Author: grievingferret73

Entreprise

En Francia, los futuros agricultores son expertos en tecnología y quieren los fines de semana libres

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“Cuando no estás en este sector es muy fácil decir: ‘Voy a volverlo sexi con la tecnología’”, dijo Amandine Muret Béguin, de 33 años, directora de la Unión de Jóvenes Agricultores de la región de Île-de-France, donde se encuentra el campus de 607 hectáreas de Hectar. “Puedes tener las mejores escuelas y los mejores robots, pero eso no significa que tengas una vida mejor”.

Muret Béguin, que procede con orgullo de una familia de agricultores y cultiva unas 200 hectáreas de cereales, afirma que la agricultura francesa ya ha evolucionado hacia una mayor sostenibilidad ecológica, pero que el público en general no es consciente de ello.

Los miembros de su grupo cuestionan la necesidad de un campus como el de Hectar cuando, dicen, las escuelas agrícolas certificadas por el Estado que ya enseñan gestión y tecnología de las explotaciones agrícolas están muy mal financiadas. La forma de atraer a más gente a la agricultura, añadió Muret Béguin, es que los consumidores “reconozcan y valoren el duro trabajo que ya hacen los agricultores”.

Aun así, para personas como Esther Hermouet, de 31 años, procedente de una familia de viticultores cerca de Burdeos, Hectar responde a una necesidad que otras instituciones agrícolas no ofrecen.

Esa tarde, Hermouet convivió con un grupo diverso de jóvenes estudiantes, entre ellos un productor audiovisual desempleado, un empresario musulmán y un fabricante de sidra artesanal.

Hermouet y sus dos hermanos estaban a punto de abandonar el viñedo que administraban sus padres, ya jubilados, pues temían que tomar el relevo supusiera más problemas de los que merecía la pena. Algunos de sus vecinos ya habían visto a sus hijos dejar los viñedos por trabajos más fáciles que no requerían despertarse al amanecer.

No obstante, señaló que su experiencia en Hectar la había hecho más optimista en cuanto a la viabilidad del viñedo, tanto desde el punto de vista comercial como del estilo de vida. Aprendió sobre lanzamientos comerciales, créditos por captura de carbono para ayudar a aprovechar al máximo los réditos y técnicas de gestión del suelo para reducir el cambio climático. Hubo sugerencias sobre cómo trabajar de manera más inteligente en menos horas, por ejemplo, utilizando la tecnología para identificar solo las viñas aisladas que necesitan tratamiento.

2021-10-11 09:00:21

Entreprise

Inside the Courtroom With Theranos’s Elizabeth Holmes

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SAN JOSE, Calif. — Three days a week, Adriana Kratzmann, an administrator, opens the door at 8:30 a.m. to Courtroom 4 of the Robert F. Peckham Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse.

Journalists and spectators present her with numbered paper tickets that they get from security guards at the building entrance. Once Ms. Kratzmann checks their tickets, they stream into the beige-walled room, jostling for a place on five long wooden benches and a single, prized row of cushioned chairs.

Then from a door on the east side of the windowless room, Elizabeth Holmes walks in.

Only a select few have made it inside the San Jose courtroom where Ms. Holmes, the disgraced founder of the failed blood-testing start-up Theranos, is being tried on 12 counts of fraud, charged with misleading investors about her company’s technology. Just 34 seats are open for the public, and when those are filled, spectators are directed to an overflow room one floor down, where around 50 people squeeze in to watch the trial on large monitors.

The matters being discussed at the trial are substantial. The fate of the 37-year-old Ms. Holmes — one of the most infamous entrepreneurs of her generation — is on the line in a case that has come to symbolize Silicon Valley’s hubris. Media coverage has been plentiful.

But what the public can’t see are the dozens of small interactions that happen behind the courthouse’s closed doors: Ms. Holmes whispering through her mask to her lawyers; the jury of eight men and four women scribbling notes in large white binders; the packs of lawyers whizzing past reporters who camp out on the hallway’s carpeted floors during breaks, charging their laptops. That hallway often goes quiet when Ms. Holmes, who has a special quiet room but uses the same elevator, bathroom and entry as everyone else, walks by.

To the affable security guards and other courtroom veterans, it’s no different from any other day at work. Courtroom 4 has seen its share of trials since the Robert F. Peckham Building, later named after a federal judge, was completed in 1984.

“There’s nothing really remarkable about it,” said Vicki Behringer, 61, one of two court artists in the room, who has sketched trials in Northern California for 31 years.

Six weeks in, Ms. Holmes’s trial has settled into a rhythm. As members of the public take their seats in the fifth-floor courtroom, lawyers for the prosecution and defense come in from the same door as Ms. Holmes. They confer among themselves and set binders down on wooden tables. Ringing the courtroom are framed vintage-style posters from the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.

