COVID-19 colliding over the globe has sent us all to safety in place, and tourism and travel are gradually beginning to recover. On the back of its own success, a firm dedicated to experiences such as museum visits, skydiving, and local culinary classes is announcing a round of growth financing today. Peek, which enables consumers to find and book experiences, a platform for businesses to book team building and other internal events, and tech for tourism companies to digitize, manage, and run their own experience businesses online — “like a Shopify for experiences,” CEO and co-founder Ruzwana Bashir said — has raised $80 million. Peek’s management stated that with the funds, it will be able to expand its product, hire more employees, and take Peek to additional locations. After surpassing $2 billion in bookings from roughly 35 million consumers, mostly in North America, it plans to use the cash to continue growing its product.
The Series C, which was led by WestCap — the investment firm created by another important player in the field of travel, Laurence Tosi, former CFO of Airbnb – is notable for who is backing it. Goldman Sachs Asset Management, a new investor, has also joined the round. 3L, Cathay Innovation, I2BF Global Ventures, Manta Ray, and Apeiron are among the other notable participants. Jack Dorsey, Eric Schmidt, and Kayak creator Paul English are only three of the high-profile individuals who have previously backed it.
Peek, a San Francisco-based startup that lets you take polls via text message, declined to reveal its value. “We’ve grown the company significantly and are now profitable for the first time this year,” Bashir revealed to us. Peek has raised more than $100 million in the last ten years.
“Now that we are resuming investing, we are entering investment mode,” she continued. To summarize my previous comments, this round was originally supposed to be a $60 million investment, but it increased by $20 million just days ago, which reflects the level of confidence investors have in the travel and tourism industry.
Last year, when the Traveler’s Company was trying to figure out how to weather the longest storm in its history, many firms were regrouping and attempting to determine how they would continue operating during what had become a very long siege. Many of them had anticipated that the pandemic would have disappeared by the summer of 2020, and that a wave of enthusiastic activity in the warmer months would have followed. GetYourGuide, one of the world’s most well-funded travel experience businesses — valued at over $1 billion just six months before COVID-19 began — had to raise a large convertible note and then a big credit facility as it strengthened its business as the epidemic wore on.
Peek was not unscathed, either. “It was quite frightening for us when COVID-19 happened. We were getting better and then bookings crashed all of a sudden,” said Bashir, who co-founded the firm with Oskar Bruening. “We then did all of the unpleasant tasks,” Peek explains. To assist it get through the downturn, Peek cut 30% of its employees.
Peek also launched an offensive, considering how it might improve its customers on both sides of the company. End users were a big focus for the business, as it doubled down on virtual encounters (for example, online culinary lessons) and reimagined and expanded who “customers” might be by offering corporate and internal event reservations.
But the firm’s real key, it appears, was how it changed its approach to working with experience suppliers, allowing them to obtain their own emergency cash and giving them the tools to operate within the “new normal” by encouraging them to focus more on local activities for locals rather than tourists; as well as supplying them with better software and functionality so they may run those enterprises.
“We are the operating system for those merchants,” Bashir added.
It was the right decision: it meant that as those firms grew in sales, Peek prospered as well, during the epidemic. Voucher software currently accounts for “the majority” of Peek’s business, according to Gorman-Ross, though that could change in the near future as consumer travel begins to rebound and brings more activity to Peek’s own marketplace.
“There’s a lot of potential, $1 trillion in gross merchandise value, and yet many firms have not taken the step online,” Bruening stated. Customers were previously using pen, paper, phone calls, and managing spreadsheets, Bashir explained. “But now you can’t connect with them before you connect.”
Peek provides activities ranging from wine tours and watersports to skydiving and art lessons, while Pro, as the B2B2C product is known, offers tech that allows for online bookings, point-of-sale services, and “hundreds” of automations in areas such as inventory management, dynamic pricing, waivers, and marketing analytics. According to Peek, it has “thousands” of customers, including the Museum of Ice Cream, Color Factory, Artechouse (experiential art venues), and Pennekamp State Park.
Some of those companies, without a doubt, target younger customers and were thus probably already quite digitally literate to begin with, but Bashir feels that Peek’s success in creating B2B2C technology for experience firms is part of the wider trend in the business software industry.
“People underestimate what occurred offline. There was a significant advancement in e-commerce,” she said of the traditional tale about how COVID-19 impacted firms that were already online. Offline vendors, on the other hand, were compelled to make what she describes as a “10-year leap” in order to catch up. Peek is part of a battalion of technology firms that have rushed to fill the gap for various other purposes, such as developing software for restaurants or logistics or curbside pickup for brick-and-mortar stores.
“We’ve been early adopters and investors in travel technology firms, and for years we’ve been watching Peek.com,” said Tosi of WestCap. “Ruzwana Bashir is a dynamic leader who has taken Peek.com from being a niche site to serving millions of people. This is a game-changing idea that will allow more visitors and locals to have meaningful experiences while also allowing activity businesses to flourish.”
