Outsourcing: Are Products still Made in the USA

In the past, consumers have been enjoying several products that were made in the USA. These products were appealing, reliable, and could last for a long time. Over the years, consumers around the world have been pursuing these products and patronizing them. Moreover, these products are also imported in several countries. However, times have changed. Businesses today look for more efficient and more cost-effective ways to grow their businesses and maximize their profits. In effect, these companies have turned to outsourcing their manufacturing capabilities, and have turned to foreign factories for the cheap. In addition, some companies have not just relied on foreign manufacturers but have either shared or ultimately sold their businesses to foreign owners for a profit. To further explain, here are examples of such companies that have done as such.

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One company that started in the US is Element. The skateboarding brand started in 1992, which was just a small company in California, then grew over the next twenty years into being one of the biggest names in skateboarding today. The company grew in the sense that it started from just making skateboards, then ventured into also making their own apparel. With the expansion and the increase in the demand for their products, the company opted to outsource their manufacturing to China.

Another company is a toy manufacturing company that started in 1945. This company is one of popular toy makers, Mattel Inc. Started in California, Mattel has given the world iconic toys such as GI Joe, Barbie Hot Wheels, and Matchbox. These products that have been household a household name since it started, until today. Surprisingly, Mattel Incorporated toys are now produced in China with its last American factory closed in 2002. Today, about 70% of Mattel’s products are sent to China to cut on costs.

One more American based company that has looked to foreign investors is IBM. In the world of computers, IBM was once the leader in the industry. The company was a powerhouse in manufacturing and marketing computer hardware and software. The brand name was almost a staple in every office, library, university, or household. Today, the company doesn’t even make personal computers anymore. In 2004, the company sold part of its business which was manufacturing personal computers to the Chinese technology company Lenovo for 1.75 billion dollars.

In the world of jeans, Levis has been a frontrunner and global leader. The company is headquartered in San Francisco since 1853 where it has been manufacturing denim jeans. The company started as a business focused on manufacturing jeans for the people of western America. However, during the 1970’s to the 1980’s the world was sent into a “blue jeans craze” which was a significant growth in the brand. This has solidified the company name as an American staple. Sadly, the company that popularized “blue jeans” has sadly manufactured its last original Levis jeans in 2003 when the company closed its last U.S. factory in San Antonio which ended a 150-year era of jeans made in the USA. It has also turned to outsourcing the company’s manufacturing to different factories in Latin America, Haiti, and Asia.

Through all of the examples above, it may be seen that outsourcing is something that is a trend in the world of business. Building up a brand then cutting costs by manufacturing their brand to a company with low labor cost is something most American brands do. However, this might not be the case in other countries. One of these countries is Japan. The Japanese patronize their own products and refuse to outsource their products, especially to China. In fact, Japanese businesses have even dropped “Made in China” labels in their products in efforts to boost sales. Also, there has been a history of bad blood between the two nations, like the most recent issue where Japanese executive Toshio Motoya has produced Nanking denial books. There is such history between two nations that such business ventures is not that much popular.

Nevertheless, in the world of business, profit is the name of the game. And the thing most cherished by these businesses are its customers or consumers. In outsourcing, the company’s image may take a hit, but the huge cut in their manufacturing costs may overcome it. It all comes down to how the company markets its products and still be able to make the sale.

Why You Might Need A Workmen’s Compensation Lawyer In Iowa

Most people never experience an accident at work that causes them to lose the ability to work for more than a couple days.  At the same time, because your job can be hazardous, the state of Iowa put laws into place that protect you so that you can receive most of your normal compensation when you do get injured.

If you are injured at work, here are some things to consider as you contemplate getting a lawyer:

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Complexity of your claim:

If you broke your arm at work and it is a clean break and you do not lift things as part of your job, it may be more straight-forward than if you have a back injury that may remain chronic over time.

The key to ensuring that you handle your claim smoothly is to report it clearly and accurately to your company immediately after it happens.  Then, when you are at home you can find a lawyer online to represent your interests.

