A note from our editor, Elizabeth MacBride:
Bad news for the journalism world this week as BuzzFeed announced layoffs at its Pulitzer Prize-winning newsroom. Overall, the media company was profitable – in fact, profits are up – but producing high-quality news is expensive. The market was demanding higher returns, so BuzzFeed’s management acted. But who is the market, exactly?
The Washington Post covered the decline of local news and journalism most poignantly in the story, “These mass shooting survivors were called journalism heroes. Then the buyouts came.” The story is partly about the trial of the mass shooter – a disgruntled reader — who killed five people in Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Md. But it’s also about a company called Alden Global Capital, an investment firm The Post’s Margaret Sullivan called “one of the most ruthless of the corporate strip-miners seemingly intent on destroying local journalism.” The company is now one of the largest newspaper operators in the country. Alden recognized, smartly from an investment perspective, that local newspapers are cash cows. The firm will likely keep milking subscription revenue and cutting costs until the newspapers are dead.
But Alden doesn’t really own those newspapers. Nor does Vanguard (BuzzFeed’s largest shareholder) own BuzzFeed, exactly. They are merely investment companies. They’re a little more than hired hands, but at the end of the day, they’re managers. Alden is a private equity company, which means we have no information on who the owners are – likely a mix of other private funds and wealthy families, and maybe some with no love for America.
We could figure out some of the owners of BuzzFeed, because it’s publicly held, but only some. There are also private equity funds in its ownership table. And when middle class people own stock, usually through their retirement funds, they don’t pay much attention to what the holdings are. In general, we know that the wealthiest 10% of American now own a record 89% of all U.S. stocks.
The question here is not about ruthless managers (which have and always will exist). The question here is how to create better incentives and regulations in the financial system. As long as the world’s wealthiest families set the demand for high returns and the rest of us follow, and as long as the responsibility for the damage done is hidden, the damage will continue.
Times of Entrepreneurship
Stories of the Week
Commentary: Authenticity Is Women’s Most Powerful Weapon in Raising Funds. Here’s How To Tap Into It.
Women are socialized to give away their power in meetings, which is counterproductive, because the men who dominate the financial world aren’t socialized to give it back. But there are strategies to move beyond those dynamics, says YPO member and investor Allison Long Pettine.
The Rising Stakes of Cybersecurity
Amid the war in Ukraine and growing concerns about Russian attacks on U.S. infrastructure, the constant evolution in the sector is more critical than ever – and the question of which governments and companies have access to the latest technology is critical, too.
A SCORE Mentor Told Her To Pack It In. This New Builder From Ghana Went Ahead, Anyway.
Flavors of this long-overlooked region are hitting American tastebuds. POKS Spices is taking advantage of the trend.
What You May Have Missed
Inflation’s Whipsaw The damage inflation may do to the small business economy is bigger than you might have realized. Here are strategies and tips to help. Read the Story »
VC Spotlight: Lu Zhang’s Fusion Fund The groundbreaking Silicon Valley investor offers insights, including on personalized diagnostics. Read the Story »
From The Archives
Meet Susan Choe, The VC Behind Zipline Courage is the asset that counts for women investors. Read the Story »
A City of 66,000 Is At The Center Of An Audacious Attempt To Build A $200M Tech Hub. Read the Story »
Living the dream
Best Practices: WalletHub launched its list of the most and least innovative states. Washington, D.C. ranked at the top, followed by Massachusetts, Washington, Maryland and Colorado. At the bottom: North Dakota, Louisiana and Mississippi. That may not be much of a surprise as it first seems — Democratic administrations with their vision of expansive government tend to bring young people to the District. Read more here.
Buzzworthy: The war in Ukraine may result in increased interest in impact investing, says Alix Lebec, founder and CEO of Lebec Consulting. Foremost a human tragedy, the war is causing economic fallout and disruption that will create new opportunities for investment. “There’s a growing incentive to look at energy alternatives and invest in ways that proactively generate positive impact for people and planet—we have an opportunity to do better and move forward with more courage.”
The 4.5 hour workweek: A productivity hack
Liat Hayun, an Israeli cybersecurity CEO, is featured above in one of the stories of the week. She had a mentor at Palo Alto Networks, Lee Klarich, who told her to take a non-compromising attitude toward her time. “If something is not interesting, not important, leave it,” she said she learned from him.
Wanderlust : a restaurant or activity from our Top Ecosystems list
Salt Lake City ranks second on our list. Drinking is against the Mormon faith, which means the bars aren’t as much as center of the entrepreneurship scene. But you can talk shop in restaurants in Provo such as the Black Sheep Cafe, which serves southwestern and Native American food, Station 22, an American restaurant, and Communal, a farm to table restaurant. People tended to gather before the pandemic at restaurants on Center Street, Tom Taylor, the owner of the Startup Building, a coworking space for entrepreneurs, said.
This company sells fine clothing hand embroidered, produced by refugees in Jordan. Our Mission is to bring thousands of refugees above the poverty line, empowered by their skills and talent. Women become change-makers and have a positive impact on their community and the world. In doing so, SEP change the perception of refugees worldwide.
Upcoming Opportunities ⭐
To list an opportunity in our newsletter, check out our rates here. We cover the emerging economy of diverse founders:
1. A Course To Reach the Next Generation of Entrepreneurs
In this free course developed by entrepreneurship professor John Lynn, professors and other entrepreneurship educators get a curriculum and supporting materials based on the influential book, The New Builders.
2. Bursary Benefits Available for AI Week 2022
Amii has announced plans to award $100,000 in talent bursaries to empower AI technical professionals to attend AI Week 2022. Apply now to have your travel expenses covered – awards are allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.
Date: May 24-27, 2022
Location: Edmonton, AB
3. Comcast Accepting Applications for Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator
Open to global startups in connectivity, media, and entertainment, Comcast is now accepting applications for the fifth class of the Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator. Comcast writes that they are “looking to mentor and invest in startups developing world-class technologies and products in the program’s core focus areas: Connected Living; Immersive and Inclusive Experiences; and Smart, Sustainable Enterprise.”
Application Deadline: May 11, 2022
Location: Philadelphia, PA
4. Render Launches Second Iteration of Reconstruct Challenge worth $750,000
Render has announced a new partnership with Access Ventures to award a second national prize focusing on addressing barriers to employment in the United States. Five winning innovations will receive $100,000 each, with one innovation receiving an additional $250,000 to scale further. The challenge is open to anyone in the United States as long as the beta test of the innovation takes place in Jefferson County, KY, or Floyd and Clark County, IN.
Registration Deadline: April 29, 2022
Application Deadline: May 27, 2022
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This story and others on New Builders Dispatch are made possible by a sponsorship from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation is a private, nonpartisan foundation that provides access to opportunities that help people achieve financial stability, upward mobility, and economic prosperity – regardless of race, gender, or geography. The Kansas City, Mo.-based foundation uses its grantmaking, research, programs, and initiatives to support the start and growth of new businesses, a more prepared workforce, and stronger communities. For more information, visit www.kauffman.org and connect with www.twitter.com/kauffmanfdn and www.facebook.com/kauffmanfdn.