Interview with Alex Williamson

Amazon and the book

16 Video GameChangers

Editor-in-Chief of Forbes magazine and co-founder of Business Today

Chief Brand Officer at Bumble

The rise of eSports

18 Demanding from On-demand An emerging economy of apps and informal work

22 An Interview with Steve Forbes

26 Instagram and Empowerment

Social media and marketing in the digital age

Spring 1982

Fall 1985 4 FALL 2018 BUSINESS TODAY

Fall 1988

Fall 1993

Fall 1997

Fall 2016

Fall 2013

Directing Change Setting the bar high for peer companies 30 Outsmarting Ourselves

How smart technology is impacting insurance

Spring 2012

Globalizing Our World Innovation on a global scale 44 An Interview with John Rainey

32 An Interview with Bruno Sarda

CFO and EVP of Global Customer Operations at PayPal

36 The Crown Juul of the Tobacco Industry

48 Building Bridges: China’s Shift in Foreign Policy

Head of Sustainability at NRG

How e-cigarettes became the tobacco of the millenial generation

40 A Dormant Industry Nearing Eruption

The growing impact of new insurtech startups

Spring 2011

Spring 2010

Achieving the Chinese Dream through the Belt and Road Initiative

Fall 2007

52 An Interview with Wendy Kopp

Founder and CEO of Teach for America and former President of Business Today

56 Interconnectivity

The power of accumulating communication technologies Fall 2006 BUSINESS TODAY FALL 2018



Celebrating 50 years of Business Today In 1968, Business Today was founded at Princeton University by three undergraduate students: Steve Forbes, Michael Mims and Jon Perel. Their mission was to provide a platform for open dialogue between undergraduate students and business professionals. Since then, the organization has grown from just the publication to a non-profit that encompasses many teams, all working together to familiarize students with the business world.

1968 Michael Mims, Steve Forbes, and John Perel publish the first Business Today magazine at Princeton, in the midst of the Vietnam War


The first Business Tomorrow conference is held

1971 The Foundation for Student Communications is created as a holding company of the Business Today publication and the Business Tomorrow conferences 6 FALL 2018 BUSINESS TODAY


The three co-founders are interviewed on The Today Show with Hugh Downs

1972 Business Today begins cooperating with big business, inviting executives to speak with small groups of students




Meg Whitman, former President and CEO of Hewlitt-Packard, is Vice President of Business Today

Business Today’s inaugural International Conference is held

2012 Creation of Start @ a Startup Conference, which welcomes engineers and computer science undergraduates

BT creates the Online Journal, which features editorial pieces, interviews, career pieces, seminar coverage, and conference coverage

The first Women in Business conference is held

Wendy Kopp is president of Business Today: she comes up with Teach for America during a Business Tomorrow conference

Michael Kratsios, Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer and Deputy Assistant to the President at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, is President of Business Today







Mihika Kapoor spearheads Designation, the first ever national design conference for undergraduate students


The first BT Breakout trip allows 15 students to visit the offices of Uber, JP Morgan, and Tiffany & Co. in New York City

Business Today turns fifty years old


Maya Eashwaran initiates Her Ventures, an advocacy group within BT focusing on female founders







ome people say it’s all about the journey—and I’m inclined to agree with them. But instead of focusing on flights to an exotic destination, or a cruise through the Bahamas, it’s worth examining the mundane to find real game changers. That means taking a look at the daily commute—such a ubiquitous part of our lives—which ranges from the dull to the head-banging “a snail might be traveling faster” variety depending on where and when. Tedious though the commute may be, it is important to development, and represents a huge frontier for change. So what’s happening? Let’s start with our beloved automobiles. The first thing to note is the sheer amount of usage we get out of them. Looking at the raw numbers, people across the US drove a total of 288.1 billion vehicle miles in just the month of July this year. And this figure is 0.3% greater than July 2017 (which seems less modest when you realize it means an increase of 800 million). As has been the trend for several decades, Americans are driving (and riding) in cars and trucks more and more. Anyone who can successfully implement a change in the way we use our automobiles will transform our society, and will likely reap considerable rewards in doing so.



288.1 BILLION number of vehicle miles people across the US drove in the month of July this year Source: Federal Highway Administration



Another important factor to consider is the groups and technologies poised to capitalize on such a tremendous market. The quest for the new age automobile has given rise to some of our most talked about organizations and people: from Tesla to Uber to Waymo. And it just so happens that these groups represent the three big areas of change in automobiles (there is a fourth, but I’ll get to that later). The first change is the shift from gasoline-driven cars to electric ones— spearheaded by Tesla. And despite repeated negative cash flow and the late start to ramping up Model 3 production, Tesla has a greater market cap than does fellow car manufacturer Ford (which has substantially greater sales numbers). This difference in value speaks volumes to the belief that companies like Tesla are the future. And while Tesla may implode or explode over the next few years, other companies will continuously try to push the same agenda of popularizing electric vehicles. Energy efficiency would improve, and the environment would certainly be better served. The second change is the redesign of the ride-hailing and (hopefully) ride-sharing systems, represented by Uber. Ride-hailing is an old concept, which was previously dominated by taxis. Nowadays, Uber (and its competitors Lyft and Via) have been able to combine technology in such a way as to streamline the process and reduce the ageold anxiety of “will my cab arrive on time, if at all?” Ride-sharing is a bit different, the operative word being “sharing.” Systems like these help reduce vehicle miles driven by allowing for the inclusion of multiple passengers per ride. If Uber-like services can get this concept to take off, then streets stand a chance of being less congested (a huge win in my book) and we can be more efficient in how we use fuel. Finally, we have Waymo, an Alphabet subsidiary and a pioneer in self-driving technology. And by this, I don’t mean driver assistive functions like automatic parallel parking or pedestrian avoidance systems. I mean the “real deal:” fully autonomous, with no humans. This technology, perhaps more than any other, will revolutionize the way humans get from point A to point B. It could enable

us to be safer, more entertained, and more efficient. And Waymo—as one of the companies at the forefront of autonomous vehicle research—is valued at as much as $175 billion. If that doesn’t attest to how impactful the technology could be, you are quite the committed skeptic. While each of these three areas of change are substantial on their own, put together they become clear game changers. In the not too distant future, we could see fleets of self-driving, electric

"consumer trends among millennials— and not transportation technology companies— are the biggest drivers of change in the industry" cars waiting to be hailed to pick us up. Then, the controlling software notes a similar waiting person, and picks them up to minimize wait times and maximize movement. Eventually, the system will be so effortlessly smooth that we will hardly recognize society without it. Remember that fourth big area of change in the automobile sphere I mentioned? As it turns out, the next generation of automobile owners is the source (yes, that means it’s finally time to address the millenial in the room). Long story short, millennials seem to be owning proportionally fewer vehicles than

previous generations. To sum up why, a simple answer should suffice. And I couldn’t have written it better than Quora writer Rebecca Massey when she addressed this very same question: “Lots of us don’t need cars” and “Lots of us can’t afford cars.” That first quote boils down to the trend of increasing numbers of millenials living in cities. And according to projections from the CIA, the U.S. and many other developed nations are continuing to urbanize (the U.S. at a rate of 0.95% population change). Cities present a unique issue for automobile owners because substantial penalties are de facto levied against them. Parking is oftentimes inconvenient or unavailable, and struggling through traffic is a lot easier when you are taking a taxi or walking. Besides, when you live so close to where you work, and alternative modes of transportation exist, why bother with the inconvenience of a car? Therefore, it is not an entirely surprising choice for millenials living in increasingly populated cities to opt out of automobile ownership. The second quote is far more direct, and refers to the expenses of automobile ownership. Parking isn’t always cheap, and car payments certainly aren’t, especially when you are already paying rent, eating out, and working off student loans as so many millenials are. All of this might indicate that consumer trends among millennials—and not transportation technology companies— are the biggest drivers of change in the industry. For instance, I might consider not owning a car in the near future if I could just as easily be chauffeured around town by an Uber driver—or better yet call upon a fleet of autonomous vehicles. As baby boomers retire, millennials take the reins of the economy and seem poised to drive these trends to new levels. Companies in turn are reacting to the soonto-be dominant consumers by developing technologies in the three categories of change. I for one can’t wait to see what future developments millennials and the companies that serve them will drive. A new age of mobility is certainly on the horizon. Illustrations by Sharon Zhang





Alex Williamson Chief Brand Officer at Bumble On empowering women, diversifying the workplace, and revolutionizing our relationships WITH HANNAH POULER Business Today: As Chief Brand Officer at Bumble, what does your job entail? Alex Williamson: I oversee a few teams at Bumble, including our talented creative team. In the early days of Bumble, I was hired by our Founder and CEO, Whitney Wolfe Herd, as a three-month contract employee to help Bumble launch in Dallas, Texas. Three weeks into my role, I was managing Bumble’s social media and produced all of the brand content, which allowed me to channel my passion for content creation. I still love writing creative brand and product copy and brainstorming with my team. I also manage our community operations team as well as our editorial team, which allows me to stay very close to the needs of our users and the trends that are influencing our culture and business. BT: What does the average day at work look like for you, and what does the not-so-average day look like? What are some challenges you’ve had to face?

AW: Every day is so different! In the office, I work closely with the teams that I oversee to make sure we are creating a brand experience that resonates with our existing and potential users. When I’m not at the

how does this affect your work environment? Can you describe the workplace culture of the Hive? AW: Our team is actually 85% women with a majority female C-suite. As a female-

“As a female-founded and female-led company, we see this as an opportunity to redefine corporate culture” office, I’m often traveling to speak at events and conferences on behalf of Bumble. As a fun example of a not-so-average day at work, I recently got ordained to marry a couple who met on Bumble in Vancouver! BT: Your office is mostly women—

founded and female-led company, we see this as an opportunity to redefine corporate culture. This includes special focus on flexibility, support for working moms, and a culture that puts collaboration over internal competition.




BT: Bumble has “changed the game” in the online dating world, giving more agency to women by encouraging them to make the first move. What was the thinking behind this strategy? AW: Our founder and CEO, Whitney Wolfe Herd, saw the need for change in the antiquated rules of dating, which is why she created a platform where women make the first move, which shakes up our society’s traditional gender norms. When we first launched in 2014, there was a lot of skepticism around the format of our app. Four years later, we’ve seen incredible growth to over 40 million users in 160 countries. BT: The “women make the first move” policy is less clear for gay men and women. Who would message first in these situations? How does the Bumble app support the queer community? AW: For heterosexual matches in Bumble

Month was not the first time Bumble has engaged with the LGBTQ community; we’ve connected with amazing influencers in the community through sponsoring the Dinah Shore Weekend ‘girl party’ in Palm Springs in the past. Our LGBTQ users are at the heart of what we do; we want to get to meet as many of them as we can face to face! BT: Online dating is often perceived as unsafe. How does Bumble manage privacy and safety on its platform? Do Bumble users feel safe using the app? AW: At Bumble, we have our users’ backs. We’ve worked so hard to create a safe, kind and empowering platform and community. We partnered with the AntiDefamation League in August 2017 to ban hate speech from our app, and we employ over 5,000 moderators across the globe who proactively ensure that our community is adhering to our guidelines. We have a zero-tolerance approach to abuse or harassment on our app and we continue to

“We want the LGBTQ community to know Bumble is a safe, respectful network, rooted in kindness and respect for everybody” Date, the woman has 24 hours to make the first move and the man has 24 hours to respond. In same sex matches, either person has 24 hours to make the first move and 24 hours to respond before the connection expires. Bumble was created with equality in mind and that includes people of all genders and orientations. We want the LGBTQ community to know Bumble is a safe, respectful network, rooted in kindness and respect for everybody. This year, we celebrated the LGBTQ community during Pride Month all across the nation in major cities including Los Angeles, New York, Seattle, Washington D.C., San Francisco and more. Participating in Pride


innovate with our users’ safety in mind— examples of that include photo verification and a robust block and report system. BT: Can you talk about the launch of Bumble Bizz and Bumble BFF? How are these new programs changing the industry of dating apps? AW: The launch of Bumble Bizz and Bumble BFF was inspired by our users, who were hacking Bumble Date to find friends and to network. We listen closely to user feedback, and we saw that our users wanted more opportunities to connect with the people around them—and not just in dating. Users indicated on their profile, “I’m

just looking to network,” or “Not here to date! Just looking for a friend.” We are the first dating app to evolve into a social networking app, and even with that change, we are still able to remain committed to the “women first” approach we take to helping our users find empowering connections, whether that’s love, friendship or networking. Our users who are married and in relationships can hide Bumble Date from their app—and it is time stamped for accountability!—so they can use Bumble Bizz and Bumble BFF without any concerns about being “on a dating app”. BT: What do you envision for the future of dating apps, perhaps 25 years from now?