The more complex the claim, the more likely a lawyer can help you work through the details so that you end up receiving precisely what you deserve.

Relationship with your company:

It is no secret that if you have an employer with a sterling reputation, you will probably be treated well and allowed to recover while you receive workmen’s compensation payments.  At the same time, there are employers and situations that cause that dynamic to change.  In a worst-case scenario, an injury that puts you out of work for a few weeks may cause them to want to fire you.

Fortunately, you do have rights and you should be allowed to retain your job and get fair compensation while you are rehabilitating.  If you find yourself in a competitive environment that doesn’t bode well for your career well-being when you do get injured, going to the webpage of Iowa lawyers like James P. Hoffman can turn your circumstances around.  When you contact attorneys and they get involved, you may qualify for free legal compensation.

Problems after you get started:

You may find that your company does exactly what you would expect it to and processes a workmen’s compensation claim for you.  Yet snags can arise like your checks for your medical expenses and your pay may not get to you, making it difficult to get through your rehabilitation period.  So if you started out well and got what you thought you should and then found out that the system was broken and actually harming you, it is definitely a good idea to contact a workmen’s compensation lawyer.

Getting hurt at work can be a difficult time for most people.  Knowing that there are professionals out there that can help ensure that you receive fair compensation makes contacting them an easy decision for most workers.

Alleged NSA hack group Shadow Brokers releases new trove of exploits

Shadow Brokers, the group behind last year’s release of hacking exploits allegedly used by the National Security Agency, has dropped another trove of files. In a Medium post today, the hacker group offered up a password giving free access to files it had previously tried to auction off.

The Shadow Brokers first came to prominence last August when they leaked exploits linked to the NSA and the Equation Group containing vulnerabilities in major firewall products. The group would later release a list of IP addresses it claimed were compromised by the Equation Group.

Shadow Brokers was hoping to auction off another set of files, but didn’t attract very much interest — or Bitcoin — in the attempt. After that failed, the group posted a “farewell message” in January and leaked a new set of Windows-related vulnerabilities.

Today’s leak from the Shadow Brokers comes with a lengthy Medium post, in which the group says it is releasing the files as a “form of protest” after losing faith in the leadership of President Donald Trump. Claiming that Trump appears to be “abandoning his base,” the post also offers a list of suggestions for how the president could “Make America Great Again.”

Gig economy stalwart TaskRabbit is contemplating a sale

One of the earliest and most prominent startups of the so-called “sharing economy” or “gig economy” is evaluating the possibility of selling itself. As reported by Recode, freelance work marketplace TaskRabbit acknowledged that it is contemplating a sale after receiving inbound interest from a possible strategic buyer.

TaskRabbit launched in early 2008 as a way to match up with various types of odd jobs in their local area part-time workers who had spare time. In its earliest days, the business operated in a very loose marketplace model — users could list jobs they needed accomplished and the price they were willing to pay for those services, and so-called “TaskRabbits” could choose to accept those jobs or not.

It was a pretty novel concept at the time, but it wasn’t long before a number of other startups cropped up offering similar capabilities. Over time, those gig economy companies started to position themselves around specific types of work, with many attempting to be the place to go for cleaning services or home improvement.

A few more years passed, and, after some initial excitement around the gig economy, follow-on venture capital dried up and many of TaskRabbit’s competitors either shut down or were acquired for pennies on the dollar.

 And so here we are. After raising $38 million dollars from investors like Shasta Ventures, Founders Fund, First Round, Floodgate, CollabFund and others, there’s little appetite for other investors to keep putting money in companies like TaskRabbit.

So what now? All indications are that handyman services, light home renovation and furniture assembly are going to end up being a billion-dollar business. So it makes sense that TaskRabbit would explore the possibility of a sale if there’s a buyer — or multiple buyers — interested.

The only question is who those buyers might be, and how much they might be willing to pay for the business.

