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Monthly Archives: June 2017

Steve Madden Shoes for Men

Steve Madden is practically synonymous with high-heel shoes and thigh-high boots. He has more than 250 namesake stores all over the world, and his shoes for women are carried in major department stores.

Now he is moving in on the men’s market.

Mr. Madden, perhaps the most famous fashion entrepreneur to be convicted and jailed, served two and a half years in a Florida prison for securities fraud and stock manipulation in the early 2000s after having illegally traded shares from the initial public offering of Stratton Oakmont, the investment firm run by Jordan Belfort. The case was fodder for the 2013 Martin Scorsese film “The Wolf of Wall Street,” with Leonardo DiCaprio playing Mr. Belfort and Jake Hoffman playing Mr. Madden. Since his release from prison, Mr. Madden has devoted himself to the business he loves.

He opened a big new store in Times Square on Aug. 1, with nearly a third of its 2,000-square-foot floor space dedicated to his new focus: men’s shoes. “I felt that men were getting shortchanged,” he said. “We were putting all the excitement into women’s.”

I would like to go into the sneaker business. I think everybody is wearing sneakers all the time. That’s something you’ll see in the future: more sneakers. I went out to a restaurant in Sag Harbor and it was all mostly 20- or 30-somethings. Why I was there, I don’t know. They were all wearing sneakers. They looked great! But it

More sneakers and booties. They call short boots “booties.” One of the newest features on the boot is the side zipper. In the old days, you had to sit down, lace ’em all up and now you just reach your foot in and zip ’em up and boom! It’s taking a little utility influence and putting it into fashion. Our men’s business is great. We’re bringing the excitement we’ve brought to women’s, but we’re doing it slowly.

Toshiba Edges Closer Chip Unit

A goal, Toshiba says, is to sign a contract this month, but other bidders are still not excluded from talks (Toshiba had also been in discussions with bidders led by the American company Western Digital and Foxconn of Taiwan).

The company has been trying to unload its chip business as part of efforts to strengthen its balance sheet after huge losses at Westinghouse, its American nuclear unit, which filed for bankruptcy in March.

Senate Democrats have said they would try to block any rewrite of the tax code that included these measures, arguing that they would make a mockery of Republican promises to provide relief for the middle class. And Republicans have to overcome their own disagreements before they can introduce their framework.

President Trump has been dining with senators from both parties, reaching across the aisle out of concern that it will be impossible to pass a tax bill with only Republican votes.

DowDuPont Revises Breakup Plan

The activists spoke and the chemicals giant (eventually) responded.

DowDuPont will still break itself into three businesses — an agricultural company, a materials science specialist and a specialty products business — but the allocation will be different.

It won’t be the six businesses that the hedge fund Third Point had pushed for in May, but it will take into account its warnings about units being “stranded” in the new materials science company. DowDuPont had faced a barrage of challenges from activists that also included Jana Partners, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Shares rose and three activist investors that pushed for changes — Third Point, Glenview Capital Management and Trian Partners — hailed the move.

The company also promised details of plans for share buybacks and dividend payments, The Financial Times reported.

Mike Cagney, the Social Finance chief executive who announced on Monday that he would step down, had always had the support of SoFi’s board, even as his behavior raised questions.

That backing allowed him to build the fast-growing start-up, now valued at more than $4 billion.

But there were costs. Among them were the complaints we detailed on Tuesday, and employees who spoke to The Times said that Mr. Cagney would brag about his genitalia and his sexual conquests at late-night, wine-soaked gatherings.

Other executives around him behaved in a similar manner:

• Nino Fanlo, the chief financial officer and a former executive at Goldman Sachs and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, is said to have talked openly about women’s breasts and once offered female employees bonuses for losing weight. He also said that women would be happier as homemakers. (Mr. Fanlo said it was “patently false” that he did not respect women and said that his team included women who had received promotions and professional accolades.)

• Employees said they caught colleagues having sex with supervisors at SoFi’s office in Healdsburg, Calif. Yulia Zamora, who worked as an underwriter at SoFi from 2015 to 2016, described the company as a frat house: “You would find people having sex in their cars and in the parking lot. It was a free-for-all.”

Mr. Cagney has also been accused by colleagues of being too aggressive with the business.

He once decided to put customer service representatives in charge of lending determinations, despite their lack of experience in the area. SoFi also did not have enough money to fund all the loans it was making and employees who dealt with customers were told to lie and say that people would get the money within 72 hours.

 

Facebook Running on Objectionable Videos

In response to those concerns, Facebook released a new set of rules on Wednesday that outline the types of videos and articles that it will bar from running ads. It also said it would begin disclosing new information to advertisers about where their messages appear on the platform and on external apps and sites it is partners with.

The rules, which will be enforced by a mix of automation and human review, restrict ads from content that depicts, among other topics, real-world tragedies, “debatable social issues,” misappropriation of children’s show characters, violence, nudity, gore, drug use and derogatory language. Facebook is extending the guidelines immediately to videos — which the company hopes will become an increasingly lucrative part of its business — and, in the coming months, to articles.

Facebook said users who repeatedly violate its content guidelines, share sensational clickbait or post fake news may lose the ability to run ads.

