Recently the news of the streaming giant Netflix recording a 200k subscribers’ loss in the first quarter of 2022 hit the public, and it caused a storm of opinions and forecasts for the future of the company.
Along with the drop in subscribers, Netflix’s stock fell 35%, revealing the uneasiness of shareholders regarding the halt in growth. The company justified the issue stating that the root of the problem was that users shared their password with non-paying viewers.
It was hinted at a possible strategy to minimize the harm caused by free riders through new paid sharing plans, currently implemented in Chile, Peru and Costa Rica.
It’s no secret that the market for streaming in the latest years has been pretty much saturated: Prime Video, Disney, Apple, Hulu are among the biggest; it is now harder for Netflix to penetrate new markets due to their presence, and many users may choose to switch no newer platforms or those that satisfy their needs best.
It’s relevant to remember that Netflix also had to cut the service in Russia because of the war against Ukraine: this factor contributed to the negative figure.
However, Netflix still counts 221.64 million subscribers, a figure that is predicted to grow in the long run.
As Russian forces attacked Ukraine, the country was also target of a campaign of cyberattacks. In the weeks leading up to the Russian invasion, several of Ukraine government department and bank websites were taken offline and data wiping malware was unleashed on government systems.
The physical attack to Ukraine may have been surprising, but the cyber-attack was not. Cyber weapons have been used against Ukraine for years. Paul Chichester, director of operations at the National Cyber Security Centre said: “Over several years, we have observed a pattern of malicious Russian behaviour in cyber space. Last week’s incidents in Ukraine bear the hallmarks of similar Russian activity we have observed before.”
Ukraine is an appealing target since it has similar infrastructure as most Western European and North American countries, but with more limited resources to counterattack.
Among the latest attacks against Ukraine, there has been a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. This type of attack deploys bots flood an online service, overwhelming it until it crashes and blocking legitimate users from accessing. Another recent account entailed Ukrainian citizens receiving fake messages saying that the ATM service had gone offline, causing bank runs, panic and uncertainty.
Cyber-attacks have the potential to wipe out infrastructure, affecting telecommunication services, water and electricity supply. These kinds of attacks can be carried out more rapidly than standard weapon attacks and they can be carried out at a distance. While launching them is simple and inexpensive, defending from them is extremely hard and costly, which is further debilitating Ukraine while it attempts to defend from the Russian military aggression.
Six European countries (Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Croatia and Estonia) are supporting Ukraine’s cyber infrastructure and are sending cyber security experts to give assistance in dealing with this threat.
Although Russia successfully evaded most responsibility for the cyber-attack, its history of destructive cyber-attacks in Ukraine is currently rising more concerns about future cyberwars. This should alert private and public entities, who should update their security protocols, deploy new tools and enhance their processes. The private sector in particularly may be unprepared and vulnerable to disruptions. To prepare for cyberattacks and to minimize potential damage companies should:
Make sure they update software throughout the whole organization and patch previous vulnerabilities;
Ensure the presence of effective malware detection and antivirus software;
Frequently backup important data in case it gets destroyed;
Look for potential vulnerabilities in the cyber supply chain;
Testing incident response plan and carrying out scenario analysis.
Cyber-attacks are not confined to national boundaries, and they could become global due to spillover effect. A global cyberwar would shut down many sectors at the same time, due to the interdependence of critical infrastructure sectors like communications and electricity.
Furthermore, there can be serious financial ramifications: the insurance market is already experiencing problems in pricing protection against them. Perhaps it is time for more government intervention in the area.
While the conflict is still evolving, cyber operations do not seem to be playing a decisive role on the battlefield. These operations are a form of modern political warfare, not decisive battles and support subversion, espionage and propaganda efforts. With the right effort, well-resourced organizations can properly defend from cyber threats.
Robo-advisors are digital advice platforms that provide automated, algorithm-driven investment services without any human supervision. They are often very inexpensive and require very low opening balances compared to human wealth managers.
