Monthly Archives: October 2017

Hollywood’s ‘brandfather’ talks his new role on ‘Shark Tank,’ working with 50 Cent and Justin Timberlake

Rohan Oza, Hollywood's

Rohan Oza, Hollywood’s “brandfather.”
Andreea Radutoiu

Rohan Oza was dubbed Hollywood’s “brandfather” by The Hollywood Reporter in 2015, but his high-profile marketing deals with celebrities have only escalated since then.

After cutting his teeth scaling up brands like Sprite and Powerade for Coca-Cola in the early 2000s, Oza made a name for himself when he left the company and matched rapper 50 Cent with Vitamin Water for an endorsement deal. The drink saw a prodigious spike in sales as a result, and in 2007, Oza’s former employer, Coca-Cola, acquired Vitamin Water from Glacéau for $4.2 billion.

Oza found similar success in 2016 when he brought on Justin Timberlake as an investor and partner in the sparkling, antioxidant drink Bai. Dr Pepper Snapple Group subsequently purchased Bai Brands for $1.7 billion.

Now, Oza is bringing his brand innovation and knowledge to the stage of ABC’s “Shark Tank.” He stars as a guest “shark” in the season premiere of the investment reality show, which airs Sunday at 8pm EST.

Business Insider talked to Oza about his celebrity deals, the shifting necessity of business school, and his desire to “help create the first billion dollar brand” on “Shark Tank.”

John Lynch: Walk me through your experience on “Shark Tank.” With your specific expertise, what were you able to bring to the table, or dais, as it were?

Robert Herjavec and Rohan Oza on the set of

Robert Herjavec and Rohan Oza on the set of “Shark Tank.”

Rohan Oza: Look, I love “Shark Tank.” The experience was amazing. I feel that America is one of the greatest countries in the world to be an entrepreneur, and what “Shark Tank” does is it taps into and fuels that entrepreneurial spirit. So, I loved the energy that came from funding people’s dreams and building iconic brands.The difference that I could bring was that my expertise in food and beverage doesn’t exist currently on the panel. And that’s a trillion dollar industry that’s getting disrupted because most of the things on the shelves today are bad for you, and millennials are all looking for products that are better for you. So the opportunity to disrupt the aisles, both in stores and online, in food and beverage is huge, and I want to help create the first billion dollar brand on “Shark Tank.”

Lynch: Your most recent success was the billion-dollar sale of Bai. How did you get Justin Timberlake involved in that drink, and how crucial was he in the sale of it?

Oza: My business partner Ben and I were huge fans of Justin. When we met with him, he completely understood the vision of the brand, the mission, and actually became an owner in the company. He wasn’t an endorser. He was an owner. He fought like an owner. He provided ideas and creativity like an owner, and because he believed in the mission of the company, he became a partner in the company. And that to me is the key: partnering with smart celebrities who want to be an owner in unique and differentiated companies.

Lynch: You set the blueprint for this, in a way, by bringing 50 Cent to Vitamin Water. What made that the right connection at that time?

50 Cent's ad campaign for Vitamin Water.

50 Cent’s ad campaign for Vitamin Water.
Vitamin Water

Oza: At the time, Vitamin Water was a great product. It had real levels of vitamins, half the sugar of sodas and juices, cool packaging. But it was very medicinal. And people were like, “Woah, vitamins and water. That can’t taste that great.” So we needed to create some disruption. 50 was one of the most iconic musicians at the time, and he was very health-conscious and fitness-centric. I had a candid conversation where I said, “I don’t have the money to pay you,” and he said, “Don’t worry. I’ll take it in equity because I believe in the brand, and I believe in myself.” And that became the construct of the equity model that everybody wants to do today.

Lynch: To what extent did your experience working at Coke fuel your interest in these healthier alternative beverages?

Oza: My experience at Coca-Cola was great, in that it helped me learn how to build brands. But a lot of the brands that I was on at Coca-Cola were already established, so I was growing established brands. I learned that Coca-Cola can take brands that are really good and scale them, but they have a tough time creating brands from scratch. So I basically carved out a living working with founders to build the brands of tomorrow, that ultimately, the Cokes, and the Pepsi’s, and the General Mills of the world end up buying, because it’s very difficult for them to create it internally.

