Author: grievingferret73

Entreprise

They Still Live in the Shadow of Theranos’s Elizabeth Holmes

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Women at tech start-ups wrote to her thanking her for saying what they had been feeling, Ms. Esponnette said.

Lola Priego, 30, the founder of Base, which offers at-home blood and saliva tests that are processed at traditional labs, hears a Theranos comparison at least once a week, she said. The references come directly or indirectly from potential partners, advisers, investors, customers and reporters, she said.

She said she understood the need for skepticism, since new health care companies should be looked at critically to prevent malpractice. Often the comparisons stopped after people learned that Base works with Quest Diagnostics, a multinational company, for analysis of its tests.

“But the additional bias and skepticism is challenging to overcome,” Ms. Priego said.

The biggest blow came from a scientific adviser whom Ms. Priego said she had tried to recruit in 2019. The adviser took the meeting only to tell her that bringing technology into health care was doing a disservice to the industry, just like Theranos. It caused Ms. Priego to question whether she could hire the caliber of advisers she had hoped for.

“It was quite demoralizing,” she said. She has since recruited six advisers.

In July, Verge Genomics struck a three-year partnership with the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly to work on drugs for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or A.L.S., Ms. Zhang said. The company also published a paper about its methods in a scientific journal last year and recruited a chief science officer this year.

It was a relief to have something to show to those who were doubtful, Ms. Zhang said.

“The most fragile part of the company is the earliest stage, when you have to buy into the people, the vision and the idea,” she said. Reflecting on Ms. Holmes and Theranos, she added, “It’s where these types of associations can be really harmful and curtail potential.”

2021-08-24 07:00:13

Entreprise

They Still Live in the Shadow of Theranos’s Elizabeth Holmes

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Women at tech start-ups wrote to her thanking her for saying what they had been feeling, Ms. Esponnette said.

Lola Priego, 30, the founder of Base, which offers at-home blood and saliva tests that are processed at traditional labs, hears a Theranos comparison at least once a week, she said. The references come directly or indirectly from potential partners, advisers, investors, customers and reporters, she said.

She said she understood the need for skepticism, since new health care companies should be looked at critically to prevent malpractice. Often the comparisons stopped after people learned that Base works with Quest Diagnostics, a multinational company, for analysis of its tests.

“But the additional bias and skepticism is challenging to overcome,” Ms. Priego said.

The biggest blow came from a scientific adviser whom Ms. Priego said she had tried to recruit in 2019. The adviser took the meeting only to tell her that bringing technology into health care was doing a disservice to the industry, just like Theranos. It caused Ms. Priego to question whether she could hire the caliber of advisers she had hoped for.

“It was quite demoralizing,” she said. She has since recruited six advisers.

In July, Verge Genomics struck a three-year partnership with the pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly to work on drugs for the treatment of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or A.L.S., Ms. Zhang said. The company also published a paper about its methods in a scientific journal last year and recruited a chief science officer this year.

It was a relief to have something to show to those who were doubtful, Ms. Zhang said.

“The most fragile part of the company is the earliest stage, when you have to buy into the people, the vision and the idea,” she said. Reflecting on Ms. Holmes and Theranos, she added, “It’s where these types of associations can be really harmful and curtail potential.”

2021-08-24 07:00:12

Entreprise

In Georgia, a Summer Feast to Forge Deep South Connections

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BRUNSWICK, Ga. — It’s not a stretch to say there may have never been a party for a cookbook like the one Matthew Raiford threw on his family farm a few weeks ago.

The book’s title is “Bress ‘n’ Nyam” — “bless and eat” in the English-based Creole spoken by the Gullah Geechee people who live along the coasts of the Carolinas, Georgia and northern Florida. Their descendants were captured in West Africa and enslaved. Nowhere else in America has the cultural line from Africa been better preserved. (Mr. Raiford’s people call themselves freshwater Geechee, which means they are from the mainland of coastal Georgia. Saltwater Geechees are from the barrier islands.)

Mr. Raiford’s farm is on land that his great-great-great grandfather Jupiter Gilliard began buying after he was emancipated. Mr. Gillard eventually amassed 450 acres, land that Mr. Raiford believes had probably belonged to white plantation owners who either abandoned it or sold it cheap, fearing what would happen when they lost their power during Reconstruction. Over the years, the property was passed down, divided and sold. Only 42 acres remain, called Gilliard Farms.

When he was 18, Mr. Raiford left the farm and vowed he would never live there again. He married and had children. He joined the Army. Eventually, he graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, in Hyde Park, N.Y. Eleven years ago, at a family reunion, his grandmother handed the deed to Mr. Raiford and his sister, Althea, and told them they needed to get back to farming.

