How This Keynote Speakers Bureau Hit The Inc 5000 And Nearly Doubled Its Revenue In Just Four Years

Executive Speakers Bureau is one of the most successful speakers bureaus in the U.S. and one of the only speakers bureaus to ever hit the Inc. 5000. Founded by Angela Schelp in Memphis in 1993 (husband and partner Richard Schelp joined as president and co-owner in 2001), Executive Speakers Bureaus offers and books hundreds of keynote speakers nationally and internationally and continues to grow at a pace rarely approached in this competitive industry, nearly doubling its overall revenue and number of bookings in just the last four years, while maintaining a reputation for customer service and community involvement that is widely viewed as second to none.

Micah Solomon, Inc.com: You’ve spoken in passing about the importance of your vision of success.  Can you explain what this means specifically as it relates to commercial success?

Richard Schelp, President and Co-Owner, Executive Speakers Bureau: In order to succeed in a competitive marketplace, you need a true plan or strategy.  Our ability to anticipate some of the challenges we have had to face in the industry and our understanding of how to address those challenges has kept us ahead of our competitors and driven our success in revenue and profitability.

Solomon: I’ve heard you and Angela speak about the power of your company’s culture and the pride you take in your employees.  Can you speak a bit about this? 

Schelp: From the beginning the culture of Executive Speakers Bureau has been built around respect for each other, a true sense of team, and the fact that both what we do within our business and in our community affects many people’s lives.  Very few work environments can promise its employees this kind of value.  

Our employees are some of the best you will see in any industry, and certainly in ours.  It is not just a job to them.  They are proud of where they work, and they truly feel responsible for the success of Executive Speakers Bureau.  This is the reason why they want to stay.  They want to see this thing through to the end.  

Solomon: What in your and Angela’s prior background led you to be able to take this approach and succeed with the culture of your company and your relationship to your employees?

Schelp: Both Angela and I have a wealth of corporate experience (IBM, AT&T, and other big firms) in which we have both managed and worked for a number of people.  When you have seen a lot of examples of great and terrible management, you start to get a feel for what works and what doesn’t.  All of the previous managers that I respected established environments in which I felt comfortable going to them, and they were the primary reason for me enjoying my job

 Solomon: Your bureau has grown quite quickly. How is life different now that you are an agency of significant size and pull?

Schelp: Life at Executive Speakers Bureau is definitely a little bit different now that we are much bigger.  With that does come a level of responsibility and respect.  Because of our increased size, we now have a larger role within our industry association.  As a matter of fact, I will become the president of the association next Spring. 

Also, in the early years of our bureau we used to base our decisions about processes, documents, fee recommendations, etc. on what the larger bureaus were doing.  Now we don’t check with others.  We make our decisions based on what we know and what we think makes the most sense.  Surprisingly many bureaus are following our lead, and they are calling us to ask how we do things. 

Solomon: Many of my readers are entrepreneurs and business leaders themselves. It’s very helpful and enjoyable (!) for them to hear about mistakes you’ve made or tricky situations you’ve endured in the past, what went sideways and how you either dealt with it or learned from it.

Schelp: A few years ago I faced an extremely tricky situation that taught me so many lessons as a business owner in our industry. A high-profile sports figure was supposed to speak for me at a large convention in New York.  He decided to fly in on his private plane the morning of the event.  However, there was a terrible electrical storm that morning, and his plane was grounded, leaving me without a speaker.  I received the call at 6:30AM and the speaker’s presentation was at 10:30AM.  I had four hours to find a replacement for a great speaker and get him to the event on time.  Immediately I went to work by calling all of the speakers and agents who were high quality and could get there-and, ultimately, I was fortunate enough to find a speaker who my client absolutely loved.

The lessons from this incident were numerous, but most importantly I realized just how crucial it is to have access to many resources, so that an emergency situation becomes doable, otherwise it is impossible.  Also, I learned that as long as you are determined and efficient any task can be accomplished.

 

UNTUCKit, Cuyana, ThredUp Are Driving Retail's Digital Transformation

Shutterstock

Last week I attended WWD’s Retail 20/20 event in New York City. Karla Gallardo, co-founder and CEO of Cuyana said something that really resonated with me, “Retail isn’t dying; our imagination is.” This struck a chord with me because it perfectly tees up the challenge many retailers and brands are facing today. While the imagination of these organizations may be dying, the imagination of the consumer is not. Retailers and brands need to find a way to catch-up, and emerging technologies are a big piece of the equation.

However, when you think of AI, predictive analytics and Big Data, most of the time you’re not thinking about small retailers and brands. But as many of the big retailers struggle to digitally transform their businesses, small and midsize (SMB) retailers are finding their moxie, particularly because they live in a world where avoiding even one misstep can have significant upside for their business.

According to a recently study by Oxford Economics, SMB retailers and brands are investing heavily in mobile and Big Data and adopting emerging technologies—such as machine learning, AI, augmented reality, blockchain and more. Sixty-two percent of SMB retailers surveyed said digital transformation is important or critically important to the company’s survival, particularly as they work to meet consumer demands for personalized experiences, predict consumer preferences and streamline the supply chain.  

AI in particular is growing in retail and is projected to reach $27.2 billion by 2025 — a 38-fold increase from 2016 according to a recent report by market research firm The Insight Partners.