Lynch: Generally speaking, how do you decide which celebrities to pursue for the brands you’re involved with?

Oza: A lot of the time, I brainstorm with my team which celebrities have the best DNA fit to your brand. And then, we make sure the celebrities are big fans of the brand. So with Jennifer Aniston [for her endorsement deal with Smartwater], it actually happened during March Madness. I brought all of the women in the office together because they are generally more insightful than the guys, and we did a top 16 women in entertainment, and we did like a March Madness bracketology. Jennifer Aniston ending up winning it because Jennifer had the best DNA fit from a purity, from an aesthetic, from a fitness angle – all the elements that Smartwater matched. Oh, and by the way, she was a huge fan of the brand. And that deal has now been going on for close to 13 years, and she looks pretty much the same today in the ads as she did 13 years ago. She clearly is not aging. It must be the water.

Lynch: On “Shark Tank,” what does it take to convince you to invest in one of these up-and-coming products?

Oza: The interesting thing about “Shark Tank” is that out of the tank, we’re all friends. All of the sharks are good friends, very supportive. They gave me great coaching. But the minute we’re in the seats, or in the tank, the gloves or, in this case, the mouth guards come off, and the teeth come out. It’s to each their own, and I realized that you have to fight hard to win the brands that you believe in. And I was looking for founders who had unique, differentiated ideas, and passion and conviction to go win with their ideas, because I’m giving them my hard-earned money.

Lynch: As a fellow University of Michigan alum, I have to ask about your experience going to business school there. Do you still see business school as a necessary path for the prospective students of your field?

Oza: I’m glad that I went to Michigan because Michigan’s network is unbelievable. Someone told me the other day, “You guys from Michigan are like a cult.” And it is kind of like that. There’s no other university that could call someone a “Michigan Man.” An “Ohio State Man” doesn’t even roll off the tongue. So the network that I built and the opportunities I got from Michigan were amazing. I think that people should go to business school if it’s the right fit for them. I.e., I want a change of career. I want to expand my network. I want to better understand some of the fundamentals as it relates to building and managing businesses. I think business school is very valuable for those elements, and if that is what you need to do, then you should go to business school. I don’t think it’s a pre-requisite these days the way it was when I went, to necessarily get into companies, but it can definitely be a value-added tool to help you be stronger when you do get into companies.

Lynch: Since you were in business school, what has shifted in the world that makes it less necessary, in a way?

Oza: I think the ability to create startups, whether it’s in tech or food and beverage or CPG, and people are doing it at a younger age, is more prominent now than ever before. And so smart, talented people who have never had MBAs have created companies, and I’ve partnered with many of those founders. So I think that you don’t necessarily have to have that MBA, but business schools are starting to adapt. When Stephen Ross gave Michigan $100 million [to further fund the Ross Business School named after him], they’ve used that to significantly improve their facilities and their teaching approach. So I think that business schools will adapt to the tools that you need today to build brands in the modern era.

Lynch: What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs who are following in your footsteps specifically?

Oza: Well, a few of them. One is, “be your brand.” So don’t market it – live your brand. The second is, “have an original idea,” because original ideas always rise to the top. And the third would be, “bring passion and energy to all those around you,” because that’s infectious, and that’s what helps create an amazing culture in a company.

Lynch: What are the next steps for you at this point? Are there any brands you’re eyeing that you can tell me about?

Oza: Yeah, I have a few that I’m very excited about. At CAVU, the fund that I co-created, we’ve made 16 investments in the last two years. It’s kind of crazy, but we believe in all our brands because they’re all disrupting the environment, in terms of “better-for-you” products. The ones that I’m very excited about: One Bar, it’s a protein bar that’s 20 grams of protein and one gram of sugar, and it almost tastes too good to be true; WTRMLN WTR, which has twice the electrolytes of Gatorade, but it’s all-natural and tastes amazing; and Chef’s Cut, it’s the fastest growing beef jerky in the country, it’s 30 grams of protein in a bag, and it literally tastes like steak in a bag.

