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The controversy over the death of Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi has shined a harsh light on the growing financial ties between Silicon Valley and the world’s largest oil exporter.
As Saudi Arabia’s annual investment forum in Riyadh — dubbed “Davos in the Desert” — continues, representatives from many of the kingdom’s highest-profile overseas tech investments are not attending, joining other international business leaders in shunning a conference amid lingering questions over what role the Saudi government played in the killing of a journalist inside their consulate in Turkey.
Tech leaders such as Steve Case, the co-founder of AOL, and Dara Khosrowshahi, the chief executive of Uber, declined to attend this week’s annual investment forum in Riyadh. Even the CEO of Softbank, which has received billions of dollars from Saudi Arabia to back technology companies, reportedly has canceled his planned speech at the event.
But the Saudi controversy is focusing more scrutiny on the ethics of taking money from an investor who is accused of wrongdoing or whose track record is questionable.
Fueling the tech race
In the tech startup world, Saudi investment has played a key role in allowing firms to delay going public for years while they pursue a high-growth strategy without worrying about profitability. Those ties have only grown with the ascendancy of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the son of the Saudi king.
The kingdom’s Public Investment Fund has put $3.5 billion into Uber and has a seat on Uber’s 12-member board. Saudi Arabia also has invested more than $1 billion into Lucid Motors, a California electric car startup, and $400 million in Magic Leap, an augmented reality startup based in Florida.
Almost half of the Japanese Softbank’s $93 billion Vision Fund came from the Saudi government. The Vision Fund has invested in a Who’s Who list of tech startups, including WeWork, Wag, DoorDash and Slack.
Now there are reports that as the cloud hangs over the crown prince, Softbank’s plan for a second Vision fund may be on hold. And Saudi money might have trouble finding a home in the future in Silicon Valley, where companies are competing for talented workers, as well as customers.
The tech industry is not alone in questioning its relationship with the Saudi government in the wake of Khashoggi’s death or appearing to rethink its Saudi investments. Museums, universities and other business sectors that have benefited financially from their connections to the Saudis also are taking a harder look at those relationships.
Who are my investors?
Saudi money plays a large role in Silicon Valley, touching everything from ride-hailing firms to business-messaging startups, but it is not the only foreign investment in the region.
More than 20 Silicon Valley venture companies have ties to Chinese government funding, according to Reuters, with the cash fueling tech startups. The Beijing-backed funds have raised concerns that strategically important technology, such as artificial intelligence, is being transferred to China.
And Kremlin money has backed a prominent Russian venture capitalist in the Valley who has invested in Twitter and Facebook.
The Saudi controversy has prompted some in the Valley to question their investors about where those investors are getting their funding. Fred Wilson, a prominent tech venture capitalist, received just such an inquiry.
“I expect to get more emails like this in the coming weeks as the start-up and venture community comes to grip with the flood of money from bad actors that has found its way into the start-up/tech sector over the last decade,” he wrote in a blog post titled “Who Are My Investors?”
“Bad actors’ doesn’t simply mean money from rulers in the gulf who turn out to be cold blooded killers,” Wilson wrote. “It also means money from regions where dictators rule viciously and restrict freedom.”
This may be a defining ethical moment in Silicon Valley, as it moves away from its libertarian roots to seeing the world in its complexity, said Ann Skeet, senior director of leadership ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.
“Corporate leaders are moving more quickly and decisively than the administration, and they realize they have a couple of hats here — one, they are the chief strategist of their organization, and they also play the role of the responsible person who creates space for the right conversations to happen,” she said.
Tech’s evolving ethics
Responding to demands from their employees and customers, Silicon Valley firms are looking more seriously at business ethics and taking moral stands.
In the case of Google, it meant discontinuing a U.S. Defense Department contract involving artificial intelligence. In the case of WeWork, the firm now forbids the consumption of meat at the office or purchased with company expenses, on environmental grounds.
The Vision Fund will “undoubtedly find itself in a more challenging environment in convincing startups to take its money,” Amir Anvarzadeh, a senior strategist at Asymmetric Advisors in Singapore, recently told Bloomberg. (VOA)
In the era of computers and smartphones, it is hard to imagine a task that hasnt been made easier by some sort of technology. You all may know how harmful the blue light emitted by computers, smartphones, tablets, televisions, and other electronics is for your eyes. Since the inception of the pandemic, the use of these electronic devices has increased, and we all know it can have multiple undesirable effects on the eye.
Dark circles are formed mostly due to the reflection of the dark maroon underlying orbicularis oculi, a circular muscle around our eye. The dark pigmentation gives you an exhausted look which makes you seem sick or sleep-deprived. The skin around the eye is the thinnest, results in reflection of the said dark maroon underlying orbicularis oculi. The artificial light from the screen of your electronic devices causes a lot of drying, as it steals the moisture from the skin and also causes a breakdown of collagen
Reduce overhead lighting to minimize screen glare. | Photo by Quinten de Graaf on Unsplash
How can you deal with the undesirable effects?
*Follow a proper skincare regimen, use a moisturiser rich in vitamins especially C,E, and K. Massage it gently in clockwise and anticlockwise gentle circular movements.