While all retailers can benefit from new data-driven technologies, SMB retailers and brands have a distinct size advantage that makes them more agile and able to adapt faster. Since their executives are closer to the product, they are more directly connected to the value of technology investments. Further, SMBs encounter less bureaucracy at the management level which means that change can happen quickly and more easily. 

UNTUCKit is one example, as the company recently announced its plans to collect data on merchandise that is being tried on in-store to optimize its merchandising mix based on what people try on versus what they buy. This will enable the company to adjust inventory levels in real time based on shopper behavior, reducing inventory cost and allowing the retailer to redirect its investments toward more popular SKUs and new offerings.

Similarly, Everlane is taking actions to capture customer data and gain insight into browsing behavior and buying patterns. Even ThredUp, which has a much different model of selling one-of-a-kind second-hand clothing, is implementing data-driven solutions that point buyers to similar items to those that may not be available.  

The Race To $1 Trillion, But What About $2 Trillion?

Which company is going to reach the notorious $1 trillion market cap first? Apple (AAPL) will but Amazon (AMZN) will whiz by to be the first to $2 billion. Let’s take a look at the numbers…

By the Numbers

Company

Share Price

Market Cap

% Increase to $1 Trillion

Apple

$192.64

$941 billion

5.6%

Amazon

$1,711

$822 billion

20.65%

Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL)

$1,151.78

$788 billion

26.06%

Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)

$101.65

$781 billion

28.04%

Company

Share Price at $1 Billion

Apple

$203.42

Amazon

$2,063.18

Alphabet

$1,451.79

Microsoft

$129.47

Only the top 4 companies by market cap were included because Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) was fifth and the market cap was around $555 billion at $192 per share. So it basically needs to double before Apple has to go up 5.6%. Possible but not plausible.

So you can see by the numbers Apple looks to be the winner. Especially since the company only trades for 18x earnings, pretty much in line with the S&P 500 (SPX). Even intuitively, Apple reaching $203 before Amazon reaching $2,063 just seems way more possible.

If the question was posed, which company will reach $2 trillion first, a lot of people would have bet on Amazon. Granted, Apple was undervalued a couple of years ago, especially when it bottomed around $90/share and Buffett, or more appropriately Combs and Weschler, backed up the truck. But Amazon’s rate of innovation and the growth of AWS led me to believe Amazon would win the foot race.

Also, Apple has bought back stock aggressively, spending over $275 billion over the past 6 or so years on buybacks and dividends. So it only makes sense that Apple is here, about to cross the finish line first.

The Race To $2 Trillion

But what about $2 Trillion? Which company is going to reach that historic landmark first? Honestly, it would not be extremely surprising if a company not even public right now managed to reach $2 trillion first, but from this vantage point, the easy answer is Amazon. The other three companies here don’t stand a chance. And for one reason: fear of failure. Amazon is not afraid to fail and that has given them a huge sustainable advantage in the form of the culture.

In other words, the company’s mindset is completely different from Apple or Microsoft. The people aren’t smarter, everyone at these companies is a genius. It’s about how those geniuses function in the context of the business. In this department, Amazon will win every time. It has proven itself time and time again. Reading a quarterly press release from Amazon is pure silliness; the highlights section goes on and on and on. There seems to be so much innovation, even the press release can’t handle it.

How Amazon Will Get There

There won’t be a comprehensive model of Amazon’s revenue, split into the three operating segments: AWS, North America and International because well, Amazon is so unpredictable. Instead, just retail and AWS will be considered. This is mostly because the quarterly numbers for the past four years and the financials do not lend themselves to pattern recognition. The only real trends are that cash flow has been strong and revenue has accelerated in the past year, due in part to the Whole Foods acquisition, which is absolutely incredible at this scale.

A slight acceleration might give the company around $240 billion in net sales at the end of this year. Nearly a quarter trillion! About 10% of that will most likely be AWS revenue, which accounts for more than 100% of operating income. Yes, you read that right, more than 100%.

It would be surprised if the company reaches $2 trillion before 2021 honestly. However, in just three years, there will probably be so many innovations investors never even saw coming.

But just some quick, back-of-the-napkin math perhaps.

Year

Total Sales at 25% Growth

AWS Sales at 40% Growth

Retail Value (2x sales)

AWS Value (40x EBIT at 30% opm)

2018

$235 billion

$24 billion

2019

$294 billion

$34 billion

2020

$367 billion

$47 billion

2021

$459 billion

$66 billion

$902 billion

$800 billion

2022

$574 billion

$92 billion

$964 billion

$1,104 billion

This is very rough math but it just goes to show that even for Amazon, it will not be easy to reach $2 trillion. Let’s break down some of the math.

  • The retail value was derived from taking the net sales and subtracting AWS sales (574-92) = 482 and giving it a 2x sales multiple = 964 billion.

To break down the growth in the retail segment, Amazon’s revenue has actually been accelerating in the last couple of years. In 2015, sales grew by 20%, in 2016, growth was 27% and this past year’s numbers shot to 30%.

The pay-offs for years of innovation are just rolling in. In the past quarter, revenue re-accelerated to 43%. An impressive feat for a company of Amazon’s scale. Over the next three or so years, 25% as a revenue growth estimate might be a little aggressive but you cannot deny the technological advancements. For example, apparently almost 30 million Alexas have been sold. Some reports peg this voice-enabled technology market at $55 billion.

