Business Business analyst Business insurance International Business News Small Business Strategy Management

Elon Musk beats Jeff Bezos to become world’s richest person

Elon Musk, the outspoken entrepreneur behind Tesla Inc. and SpaceX, is now the richest person on the planet.

A 4.8% rally in the electric carmaker’s share price Thursday boosted Musk past Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a ranking of the world’s 500 wealthiest people.

The South Africa-born engineer’s net worth was $188.5 billion at 10:15 a.m. in New York, $1.5 billion more than Bezos, who has held the top spot since October 2017. As chief executive officer of Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX, Musk is also a rival to Bezos, owner of Blue Origin LLC, in the private space race.

The milestone caps an extraordinary 12 months for Musk. Over the past year his net worth soared by more than $150 billion in possibly the fastest bout of wealth creation in history. Fueling his rise was an unprecedented rally in Read the rest

Business Business analyst Business insurance International Business News Small Business Strategy Management

Vaccinating the world against COVID is off to a slow start. These firms think A.I. and blockchain could help

Vaccinating the global population against COVID-19 is one of the most immense distribution and logistical challenges humanity has ever faced. Some are hoping that artificial intelligence and blockchain technology can help with the task.

“This is about trying to solve the biggest data puzzle of our lifetime,” says Jason Kelley, who heads blockchain services for IBM.

So far, solving that puzzle has proved painstakingly slow. Only about 4 million people in the U.S.—just over 1% of the population—have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Worldwide, the progress is even more sluggish, with some countries yet to vaccinate any of their citizens. Even Israel, which has vaccinated the largest portion of its population so far, has given first jabs to just 12%.

The distribution of the COVID vaccine involves at least four separate but related problems: how much vaccine to ship where and when. That’s demand forecasting. … Read the rest

Business Business analyst Business insurance International Business News Small Business Strategy Management

Online lender Affirm to be valued as high as $9.2 billion in planned IPO

Affirm, which provides installment loans to online shoppers, is seeking to raise up to $934.8 million in an initial public offering, signaling last year’s record listings run is carrying over to 2021.

The San Francisco-based company said in a filing Tuesday that it planned to sell 24.6 million shares for $33 to $38 each. With the so-called green shoe shares, it is offering 28.2 million shares, the filing showed.

At the top of the range, Affirm would have a market value of $9.22 billion based on the outstanding shares listed in its filing. Including employee stock options and restricted share units, Affirm would have a valuation of more than $11 billion, the filing showed.

Its value could still change following discussions with potential investors on the roadshow for its IPO. The listing is expected later this month.

Affirm follows consumer technology companies including Airbnb. and DoorDash Inc. that propelled … Read the rest

Business Business analyst Business insurance International Business News Small Business Strategy Management

Health tech platform Color is a unicorn after new funding round values it at $1.5 billion

Health technology company Color today announced a $167 million Series D fundraising round that values the company at $1.5 billion.

The funding round, which brings the startup’s total funding to $278 million, was led by venture firm General Catalyst with participation from Viking Global Investors and funds managed by T. Rowe Price. Viking and T. Rowe also participated in a January 2020 funding round that raised $75 million.

Color has not disclosed a valuation with recent rounds, making this the first official confirmation that the company is a “unicorn,” a colloquial industry term for a private startup worth over $1 billion.

Color was founded in 2015 with a focus on gene testing. The company uses genetic data to advise patients about inherited health risks and connects them to health counselors to help them respond to those risks. In contrast to retail services like 23andMe, Color works directly with … Read the rest

Business Business analyst Business insurance International Business News Small Business Strategy Management

Why the U.S. needs a national climate investment fund

In recent weeks, we have witnessed the power of innovation to solve catastrophic problems. Most notably, we have seen the extraordinary human accomplishment of delivering vaccines within a year to counter the novel coronavirus, COVID-19—an achievement that was accelerated by the U.S. government’s Project Warp Speed. 

What many people may be less aware of is that across America and other global innovation centers, companies are striving to harness that same power to tackle climate change. Businesses of all sizes are toiling away to deliver products that together could dramatically increase the likelihood that our planet remains comfortably habitable. To cite some examples:

Read the rest
Business Business analyst Business insurance International Business News Small Business Strategy Management

The climate crisis led to record insurance payouts in 2020

COVID continues to cause severe economic distress, but natural disasters fueled by a warming planet also took their toll this year, causing record damage and displacing millions according to two new assessments of insurance claims in 2020.