*Apply under-eye cream 40 minutes before going to bed.
*Green tea bags can also help to shrink the blood vessels that will lessen dark circles.
*Catching up on sleep can help reduce the appearance of dark circles.
*Take frequent breaks while using digital devices.
*Reduce overhead lighting to minimize screen glare.
*Keep your eyes an arm's distance away from the screen.
Vivek Singh, CEO and Co-founder of Anveya Living says, "People spend a large portion of the day straining their eyes on computers, phones or tablets. Our eye muscles try to focus and refocus on and off screens which causes strain. There are a few solutions to this problem. Dehydration plays a big role, especially in the area around the eyes. Make sure you pick an eye cream that suits your eye concerns. For example, Anveya has an under eye cream with Vitamin C that helps to reduce puffiness, wrinkles and pigmentation. It basically provides intense hydration, nourishes and protects the thin skin around the eyes".
Apply under-eye cream 40 minutes before going to bed. | Photo by Humphrey Muleba on Unsplash
Commenting on the same, Shilpa Rathi Maheshwari, Founder of I AM LOVE, a Nutraceutical Health and Skincare Brand, said, "Screen time is the latest plague that has been going around and everyone has fallen victim to it; the young and the old. Too much eye strain affects the skin around the eyes, it causes them to age at an accelerated rate. While curbing screen time is one solution, it can't be a solution for people whose livelihood depends on it. Well, you don't have to worry when you have enough protein and collagen in your body. You might need to supplement your body with an increased amount of collagen and protein to negate the damage being done."
(Article originally written by: N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: under-eye, skin, treatment, eye-cream, dark circles, sleep, routine, self-care
Some women say they experienced period changes after getting a Covid-19 vaccination. While the reported changes are short-lived, research into this possible adverse reaction remains critical to the success of the vaccination programme, according to an editorial published in The BMJ.
"A link between menstrual changes after Covid-19 vaccination is plausible and should be investigated," wrote Dr Victoria Male, a reproductive specialist at Imperial College London, in the editorial. Reports of menstrual changes after Covid-19 vaccination have been made for both mRNA and adenovirus-vectored vaccines, she added, suggesting that, if there is a connection, it is likely to be a result of the immune response to vaccination, rather than to a specific vaccine component, she said.
While changes to periods or unexpected vaginal bleeding are not listed as common side effects of Covid-19 vaccination, more than 30,000 such reports have been made to the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) surveillance scheme for adverse drug reactions till September 2. However, most people find that their period returns to normal the following cycleand, importantly, there is no evidence that Covid-19 vaccination adversely affects fertility, Male said.
Most people find that their period returns to normal the following cycleand, importantly, there is no evidence that Covid-19 vaccination adversely affects fertility, Male said. | Photo by Hakan Nural on Unsplash
The MHRA states that its surveillance data does not support a link between changes to menstrual periods and Covid-19 vaccines, since the number of reports is low in relation to both the number of people vaccinated and the prevalence of menstrual disorders generally. However, the way in which data is collected makes firm conclusions difficult, Male noted.
She argued that approaches better equipped to compare rates of menstrual changes in vaccinated versus unvaccinated populations are needed, and pointed to the study that the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has undertaken. Indeed, the menstrual cycle may be affected by the body's immune response to the virus itself, with one study showing menstrual disruption in around a quarter of women infected with SARS-CoV2.
If a link between vaccination and menstrual changes is confirmed, this will allow individuals seeking vaccination to plan in advance for potentially altered cycles, Male contended. In the meantime, clinicians must encourage their patients to report any changes to periods or unexpected vaginal bleeding after vaccination. And anyone reporting a change in periods persisting over a number of cycles, or new vaginal bleeding after the menopause, should be managed according to the usual clinical guidelines for these conditions, she suggested. (IANS/MBI)
Keywords: vaccine, menstrual cycle, period, covid, women, health
A garage sale in the 21st century needs a tech-savvy platform. This is where Poshmark comes into the picture, the platform with a community of over 2.5 million Canadians has products listed with over half a billion dollars in value by their users.
It began expanding outside of the United States in Canada in May 2019 and has now launched in India. So its become simple and easy for anyone to sell items from their closet, enabled by a full suite of end-to-end seller tools and services, including seamless listing, merchandising, promotion, pricing, and shipping. Indian consumers will be able to join Social marketplace Poshmark, Inc. (Nasdaq: POSH), a booming community of more than 80 million users and a vibrant network of millions of shoppable closets to make money, save money, connect with others, and foster entrepreneurship.
The platforms scalable model and infrastructure enables continued expansion to new countries and categories in the future. | Photo by Duy Hoang on Unsplash
"As an Indian who grew up exploring the marketplaces of Old Delhi, I know firsthand how important it is to come together and connect as part of the shopping experience. I am confident that our social marketplace will resonate with Indian consumers and allow us to build a thriving and successful community here." The platform's scalable model and infrastructure enables continued expansion to new countries and categories in the future. (IANS/ MBI)
(Article originally written by: N. Lothungbeni Humtsoe)
Keywords: Clothes, garage, Poshmark, India, Old Delhi, social marketplace