AW: Bumble is on a mission to hold people accountable for their actions online, and it’s important for us to provide a platform and build a community that fosters equality, kindness and a safe space to make empowered connections. We hope 25 years from now that this is the norm for dating apps and that we can help create a kinder internet by building an infrastructure on our platform that encourages people to be respectful of one another. BT: From a broader standpoint, what do you see as the future of women in business? How is Bumble making strides towards that future? AW: Women in business have come a long way, but there’s still a long way to

go. One of the areas where that’s most apparent is in the amount of women who receive venture capital funding, which is why we’ve recently launched the Bumble Fund. The stats on venture funding for women is staggeringly low—female entrepreneurs only get 2% of venture funding. For black, Latinx, and other women from underrepresented groups, the number drops lower. Bumble Fund is an initiative to help those women largely ignored by the existing venture capital establishments, and we’re excited that our investments have already had a real impact on women in business today.

Williamson has been running social media for Bumble since 2014, and has since worked her way to an executive position as the Chief Brand Officer

Photographs by Bumble






he New York City streets were busy on a cold night in April, and Madison Square Garden was closed for a private event. Draft prospects, friends, and family eagerly awaited as the National Basketball Association commissioner Adam Stern walked up to the central podium. Standing tall, he collected himself and announced, “With the first pick of the 2018 draft, the Dallas Mavericks select… DatBoyDimez.” In this draft, NBA franchises selected dozens of the best sports video game players to compete in head to head exhibitions and tournaments of NBA 2K as part of a competitive gaming league. Since April 2018, the NBA has been a trailblazer in professional sports as it became the first professional sports association to build an eSports league. The novelty of this type of league, coupled with its polarizing nature, has catapulted the 2K League’s popularity to new levels. Can average video game enthusiasts join this eSports arena? They can try, but these people would be up against players who practice 2K for over a dozen hours every day. Everyone 18 years or older who has played NBA 2K18 was allowed to


partake in the most recent NBA 2K League Qualifier. Prospective recruits had to win 50 games in the game’s Pro-Am mode and fill out an application by January 31, after which they could proceed to the next round of tryouts in February. Out of the

“eSports players can make a solid career and lifestyle out of what was once seen as just a hobby” 72,000 who entered the qualifier, 102 were drafted in April to one of 17 different NBA franchises that chose to enter this market. Each team drafted six players, with five playing at the same time during games. Once the draft picks are selected, they

receive treatment comparable to that of NBA athletes, especially in terms of amenities. They each now earn a salary between $32,000 and $35,000, and though this pay is significantly lower than that of pro-basketball players, the gamers receive housing expenses for six months, as well as access to NBA facilities, training staff and more. Some franchises even provide their gamers with dedicated eSports training facilities and content studios located inside actual pro sports venues to demonstrate their commitment to this new sport. With over $1,000,000 in prize money awarded over the course of the season that can be won during in-season tournaments and the postseason championship, the eSports players can make a solid career and lifestyle out of what was once seen as just a hobby. Some eSports critics voice disapproval of the large sums of money that can be paid to a group of non-athletic people with seemingly no talent. In response, players would point to the deft hand-eye coordination required, their countless hours of practice, and the in-depth understanding of the NBA rules as well as the game controls that they have to


learn. Not only that, but their salary is justified in the sense that the payroll of these gamers is roughly equivalent to the revenue that they are generating for the NBA, as they are essentially the fourth league of the association (joining the WNBA, NBA, and G-League). Critics often express confusion about how the NBA makes any profit from an eSports league. Given the fact that this is a fairly new concept and there is consequently not much infrastructure, little is earned from ticket sales or concession stands during live events. Instead, all of the games and tournaments can be seen through an online streaming service called Twitch, where users can pay for a package of chosen streaming channels. The 2K League garners money not only from the thousands of viewers that act as its audience, but also the exclusive partnership deal that it made with Twitch back in April. There has been a lack of success with streaming sports video games on Twitch in the past, and it seems that most of its audience would rather watch online battle games such as League of Legends and Fortnite. However, the NBA is banking on this new class of professional gamers and the league’s high-stakes atmosphere to invigorate new levels of viewership.

Unlike other popular streamed games, such as League of Legends, the 2K League is accessible. It is fairly easily understood both domestically and internationally, as the majority of viewers already have knowledge about how to play and watch basketball. The NBA 2K League is confident in its ability to tap into this eSports market through a consumer education campaign to expand its publicity reach in a short amount of time. In its first season, the NBA 2K League had 400,000 total views and a peak of 6,000 concurrent viewers during tournaments or postseason play. NBA franchise owners understand the patience that it will take before the league can improve, but they remain optimistic. With the second season in the league underway, the league is trying to connect the NBA’s audience to the 2K League through a heightened social media presence as well as live viewings. The Millennial generation is the NBA’s target audience, and since the trend of watching sports simulation games is statistically more accepted by young people, youth viewership will only grow long-term. While the short-term success of the 2K League seems difficult to determine, its effects on its sister association, the NBA, appear positive. The viewers and

2K franchise players seem to have a correlation between the rise in NBA jersey and merchandise sales. Not only that, but the Association is convinced that avid fans of the 2K League will become just as fervent for the NBA in general. These people are potentially becoming future season ticket and suite holders, and advertisers through their exposure to the game. The NBA is quite literally changing the game by tapping into the eSports market and providing jobs to those who may not otherwise have similar opportunities. While some of the draftees were employed or enrolled in college, some have only graduated from high school. The jury is still out as to whether or not the NBA 2K League will have sustained success, but its popularity is on the rise. In fact, Major League Soccer is now trying to start their own eLeague because of the auspicious prospects of the 2K League. With eSports potentially being an Olympic sport by 2024, now is the time for associations to distinguish themselves and become game changers. Illustrations by Beverly Shen

Gaming by the numbers A quantitative rundown of the 2018 2K League season




Pro-Am mode games prospective recruits must win to proceed to tryouts

players who entered the 2K League Qualifier

qualifiers drafted to one of 17 different NBA franchises in the NBA 2K League Source: Forbes




Demanding from On-demand BY ENRIQUE BAUTISTA


uick and easy delivery” is the tagline of the so called on-demand economy. However, with the speed with which these startups deliver their service, failure might inevitably be the outcome. Companies such as Peppertap, Happy Home Company and Take Eat Easy, all lasted at most five years in operations. But who could blame them for trying to make it work in this industry? Nobody can resist the temptation to partake in a market that spans 22.4 million consumers and has the potential to generate revenue of up to $57.6 billion annually. Defined as the business model of the future, the on-demand economy was founded on technology companies’ promises to swiftly deliver goods and services. This is done through applications, which are easily accessible on smart devices. Through this platform, customers with multiple needs are easily connected to people willing to provide services. Capitalizing on this structure, Uber and Airbnb have built empires without even owning the most crucial parts of their businesses: cars and houses. With success stories like these, what caused some other startups to tank? The primary flaw is inaccurate pricing. One wrong pricing move spells the


difference between gaining a considerable market share or going out of business. In a market such as the on-demand economy, which constitutes approximately 280 companies in 16 industries, prices must

“Uber and AirBnb have built empires without even owning the most crucial parts of their businesses: cars and housES” be competitive to stay valid. While pricing too high obviously reduces demand for a product, pegging a price below market value bankrupts players and drives them out of the game. For

example, Thumbplay, a subscriptionbased content service, sustained low prices, and are now losing more money than they can earn. In the on-demand economy, companies have a greater need than ever to establish long-term price models. It becomes imperative that startups consider trade-off between price and volume for optimal returns and test customer perceptions and price sensitivity. To further complicate pricing, in certain markets where demand may follow a certain trend or cyclicality, companies must study the increase or decrease in prices with respect to demand changes. For example, Uber uses the method of surge pricing, where prices in a particular zone are temporarily raised above the regular price in reaction to a forecasted increase in demand. Thus, during rush hour, your Uber will probably cost more than the average fare Another obvious cause of problems is the lack of quality management. Though price may seem to be the main determinant for a customer’s preference for given markets, quality is what saves an empire from an impending foreclosure. The customer experience begins with the app that he or she interacts with. People would prefer an app that


summing up the on-demand economy 22.4M Customers in the on-demand market

280 COMPANIES in the on-demand economy

540M workers in the platform economy by 2025

57.6B dollars in total revenue Source: McKinsey & Co.

is visually appealing and easy to use. Consequently, updating and improving a memorable, intuitive and interactive interface is the next hurdle to jump. It is the company’s responsibility to follow up on app quality with swift and reliable service. Homejoy, an on-demand home-cleaning service, failed to do so, and was shut down due to lawsuits against independent contractors from customers who were unhappy with the cleaning services provided. The best way to maintain quality in the fast-paced on-demand economy is to offer yearly training modules or workshops to workers. Alternatively, to cut costs, companies can create a rating system for each worker, giving them an incentive to improve the quality of their work. Most successful ondemand companies, including Uber and Airbnb, use rating systems such as these. But possibly the most pressing problem that must be addressed is the issue of informal employment in the on-demand economy. As a new type of employee, on-demand workers are not yet properly defined in laws and regulations. They are considered self-employed, and thus do not qualify for benefits such as health care, pensions, and social protection.

Furthermore, they have to contend with little job security and no way to request higher pay. In extension, taxes do not apply to on-demand companies, on grounds

“the most pressing problem that must be addressed is the issue of informal employment in the On-demand Economy� that they are merely a platform. However, more aggressive political bodies like the EU ruled that that Uber was a transportation business, not merely a digital platform, and therefore subject to licensing and other

regulations that apply to taxi companies. Looking forward, with the rapid growth of the on-demand economy, which might comprise 540 million workers in 2025, there is a need for the world and government leaders to legislate strict implementation of wages, health benefits, and retirement plans to all workers. The concept of universal minimum wage and universal pension must be studied further with respect to different income brackets and employment statuses. The on-demand economy may be flexible, innovative, and in many ways a model for the future, but a great number of factors demand serious consideration. Defining the many aspects of this industry and applying them to real life situations is anything but quick and easy. It is imperative that we put emphasis on the indomitable dignity of man on this new platform that many wish to tread on. Having at our disposal an abundant faculty of knowledge and awe-inspiring machines to uplift the environment, will the fear of failure stop us from pursuing this path, or will the spirit of grit and innovation usher in a new era?