Christian Aid, the relief arm of 41 churches in the U.K. and Ireland, ranked the 15 most destructive climate disasters of the year based on insurance losses. Cyclone Amphan, which hit the Bay of Bengal in May, was the most expensive single event, displacing 4.9 million people and costing $13 billion. Each of the top 10 caused at least $1.5 billion in damages, and five cost $5 billion or more. 

Because the price tag to insurers was higher in rich countries, Christian Aid noted, its report likely undercounts devastation to poorer countries. “South Sudan, for example, experienced one of its worst floods on record, which killed 138 people and destroyed the year’s … Read the rest

Business Business analyst Business insurance International Business News Small Business Strategy Management

Why ‘soft robots’ have NASA, doctors, and tech whizzes so excited

The appeal of “soft robots” lies in their flexibility and versatility.

NASA scientists envision them one day skittering across the surface of Mars. Others see them worming their way into the deepest recesses of the human body.

Yet another possibility, according to Georgia Tech assistant engineering professor Ellen Mazumdar, is that they could be used to sift through the wreckage of a building following an earthquake or fire.

Prosthetics? Sure. Exosuits, to facilitate recovery from injury or stroke? Why not?

Bend them, shape them, any-way-you-want them. Soft robots are made of the squishiest stuff, including nanomaterials, enabling them to approximate biological functions such as those of human muscles. It could be said, in fact, that these robots are nearly brought to life by nanomaterials.

And here’s the thing: Researchers are merely scratching the epidermis of soft robots. It is expected that the market for them will … Read the rest

Business Business analyst Business insurance International Business News Small Business Strategy Management

Everything to know about allergic reactions to COVID vaccines

Like all new drugs, the Covid-19 vaccines that have been authorized in Western countries come with some safety concerns and side effects. Many people who’ve received the first two shots deployed, one from Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE and another from Moderna Inc., have experienced fever, headache and pain at the site of the injection. These side effects generally disappear quickly. As many as 10 people have had a serious allergic reaction, called anaphylaxis, to the vaccines.

1. What is anaphylaxis?

The body fights foreign invaders through a variety of mechanisms that include making protective proteins called antibodies, releasing toxins that kill microbes, and marshaling guardian cells to battle the infection. As in any conflict, sometimes the effort to repel an infection can itself be damaging. In rare cases, it can produce runaway inflammation and swelling of tissues in a serious allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. As much as 5%Read the rest

Business Business analyst Business insurance International Business News Small Business Strategy Management

NFL player ‘paid in Bitcoin’ as price nears $30,000

Carolina Panthers offensive tackle Russell Okung boasted on Tuesday that he is now receiving half of his $13 million NFL salary in Bitcoin. The arrangement involves Okung using a startup that converts payroll direct deposits into cryptocurrency and comes as Bitcoin shatters new price records.

Okung used Twitter to declare he was being “paid in Bitcoin,” framing the development as a fulfillment of a 2019 wish.

The price of Bitcoin currently floats around $28,000—a once unthinkable mark for the digital currency, which surpassed the $20,000 milestone for the first time only two weeks ago. Bitcoin is famously volatile and has experienced numerous dramatic crashes, including in 2018 when it dropped to around $3,000 after hitting $19,000 months before.

But Okung is hardly the first professional athlete to embrace digital currency. During the 2017 bull run, for instance, boxer Floyd … Read the rest

Business Business analyst Business insurance International Business News Small Business Strategy Management

Digital patient vaccination records could be the foundation for a ‘vaccine passport’

Patient health information platform Healthvana has partnered with Los Angeles County to provide COVID-19 vaccination tracking to recipients. Primarily, the system will send patients follow-up reminders to return for the required second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.

But Healthvana also says its records create a verifiable proof of vaccination. That proof, sometimes discussed as a “vaccine passport,” could allow safer protocols for public gatherings or other settings where transmission risk is high as the vaccine becomes more widely available.

In Los Angeles, where the spread of the novel coronavirus has reached crisis levels, the Healthvana records will supplement paper reminder cards given to recipients of a first vaccine dose. Though vaccine records are also kept by medical facilities, county officials tell Bloomberg that medical administrators don’t have the capacity to track the timing of millions of necessary follow-up doses and inform patients directly.

That matters because the … Read the rest