“There have been concerns that marketers have had that are wide-ranging around digital, and we want to do everything we can to ensure that we are providing the safest environment for publishers, advertisers and for people that utilize the platform,” said Carolyn Everson, Facebook’s vice president of global marketing solutions.

Facebook and Google were criticized during and after the presidential election for allowing misinformation to spread on their platforms. This year, YouTube had to address advertisers’ concerns after messages from major brands like AT&T were discovered on videos that promoted terrorism and hate speech. The Wall Street Journal found at least 50 acts of violence on Facebook Live broadcasts.

(On the other side of the advertising equation, Facebook disclosed last week that it had identified more than $100,000 worth of ads on divisive issues that ran from June 2015 to May 2017 and had been bought by fake accounts based in Russia.)

The companies are moving quickly to address such issues, particularly as they seek to attract a greater portion of the money earmarked for television advertising to the video content on their sites.

Facebook has enabled hundreds of publishers and individuals to run ads during live video broadcasts in the past year, and the company recently introduced a slate of new shows on a part of its site called “Watch.” If the new guidelines encourage people to post more G-rated video content, they are likely to bolster Facebook’s pitch to advertisers

That should be an advantage in policing content, Mr. Montgomery said, especially with the limits that Facebook is placing on who can make money from certain features. For example, the company required pages and profiles that wanted to run ads on live videos this year to have more than 2,000 followers. They could only show ads if they had at least 300 concurrent viewers after four minutes.

Facebook also said it would begin showing advertisers a preview of where their messages may appear before campaigns start, giving advertisers a chance to block undesirable destinations. The company will also report on where the ads actually run.

When brands use Facebook to target specific people with ads, they are able to select from a cornucopia of traits, including age, gender and how many lines of credit a person has. Many ads then show up in the main Facebook and Instagram feeds that people flick through, but they can also appear in articles and videos within Facebook and on outside apps and mobile websites that are part of Facebook’s “audience network.”

Brands have not been able to see beforehand what kind of content that might include, and some have had to contend with objections from consumers after being placed on sites like Breitbart News. Facebook said there were tens of thousands of apps and sites in its audience network and that more than 10,000 publishers displayed articles within its platform through a tool called Instant Articles.

As YouTube has moved to limit ads from running alongside unsavory content, many creators on the platform have complained that their videos have been unfairly penalized by automated systems. Facebook will probably have to grapple with similar complaints as it expands the number of people who can make money from video ads on the site.

”Facebook previously let advertisers opt out of a more limited list of topics, including sites and apps related to dating, gambling and “debated social issues” like religion and politics, Ms. Everson said. She added that the new rules would allow publishers to “understand where we’re placing ads” and make it easier for advertisers to avoid offensive content.

London’s East End Menaced

What has been named the Whitechapel fatberg is a rock-solid agglomeration of fat, disposable wipes, diapers, condoms and tampons. It was discovered to the east of the city’s financial district, occupying a sixth of a mile of sewer under Whitechapel Road, between one of London’s largest mosques and a pub called the Blind Beggar, where walking tours are taken to reminisce about a notorious gangland murder.

Thames Water, the capital’s utility, said the fatberg weighed as much as 11 of the city’s double-decker buses: more than 140 tons. That is 10 times the size of a similar mass that the company found beneath Kingston, in South London, in 2013, and declared the biggest example in British history.

To prevent the contents of the sewer from flooding streets and homes nearby, the utility is sending an eight-member team to break up the fatberg with high-powered jet hoses and hand tools. The task is expected to take them three weeks, working seven days a week.

“It’s a total monster and taking a lot of manpower and machinery to remove,” said Thames Water’s head of waste networks, Matt Rimmer. “It’s basically like trying to break up concrete.”

Such blockages are not unique to London. New York City has spent millions of dollars on problems created by disposable wipes. Even the ones branded as flushable were combining with materials like congealed grease to upend plumbing. Hawaii, Alaska, Wisconsin and California have struggled with similar problems

 This city’s sewage system, however, presents special challenges. The backbone of the network was built in the 19th century, after a series of cholera outbreaks and the “Great Stink” of 1858, when lawmakers abandoned the Houses of Parliament because of the stench of raw sewage from the nearby River Thames.

That 1,100-mile system, originally designed to serve four million people, has been struggling to cope with the waste of about twice that number. Work is underway on a new super sewer.

Joseph Bazalgette, who designed the Victorian network, probably did not account for the disposable diapers and wipes that, in a matter of days, can mate with oil and grease to create fatbergs big enough to block tunnels that are six feet tall.

The sewer under Whitechapel Road is about four feet high and less than three feet wide, and Thames Water engineers found the fatberg there during a routine check. They regularly walk through the system to look for problems. Lee Irving, a spokesman for Thames Water, described the experience of encountering a fatberg as overwhelming, with a smell that mixes rotting meat and smelly toilet.

The utility is trying to prevent fatbergs with publicity campaigns urging residents to dispose of wipes and fat in the garbage can, rather than down the drain. It has said that it clears three blockages from fat, and four or more caused by items like wipes, every hour.

Thames Water has tried to put all that congealed fat to use. Some is converted into biodiesel for power generators.

The utility said it was also working with a renewables company, Argent Energy, on turning its waste fat into environmentally friendly fuel. (Maybe someday, fatbergs could power those double-decker buses.)