And the company is, of course, attacking many other industries. According to some reports, Prime Video has over 26 million watchers and in 2017, Amazon sent nearly $5 billion on original content. And some reports estimate the online streaming industry to reach $82 billion by 2023.

Even more, the Whole Foods acquisition has certainly accelerated the grocery delivery business, a market expected to reach $100 billion by 2025. But the Amazon juggernaut will be a serious player in logistics in the far but not too distant future. Last year, the company unveiled a $1.5 billion hub for its cargo planes. For just its planes! As it funds more the purchasing of more assets through current business operations, it continues to cement its competitive advantage.

For instance, buying more trucks for delivery gives Amazon more control over delivery times, meaning more customers will sign up for Prime, meaning it can fund more trucks. It’s really a beautiful cycle, one that JD.com (NASDAQ:JD) has taken very seriously. The size of this global market is immense. Some estimates have it in the trillions, which Amazon could take a small bite of.

It is much different than an asset-light model but it gives the company a huge structural advantage, enabling a better customer experience. This is all to say that the company’s retail segment can grow and grow and grow. It doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

And if Amazon reached $574 billion in revenues, the company would still have less than 10% of just North America’s retail market. Plus, with forays into the pharmaceutical industry, Amazon just keeps expanding its markets. Now we have covered grocery delivery, video streaming, logistics, voice-enabled devices, and now drugs. For instance, McKesson (MCK), does over $200 billion in sales for distributing drugs every year. It is possible for Amazon to get a small piece of that.

So all in all, the company has a lot of optionality in terms of the industries it can attack and has decided to attack. The crazy part is that this doesn’t even include international expansion.

To add it all up by the year 2022 (author’s estimates based on reports):

– Voice-enabled tech: $55 billion

– Online streaming: $75 billion

– Grocery delivery: $80 billion

– Logistics: realistically $5 trillion

– Pharmaceutical distribution: $200 billion

– Retail: $5 trillion

Total TAM: $10.4 trillion

Of course, Amazon’s respective market shares of each of these markets varies widely. In logistics and pharmaceuticals, it is practically nothing right now. But it has more than two-thirds of the market in voice-enabled technology. The retail category will naturally move more towards Amazon. Estimates have the e-commerce market at $5 trillion in 2022, up from $2.8 trillion this year. It is likely that the company will capture a sizable piece of that growth.

If the incremental growth in only e-commerce is $2.3 trillion, it is likely that Amazon can add over $300 billion in revenues in the next four years, adding in all the other industries it is involved in as well. Capturing just 10% of that incremental $2.3 billion, leaves the company with revenues of $230 billion. It is likely that Amazon can capture an additional $70 billion from the combination of industries discussed above.

  • The AWS value came from a 30% operating margin on the 2021 number ~20 billion with a 40x EBIT multiple = 800 billion.

One could go on and on about AWS, but it really is a powerhouse. On the last earnings call, Bezos noted that he and his team got a seven-year head-start. In something that moves as quickly as computing, seven years is a huge gap to make up. Only now is Microsoft catching up a little bit with Azure. Even Buffett had to comment.

The fact is that AWS is a gorilla and it will continue to be. By 2022, the cloud computing market is pegged at $210 billion. Currently, the company commands 47% market share so the estimate of $92 billion in four years is not far-fetched at all. In fact, it actually factors in a bit of market share deterioration to 44%.

So all in all, we get over $2 trillion for a market cap, more than a double from today’s levels, or about 26% annual returns after 4 years. That seems like a tall order but then again, it’s Amazon.

Guessing – Why Not?

To guess, Amazon will surpass the $2 trillion mark in the third quarter of 2022. There you have it. Will that be wrong? Almost guaranteed, but based on some quick numbers and knowledge of Amazon’s intensity and innovation, that estimate is plausible.

Apple will reach $203 per share pretty soon. But Amazon will likely be the first company to reach $2 trillion, a crazy number to believe, more than 10% of the US’s current GDP.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

William Shatner Promotes Solar-Powered Cryptocoin Mining

Ever the showman and pitchman, William Shatner isn’t shy when he’s passionate about something. So onlookers may have expected something more from Star Trek’s original Capt. Kirk when he announced that Solar Alliance Energy, a company for which he’s the spokesperson, had purchased a 165,000 square foot warehouse in Murphysboro, Ill. as the first of many solar-powered facilities it plans to lease to cryptocurrency miners. Maybe a full-voiced, head-titled-back, “COOOOOOINNNNNNNNN!” as a camera pulled up and away? Alas, no, not today.

Instead Shatner made anodyne statements about the future of currencies that existed solely as bits. “I am proud to be a part of the group that is powering the digital currency revolution,” he said in a statement. “Blockchain technologies, and cryptocurrencies specifically, are at the cutting edge of a new distributed technology infrastructure.”

Shatner’s connection to tech is tenuous — and always has been, from Priceline to LottoGopher — but it highlights a significant and rapidly increasing problem associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies: they require vast amounts of electrical power. The distributed worldwide Bitcoin network employs specialized server hardware that performs over 80 million trillion operations a second worldwide to find a mathematical needle in a haystack that allows them to collect a hefty reward and add transactions to a global ledger, called a blockchain. By comparison, the world’s fastest supercomputer performs 200,000 trillion operations a second.

