Category: Business week

Nearly twice as many Americans are hospitalized right now with COVID-19 than in spring

COVID-19 has hospitalized almost twice as many Americans as at any point in the pandemic, leaving medical providers on the brink of crisis with vaccine doses months away for most people.

The U.S. health care system and those who serve it are enduring more strain than ever. And the virus’s grip on hospitals has shifted toward more rural communities, where treatment alternatives are scarce.

In the near term, sustained patient loads threaten to accelerate deaths, as access to critical care declines in intensive care units. Longer term, the risks are more systemic: fatigue, attrition, and mental health damage to the doctors and nurses working to care for the sick.

“The moment when the percent of beds occupied by COVID patients increases, that really drives a lot of the staffing issues,” said Pinar Karaca-Mandic, a health care risk management professor at the University of Minnesota. “It exposed a lot of the fragmentation in … Read the rest

Very Good Security raises $60 million to make data force fields for DoorDash, Brex

When Mahmoud Abdelkader ceded his last company, Balanced, a financial tech, or fintech, firm where he worked as chief technology officer, to longtime rival Stripe in 2015, the surrender meant only temporary defeat.

At the time, Abdelkader was building payments rails for online marketplaces. But solutions to the thorny problem of securely transferring money over the Internet had broader potential than he first presumed, he realized. “It’s not about moving money. It’s about moving value, which is represented by pieces of data, securely,” he says.

That insight formed the foundation of Abdelkader’s next act: the amusingly named startup Very Good Security, or VGS, which he cofounded a year later with Marshall Jones, Balanced’s VP of engineering. (Abdelkader says the name is an homage to Pretty Good Privacy, an influential and at one time controversial data encryption program developed in the ’90s.)

Now VGS is receiving a boost. Investors, … Read the rest

It’s time for progressive white women to do more for racial equality

It is now well-known that a narrow majority of white women, once again, voted for Trump this November. There’s a lot to unpack. 

In my Wonder Media Network podcast, White Picket Fence, I do a deep dive into the topic, exploring the many influences on white women’s identities and politics. What I’ve discovered is that moving our national conversation about race, gender, and politics to something more constructive requires more than “hot takes” on exit polls. We should be concerned by the growth of a base ginned up on misinformation and white grievance. But the overwhelming focus on white women who vote Republican shifts some of the responsibility from where it needs to be: on the shoulders of progressive white women. 

I am one of those progressive white women, And the more I’ve examined white women’s identities and politics, the more I’m convinced that building a more just and equitable … Read the rest

Mike Pompeo: Russia was ‘pretty clearly’ behind SolarWinds cyberattack on government and business

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said late Friday that Russia was “pretty clearly” behind the gravest cyberattack against the United States on record. Pompeo is the first administration official to publicly tie the Kremlin to the widespread intrusion at a time when President Trump has kept silent on the failure to protect government and private-sector computer networks.

It’s not clear exactly what the hackers were seeking, but experts say it could include nuclear secrets, blueprints for advanced weaponry, COVID-19 vaccine-related research and information for dossiers on key government and industry leaders. 

“We’re still unpacking precisely what it is, and I’m sure some of it will remain classified,” Pompeo said in an interview late Friday with radio talk show host Mark Levin. “But suffice it to say there was a significant effort to use a piece of third-party software to essentially embed code inside of U.S. government systems and it now … Read the rest

Biden wants to change how credit scores work in America

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The credit industry isn’t working if you ask consumer advocates. The Big Three credit agencies—Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian—are black boxes, gathering and selling consumer data, grading us on our financial behavior without letting us in on how they do it, and perpetuating damaging racial disparities while they’re at it. 

That’s why consumer advocates are calling for a public credit reporting agency, and why President-elect Joe Biden has adopted a proposal for just that from left-leaning think tank Demos.