Lynch: Between your experience on “Shark Tank” and in your recent investments, where do you see this generation’s brand mindset shifting toward?

Oza: I believe that the millennial audience is, now more than ever, looking for “better-for-you” products for their generation and are rejecting the products of the past. The high sugar, high carb, high fructose corn syrup, highly processed, low-nutrient-value products are being rejected in favor of the brands of tomorrow. And that’s what I think makes the entrepreneurial angle in food and beverage very exciting, and it’s why on “Shark Tank,” I love bidding on some of these really innovative ideas in the food and beverage space, because these entrepreneurs are truly disruptive. And this year, more seven-figure deals were done this year than in any other season prior, because the scale of the brands and the scale of the founders is getting bigger and bigger on “Shark Tank,” and making it really exciting.

Spanish riot police disrupt Catalan independence vote with rubber bullets

Students wear Esteladas (Catalan separatist flag) during a demonstration in favor of the banned October 1 independence referendum in Barcelona. The graffiti on the wall reads,

Students wear Esteladas (Catalan separatist flag) during a demonstration in favor of the banned October 1 independence referendum in Barcelona. The graffiti on the wall reads, “We will vote!”

    Voting in the Catalan independence referendum was immediately disrupted by riot police this morning. Guardia Civil in full riot gear prevented many from casting a ballot. Hundreds of people have been injured in the clashes. Ballot boxes were seized and polling stations smashed and shuttered. Most Catalans got to vote, but not all.

The Spanish government order its Guardia Civil to shut down polling stations early this morning in the Catalonia region of Spain. Some of the scenes are brutal, as this tweet from the former mayor of Belfast shows:

Catalan firefighters tried to protect the voters.

Multiple videos on Twitter purported to show the police firing rubber bullets at protesters on the street.

Catalans were trying to stage a referendum on whether their region of the Spanish peninsula, which includes Barcelona, should become an independent country. But the Spanish government regards the vote as an illegal act and sent riot police to seize ballot boxes and prevent people from voting.

Spain’s Constitutional Court previously ruled “that a regional government cannot call a referendum, because Spain’s constitution does not recognize the right to self-determination and establishes that sovereignty resides with Spanish citizens collectively.”

According to Europe Elects, a Twitter account that follows elections in the EU, 90% of ballot stations remained open.

But it’s not clear whether Catalan authorities will be able to produce a final tally, as many votes are missing and lots of people were prevented from voting.

The scenes from Spain this morning were spectacular and disturbing, as police prevented people from voting on the orders of the central government in Madrid. 337 people have been injured in the clashes, according to Sky News.

Spain’s elected central government is against holding the referendum, which it has declared illegal.

Police were out in force.

Catalan voters tried to force their way in to stations to vote, and police used force to block them:

Lots of tweets came from pro-independence activists:

Voting was scheduled to start at 8.30 a.m. but police shut down polls almost immediately:

One of the most dramatic images was this woman who sustained a cut to the head as police moved in:

Here is the wider shot:

There was a massive turnout of early morning voters at some stations – and a huge police presence blocking them:

Sky News had cameras in the region and got some great shots of the action.

Disney built a blockchain, and now its creators are trying to turn it into a commercial platform to compete with Ethereum

Dragonchain was first developed at Disney's tech-focused Seattle office. Disney made the protocol open-source in 2016.

Dragonchain was first developed at Disney’s tech-focused Seattle office. Disney made the protocol open-source in 2016.
Thomson Reuters

-Dragonchain is a blockchain protocol originally built by Disney.

-It’s designed to be more private than other popular blockchains like the bitcoin and ethereum protocols.

-Now some of the developers behind the technology want to build a commercial business to make it easy for less technologically savvy businesses to get involved.

From animatronics to digital animation, the Walt Disney Company has long been a pioneer in emerging technology. And blockchain technology is no exception.