The need for that much calculation comes with accompanying needs for power. A recent peer-reviewed paper that performed a rigorous analysis of the likely energy consumed by Bitcoin alone said the currency consumes nearly as much energy as all of Ireland, with a current annualized rate of 22.3 trillion watts of power (TWh) a year at minimum, compared to Ireland’s consumption of 25 TWh. Bitcoin’s electrical use could power roughly 2 billion average American homes. The paper’s author believes this could triple by the end of 2018.

Solar Alliance Energy’s Murphysboro facility will get a 3-megawatt solar panel array, which at a theoretical peak capacity could generate about one-tenth of 1% of power consumed by Bitcoin globally. But because solar only works during daylight hours and only at peak efficiency for part of the day, actual production will likely be far less.

While cryptocurrency advocates have promoted the idea of green power stoking the Bitcoin furnaces—especially off-the-grid sources devoted exclusively to mining—the scale and location of large-scale mining operations make any dramatic shift to solar unlikely.

Murphysboro has just 8,000 residents, which is typical of cities in which cryptocurrency mining operations locate. Small towns with cheap hydroelectric or other forms of power around the United States have increasingly wrestled with miners who come into town and start asking for tens of megawatts of power, the equivalent of large-scale industrial operations. Some public utility districts have imposed advance payment requirements for infrastructure upgrades, frozen new mining operations, or created new tiers of service to charge miners more.

Shatner was once a cryptocoin skeptic, but told the Chicago Tribune he’s now a convert. While he lives in California, he has a home in Kentucky, and expects he might visit the facility, which Solar Alliance Energy plans to start leasing out to mining clients by the end of 2018.

Senators Demand Answers From Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos About Alexa Mishap

Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Chris Coons (D-DE) have sent Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos a number of privacy-related questions about Amazon’s Echo voice-controlled speaker, reflecting the growing concern about how the device records and retains users’ conversations, according to Wired.

The senators, who serve as chair and ranking member of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, specifically referenced a widely reported incident last month in which a Portland couple had their conversation recorded by the Alexa voice-recognition software used in the Echo. The device then sent the recording as an attachment to one of their contacts without them requesting it.

Amazon confirmed that the event occurred, and explained that it was caused by a series of unlikely triggers. In their letter to Bezos, the senators demanded action that would prevent the same thing from happening again, said Wired, which obtained a copy of the still unreleased correspondence.

Wired reported that the letter contained almost 30 questions, including about some of the nitty-gritty of Alexa’s data management like when Alexa sends data to Amazon’s servers, how often it does so, how long that captured data is stored, and what period of time after someone says “Alexa” (which cues the technology to perk up) does an Echo record a conversation. The senators also asked whether consumers can delete recordings.

All voice-recognition devices—whether those from Apple, Amazon, Google, or startups—must listen continuously in order to know when its trigger is hit. (On smartphones, a user may opt to use a different trigger.) While Amazon and Google have characterized their respective systems’ privacy components relatively thoroughly, with Apple erring on the side of sending relatively little voice data off of devices, Amazon’s particulars are less well known.

Sen. Coons tweeted a link to the Wired story about their letter shortly after it appeared, and both senators are quoted in the article.

?Another day, another Intel CPU security hole: Lazy State

More security news

Once upon a time, when we worried about security, we worried about our software. These days, it’s our hardware, our CPUs, with problems like Meltdown and Spectre, which are out to get us. The latest Intel revelation, Lazy FP state restore, can theoretically pull data from your programs, including encryption software, from your computer regardless of your operating system.

Like its forebears, this is a speculative execution vulnerability. In an interview, Red Hat Computer Architect Jon Masters explained: “It affects Intel designs similar to variant 3-a of the previous stuff, but it’s NOT Meltdown.” Still, “It allows the floating point registers to be leaked from another process, but alas that means the same registers as used for crypto, etc.” Lazy State does not affect AMD processors.

This vulnerability exists because modern CPUs include many registers (internal memory) that represent the state of each running application. Saving and restoring this state when switching from one application to another takes time. As a performance optimization, this may be done “lazily” (i.e., when needed) and that is where the problem hides.

This vulnerability exploits “lazy state restore” by allowing an attacker to obtain information about the activity of other applications, including encryption operations. Thus, systems using Intel Core-based microprocessors, from Sandy Bridge on to today’s newest processors, may allow a local process to infer data using lazy floating point state restore from another process through a speculative-execution side channel. So, in this latest vulnerability, one process can read the floating point registers of other processes being lazily restored.

For some operating systems, the fix is already in. Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 7 automatically defaults to (safe) “eager” floating point restore on all recent x86-64 microprocessors (approximately 2012 and later) implementing the “XSAVEOPT” extension. Therefore, most RHEL 7 users won’t need to take any corrective action.

Other operating systems believed to be safe are any Linux version using the 2016’s Linux 4.9 or newer kernel. The Linux kernel developers are patching older kernels. Most versions of Windows, including Server 2016 and Windows 10. are believed to be safe. If you’re still using Windows Server 2008, however, you will need a patch. The latest editions of OpenBSD and DragonflyBSD are immune, and there’s a fix available for FreeBSD.