“I knew it would be hard coming back,” he writes in the cookbook. “Not just the farming, but also as a Black man in the South who cooks in a kitchen and works the land. That’s a lot of past to reckon with.”

For perspective, consider that the spot where Ahmaud Arbery was chased by two white men and shot to death as he jogged through a Brunswick neighborhood in 2020 is “all of 10 minutes from me,” Mr. Raiford said. “People are like, it’s a new New South,” he said. “I’m like, are the people who were there when I was a kid still there? Then it’s not a New South.” But it’s his home, and now he is dug in for good.

For the book party, Mr. Raiford and his new wife, Tia LaNise Raiford, invited an eclectic group of about 30 farmers, family and friends from around the Deep South to make connections and celebrate. The couple first met at culinary school, when both were in their 20s, then reconnected recently while working on a project for the EarthDance organic farm school in Ferguson, Mo. They married in May.

The two have merged their food and farming businesses into a company called Strong Roots 9, named for the $9 that Jupiter Gilliard paid in property taxes in 1870. It includes Zazou, an herbal tea company Mrs. Raiford started in Philadelphia, where she was living until she moved to the farm. She uses a lot of hibiscus, which grows well in Georgia, and has planted turmeric and ginger to harvest in the fall.

Throwing a good dinner party in this corner of Georgia in high summer is no small accomplishment. The temperature hit 96 degrees as guests began to arrive. Humidity hung in the air like a blanket. There were bugs the likes of which few book-party planners have ever seen.

But there were other pressing matters, like what was everyone going to eat?

Mr. Raiford describes Gullah Geechee cooking as an alchemy of “Native American fires, Spanish conquest, Caribbean inflection and West African ingenuity.” It’s also about whom you know.

The Raifords got lucky. Their friends at Anchored Shrimp Company in Brunswick had just pulled in some of the last of the season’s sweet, white Georgia shrimp. Mr. Raiford marinated them with rosemary from two big bushes he planted when he first came back to the farm. There were meaty rattlesnake watermelons from Calvin Waye (top, left), a family friend from down the road, and edible flowers and little cucumbers from the farmers’ market to pickle. The couple picked up several pounds of stone fruit from Georgia Peach World, a charmer of a produce stand along Interstate 95. Hibiscus for tea (bottom photo, below) came from their own farm.

Mr. Raiford assembled a grilling station out of cinder blocks and metro racks. Sweating it out at the grill for much of the day was the New York chef Ben Lee, who for a time ran the kitchen at A Voce Madison in Manhattan, and worked in Philadelphia for Marc Vetri, a chef Mrs. Raiford once worked for as well.

Mr. Lee (below right, in cap) had long been a student of Southern cooking, but met the Raifords in Philadelphia only recently. Mr. Raiford invited him to the party. He showed up and immediately got to work. ‘‘Matthew’s whole model is ‘get it done,’” Mr. Lee said, “and that’s what this farm personifies.”

Piles of fruit, spatchcocked chickens, eggplant and okra all got a turn over the flames. There was a big dish of Gullah red rice on the table, and for dessert, grilled peaches and plums covered in sweet teff pudding.

The chickens didn’t go on the grill until the guests arrived. The party stretched on for almost five hours. There was plenty of time for everyone to get to know one another. That’s just how Mr. Raiford wanted it.

“The book is about community,” he said. “It’s about paying it forward and figuring out what community looks like from here.”

2021-08-23 20:41:22

Entreprise

Author Celebrates His Gullah Roots With a Lavish Spread

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BRUNSWICK, Ga. — It’s not a stretch to say there may have never been a party for a cookbook like the one Matthew Raiford threw on his family farm a few weeks ago.

The book’s title is “Bress ‘n’ Nyam” — “bless and eat” in the English-based Creole spoken by the Gullah Geechee people who live along the coasts of the Carolinas, Georgia and northern Florida. Their descendants were captured in West Africa and enslaved. Nowhere else in America has the cultural line from Africa been better preserved. (Mr. Raiford’s people call themselves freshwater Geechee, which means they are from the mainland of coastal Georgia. Saltwater Geechees are from the barrier islands.)

Mr. Raiford’s farm is on land that his great-great-great grandfather Jupiter Gilliard began buying after he was emancipated. Mr. Gillard eventually amassed 450 acres, land that Mr. Raiford believes had probably belonged to white plantation owners who either abandoned it or sold it cheap, fearing what would happen when they lost their power during Reconstruction. Over the years, the property was passed down, divided and sold. Only 42 acres remain, called Gilliard Farms.

When he was 18, Mr. Raiford left the farm and vowed he would never live there again. He married and had children. He joined the Army. Eventually, he graduated from the Culinary Institute of America, in Hyde Park, N.Y. Eleven years ago, at a family reunion, his grandmother handed the deed to Mr. Raiford and his sister, Althea, and told them they needed to get back to farming.

