1. Howard Schultz for President
Last year, after former Starbucks’ CEO Howard Schultz stepped down from his executive chairman position, there was speculation that Schultz had political goals. Last night, Schultz confirmed these speculations by tweeting his interest in running as a “centrist independent” in the next presidential elections.
On CBS’s “60 Minutes”, Schultz further admitted that he is “seriously thinking [about] running for president” as the “president is not qualified to be the president…. [and] the fact that both parties are consistently not doing what’s necessary.” He went on to say that he realizes he’s not the smartest person in the room so it’s crucial to recruit those smarter, more experienced and more skilled than him, which left room for a roast from President Trump.
Schultz’s statement has received a latte backlash from Democrats as well, with many voicing concern that this move will help keep Trump in office. Schultz has said that he wants a complete separation between himself and Starbucks, however, many have threatened to boycott Starbucks if he runs for office. Unfortunately for Starbucks, this might put them on the espresso lane to more problems.
2. Layoffs and Layoffs and Layoffs, Oh My!
Layoffs are hitting hard across print and digital publications. BuzzFeed, HuffPost and Verizon Media (think AOL, Yahoo, and HuffPost) have laid off over 1K workers altogether. The unexpected announcement came last Wednesday. What does this all mean? According to NYT Journalist Edmund Lee, “advertising is a huge problem. Right now, Google and Facebook take the lion’s share of those dollars. And as big of an audience as these companies have, like BuzzFeed, they’re just not getting enough dollar per viewer from advertisers as they would otherwise.” These companies are simply struggling to dominate in an overly saturated digital landscape where Google and Facebook rule the roost. To date, BuzzFeed is laying off 15% of its staff (250 workers) due to not profiting even after raising $500M this past decade. Verizon Media is cutting 7% of their total workforce (750 workers) and Gannett (think Detroit Free Press and USA Today) is cutting ties with senior journalists, some who have even won Pulitzers. It’s a dog-eat-dog world.
3. AI Diagnoses Mental Illness
AI is one of the top trends for 2019, as some believe it will replace 50% of all jobs within the next decade, whereas other studies suggest it will create 2M jobs by 2025. Whatever the case, AI is becoming a huge phenomenon and is now on its way to diagnosing mental illnesses. Typically, patients are diagnosed when noticeable signs of illness are apparent. With AI, a diagnosis can be made in advance and before symptoms are evident. A research team from the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Medicine Centre for Digital Health has utilized an AI program that skims through social media posts for signs of depression by scanning for words associated with sadness and how often these are used. The program also hosts interactive chatbot conversations with patients, which has resulted in a higher level of engagement, since patients feel more comfortable talking to a robot versus a typical therapist. This AI development could potentially add a more positive note to social media. However, issues of privacy are still a continued debate.
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