In 2014, Disney’s tech-focused Seattle office started building what’s now known as Dragonchain, a blockchain protocol designed to allow for more data privacy than is possible on other enterprise-oriented blockchains like Ethereum. The idea was to develop a secure asset management system to be used internally.

However, Disney dropped the project in 2016 and decided to make it open source. Soon after, a group of former Disney employees founded the Dragonchain Foundation, a non-profit which manages upkeep of the protocol.

Now, they’re looking to build a commercial business – called Dragonchain Inc. – on top of the platform to help other companies quickly and easily start using blockchain.

But first they need to raise money to do so.

Gap in the market

Dragonchain Inc. chief business officer George Sarhanis (left) and CEO Joe Roets.

Dragonchain Inc. chief business officer George Sarhanis (left) and CEO Joe Roets.

It’s commonly believed in blockchain circles that the technology could some day make up an entirely new infrastructural layer of the internet, replacing traditional contracts and payment systems used in industries like law and real estate, because the design of the technology makes it difficult to commit fraud.

This promise has drawn in research and development funds from industry powerhouses including IBM and Cisco, which have joined various unifying organizations such as Hyperledger and the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance to better understand how this new technology can be leveraged commercially.

But many large corporations, such as Disney, have been hesitant to put their own data on public blockchains because the design would leave much of their proprietary and sensitive data open to prying eyes. The hope for Dragonchain is that other companies feel the same way.

Joe Roets, now CEO of Dragonchain Inc., was one of the engineers behind the original project at Disney.

“Disney was very forward thinking and wanted to know how people use different tech,” Roets said. “We started building things. It took two years to build out the platform, give or take.”

Roets described Dragonchain Inc’s platform as a “turn key” product, which makes it easier for companies to build what they want on top of the Dragonchain blockchain protocol, without investing in expensive and hard-to-find technological expertise.

Roets said that while it is possible to build security and encryption on top of a public blockchain, it’s a costly and time-consuming project. With Dragonchain, the encryption and obfuscation is built in.

“We realized some of the real world problems are that companies have access to traditional engineers, but they don’t necessarily have a crypto background,” Roets said . “If you go even further into blockchain, you need an economist or a game theory expert.”

More private than ethereum

Like the technology behind the cryptocurrencies bitcoin and ethereum, Dragonchain is a digital ledger that uses complex algorithms to document transactions in a way that cannot be easily modified. Every blockchain contains a complete history of everything that has happened on it, which makes it harder for fraud to occur in financial transactions. Unlike the public bitcoin and ethereum protocols, however, Dragonchain is a hybrid. This means some information is private, and some is public.

“The main difference would be that with ethereum or any public blockchains, your data is out there,” Roets said. “You can do certain things to obfuscate your data. You could encrypt it. But it won’t matter in 10 years or 20 years.”

While Disney originally built the project as a private blockchain, this method doesn’t have the same authenticity benefits as a public or hybrid protocol. Having some of the data public is vital to making the technology effective in protecting fraud. That’s because the ability to spread data across a decentralized network is a key component of authenticating the validity of transactions. The blockchain usually requires consensus from multiple companies and computers in order to make a change to the blockchain’s history. Theoretically, this makes it difficult for solo actors to delete receipts for their own benefit.

Initial coin offering

Artwork, such as Mimmo Rotella's

Artwork, such as Mimmo Rotella’s “Palinsesto,” is for sale by auction on Look Lateral’s website. The company is working with Dragonchain to build a secure way to authenticate and pay for art.
Look Lateral

Whether or not Dragonchain Inc. is able to move forward with its commercial ambitions depends a lot on how things go over the next month.

From October 2 to November 2, Dragonchain Inc. will hold an initial coin offering (ICO), also known as a token sale, to raise money for the company. Around 238 million tokens, which the team calls “dragons,” will be available for sale to the public.

“Disney has no involvement in Dragonchain’s initial coin offering,” a Disney spokesperson said.