“I knew it would be hard coming back,” he writes in the cookbook. “Not just the farming, but also as a Black man in the South who cooks in a kitchen and works the land. That’s a lot of past to reckon with.”

For perspective, consider that the spot where Ahmaud Arbery was chased by two white men and shot to death as he jogged through a Brunswick neighborhood in 2020 is “all of 10 minutes from me,” Mr. Raiford said. “People are like, it’s a new New South,” he said. “I’m like, are the people who were there when I was a kid still there? Then it’s not a New South.” But it’s his home, and now he is dug in for good.

For the book party, Mr. Raiford and his new wife, Tia LaNise Raiford, invited an eclectic group of about 30 farmers, family and friends from around the Deep South to make connections and celebrate. The couple first met at culinary school, when both were in their 20s, then reconnected recently while working on a project for the EarthDance organic farm school in Ferguson, Mo. They married in May.

The two have merged their food and farming businesses into a company called Strong Roots 9, named for the $9 that Jupiter Gilliard paid in property taxes in 1870. It includes Zazou, an herbal tea company Mrs. Raiford started in Philadelphia, where she was living until she moved to the farm. She uses a lot of hibiscus, which grows well in Georgia, and has planted turmeric and ginger to harvest in the fall.

Throwing a good dinner party in this corner of Georgia in high summer is no small accomplishment. The temperature hit 96 degrees as guests began to arrive. Humidity hung in the air like a blanket. There were bugs the likes of which few book-party planners have ever seen.

But there were other pressing matters, like what was everyone going to eat?

Mr. Raiford describes Gullah Geechee cooking as an alchemy of “Native American fires, Spanish conquest, Caribbean inflection and West African ingenuity.” It’s also about whom you know.

The Raifords got lucky. Their friends at Anchored Shrimp Company in Brunswick had just pulled in some of the last of the season’s sweet, white Georgia shrimp. Mr. Raiford marinated them with rosemary from two big bushes he planted when he first came back to the farm. There were meaty rattlesnake watermelons from Calvin Waye (top, left), a family friend from down the road, and edible flowers and little cucumbers from the farmers’ market to pickle. The couple picked up several pounds of stone fruit from Georgia Peach World, a charmer of a produce stand along Interstate 95. Hibiscus for tea (bottom photo, below) came from their own farm.

Mr. Raiford assembled a grilling station out of cinder blocks and metro racks. Sweating it out at the grill for much of the day was the New York chef Ben Lee, who for a time ran the kitchen at A Voce Madison in Manhattan, and worked in Philadelphia for Marc Vetri, a chef Mrs. Raiford once worked for as well.

Mr. Lee (below right, in cap) had long been a student of Southern cooking, but met the Raifords in Philadelphia only recently. Mr. Raiford invited him to the party. He showed up and immediately got to work. ‘‘Matthew’s whole model is ‘get it done,’” Mr. Lee said, “and that’s what this farm personifies.”

Piles of fruit, spatchcocked chickens, eggplant and okra all got a turn over the flames. There was a big dish of Gullah red rice on the table, and for dessert, grilled peaches and plums covered in sweet teff pudding.

The chickens didn’t go on the grill until the guests arrived. The party stretched on for almost five hours. There was plenty of time for everyone to get to know one another. That’s just how Mr. Raiford wanted it.

“The book is about community,” he said. “It’s about paying it forward and figuring out what community looks like from here.”

Entreprise

Let Them Taste Cake Again

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The line to enter the Big Fake Wedding New York City expo at City Winery, in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, moved smoothly and efficiently last month. Brides and grooms, maids of honor, and a handful of mothers were all smiles. Some were masked; others were not. Everyone seemed glad to be there.

The Big Fake Wedding is an experiential expo company that produces events in 25 cities each year to help support and introduce local businesses to couples and other wedding professionals.

The New York event, held on the evening of July 21, brought 150 in-person attendees and 50 virtual ones — a new extension since the pandemic. There were also 30 vendors, two bands, and a vow renewal for a couple decked out in full wedding attire.

Jennifer Ammons, the owner and chief executive of the Big Fake Wedding, said people were ready to attend expos again. “Earlier this year we did microevents with 50 to 75 people in venues where we were not limited to larger events and saw a slower scale in attendance,” she said. “We could have sold more tickets, but people were slow to come back to events. People are also purchasing their tickets closer to the event to see how they feel and are trying not to overbook.”

For Jackie Lopez, 28, a senior TV producer for Bloomberg Technology, the July event was the first expo she had attended since the pandemic, and as a future bride. “All of my married friends loved going to these,” she said. “I expected this to be part of my wedding process, too.”

