Remote learning has created a thriving new target market for office supply companies

Photo: PeopleImages/Getty Images

Christy Warner, a communications manager in Minneapolis, searched for months for a desk that fit her teenage daughter’s room and was priced less than $200. “I looked on Ikea, Wayfair, Overstocked, Target, TJ Maxx, everywhere, and everything is sold out,” she says.

Last spring, her daughter, a high school senior, converted the dining room table into a working desk during lockdown. Today, she’s upgraded to a folding table in her bedroom. “I just couldn’t find something,” says Warner. “It’s just like the toilet paper shortage.”

Covid-19 has created a whiplash cycle of unexpected product surges and shortages, from bicycles and…


Covid broke the Lipstick Index and a lot of other economic indicators. Here’s what should replace them.

Illustration: Rose Wong

For years, economists have relied on traditional economic indicators like consumer spending, wages, inflation, and the yield curve to predict an upcoming recession — and economic recovery. They’ve also plumbed all sorts of other weird economic indicators like lipstick sales. Estee Lauder coined the term “the lipstick effect” during the 2000 recession, when sales climbed following the dot-com bust. The reasoning goes that when times get tight, women will ditch big-ticket purchases and opt for small indulgences like a tube of bright lipstick.

But along came a pandemic, turning most economic norms — and many of these indicators — upside…


Product shortages, clogged supply chains, and stir-crazy parents have left companies scrambling to keep up with surging demand

Photo illustration: Dora Godfrey; image sources: Blanchi Costela/Getty Images, Airstream, Coleman, Intex

When stay-at-home orders forced Melissa Rooke, her husband, and two kids, ages four and eight, inside their Los Angeles home last spring, she attempted to buy an aboveground pool for $300. Seven weeks later, the pool had not arrived. After getting her money back from PayPal, she ordered another one on Amazon. Two months later, that pool hasn’t shown up either. “It’s so annoying,” Rooke says. “I really hope the pool comes. There is only so much of this lockdown that my kids can take before they lose their minds.”

Cherie Finch, a student in Los Angeles, found herself in…


The recently frozen IPO market is heating up, and companies are racing to go public before the end of summer

A photo illustration of a generic stock financial data analysis graph superimposed  over a close up  $100 US  dollar bill.
A photo illustration of a generic stock financial data analysis graph superimposed  over a close up  $100 US  dollar bill.
Photo: sefa ozel/iStock/Getty Images Plus

The pandemic almost completely shut down the IPO market this spring, crushing the stock market and marking April and May as the slowest public offering run since 2009. It also dashed the ambitious plans of IPO hopefuls, including DoorDash, Robinhood, and Airbnb.

But as the stock market has surged back, so too has the voracious appetite for public offerings. Many companies are now rushing to go public before the end of summer. On Thursday, two not yet profitable VC-backed companies had big public market debuts: Lemonade, a tech startup specializing in renters and homeowners insurance, and Accolade, an employee benefits…


Why a new approach to venture capital is powering more sustainable startups — and funding more diverse founders

A man wearing a unicorn mask standing in a sunny field.
A man wearing a unicorn mask standing in a sunny field.
Photo: Mimi Haddon/DigitalVision/Getty Images

Thompson Aderinkomi was understandably wary about raising venture capital again. Just four months after closing a $7 million funding round for his first startup RetraceHealth in 2016, Aderinkomi was pushed out of the startup by the new board. This was after he had spent three years and taken on $1 million of his own personal debt to build the company. “It was the worst time in my life,” he recalls. “I felt like I had failed my employees, my family, and my early investors.”

When Aderinkomi started another company in 2017, he took an entirely different approach to venture capital…


The pandemic is altering short-term shopper behavior — and retailers can’t keep up

An illustration of a man wearing a face mask, surrounded by a stockpile of toilet paper, weapons ammo, kettlebells, and cans.
An illustration of a man wearing a face mask, surrounded by a stockpile of toilet paper, weapons ammo, kettlebells, and cans.
Illustration: Xavier Lalanne-Tauzia

The coronavirus lockdown has businesses reeling, with countless companies anticipating steep sales declines and some entire industries at risk. And yet some items are still flying off the shelves in this new work-from-home (and do-everything-else-from-home) world — and it’s not just toilet paper and hand sanitizer. A wide variety of products, from sporting goods to appliances, have suddenly become hot ticket items.

Here are some of the surprising products that are selling out and what it says about the current mentality of shoppers.

Freezers

You wouldn’t think a pandemic would be the time you’d start shopping for appliances, but plenty of…


From vaccines to remote job interviews, here’s how companies are working to prevent the spread of COVID-19

Photo: Josh Edelson/Getty Images

Jake Glanville thinks about coronavirus on a daily basis. The CEO of Distributed Bio in San Francisco was featured in the new Netflix series Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak for its work on developing an antibody for influenza. Now his team of 30 biohackers work long hours to develop a vaccine to treat the deadly coronavirus raging across the world.

But over the weekend, Glanville’s focus shifted when one of his own employees fell ill and was hospitalized. It turned out the person was sick with the flu — not COVID-19 — but the outbreak feels ever closer. By…


A large book titled “Recipes for Going Public,” a chef blowing a kiss, and a pot of dollar bills and unicorn horns.
A large book titled “Recipes for Going Public,” a chef blowing a kiss, and a pot of dollar bills and unicorn horns.

The New Rules of the IPO

Dutch auctions? Reverse mergers? Direct listings? The pros and cons of IPO alternatives.

This story is part of The New Rules of the IPO, a multi-part special report.
Illustrations: James Clapham

A graveyard of hyped unicorns has some companies canceling or postponing their IPOs and considering other alternatives for raising money and getting that coveted ticker symbol. Here are the other routes companies are taking to go public — and how they stack up to a traditional IPO.

IPO

First, let’s look at the Wall Street status quo. An IPO is how virtually every big publicly traded company gets on stock exchanges like the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and the National Association of…


From forward-thinking acquisitions to hare-brained lapses of judgment, these were the decisions that crushed the competition — and the ones that backfired horribly

Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

This was the decade of the pivot, the unicorn, and the unicorpse. It seemed like everyone — from cosmetics retailers to pizza chains — began calling itself a tech company. Yet they do have a point: Tech has redefined everything, ushering in a business world that moves with unprecedented speed. You either disrupt or get disrupted. You’re nimble or you collapse. The bold are both rewarded and punished. Here’s a look back at some of the best and worst business moves of the decade.

The 9 Best Moves

1. Netflix rethought its business model

We’re all so used to bingeing Netflix that we might have forgotten that its CEO, Reed…

Jennifer Alsever

I write. Journalist and author of weird, but awesome young adult fiction. www.jenniferalsever.com www.trinityforestseries.com

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