The good news, according to Masters: “Impact is moderate because while it’s important to address, it’s hard to exploit and easy to fix.”

Better still, Masters said, “the fix will improve performance!”

Unlike the previous CPU security bugs, mitigating it will not require microcode updates. In most cases, RHEL 7 customers will not need to take action. RHEL 5 and 6 users will need to patch their servers.

This security problem was found by Julian Stecklina from Amazon Germany, Thomas Prescher from Cyberus Technology, and Zdenek Sojka from SYSGO AG.

So, while not a serious problem, it is a real one. If your system isn’t immune, patch it as soon as possible.

Related Stories:

Are Flags Just a Piece of Cloth, or Are They a Powerful Symbol of Something Greater?

This week is Flag Day, June 14. To Americans, the US Flag is an evocative image. It’s a symbol of our freedom, and of what others have sacrificed to ensure it. It can also be a symbol of protest. The US Supreme Court famously confirmed the right to burn the flag as an act of free speech, and nearly no one has missed the recent debate over standing versus kneeling during the national anthem at sporting events.

Non-national flags are powerful symbols, too. They represent ideals, movements, and aspirations. Even national flags can come to represent controversial issues, as the recent kneeling controversy in football reminded everyone.

No one can deny that flags are powerful symbols. Here are quotes that reflect on the power of flags to rouse passions, one way or another:

1. “The stars and stripes were fluttering bright against the rain, clear blue overhead, and their minds were saying the words before their ears heard them.” ? Laura Ingalls Wilder

2. “I see Americans of every party, every background, every faith who believe that we are stronger together: black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American; young, old; gay, straight; men, women, folks with disabilities, all pledging allegiance under the same proud flag to this big, bold country that we love.” ? President Barack Obama

3. “I believe our flag is more than just cloth and ink. It is a universally recognized symbol that stands for liberty, and freedom. It is the history of our nation, and it’s marked by the blood of those who died defending it.” ? Senator John Thune

4. “A true flag is not something you can really design. A true flag is torn from the soul of the people. A flag is something that everyone owns, and that’s why they work. The Rainbow Flag is like other flags in that sense: it belongs to the people.” ? Gilbert Baker

5. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” ? Colin Kaepernick

6. “Every red stripe in that flag represents the black man’s blood that has been shed.” ? Fannie Lou Hamer

7. “I long to be in the Field again, doing my part to keep the old flag up, with all its stars.” ? Joshua Chamberlain

8. “I prefer a man who will burn the flag and then wrap himself in the Constitution to a man who will burn the Constitution and then wrap himself in the flag.” ? Craig Washington

9. “The American flag represents all of us and all the values we hold sacred.” ? Adrian Cronauer

10. “Standing as I do, with my hand upon this staff, and under the folds of the American flag, I ask you to stand by me so long as I stand by it.” ? President Abraham Lincoln

11. “I don’t judge others. I say if you feel good with what you’re doing, let your freak flag fly.” ? Sarah Jessica Parker

12. “There is a strong tendency in the United States to rally round the flag and their troops, no matter how mistaken the war.” ? George McGovern

13. “America has been the country of my fond election from the age of thirteen, when I first saw it. I had the honour to hoist with my own hands the flag of freedom, the first time it was displayed, on the Delaware; and I have attended it with veneration ever since on the ocean.” ? John Paul Jones

14. “I just bought a Jeep painted like an American flag. No one better question how patriotic I am.” ? Blake Anderson

15. “When I see the Confederate flag, I see the attempt to raise an empire in slavery. It really, really is that simple. I don’t understand how anybody with any sort of education on the Civil War can see anything else.” ? Ta-Nehisi Coates

16. “I’m proud of the U.S.A. We’ve done some amazing things. To wear our flag in the Olympics is an honor.” ? Shaun White

17. “Burning the flag is a form of expression. Speech doesn’t just mean written words or oral words. It could be semaphore. And burning a flag is a symbol that expresses an idea – I hate the government, the government is unjust, whatever.” ? Antonin Scalia

18. “I can understand if you think that I’m disrespecting the flag by kneeling, but it is because of my utmost respect for the flag and the promise it represents that I have chosen to demonstrate in this way.” ? Megan Rapinoe

19. “If a jerk burns the flag, America is not threatened, democracy is not under siege, freedom is not at risk.” ? Gary Ackerman

20. “I savored my time on top of the podium by watching the American flag rise up out of the crowd as the anthem played, thinking about how every single second of training I’ve done was for this minute and how many people played a role in my achievement.” ? Hannah Kearney

21. “In most countries, you have a monarch or some other principal person to whom its officers and its military swear their allegiance. Our officials in this country and our military swear allegiance to the Constitution. We say that when we say the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag”. ? Edwin Meese

22. “For any athlete growing up, the Olympics is the one thing you watch with your family, and it’s the one thing you dream about. Seeing your country’s flag go up as you get a gold medal is the best thing you can achieve.” ? Abby Wambach

23. “I can take the steel guitars and fiddles off, we can make it a little more pop, cover ideas that are a little less cowboy. But you got to look at yourself in the mirror and ask, whose flag you are under? For Garth Brooks, I’m steel, fiddles, red, white and blue.” ? Garth Brooks