Ms. Lopez lives in Long Island City, Queens, and came with her two sisters and mother. She became engaged on Sept. 3, 2020, during a time when many events were paused. She is getting married May 14, 2022, in Westhampton, N.Y. “I wanted the same opportunities my friends had, so it’s really great to be here,” she said, “especially since we put off much of the planning.”

Aside from picking up tips from professionals and finding unexpected inspiration — “Who even thought about tablescaping?” Ms. Lopez said — she noted a sense of bonding and thoughtfulness. “It’s nice to be with brides who have gone through the same thing as I have, and to be part of the camaraderie,” she said.

Jasmin Waterman, 40, a nursing professional development specialist at NYU Langone Medical Center, heard about the event through her wedding planner. “When you’re at someone else’s wedding, you’re not looking at their event through the lens of a bride and groom,” she said. “Here you are.”

Ms. Waterman, who lives in Brooklyn, got engaged on Dec. 30, 2020; her wedding date is Aug. 27. “This is the first one I’ve been to,” she said. “We haven’t finalized everything so there’s still an opportunity to add to the décor, to get ideas, see what we’re missing and maybe sign with another vendor we don’t have.”

That was exactly what Sherilyn Thomas, 52, who owns CoziTreats, an artisanal dessert shop in Brooklyn, was hoping to hear. She was pleased attendees were still reaching for her cake pops, macarons and chocolate cream puffs. “I almost talked myself out of coming,” Ms. Thomas said. “You have to push yourself to be uncomfortable and get back to a new normal. Everyone has returned to planning. I’m glad to be getting ‘wows’ and the opportunity to show people what I’m offering.”

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Before the pandemic, wedding expos were a rite of passage for many brides and grooms. Found in cities around the country, they could be more intimate, with only 100 to 200 people attending and a focus on local businesses, or mammoth, catering to 600 to 1,000 people and with more than 100 vendors. They could be held in small venues or amphitheaters and stadiums. Some rotated locations, others remained in the same space.

Today, many expo producers, regardless of size or location, agree that little has changed in terms of who is paying for a space to be seen: photographers and videographers, cake makers and confectioners, designers and destination properties, florists and décor specialists, hair and makeup artists and D.J.s.

This year, however, COVID-themed stations — mask makers, hand sanitizer companies, Plexiglas creators or on-site Covid testing companies — seem scant. “So far, I’ve not gotten any requests or inquiries for Covid specific vendors,” said Tatiana Byron Marx, who founded the Wedding Salon 18 years ago. The company, based on West 35th Street in New York, produces and hosts nine wedding showcases a year and charges $50 per ticket. In 2020 Ms. Marx was forced to cancel her last two shows and laid off 14 staffers. Two months ago she started hiring again. The Wedding Salon’s first show, after being dark for more than 16 months, will be held on Sept. 20, in Miami. Houston will follow six days later with New York showcasing in Nov.

“We are starting with two markets that are widely open with less restrictions,” Ms. Marx said. “Then we’ll head to Los Angeles. Then we’re back to our normal schedule.” Over the last few weeks Ms. Marx said outreach from inquiring vendors has increased; she’s now getting 25 to 50 calls per week, though that is still down from the 50 to 100 before Covid.

Couples, too, are re-emerging. “They want to taste the cake, try on the makeup, talk to several photographers and try on dresses, all in one place and in a few hours,” she said. “You can’t do that online. Here you can because everything is live and in person. That’s why these are important.”

In terms of pandemic precautions, the Wedding Salon asks for proof of vaccination or requests that vendors or attendees wear masks. Temperature checks will happen as well.

“We used to have vendors lay out food, but everything will be served separately or prepackaged, even the cake tastings,” Ms. Marx said. “Pipe and drapes will separate vendors from each other, but we had been doing that for years.”

They are also managing size. “Before we would get 400 to 500 people for a typical show, 1,000 to 1,500 in New York,” she said. “Now we don’t want to start so big. We are sizing down 25 percent, just so we have more space and people can feel comfortable.”

Like the Big Fake Wedding, Ms. Marx will offer entertainment, including a D.J., bands, even specialists to teach guests the tango. “The variety acts are what guests remember,” she said. “Couples still want them so we still offer them.”

Bill Heaton, who has run the Great Bridal Expo for the past 42 years, usually spends September through April touring 25 to 30 cities, always ending in Silicon Valley, Calif. About 1,200 to 1,500 people attend his shows at $10 per ticket. Sixty to 100 exhibitors are highlighted.

“We had to cancel four or five shows,” he said. “But we started up again a few months ago. There are probably couples out there that are reluctant, but that’s not what I’m seeing from events over the past 30 days.”