Since the technology behind robo-advisors is not new, given the fact that automated portfolio allocation existed in the early 2000s already, the innovation lies in the fact that they do not require intermediation from any traditional financial advisors anymore.
You are probably wondering how robo-advisors work. They first ask information about the client’s financial situation, risk-profiling and investment goals through an online survey and then use data to offer advice and to invest the client’s assets. Specifically, many of them offer a variety of investment-related services that can be considered as an improvement from traditional investment banking, such as an easy account setup, attentive customer service, comprehensive education, and most importantly low fees.
In order to develop a profitable robo-advisor is crucial to think of an efficient revenue model, which basically indicates how the digital advice platform is going to make money. The main source of revenues is the management “wrap” fee based on assets under management (AUM), which is usually lower if compared to traditional advisors. Apart from it, robo-advisors can make money also through the interest earned on cash balances, which becomes a significant source only if there are many users, through payments for order flow and by marketing targeted financial products and services to their clients.
There are many examples of robo-advisors that can be mentioned. However, the best-in-class robo advisors nowadays are Betterment and Wealthfront that have the significant competitive upside of having respectively no and low ($500) account minimums if compared to other competitors. Whereas in terms of AUM, the major player is Vanguard Personal Advisor Services, with an amount of assets under management equal to $170 Bn.
The main advantages of these digital financial advisors are the fact that they are more accessible and efficient then traditional human advisors. Users can access their services 24/7, as long as they have an Internet connection and can operate on their balance within a few clicks in the comfort of their home. Furthermore, by eliminating human labor, they also represent a low-cost alternative to traditional advisors. They offer the same services at a fraction of the cost, charging an annual flat fee that ranges from 0.2% to 0.5% of clients’ total account balances. This fee is definitely convenient especially if compared to the typical rate of 1% to 2% charged by a human financial advisor. Finally, robo-advisors require significantly less capital to get started, from hundreds to thousand depending on the users’ needs and on which digital advisor they decide to opt for. This represents a huge incentive for potential users to access their services considering the fact that human advisors typically require an initial minimum capital of $100,000 to invest.
However, robo-advisors have their downsides as well. Given the newness of this phenomenon, they have been often criticized for lacking in sophistication and empathy. Moreover, they limit the options that you can make as an individual investor since users cannot purchase individual stocks or bonds nor choose which mutual funds or EFTs they invest in.
Robo-advisors are becoming increasingly popular among investors, but only the future will tell whether this is a temporary phenomenon or if it is a trend that is going to stay.
WHAT IS CLUBHOUSE AND WHY IS IT SUDDENLY EVERYWHERE?
The latest must-have social networking app is called Clubhouse. It’s an iPhone-only app and it is described as a “new type of network based on voice”. It recently exploded in popularity after Tesla CEO Elon Musk appeared on the app, by joining the Good Time show, to talk about Mars, memes, and becoming a multiplanet species.
Since it’s voice-only and doesn’t use your camera, Clubhouse hopes you won’t worry about “eye contact, what you’re wearing, or where you are”. It seems like a dream for all the people that want to do other things in the meantime, but looking just around the corner there is a trick: you have to be invited to join by an existing member. Real world elitism, but make it virtual.
HOW DOES CLUBHOUSE WORK?
In order to join, an existing Clubhouse user has to send an invite from their app giving you access to set up an account. If you are invited, you’ll see a link texted to your phone number, directing you to a sign-up page in the app.
Clubhouse users can’t just send an invite to anyone who wants to join, however. Existing users only have two invites available at first.
The conversation room is just like a conference call, but with some people on the call talking, and most listening in. And, just like a phone call, once the conversation is over, the room is closed. Unlike Twitch – where live streamed videos stay on the platform for people to return to and watch – the live audio-chats had in conversation rooms disappear.
When you join, you select topics of interest, like tech, books, business or health. The more information you give the app about your interests, the more conversation rooms and individuals the app will recommend you follow or join.
