4 Ways to Improve Your Blockchain Marketing

I squinted as I tried to make sense of the booth banner with paragraphs of size-9 font. “Do you understand this?” I asked a nearby colleague. “Nope” he replied. As I walked through the exhibit hall, talked to teams, and read pamphlets and one-pagers about the latest technologies, one thing was clear:

Blockchain companies need help with marketing. From confusing handouts to illegible booth banners, many of marketing materials I saw and received had the best intentions, but were in need of a revamp to truly help these companies shine.

Here are a few of the ways to stand out in the competitive world of blockchain:

1. Simplify your language.

“What does your company do?” I inquired at a booth. Five minutes later, my brain was overwhelmed with a series of buzzwords and industry jargon–and I still didn’t know what the company did.

And this company wasn’t the only one. Many companies I’ve talked to dive into the technical aspects of their product without breaking down what they offer in simple terms.

“Avoid exaggeration.” says David Wachsman, CEO of Wachsman PR. “Companies need to be able to plainly explain why blockchain and tokenization are critical to the long-term viability of their solutions. One should avoid hyperbole and explain exactly what the adoption of a new technology could do today instead of prognosticating how it could change the world in five years’ time.”

One exercise we use with blockchain clients is to tell them to imagine they are explaining their company to their grandparents or 7-year old siblings. This can help remove unnecessary industry jargon and deep technical terms. Once you have a pitch you feel comfortable with–get feedback from not only those in the industry, but see if your pitch excites someone who doesn’t have a technical background.

2. Stress key benefits in your pitch.

It’s important to stress the benefits of your product to demonstrate it’s value. Make a list of three to five benefits of your product and then see how you can incorporate this language in your pitch.

You can also start your pitch off by stating the industry problem and showing how your product is the solution. Instead of saying, “we’re a decentralized wallet” you can change the wording to highlight the benefit to consumers. “Consumer fraud is at an all time high, our wallet helps consumers stay protected while enjoying perks for using their card.”
In blockchain, industry jargon runs rampant. Focus on telling your story in simplistic terms that stresses the key benefits you offer to both potential investors and consumers of your product.

3. Invest in quality design.

Presentation matters. From your website to sales material, design is important. A great design not only positions your company as credible, but also can help you explain your company benefits in a visual way.

Though you might be on a budget, quality design is one component of your marketing strategy thing you shouldn’t skimp on. When evaluating designers, find one whose work is not only visually appealing, but also aligns with your branding guidelines.

It can take time to find a designer who aligns with your brand. I recommend hiring three to four designers for a small test project before committing to a larger website project or 30-page white paper design.

4. Put an emphasis on community building. 

Community building can help build strong relationships with partners and investors, as well as nurture advocates who can help tell your story. A engaged community can help widen the reach of your message but it takes time to build. “Highly engaged communities contribute real value.”  says Henry Liu, Chief of Investments at Yeoman’s Capital.

Treat everyone interested in your company as an important member of the community. From an active presence on Telegram to a community manager who responds to Reddit threads you can help answer questions and encourage others to share ideas.

Messaging that stresses company benefits, great design and engaged community members are the building blocks of a strong marketing program. ?

Japanese companies see big things in small-scale industrial robots

TOKYO (Reuters) – A two-armed robot in a Japanese factory carefully stacks rice balls in a box, which a worker carries off for shipment to convenience stores. At another food-packaging plant, a robot shakes pepper and powdered cheese over pasta that a person has just arranged in a container.

Kawasaki Heavy Industries’ collaborative robot stacks rice balls at Delicious Cook &Co’s food factory in Narashino, Japan, April 17, 2018. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

In a country known for bringing large-scale industrial robots to the factory floor, such relatively dainty machines have until recently been dismissed as niche and low-margin.

But as workforces age in Japan and elsewhere, collaborative robots – or “cobots” – are seen as a key way to help keep all types of assembly lines moving without replacing humans.

Japan’s Fanuc and Yaskawa Electric, two of the world’s largest robot manufacturers, didn’t see the shift coming. Now they are trying to catch up.

“We didn’t expect large manufacturers would want to use such robots, because those robots can lift only a light weight and have limited capabilities,” said Kazuo Hariki, an executive director at Fanuc.

Although still a small portion of a $40 billion industrial robot market, the cobots segment is set to grow over the next decade to more than $10 billion, by some estimates – several dozen times its current size.