24. “If anyone, then, asks me the meaning of our flag, I say to him – it means just what Concord and Lexington meant; what Bunker Hill meant; which was, in short, the rising up of a valiant young people against an old tyranny to establish the most momentous doctrine that the world had ever known – the right of men to their own selves and to their liberties.” ? Henry Ward Beecher

25. “Our flag means all that our fathers meant in the Revolutionary War. It means all that the Declaration of Independence meant. It means justice. It means liberty. It means happiness…. Every color means liberty. Every thread means liberty. Every star and stripe means liberty.” ? Henry Ward Beecher

26. “There is not a thread in it but scorns self-indulgence, weakness and rapacity.” ? Charles Evans Hughes

27. “We identify the flag with almost everything we hold dear on earth, peace, security, liberty, our family, our friends, our home… But when we look at our flag and behold it emblazoned with all our rights we must remember that it is equally a symbol of our duties. Every glory that we associate with it is the result of duty done.” ? Calvin Coolidge

28. “‘Shoot, if you must, this old gray head, But spare your country’s flag,’” she said. ? John Greenleaf Whittier

Biggest Surprises (and Missed Opportunities) of the E3 Press Conferences

It’s Tuesday, which means the E3 show floor is now open. It also means we’re finally at the end of a four-day slog of press conferences from some of the gaming world’s largest publishers. While Activision Blizzard still doesn’t do its own pre-E3 event, just about everyone else does, which means these 96 hours have been a deluge of announcements and reveals that we did our best to get our arms around. We didn’t even cover them all: the Square Enix press conference was basically devoid of new information, and the PC Gaming Show, while compelling, was mostly a long list of indie game announcements—some of which we’ll be getting to later this week.

So, for now, here’s everything you need to know about every press conference you need to know about. Get through this, and you’ll be ready for all the other E3 news that starts….well, now.

Electronic Arts

E3 kicked things off on Saturday (yes, Saturday) with a quiet, largely uneventful press conference from Electronic Arts, broadcasted from their annual EA Play event at the Hollywood Palladium. The presser opened with Battlefield V, set during World War II, which will have heavily destructible environments and a Battle Royale Mode a la Fortnite. Respawn Entertainment gave up some details about their in-progress Star Wars game—more on that shortly—and a bit of an update on the ongoing service for Star Wars: Battlefront II.

In new games, EA revealed Unravel 2, a follow-up to its game about a precocious, cuddly little yarn man (this time, he has a friend!) and Sea of Solitude, a compellingly brooding small game introduced by a compellingly earnest German developer. The publisher also took the wraps announced a mobile Command & Conquer game and gave a lengthy demo of Anthem, BioWare’s upcoming shared-world mech game that seems to be aiming to be a Destiny killer. Even better, Anthem now has a date: February, 22, 2019. (Also FIFA was there, because FIFA is always there.)

Biggest Surprise: We got a name for Respawn’s new Star Wars game: Jedi: Fallen Order. Respawn has made great first-person shooters with the Titanfall series, so it’ll be interesting to see what they can do with the Star Wars license.

Biggest Missed Opportunity: Jedi: Fallen Order was announced sans logo or even concept trailer, which felt like a letdown. It’s hard to get excited about a name, even when it’s a good name.

Microsoft

Microsoft’s last couple of Xbox press conferences haven’t exactly succeeded at articulating the future of the Xbox—even if that future is unexpectedly bright. This year, then, was a pleasant surprise: Microsoft brought a lot of material, and a lot of surprises.

First, the publisher has quietly been getting very acquisition-happy, and is hoping to bolster its first-party games with a slew of studios that they now own. These include Ninja Theory, who made last year’s Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Undead Labs (State of Decay), Playground Games (Forza Horizon), and Compulsion Games (We Happy Few). It’s hard to say whether or not acquisitions like this are good for studios; creators get a payday, but history is riddled with instances of big publishers buying small studios and slowly running them into the ground. Time will tell whether or not this is good for gaming, but it’s certainly a good move for Microsoft.

Then, there were games. A lot of games. There’s Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, a game about ninjas from the developers of Dark Souls, coming in 2019. Forza Horizon 4, a new installment that takes the racing franchise to Britain. The Division 2, which brings the shared world shooter to Washington, DC. Devil May Cry 5, with the franchise’s original creator back at the helm. Dying Light 2, a sequel to my favorite zombie parkour game. Gears of War 5, a Gears of War tactics game, and a Gears of War themed, uh, Funko Pop game. And Halo: Infinite, a new installment in the Halo franchise that we know just about nothing about. Also, fans got a new trailer for Kingdom Hearts 3, which is officially coming out January 25, 2019.

Biggest Surprise: Halo: Infinite could be a big deal, as could the expanded effort into Microsoft Game Pass, a subscription service that gives subscribers the Netflix-like ability to download and play a swath of the Xbox library for a flat monthly fee. But after Microsoft made so much noise about the PC at last year’s press conference, this year’s relative silence spoke volumes.

Biggest Missed Opportunity: Offering just about no details on a new Halo title made the announcement fall pretty flat.