You can join the room by tapping on it – they’re all open for you to hop in or out. Clubhouse wants users to explore different conversations. You enter each room as an audience member. If you want to talk, you “raise your hand”, and then the speakers can choose to invite you up. Clubhouse rooms are often hosted by experts, celebrities, venture capitalists, journalists, and so on. You can also create a room of your own.
WHY WAS IT SO POPULAR IN CHINA?
While censorship, suppression and government control is rife in China, Clubhouse managed to fly under the radar of China’s firewall for several months, unlike other social media networks Instagram and Facebook.
It became very popular, attracting large numbers of Chinese users and giving them a rare chance to “binge free expression”, and engage in discussion on topics that are usually blocked on the mainland, including Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
In other words, Chinese users, largely tech investors and professionals, are using the space to talk about topics that would otherwise be censored back home, such as democracy.”
As more attention has been recently drawn to sustainability issues, the fashion industry has come under the spotlight. The industry of fashion represents one of the largest consumer industries and yet it is heavily polluting, creating concern around its practices. Its negative impact on the planet is mainly caused by extensive water use, emissions, use of chemicals and generation and disposal of waste. The fast fashion industry, in particular, creates a lot of waste due to its business model characterized by quicker turnaround of styles, increased number of collections and lower prices.
During the event “The New Age of Fashion” that was held on the 17th of February organized by BSI and Green Light for Business, the topics of sustainable fashion and greenwashing were discussed. The presence of three guests made us understand better what sustainability in fashion really means and how sustainable brands are created and operate in the fashion sector.
Armadioverde – Francesco Minghini
The first guest was Francesco Minghini, head of Marketing and Sales for Europe at Armadioverde, the number one fashion recommerce in Italy. Armadioverde was founded in 2015 by two parents as a solution to the concern that their baby was growing faster than his clothes. They opened physical retail shops with the aim of swapping kids garments but they soon noticed that their business model was not scalable. They then transformed Armadioverde to an online platform, today present in Italy and France. The idea behind the fast-growing business is simple but effective. They collect clothes that are not used anymore free of charge and they separate those that are in optimal conditions, which are meant to be sold on their website, to those that are damaged, which are donated to ONG Humana. In exchange, they grant digital “stars”, which can be used to purchase other people’s second-hand clothes on their website.
Armadioverde is an example of a Circular Economy-based platform that provides an innovative, sustainable alternative that reduces the consumption and environmental impact of fast fashion. As a matter of fact, this industry generates excessive waste since a large amount of clothes is being disposed of before ever being worn out. Armadioverde provides a solution to close the loop and give a second life to used garments and therefore can be considered as an excellent example of business in the sustainable fashion industry.
Tina Logar Bauchmüller is the founder and designer of Mila.Vert, a fashion brand that produces timeless and sustainable women’s garments. Tina created the business in 2015 in Slovenia with the aim of making desirable clothing and avoiding the ethical and environmental issues that the fashion industry represents. Her brand is a symbol of empowerment, passion and kindness, which are the values embodied in both the design and production of clothes. As a matter of fact, Mila.Vert produces clothing in collaboration with two family-owned sewing companies and a knitting studio, all located in Slovenia. In this way, they ensure a transparent supply chain that guarantees both ethical and quality standards.
Tina has explained us that their design process is slow and intended to make timeless and quality clothes. They use environmentally friendly fabrics, and they have a limited supply chain. Some garments are partially handmade and all of them are made-to-order, which increases production times (5 to 15 days) but ensures a more sustainable approach to fashion. Other best practices of Mila.Vert include the use of organic cotton that reduces the usage of water, having a custom-fit production to customer’s measurements and producing 100% cruelty-free and PETA-approved clothes. Finally, she has expressed her will to use fabric leftovers to substitute plastic-based packaging.
