Month: September 2019

Facebook has acquired Servicefriend, which builds ‘hybrid’ chatbots, for Calibra customer service

As Facebook prepares to launch its new cryptocurrency Libra in 2020, it’s putting the pieces in place to help it run. In one of the latest developments, it has acquired Servicefriend, a startup that built bots — chat clients for messaging apps based on artificial intelligence — to help customer service teams, TechCrunch has confirmed.

The news was first reported in Israel, where Servicefriend is based, after one of its investors, Roberto Singler, alerted local publication The Marker about the deal. We reached out to Ido Arad, one of the co-founders of the company, who referred our questions to a team at Facebook. Facebook then confirmed the acquisition with an Apple-like non-specific statement:

“We acquire smaller tech companies from time to time. We don’t always discuss our plans,” a Facebook spokesperson said.

Several people, including Arad, his co-founder Shahar Ben Ami, and at least one other indicate that they now work at Facebook within the Calibra digital wallet group on their LinkedIn profiles. Their jobs at the social network started this month, meaning this acquisition closed in recent weeks. (Several others indicate that they are still at Servicefriend, meaning they too may have likely made the move as well.)

Although Facebook isn’t specifying what they will be working on, the most obvious area will be in building a bot — or more likely, a network of bots — for the customer service layer for the Calibra digital wallet that Facebook is developing.

Facebook’s plan is to build a range of financial services for people to use Calibra to pay out and receive Libra — for example, to send money to contacts, pay bills, top up their phones, buy things and more.

It remains to be seen just how much people will trust Facebook as a provider of all these. So that is where having “human” and accessible customer service experience will be essential.

“We are here for you,” Calibra notes on its welcome page, where it promises 24-7 support in WhatsApp and Messenger for its users.

Screenshot 2019 09 21 at 23.25.18

Servicefriend has worked on Facebook’s platform in the past: specifically it built “hybrid” bots for Messenger for companies to use to complement teams of humans, to better scale their services on messaging platforms. In one Messenger bot that Servicefriend built for Globe Telecom in the Philippines, it noted that the hybrid bot was able to bring the “agent hours” down to under 20 hours for each 1,000 customer interactions.

Bots have been a relatively problematic area for Facebook. The company launched a personal assistant called M in 2015, and then bots that let users talk to businesses in 2016 on Messenger, with quite some fanfare, although the reality was that nothing really worked as well as promised, and in some cases worked significantly worse than whatever services they aimed to replace.

While AI-based assistants such as Alexa have become synonymous with how a computer can carry on a conversation and provide information to humans, the consensus around bots these days is that the most workable way forward is to build services that complement, rather than completely replace, teams.

For Facebook, getting its customer service on Calibra right can help it build and expand its credibility (note: another area where Servicefriend has build services is in using customer service as a marketing channel). Getting it wrong could mean issues not just with customers, but with partners and possibly regulators.

Viewers still using TiVo will soon see ads before their recordings

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The digital TV recording company TiVo is back in the spotlight with some upcoming changes and new products. 

TiVo had its heyday back in the early 2000s before DVR and streaming were everywhere, but it still has a few million subscribers. Those viewers will soon be subjected to ads playing before their TV recordings. 

It’s a bit ironic for the company that gained popularity for letting you scrub through ads during TV shows and programs. On its website, TiVo still lists this as a benefit: “[We] give you the power to skip ads.”

According to an industry news outlet, the ads will go out to all users with the latest software version known as TiVo Experience 4, but will be skippable. That’s a relief. But users aren’t too happy. On a TiVo online forum one user wrote, “If they start doing this to me I’m out. No way they’re forcing me to watch ads on a device I paid almost $1,000 for with lifetime service.” Read more…

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Want to crush competitors? Forget SoftBank, Blackstone suggests; it can write $500 million checks, too

Back in January, Blackstone — the investment firm whose assets under management surpassed a jaw-dropping half a trillion dollars earlier this year — quietly began piecing together a new, growth equity platform called Blackstone Growth, or BXG. Step one was hiring away Jon Korngold from General Atlantic, where he’d spent the previous 18 years, including as a managing director and a member of its management committee.

Step two has been for Korngold, who is responsible for running the new program, to build a team, which he has been doing throughout the year, bringing in “people who speak the language of Blackstone,” he says, including from TCV, Andreessen Horowitz, Carlyle, Vista Private Equity, NEA, and SoftBank .

Apparently, the group is now ready for business. It has already closed on two deals from existing pools of capital with Blackstone, including acquiring outright the mobile ad company Vungle. According to Korngold, two more term sheets “are being signed imminently.”

We talked with him last week for more information about what the group is shopping for, what size checks it is willing to write, and which firms it views as its biggest rivals for deals (and more). Our chat has been edited for length and clarity.

TC: You’ve been hiring throughout the year people who have large-scale growth equity backgrounds. Are many of them women?

JK: Blackstone is one of the most diverse organizations [in terms of] gender or ethnicity. In general, it’s a huge priority for the firm and within our group of 20 people, 40 percent are female, a number we hope to get to 50 percent. Hiring is still in process, but it’s a really healthy culture.

TC: How many people does Blackstone employ altogether?

JK: There are 2,600 altogether across 24 offices.

TC: Is your group investing a discreet pool of capital?

JK: At some point, we’ll have a dedicated pool of capital, but as a firm, we’ve been investing in growth equity for some time [so have relied on other funds within Blackstone to date].

TC: There’s no shortage of growth equity in the world right now. What is Blackstone building that’s so different?

JK: The sheer scale of the operation is different. We have nearly 100 operating professionals — employees of Blackstone — who were hired because they are functional experts — from pricing experts to process engineering experts to human capital and procurement and digital marketing experts — and who can advise our companies.

Also, Blackstone can holistically assist a company through [our] growth equity and real estate and procurement and debt [groups] and other related infrastructure support, enabling companies to fight way above their weight class.  We have 600,000 people across our portfolio, and that provides an interesting opportunity for our companies to cross pollinate [and to cross-sell to] one another.

Unlike most growth equity firms, we also have a significant number of data scientists who do three things: identify proprietary signals across asset classes to help instruct where we should be hunting; help our companies monetize their data; and help us in our diligence. They’ll access raw data feeds and almost see the matrix, if you will.

TC: How many data scientists are we talking about?

JK: A couple dozen [across Blackstone].

TC: Blackstone must be competing against fast-growing tech companies for data scientists. How do you convince them that work for an investing giant is the better gig?

JK: If you’re an intellectually curious individual, there are so many signals [coming through Blackstone] that it’s almost a proxy for the world. It’s like manna from heaven. It’s not like they’re doing a single-threaded approach. The nature of the challenges across our companies is so vast and so varying that whether you’re looking at a fast-growing retailer or a cell phone tower in another country,  the nature of the tasks is always changing.

TC: SoftBank seems to have shaken things up a bit when it came on to the scene, given the size checks it is writing. Your boss, Steven Schwarzman, who recently talked with us about this bigger new push into growth equity, made sure to note that there are few organizations that can write $500 million checks.