Bethesda

The Bethesda E3 Showcase was huge this year. We got a closer look at Rage 2, a massive open-world shooter co-developed by id Software and Avalanche Studios, complete (?) with an on-stage appearance by Andrew WK. A short trailer played for Doom Eternal a sequel to the excellent Doom 2016 reboot; just like the old-school Doom 2, Eternal is apparently set on Earth. QuakeCon in August should provide many more details in that realm.

There will also be a new Wolfenstein game next year, set in an alternate-universe 1980s and starring the twin daughters of Nazi-murder-machine BJ Blaskowicz. And then there’s the big stuff: a lengthy look at Fallout 76, an impressive-looking, fully online, open-world Fallout game coming November 14; Elder Scrolls Blades, a mobile phone game that strives to be a fully featured, complete Elder Scrolls experience; and two projects much farther out on the development pipeline, sci-fi title Starfield and Elder Scrolls VI. Both are unlikely to show up on the current generation of consoles.

Biggest Surprise: Any glimpse at Elder Scrolls VI is a bit of a surprise, actually. As was the jokey-but-maybe-real Announcement of Skyrim: Very Special Edition for the Alexa.

Biggest Missed Opportunity: Andrew WK, whose presence seemed to confuse and even tranquilize the crowd. (To be fair, this is mostly a missed opportunity for Andrew WK.)

Ubisoft

Ubisoft’s presser opted for meatiness, giving fans a long look at Beyond Good and Evil 2, which looks to be a huge earthy space opera, though detail are scarce about gameplay or release. As Microsoft also revealed, The Division 2 will be set in Washington, DC, and will feature raids and free DLC as it tries its hardest to become the Tom Clancy-verse Destiny-killer it aspires to be.

New properties showed up as well. There was a lot of Skull & Bones, a gritty pirate adventure in a shared online world, and Starlink: Battle for Atlas, a sci-fi toys-to-life game (think Skylanders) bringing its dogfight-heavy combat to the Nintendo Switch—and featuring Fox from Star Fox. Finally, there was a big look at Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, which takes place in Ancient Greece and lets the player choose between two characters. Also, you can talk to Socrates, so … there’s that. Odyssey comes out October 5.

Biggest Surprise: Unlike the past couple of years, Aisha Tyler didn’t host. Aisha! Where’d you go? (Probably one of your gazillion jobs.)

Biggest Missed Opportunity: Despite teasing it with recent DLC for Ghost Recon: Wildlands, Ubisoft did not announce a new entry in the Splinter Cell stealth game franchise. Color me disappointed.

Sony

Sony’s Monday-night press conference this year was a bit odd. It started in a small “church” set, which ended up being a recreation of a location from The Last of Us, Part II, which was also the first game shown of the night. The showcase focused on lengthy demos for a handful of major Sony titles: The Last of Us; Ghost of Tsushima, a samurai game developed by Sucker Punch, which looks like a Kurosawa fan’s dream game; Death Stranding, Hideo Kojima’s surrealist eco-pocalypse starring mo-capped digital versions of Norman Reedus and Mads Mikkelsen along with what was, frankly, a weird number of babies; and Insomniac Games’ Spider-Man, which is looking like quite a romp.

Between each of these big showcases, we got canned commentary along with other announcements: A Resident Evil 2 full HD remake, coming next January 22; va sequel to the samurai Souls-like Nioh 2 developed by Team Ninja; and Control, a fascinating-looking game from Remedy Entertainment (Alan Wake) about the director of a supernatural agency. There was also another Kingdom Hearts 3 trailer, showcasing a Pirates of the Carribean world, which brought the week’s KH3 trailer total to three (so far).

Biggest Surprise: The footage of The Last of Us, Part II, along with being just as dizzyingly hyperviolent as its predecessor, featured what might be the first and only lesbian kiss ever featured on an E3 stage. The presentation of queerness in a game by a company like Sony isn’t without reproach by any means, but that’s honestly still pretty cool.

Biggest Missed Opportunity: Fair warning: I’m not going to stop hollering about Bloodborne 2 until they release Bloodborne 2.

Nintendo

Nintendo’s press conference somehow felt both huge and underwhelming. First, we got some new announcements, in the form of Daemon x Machina, a neat-looking mech action game, coming in 2019; some DLC for Xenoblade Chronicles 2; a new snazzy-looking Fire Emblem; and Super Mario Party, which will include the novel feature of linking together two Switch consoles to make one big board-game simulation. Next: that game you like is coming back in style! Yes, it was the Nintendo Switch port montage, featuring a ton of games, like Dragon Ball FighterZ, Hollow Knight, Wasteland 2, and the JRPG classic The World Ends With You (which we’d heard about but was still nice to see).

The rest of the show was devoted to one title, and one title only: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which arrives for the Nintendo Switch December 7. They ran down the characters (all of them, from every Smash Bros game ever, are here), and went over a long list of very detailed changes that are sure to delight hardcore fans but might have been a bit dull to everyone else. And that was, uh, it.

Biggest Surprise: Ridley, the giant dragon alien baddie from Metroid, is coming to Smash Bros, which seems like a logistical nightmare for the developers.

Biggest Missed Opportunity: Nintendo completely failed to mention Metroid Prime 4, which the company had announced last year, or their online service, which is supposedly still slated for this fall and yet is still a huge unknown.