Then the crowd stands as Judge Edward J. Davila of U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California enters. He presides from an elevated bench, separated from everybody by a pandemic-era clear divider.

Before the jury comes in, lawyers for each side spar over what evidence can be presented and what questions can be asked. Judge Davila, soft-spoken and calm, leans back in his seat as he considers each request. He has sometimes blocked lines of questioning to prevent unrelated “mini-trials” from dragging out the already lengthy trial.

With this out of the way, the jurors file in from a door at the head of the courtroom. They sit on the left side in two rows of padded leather seats and one overflow wooden bench. Already, two jurors have been dismissed, including one who said her Buddhist faith made her uncomfortable with the idea of punishing Ms. Holmes. Three alternates remain.

Then testimony starts. Witnesses sit at the front of the room behind a clear divider. Often, they have veered into technical jargon about the problems that plagued Theranos’s blood testing machines. Words like “immunoassays” and initials like H.C.G. (a hormone test) are bandied about as casually as slang.

Email threads, entered as evidence, also flash on monitors that have been set up on both sides of the courtroom. One reporter brought binoculars to read the tiny highlighted text.

The mood during testimony is, oddly, sleepy. “A lot of it is very technically detailed and diagnostically detailed,” said Anne Kopf-Sill, 62, a retired biotechnology executive who has come to the trial nearly every day out of personal interest. “I cannot imagine the jury is getting very much out of this.”

To produce her ink-and-watercolor sketches, Ms. Behringer, the court artist, looks for striking visual details, she said, like the thick binders of exhibits and expressive hand gestures from Ms. Holmes’s main lawyer, Lance Wade.

Jane Sinense, 66, the other court artist, said she — like everyone — was looking to Ms. Holmes.

“She’s so hard to read because there’s nothing there,” Ms. Sinense said, adding that Ms. Holmes is easy to draw because she barely moves. “She never gives a clue.”

Ms. Holmes, who is always at the front with at least three lawyers, has traded her signature black turtleneck for more traditional business clothing: a short blazer over a solid-colored dress, or a blouse and a skirt with a medical mask to match.

Directly behind her, in a gallery row reserved for the defense, are family members. Her mother, Noel Holmes, who often walks into the courtroom holding her daughter’s hand, is a constant companion. Elizabeth Holmes’s partner, Billy Evans, joins some days as well.

The family largely keeps to itself. Ms. Behringer, who sits next to the family in court, said that Noel Holmes seemed “very nice and quiet” and that Mr. Evans was “congenial,” but noted: “We’re not having conversations.”

Noel Holmes and Mr. Evans declined to comment. Ms. Holmes’s law firm did not respond to a request for comment.

The interest in Ms. Holmes has drawn many spectators, though not all of them have found the events as exciting as they hoped.

“I get bogged down in the science of it,” said Mike Silva, 70, a retired paralegal who lives in San Jose and has attended each day with a friend. They have a routine of catching the same train and sitting in the same courtroom seats, he said.

Beth Seibert, 63, who owns a record storage business in Los Altos, Calif., said she had shown up recently after choosing “Bad Blood,” a book about Theranos by the journalist John Carreyrou, for her book club.

“I guess I’m kind of a junkie,” she said, adding that she has also listened to podcasts about the case.

But when a former Theranos lab director was grilled on alternative assessment protocols, Ms. Siebert said the trial had “not quite” lived up to her expectations.

“They’re really getting into the minutiae,” she said.

That minutiae may last for at least eight more weeks. To get through witnesses more expeditiously, Judge Davila has prolonged the trial’s hours until 3 p.m. instead of 2. At the end of each day, he reminds jurors not to discuss the trial and to ignore the media coverage.

As the crowd files out, the security guards offer up small talk and a promise: “See you tomorrow!”

Entreprise

Xavier Niel et Hectar: le pari d’une agriculture d’un nouveau genre

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Les membres de son syndicat sont sceptiques quant à l’utilité d’un campus comme Hectar quand, selon eux, les écoles agricoles reconnues par l’État, qui enseignent déjà le management et les techniques agricoles, manquent cruellement de moyens. Pour attirer davantage de candidats vers l’agriculture, estime Amandine Muret Béguin, il faut que les consommateurs “reconnaissent et valorisent le dur travail que font déjà les agriculteurs.”

Pour d’autres à l’inverse, comme Esther Hermouet, 31 ans, qui vient d’une famille de vignerons près de Bordeaux, Hectar répond à une demande que les autres institutions agricoles ne satisfont pas.

Cet après-midi-là, Mme Hermouet discute avec un groupe d’étudiants de milieux très différents : un producteur audiovisuel au chômage, une entrepreneuse musulmanne et un producteur de cidre artisanal.

