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Away CEO dubs investigation into the company ‘deliberate lies’

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Hi @everyone!

As we welcome Stuart to Away and kick off a pivotal year, I’m excited to share the leadership plan we’re implementing to position the company for continued growth and success. We recognize that our transition announcement in December created more questions than answers and know that clarity in how @jen, @Stuart, and I will operate as leaders is essential to the company’s success and important to how you conduct your jobs on a daily basis.

The inaccurate reporting that was published in December about our company unleashed a social media mob—not just on me, but also on many of you. In an attempt to protect the company, we announced something that had been planned for a bit further into the future: that Stuart would join as CEO and that I would move into a new role as Executive Chairman, intended as an active leadership role alongside Jen and Stuart. Unfortunately, this was misinterpreted in the media as me leaving Away, and has caused more confusion than clarity (both internally and externally). So, let me clear that up: I am not leaving the company.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve all had the opportunity to reflect on what transpired. We hired lawyers from Clare Locke LLP, the country’s top defamation law firm, and they have identified deliberate lies and distortions in The Verge’s reporting. We will be making a decision about our legal options after The Verge responds fully to our demands for retractions and corrections. In addition, I think it’s important to stress that while the Verge reporting fundamentally misrepresented our company, we, like any company, can always be improving ourselves through building an even stronger culture. As you know from our robust discussions around our people and culture roadmap, we have many things in the works to continually improve the ways we communicate and work with each other, and I’m excited for those to come to life.

I remain as committed as ever to my active role in the day-to-day operations of the company. Reflecting that commitment, I will serve as the company’s co-CEO alongside Stuart. This is the exact working arrangement Stuart, Jen, and I had envisioned when we announced he was joining, but the shift in titles will hopefully add more clarity for all of you as well as for our external partners. The three of us are excited by the opportunity to work closely together as Stuart learns the unique intricacies of our business.

We will divide the business into eleven business areas, with each of us overseeing the areas where we can uniquely add the most value:

Jen

Product Design

New Categories

Steph

Legal

Merchandising

Jen & Steph together

Marketing (including Acquisition, Brand, Creative, Customer & Community, Communications & Corporate Affairs, Partnerships, Product Marketing, Retention)

Stuart

Digital & Technology

Finance, Data, and Strategy

International

People & Culture

Retail

Supply Chain

We will be working completely in tandem as we lead the business through this next phase. Similarly to how Jen and I have worked together since the company’s inception, we will each manage the areas of the business we oversee fairly independently, but will share and align with each other on any major decisions. And we’ll work in partnership with all of you to execute on our plans and continue to build this great company.

2020 is set up to be a big year for the company. The leadership transition plan that begins this week is intended to help ensure that everyone at Away has the clarity and context they need to thrive in their role. We have meaningful, exciting work ahead of us, and Stuart’s world-class expertise and leadership, combined with the context and vision that Jen and I have as founders, will be critical to bring our plans to life.

Sometimes, it’s hard to believe what this team has built in less than five years. Your tireless passion for creating a community, products, and experiences centered around our customers is what’s at the core of our success, and it’s laid an incredible foundation for what’s to come. I am so invigorated and inspired for the future of Away and of this team: we are more in it together than ever, and I couldn’t be prouder.”

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Futurist Amy Webb explains why COVID-19 is forcing businesses to ask new questions about data, trust

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The COVID-19 pandemic has businesses driving on ice and too willing to slam on the breaks says, Amy Webb. This Thursday, the noted author and CEO of the Future Today Institute spoke with Debbie Gamble, chief officer of innovation labs and new ventures at Interac, in a fireside chat jointly hosted with Elevate about data, trust, and how businesses can respond to the current pace of technology innovation induced by the pandemic.

“The companies that get through this, that don’t just survive, but wind up thriving, have their eye on the farther future.”

According to Webb, the technological disruption caused by COVID-19 has presented businesses with a new set of challenges and opportunities, particularly with regard to how they approach data. For example, with a new surge in demand for virtual health solutions, new questions have arisen about how health data is collected and managed to ensure privacy is protected.

Webb recounted a conversation in which a prominent CEO expressed excitement for a solution that could immediately test employees for illness each day before starting work, rather than considering issues regarding privacy protection and data ownership risks that could arise with such a technology.

“Data itself is not a panacea,” Webb said. “The problem is that as our systems become more complex, we tend to pull back. And the problem with this is that these very same systems that mine, refine, optimize our data, are also making decisions about us.”