The Life and Death of the E-Reader How Amazon continues to court the book, almost 25 years later BY MALLORY WILLIAMSON 20 FALL 2018 BUSINESS TODAY


hen Amazon first announced the Kindle in late 2007, Newsweek boldly announced that the internet giant was “reinventing the book.” The New York Times was more cautious in their assessment of the then newlyannounced product, suggesting it was an “E-book reader that just may catch on.” Upon the Kindle’s release, economic forecasters and tech bloggers alike predicted the downfall of the paperback and the brick-and-mortar bookstore at Amazon’s hand. For a company that in many ways built its fortune on the sale of printed books, it seemed to many that Amazon was prepared to destroy the very industry that enabled its success. In reality, though, the Kindle has thus far failed to meet these lofty expectations. Although book retail giant Borders Books shut the last of its doors in 2011, Barnes and Noble and Books-A-Million are surviving, and still opening new stores. Print book sales have risen each year since 2013, and over 687.2 million print books were sold in 2017. Still, the landscape for books has dramatically changed over the past decade; Amazon has made the paperback book cheaper to acquire than ever before, the rise of self-publishing has stolen industry power from novel-publishing titans, and schools and universities across the U.S. are depending more heavily on e-textbooks in


“Kindle, like Xerox or Band-Aid, has through its dominance of the e-reader industry become something of a generic trademark”

order to educate students less expensively. The Kindles of today can hardly be recognized as descendants of the 2007 model, which retailed for $399 and sported a keyboard, stylus, and bizarrely angled edges meant to simulate the feel of a book in the hand. Deemed “not, ahem, gorgeous” by the New York Times upon its announcement, the original Kindle’s main selling point over its already-extant competitors was the free Wi-Fi for book downloads provided by Amazon for all Kindle devices. Today’s Kindle lineup, which includes three different models, starts at lower price points—$79.99 for the Kindle, $119.99 for the Kindle Paperwhite, and $249.99 for the Kindle Oasis—and offers touchscreens, color choices, and significantly lighter weights. The Oasis in particular is waterproof, has an adaptive light sensor, and can be ordered with up to 32GB of storage. Though what was once the Kindle Fire is now the Fire Tablet, Amazon’s line of Android-enabled tablets has also played an instrumental role in maintaining Bezos’ stronghold over the e-book market. The 7” Kindle Fire, which made it debut in 2011, sold for $200—then a far cheaper alternative to Apple’s iPad, which had only come out a year earlier—and allowed users access to Amazon’s library of not only books but also games, movies, and selected apps. One element of the original Fire’s production

provides a valuable window into the device’s profitability; Amazon sold the first-generation Kindle Fire at a loss, as the profits it generated in digital content sales far outpaced the single-digit dollar losses incurred on the production of each device. The notion that content, not hardware, has sustained Amazon’s Kindle empire is reflected in a less-discussed offshoot of the digital book industry. E-books have, to a significant extent, democratized the publishing industry, providing an avenue for small book publishers and independent authors to win their way into homes around the globe. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), which was announced alongside the original Kindle eleven years ago, allows private individuals to selfpublish books for Kindle download on Amazon’s marketplace. The service is free to use, and publishers can collect up to 70% of total royalties (to compare, print royalties paid to authors are normally under 20%). Anyone who pledges to make their book exclusively available on the KDP platform can enroll in a program called KDP Select, a free option that grants book authors more promotional opportunities on That’s not to say that the printed word appears to be going out of vogue anytime soon. According to the American Association of Publishers, as of April 2018 hardback book sales were up 11.8% from where they were a year ago, and paperback book sales rose a more modest but still significant 1.4%. E-book sales over that same period, however, dropped 3.8%. This trend is mirrored in the UK, where physical book sales rose 7% in 2016 while e-book sales dropped by 4%. If anything, the e-book market seems to be hurtling toward the demise many predicted for the printed book back in the fall of 2007. It wouldn’t do Amazon well to push too adamantly for the downfall of the printed word, either; as the industry leader in paperback sales, Amazon is best poised to capitalize on the increased demand for physical books. The e-book market, however, is

where the most room for growth exists, both for Amazon and for its competitors. In January 2018, a partnership was announced between Wal-Mart—whose newly revamped online marketplace and free two-day shipping on qualifying orders (without a subscription service like Prime) clearly aim to compete with Amazon—and Rakuten Kobo, the world’s second-largest e-reader manufacturer, that officially launched in August. WalMart eBooks, as the service is called, will offer more than 6 million available books for download and a monthly audiobook subscription service. And although Barnes and Noble NOOK sales sharply fell last fiscal year, the device turned its first ever profit for the company, a sign that perhaps e-books might indeed be the future of reading, despite recent slowdowns. Fortunately for Amazon, they are poised to succeed in this hypothetical climate as well. Kindle, like Xerox or Band-Aid, has through its dominance of the e-reader industry become something of a generic trademark. And Amazon is by far the single most prominent retailer of e-books. Through KDP Select, Amazon has curated a vast supply of independent works available for download nowhere else, and the singularity of the platform is likely to perpetuate its popularity. Whether market trends continue and the paperback book continues to reign supreme, or increased capitalization on the vast profitability of e-books shifts consumer demand, Amazon is likely to extend its dominance of the market. Once upon a time, Amazon dubbed itself “Earth’s Biggest Bookstore.” Though perhaps more notable in 2018 for its twoday shipping and impending HQ2 location announcement, Amazon’s book empire is, in many ways, what has propelled it to its current market position and what promises to keep it firmly in place. Illustration by Sharon Zhang



In 1968, Forbes founded the Business Today magazine, along with two other Princeton undergraduates



Steve Forbes

Founder of Business Today and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Magazine On pushing the boundaries in publishing, the importance of a student voice and the purpose of business WITH HANNAH POULER AND SCOTT NEWMAN Business Today: Along with Michael Mims and Jon Perel, you founded the Business Today magazine at Princeton in 1968. At the time, what was your motivation for starting the magazine? Steve Forbes: We saw a need to try to get across a different perspective than the prevailing one, which was, at the time, keep the satisfaction the way things were, not just in terms of specific events but also principles. There didn’t seem to be an appreciation of entrepreneurship, of free markets, and so we thought that having students talk to students, to give a more balanced perspective, was a need and would be very helpful to the environment. BT: What is the benefit of having the magazine be completely student-run? SF: The benefit of having a completely

student-run magazine is credibility. Students talking to students. Students are more likely to be open to listening to their peers, not to adults, or to people who are in a different phase of their own lives. There’s no way that someone who isn’t in the college environment on a day-to-day basis appreciates the nuances and the environment that is constantly changing. So having outsiders do it, or people who are not in the academy anymore, would not have any credibility. BT: When you took over Forbes and became Editor in Chief of Forbes magazine, what vision did you have for the company, and for the publication itself? SF: The goal was expressed by my grandfather, who founded the company 101 years ago in 1917. He said in the

first issue that the purpose of business is to produce happiness, not to pile up money. And today what we call entrepreneurial capitalism. So one of our editors compared us to a drama critic—we love it when a production is done right, we are very unhappy when it’s not done right, but we have a deep appreciation for the field. We also have a deep appreciation for free markets, and I think that it doesn’t mean you’re a cheering section, but we understand that the best way to give more people an opportunity to improve in life is through free markets; free people and free markets. So that’s been our motivation from the beginning, long before I came along. BT: In an increasingly digital age, do you see a lasting market for print publications?




SF: There will always be a place for the printed word. The key, now, is to in effect have one help the other. So the publication itself, Forbes, really does tie into what we’re doing online, whether it’s our 30 under 30 list or some other theme. And even though most of us get most of our information now with handhelds or desktops, it’s still true that people really love to be on the cover of Forbes magazine. They really like to see the

you focus on what it is you’re trying to do, the means to achieve that purpose may change, but that purpose does not. And part of the problem of human nature, which we certainly saw on the print side, is people get caught up on how they’ve done things, and don’t focus on how they do things. As I’ve mentioned, in terms of content creation, we now have over 2,000 contracted contributors. Many of them do

“Students are more likely to be open to listening to their peers, not to adults, or to people who are in a different phase of their own lives” tangibility, not on a screen but on a piece of paper. Not just a printout from your handheld or your desktop. So the relative importance has changed, as most of our revenue comes from online and added activities, not the printed magazine, but it’s part of a package, and so we don’t want to make them two distinct silos. One of the things we’ve been a pioneer in was not just reprinting online what was in the magazine but also having content that was created specifically for 99% of our content now is created just for BT: How has Forbes continued to push boundaries in the business world? SF: You push boundaries by remembering what it is your purpose is. I think I mentioned earlier that Peter Drucker, the late great management guru who wrote a number of books on management and business, said that every organization should remind itself “what its purpose is, what it is they’re trying to do.” And if


a piece a week. We do 100,000 pieces a year online; we virtually produce a magazine each day. The marketing has changed substantially. So the way we do things does change, and we continue to look to do new things. We’re just now celebrating an event for 30 under 30 in Amsterdam. We had one in Israel several months ago, where we had thousands of people from around the world. These things are constantly evolving, but again they have the purpose of enabling people: giving them the tools, the analysis, the information they need to get ahead. We recognize those who have done it before, and learn from success, but also learn when things don’t go well. There have been a number of stories of people who have faltered then came roaring back again. Life never goes in a straight line. BT: What is the target consumer profile for Forbes magazine? Do you believe it’s important for business journalism to reach a wide spectrum of readers? SF: We think that what we’re trying to

do has applicability worldwide. We have about forty licensed editions around the world, in various countries, and we have a growing number of websites that are dedicated to global markets. In much of the world, print is still more important than digital media, but you can see the handwriting on the wall, so to speak, so that’s going to change. And is changing. So we’re going to be covered on all fronts. BT: Have you applied knowledge and skills you learned at Princeton to your professional life? SF: Yes! Owing to my work at Business Today, with John and Mike and others, my time at Princeton was an informal combination of undergraduate and MBA. And I think you can see the truth in that. So you learn, early on, what it takes to get something big done—you see it with the conference, the magazine, and other things you do. Especially with the conferences, the numerous details that go into it, all the things that have to be done—the logistics, the marketing—that is not something you can be told about. Until you live it, you don’t fully appreciate it. Those experiences, you can’t replicate them in a classroom. So I felt I had a leg up going out and to Forbes, having gone through actually trying to print a magazine. People see the final product, but until you actually try to create a final product, you have no appreciation of all the details that go into it. BT: Your book Power, Ambition, Glory draws parallels between leaders from the ancient world and business titans in modern times. In particular, you write about the importance of thinking outside the box and of granting autonomy to those over whom one rules (whether in a kingdom or via an acquisition). How can college students begin to implement some of the lessons from the book into their everyday lives? SF: Well, it’s about leadership—whether


you’re leading a team or an organization or a division—and also about communications, persuading others. How do you get people to move in a certain direction? How do you get them to work together with others? So, while times and circumstances change, human nature does not. And that’s why many of the characteristics of success and failure that you see a couple thousand years ago certainly are applicable today. Part of it is learning to deal with crises. Things are not always going to go right, whether from your mistakes or from

BT: Your grandfather once remarked that “the purpose of business is to produce happiness, not to pile up millions.” Please comment on what that means today and how students can put it into practice as they begin their careers. SF: Well, it’s about discovering what you have a knack at, and then, earning a living at it. And then, [it is about] understanding that often the best education comes from when things don’t work out well. It’s nice

do you have for those who will steer the ship for the next 50 years? SF: I certainly won’t be around to see whether this is of any use, but the key again is remembering what Drucker said [about] meeting the needs of your constituency… keep figuring out how to make change. Maybe for a few years something may work and then it falls by the wayside. But the world keeps evolving, and we have to do the same. Just don’t get rigid.