The concept of a robot co-worker is relatively new. Danish company Universal Robots, founded in 2005, introduced cobots for industrial applications in late 2008, closely working with major German automakers such as Volkswagen (VOWG_p.DE).

At first, “a lot of people misunderstood what the cobot is,” said Universal Robots’ chief executive, Juergen von Hollen. But the machines quickly became popular in Europe because of their safety, simplicity and ability to directly assist human workers, he said.

Supported by Berlin’s “Industrie 4.0” strategy to promote smart factories, the likes of Kuka and Robert Bosch followed Universal Robots into the market in the early 2010s.

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Relatively inexpensive and easy to operate, cobots are now used by companies of all sizes for small-batch manufacturing and simple processes.

In Japan, food maker Nippon Flour Mills uses a cobot made by Kawasaki Heavy Industries for seasoning packaged food sold at convenience stores.

“Labor costs are rising, with more intense competition to hire workers,” said Atsushi Honda, technology team manager at Nippon Flour’s plant engineering group.

Automating some tasks with machines that didn’t need to be separated from human employees helped the company solve that labor issue, he said.

A SLOW START

Industry analysts say Japanese robot makers, in addition to underestimating the appeal of cobots, were held back in their home market by government safety regulations.

Heavy industrial robots had to be fenced off from human contact. Robots that worked in closer proximity to people were limited in how powerful they could be.

The restrictions on cobots were relaxed in late 2013 to match international standards. Japanese robotmakers remained cautious at first, but are now trying to dash into the market.

Fanuc in February bought Life Robotics Inc, whose clients include Toyota Motor Corp and Omron Corp, for an undisclosed amount. It was the first acquisition in 15 years for Fanuc, known among investors for its huge cash pile. Rival Yaskawa Electric released its first cobot last year.

Both, however, lag far behind Universal Robots, which still has roughly 60 percent of the global market and is now owned by Teradyne, according to analysis firm BIS Research. Fanuc has 6 to 10 percent market share, and Yaskawa’s share is even smaller.

Yaskawa’s head of robotics, Masahiro Ogawa, said he was confident the company could grow as customers looked for more sophisticated models.

“As users get used to handling cobots, they will have more advanced and diverse demands. We have the capacity to better meet such demands,” Ogawa said.

Mitsubishi Electric Corp plans to launch a cobot early next year aimed at users such as electronics makers and logistics companies, said Katsutoshi Urabe, senior manager in charge of the company’s robot sales.

Kawasaki Heavy, another engineering giant that entered the market in 2015, tied up with Swiss rival ABB last year. The two companies plan to standardize cobot programming, said Tomonori Sanada, who is in charge of Kawasaki’s robot marketing and sales planning.

But Universal Robots’ von Hollen was unfazed by the interest of such heavyweights, saying the market would grow to accommodate new competitors.

His company, which reported a 72 percent jump in revenue to $170 million last year, expects to grow at least 50 percent in 2018.

“Probably only 10 percent of our target market really knows about collaborative robots,” he said. “So there is 90 percent potential that is gone untapped.”

Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki; editing by Gerry Doyle

PwC had cleared Facebook's privacy practices in leak period

(Reuters) – Facebook Inc’s privacy practices were cleared by auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in an assessment completed last year of the period in which data analytics consultancy Cambridge Analytica gained access to the personal data of millions of Facebook users.

FILE PHOTO: A 3D-printed Facebook logo is seen in front of displayed stock graph in this illustration photo, March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

Facebook had established and implemented a comprehensive privacy program and its privacy controls were operating with sufficient effectiveness to provide reasonable assurance to protect the privacy of covered information, PwC said in a report submitted to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) dated December 2017 on the FTC website.

The report was an assessment of the period from Feb. 12, 2015 to Feb. 11, 2017.

The Wall Street Journal earlier reported on Thursday on the PwC assessment submitted to the FTC. PwC declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

Facebook has been under scrutiny from lawmakers across the world since disclosing that the personal information of 87 million Facebook users wrongly ended up in the hands of Cambridge Analytica, a Britain-based firm hired by Donald Trump for his 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign.

“We remain strongly committed to protecting people’s information. We appreciate the opportunity to answer questions the FTC may have,” Facebook Deputy Chief Privacy Officer Rob Sherman told Reuters in an emailed statement on Thursday.

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg appeared for hearings in front of U.S. lawmakers last week and is currently facing pressure from European Union lawmakers to come to Europe and shed light on the data breach involving Cambridge Analytica.

Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri

Mexico's top court sides with America Movil, says Telmex can charge rivals

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – America Movil’s fixed-line unit Telmex said on Wednesday that the nation’s supreme court has sided with it and ruled the firm should not be barred from charging rivals for calls to its network.

The logo of America Movill is seen on the wall at the company’s corporate offices in Mexico City, Mexico March 14, 2018. REUTERS/Carlos Jasso

The decision follows a similar ruling from the Supreme Court in August that opened the door for America Movil’s mobile unit Telcel to begin charging its rivals for use of its network.

The rulings weaken a key pillar of a 2014 telecommunications reform intended to loosen billionaire Carlos Slim’s grip on a market he has dominated since taking control of former state phone monopoly Telmex in the 1990s.

Mexico’s Federal Institute of Telecommunications (IFT) will set the rates, which will become effective on Jan. 1, 2019, Telmex said.

A spokeswoman for the IFT did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The IFT ruled in November that America Movil could resume charging local rivals for mobile calls to its network.

In March, the IFT approved a plan to separate part of America Movil’s fixed-line units into new companies, after about a year of discussion. America Movil submitted a plan for the separation this month, which is intended to open up its infrastructure to competitors.

Telmex held about 62 percent of Mexico’s fixed-lines as of the third quarter 2017, according to IFT data.

Reporting by Anthony Esposito and Julia Love; Editing by Himani Sarkar

Uber picks VMware's Zane Rowe as CFO: Bloomberg

(Reuters) – Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] has picked VMware Inc’s (VMW.N) Zane Rowe as the top candidate for chief financial officer to lead preparations for the ride-hailing company’s initial public offering in 2019, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

The logo of Uber is pictured during the presentation of their new security measures in Mexico City, Mexico April 10, 2018. REUTERS/Ginnette Riquelme

The Silicon Valley startup is in advanced talks with Rowe, who is currently CFO at VMware, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

An agreement has not been finalized yet and talks could still fall through, Bloomberg said citing one of the sources.

Uber’s board of directors has agreed to take the company public in 2019 and is searching for a chief financial officer to lead this effort. The position has been vacant since 2015.

VMware declined to comment. Uber was not immediately available for comment outside regular U.S. business hours.

Reporting by Subrat Patnaik in Bengaluru; Editing by Sunil Nair

Facebook says users must accept targeted ads even under new EU law

MENLO PARK, Calif. (Reuters) – Facebook Inc (FB.O) said on Tuesday it would continue requiring people to accept targeted ads as a condition of using its service, a stance that may help keep its business model largely intact despite a new European Union privacy law.

FILE PHOTO: Silhouettes of mobile users are seen next to a screen projection of Facebook logo in this picture illustration taken March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

The EU law, which takes effect next month, promises the biggest shakeup in online privacy since the birth of the internet. Companies face fines if they collect or use personal information without permission.

Facebook Deputy Chief Privacy Officer Rob Sherman said the social network would begin seeking Europeans’ permission this week for a variety of ways Facebook uses their data, but he said that opting out of targeted marketing altogether would not be possible.

“Facebook is an advertising-supported service,” Sherman said in a briefing with reporters at Facebook’s headquarters.

FILE PHOTO: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies before a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing regarding the company’s use and protection of user data on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, U.S., April 11, 2018. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein/File Photo

Facebook users will be able to limit the kinds of data that advertisers use to target their pitches, he added, but “all ads on Facebook are targeted to some extent, and that’s true for offline advertising, as well.”

Facebook, the world’s largest social media network, will use what are known as “permission screens” – pages filled with text that require pressing a button to advance – to notify and obtain approval.

The screens will show up on the Facebook website and smartphone app in Europe this week and globally in the coming months, Sherman said.

The screens will not give Facebook users the option to hit “decline.” Instead, they will guide users to either “accept and continue” or “manage data setting,” according to copies the company showed reporters on Tuesday.

“People can choose to not be on Facebook if they want,” Sherman said.

Regulators, investors and privacy advocates are closely watching how Facebook plans to comply with the EU law, not only because Facebook has been embroiled in a privacy scandal but also because other companies may follow its lead in trying to limit the impact of opt-outs.

Last month, Facebook disclosed that the personal information of millions of users, mostly in the United States, had wrongly ended up in the hands of political consultancy Cambridge Analytica, leading to U.S. congressional hearings and worldwide scrutiny of Facebook’s commitment to privacy.