ICOs are an increasing common fundraising technique in the blockchain world. Companies like Dragonchain Inc. offer up a select number of tokens that can be purchased with cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum. The tokens can be exchanged for goods and services within the blockchain platform. On its website, Dragonchain describes dragons as “tokenized micro-license for interaction with Dragonchain commercial platform services.”

While tokens are not currencies, they can be traded on token exchanges for higher or lower cash value than they were purchased for. Not every investor necessarily wants to use services within Dragonchain. Some may see it as an investment that could generate gains in the longterm.

Those that do want to use the service will have access to three different commercial products. The first is a developer-friendly platform for building new projects on top of Dragonchain. There’s also a marketplace that has a library of pre-built smart contracts and features to make the building process faster. The company will also fund an incubator for teams that want to develop projects on top of the protocol.

Several companies are already working on Dragonchain to develop new tools and businesses.

Look Lateral is an Italian fine art site which is using Dragonchain to create proof of authenticity for the art that it sells on its platform. Some pieces of art on the site cost over $100,000, so the blockchain will function as a way of paying for art, as well as a record of ownership. In the art world, this is referred to as “provenance.”

Another company called LifeID is working to build a secure identity platform on the blockchain. This would allow users to verify that they are who they say they are in digital and physical spaces, without relying on state-issued IDs, or corporately-owned social media, like Facebook profiles.

Dragonchain Inc’s ICO begins October 2.

Before Dr. Seuss was famous he drew these sad, racist ads … and then totally changed his mind

A school librarian in Boston rejected a gift of Dr. Seuss books from First Lady Melania Trump in part because the late author’s illustrations are “steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes.”

Most people know Seuss books as harmless, imaginative fun for kids. But Seuss’s early work did have a darker, racist side – before he eventually changed his views and abandoned his prejudices.

Dr. Seuss’ political leanings are well known – the writer was a liberal Democrat who opposed fascism in the 1940s and President Nixon in the 1970s. The movie of his book “The Lorax” is a fairly unsubtle pro-environment allegory.

Less well celebrated are Theodor Seuss Geisel’s early advertising and political cartoons from the 1920s through the 1940s, which had a racist streak.

In the ads (from the collection of the library of the University of California at San Diego), black people are presented as savages, living in the tropics, dressed in grass skirts. Arabs are portrayed as camel-riding nomads or sultans.

The images reveal that one of America’s most original artist-authors had the same views of nonwhites as many of his contemporaries.

More optimistically, Seuss later changed his mind and began drawing cartoons that criticised people with prejudiced ideas. Here’s a look at that journey, as seen in images that never featured in his children’s books.

Warning: Readers may find the following images offensive or upsetting.

Seuss inveighed against the Japanese in his political cartoons during World War II; he drew them bucktoothed with squinty eyes.

Springfield Library and Museums Association

This was an ad for Flit, a brand of insect repellent.

University of California, San Diego, Library

Many of these drawings are from the collection of the Springfield Library and Museums Association.

University of California, San Diego, Library

During the war, Seuss defended his anti-Japanese view, according to his biographer Richard H. Minear.

University of California, San Diego, Library

“Right now, when the Japs are planting their hatchets in our skulls, it seems like a hell of a time for us to smile and warble: ‘Brothers!’ It is a rather flabby battle cry,” Seuss’ biographer quotes him as saying. “If we want to win, we’ve got to kill Japs, whether it depresses John Haynes Holmes or not. We can get palsy-walsy afterward with those that are left.”

University of California, San Diego, Library

Later in his career, Seuss mended his ways and drew anti-racism cartoons. (This isn’t one, obviously.)

University of California, San Diego, Library

He also expressed regret for his anti-Japanese views, according to filmmaker Ron Lamothe, who made “The Political Dr. Seuss.”

University of California, San Diego, Library

“He was regretful about some of his cartoons for PM and some of the propaganda work he did for the Army Signal Corps,” Lamothe said.

University of California, San Diego, Library

LPC Co. was a printing company targeting contractors for promotional business.