Mme Hermouet, son frère et sa sœur, étaient à deux doigts d’abandonner le vignoble de leurs parents, proches de la retraite. Ils craignaient que leur reprise de l’exploitation soit davantage une source de problèmes qu’autre chose. Certains de leurs voisins avaient déjà vu leurs propres enfants quitter les vignobles pour des emplois plus faciles qui ne nécessitaient pas de se lever à l’aube.

Mais son expérience à Hectar, dit-elle, la rend plus optimiste quant à la viabilité du vignoble, tant du point commercial que de celui de son mode de vie. Elle y apprend les rudiments de la présentation d’entreprise, les crédits d’impôts pour la capture du carbone pour aider à maximiser les profits, et les techniques de gestion du sol pour réduire l’impact climatique. Elle y découvre des moyens de travailler moins mais de façon plus intelligente, par exemple en se servant de la technologie pour n’identifier que les vignes qui nécessitent d’être traitées.

“Si mon frère, ma sœur et moi allons travailler la terre, on veut avoir une vie décente”, explique-t-elle. “On veut trouver un nouveau modèle économique, pour que le vignoble devienne rentable et durable pour l’environnement pour les décennies à venir.”

Pour Xavier Niel, qui a fait fortune en bouleversant le marché français des télécoms, faire partie d’un mouvement qui veut moderniser la façon dont la France se nourrit, c’est un peu comme viser la lune.

Entreprise

The Future Farmers of France Are Tech Savvy, and Want Weekends Off

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YVELINES, France — On a century-old farm that’s now a start-up campus in this verdant region west of Paris, computer coders are learning to program crop-harvesting robots. Young urbanites planning vineyards or farms that will be guided by big data are honing their pitches to investors.

And in a nearby field on a recent day, students monitored cows equipped with Fitbit-style collars that were tracking their health, before heading to a glassy, open work space in a converted barn (with cappuccino makers) to hunch over laptops, studying profitable techniques to reverse climate change through farming.

The group was part of an unorthodox new agricultural business venture called Hectar. Most of them had never spent time around cows, let alone near fields of organic arugula.

But a crisis is bearing down on France: a dire shortage of farmers. What mattered about the people gathered at the campus was that they were innovative, had diverse backgrounds and were eager to start working in an industry that desperately needs them to survive.

“We need to attract an entire generation of young people to change farming, to produce better, less expensively and more intelligently,” said Xavier Niel, a French technology billionaire who is Hectar’s main backer. Mr. Niel, who spent decades disrupting France’s staid corporate world, is now joining an expanding movement that aims to transform French agriculture — arguably the country’s most protected industry of all.

“To do that,” he said, “we have to make agriculture sexy.”

France is the European Union’s main breadbasket, accounting for a fifth of all agricultural output in the 27-country bloc. Yet half of its farmers are over 50 and set to retire in the coming decade, leaving nearly 160,000 farms up for grabs.

Despite a national youth unemployment rate above 18 percent, 70,000 farm jobs are going unfilled, and young people, including the children of farmers, aren’t lining up to take them.

Many are discouraged by the image of farming as labor-intensive work that ties struggling farmers to the land. Although France receives a staggering 9 billion euros ($10.4 billion) in European Union farm subsidies annually, nearly a quarter of French farmers live below the poverty line. France has faced a quiet epidemic of farmer suicides for years.

And in contrast to the United States, where the digital evolution of agriculture is well underway, and huge high-tech hydroponic farms are multiplying across the land, the farm-tech revolution has been slower to take hold. The industry in France is highly regulated, and a decades-old system of subsidizing farms based on size rather than output has worked as a brake on innovation.

The French government has backed some changes to Europe’s mammoth farm subsidy program, although critics say they don’t go far enough. Still, President Emmanuel Macron has sought to rejuvenate agriculture’s image, and has called for a shift to “ag-tech” and a rapid transition toward environmentally sustainable agriculture as part of a European Union plan to eliminate planet-warming emissions by 2050.

But to capture an army of young people needed to carry farming into the future, advocates say, the lifestyle of the farmer will have to change.

“If you say you have to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, that won’t work,” said Audrey Bourolleau, the founder of Hectar and a former agriculture adviser to Mr. Macron. “For there to be a new face of agriculture for tomorrow, there needs to be a social revolution.”

Hectar’s vision revolves around attracting 2,000 young people from urban, rural or disadvantaged backgrounds each year, and equipping them with the business acumen to be farmer-entrepreneurs capable of producing sustainable agriculture ventures and attracting investors — all while generating a profit, and having their weekends free.

Modeled on an unconventional coding school called 42, which Mr. Niel founded a decade ago, it operates outside France’s education system by offering free tuition and intensive training, but no state-sanctioned diploma. Backed mainly by private investors and corporate sponsors, Mr. Niel is betting that Hectar’s graduates will be more entrepreneurial, more innovative and ultimately more transformative for the French economy than students attending traditional agricultural universities. (Hectar can shake things up only so much: Students would still need a diploma from an ag school in order to qualify to be a farmer in France.)