Facebook Chief Financial Officer David Wehner warned in February the company could see a drop-off in usage due to the EU law, known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Reporting by David Ingram; Editing by Greg Mitchell and Lisa Shumaker

Why Netflix Stock Jumped as Much as 8% to an (Almost) All-Time High

Growth at big companies chasing mature markets is supposed to slow down. Think about wireless phones or cable TV. But that rule doesn’t seem to apply to Netflix, at least not yet.

Even after more than 20 years in business, the world’s biggest streaming video service experienced some of its fastest growth ever in the first quarter, helping to give its stock a big lift.

Netflix shares, which hit an all-time high of $333.98 last month before selling off in the recent stock market decline, jumped as much as 8% in after hours trading on Monday. That put the stock price just pennies below the all-time high. But as CEO Reed Hastings and other executives answered an analysts’ questions on one of Netflix’s famously dull quarterly calls for investors, the after hours gain shrunk to a 5% gain to $324.32.

Netflix’s overall revenue increased 40% to $3.7 billion in the quarter, but excluding the aging DVD rental business, streaming video service revenue rose 43% to $3.6 billion, the company’s fastest quarterly growth rate ever, Netflix said. That was due to the combination of adding 7.4 million new subscribers, the most ever for Netflix in a first quarter, plus the price hikes the company pushed through last year, leading to a 14% increase in the average monthly subscription price.

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Investors and analysts were most impressed by the subscriber gains, which came in well ahead of the company’s own forecasts. Netflix added 1.96 million new members in the United States, after forecasting a gain of 1.45 million, and another 5.46 million in other countries, after forecasting 4.9 million. Netflix’s forecasts for the second quarter for subscriber and revenue growth were also better than analysts expected.

“We think investors will likely push NFLX stock higher after this earnings report,” UBS analyst Eric Sheridan wrote after the results came out. “We see investors focused on the widening moat that NFLX is creating with its business (faster subscriber growth on the back of original content push).”

Netflix’s head of programming, Ted Sarandos, did use the call Monday evening to shoot down one frequent rumor about the company, while declining to address another.

“Our move into news has been misreported over and over again and we’re not looking to expand into news beyond the work that we’re doing in short form and long form feature documentaries,” he said, when asked about rumors of a bigger push into news.

Recent talk shows from the likes of David Letterman should be considered entertainment, not news, he stressed. “David Letterman is a great talk show host—not a newscaster,” Sarandos said.

And about those rumors that former president Barack Obama or his wife Michelle is in talks to host such a show?

“I can’t comment on the Obamas or any other deals that would be in various states of negotiation right now,” he replied.

CEO Hastings was also asked whether the data privacy problems hounding Facebook (fb) and other tech companies could hurt Netflix (nflx), particularly if new laws limited data collection. Last week, some members of Congress raised the possibility during hearings in which Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified about his company’s data collection and data sharing practices.

“Well, I’m very glad that we built the business not to be ad-supported,” he said. “I think we’re substantially inoculated from the other issues that are happening in the industry…Just objectively, we’re much more of a media company in that way than pure tech. Of course we want to be great at both but, again, we’re really pretty different from the pure tech companies.”

How To Trigger Innovation By Promoting Diversity

Diversity is a critical input for innovation. Variety of talent, thought, experiences and ideas is the fuel and force that makes innovation possible. Yet many companies are not wired to foster diversity and are riddled with practices that actively impede it. One of the most pronounced workplace biased is a gender imbalance that favors men. Psychology Professors Linda Carli and Alice Eagly likened women’s advancement to leadership to a labyrinth, with dead ends and maze-like paths. This is starkly different to a men’s path, which can be compared to a road with bumps and potholes.

This maze-like path is what Danni Mohammed, a Global Strategy and Innovation Consultant, has called ‘Gendered Navigation’. In developed markets, it often happens as a result of unconscious bias. She says, “We don’t consciously know we’re excluding women and other minorities in business.” Mohammed’s latest research pinpoints this unconscious bias to three key factors.

1.     Homophily Bias

This is an innate tendency to bond with others who hold similar values, beliefs and attitudes, and display similar characteristics.  We feel more at ease and familiar with those who we can recognize ourselves in and, often unconsciously, form deeper ties and prioritize connection in such circumstances. For example, until orchestras started hosting blind auditions, they were predominantly comprised of men.

2.     Second Generation Bias

This happens when there are established patterns and values in the workplace that are accepted as normal, yet favor a particular profile, often men.  Think about traditional bonding activities like golf or late-night drinks that tend to exclude women. Exposure gained at these sorts of events can help prop up members, and in doing so, exclude others. This type of bias can often happen subconsciously, and would be a surprise to many in the workplace.

