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A Deep Elemental Force: What (truly) is marketing?

Flint McGlaughlin asks if marketing can be redeemed from its negative connotations and offers a new definition of the term.
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Billionaire Ron Baron: By 2030 Tesla Could be a Trillion Dollar Company

Billionaire investor Ron Baron says that by 2030 Tesla could be a trillion dollar company. He says it’s clear that Tesla will be at $ 60 billion in sales within the next 3-4 years. Baron added, “It’s remarkable what Elon Musk has done.”

Ron Baron, Founder of Baron Capital, discussed his bullish opinion of Tesla on CNBC:

By 2030 Tesla Could be a Trillion Dollar Company

It was a good quarter for Tesla. They had $ 6.8 billion in sales versus $ 4 billion, so it’s up 70 percent. They made a billion for cash flow in the quarter before they spent on investing. That means they’re at an annualized rate of $ 5.5 billion of cash flow before they spend them investing. The company is valued for $ 60 billion, so it’s 11 or 12 times earnings, that’s not bad.

In addition to that, they are growing at 50 percent a year. I think that this year they did sales at $ 20 billion. We started in 2014 when they were doing $ 3.7 billion and this year it’s $ 20 billion, next year is $ 30 billion. I think that in 12 to 13 years, by 2030, this could be a trillion dollar company. I think it’s clear they’re going to be $ 60 billion in three or four years. This could be a really big company.

Cash Flow Doesn’t Appear to be a Problem

As the cash flow goes, when I look at the numbers it doesn’t appear to be the problem. Elon Musk says it’s not a problem, I take him at his word. He could have sold equity a year and a half ago at $ 370 to $ 380 a share, people were scrambling to buy, he chose not to. You have these businesses that they invest and when they’re investing they penalize profitability.

When you build a faith factory and you spend $ 300 million on the factory and it’s built for 250,000 cars a year and you’re doing 20,000 cars a year or 30,000, you’re not going to be profitable with that. But all of a sudden, you get it to 250,000 cars a year, you’re making $ 150 million on a $ 300 million investment, then you can double it. You’re at the point now where incremental investments are going to be incredibly profitable. They are now doing 5,000 cars a week, they’re going to be able to do Model 3 for virtually no additional investment. They’re going to get to 7,000 cars a week.

It’s Remarkable What Elon Musk Has Done

They told Wall Street this quarter that just ended that they were hoping to produce a gross profit margin of 15 percent on the Model 3 and it came out over 20 percent. Internally, they were hoping for 20 percent and he kept calling meetings, you got to cut costs here, you’ve got to watch that. When you’re building something from the ground up it’s not easy, it’s not easy doing what he’s done, remarkable what he’s done.

When he started making the Model S and Model X, those cars initially, when they were selling for over $ 100,000 a car, they had gross profits of 20 percent. Now they’re in the 90s for the car and the gross profits are 31 percent. Gross profits keep going up even though the price has gone down. The same thing is going to happen with this car. I think the gross profits on the Model 3 are going to be as good as they are on the Model S and X and I think the Model Y is going to be the best one they’ve ever had.

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Writing Nuts and Bolts: Fast Starts, Mindful Tools, and Remarkably Improved Habits

This week, we had a nuts-and-bolts focus on getting more of the right things done in your writing and business…

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Deepak Chopra Delivering Reflections on Alexa via LivePerson

Personal transformation guru and popular author Deepak Chopra has partnered with LivePerson to provide insights on demand through Amazon Alexa. “I have this little microphone attached to this little phone and I just speak out to what I’m thinking and what my intention for the day is,” says Chopra, “It’s recorded here and it goes to LivePerson and then it’s on Alexa. It’s all done very efficiently and smoothly and it’s part of my daily routine now.” Each morning, through LivePerson’s conversational tools, Dr. Chopra shares new reflections for the day to center himself and his followers.

“Our mission is to make life easier by transforming how people communicate with brands,” said Robert Coverdale, Head of LivePerson Studios. “We help the most innovative brands on earth create new business models with the possibilities available in conversational interfaces like text messaging and voice assistants. Now, we have taken the same design and AI tools we used to create and scale those experiences and made them available to individuals with large followings. Our first step is launching with Dr. Chopra, who, like us, understands and values the use of AI to make more human connections.”

Deepak Chopra recently discussed his LiveNation Alexa partnership on Fox Business:

Sharing Reflections on Alexa via LivePerson

For the last 40 years, I’ve been sharing my insights or reflections, meditations with people. It started with friends, then family, then social media, and now Alexa. It wasn’t planned but I start my day with a few reflections and intentions, a joyful energetic body, love and compassion in the heart, clarity of mind, lightness of being. Then I expand on that and somehow Alexa picked it up through LivePerson.