During September and October, shows will be held in Baltimore, Boston, and Atlanta, among other cities. More than 20 expos are already set for 2022.

Though sales are down, Mr. Heaton said business interest has never been stronger, especially from wedding planners, a newer category for him.

“There’s an urge to get back to the way business was,” he said. “Couples want personal interaction. They want to make sure they’re compatible with the people they are selecting. That’s hard to do virtually. Seeing 100 different companies in a grand ballroom” — and sampling products and hearing from vendors directly — “is very different then a Zoom experience.”

Like Mr. Heaton, Ms. Marx was “cautiously optimistic,” she said. “We have fears. We have no idea what’s in store. If we need to shut down again we will. But right now we have to proceed forward.”

By 9:15 p.m., two bands had performed on City Winery’s sizable stage. The married couple had renewed their vows. Raffles had been claimed. Ms. Ammons looked pleased as she handed out white send-off streamers to exiting guests.

“This was a successful evening,” she said. “Meeting local vendors, interacting with other couples and seeing another couple get married seals the deal. It brings the wedding to life.”

2021-08-19 15:42:15

Entreprise

Start-Up Boom in the Pandemic Is Growing Stronger

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When the pandemic hit, the coffee shop sent workers home, and Mr. Atout’s salary was cut. Home all day and their income uncertain, the couple began to take the prospect of a music career more seriously. They set up a website and opened a business, Songlorious, writing custom songs for weddings, birthdays and similar events. Within weeks, they had more business than they could handle and began hiring other musicians to help out. Last fall, Mr. Atout quit his railroad job to work on the venture full time.

“I think the pandemic kind of forced us into this a little bit,” he said. “It gave us a nudge where I’ve always wanted to do something but I was too scared because I didn’t want to lose the stability of my job.”

Songlorious is in many ways typical of Covid-era start-ups. It is an online-only business in a field, performing arts, that was heavily disrupted by the pandemic. Its founders started the company at least partly out of financial necessity. And though it began in New York, they are building the business in a midsize city, Chattanooga, Tenn., where they moved in December looking in part for a lower cost of living. Early evidence suggests the increase in start-ups has been strongest outside the big-city downtowns that have been hit hard by the exodus of office workers.

The increase was probably driven, to some extent, by the layoffs that left millions of people out of work early in the pandemic. Researchers at the Kauffman Foundation found that about 30 percent of new entrepreneurs last year were unemployed when they started their businesses, roughly double the prepandemic rate.

The preceding recession, more than a decade earlier, also led to millions of job losses, but entrepreneurship, by a variety of measures, fell sharply and rebounded only slowly. It was accompanied by a financial crisis and a collapse in home values, which made it difficult to get capital to start businesses.

This time may have been different partly because would-be entrepreneurs were more likely to have the wherewithal to pursue their visions. Swift action by the Federal Reserve helped prevent a financial crisis, and home prices boomed.

The government also handed out hundreds of billions of dollars in unemployment benefits, direct checks to households and other aid. Mr. Atout said federal stimulus checks had helped him and Ms. Hodges make ends meet while they got their business running.

2021-08-19 09:00:17

Entreprise

Where Are All the Wedding D.J.s?

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With more than 20 D.J.s on his roster at any given moment, Gary Hoffmann, who runs a D.J. company, cannot recall a single time he has had to turn an engaged couple away.

“I’ve never done that,” said Mr. Hoffmann, the founder of Brooklyn-based 74 Events who has also been a D.J. himself since 2001. “I’ve never — in my 17 and a half years of being in business — had to tell anybody that we don’t have anyone.”

That all changed this year, as the tsunami of postponed 2020 weddings came crashing down onto Mr. Hoffmann’s calendar. He has had to deal with many postponements because of the coronavirus pandemic. “I stopped counting around 400,” he said. “The reality was a lot of couples early on in the pandemic were conservative or delusional about how bad it was going to be for how long. I’ve had multiple couples postpone their date two, three — and in some unique cases — four times.”

Right now, he has a handful of dates that are especially popular. And it’s putting him in a tough and unfamiliar situation. “I’ll use a specific example: Sept. 18,” Mr. Hoffmann said. “I have four or five different emails sitting in a folder where I told the couple, ‘Hey, I’m so sorry, I’m booked solid. But I’ll save this email and if something changes, I’ll let you know.’”

Jason Alexander Rubio and Diana Anzaldua, the husband and wife team behind Austin’s Best D.J.s, based in Austin, Texas, have also struggled to manage an influx of postponed weddings now happening all at once. “We’ve seen a 300 percent increase in clients calling and emailing, and booking in the last month or so,” Mr. Rubio said. “We’re doing our best to meet demand: hiring more staff and passing events we cannot do to other D.J.s who may not be as busy as we are.”