“In business, what doesn’t get fully appreciated is that you succeed by meeting the needs and wants of others. And sometimes, you come up with something new that people realize they couldn’t live without” outside circumstances. You’re going to have to know that there are going to be times that you’re not going to have a playbook for things. You’re going to have to figure out how you deal with people, whether it’s a boss who doesn’t realize the great genius that you are, or whether it’s colleagues who you feel are jerks, or whether it’s the difficulty of dealing with people, you’re not the first ones to have to cope with that. It’s not painting by the numbers, but it does give you a sense of coping with the real world. It’s crisis. It’s innovation. All successful leaders are innovators…[who learn] to delegate. It’s an art. It’s not a science. Reading what others have gone through, you can find a structure from it. Mark Twain was right when he said that “history does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”

to take a job because you think it pays well or it’s a hot industry, but if you’re going to engage your true talents for a period of time, you have to figure out what is going to satisfy your enthusiasm, your passion. There are plenty of opportunities to make money, but the key is to live a life that you feel will be fulfilling. And for different people that will be different things. In business, what doesn’t get fully appreciated is that you succeed by meeting the needs and wants of others. And sometimes, you come up with something new that people realize they couldn’t live without. BT: Business Today turns 50 this year. You, John, and Mike have all commented that nobody could have ever foreseen that BT would evolve into what it is today. What advice

BT: What is the most important thing for college students today to remember, to learn, and to gain from their time on campuses across the world? SF: To learn that they don’t have all the answers and to keep their curiosity, and also the nitty-gritty, stick-to-it attitude. No one is going to do your thesis for you. Everybody sort of understands that preparing for an athletic event requires a lot of boring training, grit, all that kind of thing. But also, other things, to get done, involve a lot of unglamorous work and preparation. Photograph by Forbes





Instagram and Empowerment Social Media Marketing in the Digital Age BY OLIVIA ZHANG





ver since Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat have staked their claims in our daily lives, brands have been eager to take part in the action. Social media has become a cornerstone of our interactions with brands, from beautiful, moodboard-style curation of products on Instagram to brands’ good-natured Twitter roasts of celebrities and customers. Yet, even given what seems like an established practice, a handful of companies are redefining how social media and customer interaction is done, and reaping amazing benefits in the process. A new wave of female-focused companies like Glossier, the Wing, and Refinery29 are creating a new paradigm of brand-customer interaction that focuses on creating a community and bringing their customers closer than ever, and they are receiving huge media attention and sales to show for it. A prime example of a trailblazer in social media interaction is Glossier, the makeup and skincare startup that has dominated media buzz and attention for the last two years. Glossier boasts more than $85 million in funding to date, and from 2016 to 2017 tripled its total revenue. Much of the brand’s success comes from its ability to successfully leverage and engage its customer community: Glossier does everything from actively repost followers’ pictures, answer individual questions about products, and leave personal replies to comments. While Glossier is first and foremost a cosmetics brand with its own commercial interests at heart, this company makes an effort to make their community feel like much more than a means of product advertising. Glossier differentiates itself from other companies’ digital media approaches by successfully building and leveraging not only a brand, but a lifestyle. This lifestyle is one that’s inclusive, multi-faceted, and empowering. These components are also found in the strategies of several other


female-focused spaces, like the co-working startup “The Wing,” or the womencentered media company “Refinery29.” Accessibility and inclusivity in these communities is evident through the easy means of entry and participation—all it takes is an Instagram follow to see content, a comment to engage, or a product purchase to be truly bought in. These brands also engage frequently with their customers and commonly repost their content. Customer-shot pictures that match

“Messages about empowerment, the importance of self-care, and the endorsement of feminist issues are frequent” Glossier’s aesthetic are sprinkled across the brand’s Instagram page, and the company also makes a point to repost the funniest tweets about Glossier products from its customers. Similarly, the Wing’s “Member Moment” story on Instagram celebrates and highlights the accomplishments of their customers with their audience of more than 250 thousand followers. Content, while inevitably brandfocused, also touches on relevant social and political issues, which helps these brands surpass their primary commercial focus. Some prominent examples are the Wing’s campaigns to increase midterm voting (“Midterms on Our Terms”) and Glossier’s advocacy for women in leadership positions by highlighting present-day leaders. Despite the lack of a clear connection between

beauty products and ballots, a distinctive characteristic of these companies is that they refuse to choose between the fun, lighthearted nature of their products and the weighty and more serious relevance of social and political issues. These companies also embrace a tone of empowerment when communicating with their customers. One of the most distinctive traits of their respective social media presences is the sincere, supportive tone of their communication. Messages about empowerment, the importance of self-care, and the endorsement of feminist issues are frequent, and often communicated through memes and pop culture references. This creates a stance that is undoubtedly sincere but also doesn’t take itself too seriously. As a result, brands don’t alienate more moderate customers, but also announce themselves as allies and supporters for those who believe these issues are key. While these brands’ social stances do skew significantly liberal, the vast majority of their customer bases match this profile, and brands’ messages of empowerment and feminism draw this majority even closer together. The effectiveness of these communities is more than clear: Glossier is well known as a leader in social media engagement, and everything from more than 275 thousand #glossier Instagram posts to its three-fold increase in revenue speaks to the benefits of this engagement. The Wing has benefitted similarly. In the past year, this brand has been the subject of prominent features in Vogue, the New York Times, and TechCrunch, and is now in the midst of a global expansion to cities around the world like San Francisco, Paris, and London. A benefit of building strong communities is the (aptly-named) “network effect:” as more people hear of and become involved with a brand, the brand’s outreach and impact becomes increasingly larger, leading to a growing cycle of more


“Brands now provide spaces for women to connect with each other and talk about anything from makeup to complex social issues” media attention, customers, and sales. Beyond its commercial benefits, this new paradigm of brand-focused communities is also interesting for several other reasons. One point of interest is that brands now provide spaces for women to connect with each other and talk about anything from makeup to complex social issues. Leveraging the easy discussion platform that exists in social media comments and the hundreds of thousands of followers they have access to has enabled brands to connect similarly interested people from around the world. Because followers of the brand are self-selective in their interests and attitudes, these communities and social platforms can be safer and more enjoyable spaces to engage in than many other available options. This new approach to customer interaction also means that brands are integrated into our lives at a level closer than ever before. Not only is this true in terms of the frequency of brand-related content we see through social media, but also in terms of the ever-increasing aspects of our lives that brands are involved in: brands have entered the conversation and content we consume with regards to politics, social issues, feminism, finance, and so much more, reaching far beyond just makeup or beauty. And, with brands who use customer representatives to promote their products—of which Glossier is also one—this is even more true. By employing our friends, peers, and

colleagues to serve as advocates for their products, brands enjoy an unparalleled point of access into our personal lives. Glossier’s success and the role of its customer community have caused many to take notice, and it will be interesting to see how other companies react and attempt to reap similar benefits across different industries. As the trend becomes less novel and more saturated, companies will likely have to adapt and modify their strategies. And, with growing concerns about excess social media usage, it remains to be seen if this trend will fizzle out, or if brands will find a way to remain engaged with their users and keep their communities strong. Either way, at least for the immediate future, it’s clear that the dream-worthy lifestyle, community, and revenue numbers of these brands are here to stay. Illustrations by Sonia Murthy




Outsmarting Ourselves? Smart tech and its impact on insurance BY EMILY PETERS




he concept that was once science fiction—using your smartphone to turn on your lights and start your coffee maker—is now as easy as a swipe to the left. The Internet of Things is embedding computing technology into non-traditional objects. These objects, commonly referred to under the umbrella of “Smart tech,” range from everyday appliances such as toasters to components in medical equipment. The growing number of objects that are being embedded with computing devices has grown and, in turn, so has our interest in how far this technology will go. At a glance, certain industries will be directly affected by the consumer demand for this technology. These are manufacturing markets for commodities such as stoves, refrigerators, washers and dryers, and furnaces. However, industries that do not deal directly with technology will also face pressure and change. One of these affected industries is insurance. Insurance is a monetary precaution to protect items from unforeseen or uncontrollable events. A major component of what we are protected from is human error. We purchase car insurance to protect us from liabilities that result from accidents caused by reckless driving or poorlytimed mistakes. We purchase home insurance to protect against human error as well, such as overfilling a kitchen sink, putting bubble bath in a Jacuzzi bathtub, or not regularly examining appliances to address faults in a timely manner. How is insurance linked to the Internet of Things? Smart tech will minimize human and equipment error, in part thanks to data algorithms. Human involvement can be tainted by exhaustion, illness, distraction, or lack of knowledge . Smart tech eliminates those risks by removing human involvement from the equation. Additionally, an appliance equipped with smart tech will include self-regulated software updates and timed maintenance, minimizing

equipment failure. As our surroundings become “smarter,” the damage caused by human or appliance flaws will decrease. So, let’s say we minimize damage by having our washing machine notify us when it is leaking or our toaster tell us when our toast is burning. However, what happens if our dishwasher or toaster computing software is hacked? As we increase our use of software, we simultaneously increase the potential for someone to infiltrate our daily lives. In 2017, the Amazon product “Alexa”—a home program which links all key home features from lights to heating—was reported to turn itself on and “maniacally laugh.” Alexa is a user

“Due to smart tech, the most traditional claims on insurance policies are becoming less frequent” prompted system, so for many users, it was very disturbing to hear it come alive. This incident raised the question of how secure Alexa’s network truly is. A similar issue arose in 2017, with the Mirai botnet malware exploited errors within the smart home network. The key aspect that allowed the hackers to gain access was customers’ weak authorization passwords. Though the hacking did not cause issues for the home owners, it brought attention to the ease at which external parties can gain access to a person’s private space. The Harvard Business Review has noted that society must change their frame of mind from “user interaction problems” to “device and system interaction problems.” Beyond educating people on cyber safety,

corporations need to start implementing backup plans and protection. By employing cyber privacy insurance, companies can be protected from liability for data breaches, property exposures, fraud, and extortion. Tech E&O (tech errors and omissions insurance) is an example of insurance designed specifically for providers of the technology. A field where Tech E&O insurance will be used is in the area of self-driving cars. Around 94% of the time, when a vehicular accident occurs, the fault is due to human error. In line with selfdriving cars, there will not be any direct element of human error. Because of this, companies that manufacture self-driving cars will assume all liability, and will need insurance to back them in case of failure. Is technology already disrupting the insurance field? In fact, it is. Deloitte noted that the present technology in cars (sensors and backup cameras) has reduced human error. Therefore, due to smart tech, the most traditional claims on insurance policies are becoming less frequent. In the future, insurers could incentivize their services by including non-vehiclerelated service options, environmental monitoring, and traffic alert systems. Although the realm of fully enabled smart home environments and selfdriving vehicles is decades away, many companies, from toaster manufactures to insurance companies, are needing to address the many issues brought about by technology. Just as the introduction of the internet impressed our parents’ generation, the Internet of Things’ advancement is impressing the Millennial generation as well as posing a threat to traditional workflow. As we advance in technology, if we are not careful, we will trade human risks for newer and potentially more dangerous risks. Therefore, cybersecurity, privacy, and corporate liability will change the insurance field for good. Illustration by Charlotte Adamo




DIRECTING CHANGE As NRG’s Head of Sustainability, Sarda examines sustainability protocol and initiatives across all NRG pillars

Bruno Sarda Head of Sustainability at NRG

On setting the industry standard for sustainability and the importance of educating the next generation of leaders WITH HANNAH POULER Business Today: As Head of Sustainability at NRG, what does your job entail? Bruno Sarda: As head of sustainability, I have to look at sustainability across the whole enterprise. Sustainability is one of those functions that, when done well, spans all aspects of the business. The way I architected it at NRG is across 5 pillars: sustainable business, sustainable customers, sustainable operations, sustainable suppliers, and sustainable workplace. So as that hints at, we look into our supply chain, making sure that all the money we spend as a company takes sustainability into account. Operations, that’s our physical footprint on the world; carbon emissions, water consumption, and so on. The Customers pillar focuses on how we actually help users of our product be more efficient and increasingly decarbonize their own operations. Business is this layer dealing

with governance, disclosure, and reporting financial management. Last but not least, Workplace is about how we make NRG a place that embodies sustainability. The NRG headquarters in New Jersey is a league platinum building, our big office in Houston is league gold, but it’s also about the food we put in the cafeteria, having

to carry that torch. Sustainability is a small team, so you can’t be the one doing it; you have to be the one leading it. BT: How has NRG led the industry in sustainability, and what standard do you hope to set for your peer companies?