Some of those principles are already starting to appear in French agriculture. At NeoFarm, an agro-ecological vegetable farm on a compact two-acre plot half an hour east of the Hectar campus, four young employees spent a recent afternoon monitoring laptops and programming a robot to plant seeds along neat rows.

NeoFarm, started by two French tech entrepreneurs, is on the edge of a trend in France of investors setting up small farms near population centers, and growing healthy food using less fossil fuel and fertilizer. While big French farms use technology to raise yields and cut costs, boutique farms can use tech to take advantage of much smaller lots, curbing costs and reducing tedious labor tasks to create an attractive lifestyle, said Olivier Le Blainvaux, a co-founder who has 11 other start-up ventures in the defense and health industries.

“Working with robotics makes this an interesting job,” said Nelson Singui, 25, one of the workers recently hired at NeoFarm to care for the crops and monitor systems that automatically sow seeds, water plants and harvest carrots.

Unlike other farms where Mr. Singui had worked, NeoFarm offered regular work hours, an opportunity to work with the latest technology and a chance to advance, he said. It plans to open four new farms in the coming months.

Such expansion comes as so-called neo-peasants have begun migrating from French cities to rural areas to try their hand at sustainable farming, attracted to a career where they can help fight climate change in a country where 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions come from agriculture.

But some of these rookie farmers don’t know how to make their ventures financially viable, said Mr. Le Blainvaux. New operations like NeoFarm, and schools like Hectar, aim to retain newcomers by helping them nurture profitable enterprises and make a break from government subsidies, which critics say discourage innovation and risk-taking.

The idealistic vision hasn’t persuaded everyone, especially France’s powerful agricultural associations.

“It’s very easy when you’re not in this industry to say, ‘I’ll make it sexy with tech,’” said Amandine Muret Béguin, 33, head of the Union of Young Farmers for the Ile-de-France region, which is home to Hectar’s 1,500-acre campus. “You can have the best schools and the best robots, but that doesn’t mean you’ll have a better life.”

Ms. Muret Béguin, who proudly hails from a farming family and cultivates about 500 acres of cereal grains, said that French farming had already evolved toward greater ecological sustainability, but that the general public wasn’t aware.

Members of her group question the need for a campus like Hectar when, they say, state-certified agricultural schools that already teach farm management and technology are severely underfunded. The way to draw more people into agriculture, Ms. Muret Béguin added, is for consumers “to recognize and value the hard work farmers are already doing.”

Yet for people like Esther Hermouet, 31, who hails from a winegrowing family near Bordeaux, Hectar is answering a need that other agricultural institutions aren’t offering.

That afternoon, Ms. Hermouet mingled with a diverse group of young students, including an unemployed audiovisual producer, a Muslim entrepreneur and an artisanal cider maker.

Ms. Hermouet and her two siblings were on the verge of abandoning the vineyard run by their retiring parents, fearing that taking over would be more trouble than it was worth. Some of their neighbors had already seen their children leave the vineyards for easier jobs that didn’t require waking at the crack of dawn.

But she said her experience at Hectar had made her more optimistic that the vineyard could be made viable, both commercially and from a lifestyle perspective. She learned about business pitches, carbon capture credits to help maximize profit and soil management techniques to reduce climate change. There were suggestions about working smarter in fewer hours, for instance by using technology to identify only isolated vines that need treatment.

“If my brother, sister and I are going to work the earth, we want to have a proper life,” she said. “We want to find a new economic model and make the vineyard profitable — and also make it sustainable for the environment for decades to come.”

For Mr. Niel, who made his fortune disrupting the French telecom market, joining a movement to modernize the way France is fed is the equivalent of taking a moonshot.

“It’s a vision that can sound too beautiful to be true,” Mr. Niel said. “But often, we find that it’s possible to turn such visions into a reality.”

Léontine Gallois contributed reporting.

2021-10-07 09:00:27

Entreprise

These Online Publications Are Not Free … and Readers Don’t Mind

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The Daily Memphian, a nonprofit news site in Memphis, is also part of the wave, with readers contributing the bulk of its revenue. It started in 2018 in response to the shrinking of the local newspaper, The Commercial Appeal. Nearly 17,000 subscribers pay $99 per year (or $12.99 per month) for The Memphian, and they have renewed their subscriptions at a rate of 90 percent, said Eric Barnes, the publication’s chief executive. Ad sales, sponsorships and donations cover the rest of a $5 million annual budget that supports a newsroom of 38.

“People paid for news for decades,” Mr. Barnes said. “Why can’t they pay for it now?”