JK: [Laughs.] Everyone in Silicon Valley wants to talk about SoftBank. We celebrate a lot of what SoftBank has done. They’ve validated the thesis that there’s an opportunity for growth equity on a scale that hasn’t traditionally been available.

It’s similar to the way we’re set up. SoftBank was never meant to compete with the venture community; they’re competing with the capital markets, and as private companies look to stay private longer market, SoftBank wants to support their development.

TC: And . . .

JK: I think the reality is that a lot of businesses have unproven business models and unit economics, and they’re garnering massive amounts of capital from different constituents. It’s less about who is staying private longer but are they sustainable over the long run, whether public or private. I think a lot of companies right now now that have unproven business models have been flooded by cash at too small a scale where they aren’t ready to handle it, and it masks weaknesses.

TC: Where is that most acute, in your view?

JK: I see that at the smaller growth equity phase — the $25 million to $150 million [per firm per check] range — where most growth equity resides because you have every VC firm there now. Many of the growth funds that have moved downstream. You also have crossover funds like DST and Coatue and Tiger, along with corporate venture capital. That huge flood of capital has created these massive valuations and it has  compressed the due diligence involved.

If you look at Lyft and Uber — and Snap was in this category — the market is starting to speak. Public market shareholders are willing to give you the benefit of the doubt for a while but not indefinitely. You can’t feed the machine for growth’s sake.

TC: So what type of deals are you searching out?

JK: We won’t step into a situation where unit economics aren’t proven from day one. You won’t see us in a company that’s selling $1 for 80 cents and hoping someday that works. We’re Inherently more binary in profile. We’re capital-preservation minded while looking for asymmetric upside, and that’s where we have a disproportionate advantage. You’ll see us do deals where we can put our thumb on the scale, because of our real estate holdings or buyout assets or because portfolio for help with procurement costs or insurance or R&D or a company’s go-to-market strategy.

TC: What have you done that proves all these bells and whistles make a difference? 

JK: We have a couple of signed deals, including [the mobile ad company] Vungle [for a reported $750 million-ish], though we’re more often looking for growth-equity minority ownership positions. [Think] companies that are looking for a partner and not an owner. We’ll do growth buyouts but the vast majority will be significant minority positions.

We have a couple of other deals that will be signed imminently that we can’t discuss just yet.

TC: Are you hoping to take these companies public? Flip them to another private equity firm? Relatedly, do you have any thoughts about the public market and whether more companies should be going out?

JK: We’ll only look to an IPO if there’s a reason for it. Oftentimes, companies shouldn’t be public; sometimes, they should be, including if they need an acquisition currency or [to better establish their] branding. But the idea of, let’s rush to the door [is not our style].

TC: Who are your most direct competitors? Not Vista Private Equity, since it seems to prefer buying companies whole.

JK: Vista is going exclusively for control buyouts, massive turnarounds. It descends upon a company and says, ‘This is the playbook you will follow.’ It also uses a lot of leverage, where the vast majority or our [deals] are un-levered. We don’t use much debt. Vista and Silver Lake are much more competitors with each other.

TC: KKR then? Carlyle? 

KR: They’re also multi-asset managers, but as it relates to growth equity, we’ve really found ourselves in slightly more rarefied air. Blackstone has demonstrated that it can use its scale to create an operational advantage, and virtually no other company — or few — can contemplate checks like we can.

TC: What do you want for these checks, other than a minority position? How involved are you and what size stake, exactly, are you aiming to buy?

JK: We want to have a relevant voice, so we want to be in the boardroom, but there is no target range. It can be 10 or 20 or 30 percent. It can be 80 percent. Ideally you want to be the main outside pool of capital along with management team.

YouTube walks back changes to verification policy after outcry

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YouTube’s CEO is once again apologizing to the service’s top users following a massive backlash over changes to its verification policy.

One day after announcing that it was ditching the checkmarks and notifying many users that they were no longer eligible for verification, the company is walking back those changes.

“We completely missed the mark,” the company said in an updated blog post published Friday. 

“Channels that already have the verification badge will now keep it and don’t have to appeal. Just like in the past, all channels that have over 100,000 subscribers will still be eligible to apply. We’ll reopen the application process by the end of October.” Read more…

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What Is Relationship Addiction and How to Recognize It

Most of us would say we would prefer to be in a relationship rather than be alone. However, not all relationships are created equal. There are those that are healthy and those that aren’t. Being alone is actually better in some cases, especially if your other option is being in an unhealthy or abusive relationship.

But there are those who would still choose the unhealthy relationship over being alone, even if it’s detrimental to their happiness and health. Or those that swing from one relationship to the next, refusing to end one unless another has begun. Each of these people very likely suffers from relationship addiction.

Relationship addiction can be difficult to recognize, especially for the person suffering from it. Most of the time, they don’t see their behaviors as unhealthy. They may claim to be in love or to be following their heart. The truth is, however, that there are underlying issues that are pushing them to do all they can to avoid ever being alone.

What Relationship Addiction Can Look Like

what is a relationship addiction

A person dealing with relationship addiction can find it nearly impossible to function without being part of a romantic relationship. Left on his own, he may feel overwhelmingly lonely or incomplete. In his mind, he exists to be half of a whole, rather than being whole on their own.

This addiction typically manifests in one of two ways:

1. Relationship hopping. Relationship hoppers will meet someone, get intensely involved, and then, generally within months, meet someone else and break things off. This cycle will repeat itself over and over as they move from one person to another. The relationship hopper is constantly looking for the “one” who makes their life complete. They are willing to bank all their happiness on someone else’s presence and influence.

2. Refusal to leave an unhealthy situation. The other way relationship addiction can manifest is when a person fails to see and change an abusive or unhealthy situation. These people have their identity so tied to their relationship that the idea of leaving is nearly unfathomable – even if that means they suffer. And when these relationship addicts do find the strength to leave, they will often go back. They don’t feel like they can function normally outside of the relationship. This cycle can repeat as well. All the arguments, break-ups, getting back together, repeat.

People in either one of these categories can have a very limited sense of self and identity. They don’t know how to exist outside of a relationship. They often lose interest and connection to family, friends, hobbies, and even their jobs. Overtime, this can lead to feelings of isolation and depression.

Often they are also prone to confusing sex with love, assuming that sexual interest is the same as real and deep feelings of connection. Unfortunately, for many relationship addicts, this is a mistake. Frequently, their partner doesn’t share the same level of investment in the relationship. When this difference becomes clear, it can have significant detrimental consequences on the relationship addict’s mental state.

See Also: 10 Red Flags to Consider Before Getting Serious in a Relationship

Why Relationship Addiction Happens

relationship addiction

Relationship addicts don’t generally recognize that there is a problem. They feel like their goal of finding love and a happy relationship is the same as anyone else’s. What they don’t understand is that the underlying issues and motivators for their approach are different and unhealthy.

Most of the time, relationship addicts are struggling with self-esteem and intimacy issues. This can be due to things from their childhood and family environment, traumatic experiences in earlier romantic relationships or deeper mental health issues. These circumstances will have defined their idea of a “normal” relationship or given them an inaccurate view of what they feel they need and deserve from a partner.