“I do think the fact he dedicated ‘Horton Hears a Who’ — a parable about the American postwar occupation of Japan — to ‘My Great Friend, Mitsugi Nakamura of Kyoto, Japan,’ says something of his changing attitudes toward the Japanese,” Lamothe said.

Springfield Library and Museums Association

You can see in this cartoon that Seuss changed his mind about racial hiring quotas by the end of the war.

Springfield Library and Museums Association

Theresa May just admitted she might get ‘no deal’ after Brexit

    Theresa May admitted her government might get “no deal” from the EU in the Brexit talks. She said her government is preparing contingency plans in case there is “no deal,” which economists regard as the worst-case scenario in Brexit. But May added that her main focus was on getting the best deal for the UK. Her statement on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show was a rare admission from the prime minister that Brexit might go badly.

Prime Minister Theresa May greets President of the European Council Donald Tusk in Downing Street on September 26.

Prime Minister Theresa May greets President of the European Council Donald Tusk in Downing Street on September 26.
(Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

LONDON – Prime Minister Theresa May told the BBC this morning that her government is drawing up plans in case there is “no deal” post-Brexit when the Article 50 negotiating period comes to an end in March 2019.

It was a rare, specific statement indicating that the prime minister believes “no deal” is a real possibility, and that government departments are already working on contingency plans for a hard Brexit in which the UK crashes out of the EU with no trading agreements, no access to the Single Market, no membership of the customs union, and no formal relationship with Europe at all.

Economists regard “no deal” as the very worst case scenario for Britain, although hardcore Leave supporters welcome it.

What will you do if there is no deal? May was asked by Andrew Marr on his politics show this morning.

May replied, “We are recognizing …. government is working on what it would need to put in place if there was no deal, what we’re also working on is ensuring we get a deal, that we get the right deal, for the United Kingdom”

Marr pressed her to describe what happens “on day 2” after “no deal”?

She replied, “That’s why government departments are looking to see what changes are needed, what we need to put in place. It’s not just government departments doing that.”

She then added, using the term “no deal”:

“The EU withdrawal bill and other legislation that we will bring through in the wake of that will be setting the scene for yes us having a deal but also the possibility of a ‘no deal.'”

Marr then asked her if she would resign if she failed to get a deal.

“I am working to get a deal, Andrew. That’s what the whole focus of government is. So let’s put our efforts into that.”

See the entire interview here.

JPMorgan is teaching underprivileged kids about entrepreneurialism to create the next generation of bankers

Schoolchildren at the launch of the JPMorgan Schools Challenge

Schoolchildren at the launch of the JPMorgan Schools Challenge

    JPMorgan launches the second year of its Schools Challenge, a programme to help teach children from underprivileged backgrounds about business and entrepreneurialism. The bank hopes that some of the children on the programme will eventually end up working at JPMorgan. David Lomer, JPMorgan’s co-head of M&A in EMEA, tells Business Insider that the bank wants to recruit from as wide a pool of talent as possible.

LONDON – Think of a British banker and you’ll probably imagine a sharply suited white man with a posh voice who was educated at Oxford or Cambridge University. Maybe Bristol or Durham, at a push.

That may once have been the case, but banking and the wider financial sector are changing. Diversity of gender, race, and background is increasing, and the world’s biggest financial institutions are making concerted efforts to move away from the stereotypes that have defined banking for decades.

JPMorgan is one of those institutions, and on Friday it launched the second year of its Schools Challenge, a programme designed to help teach kids from underprivileged areas about business and entrepreneurialism, with the hope that some will end up working for the bank.

“What we wanted to do is launch an initiative with students from low-income backgrounds in areas around London, so we could begin a process of interacting with young, bright talent, of all levels and abilities at a younger age than we were previously tapping into,” David Lomer, JPMorgan’s co-head of M&A in EMEA, and a mentor on the programme, told Business Insider prior to the launch.

JPMorgan's co-head of M&A in EMEA, David Lomer

JPMorgan’s co-head of M&A in EMEA, David Lomer

For Lomer, the challenge is about ensuring that kids from traditionally socioeconomically deprived backgrounds realise their full potential and don’t feel like where they come from dictates where they end up in life.