Our last guest was Matteo Ward, Bocconi alumnus and co-founder of Wråd, an innovative start-up and design company dedicated to sustainable innovation and social change. Before co-founding Wråd, Matteo had experience in the world of fashion as District Manager at Abercrombie&Fitch. He is a sustainability advocate in the fashion industry: he is member of an advisory board at United Nations and member of Fashion Revolution Education team and Fashion Revolution Italy. Moreover, he is also a Ted and Keynote speaker.
Matteo has talked about greenwashing, which is the process of conveying a false impression or providing misleading information about how a company’s products are environmentally sound. Greenwashing deceives consumers into thinking that a company’s products are environmentally friendly or that follow sustainable standards. Nowadays greenwashing has become common practice in many companies, and for this reason it is important to understand the red flags that indicate greenwashing. In particular, some signals might be vagueness in language and wording, having too many visuals that refer extremely to greenery, promoting lies and unsubstantiated environmental claims and trading off benefits against some other bad practices. Although improvements in sustainability in fashion, Matteo believes that there is still a long way to go until the fashion industry can finally claim the sustainability card.
As the long-used industrial model of “take, make and waste” based on linearity is no longer viable because of natural resources scarcity and increase in industrial waste, a new solution has to be found in the fashion industry. New models based on circularity have started to emerge and reusing and recycling garments is becoming a widespread practice. Moreover, consumers need to be reeducated to reduce consumption and source more ethical clothes. Fashion claims for a new age: the sustainable age.
5 Ideas for an Ecological and Ethical Christmas Shopping
With Christmas approaching, the season of holiday gifts has begun. Finding the perfect gift for everyone takes time and effort and usually it results in excess consumption. So why not buying sustainable gifts this year? Giving a thoughtful present while helping the environment and communities is possible. Before buying anything this year, try to ask yourself three fundamental questions.
1. Who made the product? Try to purchase from environmentally conscious companies that make sustainability one of their key pillars. Particularly this year, consider privileging small businesses to support them during difficult times.
2. Where is it produced/sold? Consider buying from local producers. Check where is the product shipped from and try to minimize transportation to reduce the carbon footprint.
3. What is the product made of? Materials and ingredients are very important. Choose recyclable and healthy products and try to avoid polluting materials such as plastic!
With these questions in mind, we have compiled a list of five ideas to have a sustainable Christmas.
1. Reusable Water Bottle
Reusable water bottles are a perfect gift for environmentally conscious people. They are cheaper, safer and more sustainable than disposable ones. With reusable bottles it is possible to decrease carbon dioxide released in the atmosphere, as well as landfill waste and ocean pollution. Try to privilege stainless steel or glass over plastic bottles, since they are BPA free and more durable. A valid option is purchasing from 24 Bottles, an Italian sustainability-driven company that sells zero emissions reusable bottles.
Be original and gift a tree this Christmas. Platforms like Treedom offer the possibility to gift trees to loved ones. Why is it a perfect gift? Planting trees has a positive impact on the environment; they filter the air we breathe, produce oxygen, and remove carbon and harmful particles from the atmosphere. Moreover, it’s unique and greatly appreciated.
4. Local Desserts
Every country or region has its Christmas specialty, and everyone loves desserts! If you live in Italy, consider gifting a panettone or any typical delicacy that your city has to offer. In this way you will help local businesses and support the production of healthier products.
5. Ethical and Durable Clothes
Sustainability in the fashion industry is a critical issue, so this Christmas try to avoid buying clothes or accessories from fast fashion companies. Before making a purchase, research companies’ values and choose the ones that believe in sustainability, like Patagonia or Toms. Always check the textile composition and privilege organic cotton and/or recycled fabrics. An alternative is buying vintage or upcycled clothes. The East Market in Milan has recently launched an online marketplace for its vintage finds.
This Christmas be kind to the planet and give back to your local community. And whatever gift you choose, don’t forget to wrap it with sustainable wrapping paper!
Disclaimer: all links provided in the article are not sponsored or affiliated with BSI in any way
Living in a big city can be quite stressful as population grows at a faster rate and the need to move residents through existing transportation networks becomes more pressing.
