Robert Sanchez

Robert Sanchez

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Since the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, the potential role of animals in catching and spreading the disease has been closely examined by scientists. This is because the virus that causes COVID-19 belongs to the family of coronaviruses that cause disease in a variety of mammals. The evidence suggests that this virus arose in bats and my colleagues at the University of Glasgow have recently determined that the sub-type of coronavirus to which the virus belongs has been circulating in the bat population since the 1940s. So it makes sense for researchers to ponder whether the virus can be transmitted… This story continues at The Next Web
Europe's fastest-growing tech companies like Revolut and Babylon Health are permanently shifting towards more flexible remote working policies. London-headquartered neo-bank Revolut says 70% of its employees don't want to go back to working the same way they were pre-pandemic. Startup accelerator Founders Factory says that productivity has increased with remote working.  But, European venture capital firms Connect Ventures and Beringea found that 45% of the companies they had invested in thought the mental health of their teams has suffered.  Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Europe's tech startups are following Silicon Valley's lead when it comes to a permanent shift towards more flexible working.  US tech giants like Google have recently revealed plans to continue remote working until summer 2021, while Twitter told employees as early as May that they can work from home forever if they want.  Now, European tech startups like $5.5 billion neo-bank Revolut and telehealth unicorn Babylon Health told Business Insider that they too plan to implement flexible, remote working options long term. "I think it's been a bit of a test bed for lots of companies, including us, who have been forced into this quite radical shift in the way we work," says Babylon Health's chief commercial officer Amanda Cupples.  "From a value-add perspective, clearly that old model — that model of  high-density, open plan working — doesn't work in this environment, so we have to shift," she adds. "The question is how do we make sure that shift's a positive one that allows us to grow as a business." Cupples says that Babylon's London headquarters are still open, but the startup won't review plans for a large-scale return to the office until autumn. The company has more than 2,000 employees globally. "The one thing we do know is that it won't be a return to the pre-Covid model of five days a week in the office, which is largely what we did with some exceptions." Revolut, also headquartered in London, likewise plans to shake up the old model of the five day in-office working week. The company has around 2,000 employees. The fintech says 70% of its employees don't want to go back to working how they were before, with most wanting to balance time in the office with remote working some days a week. At current estimates, that would mean a maximum of 60% of employees in the office at any one time, says VP Lesley Smith.  "We've been impressed with how quickly people adapted to working outside the office and how they maintained productivity and team working wherever they worked from," Smith says. "People are saving the time from the daily commute and that's good for work/life balance." But, the knock-on effects from remote working have not been all positive. While productivity is good, mental health has declined A survey by London-based venture capital firms Connect Ventures and Beringea of 31 portfolio companies found that, while only 12% of startups felt that productivity had fallen, 45% felt that the mental wellbeing of their teams had suffered from the shift to remote working.  "There's definitely a general desire to work more flexibly, but I think there's also a general acknowledgement that there is value in face-to-face collaboration," says Babylon's Cupples. "I think that's what's going to make people want to come back, because there are certain things that people are missing and they're mostly around culture and communications." For many tech startups, productivity has increased with remote working. "In one of our surveys, both our team and startups indicated that productivity ... felt higher in this remote-first world," says Louis Warner, chief operating officer of startup builder Founders Factory. Founders Factory hosts a number of its startups at its offices, and runs accelerators as well as startup-building programs. "During the lockdown period for instance, we have hosted two virtual investor showcase events which have been our best attended to date with over 500 investors in attendance, we have helped our startups close approximately £30 million in funding, and we have welcomed 15 new startups to our program," added Warner. Almost half of Founders Factory's portfolio startups are considering a more flexible working environment, either "remote-first" or more working from home days, with 35% looking to return to the office "as soon as possible". This is consistent with the outlook for other small tech startups. 80% of the early-stage startups surveyed by Connect and Beringea expect to return to the office by the end of 2020, but only 22% expect that the entire workforce will be back within the next one to two years.  For lawtech startup SeedLegals, around half of the workforce are "happy at home" and half have plans to return to the office in the next few months. "Based on those results, we've given notice on our current office space, and have two months to decide what to do next," says CEO Anthony Rose. "Currently our thinking is that we'll find some, possibly smaller, space, to reflect the changes in people's desire for flexibility in their working location." But Rose isn't sure this is sustainable long term.  "In my opinion, there are two stable scenarios: Everyone in the office, or everyone at home. The in-between state, with some employees at home and some in the office, may be the worst of both worlds," he says. "You'll be trying to hold meetings with half the team sitting together, talking to a laptop on the desk with tinny sound and small videos of the rest."Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: The rise and fall of Donald Trump's $365 million airline