Occasionally, especially in the case of relationship hoppers, the addict may be a narcissist and continually seeking partners who will validate their feelings of grandiosity and entitlement. In these cases, the addict can cause pain and harm to their partner as well, even to the point of making the relationship abusive.

How you help a person who is suffering with relationship addiction will depend on the factors that caused the behavior. Like any addict though, they may not be able to change without outside help, especially if they don’t recognize the depth of their problem.

Whatever the reasons are, wanting to be part of a relationship at nearly any cost is unhealthy and won’t result in a long-lasting and happy relationship.

See Also: How to Get Rid of Relationship Insecurities

The post What Is Relationship Addiction and How to Recognize It appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

An explosive breach of contract lawsuit against former Sequoia Capital partner Michael Goguen has been dropped

Three-and-a-half years ago, a lawsuit hit the San Mateo, Ca. county courthouse that briefly attracted the attention of the worldwide venture capital community given its salacious nature. The defendant: longtime VC Michael Goguen, who’d spent 20 years with Sequoia Capital in Menlo Park, Ca. The plaintiff: a former intimate who described him through the filing as a “worse predator than the human traffickers.” She said in the filing that she would know, having become a “victim of human trafficking” at age 15 when she was “brought to America in 2001,” then “sold as a dancer to a strip club” in Texas, which is where she says first encountered Goguen.

What she wanted from the lawsuit was money that she said was owed to her by Goguen: $40 million over four installments that the lawsuit stated were for “compensation for the sexual abuse and [a sexual] infection she contracted from him.” According to her suit, Goguen agreed to these terms, paying Baptiste a first installment of $10 million before refusing to make further payments.

At the time, Goguen called the allegations “horrific” and suggested Baptiste was a spurned lover, saying they’d had a “10+ year romantic relationship that ended badly.” He also filed a cross complaint alleging extortion.

Today, that cross complaint lives on, but Baptiste’s case against Goguen was just dismissed by arbitrator Read Ambler, a retired judge who served 20 years with the Santa Clara County Superior Court and who wrote in a ruling filed yesterday in San Mateo that Baptiste’s failures to undergo medical examinations doomed her case, as did her failure to produce documents necessary in the discovery process.

“The record presented further establishes that Baptiste’s’ failures were willful,” Ambler writes. “Baptiste appears to believe that the information responsive to the discovery at issue is either not relevant, or with respect to the medical examinations, not permitted by law. While Baptiste is free to believe what she wants to believe, the orders are binding on Baptiste, and her failure to comply with the orders is unacceptable.”

Baptiste doesn’t currently have legal representation, though four sets of lawyers have represented her over time.

Patricia Glaser, a high-powered attorney who took on Baptiste’s case originally (and later agreed to represent Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein), asked to be relieved from the case five months later, citing “irreconcilable differences.” More recently, an L.A.-based couple that operates the Sherman Law Group in L.A. filed a motion to be relieved as Baptiste’s counsel, citing “irreconcilable differences and a breakdown in communication.”

Goguen’s attorneys say he will continue to pursue his counterclaims against Baptiste and looks forward to “complete vindication.”

Though Ambler never remarked on the merits or Baptiste’s claims, Goguen’s attorney Diane Doolittle further said today in a statement that: “Amber Laurel Baptiste’s sensationalized lawsuit against Silicon Valley venture capitalist Michael Goguen collapsed under the weight of its own falsehood yesterday, when a judge dismissed the case because of Baptiste’s repeated, egregious and willful misconduct. Over the course of this case, Baptiste perjured herself, concealed, destroyed and falsified key evidence, and demonstrated her contempt for the legal system by systematically violating numerous court orders.”

Baptiste could not be reached for comment.

Baptiste’s lawsuit against Goguen prompted Sequoia to part ways with him almost immediately. Later the very day that TechCrunch broke news of the suit in 2016, a Sequoia spokesman told us that while the firm understood “these allegations of serious improprieties” to be “unproven and unrelated to Sequoia” its management committee had nevertheless “decided that Mike’s departure was the appropriate course of action.”

Goguen, who sold an $11 million home in Atherton, Ca., in 2017, has spent much of his time in recent years at another home in Whitefish, Montana, where he has seemingly been wooing locals. An August story about Goguen in The Missoulian about a separate case describes him “known locally for philanthropic ventures.”

Continues the story: “Such donations have funded Montana’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and a Flathead group teaching girls to code. Two Bear Air, his northwestern Montana search and rescue outfit free to anyone who has needed it, has performed well over 500 missions and 400 rescues, according to executive director and chief pilot Jim Pierce. Goguen has personally completed 30 rescues, the Daily Inter Lake reported in February. The Flathead Beacon reports he was honored with the Great Whitefish Award earlier this year.”

Inside the new Apple Fifth Avenue: It’s more than just a redesign

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To most everybody, Apple’s iconic Fifth Avenue store is just a store — a physical retail space to sell shiny new iPhones, iPads, MacBooks and more.

Its grand reopening on Sept. 20 — timed with the launch of the iPhone 11 and iPhone 11 Pro — at 8 a.m. ET is nothing to get excited about.

It’s a store, not a revolutionary new Apple product that changes the world. It exists to take your dollars in exchange for products.

But Apple Fifth Avenue is more than just a store to me. 

The massive aluminum-covered lair became a haven for creativity, due in part to the many people who listened to music on iPods, edited video with iMovie on an iMac, or made music in GarageBand with no intention of buying anything.  Read more…

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Top 10 Reasons For Learning R Programming For Beginners

Planning on learning R programming for beginners? Well, that’s not surprising.

The R programming language is one of the most popular programming languages right now. As such, comparisons are quite often made between R and other popular programming languages, such as R vs. Python and R vs. Matlab.

R has an exhaustive number of packages. It is completely free to use and open source. Active community support for the statistical programming language is also available.

If you’re still thinking twice about learning R programming for beginners, then here is our list of the 10 top reasons to positively influence your decision. They might help you make up your mind.

So, without further ado, off we go:

Backed by a Huge, Active Community

Having a supportive, expanding community is one of the biggest advocating factors for picking up the R programming language, even if learning R programming for beginners sounds daunting.

Finding solutions to complex, real-world problems is a challenging task. While some parts of it, depending on the intensity of the problem, might be easy to figure out, others might seem daunting.

Whether you’re using R for financial applications, realizing data science projects or something else entirely, the R community is always there to help you out. It can assist you with ideas, innovations, and online discussion boards.

Having a supportive community is not only good for helping you tackle problems but it also presents you the opportunity to connect with like-minded people. It can also let you explore possibilities and create new ones.

You can share your ideas with the community and also collaborate to produce products that can help you and other people.

Comprehensive Library Support

learn r programming for beginners

There are over 10k packages and hundreds of thousands of built-in functions targeting different requirements available in the R programming language.

Other than the professional packages offered for data manipulation, data visualization, machine learning, and statistical modeling, there are numerous other packages. You can toy around with them and feed the imagination of other people with bright ideas.

Whatever you want to accomplish with R, there might be more than one package available for you. And if there isn’t, you can create and publish one. After all, R is an open-source digital asset and who doesn’t like a helping hand!

