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How to Thrive During Civilization 3.0

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A co-owner and chairman of the Sacramento Kings discusses what it means to have an “informational edge” and operate a business with an empathetic mindset.

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October 13, 2020 2 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Vivek Ranadivé is a co-owner and the chairman of the Sacramento Kings basketball team and author of The Two-Second Advantage. Ranadivé talks with #ThePlaybook host David Meltzer about his path to success, what he describes as “Civilization 3.0” and how doing the right thing is good for business.

Ranadivé summarizes his professional rise, beginning with hearing the broadcast of the moon landing while he was a child in Bombay, to arriving in Boston to attend MIT with only $50 in his pocket and ultimately building businesses as an entrepreneur. He talks about how his interest in basketball started with coaching his daughter’s team and led him to a role as co-owner and chairman of the Kings.

Ranadivé talks Civilization 3.0 which he describes as the age of information and service. He talks about the importance of skillsets that include empathy and connecting with others, as these are human traits that computers and machines don’t have.

Ranadivé talks about the “informational edge,” explaining that a little bit of information beforehand is more valuable than all the information in the world after the fact. He also talks about the local programs the Kings organization pursues to enhance the community, including publicly embracing the Black Lives Matter movement and hosting events bringing together inner-city Sacramentans and police.

Related: Have the Capacity to Meet Demand

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The Week in Business: A Headache for Big Tech

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Welcome to the weirdest (and legitimately scariest) Halloween week ever. Surprisingly, candy sales are up this year — perhaps it’s the stress eating? Here’s what you need to know in business and tech news going into Monday. — Charlotte Cowles

Credit…Giacomo Bagnara

The federal government is finally making good on its threats to crack down on big tech. The Department of Justice announced a major antitrust lawsuit against Google and accused the company of deploying unfair business tactics to squelch its competitors. (The only precedent for a case like this occurred nearly two decades ago, when the government sued Microsoft.) Google rejected the allegations and said the suit would “artificially prop up lower-quality search alternatives, raise phone prices” and hurt consumers. But many consumer advocates say it’s high time to regulate big tech more aggressively. Next up: The Federal Trade Commission is planning to vote on whether to file an antitrust lawsuit against Facebook.

Purdue Pharma, the drugmaker behind the highly addictive painkiller OxyContin, has pleaded guilty to felony charges and will be required to pay more than $8 billion in settlement fees. The company admitted to rewarding doctors for pushing prescriptions for its drugs, thereby contributing to an opioid crisis that has resulted in the deaths of more than 450,000 Americans. It still faces thousands of lawsuits in several states. As for the wealthy Sackler family, who own the company: They’re being held accountable in a separate settlement, to the tune of $225 million in penalties.

It’s been over a year since the financier Jeffrey Epstein died by suicide after being charged with sexually abusing teenage girls, but his case continues to haunt his business and personal associates. His former girlfriend, Ghislaine Maxwell, remains under arrest and has been silent on charges that she recruited victims for Mr. Epstein. But in a four-year-old deposition, released this past week, she vehemently denied any wrongdoing. Elsewhere, new revelations about financial ties between Mr. Epstein and Leon Black, the founder of the investment firm Apollo Global Management, prompted one pension fund to halt new investments with the firm and others to consider doing the same. Apollo’s board announced that it was investigating Mr. Black’s relationship to Mr. Epstein.

Credit…Giacomo Bagnara

Social media platforms are struggling to fight the spread of misinformation leading up to the election, particularly as Russia and Iran have mounted new interference campaigns to hurt the Democratic presidential candidate, Joseph R. Biden Jr. But nobody’s happy with how it’s going, particularly lawmakers. Now, the Senate has called for the chief executives of Facebook, Google and Twitter (Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai and Jack Dorsey,) to testify on Wednesday about how they’re handling hate speech, misinformation and privacy. The hearing will focus on a law that shields tech companies from liability over the content posted by their users, while also allowing them to moderate it. President Trump has claimed the rule is unfair, and wants an overhaul.