“There’s been a call to arms and a realization that climate change is not a problem that the federal government will solve for us” fitness centers, and so on. My job is about managing all those things, caring about all those things, and inspiring others

BS: I think we lead in several key areas. First, we were the first in our industry to set sign space targets to reduce our




greenhouse gas emissions according to published science. We set targets to reduce carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 and 90% by 2050, which is roughly the ambition of the Paris Agreements, although we set our goals before those agreements took place. We also set our industry’s most aggressive water stewardship goals, to decrease our water consumption by 40% by 2030. And we’re not just leading on commitments, we’re leading on performance; we actually met our water conservation goal already, 13 years early. We’re 70% of the way towards our 2030 carbon goal, and expect to meet that goal as well. So we’re leading both on ambition and execution. Another example where we’re leading is also on transparency and disclosure. It’s

BT: In 2017, President Trump announced that the U.S. will withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. Do you think that that will influence sustainability in the future by taking away government incentives? BS: President Trump indicated he will withdraw the U.S.: legally he can’t do that until 2020. Also, even before he announced the decision, there was a massive mobilization from businesses, cities, universities, and all parts of the U.S. society saying “we’re still in.” And in fact, there’s a movement called We Are Still In, and NRG is a signatory. There’s now about 2,700 businesses, cities, colleges, states, and counties who are a part of this movement, who are saying the science is

“Sustainability can’t be just for people who can afford it” important for your investors, employees, regulators, and customers to have visibility into what you’re doing. We’re the first in our industry to publish according to the SASB standard, which stands for Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, chaired by Mary Schapiro, former head of the SEC. We’re also the first company in our sector in the US to be a CEO-level signatory to the Women’s Empowerment Principles, published by the UN. We’re trying to lead not just in the environment, but to take social sustainability into account. We’re inviting others to follow our lead—it’s cool when you’re the first to do these things, but not cool if you remain the only one in the race.


real, and the opportunity is real. There’s been a call to arms and a realization that climate change is not a problem that the federal government will solve for us. Just last week, I was in California for the Global Climate Action Summit, and you saw hundreds of new commitments on all kinds of things: renewable energy, electrifying vehicle fleets, net-zero emission buildings, etcetera. So there are a lot of proof points that this isn’t just an aspiration: a lot of organizations are putting concrete, tangible actions in place to make “we’re still in” real. BT: You’ve talked about a nexus of reducing consumers’ energy consumption, while saving

them money. Do you believe that monetary incentives are necessary for the everyday American consumer to consider reducing their carbon footprint? BS: I think it helps. For sure. There are a couple of ways to think about that. I believe strongly that a sustainable future, in general, is a better future. It’s one that we will like more. And just like everything else, as consumers, if there’s something we like more, we’re willing to pay more for it. We pay ridiculous amounts of money for things like a cup of coffee these days. Having said that, the fact is that there’s a great confluence right now that a sustainable lifestyle can in fact save you money. Renewable energy now, certainly at a large scale, is the cheapest form of new energy. For smaller households, we offer 100% renewable plans off the grid, so you don’t have to invest in renewable energy technology to buy it. It does come at a bit of a premium right now, but I equate it to food. If you want to eat better, and shop at Whole Foods instead of a regular grocery, there is a premium as well. There’s an idea that getting something more wholesome comes at a cost. I think that needs to change: not just to drive adoption, but for climate justice. Sustainability can’t be just for people who can afford it, because in fact the people who can least afford it are the ones who will suffer the most from the effects of climate change. So it’s an imperative for us to make sure that sustainability is available for all budgets. BT: Do you think that equalization will come about from improved technology, or more competition in the industry? BS: I think it will be a combination of those things. Scale helps. Just like the first


people who bought flat screen TVs paid a lot of money for them, as companies began to build more TVs and more competition entered the marketplace, prices were forced to decrease. We certainly saw that at a large scale for solar panels. As manufacturing increased, economies of scale kicked in, and policy incentives were created. We need to have earlier adopters who are willing to pay more, in order to make this technology more affordable to the general public. Even today, you can only choose where you buy your power from in 17 states—there are still lots of opportunities for shaping policy incentives so we encourage competition. We need to stop subsidizing high emitting energy sources, to continue to make it easier for consumers to adopt cleaner technologies. BT: How do you envision the power industry 10 years from now, and what steps has NRG been taking to prepare for, or even expedite, this shift? BS: In 2015, about 21% of all energy use in this country was from electricity, and the rest mostly from oil and gas. It’s estimated that by 2050, it will be almost 50% electric. So part of what we expect to see is a rapid electrification, especially in the realm of transportation. A lot of heating and cooling systems in buildings will also likely be electrified. The rapid growth of renewable energy will also continue, as well as a dramatic increase in battery storage capacity. This will change the game for renewables like solar and wind, which are not always “on.” Just as we all have a water heater in our house right now, soon we could all have a battery storage unit in our house, where we draw wind and solar during the day, so that overnight our entire power needs are met from that battery. This would also help with resilience;

in times of natural disaster, having a power source in your house to take over when the grid goes down will do a lot. BT: You’re a professor and sustainability scholar at Arizona State. In your opinion, what is the role of educators in the future of sustainability? BS: For me, since 2011, I’ve had both a corporate role and an academic role. Certainly, the traditional role of Universities in producing research and sharing knowledge remain important. But to some extent, the role of who is transmitting knowledge and producing research is no longer just the role of educators, thanks to the smartphones

focus on skills, competencies, mindsets, and value drives, so that students are not only comfortable with change, but expect change and lead change. BT: What advice do you have for college students who want to be a part of the change you speak of? BS: Don’t fear change. It’s not about coping with change, it’s about embracing it, and wanting it. Change is good. We can’t keep doing things the same way we have, whether it’s pollution, gender disparity in the workplace… change is what we want. So get comfortable with the idea that change is good, but it’s also hard, and often met with resistance. When you think about what you want to do with your

“Don’t fear change. It’s not about coping with change, it’s about embracing it, and wanting it” in our pockets. I think what’s been interesting for me, then, is really focusing on the how. It’s not just here’s what you need to know, because data and science are just the starting point. If all it took was data and facts, we would have solved climate change a long time ago. It’s more about how do we prepare the future generations for how they need to work. I think we really have to help the workforce of the future to understand how to be agile and nimble enough, because this acceleration of change in society and the workforce means that straight knowledge is obsolete by the time they get out of college. We have to

life, ask yourself what really drives you. Are there issues, topics or values that are most salient to you? How do you want to operate in society—do you want to work in business, public service, research? It’s about finding your center. From there, sustainability might not be your full time job. But it’s something that will make you really good at whatever you’re going to do. Think of it not as a career track, but as a career adder, accelerator, differentiator. Bring that set of values, that courage to make change happen, to whatever you do. Photograph by




The Crown Juul of the Tobacco Industry BY GABRIELLE JABRE


This word has become commonplace among youths in the U.S.. But what is a Juul, why has it become such a sensation, and why is the startup now valued at $15 billion? In 2007, Pax Labs Inc, originally named Ploom, was founded by two Stanford graduates who wanted to reinvent the smoking experience, especially within the e-cigarette market. Yet, it wasn’t until 2015 that Pax Labs introduced the Juul, their new sleek aluminum e-cigarette. Pax Labs insisted that the Juul was a new alternative to smoking and would help those who wanted to quit. The Juul would provide a viable solution to cigarettes because it replicates the sensation of smoking. Yet Pax Labs faced the challenge of many competitors within the e-cigarette market such as Altria, Philip Morrison International, and British American Tobacco. Another disadvantage that Pax Labs faced was an initial lack of funding. There is still some controversy surrounding investing in the


e-cigarette market, because it remains an ethical issue to many who see Juuls being purchased by a young demographic. To further dissuade investors, the negative impacts of Juuling aren’t available yet, as research is still under way. However, the company still managed to raise $650 million in funding in July 2018. The Juul was first available for consumer use in June 2015, and most people credit its current success to its sleek design. Juuls allow consumers to draw smoke easily by activating its heat source. The Juul holds almost twice the nicotine strength of any other e-cigarette with a 5% nicotine level compared to its competitors, which only have 3%. Thus, a single Juul pod contains the same amount of nicotine as a pack of cigarettes, meaning it is the equivalent of 200 puffs and takes the average person four to five days to use up. The Juul pod is a liquid that contains salts and organic acids from tobacco leaves, and the pod can be replaced once the liquid is empty. The Juul has been popular in America, especially among teenagers. This could be due to the fact that tobacco companies


A Growing Global Reach Juul controls half of the global e-cigarette market, but it’s not nearly as popular in other parts of the world as it is in the United States

In late 2018, Juul is introduced to the British market In mid 2018, Juul is banned from markets in Israel, less than a month after the product’s release there in May In 2017, Juul spins off from PAX Labs as its own company




have a long history of marketing towards youth: they know that once people become addicted to nicotine, they are likely to be long-term customers. Similarly, flavored tobacco Juul pods such as menthol, fruit, and mango were likely created to target the youth market. Juuls are also discrete and easy to hide from sources of authority, such as parents, teachers and professors. Also, the accessibility of charging a Juul through a USB port has modernized the e-cigarette to adapt to current technological norms. In 2017, Juuls controlled half of the e-cigarette market and now hold 68% of the market, highlighting an 18% increase in popularity. It stands firmly ahead of its e-cigarette competitors. In late 2018, Juuls were introduced to the British market, and the big question is whether Juul will be as successful among young people in the UK as it is in America. Smoking cigarettes is still a social act among young people in the UK, but will the introduction of Juuls prompt people to start socially “Juuling” instead of socially smoking? One disadvantage Juuls face in the UK is nicotine restrictions. To be able to sell this e-cigarette, nicotine levels were decreased from 5% to 1.7%. This begs the question of whether the nicotine cap will affect Juul sales in Europe. Yet, there seems to be more of a chance of success of Juuls fulfilling their original aim in Europe, as smoking cigarettes is a lot more prominent and thus quitting is also much more prominent than in the U.S. This means that Juul users in the UK are more likely to be actually curbing a cigarette addiction. However, there is a chance that the trend in America, of a majorityyouth demographic of Juul users, will also travel across the Atlantic to the UK. Still, this doesn’t mean quitters of cigarettes won’t be entertained by the idea of Juuls. The legality of Juuls has recently


brought a lot of opposition from health regulators. The FDA, upon recent complaints, is looking into the e-cigarette market to review health approvals, but due to the complexity of e-cigarettes and how hard it is to investigate long-term problems, their findings won’t be realized until 2022. This allows the e-cigarette market to evolve faster than regulations, since by the time regulations are realised, they will be based on older e-cigarette models and thus be essentially outdated. The FDA wants to crack down on Juul due to its popularity among minors, yet Pax Labs has agreed to work with them

“the big question is whether Juul will be as successful among young people in the UK as it is in America” to help advance the Juul market to a higher age level. Also within the U.S., Juul faces potential American tariffs as their products are made in China. Rather than face this issue, they have circumvented regulations by moving more of the manufacturing to the U.S. As Juuls are a new product to the e-cigarette market, their impact worldwide is still in the workings. However, also due to their novelty and the lack of understanding of the negative impacts of Juuls, they has already been banned in Israel, just a month after they reached the Israeli markets in May 2018. The Israeli

government stated there were grave public health risks and banned the Juul for its extreme nicotine levels, as Israel is an associated state to the EU and therefore cannot have more than 2% nicotine in e-cigarettes. This current ban means that imports and exports or even the possession of a Juul is not allowed in Israel, leaving room for heavy manufacturing and importing of cigarettes. Thus, Israel has banned a popular alternative to smoking, leaving quitters with fewer alternatives. Pax Labs stated that this was a “misguided decision” and are fighting to have the ban lifted by petitioning the High Court of Israel, claiming the court has no findings to declare such a decision. It is unclear whether other governments will take a similar stance, but seeing that there is still a novelty to the Juul, there is a large chance that many countries will follow Israel’s ruling to some extent, or even imitate the U.S. by reviewing the impacts of the Juul and whether it is truly a viable alternative to smoking. Due to the novelty of Juul, the company is facing many legal battles within the US and globally. But they have many other battles to wage, including staying ahead in the market and staying relevant with current trends. For this reason, Juul has announced the creation of a new model that will have a Bluetooth function. This function will allow the Juul to be connected to an app on a phone that will highlight a smoker’s resilience to smoking, and help them quit more efficiently. However, since many ‘Juulers’ of a young demographic are starting to smoke rather than attempting to quit, it is unclear whether the introduction of this Bluetooth app will increase Juul’s popularity or will erode the Juul as an early 21st Century trend. Illustrations by Serena Ren