In this dynamic world, micro mobility and sharing services have the potential to better connect people with public transit, reduce reliance on private cars, all while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
One of the first companies who has recognized this potential is Google. In fact it has launched a new feature within the navigation app that is very helpful when choosing the right combination of transport to get to a place as quickly as possible.
The new feature allows users to combine several modes of transport, including ridesharing and cycling.
When using Google Maps, you’ll see how to reach your destination by only using public transportation just like before, but you’ll also see options that add in ridesharing and biking in a Mixed Modes section. If you pick a ridesharing route, you will also be given information about the cost of the ride, traffic and expected waiting time. You can also choose your favorite provider.
If you prefer biking, the app can suggest specific cycling routes or the closest bus stop that you can reach by bike to save time.
Google maps also has an option for people who prefer scooters. One year ago, Lime and google Maps teamed up extending the reach of micro mobility to one of the world’s most popular GPS mapping services. In cities where Lime operates, riders are able to locate nearby Lime scooters, pedal bikes and e-assist bikes directly from Google Maps.
The group who will benefit the most from this update is commuters: data reports that in big cities the use of electric scooters reduces commuting time by more than 10 minutes.
Another important feature is the one displaying crowdedness predictions, which is extremely relevant since keeping distance is very important nowadays and excessive crowdedness might prevent us from being able to use public transportation.
Further possibilities that are likely to become reality in the future are options based on speed, price and carbon footprint.
Google is not the only company trying to appeal transit riders: Uber, Bolt and Citymapper are other tech giants involved in the same activity. However Google is strategically well positioned, even though it is not a transport operator, thanks to the data and the resources it disposes of.
The new features are constantly being updated in order to face the society’s developing need for convenient, quick and environmentally friendly ways of taking journeys across city centers. The increasing visibility of scooters alongside cycling and other transit options in Google Maps will certainly encourage more active and sustainable ways to travel and shows how society is rapidly shifting its preferences on transportation.
Are you an Amazon
customer? Have you ever wondered how that product in your online shopping cart
gets from Amazon to you? When asked these enticing questions, 100% of the
guests in the room nodded their heads in agreement. We all know the giant that
is Amazon and how good it is at managing its logistics, but, believe me when I
say, I would never have imagined such an organized, complex, fluid organization
of space, time, inventories and employees.
Let me take a step back. Why were we there in the first place? Thanks to its recent collaboration with NIMS, some lucky BSI members had the opportunity to have an inside look at the functioning of Amazon’s MXP5 Fulfilment Centre located in Castel San Giovanni. It is important to notice that Amazon decided to build its warehouse in a strategic position, right next to the highway exit, meaning it is well-connected to important regions: Lombardia, Emilia Romagna and Piemonte.
As soon as we arrived, we noticed something unique about the way cars were positioned in the parking lot: they were all parked in reverse. All employees at Amazon use to back into the parking space rather than driving into them. Like a sort of code of conduct, Gloria, our tour guide, explained this parking technique assures safety, which is a number-one priority at Amazon. Considering that more than 1,000 employees are now working at MXP5 (a huge increase from the 150 with whom they started with in 2013), they must adopt the best practices, enabling a smooth flow of traffic during changing shift hours. In fact, she noted that after an 8h shift, attention naturally drops, and parking in reverse helps exiting in a fast and secure way. But this is just one example of the distinctive management of the company. As we were guided up the stairs to the meeting room, Gloria instructed the group to follow her on the right lane. On the floor, red and green signals showed the right path to follow. She explained that in case any emergency arises, these rules prevent concussions and panic, as all employees know where to go.