The imperative to hold on to subscribers has influenced The Memphian’s journalism, he added, bringing an emphasis on straightforward articles on local issues. The publication connected with readers, for instance, through its coverage of the replacement of East Memphis’s elegant Century Building with a Woodie’s Wash Shack convenience store and carwash.

Mr. Barnes added that he was against offering discounts to subscribers, a strategy that is backed by Matt Lindsay, the president of the subscription consultant Mather Economics, who said the price of a subscription was not the main factor for readers who declined to renew.

“Usually, it’s some other reason,” said Mr. Lindsay, whose clients include The New York Times. “They lose the habit of reading every day, there’s other competition for their entertainment, someone else has attracted their attention.”

The business news site Quartz started in the days of giveaway journalism and made the shift to asking readers to pay in 2018. In addition to 1.3 million regular readers of its newsletters, which are still offered free of charge, it has 27,000 subscribers who pay $99.99 a year (or $14.99 a month), a Quartz spokeswoman said, and the renewal rate is 97 percent.

“Listening and responding to readers is what’s necessary for retention,” said Katherine Bell, the editor in chief.

2021-10-04 19:32:09

Entreprise

Ozy Media and the Limits of ‘Fake it till you Make it’

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I don’t know this company in particular, but this happens very often. I can imagine a business plan that said, “In the short term, we will pay people to do this task in order to build up a training data set so that we can train our machine learning algorithms.”

I actually just saw a company a couple of days ago where it was that exact same structure. Only they did it the way I think is right. In their venture pitch, they were very honest, they said, “Here is the current number of tasks that are completed every day on our platform, and here is the fraction of tasks that are completed by the A.I. versus the humans.” And you could see that the fraction is growing. So there is a level of disclosure that can make that plan ethical.

In start-ups you’ve invested in, or in your own companies, are there examples where testing something that doesn’t exist or painting a vision that you haven’t achieved was an OK and necessary thing to do?

It’s hard to pick a specific example because in every start-up, that’s intrinsic to the job. Again, it’s not about deception. It’s about the fact that you’re talking about the future and the future is always uncertain.

I’ll give you an example. I was once raising money for a start-up, and we had a hockey stick-shaped graph in our pitch that showed the number of customers we had and the revenue we had. And I remember showing it to an investor who said, “This is amazing. Congratulations. What are the units on this graph, is this of thousands or tens of thousands?” And I’m like, “Oh, sorry, sir, my mistake. This is the actuals, this is in ones.”

And that investor laughed us out of the room and never talked to us again. But another investor looked at the exact same data, the exact same chart, with the exact same disclaimers and disclosures and said,” I believe there’s something going on here.”

You’re always asking people to extrapolate from a very limited data set into the future. And I would say that the fact that you’re doing that requires you to be very rigorous and honest with people at that stage, because it’s very easy to give them the wrong impression. It’s very easy for them to feel deceived. And once you go down that path, the lies and the deceptions compound.

2021-10-02 12:05:01

Entreprise

Their Produce Is Pristine Enough for Picky Chefs. But They Give It Away.

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MECHANICSVILLE, Pa. — Steve Tomlinson takes pride in the details at Carversville Farm, the 388-acre certified-organic spread he manages here in bucolic Bucks County.

There’s the high-tech poultry barn, where an automated system ensures that wobbly week-old chickens get just the right amount of light, heat, ventilation and food. There’s the 10-foot-long steel barrel washer, which gently buffs a pile of freshly dug Lehigh potatoes, and the acre of Bolero carrots now emerging from dark topsoil that took Mr. Tomlinson nearly half a decade to restore.

Mr. Tomlinson, 40, loves those carrots, which are sweetened by fall frost, stay crunchy in cold storage and grow to a perfect size for his customers’ mirepoix. “It’s all about consistency in the kitchen, so the chefs don’t have to work too hard,” he said.

Carversville Farm looks like so many others that cater to picky chefs. But Mr. Tomlinson’s customers don’t work at restaurants: They work at soup kitchens and food pantries throughout the Philadelphia area, and they get every bit of that impeccably grown food free.

The nonprofit farm, formally called the Carversville Farm Foundation, was started seven years ago by Tony and Amy D’Orazio, a husband-and-wife team of entrepreneurs. The farm, which includes a lazily grazing herd of Angus cattle and a rafter of Bourbon Red turkeys, donates 90 percent of its produce and meat. (The other 10 percent — Mr. Tomlinson tracks it by weight — goes to a stand, open once a week, that neighbors begged the foundation to run.)

Plenty of farms give food away. And since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, federal and state programs have even begun paying them to do so. The newly created Pennsylvania Agricultural Surplus System, for instance, helps steer food that would otherwise go unused to state residents at risk of hunger. But Carversville Farm functions more like a dedicated supplier for chefs at half a dozen emergency food providers, all of whom collaborate with the farm in deciding which crops to grow.