Cross-Platform Compatibility

One of the biggest advantages of the R programming language is its ability to support a wide array of operating systems. It’s compatible with a diverse variety of software and hardware configurations with no modifications.

Despite the different environments the R is applicable to, the programming language gives out a pleasingly seamless operation. This enables providers the freedom to choose different operating systems, hardware and software configuration than their clients and still succeed in delivering stellar results.

Data Visualization At Its Best

Data visualization has always been an important part of processing data and churning out important details from it. In the present data-savvy world, the importance of data visualization has reached new frontiers.

The R programming language is simply a majestic option for visualizing data. Thanks to its high-quality graphics, the R programming language is notably used in the pharmaceutical industry. However, it isn’t limited to that only.

R packages like ggplot2, ggvis, and plotly help in creating elegant and detailed data visualizations. Packages like these create high-quality, print-ready graphs, histograms, pie charts, scatter plots, Venn diagrams, and so much more.

Develop Interactive, Powerful Web Apps With Shiny

The R programming language has a package called shiny that helps you create powerful web applications directly from your data analysis software. To make things even better, you can host any web app created using shiny on cloud services like AWS, Google Cloud, and Microsoft Azure.

With shiny by your side, you can create striking dashboard designs, as well as intuitive web pages right from the R console.

Go-to Option for Statistical Analysis & Data Science

Some of the points mentioned on this list also make up for advocating the programming language’s capacity for data science projects.

There is no scarcity of bankable reasons for using R for data science projects, including having powerful infrastructure support. Now, R can be considered as a statistical software for the statisticians by the statisticians. So, naturally, it is apt for accomplishing statistical analysis.

Ranging from building complex statistical models to finding out simple measures of central tendency, R is the go-to option for one and all types of statistical analysis.
As an added benefit, simple R functions can be used for building complex machine learning models to the likes of Gaussian Process Regression, Poisson Regression, and Random Forest.

High Market Demand with Lots of High-Paying Roles

r programming for beginners

There has been a surge in the demand of data analysts, data scientists, financial analysts, and quantitative analysts nowadays. These are just some of the many career avenues feasible if you add R to your skills arsenal.

According to this Quora Q&A string, the R programming language has become the most popular analytics tool in the world. It also explores the many career possibilities available with the R programming language.

With the increasing focus on data and data analysis, the significance of R may hike over time. That also means that opportunities for the experienced are going to be bigger and better. Hence, it is high time to pick up R and start exploring for better professional opportunities.

See Also: Computer Programming Bootcamp Is A New Way To Change Your Career Practically Overnight

Major Companies Trust the R Programming Language

Anything that is used by famous international organizations is likely to gain attraction from the general public. There is no scarcity to the number of reputed companies that have picked up R to ease their business endeavors.

Here are some of the most notable examples:

  • Facebook employs R for accomplishing behavioral analysis pertaining to profile pictures and status updates.
  • Tech mogul Google finds R useful for advertising effectiveness and economic forecasting
  • The American automaker Ford uses R for improving vehicle designs
  • Twitter leverages the R programming language for data visualization and semantic clustering.

Being used by some of the most famous organizations not only adds to its popularity but it also increases the preference received by the same among smaller and medium-sized businesses. Professional individuals that look up to such elite firms benefit from it as well.

Multi-Domain Applications

There are several industries and domains benefiting from R. The list ranges from organizations specializing in data science to pharmaceutical firms. Using R for data science and statistical analysis is natural, owing to the nature of the programming language.

The following are just some of the many industrial uses of the R programming language:

  • Analyzing fraudulent transactions and building econometric models in the financial domain
  • Chum management, personalized advertising, and subscriber profiling by telecom firms
  • Performing genomic analysis in computational biology

Open Source Distribution

The popularity of a software, web technology or a programming language greatly depends on its manner of distribution. While a proprietary paid product brings peace of mind and reliability, it, on the downside, strictly avoids tinkering by the fascinated-minded.

Open-source software and products are always popular among the masses. So, now that we have upgraded to Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 might be around the corner, the popularity enjoyed by open source and free software has also risen to a grander scale.

This is because the Internet is no longer a novelty item. It has become an essential commodity for one and all. Everyone has social media profiles. They like to surf the web, download software and tools, and, if possible, toy with them.

In the present time, any quality product that is available for free and open source is likely to gain traction. This is true in the case of the R programming language. It is also a free open-source commodity that you can modify as per your requirements.

Distribution under the GNU license allows the R programming language to be readily installed and getting started with by anyone. Being open-source lets the tinkers modify the existing code as well as add their very own innovations and catalyze the mushrooming community support.

After Note

So, that was all!

We have successfully completed our list of the top 10 reasons for learning R programming for beginners. However, you need to understand one thing if you haven’t started with R yet.

Although it is not a difficult programming language to learn, it demands a good background in mathematics, machine learning, statistics, and data analysis.

You need to be resolute in understanding and developing competence in the programming language first. Afterward, you are free to explore the endless opportunities that R programming language has to offer.

The post Top 10 Reasons For Learning R Programming For Beginners appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Shipper, a platform for e-commerce logistics in Indonesia, raises $5 million

Indonesia has one of the fastest-growing e-commerce markets in the world, but the logistics industry there is still very fragmented, creating headaches for both vendors and customers. Shipper is a startup with the ambitious goal of giving online sellers access to “Amazon-level logistics.” The company has raised $5 million in seed funding from Lightspeed Ventures, Floodgate Ventures, Insignia Ventures Partners and Y Combinator (Shipper is part of the accelerator’s winter 2019 batch), which will be used for hiring and customer acquisition.

Shipper was launched in 2017 by co-founders Phil Opamuratawongse and Budi Handoko, and is now used by more than 25,000 online sellers. Indonesia’s e-commerce market is growing rapidly, but online sellers still face many logistical hurdles.

The country is large (Indonesia has more than 17,500 islands, of which 600 are inhabited) and unlike the United States, where Amazon dominates, e-commerce sellers often use multiple platforms, like Tokopedia, Shopee, Bukalapak and Lazada. Smaller vendors also sell through Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and other social media. Once an order has been placed, the challenge of making sure it gets to customers starts. There are more than 2,500 logistics providers in Indonesia, many of whom only cover a small area.

“It is really hard for any one provider to do nationwide themselves, so the big ones usually use local partners to fulfill locations where they don’t have infrastructure,” says Opamuratawongse.

The startup’s mission is to create a platform that makes the process of fulfilling and tracking orders much more efficient. In addition to a package pick-up service and fulfillment centers, Shipper also has a technology stack to help logistics providers manage shipments. It is used to predict the best shipping routes and consolidate packages headed in the same direction and also provides a multi-carrier API that allows sellers to manage orders, print shipping labels and get tracking information from multiple providers on their phones.

When it launched three years ago, Shipper began by focusing on the last-mile for smaller vendors, who Opamuratawongse says typically keep inventory in their homes and fulfill about five to 10 orders per day. Since many give customers a choice of several logistics providers, that meant they needed to visit multiple drop-off locations every morning.