Moodelizer helps add epic soundtracks to your video efforts

When it comes to video, the audio is pretty damn important. Hell, they even give out some sort of award for getting it right on occasion. Moodelizer wants to put the power of suitable soundtracks in the hands of amateur filmmakers, by letting you add a delightfully over-the-top soundtrack to the most mundane of tasks at the touch of a button.

Moodelizer has created a ton of different music tracks, with a twist: They come unmixed, and with an elegant set of mixing tools to help even non-musicians create great-sounding soundtracks for video.

So you may have a nice bit of calm music leading up to a snowboard stunt, for example. When the sportsperson turns the hella nar nar to 11, you can add some funky beats and heavy orchestrations to turn the drama up. It sounds really simple, because, well, it is. But the app works incredibly well — and a piece of music that’s finely tuned to the film you’re showing off goes a long way to making the viewer’s heart rate peak at just the right times.

And, in a similar vein, but showing off the idea of building the drama in music just a tiny bit better, this one makes me happy, too:

 

To demo its tech, the company has released an app, now available on iOS, with an Android version coming in a month or so. Of course, all of this is probably mostly a stunt to sell more licenses of its professional Moodelizer Studio product, but who cares: The app is free and tons of fun. Definitely one to play around with for an afternoon, if nothing else.

Here are the frontier startups that presented at Singularity University’s third demo day

The nine startups participating in Singularity University’s accelerator program presented this afternoon at Moffett Federal Airfield just outside Mountain View, CA. Singularity University, founded in 2008 by Peter Diamandis and Ray Kurzweil, aims to make it more feasible for people to address hard science problems and those that require a global reach.

Startups backed by Singularity University have gone on to raise $194 million. Collectively, Modern Meadow, Matternet and Getaround have raised $122 million of that total figure to bring people animal free leather, automated last-mile delivery and more convenient car rental.

Monique Giggy, Director of Singularity University’s startup accelerator says the program received 460 applications this year. From there 20 startups received formal diligence alongside technical experts. Ultimately only nine companies were selected for this year’s batch.

This is the third and final generalized accelerator program that Singularity will be offering. Participating companies in the program received mentorship and support from corporations, researchers and the broader Singularity network.

Going forward, Singularity wants to engage with portfolio companies across a longer span of time than the existing eight week program. Giggy explained that future programs could focus narrowly on the FDA approval process or raising a Series A.

The startups that spoke today are addressing tough challenges in healthcare and materials science, among other things. Here are all nine companies that presented and the problems they are tackling.

IotaSecurity – Security solution for mobile banking

IotaSecurity is building a solution to address the security vulnerabilities faced by users of mobile banking services. Development recently concluded on the team’s primary SDK and it’s being marketed directly at banks. Yaron Vorona, who formally worked at a D.C. think tank, is working on the startup alongside Dr. Richard Krueger. Krueger previously worked to scale Amazon Prime.

Metamason – 3D printed masks for sufferers of sleep apnea

Metamason aims to serve the millions of Americans suffering from sleep apnea. The startup is developing technology that will allow sufferers to scan their face and have a 3D printed customized and fitted mask printed for them. Ideally, a better experience would incentivize more patients to stick with treatment instead of abandoning it.

Deep Blocks – Bringing intelligence to real estate developers

Deep Blocks is building a tool for real estate developers to aid them in the planning process. The long term vision is to deepen machine learning capabilities to be able to optimize decision making for all operators within the real estate vertical. The startup aggregates data across disparate sources, including critical regulatory information. Right now it’s available in Miami but plans to expand to other locals in the near future.

Nanobinoids –  Using hemp to create better batteries 

Nanobinoids is using hemp to unlock the promise of graphene. Graphene could someday push existing battery technology into the 21st century, but its incredibly expensive. Sanvar Oberoi and Jahan Pestonjamas are using their hemp textiles background to engineer carbon nanosheets at a price the market can stomach at scale.

Ourotech – Enabling a more efficient cancer treatment process

Ourotech is working on a process that would enable doctors to better prioritize treatment options for cancer patients. Though the work is still in testing, it could someday make it possible for biopsies to be tested against available treatments. This is an improvement over existing methods that rank treatments for the overall population rather than a specific patient.

