Today I would like you to sit and read this carefully. It is a review by Harvard about Many Companies Still Don’t Know How to Compete in the Digital Age.
Why it is interesting? Because the digital technologies underlying these competitive thrusts may not be new, but they are being used to new effect. Staggering amounts of information are accessible as never before—from proprietary big data to new public sources of open data. Ok, I do not want to drag you further.
It’s a challenging time to be in the on-demand industry. Not only is the market more competitive than ever, the category is also under a deluge of regulatory threats and lawsuits from employees. Throw this on top of a depressed funding environment and you have an entire category of startups under pressure to survive.
That’s why all eyes were on Tony Xu last week. The founder of food delivery upstart DoorDash, Xu successfully raised $127 million – one of the largest fundraises in the on-demand category since the market turned south. Xu started fundraising for his Series C round during boom times at the end of last year, but wasn’t able to complete the deal until recently. The round, led by Sequoia Capital, values the startup at $700 million — roughly 16% lower than after its Series B.
But when I spoke with Xu about how he felt about taking a down round, he told me something I am all of a sudden hearing all the time: Valuations don’t matter. After unicorn-mania hit the private markets last year with 174 companiesreaching or surpassing the $1 billion mark, entering the Unicorn Club is no longer a badge of honor. In an interview, Xu and I talked about his recent fundraise, the on-demand economy and the parts of building a company that get easier in slow times.
Caroline Fairchild: Do you feel like raising money is something to celebrate?
Tony Xu: You do get a lot of people writing in congratulations. It’s just one step along the road. I don’t think of it as a congratulatory final outcome of any form. I think of it as a step along our journey. This most recent financing was always part of the plan. We were always planning on fundraising at the end of last year and beginning of this year. It was a milestone on the plan and less something to celebrate. It is more like a to-do list, and you have to go up and down the to-do list. You can congratulate yourself when you complete that list with a beer or something. That is what this feels like.
CF: What is the environment like for fundraising right now?
TX: We always planned on fundraising during the time that we did. We cannot control external circumstances, whether it is what is happening in the macro public markets or private markets. But you can’t run a company based on what is outside of your control. You need to over index for things that are inside your control. I saw caution in the market whereas maybe a year ago the word might have been greed. I’ve seen investors swing from greed to fear and investors are somewhere in the middle with caution. That means it takes longer to achieve a decision with investment. The bar gets raised. What we forget, both as entrepreneurs and investors and the press is that investors are human. When something in the external environment provides a shock, we course correct.
CF: What were the conversations like around taking a down round?
TX: The way I have always thought about financing is asking the question first and foremost of why are we doing it and then what do we want this financing to help us achieve moving forward. So you need to know how much money you are raising and why. Then I think about how to do it in the best way for all employees. When the market shifts toward the caution and fear part of the spectrum, investors want to protect against that fear. They introduce all these terms that protect certain outcomes or results. For me, instead of chasing a headline valuation, it was about making sure in this market where investors are being very fearful that we can still make sure to get the clean terms for our employees. Then the score will take care of itself. The valuation is something is an intermediate number at best. We are playing for the long haul. We always have.
CF: So you don’t think that startup founders should be concerned with their valuation?
TX: It’s interesting that people think that entrepreneurs would seek valuations. They know that investors have way more information than she does about the market because for the entrepreneur, her worldview is just her company. For an investor, her worldview is lots of investments and lots of comparisons can be made. So we never sought a valuation or sought a headline valuation.
CF: Do you expect to see other on-demand startups go under soon likeSpoonRocket?
TX: I do believe that our space for a while has been overfunded and as a category has underperformed. This is a case where many companies have been built by analogy. I don’t think that is a bad thing, but it is not the way we think about building our company. We are building our company on first principles. For us it was always about helping local businesses. It wasn’t about food delivery. We always believed from day one that we had to do our best to serve all three audiences in our marketplace. We serve: Consumers, dashers [couriers] and merchants and we actually have to serve all three audiences on every single transaction. This is unique because most markets are two-sided, so if we can do that better than anyone else, that puts us in a strong position. It builds a defensible position for a technology company.