Shipper offers pick-up service performed by couriers (who Opamuratawongse says are people like stay-at-home parents who want flexible, part-time work) who collect packages from several vendors in the same neighborhood and distribute them to different logistics providers, serving as micro-fulfillment hubs. Shipper signs up about 10 to 30 new couriers each week, keeping them at least 2.5 kilometers apart so they don’t compete against each other.

The company began setting up fulfillment centers to keep up with vendors whose businesses were growing and were turning to third-party warehouse services. Shipper has established 10 fulfillment centers so far across Indonesia, including Jakarta, with plans to open a new one about every two weeks until it covers all of Indonesia.

Opamuratawongse says he expects the logistics industry in Indonesia to remain fragmented for the next decade at least, and perhaps longer because of Indonesia’s size and geography. Shipper will focus on expanding in Indonesia first, with the goal of having 1,000 microhubs within the next year and 15 to 20 fulfillment centers. Then the company plans to tackle other Southeast Asian countries with rapidly-growing e-commerce markets, including Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Justin Trudeau apologizes for wearing brownface in old yearbook photo, calls it racist

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Not for the first time this year, a politician has apologized for a racist photo discovered in an old yearbook.

This time it’s Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister who rose to social media fame due to his quirky sock choices, youth, and charm, but whose popularity has dimmed due to recent corruption charges and other past blunders coming to light. 

As first reported by Time, Trudeau darkened his face with makeup for an Aladdin costume he wore to an “Arabian Nights” party at a ritzy private school he taught at in 2001, when he was 29. 

A picture of his costume, which included a feathered turban and robe, is featured in the 2000-2001 yearbook of West Point Grey Academy.  Read more…

More about Justin Trudeau, Blackface, Brownface, Social Good, and Celebrities

How to Get A Short-Term Business Loan

Are you a smart businessman? Do you have what it takes to take bold decisions when your company faces the music? Are you aware of the regulations and policies of the top lenders? Do you know how to get a short-term business loan?

If your response is affirmative to the above questions, you know how to sail your company’s ship out of the troubled waters like a champion captain.

Now, before you go ahead and set a meeting with your lender, you must first know your primary purpose.

Basically, such a loan is usually obtained by small businesses when they are in an urgent need of cash. It could either be due to the need for a bigger space to  store your products or fit your growing workforce. They also come across situations where they need extra cash to purchase resources for a big order from a special client.

Such challenges can test an entrepreneur’s ability to handle the pressures of the business world.

Although a short-term business loan can save the day, business owners must repay the loan within 18 months or one and a half years.

Now that you have understood what a short-term business loan is, let’s look into how to qualify for one.

Maintain a Good Credit Score

It all starts with your credit score or the record of your bill payments.

A lender needs to know the status of your finances and how responsible you are in dealing with your debts. If you are able to maintain a clean and reputable credit history, your credit score would allow you to look for different sorts of financing options.

Always keep in mind that lenders check your personal credit score in addition to your business one. It is important because personal debts and mortgages often create problems in the repayment of loans.

This way, your lender will have a 360-degree view of your finances like your credits, debits, and years of business before offering you a loan.

Meet the Minimum Requirements

get a short term business loan

It is essential to know that getting a loan is a two-way deal. You must be equally indulgent and cautious about the whole process as much as your lender is.

If the lender asks for your financial information and reviews your accounts, then it is necessary for you to do your own research as well. Even before approaching a lender, it is wise to carry out research to make things easier and more transparent for you.

You should look into their mission statements and understand the requirements that should be met to get a loan approved. Having all proofs and documents ready will impress your prospective lender. It will make it easier to meet their standards and increase your chances of getting approved.

Get Your Testimonies Ready

Getting a loan is a hectic process. Sometimes, it can take months of rigorous hard work to complete it and a delay in the process can deliver a severe blow to your business.

As a smart entrepreneur, you should be prepared. Before even applying for a short-term loan, make sure that you have read its details and requirements.

Your next task is to collect the necessary documents, like personal and business balance sheets, leases, and bank statements. It will not only improve your loan application’s chances for approval, but will also save your precious time.

The quicker you arrange the required paperwork, the earlier you are going to have an access to that pile of cash for your business.

Make Your Business Strong

short term business loan

The status and prospects of your business are of great interest to the lenders. No lender would want to engage its money in a business that is not doing well. Things may become even gloomy if your company has no future business plan or if it has a flimsy business structure.

You need to have a robust and proactive approach in your business. You must have a detailed picture of where your business started from, where it is now, and where will it stand in the future.

Make sure that your business plan is free from any discrepancies or shady areas. It must be strong and articulate for the lender. Don’t forget to include your company’s origin, background, mission, and vision statement.

It should mention your product or service description. It would be a great idea to also make an industrial analysis, relevant market research, and a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) for your business. These things will make your lender well-informed and impressed with your efforts.

See Also: 5 Ways Business Investment Loans Can Help Your Start-Up

Final Thoughts

Securing a short-term business loan is quite convenient if you know your business and you’re willing to go the distance to inspire its growth. A suitable lender will see through your hard work and reward it with a prompt loan — and with leniency and a lower interest rate.

You have to believe in your business and pitch the idea to your lender with real dedication and conviction. Do not laze around or delay the process. Be active.

In fact, you need to be proactive in both receiving and returning the loan. If you have the qualities mentioned earlier in your business, you will have a short-term business loan approved in no or little time.

See Also: What Are The Advantages Of Business Consolidation Loans?

The post How to Get A Short-Term Business Loan appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

This young litigation finance startup just secured $100 million to chase cases it thinks will win

If you haven’t heard much about litigation finance, that may change soon. The practice dates back decades, though it’s been picking up momentum since 2006, when Credit Suisse Securities founded a litigation risk strategies unit that it later spun off.

What is litigation finance? In a nutshell, the idea is to fund plaintiffs and law firms in cases where it looks like there will be a winning ruling. When everything goes the right way, the capital that helps fund the lawsuits is returned — and then some — in return for the risk taken. Litigation finance firms — and there’s a growing number of them — basically want to estimate as accurately as possible the risk involved so they can bet on the right horses.

Interestingly, one of the newest entrants onto the scene wasn’t founded by career attorneys or spun out of a hedge fund or private equity group. Instead it’s a young, 11-person company called Legalist that’s run by a 23-year-old Harvard dropout named Eva Shang, who cofounded the company with her college classmate Christian Haigh (who graduated).

As interestingly, the pair, who say they honed the idea as part of a Y Combinator batch in 2016, just secured $100 million to put to work. That’s roughly ten times the $10.2 million they raised for a first fund that tested out their ability to find and finance civil lawsuits that pay.

We talked with Shang late last week to learn more about new fund, which was raised from non-profit endowments, family offices, and institutional investors (including an insurance company) and that’s styled like a private-equity fund with a traditional management fee and carry structure.

TC: First, how do you find these plaintiffs that you’re backing? Do you reach out to them?

ES: We don’t reach out to them. Attorneys bring us cases. They’re the repeat players in litigation funding industry; they’re seeing a lot of cases.

TC: And who are they telling you about? Who fits your criteria?