Like many art institutions, the Brooklyn Museum is struggling to absorb the pandemic’s impact on its revenue. But unlike many of its peers, it has resorted to selling notable pieces from its holdings to pay its staff and care for the rest of its collection. This week, Sotheby’s will auction off a selection of the museum’s Impressionist and modern artworks, including paintings by Henri Matisse and Claude Monet. While de-accessioning is usually prohibited by the Association of Art Museum Directors, the association has made an exception because of the pandemic, and will allow such sales to proceed through 2022.

The first report on the United States’ third-quarter gross domestic product — the broadest assessment of the economy’s health — will be released on Thursday, and is anticipated to show the fastest growth on record. But that’s because it follows a record drop in the second quarter, when many businesses were forced to close under lockdown measures. Either way, don’t get too excited by the numbers. The country’s economy is expected to slow considerably in the fourth quarter, especially as a wave of new infections hampers reopenings and, in some cases, results in more shutdowns.

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How Technology is Revolutionizing Beauty Ecommerce

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Emerging technologies like augmented reality and artificial intelligence are keeping beauty in business.

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October 25, 2020 5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The current crisis has changed and expectations immensely. Since the lockdown started, personal safety and hygiene have emerged as a top concern. Consumers are scared of visiting crowded marketplaces and in some instances, have postponed purchases. One area that has seen unprecedented growth across multiple facets is online sales. From grocery buying to banking, consumers are meeting most of their needs online.

To be a part of this movement, the beauty industry needs to innovate and offer an experience at par with what brick-and-mortar stores do. Major ecommerce beauty brands have leveraged artificial intelligence (AI) and (AR) to build assessment, comparison and testing tools to assist in finding online. We can learn from some of these case studies.

1. Augmented reality is being used to visualize cosmetic products

With customers shying away from brick-and-mortar stores and shifting online, brands should move to virtual try-on tools to preserve the offline experience.

  • L’Oréal product ModiFace allows consumers to have an AR-powered makeup try-on experience.
  • Olay, a PnG , launched Skin Advisor in 2017. Based on deep learning, it recommends products analyzing the user’s skin via a photograph. Of the 6 million people who use this service, 94 percent report recommendations being appropriate.
  • ’s “Virtual Try-On” tool allows you to apply and compare four makeup products simultaneously. It also shows a comparison of before and after look.
  • ’s Virtual Artist analyses your skin and facial features to recommend products to try on. By 2018, users had demoed more than 200 million shades using this feature.

Key enablers

  • 88 percent of mid-sized companies are already using AR in some capacity (Deloitte)
  • 66 percent of people claim to be interested in using AR for assistance when shopping (Google Consumer AR Survey)
  • 60 percent of people would like the ability to be able to visualize how and where a product fits into their lives (Google Consumer AR Survey)
  • Conversion rates increase by 90 percent for consumers engaging with AR compared to those who don’t (Retail Customer Experience)

Related: Instagram and Google Launch Interactive Online Shopping Portals

2. Artificial intelligence is being used for product recommendations

Are you worried about the safety and effectiveness of a cosmetic product? Organizations are building AI-based product recommendation tools to resolve the pain point.

  • Proven Skin Care – a tool based on the Skin Genome Database: This is a search engine used to find out information about beauty products. The database contains data points about the effectiveness of more than 20,238 skincare ingredients, characteristics of over 100,000 individual products, 8 million user testimonials and 4,000 scientific publications.
  • EWG’s Skin Deep cosmetic database is an online tool to search for ingredients in beauty products. It lists hazard ratings for 70,000 products from 2,374 brands and information about 9,000 ingredients.
  • Function of Beauty produces customized hair care products with ingredients recommended by algorithms. These custom shampoo/conditioner formulas are specific to customers’ hair types.
  • Haut.AI is a SaaS tool that offers tools and APIs for it.

Key enablers

  • Consumers are 40 percent more likely to view items that are recommended based on the information they’ve shared with the brand (MarketingDive)
  • Forty-seven percent of consumers will go to Amazon if the brand they’re shopping with doesn’t provide relevant product suggestions (SmarterHQ)
  • Global Organic Beauty Market to reach $54 billion by 2027 due to concerns about the safety of ingredients used (Statista)

Emerging technologies are expensive bets

Prima facie, technology such as a virtual trial tool based on AR might seem simple to implement. It would be best if you had 3D photography of your product catalog or data attributes that mimic the life-like application of the product. That is just the tip of the iceberg; the real complexity lies within doing so. You would end up with a set of disgruntled customers if the tool fails to depict real-life applications accurately.