Further complicating the process is identifying a D.J. who complements a couple’s vision. “Finding the right fit based on style, experience and professionalism could be tricky nowadays because they might be all booked up,” said Vel Menash, the founder of TablePop, a platform for planning event experiences and an event concierge based in Burlington, N.J. “A multicultural couple I know needed help finding a D.J. that would be great for their cross-cultural wedding, which included Afrobeats and Indi-pop.”

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As with any major wedding decision, research is essential. Decide on a budget for the D.J. and entertainment. Mr. Rubio recommends allocating 8 to 10 percent of your total wedding budget. Then, check out wedding websites and make a list of your top five D.J.s.

“Do a little online stalking, and check out their social media and other reviews,” Mr. Rubio said. “Figure out which D.J. is best able to fulfill your overall wedding day vision and understand your vibe. See what other options the D.J. has — you may be able to book more services and not have to worry about paying too many vendors.”

If you have a signed contract, review it carefully to see if there’s a section that discusses cancellations and how you’re covered.

“Good, reputable D.J. companies will have a policy in place that doesn’t allow this to happen,” Mr. Rubio said. “If a D.J. is unable to make it, the company should have a backup D.J. who can easily cover. This is one advantage of booking a D.J. company over a solo D.J.”

Hitting dead end after dead end? Think about other places you may not have looked. According to Mr. Rubio, some D.J.s don’t advertise on the major wedding websites because of the cost. And many others may not have websites and rely exclusively on social media to attract potential clients. Search Facebook and Instagram by typing in “wedding D.J.” and the name of your destination.

“There’s some decent D.J.s on Instagram and Twitch,” said Schquita Goodwin, a D.J. based in Washington, D.C. “But your most trusted source would probably be by asking around: alumni networks, co-workers, kickball team. The vast majority of my business is recommendations from previous clients.”

While couples may encounter this option, Mr. Hoffmann cautions against it. Without a live D.J. to improvise and riff off guests and their energy, a prerecorded set could run the risk of not matching the atmosphere of the event as it unfolds in real-time.

“It’s not really an ideal situation and I wouldn’t recommend it,” Mr. Hoffmann said. “Save your money for the honeymoon or mortgage. Just set up your own playlists for great background music, and don’t worry about the dance part.”

Consider live musicians. Quartets, guitarists, and other performers may be contracted through freelancer sites like Fiverr and Upwork.

“I would even consider scouting local spots that have live music, like a church or bookstore,” Ms. Goodwin said. “However, the absolute, most cost-effective method would be to rent a speaker from a local audio visual equipment rental service. Then, get your family and friends involved.”

Get acquainted with your venue’s sound system and ask about audio connectivity so you can plug in your own device and equipment, if necessary. Once these capabilities are confirmed, start curating on your preferred streaming service. Earlier this month, Tidal, a streaming music service, launched a Wedding Hub, a one-stop source for soundtracking all wedding-themed events, like the processional and the first dance.

Spotify tends to be the most popular. Don’t forget to sign up for a premium account to avoid awkward interruptions from ads during cocktail hour and dinner.

Asking friends to flex their amateur spinning skills may be a suitable alternative, especially if the dance party is an absolute must-have. They should have “a basic instinct” for selecting music that’s fun for everybody, Mr. Hoffmann said. But even if they manage to get the party started, they might struggle to rein in over-enthused — and intoxicated — guests.

“This is a serious gamble,” Ms. Goodwin said. “If you trust your friend, yes. If you don’t trust your friend, listen to their samples. If they can’t curate six hours of music, then no.”

One major con: turning friends into vendors. Even if they insist, it may not be worth the hassle.

“If your friend is already a D.J., then sure,” Mr. Rubio said. “If not, this isn’t the best idea. Plus, you want your friend to be there to celebrate and enjoy the special day with you, and not work.”

Entreprise

What to Do With All Those ‘Cuomosexual’ Tees?

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In 2020, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo was at the height of his career.

While President Donald J. Trump was downplaying the threat and toll of the coronavirus pandemic, the New York governor calmly conveyed facts about Covid-19 — and offered up the occasional dad joke. His daily briefings became appointment viewing for people all over the country at a time when fear, anxiety, isolation and grief were mounting.

As the governor leaned into his new role as a comforting foil to the president, his public profile and approval ratings soared. People professed crushesmany of them — and pro-Cuomo merchandise proliferated. There were baseball hats, bobbleheads, pillows, candles, greeting cards and mugs with his name and face on them.

Then came 2021, which brought a report of undercounted nursing home deaths and several allegations of sexual harassment by Mr. Cuomo’s aides.