Webb said just as consumers need to be aware of how their data interacts with the technology they use, businesses must also not push data governance to the bottom of the priority list, and should begin asking questions that go beyond the surface-level value proposition of collecting and storing data.

“Yes, you can leverage data to expand your business. But you also really need to think hard about trust, and about data hygiene and risk and making sure that the data that you are collecting are being put to good use,” Webb said. “They’re big questions that we’re going to have to ask going forward, even today.”

Some key questions on data businesses should consider more deeply, Webb said, include: who owns the data, who scraped the data, and is there algorithmic accountability? She added that risk modelling and data scrubbing are things that tech companies are actually disincentivized from doing for financial reasons, but prioritizing data is critical in the current era.

Businesses that want to thrive can’t “slam the breaks”

Webb noted that the COVID-19 pandemic was only a catalyst for the changes being seen, with trends such as wearables that collect biometric data and collect health information already in motion.

“These were already things that we were tracking, and because of COVID, now we’re seeing a big, quick shift,” she said.

Webb also observed that in times where change is happening at an accelerated rate, many companies become myopic. Their first reaction is often to “slam on the brakes” instead of slowing down, keeping an eye on the future, and planning incrementally.

“The companies that get through this, that don’t just survive, but wind up thriving, have their eye on the farther future,” Webb said. “And that farther future, where they’re trying to go, means that they are slowing things down.”

Webb likened the business community’s response to COVID-19 to cars driving on ice. She said although the first reaction is to slam on the brakes, the decision with the best likelihood of success involves slowing down and recalibrating.

For companies, she said, this means not making a few decisions once a quarter, and not conducting future planning just once a year. Rather, looking to the future should be an always-on process, with incremental decisions.

“These characteristics were always important, but they have never been more important than they are right now,” Webb said. “If you know that, the reality is that oftentimes catastrophe can be a great catalyst for change.”

BetaKit is an Elevate media partner.



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Potential COVID-19 exposure at Regina business and on Regina Transit

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The Saskatchewan Health Authority is notifying the public that an individual who tested positive for COVID-19 visited the following business in Regina and rode Regina Transit on the following routes when the individual was likely infectious on the following dates:

The person was at the Golden Mile Superstore on Albert Street on Sept. 12 from 4:30-5:30 p.m., Sept. 14 from 12:30-12:45 p.m. and Sept. 16 from 3-3:30 p.m.

This person was also on Regina Transit on the following dates and times:  

  • Sept. 7 Route 9 (south to east) – 1-2 p.m.;
  • Sept. 8 Route 7 (south to east) – 1:50-2:50 p.m.;
  • Sept. 8 Route 7 (east to south) – 9:30-10:30 p.m.;
  • Sept. 10 Route 7 (south to east) – 1:30-2:30 p.m.;
  • Sept. 10 Route 7 (east to south) – 9:30-10:30 p.m.;
  • Sept. 11 Route 7 (south to east) – 4-5 p.m.;
  • Sept. 11 Route 7 (east to south) – 9:30-10:30 p.m.;
  • Sept. 13 Route 9 (south to east) – 1:20-2:20 p.m.;
  • Sept. 14 Route 9 (south to downtown) – 10:30 – 10:45 a.m.;
  • Sept. 14 Route 40 (south) – 12 noon – 12:20 p.m.;
  • Sept. 14 Route 7 (south to east) – 3-4 p.m.; and
  • Sept. 14 Route 7 (east to south) – 9:30-10:30 p.m.

Public Health officials are advising individuals who were at this business location or on these Regina Transit routes on the specified dates during the specified times to immediately self-isolate if they have had or currently have symptoms of COVID-19 and to call HealthLine 811 to arrange for testing.

All other individuals who are not experiencing symptoms should self monitor for 14 days. It is important to note that individuals may develop symptoms from two to 14 days following exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19.

© Copyright Estevan Mercury



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Billionaire Chuck Feeney achieves goal of giving away his fortune | Business

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Chuck Feeney has achieved his lifetime ambition: giving away his $8bn (£6bn) fortune while he is still around to see the impact it has made.

For the past 38 years, Feeney, an Irish American who made billions from a duty-free shopping empire, has been making endowments to charities and universities across the world with the goal of “striving for zero … to give it all away”.

This week Feeney, 89, achieved his goal. The Atlantic Philanthropies, the foundation he set up in secret in 1982 and transferred almost all of his wealth to, has finally run out of money.