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On May 29, Brex, a three-year-old fintech that had skyrocketed to a $3 billion valuation, laid off 62 members, or roughly 17%, of its staff.  It had announced a $150 million fundraise less than two weeks prior. Among those cut was Paul-Henri Ferrand, Brex's recently hired COO, along with senior employees on the customer experience, compliance, and marketing teams.  Insiders revealed a fast-growing company that was already grappling with employee turnover and aggressive financial targets in early 2020. Click here to read the full investigation. This story was originally published on June 10.  Early on the morning of May 29th, an email landed in the inbox of members of Brex's customer-experience team. The note, sent from a manager's address, explained how difficult the recent meeting had been and how, unfortunately, some members of the team would be let go. Those who were safe would receive a separate email, while those who would be let go would get a meeting invite, according to a recipient of the note who verbally described it to Business Insider.  The problem? No meeting had taken place yet.  The email was sent around 6:30 a.m. PST, according to one of the recipients of the note. The day was just getting underway for the team, which was spread across Brex's offices in San Francisco, Salt Lake Valley, Utah, and Vancouver. It didn't take long to understand layoffs were coming. The coronavirus had crippled much of the economy, and Brex, a startup offering corporate charge cards for early-stage companies, was no exception, despite raising $150 million a few weeks earlier at a $3 billion valuation.  A few hours later, an all-hands meeting appeared on all Brex employees' calendars. By 11 a.m. PST co-founder Pedro Franceschi addressed his 400-plus employees. Brex was laying off 62 people. Business Insider talked to eight current and former employees to learn more about the run-up to the layoffs and how the cuts went down. In July, Brex added FDIC insurance to its bank account-like Brex Cash service. The fintech also announced Katie Biber, who spent time at Airbnb and Thumbtack, had joined as its chief legal officer. To read the full story, which is exclusive to BI Prime subscribers, click here.SEE ALSO: Read the full memo Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky just sent to staff announcing 1,900 job cuts. It lays out severance details and which teams are getting hit the hardest. SEE ALSO: Silver Lake has been plowing money into bets like Airbnb, Twitter, and Waymo. Here's a look inside why it's being called the Warren Buffett of tech. SEE ALSO: 4 top VCs explain why Stripe, Square, and Finix are going to be big winners in a post-COVID-19 world Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Pathologists debunk 13 coronavirus myths
Throughout the year, Sony has been hosting a number of PlayStation State of Play presentations, and we’re about to see the next one. Today, Sony confirmed that the next PlayStation State of Play will be happening later this week. Before you get too excited though, you should know that Sony has confirmed there won’t be any “big PlayStation 5 announcements” … Continue reading
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Fintech challenger bank Monzo announced that its losses ballooned to £115.4 million ($151 million) in 2019 — twice that of 2018.  That is despite revenues at the London-based startup doubling to £90 million ($118 million) in 2019. Monzo said the ongoing uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic was a major threat to its future, but that it could raise more cash if needed.  Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.  Fintech challenger bank Monzo announced Thursday that its revenues had doubled to £90 million ($118 million) in 2019 — but its losses ballooned to £115.4 million ($151 million), twice that of 2018. The London-based startup attributed the losses to increased marketing spend, hiring, and more technology. The results in its annual report cover the year to February, and do not account for Monzo's troubles during the coronavirus pandemic. It has laid off up to 80 staff and signed a new $76 million funding round from investors at a 40% valuation drop in recent months.  "The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic poses a significant risk to the UK and global economy, and this year will be a challenging time for many businesses, including Monzo," Monzo cofounder and president Tom Blomfield said in the report. "With this unexpected change in landscape, we've seen organic customer growth slow as word-of-mouth drops, and we'll see reductions in revenues and higher credit losses." The pandemic was a threat to Monzo's very existence, the company admitted. But Alwyn Jones, CFO, said Monzo had already raised cash during the pandemic, and could do so again if needed.  Investors remain bullish: One London-based VC said the revenue growth of the 12 months to February, and increased internal discipline brought on by COVID-19, will serve the business well. The startup bank, founded in 2015, has more than 4 million customers with current accounts — it also provides saving pots, access to loans, and other financial services. It has more than 36,000 business banking clients. Over 2019, it added 2.3 million new customers and deposits grew to more than £1 billion ($1.31 billion). Its lending business grew to £143.9 ($189 million) in 2019, from just £19 million ($25 million) in 2018. It recently relaunched paid accounts in an attempt to diversify its revenue and push towards profitability. It has relied on the wild popularity of its "hot coral" debit cards and easy-to-use app to win new customers, rather than conventional marketing. Reshuffle of top jobs Monzo kicked off the year by publicizing a prospective US launch, and the company has applied for a US banking license, a process which could take 12 to 18 months. Blomfield is stepping away from his current role as CEO to become president. And amid financial pressure during the pandemic, he has deferred his salary for a year. Blomfield's old job has been taken up by TS Anil, the Visa veteran who joined Monzo as US CEO in February.  Other executive changes include the departure of CTO Meri Williams, while former Deliveroo CTO and Blossom Capital VC Mike Hudack has joined as chief product officer. Sujata Bhatia, a former American Express executive in Europe, has been brought in as new COO. The start of the year also saw Monzo cofounder Paul Rippon leave the company to spend his time farming alpacas. The startup has raised £385 million ($487 million) to-date. SEE ALSO: $1.6 billion challenger bank Monzo relaunches paid premium accounts with eye on profitability Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: July 15 is Tax Day — here's what it's like to do your own taxes for the very first time
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