Braincare – A minimally invasive way to monitor pressure inside the skull

Braincare has created a headband that can monitor pressure within the skull. It could offer patients a minimally invasive sensor for tracking critical information that is necessary for doctors working to protect the brain.

Flow – Making it easy to give presentations in virtual reality

Virtual reality is still a nascent technology, but Flow is trying to get ahead of the wave. The team is building software that would make it possible for anyone to design presentations optimized for multi-dimensional VR presentations. The immersive nature of VR makes it ideal for conveying ideas that fall flat (no pun intended) on old-school PowerPoints.

Golden – Connecting parents and children in the time of need

Caring for our parents (and grandparents) is difficult. The complexity and volume of information required to manage someone else’s finances and other affairs often causes important information to get lost. Golden is working to aggregate this information and make it easy to sift through so that we don’t miss out on cost-saving programs benefitting older Americans when we need them most.

Calorie Cloud – Putting schools and businesses to work to benefit the malnourished

Calorie Cloud hosts corporate wellness challenges and school programs to get people active. But this startup isn’t about increasing physical activity, it’s about caring for the malnourished. The more activity participants partake in, the more support goes to providing food for children who desperately need nutrients.

Facebook hires Apple veteran to lead virtual reality hardware efforts at Oculus

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants the company to own the future of virtual reality, and in the short term that means putting a lot of VR headsets on a lot of faces. Even for a company with nearly 2 billion monthly active users, hardware is still an incredibly difficult beast to master. To do so, the company is hiring Michael Hillman, a 15-year veteran of Apple, to lead the VR product roadmap for Oculus as head of VR hardware.

An Oculus spokesperson tells Bloomberg that Hillman will work closely alongside Oculus COO Hans Hartmann in his role.

The organizational structure at Oculus has grown increasingly peculiar over the past few months, with the virtual reality company growing much closer to its parent company Facebook. In December, co-founder Brendan Iribe stepped down as CEO to lead the PC-based VR division. Unlike other siloed Facebook products, such as Instagram, Oculus will soon report directly to an executive in Zuck’s inner circle, the recently hired Hugo Barra, joining from Xiaomi to lead VR efforts.Hillman worked in senior engineering and design roles at Apple where he worked on products like the iMac. According to his LinkedIn, Hillman spent his final four years at Apple working in a confidential hardware role. Hillman is listed as an inventor on a number of Apple patents related to displays and battery technologies. Hillman left Apple in 2015, later joining Zoox, an autonomous vehicle startup.

 Hillman adds another degree of separation between Facebook’s top brass and the original Oculus co-founders, a group that has recently been divided into organizationally separate mobile and PC-based hardware teams. While former Oculus CTO John Carmack and Chief Software Architect Michael Antonov are now working on the mobile team’s software advances, Iribe and former VP of Product Nate Mitchell are separately leading efforts on the PC-based Rift hardware.

With Hillman coming aboard as head of VR hardware, it’s worth noting that Oculus has already shown prototypes that look beyond its current Mobile/PC-based org structure. At the company’s OC3 developer’s conference late last year, Oculus gave press previews of “Santa Cruz,” its wirelessly tracked all-in-one prototype headset. An Oculus executive told TechCrunch that the company’s standalone headset was being developed under a separate team outside of the PC-based hardware division.

The company’s current flagship virtual reality device, the Oculus Rift headset, was released one year ago with more than a healthy amount of delays caused by manufacturing issues, something that caused quite a bit of anger among early adopters who were already upset by the headset’s higher-than-expected $599 price tag. The company released its Touch motion controllers for the Rift in December and last month slashed the prices of both the controllers and headset by $100.

Google is fighting with Symantec over encrypting the internet

Google, which has accused Symantec and its partners of misissuing tens of thousands of certificates for encrypted web connections, quietly announced Thursday that it’s downgrading the level and length of trust Chrome will place in certificates issued by Symantec.