I think setting an intention or even asking yourself a simple question is enough. You don’t have to actually concentrate and having a specific intention. If you ask yourself, what do I want for me today or for the world or for my kids, you will already have a response there. That brings clarity to your intention and if you start letting go and settle in your being then that intention organizes its own fulfillment through synchronicity. That’s a well-known spiritual tradition.

The Internet is Our Global Brain

I think the technology is going to be the next phase of our evolution for higher consciousness if we want it. Technology can be destructive as you know. Technology can also create a more peaceful, just, sustainable, healthy, and joyful world.

What we see as the Internet, that’s our global brain right now. If I send an abusive tweet, let’s say, to somebody in Africa, I could give them high blood pressure just by doing that. On the other hand, I send them an emoticon with a hug, it could give them a dopamine hit. Technology is bringing together the collective brain. The Internet is the human condition. If you don’t like what is happening in the world then we have to change that interconnectivity.

A More Peaceful, Just, Sustainable, Healthier, Joyful World

LivePerson is already looking at recruiting other influencers. We need a critical mass of people who want a more peaceful, just, sustainable, healthier, and joyful world. That can only happen if we collectively have that intention and rewire our collective brain, which is the Internet. It’s our brain.

I do a morning meditation which is always preceded by four questions. Who am I? What do I want? What’s my purpose? What am I grateful for? Then something comes up.

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UNCS CEO: It’s an Amazing Time To Be a Consumer… Every Day is Black Friday

The CEO of United National Consumer Suppliers, Brett Rose, says that it’s an amazing time to be a consumer because every day is Black Friday. Rose predicts that this is going to possibly be the biggest Q4 in our history.

Brett Rose, CEO of United National Consumer Suppliers, discussed Amazon and ecommerce in an interview on Fox Business:

Amazon Has Huge Competitive Advantage

All things considered, consumers want free shipping, not quick shipping. However, if all levels are equal with Amazon, Target, and Walmart, the one competitive advantage that Amazon has, that Target and Walmart can’t, is that Amazon has millions of these third-party resellers constantly filling their coffers with products. Target and Walmart are limited to what they have in stock that’s ready to go.

There is no denying that Walmart has made some massive strides. But to come after Amazon is hefty. Like I said Amazon has a constant supply of products where their not just limited to what they’re curating on their own. They’re limitless in regards to what everybody is sending to them to go right to the consumer.

Every Day is Black Friday

Interesting times with tariffs. If you read everything that came out Chinese imports are up 15 percent over the same time last year. They’ve all front-loaded in preparations for the President’s tariffs which are now in full effect. All of these retailers pushed up orders in what might have otherwise taken months. It’s yet to be determined, but consumers still need goods. There’s always going to be a need, the price is just going to fluctuate.

If numbers are indicative, everything these retailers are curating and everything the street is saying, it’s going to be one of if not the biggest Q4 in our history. Even if you look at Black Friday announcements, Black Friday is out already. Amazon has released their Black Friday items. BlackFriday.com, Macy’s, went live the other day with their sales. Retailers are vamping up to stay competitive. You go online now and you can figure out what retailers are selling for Black Friday.

It’s an amazing time to be a consumer. Every day is Black Friday. Right now it really is. They’ve already released what the doorbusters are going to be.

Still a Major Value in Having a Physical Presence

There’s always going to be the consumer that likes to go to the store, likes to feel it, touch it, get the treasure hunt, but now with real-time shipping, free shipping, real-time inventory, it’s a great time to be a consumer. It’s certainly competitive. While Amazon is making strides they are still going after brick & mortar. Buying Whole Foods and some of the other retailers they are looking at, says there is still a major value in having that physical presence.

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Venture Capitalist Kyle Lui: Next Generation of E-Scooters are Coming

Venture capitalist Kyle Lui says that there are a lot of exciting innovations coming to the world of e-scooters. Lui says that there will be larger batteries that will be swappable and where there will be ride-sharing style incentives for people to charge and relocate the scooters.

Companies like Lime and SPIN, which was recently acquired by Ford Motor Company, are actively working on innovations that will improve the customer experience and e-scooter ecosystem.

Kyle Lui, early-stage VC at DCM Ventures, recently discussed the evolution of e-scooters in an interview with Investor’s Business Daily:

Exciting E-Scooter Innovations

I think there are a lot of exciting things happening, both innovations that the scooter companies are creating themselves and then working with third-party manufacturers. On the battery side, it’s a combination of larger batteries, we know that in the most popular markets they don’t last through the day, so we’ll see batteries that have longer charges. I think you’ll start to see things like swappable batteries. You’ll start to see things where the charging of the battery is embedded into the scooters themselves that allow anyone to be able to charge them and not have special parts.