Dollar share percentage of the e-cigarette retail market as of March 2018 60 50 40 30 20 10






Source: Vox. Data from Nielsen Total US xAOC/Convenience Database and Wells Fargo Securities, LLC









A Dormant Industry Nearing Eruption How insurtech startups are disrupting an industry with stagnant giants, changing insurance as we know it BY LILLY CHADWICK




n Industry Shaking at its Foundations

When people hear the word “insurance,” it does not exactly evoke excitement. A field known for its convoluted jargon and mind-numbing abundance of paperwork, it does not inspire passionate customers or possess a glowing reputation. Moreover, as a $4.6 trillion industry in which most successful companies, such as Liberty Mutual, State Farm, and Allstate, are nearing or have surpassed their 100th year of existence, traditional insurance businesses are colossal, and the oligopolistic behemoths that dominate the industry have been at the top for decades. Considering

years old, and that of the top five health insurance companies in terms of market share at around 80 years old, Lemonade and Oscar have a much more youthful glow than their elderly competitors. These two startups have a long way to go before they gain significant market share from industry strongholds throughout the country. However, their business models and structural foundations are much more strongly catered to consumer needs and preferences in the modern world than their competitors. When these startups gain traction and claim significant market share, the long-dormant insurance industry is likely to erupt in innovation. Existing companies may be able to innovate alongside these startups, but their long history and deeply entrenched structural foundations will put them at an extreme disadvantage, as innovation within these companies may require a complete overhaul of their structure and reputation. According to Lemonade’s co-founder and CEO, Daniel Schreiber, the insurance business has an exceedingly unfavorable reputation, which ironically was one of

is largely considered an untrustworthy institution as there is an inherent conflict of interest between policyholders and insurance companies. Typically, around half of the revenue from monthly insurance premiums, or the amount a policy costs a customer, goes into a fund to pay customers’ claims, money to reimburse the cost of damages or hospital visits, and the company pockets the other half. However, as the percentage is not fixed, the lower the number of claims policyholders receive the more profit a company cashes in. As a result, customers see insurance companies’ interests as diametrically opposed to theirs, although many do consider insurance to be a necessary evil.

Lemonade and Oscar: Insurance that Excites Within this deeply-rooted, complex and mutually distrustful environment, Lemonade and Oscar Health provide a much-needed breath of fresh air. At both Lemonade and Oscar Health, the business is structured from the ground up, meaning

“insurtech startups have stormed to the forefront of the insurance industry, shaking it at its foundations” this landscape, one may think innovation seeps into the industry as fast as glaciers move. However, in the past few years, insurtech startups—insurance companies that use cutting-edge technology such as machine learning to maximize savings, efficiency, and user experience—have stormed to the forefront of the insurance industry, shaking it at its foundations.

The Insurance Industry and its Inherent Conflict of Interest Archetypes of insurtech companies that are disrupting the insurance industry are Lemonade, a company founded in April 2015, which offers renters and homeowners insurance, and Oscar Health, a health insurance provider founded in December 2012. With the average age of homeowners’ insurance companies at around 104

the reasons why he wanted to enter the industry. A veteran in the tech world, Schreiber perceived the frustrating customer experience and bureaucratic labyrinth that characterizes the industry as an invitation to innovate and disrupt. “If you play the word association game with ‘insurance,’” Schreiber notes, “words like ‘paperwork,’ ‘hassle,’ and ‘fighting’ present a pretty abysmal picture of the industry.” The general public’s strong dislike of the insurance industry stems from the extensive length of time between filing a claim for an issue like damaged property and receiving money from the insurance company as a result of that claim. In theory, this time-consuming process discourages fraud, or policyholders filing fraudulent claims, but it also results in highly frustrated customers. Furthermore, the insurance industry

they are not reliant on relationships with pre-existing companies to grow. In addition, both have leveraged technology platforms to create a more transparent, cost-effective and efficient system. Moreover, features of their business models appeal to younger, tech-savvy consumers, in part because they are transforming user experiences from frustrating and tedious to intuitive and enjoyable. Consequently, they are achieving what few thought was possible: getting people excited about their insurance.

Lemonade At Lemonade, the mission is to provide insurance that serves as a social good rather than a necessary evil. While other insurance companies profit when they deny their customers’ claims, Lemonade




Lemonade has

27% of market share among first time insurance buyers

companies, and it establishes transparency and trust between the company and the policyholder. In addition, as unclaimed cash within the claims fund is donated to a charity of the policyholder’s choice and not put back in the insurance company’s pocket, it disincentivizes fraudulent claims, as it harms the charity that policyholders care about rather than the insurance company’s pocketbooks. Third, the use of AI instead of brokers has been the main driver for renters’ insurance costing as low as $5 a month and homeowners’ insurance around $25 a month. Moreover, it has cut the time needed to calculate the cost of a policy to an average of 90 seconds, and the time to file a claim to around three minutes. These innovations have combined to form an effective, altruistic, and intuitive company that wants to form a symbiotic relationship with its customers and the community.

Oscar health

pockets a flat fee: it takes 20% of customers’ insurance premiums, and allocates the other 80% to a peer-to-peer claims fund. In other words, groups of customers have a fund that amounts to 80% of the cost of all insurance policies that the customers purchased to be able to pay for their claims. Rather than selecting groups randomly, customers are grouped into claims funds based on a charity they support, and at the end of the year, in the event of unclaimed cash in the claims fund, the money is sent to the charity that those customers selected. Moreover, it takes place on a user-friendly app, and through use of AI rather than brokers to calculate the price of a policy and the value of a claim, it eliminates the hassle and cost of traditional insurers. This model is groundbreaking on several fronts. First, taking a flat fee removes the conflict of interest in most insurance


While Lemonade uses technology to turn renters’ and homeowners’ insurance from a necessary evil to a social good, Oscar Health uses technology to make healthcare simpler, more user-friendly, and more engaging, bringing ownership over one’s healthcare back to the consumer. Centered around a digital platform, Oscar offers comprehensible health insurance policies, using risk assessment algorithms to calculate the risk profiles of customers and subsequently the price of their insurance, and syncing with fitness monitors and offering discounts on premiums for getting a high step count. The insurance is also more efficient; as 91% of customers’ claims are paid automatically through algorithmic analysis, they typically pay claims in three to four days while traditional insurers take upwards of two weeks. Moreover, Oscar provides health care policies directly to individuals, families and small businesses, circumventing the complex policy of linking subsidized health insurance with employment, which about 155 million Americans currently have.


Oscar does not stop at providing more comprehensible health insurance; Oscar also walks customers through every interaction they have with the healthcare system, thereby making the entire healthcare industry less complicated and more user-friendly. For one, they provide customers with a six-person concierge team who can consult customers on their policies and advise them on the right doctors to contact for a certain problem. In addition, they have a 24-hour system of doctors on-call with whom you can set up a free 15-minute appointment. Helping diagnose and prescribe medication for issues from

"[Lemonade] has secured $180 million in funding… [Oscar Health] has now secured $1.3 billion in funding" the flu to skin conditions, the telemedicine service can reduce the cost of an episode of care for a condition like pink eye from $200 to $40 or $50, as the cost of in-person appointments is eliminated. Additionally, as Oscar possesses the customer’s medical history and constantly updates the profiles of customers when they interact with the service, it has an incredible wealth of data on its customers, much more so than other insurance providers. With an exorbitant amount of customer data, the service

can better understand the customer’s profile and can continue to make more refined policies and recommendations, which then creates a positive feedback cycle in which the customer wants to engage more with the service.

The Future of Insurance What does the future hold for the insurance industry? Is this just a fad that has a fleeting resonance with young, technologically-inclined millennials, or does it have the potential to truly disrupt the industry as we know it? According to a PwC survey on the future of the insurance industry, only 20% of respondents, all of whom were insurance company CEOs, believed that the traditional model and established players will continue to have a dominant presence in the industry. Meanwhile, 35% believed the players will change significantly in the next 5 to 10 years but the industry landscape will stay the same, and 44% believed the business model and players in the industry will change dramatically. Thus, insurance veterans are cognizant that the industry is changing, and many are wary that insurtech companies and other startups are going to take their place. Lemonade and Oscar do not appear to be losing steam anytime soon. In a market of 723,000 people with renters’ insurance in NYC, Lemonade captured 4.2% of the market just over two years after it was founded. Additionally, their market share among first time buyers is over 27%, showing that as more millennials and later those of Gen Z purchase renters’ insurance for the first time, Lemonade will increasingly take market share from traditional insurers. Moreover, Lemonade has expanded to 19 different states and the District of Columbia, and it sold $10 million in policies in 2017 alone. Lemonade has not only expanded its market share but also its purse: since its founding, it has secured $180 million in funding, with venture giants such as Sequoia Capital as key investors.

Similarly, Oscar Health now has 250,000 members, including individuals and small businesses, with the most customers in the 26 to 35 age-bracket. It is also generously backed by venture funds and has secured a total of $1.3 billion in funding, with Google’s parent company Alphabet investing $375 million in August 2018. Within a handful of years, both Oscar Health and Lemonade have made waves in a stagnant industry. Lemonade has established itself as an insurance company that fosters a symbiotic relationship with the consumer. It is an intuitive, cost effective, and time efficient service, and it strives for social good, just as the altruistic, purposeful millennials that form the bulk of its customer base. Oscar, meanwhile, has used technology to become a onestop-shop for all facets of the healthcare industry. Providing customers with comprehensible health insurance and collecting data on customers through their interactions with on-call doctors and the concierge team, Oscar is able to provide increasingly better solutions, which has made its customers more engaged in the service as a result. With unconventional business models and prioritization of enjoyable user experiences, these insurtech startups are challenging long-standing industry giants to innovate and leave their stacks of paperwork behind them. Illustrations by Wendy Ho




GLOBALIZING OUR WORLD After spending 18 years in the airline business, Rainey joined PayPal in 2015

John Rainey CFO and EVP of Global Customer Operations at PayPal On digitizing our financial lives, democratizing monetary services and having a global impact WITH HANNAH POULER BUSINESS TODAY FALL 2018



Business Today: Could you explain for our readers what your role at PayPal entails? Since joining the company in 2015, how has that role evolved? John Rainey: After spending 18 years in the airline business, most recently as EVP and CFO at United Airlines, I joined PayPal in 2015 and currently serve as the Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of Global Customer Operations. I joined at an exciting time as the company had just separated from eBay and my experience aligned with PayPal’s aspirations as a independent, publicly traded company. When I arrived at the company, PayPal was misunderstood by the market. Many people still thought of us as just a way to pay on eBay. I made it

include leading PayPal’s Global Customer Operations, which includes PayPal’s efforts to deliver on our promise of offering great services and experiences through our customer service centers around the world. BT: There was a lot of chatter in the business world about PayPal’s separation from eBay in 2015. What was the motivation behind the split? And was it always part of the longterm business plan to move on? JR: PayPal had grown beyond being only a way to pay on eBay. Our separation has enabled us to pursue and capture a huge addressable market by focusing on high growth parts of our business and having the ability to partner with many other merchants and marketplaces.