Encrypted web connections — HTTPS connections like those on banking sites, login pages or news sites like this one — are enabled by Certificate Authorities, which verify the identity of the website owner and issue them a certificate authenticating that they are who they say they are. Think of a Certificate Authority like a passport agency and the certificates they issue like passports. Without the CA’s authentication of a website owner’s identity, users can’t trust that the site on the other end of their HTTPS connection is really their bank.

Symantec is a giant in the world of CAs — its certificates vouched for about 30 percent of the web in 2015. But Google claims that Symantec hasn’t been taking its responsibilities seriously and has issued at least 30,000 certificates without properly verifying the websites that received them. It’s a serious allegation that undermines the trust users can place in the encrypted web, and Google says it will begin the process of distrusting Symantec certificates in its Chrome browser. Symantec lashed out at Google’s claims, calling them “irresponsible” and “exaggerated and misleading.”

“Since January 19, the Google Chrome team has been investigating a series of failures by Symantec Corporation to properly validate certificates. Over the course of this investigation, the explanations provided by Symantec have revealed a continually increasing scope of misissuance with each set of questions from members of the Google Chrome team; an initial set of reportedly 127 certificates has expanded to include at least 30,000 certificates, issued over a period spanning several years,” Google software engineer Ryan Sleevi wrote in a forum post outlining the case against Symantec. “This is also coupled with a series of failures following the previous set of misissued certificates from Symantec, causing us to no longer have confidence in the certificate issuance policies and practices of Symantec over the past several years.”

To remedy the situation, Sleevi said that Chrome would reduce the length of time the browser trusts a Symantec-issued certificate and, over time, would require sites to replace old Symantec certificates with newer, trusted ones.

Sleevi said that Symantec’s behavior failed to meet the baseline requirements for a Certificate Authority, creating what he called “significant risk for Google Chrome users.” He added:

Symantec allowed at least four parties access to their infrastructure in a way to cause certificate issuance, did not sufficiently oversee these capabilities as required and expected, and when presented with evidence of these organizations’ failure to abide to the appropriate standard of care, failed to disclose such information in a timely manner or to identify the significance of the issues reported to them.

These issues, and the corresponding failure of appropriate oversight, spanned a period of several years, and were trivially identifiable from the information publicly available or that Symantec shared.

Chrome’s spat with Symantec stretches back over more than a year. In October 2015, Google discovered that Symantec has misissued certificates for Google itself and for Opera Software.

Symantec investigated the issue and claimed that all of the misissued certificates had been issued as part of routine testing. “Our investigation uncovered no evidence of malicious intent, nor harm to anyone,” Symantec said at the time.

Symantec pushed back on Google’s current allegations Friday, saying that Google had singled out Symantec and had exaggerated the number of misissued certificates leading to the problem in the first place.

“Google’s statements about our issuance practices and the scope of our past mis-issuances are exaggerated and misleading. For example, Google’s claim that we have mis-issued 30,000 SSL/TLS certificates is not true. In the event Google is referring to, 127 certificates — not 30,000 — were identified as mis-issued, and they resulted in no consumer harm,” Symantec wrote in a blog post. “While all major CAs have experienced SSL/TLS certificate mis-issuance events, Google has singled out the Symantec Certificate Authority in its proposal even though the mis-issuance event identified in Google’s blog post involved several CAs.”

Google’s Sleevi said in another post that Symantec partnered with other CAs — CrossCert (Korea Electronic Certificate Authority), Certisign Certificatadora Digital, Certsuperior S. de R. L. de C.V., and Certisur S.A. — that did not follow proper verification procedures, which led to the misissuance of 30,000 certificates.

“Symantec has acknowledged they were actively aware of this for at least one party, failed to disclose this to root programs, and did not sever the relationship with this party,” he wrote. “At least 30,000 certificates were issued by these parties, with no independent way to assess the compliance of these parties to the expected standards. Further, these certificates cannot be technically identified or distinguished from certificates where Symantec performed the validation role.”