ES: The plaintiffs who we work with are involved in smaller cases, meaning they require less than a million dollars in funding. It’s a lot of money to pay a lawyer, but in the world of litigation, it’s akin to seed-stage investing. Once [we’ve found candidates], then the algorithms [do the] diligence.

TC: What kind of information or patterns are they seeking out?

ES: We scrape state and federal court records and look for indicators, like whether a court is favorable to plaintiffs, if particular case types tend to win, who the judge is. We also check for points at which the case could be dismissed. We’re focused exclusively on commercial cases, so often breach-of-contract [disputes] where it’s a David and Goliath situation and the smaller company is typically underfunded. When there’s litigation, we help pay for attorneys’ fees and if it’s successful, we recover and if not, we don’t.

TC: How many cases have you backed so far, and how many have you won?

ES: We’ve funded 38 cases, half of them have been resolved, and of those, we’ve had above an 80 percent success rate.

TC: And that has translated into what kind of return for your investors?

ES: We can’t talk about fund returns, but we scaled up our funds 10x [based on that performance].

TC: That’s a lot of cases to churn through. When do you step into the process in the lifespan of a lawsuit?

ES: The cases we’re [involved with] are more advanced and are showing success indicators, so we have a shorter time frame. We also fund smaller cases than most other litigation funders. Because of our approach, where we’re using tech to speed due diligence, we can do that.

TC: You can’t discuss returns but can you tell me what your investors expect to see back? We aren’t talking venture-like returns, presumably.

ES: Not venture-type returns but high-yield returns.

TC: There is movement in a small but growing number of states that want more transparency into third-party litigation funding agreements. It aims mostly to protect consumers, but it sounds like some outfits that fund commercial litigation aren’t so thrilled about it, either. What are you thoughts?

ES: We actually don’t mind disclosure regulation so much. As long as litigation funding is becoming more widely accepted, that’s a good thing and the rules shouldn’t impact us so much. I also think in the long run that it’s inevitable and won’t be a huge problem.

TC: Do you syndicate deals? Do you go it alone?

ES: It’s not like in VC. When we invest in a case, we’re [aren’t teaming up with other sources of funding].

TC: Who owns equity in Legalist? You went through Y Combinator. You raised a little venture funding. But you also now have this fund. 

ES: Y Combinator owns 7 percent of the company [because Legalist went through its accelerator program, intending to become a legal analytics company]. [Other stakeholders] include VY Capital and Refactor Capital .

TC: How will they eventually liquidate their stakes? Does a company like Legalist go public?

ES: There are two publicly traded litigation private finance companies. We’re a tech company; there are exit opportunities.

TC: How long will it take you to invest this $100 million?

ES: Our time horizon is five years and we expect to fund between 100 and 200 cases.

TC: What have you learned in those cases where your investment has gone to zero?

ES: That there’s idiosyncratic risk in the court system that can’t be anticipated. If a jury likes you, they’ll find a way to drape the law over you so you win, and if they don’t, you won’t. We see that. There’s also luck involved, as well as having a meritorious case. That’s why we want to diversify across a larger number of cases.

TC: You dropped out of Harvard because you were accepted into Y Combinator. Around the same time, you also received a Thiel Fellowship, wherein recipients are provided with a $100,000 grant to work on something for a couple of years. What do your parents think of all this?

ES: They really don’t understand it, but they can see that I like what I’m doing. My mom does keep asking me when I’m going back to school. She’s like, “I thought the Thiel fellowship was over after two years!”

iPhone 11 review: More ‘pro’ than it looks

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Every product here is independently selected by Mashable journalists. If you buy something featured, we may earn an affiliate commission which helps support our work.

The iPhone 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max dominated the spotlight this year, but the iPhone 11 is the better value.

Starting at $699 — $300 less than the iPhone 11 Pro, which starts at $999 — you might think Apple cut a lot of corners with the iPhone 11. That’s simply not true.

Like the iPhone XR was to the iPhone XS, the iPhone 11 has nearly every meaningful feature the iPhone 11 Pros have: the most powerful performance in any smartphone, a new ultra wide camera, night mode for better low-light photography, longer battery life than the previous generation, and all of the new features in iOS 13 such as dark mode and a redesigned Photos app. Read more…

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How to Create Effective Infographics to Boost Your Content Marketing Game

A static content is nothing but an onslaught of dead words running the length of a full page. The wordy research might be of high value, but for today’s generation that’s highly off-putting.

Do you know why?

Because present online users have relatively shorter attention spans and are more likely to lean towards visually appealing content that’s logically moving and impels their participation at the same time.

The true mark of a successful business organization is marked by its ability to use different strategies according to the latest trends.

And what’s in hype these days? ‘Interactive’ infographics that are dynamic, colorful, and engaging. It’s the new marketing strategy.

How do you create a perfect ‘interactive’ infographic? How to create effective infographics?

It’s not an easy process. It’s quite a tricky one. A significant amount of planning goes into it. But you need not worry because I’ve delineated the proper steps in a convenient progression below.

Here’s how to create effective infographics:

Examine your brand

Before heading out towards the battlefield, it’s wise to make a thorough inspection of the artillery and inventory, right? To make sure you’ve got the right weapons and defenses?

Similarly, before creating interactive infographics and adopting this new marketing tactic, it’s crucial that you reexamine your brand from top to bottom.

  • Run tests on it and sort out its strengths and weaknesses.
  • Mark the selling points and focus on improving the lags.
  • Plan your pitch and devise techniques to convert consumers into clients.

Once you know what your brand’s true call is, it’ll be easier to project it from the rest of the world.

Double-check the target audience

If an English Literature teacher delivers a lecture on Shakespeare to a class of medical students, that would sound absurd. It’s a total waste of time, energy, and resources, right?

So, it’s absolutely paramount to understand that audience matters greatly. The people listening to what you’re saying and receiving your message get to have the final say about that message after all. A simple yay or nay of the consumers could make or break your brand’s image.

Know your target audience so you can build a productive interaction through an infographic with them. Consider their pains and problems, find out their interests and motivations, and then mold your call accordingly.

Collect convincing facts

create effective infographics

Abstract propositions are a total turn-off for consumers, believe me. It’s like throwing darts haphazardly into thin air and never hitting the bull’s eye. Missing your mark means missing your chance of survival in the long run.

Only with concrete data, hard-core facts, and undeniable logic can you turn disinterested online consumers into potential customers. You need to convince them why they should opt for your brand instead of others.

If they do choose your brand, what’s in it for them?

Relaying everything through an interactive infographic sounds like a wonderful idea, doesn’t it?

Saves everyone time and positively leads to sales.

Craft an interesting narrative

Information explosion is one thing you have to look out for. It’s hardly delectable and not easily digested. If an infographic is filled to the brim with hard-core facts, then the online consumers will find it difficult to relate to it. And if they can’t find a hook, they’ll just drop it and that’s not something you’d want.

So, to make it easy for your target audience to smoothly sail from one point to the next one, you need to:

  • Craft a clever story around your brand which will take the onlookers on a journey and touch them on an emotional level.
  • Include real-life examples, metaphors, cool analogies, voice-overs, and comments in the infographic. This will allow it to actually speak to your potential clients and convert them into buyers.