CF: Doom and gloom aside, can you think of anything that it is easier to do in this environment?
TX: It is easier to attract talent. The best companies will certainly attract and concentrate more talent. The problem with a market that supports greed is that everyone wants to become an entrepreneur, or becomes an entrepreneur because of this overfunded environment, even if they didn’t want to be one! I think that there won’t be as many hobby-based entrepreneurs so the best companies will emerge and show why they are the best companies.
CF: What would be your advice for other founders looking to raise capital now?
TX: My advice is the same in a greed market as in a cautionary environment. You have to build a great business, and it starts way before a downturn. If you are waiting for the downturn to raise you are likely too late. It is like you are trying to cross a traffic stop and yellow is quickly turning to red and you are thinking about how to get to green. That is tricky. My advice is to make sure that regardless when you plan on fundraising that your company is great. What we have always been focused on is sustainable growth. That is the foundation of building a great business. If you are running a business to the tune of what outside investors or the market wants you to do that can be pretty difficult proposition because the market can change. Focus on things within your control.
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“This is a good window of opportunity for us to address all the inefficiencies that we have, within the organization and also the Malaysian oil and gas and industry.” Petronas will cut back some capex programs, he said, adding that it has already cut 23 per cent in operating expenditure. Wan Zul said his six-point strategy is as follows:
Cash generation. “What I mean by cash generation is our plants must be running tip-top, running all the time, we must sell our products at the best value we can get, so it has to be all across the value chain.”
Delivering on growth projects. “These include RAPID, floating LNG, more projects in Sabah and hopefully very soon the project in Canada. We need to deliver these projects well, no cost overruns and on time and with good health and safety levels.”
Striking down costs and simplification. “We are reviewing some of the processes that hit across the group.” These include HR, procurement and planning processes.
Investing in technology.
Talent management. “We are not cutting back on talent management spending, but I just want to be sure that the money is well spent and we spend in areas that we really need to spend. We are looking at how we can do this better.”
Improving work culture.“We are teaching the group starting with the senior staff on ways to improve our working culture.”
Wan Zul said oil and gas projects that have already been sanctioned will go ahead. But the company would also ask for rebidding for some of the packages in the RAPID project to reflect lower prices of raw materials. He said the cutback in Petronas capex would have an impact on service providers. “I think there has been retrenchment and downsizing within the service providers.”
“Today, if I look at the number of companies, I think the latest number is around 3,700 oil and gas service providers. But Norway has only about 700, which means many of our companies are small and the industry is very fragmented.
“We are encouraging consolidation. I know it is painful, but I think this is the way to go since by doing so the industry will be more efficient once we get over this challenging period.
Wan Zul said Petronas, with a 51,000-strong workforce, has no immediate plans to lay off its staff. He said some have been redeployed to RAPID.
He said Petronas would continue to hire new staff, but at a slower pace. “The hiring will continue, but maybe at a slower pace. We still need to bring in new people. We have not come to a point where we have to rightsize.”
Basically Wan Zul is a man with vision. And his vision is the same like what JobCTRL® is going to offer. He does not elaborate when he said, “Investing in technology“. So what he really means is to implement JobCTRL® in PETRONAS. This is the technology that will help him and PETRONAS in this tough time.
Why JobCtrl? Because Our philosophy
We believe that JobCTRL® is an innovative service that results in an efficiency increase of at least 10% by ensuring the transparency of organizational operation; thanks to the decisions and control based on a precise measurement of work it contributes to enhancing the effectiveness of the company. It does so by precisely documenting the work and delivering accurate data for the assessment and analysis of performance, thus indicating where there is potential for increasing productivity. So call me now and I could brief you the beauty of JobCTRL®. I am not selling it now, but instead I am only asking you and your organization to try it for free 30 days and then you decide.
All companies want to improve employee productivity, but how often do they examine their own management practices as a means of attaining it? Studies consistently show that a disturbingly high number of non-management employees are disengaged, not working at full productive capacity.