“As money becomes digital and the world moves to mobile technology, we are benefiting from strong tailwinds” one of my top priorities to go out to the investor community and explain the company’s value proposition and growth opportunity to our shareholders. It is important that investors and analysts understand the strength of our business model, our strategic business plan and the numerous growth opportunities ahead. PayPal is working to become the world’s largest open digital payments platform serving both merchants and consumers. As money becomes digital and the world moves to mobile technology, we are benefiting from strong tailwinds. To capture this opportunity, we are focused on creating digital and mobile solutions that make moving and managing money more accessible and affordable for our more than 250 million active accounts around the globe. In January, my role expanded to


In fact, since 2015, we’ve grown our business about 25% on average each year, in terms of the volume of our business, with eBay being only a fraction of that. BT: For college students, Venmo has become one of the most viral apps of our generation. With this service, what is your target consumer profile, and does it differ from that of traditional PayPal users? JR: Venmo has become the way millions of people in the U.S., particularly millennials, manage and move their money. A big driver of this engagement and what makes Venmo unique is the social aspect which resonates strongly with the millennial demographic. It’s why many users check their Venmo social feed many times every day. Venmo users love the service so

much, they also want to use it in many other ways, like shopping at their favorite stores, which we are beginning to enable. We’ve also recently issued a Venmo card to let people use Venmo offline. Interestingly, Venmo’s growth has been the similarity to PayPal’s evolution over time. Twenty years ago, PayPal started as a way for people to send money to each other before evolving into a way to pay when shopping online, first with eBay and then with many other merchants. BT: PayPal has recently acquired multiple companies, including Jetlore, HyperWallet, and iZettle. What was the strategy behind these acquisitions, and how do these diverse acquisitions fuel your long-term growth? JR: As part of our growth strategy, we’ve been quite acquisitive this year. Specifically, the strategy behind our acquisitions of HyperWallet and Jetlore was to strengthen our value proposition for our merchant customers. Our mission is to help small and medium businesses grow and thrive in the global digital economy. Similarly, our $2.2 billion acquisition of Swedish startup iZettle significantly expands our ability to help these businesses accept payments in stores, as well as through online sites and mobile apps. Supporting businesses and helping them connect to hundreds of millions of customers around the world online, in apps and in their stores makes PayPal a powerful partner for businesses around the globe And let me spend a moment talking about that, because I think it’s very important in the understanding of PayPal. One of the things that makes us unique from other payment platforms is that we have a global two-sided network, with almost 20 million merchants accepting PayPal and more than 230 million consumers using PayPal. It’s one thing to have a network of merchants accepting payments, but if there are no consumers willing to pay that way, it’s a low value to those merchants. Businesses want to have shoppers coming to their websites, apps and stores. And the flipside of that is you can have hundreds of millions of consumers that have a way they like to pay, but if it’s not accepted


by merchants, it’s of little value. Being able to connect consumers to merchants and give them a trusted and convenient way to transact is very important and one of PayPal’s biggest differentiators. BT: You’ve talked before about democratizing financial services worldwide. From the business side of things, what do you see as the benefit to reaching these potential consumers who don’t have access to a traditional bank account? JR: Historically, it has been very expensive for traditional financial institutions to reach the financially underserved population. An extreme example would be the scenario of a global bank trying to justify the expenses associated with building a bank branch in a remote part of West Africa. The fact remains there are roughly 2 billion financially underserved people in the world without many of the financial conveniences a lot of us take for granted, like a checking account, a savings account, or a credit card. However, 70% of this underserved population has a mobile device today, which enables us to put all the power of that hypothetical bank branch in the palm of their hands. As a global, digital platform, while we can serve the underserved population at a fraction of the cost of banks, there’s a quality of life element here too. For example, we own a company called Xoom, that allows customers to send money internationally to loved ones or to friends, in a very seamless and frictionless way. The process of receiving money through a wire the old-fashioned way is a burden and sometimes you have to wait in line for hours to get access to that money. Through Xoom, we are putting the power into their mobile device, simplifying the process and allowing them to go shop with PayPal by having that mobile wallet. BT: So do you think that companies like PayPal are doing more to potentially equalize a global economy than other, more traditional financial service companies?

JR: I think the opportunity is so great, that this is something that the financial services industry needs to work on together in a collaborative way. We are partnering with companies across our ecosystem to bring greater opportunities to our customers.

college, then I would go on to my working phase. But what I’ve realized is that true learning never stops—it’s a process of continual improvement, and I’ve learned as much or more since college as I did at college. As I look at my peers and the

“We are effectively raising the quality of life of people all across the world, by enabling them to have access to digital money” We are effectively raising the quality of life of people all across the world, by enabling them to have access to digital money. While the examples I mentioned have been more focused on the consumer side, if you’re a small business owner, this is also a tremendous opportunity. One of the segments of our business is lending to small businesses and very often, if you are in one of these underserved areas, lacking access to capital is an impediment to growth. Therefore, we are enabling the opportunity for growth of small businesses in the U.S., the UK and Australia by enabling them access to capital digitally. BT: You received a BBA and an MBA from Baylor University—how have your business degrees influenced your work and how you operate as an executive? JR: It was a really pivotal moment for me and I can still remember taking my first finance class at Baylor and the realization that I knew that this was a career I wanted to embark on. I really liked the idea of doing analysis and understanding finance and how strong financial management can drive a business. There are still things I learned at school that I apply every day at my job. I will also say that when I was in college, I had a notion that I would compartmentalize my life—my learning phase would be at

people who work with me, it’s those who are continually striving to learn more, to get better, and who never really think that they have it all figured out—are the ones who stand out in my career as the very best people that I’ve worked with. BT: Do you have any philosophies that guide you every day when you step into the office? JR: In your professional career, you will always have impediments or things in your way. But having a can-do attitude is almost self-fulfilling. A positive attitude and a belief that you can figure out a way is what I try to bring to work with me each day. I want to show up and give the very best version of myself and try to avoid falling into the trap of citing all the reasons that something will be difficult. I have two kids, and I always tell my team a story from when they were growing up. If you’ve ever been around a toddler, you’ve probably heard them whine “I can’t” when they’re learning to do something. And I used to always tell my kids when they were younger, “the person who says I can and the person who says I can’t are both right. Which one are you?” That is the attitude I try to bring to work. Photograph by PayPal





Building Bridges China’s Shift in Foreign Policy BY MAXWELL CHUNG


he Chinese Communist Party’s amendment to the Chinese Constitution, which removes the two-term limit for presidency, means that President Xi Jinping’s political and economic agenda is now increasingly relevant to the global community. The mandate allows President Xi to steer policy without time constraints and to root out dissent and corruption. The guiding ideology behind President Xi’s administration is his vision for the Chinese nation and people—the Chinese Dream (“Zhong Guo Meng”). The Chinese Dream is the rejuvenation of the nation to its historical state of political and economic brilliance. In order to achieve the Chinese Dream, China has turned to its bygone trade routes to bolster economic and political ties with its neighbors. At the cornerstone of China’s economic vision is the proposed $900 billion Silk Road Infrastructure Project. The goal of the project is to construct trade routes by land, stretching from China to the Near East and Europe, and by sea, to Africa and the Mediterranean. The plan is comprised of two parts. The first is the Silk Road Economic Belt, an infrastructural plan to connect Chinese cities to cities across the Near East and Eastern Europe via highways, bridges, railways, and power stations. The second is the 21st Century Maritime Silk

Road, a plan to revive a series of trade routes throughout the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean via ports and gas pipelines. Collectively, these propositions form what is known as the Belt and Road Initiative. But what remains most interesting about the Belt and Road Initiative is not

“The Chinese Dream is the rejuvenation of the nation to its historical state of political and economic brilliance” whether it will succeed or not, but the questions surrounding China’s road to riches: namely, how will the initiative be financed, and how will the global community receive China’s ambitions?

China’s ambitious financing has not gone unnoticed, nor uncriticized. On a bilateral basis, China has granted very generous loans to developing countries through state-owned enterprises. However, the nation has received heavy criticism for being an irresponsible lender, and many of its neighbors fear that China is creating a string of nations economically dependent on China. Nowhere is this more clear than in Sri Lanka, where the country failed to pay its $8 billion debt and was forced to give over the Hambantota Port to China for 99 years. Other than ensnaring debts, other nations, particularly those in Southeast Asia, are worried that economic partnerships come at the price of recognizing China’s territorial claims to the South China Sea. Despite these criticisms, Chinese State media is determined to paint a picture of win-win infrastructure deals that will help bring millions more out of poverty. Some nations are grateful for these proposed loans—especially those in Central Asia, where vast mineral wealth has yet to be fully utilized, and along the Mekong River, where creditors are rushing to develop the region’s infrastructure. In Cambodia, China is already the country’s biggest lender, and infrastructure wars between China and Japan have helped develop its infrastructure at preferential rates.




“China is creating its own institutions in response to its relative exclusion from U.S. institutions”

To read an interview with Dong-ik Lee, Director General of the Investiment Operations Department at AIIB, go to


Indeed, this win-win rhetoric is much more believable in the context of multilateral lending. On deals struck on a multilateral basis, China is forced to maintain high international standards in regards to which projects to pursue. China’s option for its borrowers to receive loans on a multilateral basis means that its borrowers are not solely indebted to China nor subject to China’s conditions. However, China’s lack of representation in the Bretton Woods institutions works against its ambitions to finance widespread infrastructural projects on a multilateral front. In Asia, both Japan and the United States benefit from the IMF, World Bank, and Asian Development Bank (ADB)—in which the two countries hold disproportionately large voting shares in comparison to their regional economic significance. On the other hand, China’s voting rights constitute only 6% in the IMF, 5% in the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development branch of the World Bank, and a stunning low of 5% in the ADB. With the odds stacked against China for preferential loans on a multilateral basis, China has worked to challenge the inequities of the Bretton Woods institutions by founding its own multilateral banks such as the New Development Bank (NDB) with Brazil, Russia, India, and South Africa, as well as the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). With both banks headquartered in China, the message is clear: China is creating its own institutions in response to its relative exclusion from U.S. institutions. And despite criticism from the U.S., these multilateral banks hold the same mission to help fund infrastructure and alleviate poverty. In terms of financing the Belt and Road Initiative, state owned enterprises and multilateral banks will only contribute a fraction of the financing. The primary brawn of the financing will come from China’s commercial and policy banks that have already pledged billions of dollars to infrastructure projects throughout the Belt and Road. Despite this, China’s dedication to infrastructure across

the region illustrates its commitment to reduce financial and geographical boundaries and to unify the region. Whether China will succeed in its ambitions to craft a more unified Asian economic landscape and develop infrastructure projects that benefit the region is yet to be seen. China faces many challenges in financing its ambitions and must confront substantial geopolitical opposition including competition to finance these projects. And as China, the United States, and Japan race one another to fund Asia’s developing countries, rates on loans across Asia will be lowered, and nations’ infrastructure will be developed. For developing nations, competition grants these countries the infrastructure they need, along with the leverage to decide which nations to borrow from. As Dr. Sok Siphana, who led the negotiations for Cambodia to its eventual acceptance to the WTO, stated, “Competition is good because now we can shop around.” China’s greatest competitors in the AsiaPacific region, the United States and Japan, are quick to label China as an irresponsible power and refuse to recognize the ways that new Chinese institutions may reveal flaws in modern lending. Indeed, many Chinese multilateral banks have vowed to cooperate with existing post World War II institutions in accomplishing their goal of eliminating poverty. In taking a more active role in global finance, China has shifted its foreign policy, and the international community should be aware of China’s attempts to take on the role of an assertive and responsible global power. Perhaps soon, more nations will be open to the possibility that China can help lead the way forward on an economic front to a more developed world. In reference to Napoleon’s famous words that “China is a sleeping lion… when she wakes she will shake the world,” Chairman Xi confidently declared, “The lion has already awakened, but it is a peaceful, amiable and civilized lion.” Illustrations by Wendi Yan

Following the silk road

A look at China’s proposed trade routes



The idea behind Teach for America came from Kopp’s senior thesis during her time as an undergraduate student at Princeton



Wendy Kopp

Founder and CEO of Teach for America and Former President of Business Today On the impact of her undergraduate years and teaching as a passion WITH AMANDA MORRISON Business Today: How did you come to your thesis topic, and did you expect your research to become the basis for Teach for America? Wendy Kopp: I actually thought of the idea of Teach For America during a Business Tomorrow conference! It was a conference I helped organize on improving education, and speakers were discussing the inequities and challenges facing urban and rural public schools in our country. There were student leaders from across the country at the conference who were saying, “We would love to teach in urban and rural areas.” At that moment, I wondered: why isn’t there a national corps that recruits our country’s most promising future leaders to commit two years to teach in low-income communities as aggressively as investment banks recruit them to commit two years to work on Wall Street? I couldn’t stop thinking about this idea, decided to propose it in my undergraduate thesis, and through my research it became all the more clear that this was an idea whose time had come! BT: You were prolific starting early in your undergraduate years, writing for Business Today and University Press Club. Did these experiences contribute at all to your post-grad

and entrepreneurial endeavors?

a sense of stability in these schools?