Our tour guide
Gloria welcomed us to the room and gave us a brief introduction on the history
and functioning of MXP5. The very first of Amazon’s fulfilment centres, how
Amazon’s warehouses are called, was not the one we were in, but the one located
on the opposite side of the highway. They moved in MXP5 in 2013. You might be
wondering why MPX5? A very interesting thing about the way Amazon names each
fulfilment centre across the globe is that the reference is always taken after
the nearest airport, in this case, Malpensa Airport, while the 5 refers to the
progressive number they gave to that specific project. In 2017 they launched 2
other fulfilment centres, one in Passo Corese and one in Vercelli, each with a
The one we were in,
MPX5, is defined as a Sortable Traditional Site. “Traditional” refers to the
way they are processing all the items – the employees will just manually
receive the items, walk through the shelves in order to store or pick the items
and manually add the product to the conveyer system for final shipment. “Sortable”
instead designates the dimensions of the items that they store in that
particular warehouse. In MPX5 they hold primarily small items stored in the Big
Towers. Here they use a series of black buckets called “pods” positioned on the
conveyer system to move items from one big tower to another. The Big Towers are
essentially different floors characterized by thousands of shelves where you
can find all the items one can order on Amazon’s website.
The site in the
province of Rome is not a traditional site but a Robotic site, which means it
supports 2 process: storage and picking. Over there, it is not the employee who
will walk through the shelves in order to store or pick items, but it is the
shelf itself that will be lifted up and then taken to some fixed workstation.
How does this happen? Some robots called “Kivas”, capable of lifting up to
350kg, scan barcodes on the pavement to direct them to specific coordinates.
The site in Vercelli, in contrast, is a Non-Sortable site, which means there
they are storing only high size items, for example wardrobes, microwaves, etc.
On the label of each item delivered they print the name of the site which
fulfilled that order, so now you know whether your future order was managed by
MPX5 or some other fulfilment centre! Gloria explained that any other building
relates to another of Amazon’s businesses: Amazon transportation and logistics,
which takes care of the “last mile delivery”, meaning everything that happens
once the item leaves the fulfilment centre.
After the short
briefing, the visit inside the warehouse began. We were given special
fluorescent jackets with the Amazon logo and headphones so that we could follow
the guide’s instructions and insights. We started from inbound dock, where the
receive process occurs. Here products get off trailers by forklift or are
manually built into pallets. Freight is separated between coming from another
of Amazon’s fulfilment centre or coming directly from a customer. We then we
moved to the Big Towers to see how the items are stored and picked. Everyone
was impressed by the principle Amazon used to store items, the so-called “Order
Case”. Ironically, there was no order whatsoever. If you imagined items in
Amazon warehouse being stored in an orderly fashion like in a supermarket, with
toys in one aisle, electronics on another and books on another, you were
completely wrong. All of the inventory is stowed randomly. Gloria explained
that there are two main advantages of this system: first it optimizes the
chances that items in a multiple order are found in the same location,
minimizing the effort and time employees have to walk through the big towers in
order to pick or store items. Secondly, it decreases dramatically the chance of
picking a wrong item, since articles next to each other are completely
unrelated. Although it is counterintuitive, the system actually makes it easier
for employees to quickly pick and pack a wide variety of items.
We then moved to
outbound dock to see how orders are packed. First items belonging to different
shipments are organized and scanned for accuracy. Then they are sent to the
pack station, where employees are actually suggesting the box that will be used
to package a specific item. Many items are shipped in their original boxes to
reduce packaging and unnecessary waste. Two automation systems are implemented
to help to fulfil and ship orders out: the SLAM (Scan, Label, Apply, Manifest”)
and the Shipping Sorter. The SLAM is the system that labels each single box.
How it works? Packed envelops and boxes race under it and the machine deposits
shipping labels at an impressive speed with a light touch. The box is even
weighted to ensure it matches the order. The Shipping Sorter is the system that
actually reads the label on each package and helps to divide all the orders according
to zip code, destination area and time of delivery, before they are shipped and
finally reach your home.
As soon as the guided
tour ended, we were escorted to the first meeting room and surprisingly a tiny
budget (an airplane) was distributed out in memory of the great experience. The
in-company visit has really been an amazing opportunity to see with our own
eyes how Amazon efficiently manages the entire fulfilment process, from the
time the inventory comes in from manufacturers and is shipped out directly to