Instead of waiting for donations, nonprofit providers get to order what they want each week. Those orders are professionally processed, packed and delivered to their doors by a dedicated team of 17 that includes two former animal husbandry experts from the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, N.Y.; a former rooftop gardener for a restaurant run by the chef Tom Colicchio; and Mr. Tomlinson, who was the vegetable farmer for Agricola restaurant in Princeton, N.J.

Carversville Farm Foundation is funded almost entirely by the D’Orazios, who have for 32 years operated Vertical Screen, a Bucks County business that conducts background screenings of job applicants for companies.

The couple used to do what lots of philanthropic owners of successful businesses do: They wrote big checks and volunteered their time. Now those efforts go into the farm and the foundation, where they are co-executive directors.

Mr. D’Orazio, 60, who grew up in South Philadelphia, says the first seeds for the farm were planted in the 1980s, while he and his wife were attending college in the city. That’s when they first recognized the extent of poverty in Philadelphia, where according to the City Council, 24.5 percent of the population still has an income below the poverty level — the highest percentage of any large city in the United States.

They bought most of the land and started the foundation in 2013, after city officials didn’t show up to a meeting Mr. D’Orazio spent hours arranging on behalf of a local nonprofit. “I’m not sure this is the best use of my time,” he recalled telling his wife. “Let’s think about doing something more direct.”

A farm that would donate what it grew seemed obvious: Mr. D’Orazio had already volunteered at soup kitchens and added a community garden to the LEED-certified campus he built for Vertical Screen, where he is still the chief executive. (Ms. D’Orazio is a vice president.)

The couple studied soup kitchens, which can struggle to manage donations and often use up what small budgets they have on the lowest-priced produce and proteins. They also discovered that organizations with missions similar to the one they were pursuing made it a point to treat those they served with dignity — a term gaining traction among those who work in emergency food.

“I don’t believe it’s like, ‘Hey, I got money, I can eat and I can eat well and choose what I want to eat, and everyone else just gets the $1 menu at McDonald’s,’” Mr. D’Orazio said.

The foundation now centers on that concept of dignity, as do the nonprofits it supports. At Face to Face, a community center in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia, they serve hot from-scratch food in a formal dining room, with tablecloths and help from volunteer servers, five days a week. They used melamine plates and silverware before switching to disposables during the pandemic.

One recent Saturday, Winifred Lenoir-Jones came by for barbecued organic chicken, roasted red potatoes, sweet corn on the cob and cucumber-cherry tomato salad. Ms. Lenoir-Jones, who is 90, has been coming to Face to Face for years.

“It’s wonderful to come to a place and get a meal and know that what you get is healthy, that what you get is fresh and nutritious,” she said. “It’s been a lifeline for me. I get $15 a month in food stamps. By the time I get bread and eggs, that’s it.”

Mary Kay Meeks-Hank, the executive director of Face to Face, said Carversville Farm had arrived at a time when the chef there was already trying to rid his kitchen of canned food and embrace more flavorful cooking. The center’s relationship with the foundation — which also supplies a market stand outside the center and plant starts for their community garden — makes that financially possible.

Ms. Meeks-Hank recalled the day the D’Orazios first came by, to offer what she assumed was just another donation of surplus food. “Not to be cynical, but I thought, ‘Oh yeah, great.’ I had no idea — I had no imagination — for what it could become,” she said.

Carversville Farm also delivers to Cathedral Kitchen, a nonprofit food provider in nearby Camden, N.J. “Now we can do a restaurant-quality meal,” said John Peralta, a chef there. “We can have garlic scapes and fresh turmeric and different colors of cauliflower — which makes the plate so much nicer.” Mr. Peralta once ordered a whole side of Angus beef to teach butchery in Cathedral Kitchen’s culinary training program.

For Laure Biron, the executive director of Broad Street Ministry in Philadelphia, the high quality of the food she gets now is the ultimate expression of her organization’s mission. Serving a delicious meal creates trust, Ms. Biron said, and that can become an entry point to all of the other social services the ministry offers. “Food is the most critical resource that we’ve got,” she said.

These organizations are the reason the D’Orazios have invested so much in infrastructure for the farm, though it might seem like overkill to an observer. “That’s the level we want to provide — that there’s no stress that the food is going to run out,” Mr. D’Orazio said.

He wants the farm to be efficient and self-sustaining, and from his perspective, that includes breeding animals, saving seeds, taking care of the land and training apprentices. (They currently have seven, who live in a large 18th-century house on the farm.)

The foundation spends about $1.5 million per year to run the farm, Mr. D’Orazio said. The D’Orazios plan to fund an endowment to support the foundation, and are working on a succession plan with their two adult children.