I also think you’re going to see a lot of innovations beyond the battery to really improve the user experience. As people are riding this on a daily basis, there’s been a lot of feedback that’s been given on how to improve the consumer experience, how to make it safer, how to start to add autonomous features, how to have places for a helmet, and places to put a phone dock as you’re navigating. I think all of those will be coming in the next generation.

Taking a Playbook Out of Traditional Ride-Share

I think at the end of the day the business model is actually quite simple because the companies are very focused on driving revenue, driving number of rides, revenue per ride, and then the other side, the operational cost. So instead of having a large on the ground operations team, to be able to leverage third party, potentially even the riders themselves, to be able to charge them, make sure that they’re in the right place, and really take a playbook out of the traditional ride-sharing guys to make this an opportunity for people to make additional money.

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The Difference Between URL Structure and Information Architecture – Whiteboard Friday

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Questions about URL structure and information architecture are easy to get confused, but it’s an important distinction to maintain. IA tends to be more impactful than URL decisions alone, but advice given around IA often defaults to suggestions on how to best structure your URLs. In this Whiteboard Friday, Will Critchlow helps us distinguish between the two disparate topics and shares some guiding questions to ask about each.

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Video Transcription

Hi, everyone. Welcome to a British Whiteboard Friday. My name is Will Critchlow. I’m one of the founders of Distilled, and I wanted to go back to some basics today. I wanted to cover a little bit of the difference between URL structure and information architecture, because I see these two concepts unfortunately mixed up a little bit too often when people are talking about advice that they want to give.

I’m thinking here particularly from an SEO perspective. So there is a much broader study of information architecture. But here we’re thinking really about: What do the search engines care about, and what do users care about when they’re searching? So we’ll link some basics about things like what is URL structure, but we’re essentially talking here about the path, right, the bit that comes after the domain www.example.com/whatever-comes-next.

There’s a couple of main ways of structuring your URL. You can have kind of a subfolder type of structure or a much flatter structure where everything is kind of collapsed into the one level. There are pros and cons of different ways of doing this stuff, and there’s a ton of advice. You’re generally trading off considerations around, in general, it’s better to have shorter URLs than longer URLs, but it’s also better, on average, to have your keyword there than not to have your keyword there.

These are in tension. So there’s a little bit of art that goes into structuring good URLs. But too often I see people, when they’re really trying to give information architecture advice, ending up talking about URL structure, and I want to just kind of tease those things apart so that we know what we’re talking about.

So I think the confusion arises because both of them can involve questions around which pages exist on my website and what hierarchies are there between pages and groups of pages.

URL questions

So what pages exist is clearly a URL question at some level. Literally if I go to /shoes/womens, is that a 200 status? Is that a page that returns things on my website? That is, at its basics, a URL question. But zoom out a little bit and say what are the set of pages, what are the groups of pages that exist on my website, and that is an information architecture question, and, in particular, how they’re structured and how those hierarchies come together is an information architecture question.

But it’s muddied by the fact that there are hierarchy questions in the URL. So when you’re thinking about your red women’s shoes subcategory page on an e-commerce site, for example, you could structure that in a flat way like this or in a subfolder structure. That’s just a pure URL question. But it gets muddied with the information architecture questions, which we’ll come on to.

I think probably one of the key ones that comes up is: Where do your detail-level pages sit? So on an e-commerce site, imagine a product page. You could have just /product-slug. Ideally that would have some kind of descriptive keywords in it, rather than just being an anonymous number. But you can have it just in the root like this, or you can put it in a subfolder, the category it lives in.

So if this is a pair of red women’s shoes, then you could have it in /shoes/women/red slug, for example. There are pros and cons of both of these. I’m not going to get deep into it, but in general the point is you can make any of these decisions about your URLs independent of your information architecture questions.

Information architecture questions

Let’s talk about the information architecture, because these are actually, in general, the more impactful questions for your search performance. So these are things like, as I said at the beginning, it’s essentially what pages exist and what are their hierarchies.

  • How many levels of category and subcategory should we have on our website?
  • What do we do in our faceted navigation?
  • Do we go two levels deep?
  • Do we go three levels deep?
  • Do we allow all those pages to be crawled and indexed?
  • How do we link between things?
  • How do we link between the sibling products that are in the same category or subcategory?
  • How do we link back up the structure to the parent subcategory or category?
  • How do we crucially build good link paths out from the big, important pages on our website, so our homepage or major category pages?
  • What’s the link path that you can follow by clicking multiple links from there to get to detail level for every product on your website?