“We were cognisant of the fact that there’s a huge amount of talent that runs the risk of going astray at the 12-14 age group,” Lomer says.

To harness that talent in London, JPMorgan is engaging around 150 students from nine schools in the boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Lambeth, Barking and Dagenham, Hackney and Newham, and challenging them to design a campaign, along with a product that could make London a better place.

The challenge takes place over the course of several months, with senior staff like Lomer mentoring the kids along the way. The programme, in Lomer’s words aims to create “a fun, rewarding, engaging, healthy dialogue with kids at that age [12-14]” as it “can be an incredibly fulfilling time to get them engaged and enthused about academia.”

The challenge also aims to “inspire them to work slightly harder, and understand that there’s a snowball effect of success,” where the harder you work, the more opportunities you get.

JPMorgan hopes that some of the children who have taken part in the Schools Challenge will end up on the bank’s other youth initiative, the Aspiring Professionals Programme, which helps get older teenagers into finance, offering them mentoring as well as advice on things like CVs and job applications.

Two students who took part in the first year of the programme are now working full time with JPMorgan, while many others have done internships and vacation schemes.

That sort of recruitment, JPMorgan believes, will allow the bank to stand out from its competitors in the future as the financial services landscape gets more and more competitive thanks to the rise of challenger banks and other fintechs.

“We’re fervent believers at JPMorgan that over time, as we aspire to be leaders in what we do, if we only recruit from the same gene pool as everyone else, all other things being equal, we will trend toward the average,” Lomer said.

“It’s incumbent on us to recruit and deliver to our clients, an exceptional set of brains, characters, philosophies and thought processes that are truly distinguished, and aren’t just from the same subset of the top five or six universities across Europe, that our competitors are competing against.”

Diversity is becoming even more important, Lomer says, when you consider the fact that the bank’s client base is also becoming significantly more diverse.

“One thing we’re very cognisant of as we try and develop in society, is that our clients are increasingly fragmented and diverse,” Lomer said.

“The successful gene pool that we’re tapping into is coming from all walks of life. They’re global citizens as well, and have come from all sorts of socioeconomic circumstances. We need a talent pool that can talk to those clients.”

In the long run, Uber will cut 40,000 jobs in London

    Uber is working on a driverless car network that could eventually replace all 40,000 Uber drivers in London. In the future, the most expensive part of any transport system is likely to be the driver, according to an analysis by UBS. Autonomous driving systems will become so cheap that some networks may offer them free, paid for by advertising. Morgan Stanley believes 90% of factory jobs and 50% of office jobs will eventually be replaced by software and artificial intelligence. Driving is dying. If you want a job in the future you must learn to code now.


LONDON – Since London’s ban on Uber was proposed a few days ago, I have a had a series of arguments with friends and strangers over whether the ban is right or wrong. The debate has brought London alive – on some days it feels like the only issue anyone is talking about. Nearly 800,000 people signed a petition asking the government to save Uber. Forty-thousand jobs with Uber are at stake, and 3.5 million Londoners use Uber regularly. Twenty-thousand black cab drivers would love the ban to survive its legal challenge. Even prime minister Theresa May weighed in.

Everyone in the capital has a stake and an opinion.

Interestingly, almost all my discussions have ended up the same way, even when we vehemently disagree: “None of this will matter when they start using driverless cars anyway,” one of us will say. And we both laugh politely, the way one does when you’re trying not think about the fact that Uber is going to drop those 40,000 drivers in favour of an army of robots.

The most expensive part of driving is the human

A black cab driver takes part in a protest against Uber in 2016.

A black cab driver takes part in a protest against Uber in 2016.
(Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

The company is already working on its driverless future. On September 28 the company published a patent application for an “autonomous vehicle communication configuration system” that will allow a central command to monitor multiple vehicles, none of which have drivers.

There is a relentless logic to it.

In a research note published by UBS on “the mass adoption of robotaxis” last week, analyst David Lesne and his team noted that in any transport system – private car, public transit, or Uber – the most expensive part is the person doing the driving.