Mr. D’Orazio realizes that one farm alone is unlikely to solve the complicated problems of hunger and poverty in the region, but at this stage in his life, he says, he has felt moved to do something different than what’s been done before.

The idea that people still starve in Philadelphia is just unacceptable, he said. “We’re just trying to do one little thing.”

2021-09-24 09:00:21

Entreprise

Opinion | The Sexism That Led to the Elizabeth Holmes Trial

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Elizabeth Holmes followed the Silicon Valley playbook to a T. She was focused and ambitious. She had a compelling vision to help humanity with technology for blood tests, and her ambition, she said, was driven by a personal fear of needles. She fit the pattern of the young, brilliant college dropout, even dressing like Steve Jobs.

When she founded the unconventional blood-testing company Theranos in 2003, I was relieved to see a woman finally benefit from the hyperbole that dominates venture investing, a world I worked in for nine years, total. Why shouldn’t a woman show the same single-minded confidence that her male peers did? By 2015, Ms. Holmes raised more than $400 million in financing and Theranos was valued at $9 billion. At last, I thought: a charismatic woman with a compelling vision, actually able to raise huge amounts of funding at astronomic valuations.

But after it was revealed that Theranos was not transparent when its blood-testing equipment failed, it became clear that the company would be the exception that proves the rule that tech chief executives rarely face the full consequences of the harm they cause.

Yet Ms. Holmes is also exceptional for the basic fact that she is a woman. Time and again, we see that the boys’ club that is the tech industry supports and protects its own — even when the costs are huge. And when the door cracks open ever so slightly to let a woman in, the same rules don’t apply. Indeed, as Ms. Holmes’s trial for fraud continues in San Jose, it’s clear that two things can be true. She should be held accountable for her actions as chief executive of Theranos. And it can be sexist to hold her accountable for alleged serious wrongdoing and not hold an array of men accountable for reports of wrongdoing or bad judgment.

Questionable, unethical, even dangerous behavior has run rampant in the male-dominated world of tech start-ups. Though never charged with crimes, WeWork’s Adam Neumann and Uber’s Travis Kalanick hyped their way into raising over $10 billion for their companies, claiming they would disrupt their stagnant, tired industries.

Remember the accusations of harassment, privacy violations, price gouging, misleading advertising and any of the other dozens of scandals at Uber? How about the genocide incited on Facebook in Myanmar, or its engagement-centric approach that led to the proliferation of anti-vaccination propaganda on the platform? Neither Mr. Kalanick nor Mark Zuckerberg has faced any significant legal consequences.

Meanwhile, a Tesla employee reportedly described part of a Tesla manufacturing plant as a predator zone for women. News reports recount allegations of racist threats, effigies, and humiliation against Black workers. (Tesla has told the Times there is no evidence of “a pattern of discrimination and harassment.”) Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive, did get his hand slapped for fraud — only it was by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which banned him from posting on Twitter without supervision from Tesla’s lawyers.

Leading this race to the bottom, Juul brought vaping mainstream, raising billions of dollars along the way. Kevin Burns, the chief executive who helped raise $12.8 billion for Juul from Altria, a tobacco giant, claimed his product was designed to help people stop smoking cigarettes. Nevertheless, in June 2019, Congress launched an investigation into Juul’s part in the youth nicotine epidemic, including efforts to market its products as safe to children. By mid-February 2020, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that 68 people in the U.S. had died from lung injury associated with the use of vaping products.

Male chief executives and founders just aren’t held accountable in ways that would lead to reform across the tech industry. And even when they are made to answer for their actions, they find their ways back into the fold very quickly.

Mr. Burns left Juul in Sept. 2019 and less than a year later, he was hired by Alto Pharmacy, an online pharmacy that has raised $376 million in funding. Mr. Kalanick has done even better, raising $400 million for his newest venture.

Every announcement confirms what those of us who have spoken up have known for a while: Tech investors generally don’t care about allegations of fraud, harassment, or discrimination, especially if they can profit from it.

The power imbalance between mostly male investors and female entrepreneurs also hasn’t seemed to shift much — much less in a way that would empower or protect founders. In an industry where women founders receive only 11 percent of the seed through early stage funding and 64 percent of venture capital firms in the U.S. do not have any female partners, we should not be surprised. When you consider intersectional data, the bias is even more damning: Venture capitalists only gave a paltry 0.34 percent of funding within the United States to Black women founders in the first six months of this year. Sexism in tech is real and alive.

These problems can’t be ignored or pretended away. If the members of the investors’ boys’ club won’t hold each other accountable, prosecutors must step in, as they’re doing now with Elizabeth Holmes.

Ellen K. Pao is a tech investor and C.E.O. of the diversity, equity, and inclusion nonprofit Project Include. She wrote “Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change” about her lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins and her experience running reddit.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: letters@nytimes.com.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram.