More Great WIRED Stories

Deliveroo steps up Just Eat battle, letting restaurants use own riders

LONDON (Reuters) – Deliveroo will allow restaurants to use their own riders for orders placed through its takeaway food app, in a move which will boost the number of available outlets by 50 percent as it intensifies a battle with rival Just Eat.

FILE PHOTO: Deliveroo food delivery bags are seen in Nice, France, June 5, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

All orders currently placed on the platform in Britain are delivered by one of the firm’s 15,000 riders, well-known for their distinctive black and teal jackets and delivery boxes emblazoned with its kangaroo logo.

Just Eat, however, works with restaurants which mainly supply their own drivers in Britain, and in limited cases uses third-party couriers.

Deliveroo hopes the change, which is called Marketplace+ and comes into effect in July, will boost the number of available restaurants from 10,000 to 15,000 by the end of the year with thousands more riders likely to be taken on.

Restaurants will be able to accept orders and assign them to either their own drivers or those on Deliveroo’s platform.

“Traditionally we’ve been unable to work with those restaurants … because they already have their own delivery fleet and so they thought ‘well we don’t really need Deliveroo,’” co-founder and Chief Executive Will Shu told reporters.

“We’re changing the game. We’re enabling these restaurants to tap into our delivery fleet,” he added.

Just Eat said in March it would spend an extra 50 million pounds ($67 million) this year to battle competition from rivals such as Uber Eats and Deliveroo, in a fiercely competitive market which has burgeoned in recent years.

Since making its first delivery in London in 2013, Deliveroo has expanded into 11 other countries with new markets due soon, prompting questions about whether the firm will pursue an initial public offering (IPO) as it continues to grow.

“An IPO – I’m not saying it’s off the cards,” said Shu. “It’s definitely something that we’ll consider but just not now. We’re not in any rush, we’re heads-down on trying to really grow this business,” he said.

Editing by Stephen Addison

U.S. reveals ZTE settlement details, ban still in place

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – ZTE Corp’s (000063.SZ) settlement with the U.S. Commerce Department that would allow China’s No. 2 telecommunications equipment maker to resume business with U.S. suppliers was made public on Monday, days after the company agreed to pay a $1 billion fine, overhaul its leadership and meet other conditions.

FILE PHOTO: A ZTE smart phone is pictured in this illustration taken April 17, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/Illustration/File Photo

But the ban on buying U.S. parts, imposed by the department in April, will not be lifted until the company pays the fine and places $400 million more in escrow in a U.S.-approved bank, the agency said.

ZTE (0763.HK) did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday.

ZTE, whose survival has been threatened by the ban, secured the lifeline settlement from the Trump administration on Thursday.

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said on Sunday that President Donald Trump agreed to lift the ban as a personal favor to the president of China.

ZTE must replace the boards of directors of two corporate entities within 30 days, according to a 21-page order signed June 8 and published on Monday on the Commerce Department website along with the settlement agreement.

All members of ZTE’s leadership at or above the senior vice president level also must be terminated, along with any executive or officer tied to the wrongdoing.

On June 1, Reuters exclusively reported on the monetary penalty and other terms demanded to reverse the ban. Reuters on Tuesday revealed that ZTE had signed a preliminary agreement with the Commerce Department.

ZTE pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to evade U.S. embargoes by selling U.S. equipment to Iran. The ban was imposed after the company made false statements about disciplining some executives responsible for the violations. ZTE then ceased major operations.

Under the settlement, ZTE will pay a total civil penalty of $1.7 billion, including $361 million already paid as part of a March 2017 agreement, the $1 billion fine and the $400 million that will go into escrow.

The $400 million will be held in a U.S. bank account for 10 years and can be disbursed to the Commerce Department if ZTE fails to abide by the agreement. After 10 years, if there are no violations, the $400 million will be returned to ZTE.

U.S. lawmakers have attacked the agreement and planned legislation to roll it back, citing intelligence warnings that ZTE poses a national security threat.

The Senate is due to vote as soon as this week on legislation that would block the settlement agreement, included as an amendment to a must-pass defense policy bill.

As part of the order, ZTE must identify in detail to the Commerce Department all Chinese government ownership and control of ZTE, including public and private shares.

The department also will select a monitor, known as a special compliance coordinator, within 30 days to report on compliance by ZTE and its affiliates worldwide for 10 years. The coordinator will have a staff of at least six employees funded by ZTE.

A separate monitor was appointed to a three-year term by a U.S. federal court in Texas last year. Under the deal, ZTE also agreed to allow the U.S. government easier access to verify the company’s shipments for items subject to the regulations.

In addition, within 180 days, ZTE must post calculations of the U.S. components in its products on its website in Chinese and English.

ZTE is not allowed to take any action or make any public statement, even indirectly, denying any of the allegations.

Reporting by Karen Freifeld, additional reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Sandra Maler, Richard Chang and Cynthia Osterman

Unique Premium WP Themes Free
Ritzywordpressthemes.com is a site dedicated to procure for you free Wordpress themes and/or uniquely designed premium Wordpress themes for your blogs. Though exclusively designed themes normally have a cost, for most cases, we are able to find a company willing to sponsor the theme; hence you will have it for free. Contact us for more info.
Cloud Computing Tutorials