 While Google and Symantec continue their fight — Symantec said it is “open to discussing the matter with Google in an effort to resolve the situation” — website owners that use Symantec to verify their HTTPS connections will need to start taking steps to ensure Chrome users can access their sites without getting hit with security warnings.

Symantec has severed ties with the four firms associated with the misissued certificates, so Chrome will trust new Symantec certificates going forward — site owners just need to swap out their old certificates for new ones.

Here’s the schedule, according to Sleevi:

To balance the compatibility risks versus the security risks, we propose a gradual distrust of all existing Symantec-issued certificates, requiring that they be replaced over time with new, fully revalidated certificates, compliant with the current Baseline Requirements. This will be accomplished by gradually decreasing the ‘maximum age’ of Symantec-issued certificates over a series of releases, distrusting certificates whose validity period (the difference of notBefore to notAfter) exceeds the specified maximum.

Symantec, for its part, seems hopeful that Google will back off and not require any changes at all. “We want to reassure our customers and all consumers that they can continue to trust Symantec SSL/TLS certificates. Symantec will vigorously defend the safe and productive use of the Internet, including minimizing any potential disruption caused by the proposal in Google’s blog post,” the company said.

Insta360 Air brings affordable, easy 360 photo and video to Android phones

You can share 360-degree video and images in more places than ever before, but how to capture that content in the first place? Insta360 has built a bit of a name for itself creating relatively inexpensive add-ons for the smartphone you already have that’d the ability to use those devices to record and broadcast in 360. The $129.99 Insta360 Air is the company’s Android device accessory, and it’s a very hand addition to your photographic toolkit in a small package.

The Insta360 Air is a small sphere with either a USB-C or micro USB connector, depending on which version you buy, which will depend on what kind of Android smartphone you’re using it with. I was pairing it with a Google Pixel XL, which means I was using the USB-C version. The connector is hardwired into the ball itself, so make this choice wisely: you’ll have to buy another Insta360 Air if you ever switch connectors with a new device in the future.

Sticking with a dedicated connector means that the Air can be very simple in its design, usability and construction, however. It’s a hard plastic ball, which feels very solid and relatively rugged, and it comes with a soft silicone sheath that protects the lens elements on the two camera the Air uses to stick together its 360-degree photo. It’s a clever design for a case that takes up almost no additional space in your bad, and that also protects the cameras from bumps or shocks in case of a drop. Plus, it encloses the USB extension that sticks out of the spherical camera body, ensuring this won’t bend or get snapped off.

 The ball itself works once you insert the USB connector into your phone. It’ll prompt you to install the app from the Google Play store if you haven’t, but otherwise it’ll launch the software. This will invert the orientation of the display on your phone, so that the camera is pointing the right way up when you’re looking at the image preview on the screen.

Taking photos or shooting video with the Insta360 Air is as easy as shooting either with your smartphone’s built-in camera. It takes some getting used to at first, since obviously you’re not focusing on the same things that you’d be aiming for when trying to get the “right” shot. Interesting elevation, either holding the phone up high or down low, seems to produce good results. You can also set the key or starting frame after the fact, so you don’t need to think that much about what you’re currently pointing the camera “towards.”

 Pictures are easy to share via various social networks, including Instagram, but they especially shine on Facebook. The native 360-degree support on the social network means your photos will instantly work in the FB feeds of your friends, letting them navigate around the image by moving their phone around when viewing on mobile.

Image quality is good, too, as you can see from the embedded images above. You start to see the limits of the resolution, which Insta 360 says is “3K,” when you do things like view them in immersive VR via Google Photos in Daydream, for instance – but for viewing on desktop and mobile via embeds lie those found in this article, there’s plenty of detail and the quality looks excellent, especially given how much software is at work behind-the-scenes stitching the 180-degree images from the two cameras together and making sure the image doesn’t look wonky.

 

In short, the Insta360 Air, like the iOS-focused Insta360 Nano before it, is a great option for affordable, portable capture of surround imagery and video. Unlike the Nano, it lacks a standalone battery and so can’t work without a smartphone, but it has a new power: using a flexible USB cable included within, it can be used with a computer for tethered live-streaming, eliminating battery concerns and platform issues you might run into with a smartphone.