Those kind of questions are really impactful. They make a big difference, on an SEO front, both in terms of crawl depth, so literally a search engine spider coming in and saying, “I need to discover all these pages, all these detail-level pages on your website.” So what’s the click depth and crawl path out from those major pages?

Think about link authority and your link paths

It’s also a big factor in a link authority sense. Your internal linking structure is how your PageRank and other link metrics get distributed out around your website, and so it’s really critical that you have these great linking paths down into the products, between important products, and between categories and back up the hierarchy. How do we build the best link paths from our important pages down to our detail-level pages and back up?

Make your IA decisions before your URL structure decisions

After you have made whatever IA decisions you like, then you can independently choose your preferred URLs for each page type.

These are SEO information architecture questions, and the critical thing to realize is that you can make all of your information architecture decisions — which pages exist, which subcategories we’re going to have indexed, how we link between sibling products, all of this linking stuff — we can make all these decisions, and then we can say, independently of whatever decisions we made, we can choose any of the URL structures we like for what those actual pages’ paths are, what the URLs are for those pages.

We need to not get those muddied, and I see that getting muddied too often. People talk about these decisions as if they’re information architecture questions, and they make them first, when actually you should be making these decisions first and then picking the best, like I said, it’s a bit more art than science sometimes to making the decision between longer URLs, more descriptive URLs, or shorter URL paths.

So I hope that’s been a helpful intro to a basic topic. I’ve written a bunch of this stuff up in a blog post, and we’ll link to that. But yeah, I’ve enjoyed this Whiteboard Friday. I hope you have too. See you soon.

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Nokia CEO: 5G Will Launch in 2019 Starting in the US

Nokia CEO Rajeev Suri says that the company will start to launch 5G in 2019 and 2020 starting with the United States followed by Japan, South Korea, and China. He says that the rollouts have already begun with actual 5G launches next year.

Rajeev Suri, President, and CEO of Nokia discussed the company’s 5G rollout on CNBC:

5G Will Start to Launch in 2019 and 2020

It is starting to really move. We expect that 5G will start to launch in 2019 and 2020. We are starting here in the US which is the first market, Japan, South Korea, and China will come next during 2019. The rollouts have already begun with 5G and the launches next year.

We are a leader in the networks business and we acquired Alcatel-Lucent back in 2016. The first phase of the merger was all about elimination of duplication. Now we are in the second phase which is about optimizing the new company for lean as we get into 5G. There is some duplication, so we will cut legacy R&D, we will cut some real estate, overhead, and some areas in IT. So it’s still a little bit of duplication, elimination, and then optimization.

We’ve Got Mitigation Plans Around Tariffs

We have a global supply chain and we’ve got mitigation plans around what happens with the tariffs. Having said that, I don’t think we are seeing an issue on the demand side. We do see some issue on the cost side, but it’s not meaningful for us, not meaningful this year. It’s going to be a little bit of headwind next year but we know how to get through it.

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Etsy CEO: Machine Learning is Opening Up a Whole New Opportunity

Etsy CEO Josh Silverman says that “machine learning is opening up a whole new opportunity” for the company to organize 50 million items into a discovery platform that makes buying an enjoyable experience and also is profitable for sellers.

Josh Silverman, CEO of Etsy, recently talked about their much-improved business and why it is working so well with Jim Cramer on CNBC:

Our Mission is Keeping Commerce Human

Our mission is keeping commerce human. It’s really about in a world where automation is changing the nature of work and we’re all buying more and more commoditized things from the same few fulfillment centers. Allowing someone to harness their creative energy and turn that creativity into a business and then connect with someone in the other part of the country or in another part of the world, that’s really special. We think there’s an ever-increasing need for that in this world.

It’s about value. We’ve been really focused on delivering more value for our makers. Etsy really is a platform that brings buyers to sellers and that’s very valuable. We raised our commission from 3.5 to 5 percent commission which was I think is fair value for our sellers, particularly because we’re reinvesting 80 percent of that into the growth of the platform.

Free shipping is pretty much table stakes today. Yet only about 20 percent of items have free shipping. About half of all the items on Etsy buyers say have shipping prices that are too high and yet we grew GMS at 20 percent last quarter.

Machine Learning is Opening Up a Whole New Opportunity

Machine learning is opening up a whole new opportunity for us to take 50 million items from two million makers and make sense of that for people. We have 37 million active buyers now and many of them come just for discovery, just to see what they can find, and that is exactly the right thing for someone out there. Our job is to create that love connection. Etsy over the past 14 years, with a large team effort, has I think done a great job.