This space is seeing breakthroughs within product development — moving from a showcase novelty to functionality that the majority of the customers use. What used to be limited to high-ticket items like real estate is being used to showcase regular products. It has certainly worked in favor of brands within the beauty industry, as L’Oréal reported an increase of 49 percent in product sales owing to their AR initiative.

Related: 3 Reasons Why the Aesthetics and Anti-Aging Market is Unaffected by the Pandemic

A shift in the direction is how AdTech companies are using AR. Google has implemented it within search results while is working on AR advertising for both Facebook and Instagram. Immersive is the future wherein users interact with AR depictions of products and purchase it without leaving the social media platform. The capabilities have been demonstrated by the behemoths, but cost acts as the major limiting factor in the widespread adoption of these technologies within ecommerce.

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Conservative News Sites Fuel Voter Fraud Misinformation

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In the final stretch of the 2020 campaign, right-leaning news sites with millions of readers have published dozens of false or misleading headlines and articles that effectively back unsubstantiated claims by President Trump and his allies that mail-in ballots threaten the integrity of the election.

The Washington Examiner, Breitbart News, The Gateway Pundit and The Washington Times are among the sites that have posted articles with headlines giving weight to the conspiracy theory that voter fraud is rampant and could swing the election to the left, a theory that has been repeatedly debunked by data.

On Sept. 25, Gateway Pundit posted an article headlined “EXCLUSIVE: California Man Finds THOUSANDS of What Appear to be Unopened Ballots in Garbage Dumpster — Workers Quickly Try to Cover Them Up — We are Working to Verify.” The envelopes turned out to be empty and discarded legally in 2018. Gateway Pundit later updated the headline, but not before its original speculation had gone viral.

The Right Scoop published an article on Oct. 7 headlined “DESTROYED: Tons of Trump mail-in ballot applications SHREDDED in back of tractor-trailer headed for Pennsylvania.” The material was actually printing waste from a direct mail company. The publication later changed the headline to reflect that the claim had been debunked.

Another right-wing site, Daily Wire, posted a Sept. 24 article about ballots in Pennsylvania under the headline “FEDS: Military Ballots Discarded in ‘Troubling’ Discovery. All Opened Ballots were Cast for Trump.” Headlines on the same issue in The Washington Times were similar: “Feds investigating discarded mail-in ballots cast for Trump in Pennsylvania” and “FBI downplays election fraud as suspected ballot issues found in Pennsylvania, Texas.” A Washington Times opinion piece on the matter had the headline “Trump ballots in trash, oh my.”

Several days after the reports, neither Daily Wire nor The Washington Times appeared to follow up with articles on the announcement from Pennsylvania’s elections chief that the discarded ballots were a “bad error” by a seasonal contractor, not “intentional fraud.” Mr. Trump cited the discarded Pennsylvania ballots several times as an example of fraud, including in last month’s presidential debate.

Major polls have shown Mr. Trump lagging the Democratic presidential nominee, Joseph R. Biden Jr., in an election that will have significantly more people than usual voting by mail because of the coronavirus. False claims about mail-in voting have been a staple of the president’s campaign. At last month’s debate, he claimed without evidence, “This is going to be a fraud like you’ve never seen.”

In June, Mr. Trump posted on Twitter that “Mail-In Ballots will lead to a RIGGED ELECTION!” He linked to a Breitbart article that included a transcript of Attorney General William P. Barr’s telling the Fox News host Maria Bartiromo that voting by mail “absolutely opens the floodgates to fraud.”

In August, The New York Post published an article that relied on one anonymous source, identified as a Democratic operative, who claimed that he had engaged in voter fraud for decades. The Blaze, Breitbart, Daily Caller, FoxNews.com and The Washington Examiner posted their own versions of the article. It was also promoted by Donald Trump Jr. and his brother Eric, the Trump campaign’s communications team, the “Fox & Friends” television program and Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show, according to a recent Harvard University study.