WK: When I started at Princeton, I thought I wanted to be a journalist, and now I’m so grateful for my experience as a writer and editor. Communication and writing skills are just so important in making things happen! Also, I worked for Business

WK: Teach For America develops lasting relationships with schools and many teachers remain in their schools beyond the two-year commitment, so most partnering schools have a strong group of corps members and alumni. We’re

“The best teachers I’ve seen are the most inspiring leaders I’ve ever known” Today in the summers because I needed to make money—and it was an incredible experience. I cold-called business people all over the country to sell ads and conference sponsorships and learned so very much—about how much money there is in the world, about how to access it, and about the power of perseverance! BT: Members of the TFA corps dedicate two years to teaching in underprivileged schools. With such a quick turnover, how does TFA maintain

working in the hardest-to-staff schools in the country and principals choose to partner with Teach For America because of corps members’ commitment and determination to make a difference. BT: Do you think anyone can be a teacher? WK: The best teachers I’ve seen are the most inspiring leaders I’ve ever known, which is one reason why Teach For America focuses on selecting individuals



SECTION Williamson has been running social media for Bumble since 2014, and has since worked her way to an executive position as the Head of Brand

“We need you to tackle society’s biggest problems now, to ask very important questions and pioneer the innovations that the rest of us are too “experienced” to think of” who have already demonstrated the kind of leadership necessary to make a real difference in the lives of children. The other reason we’re so selective is that we’re seeking out the people we believe will work throughout their lives to effect the policy changes, launch the innovations, and lead the changes—from within and outside the education system— that are necessary to enable all of our nation’s children to gain the education, support and opportunity to shape a better future for themselves and all of us. BT: What is your view on corporate philanthropy? Do you think business leaders have a responsibility to give back?


WK: I believe corporations have a huge role to play. We need governments, the non-governmental sector, and the private sector bringing their resources and energy to the table—and most importantly, we need students themselves and their parents demanding and leading the charge. BT: What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? WK: Seeing that the opportunities for children in urban and rural areas—not only in the United States but all around the world—are so much greater today than they were when I got started in this 30 years ago. Children are still facing extreme, urgent inequities and challenges, but collectively, along with our many, many allies, Teach

Kopp teaching at a school in Ghana during the summer of 2018

For America and all the 48 organizations that make up the global Teach For America network are making progress and it’s very motivating to see that. BT: Amidst a rush of recruitment and internships, undergraduates often express a sense of confusion about how to enter different fields in the workforce. Do you have any advice for college students who wish to pursue a less traditional job path? What is the role of TFA in that process? WK: We need you to tackle society’s biggest problems now, to ask very important questions and pioneer the innovations that the rest of us are too “experienced” to think of. Choosing to immerse yourselves in communities to tackle our country’s deep inequities through the transformative power of education, alongside a generation of peers in the U.S. and around the world who share your values and convictions and will be lifelong partners in changing things for the better—this is the path of no regrets. Photographs by Teach for America

Proudly Supporting the Entrepreneurial Spirit Since 1984

At Summit Partners, we believe our success is determined by the quality of our people and the teams with whom we collaborate – and an entrepreneurial mindset is at the heart of everything we do. We believe in the strength of #TheSummitPartnersNetwork. Founded in 1984 with a commitment to partner with and support exceptional entrepreneurs, Summit has since invested in over 475 companies. Today, our team of more than 200 professionals works collaboratively across a global platform.







Interconnectivity The Power of Accummulating Communication Technologies




“Accumulating compatible technologies is invaluable”


n a world increasingly saturated with communication technologies, innovations as commonplace today as an Apple iPhone are pushing traditional office jobs by the wayside through unprecedented levels of interconnectivity. Ambient coffee shops are replacing office buildings as workplaces of choice for the growing number of workers tied only to their laptops and a Wi-Fi signal. It’s not just physical workspaces that are altered; our concept of “work” today is different than it was in past generations. Remote work has sparked the rise of small online businesses and the “gig economy.” All of this is made possible by the unassuming technologies all around us, likely in your pocket or open in front of you right now. The revolutionary nature of today’s communication technologies stems directly from their joint utility. Accumulating compatible technologies is invaluable. While innovations like smartphones, laptops, mobile/internet networks, and “Internet of Things” technology are incredible inventions in their own right, their usefulness is multiplied exponentially when used in conjunction with each other. Smartphones have altered our conception of work far more drastically than the pager ever did, due to their seamless integration with other connective technologies like mobile networks and smart sensors. Employees can take meetings, write work correspondences, and utilize workrelated mobile applications at dizzying speeds. Furthermore, smartphones are most beneficial when coworkers are using complementary tools with matching tenacity. Mobile computing and wireless networks together reimagined the limits of the modern workplace; wireless hotspot technology pushed these limits to the edges of cellular service availability. More and more Americans each year

have reported working remotely, a trend likely to reverberate globally with the diffusion of communication technology around the world. Establishing home offices or working flexibly grants workers far more than the ability to help out at home or take off early for weekend getaways. Many experts argue that remote work actually boosts worker productivity. Studies show that remote employees are capable of working more efficiently and report higher levels of happiness. The business world is certainly aware of these productivity benefits, evidenced by the many internet articles and TED talks advocating for remote work. Just about any office function can now be done remotely, even carrying out international business trips. Companies like Beam sell robots for such purposes; their product is essentially a video conferencing screen mounted on a stand with wheels for navigation. Beyond helping established companies produce more efficiently than ever before, businesses once considered nonviable have flourished due to connective technological innovations. Entrepreneurs manage a variety of online businesses on the go, creating a new stratum of “businesspeople” building lucrative social media, videosharing, and gaming empires. A close childhood friend of mine fits this new mold; he discovered a passion for playing video games and sharing his gameplay online. While this would have amounted to a distracting habit in years past, the capacity of connective technologies to link people around the world allowed him to build a sizeable online following. He converted his audience into membership on a well-known gaming team, sponsorships, a house in Los Angeles, millions of social media followers, and ultimately, a fulltime job. As a businessman who manages his brand and multiple revenue streams,




The Evolution of Communication Technology The telephone was invented in the 19th century—here’s where we are now

1959 The word “pager” is coined by Motorola

Late 1990’s Two-way pagers are introduced, allowing message recipients to repspond directly from their devices

he’s working his dream job made possible only in today’s age of interconnectivity. With a new ability to provide specialized services all around the world from the comfort of one’s home, the workforce today is increasingly composed of independent contract workers who have temporary assignments. Freed from a set working location by connective technologies, individuals contract remotely or travel the world to visit clients. Around 20% of Americans today are contractors within this “gig economy,” and experts believe that contract workers could eventually represent half the population. There are, of course, positives and negatives to this work style. Contractors don’t receive employment benefits and aren’t guaranteed secure employment. Companies instead hire temporary workers to fill very specific roles, healthy for profit margins but threatening to full-time employees. What do interconnectivity-driven changes mean for businesses? Like any transitionary period, there will be those who resist and wish things to continue as they once did. Less technologicallyadept workers fear losing their jobs or having their work rendered obsolete. Others question whether constant interconnection is healthy for society. Whatever the criticism, technological resistors don’t deny that the future of work is poised to look drastically different.


2007 Apple releases the first iPhone

For the most part, those who ignore new, productivity-boosting technologies will fall behind. They will lose market share as they see competitors benefit, whether it be by hiring cheap, specialized

“We need to promote the global spread of communication technologies because the dynamic power of connection strengthens as more people use it” contract workers or attracting better talent by allowing flexible, remote working hours. Marketing strategies are shifting as technology users consume media anywhere and everywhere. Many traditional enterprises are buying into new media platforms like YouTube or

2014 Edward Snowden delivers a TED talk via a Suitable Tech Beam robot

Twitter, either utilizing these platforms themselves or purchasing ad sponsorships. How can technology advocates fully embrace the future of work? We can help those left behind by the work revolution adapt with technological re-training programs, making interconnectivity more universally beneficial. We need to promote the global spread of communication technologies because the dynamic power of connection strengthens as more people use it. Developing countries are not yet as interconnected as the wealthier ones; world citizens currently inaccessible through networks have unique skills to offer the global economy. We must keep innovating, as some of the greatest connective technologies are still to come. Comfortingly, some work aspects will remain familiar as the workplace takes a new form. Old skill sets won’t disappear completely. Some industries like retail are less conducive to remote work. Relationship management expertise is still vital for client-facing personnel even though meetings increasingly take place over audio or video conferencing. While many children idealize the life of a video game live streamer, the world will always need engineers and accountants. You just may not find them in an office for much longer. Illustrations by Eloise Schrier

Sponsors LEGACY



Aman Kapadia

SPONSORS JBG Smith Navigators Insurance Company

Canning Foundation NRG Energy General Dynamics

Nantahala Capital Partners Saliie Mae

Siemens Corporation Rosenthal & Rosenthal FONA International

Netspend Tommy Bahama

Abaxis Inc. Clint Severson Charitable The Genesis Prize Foundation The Hersh Foundation Berkshire Partners Oak Investment Partners Penn National Gaming

STRATIS IoT Axial Bank of America Digital Remedy Mitsubishi International Corporation The Scheetz Group Training the Street

Yext Abbott Downing Avant Emile Karafiol Smithfield Trust Alkami Technology Whim Hospitality Chegg

Full Cirlce Insights iPass The Spur Group WideOrbit

Symantec Armstrong Shaw Association Melville Mummert James Soldano Sterling Investment Partners Stephen Williams New Mountain Capital

Schwarzman Scholars Strock & Strock Open Arms Health Care Peter George Austin Saypol Turner Smith C.H. Douglas & Gray

BackBay Communication William Haynes Jim Roccas Canusa Corporation Evergreen Fibres, Inc. Kaity Kratsios Scott Seegers

Welton, Adriana Rios Steve Wunker Tom Perlmutter Nicholas Cajocaru-Durand Timothy Lyons

CONTRIBUTORS Analysis Group Bose Corporation Integra Life Scienc REX Shares, LLC Terex Corporation Federated Investors Foundation SonicWall

DONORS Wawa Wendell Family Foundation Cooley LLP 52 Capital Partners SGH Macro Advisors CWS Capital Partners TengoInternet



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Game Changers  

Business Today Fall 2018 50th Anniversary Issue

Game Changers  

Business Today Fall 2018 50th Anniversary Issue