2021-09-16 04:50:46

Entreprise

Opinion | The Sexism That Led to the Elizabeth Holmes Trial

[ad_1]

Elizabeth Holmes followed the Silicon Valley playbook to a T. She was focused and ambitious. She had a compelling vision to help humanity with technology for blood tests, and her ambition, she said, was driven by a personal fear of needles. She fit the pattern of the young, brilliant college dropout, even dressing like Steve Jobs.

When she founded the unconventional blood-testing company Theranos in 2003, I was relieved to see a woman finally benefit from the hyperbole that dominates venture investing, a world I worked in for nine years, total. Why shouldn’t a woman show the same single-minded confidence that her male peers did? By 2015, Ms. Holmes raised more than $400 million in financing and Theranos was valued at $9 billion. At last, I thought: a charismatic woman with a compelling vision, actually able to raise huge amounts of funding at astronomic valuations.

But after it was revealed that Theranos was not transparent when its blood-testing equipment failed, it became clear that the company would be the exception that proves the rule that tech chief executives rarely face the full consequences of the harm they cause.

Yet Ms. Holmes is also exceptional for the basic fact that she is a woman. Time and again, we see that the boys’ club that is the tech industry supports and protects its own — even when the costs are huge. And when the door cracks open ever so slightly to let a woman in, the same rules don’t apply. Indeed, as Ms. Holmes’s trial for fraud continues in San Jose, it’s clear that two things can be true. She should be held accountable for her actions as chief executive of Theranos. And it can be sexist to hold her accountable for alleged serious wrongdoing and not hold an array of men accountable for reports of wrongdoing or bad judgment.

Questionable, unethical, even dangerous behavior has run rampant in the male-dominated world of tech start-ups. Though never charged with crimes, WeWork’s Adam Neumann and Uber’s Travis Kalanick hyped their way into raising over $10 billion for their companies, claiming they would disrupt their stagnant, tired industries.

Remember the accusations of harassment, privacy violations, price gouging, misleading advertising and any of the other dozens of scandals at Uber? How about the genocide incited on Facebook in Myanmar, or its engagement-centric approach that led to the proliferation of anti-vaccination propaganda on the platform? Neither Mr. Kalanick nor Mark Zuckerberg has faced any significant legal consequences.

Meanwhile, a Tesla employee reportedly described part of a Tesla manufacturing plant as a predator zone for women. News reports recount allegations of racist threats, effigies, and humiliation against Black workers. (Tesla has told the Times there is no evidence of “a pattern of discrimination and harassment.”) Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive, did get his hand slapped for fraud — only it was by the Securities and Exchange Commission, which banned him from posting on Twitter without supervision from Tesla’s lawyers.

Leading this race to the bottom, Juul brought vaping mainstream, raising billions of dollars along the way. Kevin Burns, the chief executive who helped raise $12.8 billion for Juul from Altria, a tobacco giant, claimed his product was designed to help people stop smoking cigarettes. Nevertheless, in June 2019, Congress launched an investigation into Juul’s part in the youth nicotine epidemic, including efforts to market its products as safe to children. By mid February 2020, a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that 68 people in the U.S. had died from lung injury associated with the use of vaping products.

Male chief executives and founders just aren’t held accountable in ways that would lead to reform across the tech industry. And even when they are made to answer for their actions, they find their ways back into the fold very quickly.

Mr. Burns left Juul in Sept. 2019 and less than a year later, he was hired by Alto Pharmacy, an online pharmacy that has raised $376 million in funding. Mr. Kalanick has done even better, raising $400 million for his newest venture.

Every announcement confirms what those of us who have spoken up have known for a while: Tech investors generally don’t care about allegations of fraud, harassment, or discrimination, especially if they can profit from it.

The power imbalance between mostly male investors and female entrepreneurs also hasn’t seemed to shift much — much less in a way that would empower or protect founders. In an industry where women founders receive only 11 percent of the seed through early stage funding and 64 percent of venture capital firms in the U.S. do not have any female partners, we should not be surprised. When you consider intersectional data, the bias is even more damning: Venture capitalists only gave a paltry 0.34 percent of funding within the United States to Black women founders in the first six months of this year. Sexism in tech is real and alive.

These problems can’t be ignored or pretended away. If the members of the investors’ boys’ club won’t hold each other accountable, prosecutors must step in, as they’re doing now with Elizabeth Holmes.

Ellen K. Pao is a tech investor and C.E.O. of the diversity, equity, and inclusion nonprofit Project Include. She wrote “Reset: My Fight for Inclusion and Lasting Change” about her lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins and her experience running reddit.

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email: letters@nytimes.com.

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook, Twitter (@NYTopinion) and Instagram.

2021-09-16 02:52:14