One thing I want to emphasize is the quality and the craftsmanship with so many of the products on Etsy. That’s something that has been such a delight for me. People like Kringle Workshops that make these incredible products. What we have been doing a better job and need to continue to do a better job of really surfacing the beautiful artisanally crafted products that are available at a really fair price. You’re not having to pay for warehousing, you’re not having to pay for all the other things that mass-produce things have to pay for, you’re buying directly from the person who made it. So it can be both beautiful, handcrafted, and well priced.

There are 2 million sellers, 87 percent of them are women, over 90 percent are working from home or are businesses of one, who can create a global business from their garage or their living room. Etsy does provide a real sense of community for them and that’s really powerful.

Amazon May Open New HQ in Queens Near Etsy

We feel great about our employee value proposition and come what may. Here’s what we have going for us. We think we’ve got the best team, certainly in tech companies on the eastern seaboard. We think ours is the best and we continue to attract great talent. The reason is, first and foremost, our mission is really a meaningful important mission and that matters. Great people want to work in a place with a great mission.

Second, our technology challenges are interesting. For example, search and using machine learning to make sense of 50 million items that don’t map to a catalog. Third, our culture is really special. We have been a company that’s authentically cared about diversity from the beginning. Over 50 percent of our executive staff are women, we have a balanced board, 50 percent male and female, and 32 percent of our engineers are female, which is twice the industry average. People who care about diversity and inclusion really want to come to work at Etsy. All of that is going for us and we’re happy to compete with whoever we need to.

Earnings Call Comments by Etsy CEO:

Active Buyers Grew 17 Percent

Etsy’s growth accelerated again in the third quarter to nearly 21% on a constant-currency basis. Revenue growth exceeded 41%, fueled by the launch of our new pricing structure, and our adjusted EBITDA margins grew to nearly 23%, while we also increased our investments in the business.

Active buyers grew 17% to 37 million worldwide. This is the fourth consecutive quarter that GMS has grown faster than active buyers, evidence that we are seeing increased buyer activity on the platform, which is a key proxy for improvement in frequency. We grew the number of active sellers by 8% and GMS per active seller is also increasing.

Two principal levers contributed to our progress this past quarter. The first is our continued product investment, focused on improving the shopping experience on Etsy. By making it easier to find and buy the great products available for sale on Etsy, we’re doing a better job converting visits into purchases. The second lever was our new pricing structure, which enabled us to ramp up investments in marketing, shipping improvements and customer support.

Successful Cloud Migration

We achieved a significant milestone in our cloud migration this quarter, successfully migrating our marketplace, Etsy.com, and our mobile applications to the Google Cloud with minimal disruption to buyers and sellers. This increases our confidence that the migration will be complete by the end of 2019.

Once fully migrated, we expect to dramatically increase the velocity of experiments and product development to iterate faster and leverage more complex search and machine learning models with the goal of rapidly innovating, improving search and ultimately driving GMS growth.

In fact, we’re beginning to see some of those benefits today based on the systems we’ve already migrated. I’d like to thank our engineering team for their incredible work to get this – get us to this point.

 

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Tinder Co-Founder: Siri Might Become a Matchmaker Soon

Tinder Co-Founder Sean Rad, in an interview on stage at the Web Summit in Lisbon, Portugal, said that he thinks that as the technology of AI advances that Siri might become a matchmaker soon:

I think the future looks nothing like what you see right now. A lot of people talk about AI and its ability to create new insights and new data, but I actually like to think about AI and its ability to create better user experiences. I’ll give you a simple picture of what I where I think not just Tinder is headed but a lot of different applications are headed. I think Siri might become a matchmaker soon.

Tinder has made it being exceptionally simpler and easier to connect with people. This is partially because it introduces a new way to double opt-in and partially because behind the scenes there’s a lot that we’re doing with AI in ensuring that we show you the best possible matches, but you could see how it could get even easier.

One day because the system is so smart in knowing the users and knowing what you want, one day Siri might say… hey Sean, there’s someone a mile away who you find attractive and we were pretty sure she finds you attractive and you both happen to like Coldplay and they’re playing in town next week. Do you want to get a coffee and if you like each other go? Siri might then create that transaction or might actually make that introduction like a traditional matchmaker.

You sort of see that as technology gets better, technology starts to disappear in our lives and starts to become a little more fluid with our daily behaviors and that creates exciting new possibilities.

What About AI-Powered Bots Making Matches? I hope not, I think that’s a scary existence. You don’t want to take the humanity out of technology.

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