The proposal suggests building a publicly run credit reporting agency within the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that would eventually, over the course of seven years, replace the current for-profit credit system in America. The agency would be steered by consumer need rather than the bottom line, according to proposal … Read the rest

All that’s redacted in the Texas lawsuit against Google

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That old expression that the second time is a charm may apply in antitrust. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and nine fellow AGs dropped a 130-page lawsuit against Google on Wednesday that’s quite a bit more interesting than the Justice Department’s lawsuit filed in October.

As you may have guessed from the page count, this one is a Texas-sized doozy of blockbuster allegations that Google has illegally monopolized each and every part of the market for digital advertising: the ad servers that host the ads, the exchanges where online publishers sell space for ads, the networks where advertisers list ads, and the tools everyone uses to help them manage the complex system in real time.

Unfortunately and bizarrely, the Texas complaint is … Read the rest

Why the unemployment system is broken and how Biden plans to fix it

Next month President-elect Joe Biden will be sworn in to lead a nation amid an unemployment crisis—and it could get worse before it gets better.

In all, more than 19 million Americans are still receiving unemployment benefits, including around 13 million covered by pandemic unemployment benefits created by the CARES Act. But unless Congress acts before the end of the year to extend pandemic unemployment benefits, around 13 million of those jobless Americans will lose their benefits.

Even if Congress renews those pandemic unemployment benefits, economic recovery may still be at risk. The rebound that started off strong in the summer, with 4.8 million jobs added in June alone, has since slowed to an anemic pace. The country only netted 245,000 jobs in November, and at that pace, it could take until late 2023 to fully recover.

The unemployed will look to the Biden administration to resolve both … Read the rest

Welcome to the investing wars

This is the web version of Term Sheet, a daily newsletter on the biggest deals and dealmakers. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox. 

Sequoia Capital may be a major investor in Robinhood, but it doesn’t think stock-picking will take over all of investing. 

In a bet consumers won’t put all their investing dollars into robo-advisors and stock-picking apps, the venture capital firm is leading a $45 million Series B round in Vise, a startup seeking to automate time-consuming tasks for independent investment advisors while shaping individualized portfolios for their clients with the help of A.I. Since Vise’s revenue comes from the assets it helps advisors manage, it does appear to indirectly compete with companies like Robinhood for the same investing dollars. 

But Sequoia Partner Ravi Gupta says he believes the pie is big enough that all these companies can co-exist together. “We don’t see … Read the rest

The IPO slate for 2021 gets heavy

Good morning, Term Sheet readers.

Last week was one to remember for tech companies going public: DoorDash, Airbnb, and C3.ai all more than doubled in their initial public offerings, valuing the combined companies upward of $140 billion on an undiluted basis as of Monday. The enormous pops fanned criticism once more that IPOs were being mispriced and that money was being left on the table (and while I won’t go into it now, there are some worthy reads arguing some of this criticism is overdone).

Now after seeing these extreme first-day pops, unicorns Affirm and Roblox have both reportedly pushed their listing timetable back to 2021, per the Wall Street Journal. Roblox in particular is said to be seeking a way to potentially take advantage of a pop. It hasn’t helped that the Securities and Exchange Commission has been flooded with listing filings. The fintech lender and gaming … Read the rest

When Broadway comes back: 5 ways the pandemic will transform the live theater industry

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the global theater industry to a standstill. But 2020 is not the first time that the industry has faced an existential crisis. The theater community has confronted acts of terror such as 9/11 or the London Blitz that shuttered cultural activity; disruptive technologies that shifted consumer behavior, like motion pictures and television; and even prior pandemics dating back to Shakespeare, including AIDS, which ravaged a generation of artists. 

In each instance the industry has mourned, innovated, and emerged stronger. Make no mistake: Global theater is hurting right now, with its darkest days still to come. Yet the challenges experienced over this year, and the pivots and adjustments they’ve triggered, allow us to infer what may lie around the corner. 

Broadway cast members at a rally to support New York City’s entertainment industry in the wake of the World Trade Center terrorist attacks, on September 28,
Read the rest