Today’s Must-Reads For Entrepreneurs: What The Founder Of The North Face Did With His Money

The founder of The North Face created a national park in Chile: “The park is the brainchild of Kristine McDivitt Tompkins and her husband, Douglas Tompkins, who founded The North Face and Esprit clothing companies, and starting in 1991, put $345 million — much of his fortune — buying large swaths of Patagonia. … Mr. Tompkins died at 72 in December 2015, after a kayaking accident in Patagonia. Months before, Tompkins Conservation, an umbrella group of conservation initiatives the couple directed, proposed a deal to the Chilean government: It would donate more than one million acres of their preserved and restored territory to Chile if the government committed additional lands and designated new parks to create a Patagonian national park network.

Startups

Is Google squelching competition from startups? “The Raffs quit their jobs, hired a few programmers, spent months perfecting their technology and, in early 2006, unveiled Foundem.com, a vertical-search engine for finding cheap online prices, to a small group of friends and associates. Each time someone used Foundem to buy something, the Raffs would receive a small payment from the website making the sale. Adam and Shivaun weren’t sure their company would succeed — there were already a couple of other big price-comparison search engines, like PriceGrabber, NexTag and, of course, Google itself — but they figured this was how the internet was supposed to work: Two people with a new idea can take on giants and, if their technology is good enough, grow into colossi themselves. …”

A study suggests that startups do better when venture capitalists replace founders: “Founders are right to worry that by raising external funding, they also raise the risk of losing their job. Although that fact had been previously established, the effect on performance of the venture had not been. Our results suggest that founders might worry a bit less about being replaced — at least from a financial perspective — because their diminished role in the company may be rewarded with a higher value for their equity.”

Finance

Sherrell Dorsey started a newsletter to illuminate stories of innovation outside of Silicon Valley that has turned into a platform that can increase financing for black entrepreneurs: “Charlotte is a majority black city with no hub for black technologists. That baffled the hell out of me. There are these well-heeled, well-credentialed people of color, and this is a start-up community that is growing. Charlotte is one of the largest banking industries in the country. There’s all this investment going into fintech and healthcare. But when I was attending events, I was the only woman or person of color and it just really blew my mind. I was like, why hasn’t anyone said, ‘We need to create a space to make sure we have a high density of black entrepreneurs plugged into the growth of this city?’ And so my work has really encompassed this idea of: How do we fill in the gap?”

Harry’s is raising money to move beyond shaving and take on the likes of P&G: “The two founders said Harry’s was on track to become profitable this year. Now Mr. Raider and Mr. Katz-Mayfield want to apply the lessons they have learned to consumer goods like personal care for men and women, household items and baby products. Already, Harry’s has taken a minority stake in Hims, a start-up that makes men’s hair-loss products, and it intends to buy majority ownership in other brands.”

Human Resources

There really are ways to hire more female engineers: “Gusto’s most important step: For a six-month period starting in September 2015, the company devoted 100% of its engineering recruitment efforts to women. While it solicited only women, it considered male applicants who approached the firm and treated all candidates equally, which kept Gusto from running afoul of anti-discrimination laws.

There’s a shortage of truck drivers: “Heartland Express Inc., a large trucking company based in North Liberty, Iowa, has been turning down an average 10,000 loads a week from shippers like Walmart Inc. and Lowe’s Co s. The turndown rate was about 500 loads a week at the start of 2017.”

Laws banning employers from asking job candidates about past salaries are becoming increasingly common: “Several economists said a ban on questions about salary history would probably prompt such employers to engage in what’s known as statistical discrimination — relying on group averages in place of information they were previously able to obtain about an individual. … In doing so, employers will be further enabled by another feature of the recent salary history laws: They typically allow job applicants to disclose their previous salary voluntarily. As a result, some employers may feel comfortable making lowball offers to women, because they assume applicants will speak up if they make significantly more than the employer’s offer. Those who don’t speak up will be deemed to have made less. This could, in turn, leave women worse off than before, since they tend to be more reluctant to bargain than men, as a range of studies have documented.”

WeWork is trying to change the way we live, work and play: “When Dock 72 is completed this year, if the aggressive timeline holds, it will represent the fullest expression of Mr. Neumann’s expansive vision to date. There will be an enormous co-working space, a luxury spa and large offices, for other companies like IBM and Verizon, that are designed and run by WeWork. There will be a juice bar, a real bar, a gym with a boxing studio, an outdoor basketball court and panoramic vistas of Manhattan. There will be restaurants and maybe even dry cleaning services and a barbershop. It will be the kind of place you never have to leave until you need to go to sleep — and if Mr. Neumann has his way, you’ll sleep at one of the apartments he is renting nearby.”

Does hanging motivational posters on an office wall actually inspire people? “Gary P. Latham, an organizational psychologist at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, has conducted several experiments on the power of motivational posters. In one, 54 call center employees were randomly assigned to work in either a bare room, a room decorated with a photo of a victorious runner crossing a finish line, or one featuring a poster of smiling call-center employees. The workers who saw the runner raised more money than those in the empty room, and those who saw the work-related poster raised the most of all.”

Employers who don’t offer paid time off make flu season worse (and hurt their bottomlines): “Although employers who don’t currently offer paid sick leave might balk at the costs, a substantial body of research suggests paid sick days might effectively pay for themselves by reducing overall rates of absenteeism. A study published last year by researchers at the CDC found that ‘providing paid sick leave to workers who lack it might help decrease the number of workdays lost as a result of flu and similar illnesses by nearly 4 to 11 million per year,’ resulting in an overall cost savings of $1 billion to $2 billion.”

Family Business

After seizing control of his father’s tree business, Jonathan Saperstein is now trying to professionalize the tree-growing industry: “In monthly meetings, Saperstein and his team tweak production forecasts, based on demand data from customers and the latest growth numbers from the fields. The trees are grown in containers, and as they mature, they are moved to larger containers to prevent them from getting rootbound. The company’s most popular tree, an Empire Live Oak, comes in containers ranging from five gallons, which wholesales for $21, to 670 gallons, which goes for $5,100. Saperstein must forecast demand a decade in advance to determine how many trees to sell at each stage. He also has to figure out how to arrange those that remain so they can be maintained efficiently.”

Regulation

A task force has proposed fees of $2 to $5 per ride-hailing and taxi trip that could generate up to $605 million a year for New York City’s failing subway system: “As ride-hailing services become a dominant force across the country, they have increased congestion, threatened taxi industries and posed political and legal challenges for cities and states struggling to regulate the high-tech newcomers. But they are also proving to be an unexpected boon for municipalities that are increasingly latching onto their success — and being rewarded with millions in revenue to pay not only for transportation and infrastructure needs, but also a host of programs and services that have nothing to do with the ride-hailing apps.”

Loren Feldman edits Forbes’ entrepreneurial coverage. Follow him on Twitter. Sign up for Forbes Entrepreneurs and Small Business newsletters.

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