As he signed papers to formally dissolve the foundation, Feeney, who is in poor health, said he was very satisfied with “completing this on my watch”. From his small rented apartment in San Francisco, he had a message for other members of the super-rich, who may have pledged to give away part of their fortunes but only after they have died: “To those wondering about Giving While Living: try it, you’ll like it.”

Feeney, who gave most of his money away in secret, said he hoped more billionaires would follow his example and use their money to help address the world’s biggest problems.

“Wealth brings responsibility,” he often said. “People must define themselves, or feel a responsibility to use some of their assets to improve the lives of their fellow humans, or else create intractable problems for future generations.”

Christopher Oechsli, the president and chief executive of The Atlantic Philanthropies, said Feeney would not preach his views to other members of the global super-rich: “But he would scratch his head and say ‘how many yachts or pairs of shoes do you need? What is it all this wealth accumulation about, when you can look about you and see such tremendous needs’.”

Oeschsli said Feeney would not criticise other people for not giving more “but he would be dumbfounded – what is all that wealth about if you’re not going to do good with it?”

He said the one-time $8bn man would encourage the likes of Jeff Bezos, the Amazon founder and world’s richest person who has an estimated $186bn fortune, to “pick a global problem that interests you and invest your wealth and get involved”.

Feeney was influenced by Andrew Carnegie’s essay The Gospel of Wealth, with its declaration that “the millionaire will be but a trustee for the poor”.

“I have always empathised with people who have it tough in life,” Feeney said in a rare interview with Ireland’s RTE in 2010. “And the world is full of people who don’t get enough to eat.”

Secret Billionaire: The Chuck Feeney story.

Feeney has lived a remarkably frugal lifestyle, not owning a car or home, and only one pair of shoes. He was known for flying only in economy class, even when members of his family and colleagues would travel in business class on the same plane.

Oeschsli, who has worked for Feeney for more than 30 years, said his boss had once tried to live a life of luxury but it didn’t suit him. “He had nice places [homes] and nice things. He tried it on and it wasn’t for him,” Oeschsli said.

“He doesn’t own a place, doesn’t own a car. The stories of his frugality are true: he does have a $10 Casio watch and carry his papers in a plastic bag. That is him. That’s what he felt comfortable with, and that’s really who Chuck has been.”

It was in the early 1980s when his Duty Free Shoppers (DFS) Group empire was raking in huge amounts of money, that Feeney decided he would give it all away. He secretly transferred his shares in the company to the Atlantic Philanthropies. “What am I going to do with it [all the money],” he recalled thinking. “Like many of the wealthy people today they have [so much] money that they wouldn’t be able to spend it.”

His attitude to money is in stark contrast to his DFS co-founder, Robert Miller, the 293rd richest person in the world, who has a $6bn fortune. Miller has luxury homes in Hong Kong, New York, Paris and Gstaad, Switzerland, as well the 14,500-hectare (35,800 acres) Gunnerside estate country park in Yorkshire. Miller has three socialite daughters: crown princess Marie-Chantal of Greece, Alexandra Miller, and Pia Getty.

Miller and Feeney have not spoken since the latter sold his stake in DFS to luxury goods firm LVMH in 1996. A dispute with Miller over the sale led to Feeney’s once-secret philanthropy being exposed in the run-up to a court challenge. DFS Group operates more than 420 duty-free boutiques at 11 international airports.

Over the years, Feeney has given more than $3.7bn to higher education institutions, including almost $1bn to Cornell University, where he studied hotel administration for free under the GI bill after service as a US air force radio operator during the Korean war.

Feeney has also donated $870m to human rights groups (including $62m in grants to groups campaigning to end the death penalty in the US, and $76m to grassroots campaigns supporting the passage of Obamacare.)

The son of immigrants from County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, he has also donated $1.9bn to projects in the country, as well as the Republic, where he was instrumental in the founding of the University of Limerick. He also helped behind the scenes during the peace process.

In 2003 he joined the protest march through London against the invasion of Iraq.

Feeney has five children, four daughters and one son, with his first wife Danielle. All the children were instructed to work summers as waiters or chambermaids. He later married Helga, a former secretary.

Feeney’s generosity spurred Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to establish the Giving Pledge, under which the world’s richest people commit to giving away at least half their wealth to charity.

Gates credited Feeney with creating a path for other philanthropists to follow. “I remember meeting him before starting the Giving Pledge,” Gates said. “He told me we should encourage people not to give just 50% but as much as possible during their lifetime. No one is a better example of that than Chuck. Many people talk to me about how he inspired them. It is truly amazing.”

Buffett described Feeney as “my hero and Bill Gates’ hero – he should be everybody’s hero”.

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