Incorporate eye-catching graphics

The appeal of a pastry lies in its delicate decoration. Because it seems pleasing to the eyes, we naturally assume it to be tasty and worth eating, right?

The same applies to interactive infographics. If the information is represented visually, it automatically engages the users’ attention. You might think of graphs, pies, and charts, but they’re too mainstream and bore easily.

Animation, on the other hand, is a foolproof attention-grabbing hook.

A wonderful color-scheme coupled with creative doodles and mechanisms like easy transitions, on-click revealing of hidden information, scrolling and hovering is bound to keep the online consumer’s eyes on the infographic through and through.

See Also: 10 Design Rules You Should Never Forget in 2019

Embed SEO-friendly gambits

how to create effective infographic

An interactive infographic is like an open canvas. You can freely throw paint on it, add music videos in it, include links and watermarks, gifs, voice-notes, and so much more.

In addition, you can embed top-ranking keywords in the visual content in more than one SEO-friendly ways. This will allow Google or other search engines to trace it and rank you higher in its result. Crafty, right?

Elicit user response

The most important feature of all is enabling the online consumer to engage with the infographic and respond to it. To this end, you can include a smart ‘form’ or an opinion-based poll in the content, which the user can fill and give his feedback.

This feedback can then be used to inform the firm’s policies. It is a positive call to action which is the main purpose of the infographic.

Because of this, the user will feel empowered and know that his voice matters for the brand. This will encourage him to share the infographic with others and do an indirect advertising for the brand.

Once you’ve taken all these factors into account, creating an interactive infographic should not be a conundrum for you. Just make sure to operate over a stable connection and you’re good to go. Say goodbye to plain wordy content and welcome the colorful interactive one. It’s the way of the future.

The post How to Create Effective Infographics to Boost Your Content Marketing Game appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

Stephen King, James McAvoy and Bill Skarsgård cure your Pennywise phobia with reassuring clown facts

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Stephen King knows scary, so if he tells you that only 50% of clowns are murderers, you should probably believe him. Bill Skarsgård? Why, he’s far too pretty to be evil! And listen to James McAvoy’s accent — utterly trustworthy. 

No wonder the Late Show had them drop by to help coulrophobes struggling with all this IT Chapter Two promo by sharing these extremely true facts.  Read more…

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Fieldwire just raised $33.5 million more to give PlanGrid and its new owner Autodesk a run for their money

Fieldwire, which makes task management software for construction teams that helps organize everyone involved in a project so things don’t fall through the figurative (or literal) cracks, has raised $33.5 million in Series C funding led by Menlo Ventures, with participation from Brick & Mortar Ventures, Hilti Group, and Formation 8.

It isn’t a huge amount of money. Still, the traction Fieldwire is enjoying might give the folks at Autodesk some pause, given the growing threat it presents to PlanGrid — a rival that Autodesk acquired last year for $875 million.

Already, six-year-old Fieldwire has 65 employees, with 45 of them in San Francisco and the rest in Phoenix, plus a smaller outpost in France. And founder and CEO Yves Frinault says the company expects to have closer to 150 employees by next summer.

Fieldwire is also “cash profitable,” he says, “meaning our bank account goes up every month, even though we started going fast.” To underscore his point, he notes that when we last talked with him in 2015, the company’s platform was hosting 35,000 projects; it has since hosted half a million altogether, with more than 2,000 unique paying customers on the platform. Many of them pack a punch, too, like Clark Construction Group, a 113-year-old, Maryland-based construction firm that reported more than $5 billion in revenue last year and that began using Fieldwire across all of its projects this past summer. (Clark employs 4,200 people.)

Because Fieldwire grows from the bottom up, meaning it targets teams who then use it for projects that are then run by numerous enterprises that work on various projects with other teams that can then also adopt the software, it has spread particularly quickly throughout North America, which counts for 70 percent of its volume. Fieldwire is also making inroads in Europe, where 15 percent of its revenue is coming and, to a lesser but growing extent, Australia.

Altogether, its software is localized in 13 languages.

It employs a freemium model. Small teams with five members or less can use a significant portion of the product for free. But more users requires more storage typically, and that’s where Fieldwire starts charging — typically between $30 and $50 per user per month, though bigger companies tend to pay the company by the year or based on the scope of a particular project versus on a per-license basis.

Fieldwire’s two main types of customers are general contractors and subcontractors. GCs will usually use the company’s software as a way to track quality and progress. Subcontractors tend to use the software internally to run their own crews.

As for what’s on its roadmap, Fieldwire — which already enables users to look at floor plans in real time, message with one another, track punch lists, schedule jobs and file reports —  suggests it’s zeroing in on 3D architectural drawings, which puts it in more direct competition with PlanGrid.

PlanGrid also makes construction productivity software, and fueled by parent company Autodesk, it also now offers users the ability to access building information modeling data, in either 2D or 3D. Fieldwire doesn’t seem terribly daunted by this. Instead, Frinault calls it a “product challenge to make a 3D product model consumable, so we’re working on it right now.”

With its newest round of funding, Fieldwire has now raised $40.4 million altogether.

How to Get Out of Work For An Interview [10+ Fireproof Excuses]

So, you just found a stellar opportunity that might launch your career into the stratosphere. You submitted a well-crafted application and a few days later, you get the callback. The company wants to invite you for an in-person interview.

Woohoo!!

Problem?

You don’t want your boss to know you’ve been going to interviews on company time.

Now, don’t stress as you’re about to learn how to get out of work for an interview.

Get All the Info First

job interview

When a recruiter says he’d like you to come in and do the interview, you’ll want to slap an S on your chest and jump right on it.

But before you throw your entire schedule atop a blazing fire, ask the recruiter these questions:

  • How long will the interview take?
  • How many interview rounds will I have to go through?
  • Any chance you could meet off the clock?

The answers to these questions will help you do better in working the interview into your schedule.

Pro tip: Right from the get-go, tell the recruiter you want to keep things on the down-low. Otherwise, the company might call for a reference and you will find yourself in hot water.

Don’t Over-Complicate It

Here’s the thing:

If you’d like to do an interview, it’s best to take a day off or at least a half-day off.

Why?

First, you won’t have to sneak away from the office and worry you’ll get found out. Second, you’ll have a boatload of time to prep for the interview (e.g., do company culture research.)

So, here’s what you can tell your boss:

Hey John, I’d like to take a day off/half-day off on Friday to take care of some personal matters. Is that OK?

Now, in some companies, you’ll need to submit time-off requests one or two weeks in advance. If that’s the case, tell the recruiter you’ll need to push the interview by some time.

The recruitment process usually takes more than two weeks. So, it won’t do much harm to schedule the meeting for later.

Can’t take a day off or a half-day off? Keep scrolling.

Map out an escape plan

If it’s not an option to take time off, don’t stress.

There are ways to wangle time off work for your interview without sounding the alarms with your boss.

Decide on the best day of the week

First, have a bird’s eye view on your work schedule.

Are there slow times (e.g., fewer meetings) vs. busy times?