3.     Masculine Leadership Bias

This occurs in workplaces that openly prioritize and idolize masculine working styles, values and traits. Often the motivation may not come from a place of intentional oppression; and is instead driven by a belief that male characteristics are what it takes to get the job done well.

Bias Busting Solution

In all these instances, the bias is not a deliberate choice, but an unconscious way of being. And that’s what makes it so harmful. However, there is hope yet. Mohammed believes that to challenge these labyrinth-like walls that inhibit diversity, we need to reconstruct the organization’s internal Architecture, Routines and Culture (ARC) that value all gender. She sees the ARC as the fabric of a company, and in many ways can be described as its operating system.  Mohammed says, “True diversity can happen when we redesign these structures holistically versus deploying tactical solutions. We design them in a way so that they positively reinforce one another.” By intentionally redesigning these elements in a way that addresses gender bias, companies can thrive.

AI tools

A new spade of AI tools have been designed to tackle bias head on.  One company, Pymetrics, invites candidates to play a series of games in the early rounds of the recruitment process. These games ignore characteristics like race, gender and level of education entirely. Instead, they focus on traits more meaningful to workplace success, like memory and attitude to risk. Another company, Texio, focuses on using machine learning to create job descriptions that optimize appeal to a diverse array of candidates. For example, women are more attracted to jobs that talk about ‘developing a team’ rather than ‘managing a team’. According to Texio, this can help get 25% more qualified talent through the door, as well as bolster diversity.

Rotating Sponsorship Programs

In a bid to tackle homophily head on, successful companies initiate a ‘Rotating Sponsorship’ Program, where different leaders are tasked with sponsoring and mentoring different employees, on a rotating basis. This prevents the common phenomenon of men in senior leadership positions sponsoring those they deem to be just like them; and opens up mentorship and the chance at leadership positions to those normally left out of the equation. It is an easy and brilliant way to unearth hidden talent.

 

Instant Feedback Systems

New enterprise applications like Workday and Impraise, are setting out to challenge the traditional appraisal systems that tend to favor men.  To combat the informal day-to-day encouragement than more vocal men tend to receive from mentors, these apps encourage a workplace where everyone receives informal feedback on a regular basis. Feedback can be given between peers, as well as to team leads and supervisors, based on a job well done. This frequent, fair feedback means that everyone has an equal chance to be encouraged, and therefore motivated.

Singapore seeks feedback on proposal to allow Airbnb-style rentals

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore began seeking public feedback on proposals to allow short-term rentals of private homes such as those on Airbnb.

FILE PHOTO: A woman talks on the phone at the Airbnb office headquarters in the SOMA district of San Francisco, California, U.S., August 2, 2016. REUTERS/Gabrielle Lurie/File Photo

The government is seeking feedback on issues such as what homes should qualify and the responsibilities of short-term accommodation platforms, the Urban Redevelopment Authority said on Monday.

The proposed rules require that a significant majority of owners in a condominium agree to the presence of short-term rentals in their development. The agency also proposed an annual rental cap of 90 days that a property can be used for short-term rentals.

Earlier this month, a Singapore court fined two Airbnb hosts a total of S$60,000 ($45,800) each for unauthorized short-term letting.

Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Stephen Coates

UK could launch retaliatory cyber attack on Russia if infrastructure targeted: Sunday Times

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain would consider launching a cyber attack against Russia in retaliation if Russia targeted British national infrastructure, the Sunday Times reported, citing unnamed security sources.

A Russian flag is seen on the laptop screen in front of a computer screen on which cyber code is displayed, in this illustration picture taken March 2, 2018. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration

Britain’s relations with Russia are at a historic low, after it blamed Russia for a nerve agent attack on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England, prompting mass expulsions of diplomats.

Russia has denied involvement, and on Saturday also condemned strikes against Syria by Western powers, which Britain took part in.

Cyber security has become a focal point of the strained relations. On Thursday, a British spy chief said that his GCHQ agency would “continue to expose Russia’s unacceptable cyber behaviour”, adding there would be increasing demand for its cyber expertise.

The Sunday Times also said that British spy officials had been preparing for Russia-backed hackers to release embarrassing information on politicians and other high-profile people since the attack on the Skripals.

Reporting by Alistair Smout; editing by Jonathan Oatis