Finally, after an impeachment inquiry and calls from political leaders across the country to step down in the wake of a report from the New York attorney general concluding that Mr. Cuomo had sexually harassed 11 women, the governor resigned on Tuesday.

Now, the commercial relics of his career’s peak are beginning to look a bit like ancient artifacts. Namely, the T-shirts, $400 sweaters and other items people bought in 2020 to identify themselves as “Cuomosexuals.”

The term, popularized by the YouTube comedian Randy Rainbow and adopted by celebrities including Trevor Noah and Jimmy Fallon to express something more than admiration for the governor, became part of the lexicon during the pandemic’s first wave, when Mr. Cuomo’s popularity was peaking.

Lingua Franca, a fashion brand known for activist slogans, sold cashmere sweaters with “Cuomosexual” and “Cuomo for President” hand-embroidered on them. Betches, a media company geared toward millennial women, sold a T-shirt emblazoned with the phrase. Most of that merchandise has been scrubbed from the internet, preserved only in old social media posts.

But on Etsy, Redbubble, Zazzle and Teepublic, where people can upload original designs to be printed on mugs, totes and other items, there is still plenty for sale.

Several sellers removed their Cuomo designs from their shops after being contacted by The New York Times. One Redbubble seller said the site had deleted some of his listings, citing a violation of guidelines. Those who spoke with The Times said that they were simply making money from a trending topic.

James Melzer, a 43-year-old Etsy seller from Pennsylvania, started selling topical stickers last April after he was furloughed from his job in retail management. One of his designs featured Mr. Cuomo’s face, encircled by the phrase “I am a Cuomosexual,” which he’d learned about on social media.

“Honestly, I’m not big into politics,” Mr. Melzer said, noting that he wasn’t aware of the sexual harassment allegations against Mr. Cuomo or the findings of the attorney general’s report until The Times contacted him. He was shocked, he said, having sent out an order for three stickers the day after the release of the report.

He has since removed the sticker designs from his shop, he said. “I have family members that were sexually assaulted, friends that were. So I take that very seriously,” he said. “I have no interest in promoting or being associated with that type of behavior.”

Other designers expressed regret. “When I created and decided to sell these items, it was meant to be lighthearted and I never thought he would be accused of such outrageous behavior,” Jennifer Powell, 43, an Etsy seller from Flower Mound, Texas, wrote in an email. She noted that she took down her “Cuomosexual” T-shirt designs last week; for emphasis, she attached a photo of a friend holding a flame to one of them.

Kely Nascimento-DeLuca, 54, a documentary filmmaker from New York City, bought a “Cuomosexual” T-shirt from Betches in April. Though she had disagreed with Mr. Cuomo’s politics in the past, she believed he had stepped up during a time when many New Yorkers felt lost.

“He really made us think that we were going to be OK,” Ms. Nascimento-DeLuca said. “In spite of having very mixed feelings about him and his family, I definitely was a ‘Cuomosexual’ in that moment.”

“I wouldn’t change that,” she said. “I wouldn’t do that today, obviously. But I feel like it represented a moment in time.”

For some buyers, the allegations have changed nothing. Luisa, 42, a New Yorker who asked to be identified by her first name, said when her sister and niece caught Covid-19 last year, Mr. Cuomo’s briefings helped calm her down. She was given a “Cuomosexual” glass and bought three mugs from Etsy in January this year that read, “Shhh, I’m watching Cuomo.”

Her esteem for the governor is still high even after reading the attorney general’s report, she said.

“It doesn’t change what he did for me in 2020,” she said. “If people are going to say, ‘Impeach him,’ read the report and form your own conclusion. I think this was handled poorly.”

In light of the governor’s scandals, and now his resignation, others are reassessing not just merchandise but also their inadvertent roles in the wave of pro-Cuomo commentary. Mr. Rainbow said in a statement that his song, “Andy,” which featured the term “Cuomosexual,” simply “reflected the mood” of the country last year and that it “in no way is an endorsement of sexual harassment.”

Rebecca Fishbein, who wrote a tongue-in-cheek essay last year for Jezebel about the governor’s sudden magnetism, then received a phone call from him about it, said she meant to reflect the ways quarantine had warped people’s brains rather than an actual love for the governor. She has since regretted the essay, she said, after several out-of-state readers wrote to her believing she sincerely admired Mr. Cuomo.

“The same hubris that leads you to allegedly cover up nursing home deaths and openly sexually harass employees is what will convince you to put on a daily Cuomo Show and make yourself a pandemic celebrity,” Ms. Fishbein wrote in an email, “but for those first few scary weeks, it was nice to have that direction.”

Entreprise

Innovation Invites Hucksters – The New York Times

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I’m angry about start-up founders who over-promise, behave badly and sometimes crater their companies and walk away unscathed.