The Harvard researchers described a “propaganda feedback loop” in right-wing media. The authors of the study, published this month through the school’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society, reported that popular news outlets, rather than social media platforms, were the main drivers of a disinformation campaign meant to sow doubts about the integrity of the election.

So far in October, Breitbart has published nearly 30 articles with the tag “voter fraud.” President Trump has posted links to several Breitbart articles on Twitter, including one in August in which a Republican-appointed poll challenger estimated that up to 20,000 absentee primary ballots had been improperly counted in Detroit, a city “known for voting heavily Democrat,” the article said. The Detroit News later reported that election officials in Michigan said the problems “weren’t examples of fraud and don’t call into question the integrity of the results.”

ImageCounting bail-in ballots this month at the Miami-Dade County Elections Department.
Credit…Saul Martinez for The New York Times

As the country faces a third wave of Covid-19 cases, tens of millions of Americans plan to mail their ballots, and more than 25 states have expanded access to universal mail voting. The voting system, stressed by greater demand, has struggled in places with ballots sent to incorrect addresses or improperly filled out. But intentional voter fraud is extremely uncommon and rarely organized, according to decades of research.

That’s true even though specific totals vary depending on the source. Among the billions of votes cast from 2000 to 2012, there were 491 cases of absentee-ballot fraud, according to an investigation conducted at Arizona State University’s journalism school. Election experts have calculated that, in a 20-year period, fraud involving mailed ballots has affected 0.00006 percent of individual votes, or one case per state every six or seven years.

In June, The Washington Post and the nonprofit Electronic Registration information Center analyzed data from three vote-by-mail states and found 372 possible cases of double voting or voting on behalf of dead people in 2016 and 2018, or 0.0025 percent of the 14.6 million mailed ballots.

Some conservative publications have nodded at the scarcity. In an Oct. 1 article about Facebook’s bans of ads that promote a narrative of widespread voter fraud, The Blaze noted “isolated reports of voter fraud in America in recent months.” A Fox News article on the same day pointed out a “false claim” by Mr. Trump that a mail worker in West Virginia had sold ballots. The Fox News article quoted a state official who said the incident had never happened.

Mr. Trump’s effort to discredit mail-in voting follows decades of disinformation about voter impersonation, voting by noncitizens and double voting, often promoted by Republican leaders.

Voting by mail under normal circumstances does not appear to give either major party an advantage, according to a study this spring by Stanford University’s Institute for Economic Policy Research. But many conservative outlets have promoted the idea that fraud involving mailed ballots could tip the scales in favor of Democrats.

Stephen J. Stedman, a senior fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford, said he thought “about disinformation in this country as almost an information ecology — it’s not an organic thing from the bottom up.”

Last month, sites including The Gateway Pundit, The Washington Examiner and Breitbart followed a report from a Fox affiliate in Wisconsin about mail that had been found in a ditch and reportedly included absentee ballots. The story was promoted by the Trump adviser Jason Miller; the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany; the Fox News host Tucker Carlson; and the president himself.

After the outcry, all but unnoticed, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that the batch of mail hadn’t included absentee ballots from Wisconsin and that it was unclear if there had been ballots from other states. The liberal media watchdog group Media Matters for America traced several other examples.

In a similar cycle, the Fox News host Sean Hannity and conservative publications magnified the reach of a deceptive video released last month by Project Veritas, a group run by the conservative activist James O’Keefe. The video claimed without named sources or verifiable evidence that the campaign for Representative Ilhan Omar, a Minnesota Democrat, was collecting ballots illegally.

Mr. Stedman said right-leaning outlets sometimes conflated fraud with the statistically insignificant administrative mishaps that occur in every American election.

“The pandemic is making this a true administrative nightmare, where administrators who have never done this on this scale have just a few months to do it, and they now also have the Trump administration trying to take advantage of every single mistake to say, ‘See, that’s fraud,’” Mr. Stedman said. “It can’t end well.”

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