Do you agree that if your business produces waste, then there is a good chance you are wasting money! Increasing workplace efficiency is not merely a question of doing more work in less time, it is also a question of focusing, so that you produce quality work with less effort. Learn how an innovative concept will improve individual and enterprise level productivity by measuring and analyzing processes, organizing projects and human resources to build a better aligned workforce with more efficient operation. Wanna know how… Let’s get connected!
Businesses are adapting to volatility and uncertainty as a way of life. With the economic outlook and ever-widening range of threats continuing to test even the strongest organization, companies are facing a variety of challenges as they strive to find growth and stay competitive. From improving operational effectiveness, to expanding into new markets, we’re here to help.
We all know that workers need rising living standards over their lifetimes, a balance between the demands of work and family, and workplaces that are safe and fair. We also know that major trends will sweep across and radically change the landscape of workplaces and the makeup of the workforce in the twenty-first century. We all shall details the extraordinary diversity of the workforce, the explosive growth of technology, and the pervasive impact of growing globalization. How will future workers strive for and attain economic security, work-family balance, and safe and fair workplaces?
I do not try to provide all the answers. Instead, it presents the trends, examines their combined implications and asks the questions that we expect will help shape the debate over labor policy for the twenty-first century. Here are some of them:
How do we ensure that workers get the skills they need to succeed in the twenty-first century workplace? Will employers hire and train workers who initially lack skills? What happens to the worker laid off from a manufacturing job at age 55 —does he get training in new technologies or is he stuck in lower-wage jobs like groundskeeper, security guard, and warehouse stock clerk? How do we make sure that people with disabilities have access to the technologies that facilitate their participation in the workplace? How will e-commerce impact employment?
How can workers find the time they need for their families, while at the same time ensuring that employers can get the job done? How do we ensure that those with lower educational levels are not left behind by the digital economy? Will temporary and other nontraditional workers be relegated to permanent second class status, or will temps become more like independent contractors and leverage higher compensation? Will workers increasingly rely on the collective bargaining process to provide higher wages and better benefits?
Will we manage the change in the workforce to society’s advantage? Will global competition lift standards for people working and living throughout the world? Will businesses invest in workers who have been left behind to ensure the nation’s continued prosperity? Will we bring down the barriers to success for all Americans?
The answers to these and similar questions will help map the landscape of the future of work. For future workers, employers, labor unions, and policymakers, preserving the constants for working families are the goal, and managing change effectively is the challenge. Together, we can proceed with confidence.
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It is an innovative business solution that can be fully adapted to any organizational structure of any industry or any sector. The application is being successfully used by individuals, small businesses, consulting and law firms, communication agencies as well as IT and telecommunications companies. The best result of the system will be obtained if is is exactly tailored to the organizational’s processes and if it is modelling the job-or project structure of the organization. We provide full learning management so that you can start using the application as soon as possible.
Through the credible information provided by the system, a training, evaluation and motivational system can be developed, in line with the organization’s objectives and corporate culture, to the greatest possible extent. Since everyone can track their own performance, the data collected may not only be used as an impartial and unique evaluation tool, but is also providing the employees with a credible feedback. The information is therefore clear to both parties, and this business solution motivates the employees to keep up with the right level of performance without the need of intervention from part of the supervisors or superiors.
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We have created a system that does not measure the work performance or the working time based on posterior self-declarations but in REAL TIME. The continuous collection, recording and sorting of data by the system, reduce the administrative burden of the employees. Thanks to the real time tracking of the working activities, the system users spend only a couple of minutes a day with administrative tasks. There is no need to write reports either to prepare time sheets.
It makes possible to engage additional workforce, such as people working from home, part-time or in non-traditional working hours. The application similarly helps the re-employment of the mothers, or experienced personnels and improves the employment opportunities of people with limited mobility or living far away. By expanding its workforce resources, a company can find more cost effective employment solutions compared to the traditional ones. The system makes the working time more flexible and easier to organize, offering this way many benefits to both employees and employers.
In many cases, work is not performed in the office, but on an external site. Since the system also runs on smartphones or tablets any working activity can be recorded device-independently and can be also assigned to projects or to tasks. The phone registers the user’s geographical position which, besides the location tracking, allows to build a route record. The application also ensures the separation of the private and work-related calls and the photo capture or image upload functions offer further work documentation options.