But deep down, I also wonder whether unscrupulous, boundary-pushing executives are an inescapable part of innovation — rather than an aberration.

If we want world-changing technology, are hucksters part of the deal? This is a version of a question that I wrestle with about technologies including Facebook and Uber: Is the best of what technology can do inextricably linked to all the horribles?

I’ve been thinking about this recently because of the glare on two start-up founders, Adam Neumann and Trevor Milton.

Neumann used to be the chief executive of the office rental start-up WeWork. He boasted that his company would transform the nature of work (on Earth and Mars), forge new bonds of social cohesion and make boatloads of money. WeWork has done none of those things.

A new book details the ways that WeWork mostly just rented cubicles, burned through piles of other people’s money, treated employees like garbage and made Neumann stinking rich as the company nearly collapsed in 2019. WeWork has stuck around in less outlandish form without Neumann.

And last week, federal authorities charged Milton with duping investors in his electric truck start-up Nikola into believing that the company’s battery- and hydrogen-powered vehicle technology was far more capable than it really was. Among the allegations are that Milton ordered the doctoring of a promotional video to make a Nikola prototype truck appear to be fully functional when it was not. (Milton’s legal team has said that the government was seeking to “criminalize lawful business conduct.”)

It’s easy to shake your head at these people and others — including the Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes who will soon be on trial for fraud — and wonder what personal failures led them to mislead, hype, and crash and burn.

But people like Holmes, Neumann and Milton are not oopsies. They are the extreme outcomes of a start-up system that rewards people who have the biggest and most outrageous ideas possible, even if they have to fudge a little (or a lot).

I am constantly furious about this system that seems to force start-ups to shoot for the moon, or else. WeWork had a basically smart, if not entirely original, idea to remove many of the headaches of commercial office leasing. But that wasn’t enough, and I almost don’t blame Neumann for that.

Disproportionate rewards go to the entrepreneurs and companies that can sell a vision of billions of users and values in the trillions of dollars. This is why Airbnb doesn’t merely say that it lets people rent a home in an app. The company says that Airbnb helps “people satisfy a fundamental human need for connection.” It’s why delivery companies like Uber and DoorDash are aiming to deliver any possible physical product to anyone, and companies think they have to make virtual reality become as popular as smartphones. Merely earthbound ambitions aren’t good enough.

Those conditions tempt people to skirt the edges of what’s right and legal. But I also wonder if curtailing the excesses would also curb the ambition that we want. Sometimes the zeal to imagine ridiculously grand visions of the future brings us Theranos. And sometimes it brings us Google. Are these two sides of the same coin?

Elon Musk shows both the good and the bad of what happens when technologists dream outlandishly big. Perhaps more than any single person, Musk has made it possible for automakers, governments and all of us to imagine electric cars replacing conventional ones. This is a potentially planet-transforming change.

But Musk has also endangered people’s lives by overhyping driver-assistance technology, has repeatedly over-promised technology that hasn’t panned out and has skirted both the law and human decency.

I used to half-jokingly ask a former colleague: Why can’t Musk just make cars? But maybe it’s impossible to separate the reckless carnival barker who deludes himself and others from the bold ideas that really are helping to change the world for the better.

I hate thinking this. I want to believe that technologies can succeed without aiming to reprogram all of humanity and without the associated temptations to engage in fraud or abuse. I want the good Musk without the bad. I want the wonderful and empowering elements of social media without the genocide. But I just don’t know if we can separate the wonderful from the awful.


  • The next target of China’s tech crackdown? The authorities showed that they may be unhappy with video game companies, my colleague Cao Li reported, and stock prices crashed for some big Chinese game makers. China’s government has pushed recently for tighter regulation of tech companies, including going after Chinese companies that go public outside the country, those that provide food delivery or online tutoring and the country’s ubiquitous WeChat app.

  • That’s one way to get Facebook’s attention: It’s almost impossible for people who lose access to their Facebook accounts to get hold of anyone at the company for help. Some people figured out a workaround, NPR reported: Buy one of Facebook’s $299 Oculus virtual reality headsets, call Oculus’s customer service team and have them help restore a Facebook account. Yeah, that’s nuts, and it doesn’t always work.

  • The mystery of the missing Dan Brown book: My colleague Caity Weaver goes down a rabbit hole to figure out if a botched bar code explains why online book resellers kept sending the wrong titles to someone trying to buy a novelty 1995 dating book by the author of “The Da Vinci Code.”

A very fast and acrobatic cat interrupted a baseball game for multiple minutes, as the crowd cheered it on and booed the pesky humans trying to shoo the cat off the field. My colleague Daniel Victor wrote about the animal antics in professional baseball on Monday night.


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2021-08-05 02:02:19