Driving to work in a private car imposes an average daily commuting cost on the owner of €24 per day (about $24), UBS says. In a world of robotaxis, with no need to buy a car, that cost falls to €7.2 per day. “Getting rid of their private car would enable the shared mobility user to travel about 10,000km per year in a robotaxi and save €5,000 per year,” UBS calculates:

“Robotaxis will likely price-compete with mass-transit systems. The shift towards electric autonomous vehicles, combined with more advanced fleet optimization and servicing platforms, next-generation traffic management and more intense competition, should reduce the fee charged to passengers of robotaxis by as much as 80% versus a ride-on-demand trip today. The technology to make robotaxis a reality is already available. In this new paradigm, owning a private car will cost almost twice as much as using robotaxis regularly.”

That is an extraordinary thought: An Uber ride that costs £10 today – already roughly half the price of a back cab – might cost only £2 in a few years’ time, UBS says. The cost of providing cars without drivers might be so small that companies could offer rides for free, UBS speculates, and make money on the advertising inside them.

That is a real problem if you’re an Uber driver.

The smart money says that in the short-term Uber will successfully challenge the ban and reach a compromise that will allow it to operate without interruption. The real threat to Uber drivers comes from Uber itself, and its long-term plan to get rid of all drivers. (Former CEO Travis Kalanick told Business Insider this was the plan back in 2016.)

And it’s not just 40,000 Uber drivers.

The scale of the jobs carnage will be vast

Any job that involves a human behind a wheel will be threatened in the next 20 years. Driverless technology is being developed by a dozen or more large tech companies, including Google (Alphabet) and possibly Apple in its Berlin lab.

Morgan Stanley's comparative estimates on the cost of domestic IT salaries,

Morgan Stanley’s comparative estimates on the cost of domestic IT salaries, “business process outsourcing” to India, and robots. Robots are cheapest.
Morgan Stanley

The scale of the carnage in the jobs market will be vast. It’s not just drivers. It is any job where artificial intelligence can do it cheaper than a human. The research team at Morgan Stanley sent a note to clients last week that calculated some of those savings (i.e. job losses):

    Annual salary of a regulated financial institution IT operations worker in New York: $70-80,000. Annual licence fee for a robot doing the equivalent work of up to five humans $8-11,000.

Morgan Stanley says 90% of factory jobs and 50% of office jobs are at risk of disappearing in Europe and the US:

“… not only the jobs with routine/repetitive tasks are at a high risk of automation (up to 90% we estimate) but AI also puts jobs involving cognitive skills at risk although the probability is lower at up to 40%. We estimate that 50% of the US/European white collar jobs (including office and clerical jobs) are at the risk of automation. We think it is unlikely that job losses would reach this level given that this is a long-term forecast (we assume only c.16% penetration by 2022) and new skills and jobs will be created over time. However, it is clear that some jobs will be permanently lost, which should impact staffing revenue and earnings growth.”

What is to be done?

There is one growth area for jobs that pays a lot better than driving: Tech jobs. Specifically coding.

There is no unemployment in tech. Companies are desperate for qualified workers, and the world can’t produce coders or engineers fast enough. Even entry-level coders can instantly enter the middle class. A random sample of the first page of London tech jobs on Indeed shows that minimum starting salaries are £45,000 ($60,000). Salaries escalate quickly from there. Highly qualified individuals with a few years expertise can name their price.

All these driverless cars, these fleets of autonomous vehicles – and anything else that uses tech, i.e. everything– will need people to write and manage software, in just the same way that every office that once had a typing pool now only employs people who know how to use email. In the future, being able to code will be as important as being able to read. (It might be more important, given that Siri and Alexa will be able to just read stuff to you without you looking at it.)

If the Uber ban – intended to begin this weekend – teaches us anything, it is that parents and schools need to teach their kids how to code software. In fact, I wouldn’t wait for your kids’ school to get its act together. If I were you, I would sit them in front of an online course as soon as you can.

Parents, teach your kids to code. Now.