July 26, 2017
Over the past 18 months, a five-year-old consortium of furniture manufacturers and design firms called BeOriginal Americas has been training US Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officers to distinguish real Eames, Starck, and Mies van der Rohe designs from fakes, among others. It’s working: According to CBP’s Intellectual Property Rights Seizure Statistics report (pdf, p.5), in 2016, customs officials confiscated 42 shipments of unauthorized replicas worth an estimated $4.2 million. ... But they’re up against a vast knock-off industry. Labeled with nice-sounding terms like “reproduction,”replica,” or “homage,” many designer chairs in offices, hotel lobbies, airports, restaurants and even big furniture stores are actually unauthorized copies. And while a knock-off Eames or Barcelona chair might seem like a harmless, budget-friendly addition to your living room, these illegal knockoffs threaten the economy and the environment, and erode the very meaning of design.
In February he was installed as chairman of Tata Sons, the private holding company that controls TCS and hundreds of other businesses that make up the Tata Group, India’s largest and most venerable conglomerate—one that owns Western brands such as Land Rover and Tetley Tea. His appointment as chairman (which at Tata is essentially the CEO role) followed an abrupt board decision last October to sack Tata Sons’ previous chairman, Cyrus Mistry, a scion of the family that remains Tata’s largest private shareholder. ... Colleagues and investors hope Chandra can transfer to the rest of Tata some of the digital magic he sprinkled on TCS, where he tripled sales and profits during his seven years as CEO. But, as one might expect of a relentless marathoner, Chandra himself suggests that whipping Tata into shape will involve some grueling workouts. ... In an April town hall with executives from Tata companies, he stressed the importance of group unity and collaboration with a slide deck touting the virtues of “One Tata.” But in other meetings, that message has been twinned with a warning that the group must have clearer lines of accountability, and that Chandra will establish detailed metrics to evaluate the performance of the various operating companies.
Located in Hunt Valley, Md., little-known Sinclair is the nation’s largest owner of broadcast TV stations. It has 173 of them, mostly in small markets (Sioux City, Iowa; Fresno, Calif.; Little Rock), but with several in larger metropolitan areas as well (Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Washington). Whatever a particular station’s network affiliation—ABC, CBS, CW, Fox, or NBC—Sinclair viewers get a steady dose of conservative political commentary. Lately, Executive Chairman David Smith has begun assembling a kind of junior varsity squad of commentators and making unspecific murmurings about competing head-to-head with the senior lettermen and women at Fox News. To left-leaning viewers only just becoming aware of the company’s reach, Sinclair is positioned to flip a switch and turn those 173 stations’ newscasts—currently delivering bulletins on weather, school closings, and local affairs—into a cohesive network that pushes a Fox News-esque worldview of outrage and conflict into individual cities, counties, and towns. ... In May the company announced it was buying Tribune Media Co. for $3.9 billion. Among other assets, Sinclair would add 42 TV stations—including major ones in New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago—if the deal is approved by regulators.
You don’t need an office in a flashy building in the Battery, they have realized, or the validation of the press. If you build enough of a reputation, all you need are some Twitter followers and a website. ... From 2006 to 2015, the number of activist short campaigns rose by 1,300 percent, to 1,289. In the past three years, the number of activist short-sellers working globally has nearly doubled, to 72 from 39. Very few have a positive track record. ... Left also got tips as many journalists do, in large quantities, most of them useless. Business-school wannabes emailed him to get noticed. E-Trade cowboys offered schemes “for your eyes only.” Hedge funds sent him research and ideas, most often because they wanted him to catalyze a short position they already held, by taking it public. What many of these people failed to grasp was that a bad company wasn’t necessarily a good story.
What Roberts has just done, in an action that he and people who support him have performed hundreds of times, is to return to a practice that was abandoned more than 40 years ago. He has sampled the environment, hoping to find in the dirtiest, most germ-filled places an answer to one of the most pressing problems of our day. ... Drug resistance—the ability of bacteria to defend themselves against the compounds we use to kill them—has impaired the effectiveness of almost every antibiotic produced since the first ones were developed, in the 1940s. At least 700,000 people are estimated to die worldwide every year from infections that no longer respond to antibiotics. That toll could balloon to more than 10 million a year by 2050 if we can’t slow the spread of resistance or find new drugs; routine surgeries and minor injuries will become life-threatening. ... Yet making the necessary changes to stave off this catastrophe seems to be beyond us. We continue to take antibiotics with abandon (nearly a third of antibiotic prescriptions in the U.S. aren’t actually needed) and feed huge quantities of them to farm animals. And pharmaceutical companies—daunted by how quickly resistance can undermine drugs that may take a decade and a billion dollars to develop—are not rushing to fill the gap. ... He launched his campaign, called Swab and Send, in February 2015. For £5, participants got a sample tube, a mailing envelope, and an explanation of what Roberts wanted them to look for: a spot in the environment where bacteria were likely to be competing for nutrition and room to reproduce. He asked them to use their imagination. The less sanitary, the better.
Not only would they be working overtime to hammer together the most influential piece of consumer technology of their generation, but they’d be doing little else. Their personal lives would disappear, and they wouldn’t be able to talk about what they were working on. ... Like many mass-adopted, highly profitable technologies, the iPhone has a number of competing origin stories. There were as many as five different phone or phone-related projects — from tiny research endeavors to full-blown corporate partnerships — bubbling up at Apple by the middle of the 2000s. But if there’s anything I’ve learned in my efforts to pull the iPhone apart, literally and figuratively, it’s that there are rarely concrete beginnings to any particular products or technologies — they evolve from varying previous ideas and concepts and inventions and are prodded and iterated into newness by restless minds and profit motives. Even when the company’s executives were under oath in a federal trial, they couldn’t name just one starting place.