Basically, it’s a tool that adds a lot of flexibility to your photographic arsenal, and it definitely earned a permanent spot in my camera bag.

The SEC and DOJ just dropped their inquiries into Hampton Creek

The SEC and the Department of Justice, which had launched preliminary inquiries into the vegan food company Hampton Creek last summer, have officially closed their inquiries, according to founder and CEO Josh Tetrick. He informed the company’s 160-plus employees of the status change this morning in an email that you can find below.

Tetrick called the news “the expected result by our leadership, board and investors.”

Not everyone was so confident in a positive outcome after a two-part Bloomberg investigation attracted the government agencies’ attention. At the heart of Bloomberg’s findings was that Hampton Creek had executed on a campaign to buy back mass quantities of its eggless mayo product to artificially inflate demand and, potentially, dupe investors.

In reaction, the company hired one of the Big Four accounting firms to examine Bloomberg’s claims, which the board has said it had no knowledge of until contacted by Bloomberg’s reporters last fall.

A source close to the board told us at the time that if Tetrick and other managers were discovered to have been “buying back mayo solely for the purpose of juicing the numbers,” the board would be “livid.”

Whether they’re now patting Tetrick on the back instead isn’t yet known. One of the company’s few board members didn’t respond to a request for comment earlier. A request for comment from Tetrick also went unanswered.

The SEC’s decision may not come as a complete surprise to industry watchers. The commission is largely expected to spend less time focused on Silicon Valley under President Trump’s administration. In fact, his pick as SEC chair, Jay Clayton, told lawmakers during a nomination hearing yesterday he would like to pare back regulations on startups. (Former SEC  chair Mary Jo White felt rather differently about whether Silicon Valley needed more policing.)

But Hampton Creek has more to celebrate than the agencies’ decision. Perhaps even better news for the company are the conclusions of that Big Four accounting firm investigation, which were also just released.

What it found, says a source close to the investigation: that Hampton Creek ordered buybacks but that its related operations were far smaller than suggested in Bloomberg.

Here’s the discrepancy specifically: According to Bloomberg’s sources — which reportedly included a former accounting employee — Hampton Creek used several expense categories on its profit and loss statements to disguise buybacks, including one line item called “Inventory Consumed for Samples and Internal Testing.” Bloomberg further reported that over a five-month period in 2014, Hampton Creek expensed about $1.4 million under that category, compared with $1.9 million of net sales in the period. That’s almost 75 percent of net sales.

Per the newly released forensic review — which we’re told involved research into more than 60,000 transactions that included bank account data, transactions by current and former employees, and other legacy expense data — Hampton Creek expensed less than two percent of its net sales on buybacks over a much longer period that began in 2014 and ended the following year. The review also did not find evidence that  Hampton Creek had used several expense categories on its profit and loss statements to disguise buybacks.

 It’s worth noting that Hampton Creek has never denied buying back its own product from stores. Instead, it said last summer that the buybacks were partially for the purposes of quality control.

It’s also worth noting that Bloomberg’s sources consistently argued that this narrative is false, with some former contractors telling Bloomberg they were asked to impersonate teachers and caterers in calls to local stores to order more Just Mayo. They were also reportedly told they could discard product they purchased.

In the end, consumers will have to decide for themselves what to think. The same is true of investors, some of whom may decide that Hampton Creek has been treated unfairly, and some of whom may be harder to convince.

As investor Marc Andreessen tweeted last August in response to a Bloomberg report, “No comment on specific companies, but make no mistake: Buying your own product to inflate your reported revenue is fraud.”

 

Several months ago, some inaccurate reporting led to SEC and DOJ Inquiries. As of today, both agencies closed their inquiries with no finding of wrongdoing by our company or any of our team members. It was the expected result by our leadership, board, and investors.

We should all be proud of the great work we’ve done in the last few months, from the opening of 3 labs to significant new discoveries to passing incumbents at some of the biggest retailers in the world.