You know your job best, so pick a day when you could spin a tale and sneak away without trouble.

Take time off out of your work day

Now, it’s time to figure out when you’ll do the interview.

Below are possible options:

In the morning. Have an interview early in the day, especially if you don’t have to show up at a specific time (e.g., 9 AM). This way, you could stay late to finish work and fly under the radar.

During lunch. It’s a good option if the drive time is short and if your company culture is OK with extended lunches. If not, consider asking for a longer lunch (stick around to see viable excuses.)

At the end of the day. If you can finish work and leave early, it’s your best bet. You won’t have to worry about the length of the interview or that you still have work to do.

Fireproof Excuses for Asking for Time off of Work

calling out of work for an interview

If you need time off, a good manager won’t ask you for details.

Problem?

If your manager was good, chances are, you wouldn’t be jumping ship.

Below are ten battle-tested excuses for why you need time off:

  • I need time off for a personal matter.
  • I need time off to take care of a time-sensitive issue.
  • I need time off to deal with a sensitive situation.
  • I need to go to the bank.
  • I need to pick a friend from the airport.
  • I have a medical appointment.
  • I have a meeting with my child’s school.
  • I have a house issue (e.g., plumbing, AC).
  • I have a financial planning appointment.
  • I have a major purchase delivery.

What Do You Think?

There you have it.

These are the best tips on how to get out of work for an interview.

Now, how do you go to interviews without raising a red flag? Do you feel guilty for leaving work to do an interview?

Let me know in the comments. I’d love to chat!

See Also: 5 Interview Mistakes That Can Get In The Way of Your Dream Job

The post How to Get Out of Work For An Interview [10+ Fireproof Excuses] appeared first on Dumb Little Man.

New Star Wars doc unravels the series’ funniest and most enduring mystery

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Most Star Wars fans are familiar with the famous A New Hope blooper where a random, nameless Stormtrooper doinked their head on a Death Star bulkhead. A true classic.

The identity of the clumsy Imperial soldier has been a mystery for as long as the movie has existed. And now, a new Jamie Stangroom documentary titled The Empire Strikes Door (omg), is poised to solve it.

This whole thing looks like a hoot, from the “Every generation has an idiot” tagline to the lineup of legitimate Star Wars celebrities who apparently lent their time to getting this thing made. I can’t wait to watch. It’ll be out Sept. 25 on Stangroom’s YouTube page. Read more…

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How to get people to open your emails

Julian Shapiro
Contributor

Julian Shapiro is the founder of BellCurve.com, a growth marketing agency that trains you to become a marketing professional. He also writes at Julian.com.

We’ve aggregated the world’s best growth marketers into one community. Twice a month, we ask them to share their most effective growth tactics, and we compile them into this Growth Report.

This is how you’re going stay up-to-date on growth marketing tactics — with advice you can’t get elsewhere.

Our community consists of 600 startup founders paired with VP’s of growth from later-stage companies. We have 300 YC founders plus senior marketers from companies including Medium, Docker, Invision, Intuit, Pinterest, Discord, Webflow, Lambda School, Perfect Keto, Typeform, Modern Fertility, Segment, Udemy, Puma, Cameo, and Ritual .

You can participate in our community by joining Demand Curve’s marketing webinars, Slack group, or marketing training program. See past growth reports here and here.

Without further ado, onto the advice.


How can you send email campaigns that get opened by 100% of your mailing list?

Based on insights from Nick Selman, Fletcher Richman of Halp, and Wes Wagner.

  • First, a few obvious pieces of advice for avoiding low open rates:
    • Avoid spam filters by avoiding keywords commonly used in spam emails.
    • Consider using email subjects (1) that are clearly descriptive and (2) look like they were written by a friend. Then A/B your top choices.
    • Include the recipient’s name in your email body. This signals to spam filters that you do in fact know the recipient.
  • Now, for the real advice: Let’s say 60% of your audience opens your mailing, how can you get the remaining 40% to open and read it too?
    • First, wait 2 weeks to give everyone a chance to open the initial email.
    • Next, export a list of those who haven’t opened. Mailchimp lets you do this.
    • Important note: The reason many recipients don’t open your email is because it was sent to Spam, it was buried in Promotions, or it was insta-deleted because it looked like spam (but wasn’t). The goal here is to resuscitate these people. You have two options for doing so:
    • (1) Duplicate the initial email then selectively re-send it to non-openers. This time, use a new subject (try a new hook) and downgrade the email to plain text: remove images and link tracking. De-enriching the email in this way can help bypass spam filters and the Promotions tab.
    • (2) Alternatively, export your list of non-openers to a third-party email tool like Mailshake (or Mixmax).
      • First, connect Mailshake to a new Gmail account on your company domain.
      • Next, configure Mailshake to automatically dole out small batches of emails on a daily schedule. Let it churn through non-openers slowly so that Gmail doesn’t flag your account as a spammer.
      • Emails sent through Mailshake are more likely to get opened than emails sent through Mailchimp. Why? Mailshake sends emails through your Gmail account, and Gmail-to-Gmail emails have a greater chance of bypassing Spam and Promotions folders, particularly if the sender doesn’t have a history of its emails being marked as spam.

After conquering smartphones, PopSocket sets its sights on beverages

In its first half-decade of existence, PopSocket has grown into one of the most popular — and imitated — smartphone accessories on the market. In 2018 alone, the company generated $90 million in profit. Not to bad for a little Colorado-based upstart.

So, where does an utterly dominated accessory maker go from here? Beverages, naturally. Delish was the first to report the existence of the PopThirst line. You may well have missed it in the wake of this week’s iPhone news. I was on a plane with limited WiFi access, I swear. Whatever the case, the weird little retractable phone holder that has captured the world’s imagination $15 at a time is now headed for the lucrative field of refreshments. 

It’s an odd evolution of the brand, to be sure. But why not strike while the iron (and coffee) is hot? I know plenty of people who swear by the phone accessory, and the pop-out gripper looks to fit pretty well on a matching koozie for hot and cold beverages, alike. Pop it on a can of LaCroix to find yourself on the cutting edge of the 2016 zeitgeist.

The cupholders feature a wide range of styles, from leopard print to camo. They’re up for pre-order on Popsocket’s page for $15 a pop. They’ll go on sale Sept 15.

In loving memory of Joe Keery’s hair, gone but not forgotten

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It’s with heavy hearts that we report Joe Keery, whose luscious hair sent teenagers and grown adults alike swooning, got bangs.

The Stranger Things star appeared at a dinner hosted by Chanel with the remains of his once-glorious hair hacked away. What was left can only be described as a Will Byers-esque bowl cut complete with choppy FRINGE BANGS. His hair, known for its voluminous waves, also appears straightened. 

Let’s just take a moment of silence to remember a legend. 

What prompted Keery to get rid of his signature mullet, the one characteristic that single-handedly carved him a spot in America’s collective heart? The man once gave a detailed interview to GQ, describing the very process that breathed life into his hair, and told the reporter, “Do I get recognized? I guess it depends on if I’m wearing a hat or notThe hairdo is a dead giveaway. There’s nothing I can do. It’s just the way my hair grows.” Read more…

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