Vinco Ventures Co-CEO Ted Farnsworth Sets The Record Straight On ‘Hostile Takeover,’ Sends Message To Shareholders
*This interview has been condensed for clarity*
Recently-appointed Vinco Ventures co-CEO Ted Farnsworth apologized today to shareholders after “rogue” independent director John Colucci accused the veteran executive of planning a hostile takeover and made a series of false statements in an unauthorized company press release.
Farnsworth via his ZASH Global Media and Entertainment Company created ZVV Media Partners, a joint venture between Zash and Vinco Ventures, and delivered the joint venture’s most prized assets. ZVV Media Partners acquired AdRizer, a leading ad-tech publisher and analytics solution with a focus on revenue attribution, and Lomotif, the rapidly-growing video platform rivaling Tik Tok.
Unhappy with the delays in finalizing the joint venture (Farnsworth feels the independent directors were “dragging their feet”), the 60-year-old financier and entrepreneur was nominated to the role of co-Chief Executive Officer to “shepherd” through the close.
A July 22 8K (SEC EDGAR) filings confirmed Farnsworth was elected as co-CEO of Vinco, Lisa King was elected as President of ZVV, which holds prized assets of ZASH, Lomotif, and AdRizer, and Colucci was voted to step down as an independent director.
On this day, Vinco (BBIG) was trading at $1.10. But now, after Colucci saw the appointment differently and accused Farnsworth of masterminding a so-called hostile takeover, shareholders have seen the stock price implode hitting a 52-week low (0.79) at the close of trading on July 26 (down -55.25% year-to-date).
In an unauthorized company press release issued by Colucci, it claimed a number of executive level officers were fired and made erroneous statements about the company’s finances.
Breaking his silence on the matter, Farnsworth told Feed Layer in an interview: “First of all, let me apologize to the shareholders of Vinco Ventures. I mean, it looks like a circus is going on here.
“This deal has been out there for a year and a half, and I believe the Vinco shareholders have a right to know what’s going on. The delay is just too long.”
According to Farnsworth, Colucci — a 42-year-old with seemingly no public company experience — joined the Vinco board as an independent director to explain data to the other board members. He started in the role around six weeks ago and approximately two weeks in, the board hired one of the top independent legal firms to investigate Colucci’s independence.
“We hired one of the top firms in the country and they came back with serious reservations,” Farnsworth said, claiming Colucci refused to cooperate fully with the independent counsel and so was marked by the law firm as a “negative inference,” and they did not believe he was independent.
“Our corporate counsel sent out a letter to the company saying Colucci needed to step down as independent director immediately because we believe he doesn’t qualify as an independent,” Farnsworth continued, adding he believes Colucci did not disclose certain third-party transactions.
“It’s about the disclosure. The bottom line is it was a lack of disclosure so when our lawyers said to have him step down as independent director and take an administrative leave of absence, instead, he authorizes a press release without required company approvals.
“People might say Colucci can be a very charming guy and I would agree, but smart people see right through that.”
Farnsworth admits he was concerned by Colucci’s disturbing behavior in the build up to the public smear against him, and says he thinks Colucci’s lack of experience in the complex world of public companies, rules of NASDAQ, SEC regulations and laws, is behind the sudden coup attempt.
“Fast-forward to where we are today, John Colucci is not qualified to be an independent director. Especially if he’s claiming to be CEO. He’s sitting here just blocking the company right now from getting work done and damaging shareholder value for the shareholders of Vinco Ventures,” Farnsworth said.
“Then he comes out with this accusation of a ‘thwarted hostile takeover from the Farnsworth Group.’ Well, if you know Wall Street, a hostile takeover is when they come in to buy your company and management doesn’t want you in there. This deal has been out there for a year and a half and it can’t be hostile because I was the one who raised the money and brought in all the assets – Lomotif, AdRizer, etc. – and closed on these. So there’s no way that’s hostile.”
Farnsworth said employees of Vinco started a petition about refusing to work with Colucci.
“The only ones that are suffering here are the Vinco shareholders. That’s really troubling to me where they have a right to know what we’re doing, how it’s going to happen, how we’re closing. I can tell you certain documents have been with the independent directors for the last several months to close these things out. It’s just a game they’re playing and now I’m calling them out on it because the company is owned by the shareholders. It’s not owned by John Colucci.
“When you look at it, it’s really him doing a hostile takeover. This is all about his ego and it really is a power grab.”
In response to the unauthorized press release that Vinco immediately took it down from its investor relations website, Farnsworth said: “John Colucci has run rogue. I’m still co-CEO as long as the shareholders will have me as co-CEO, I’ll be there. The chairman Rob Vanderbilt is still chairman of the company and as long as they keep him there and Lisa King, she’s still a director.”
“We are here for the Vinco shareholders supporting anything they stand for. If anything changes I’ll be the first one to tell them.”
The Real Deal on a Four-Day Workweek
For many people, it’s difficult to imagine a work week that doesn’t begin on Monday and end on Friday. For decades, millions of people across the world have built their week around Monday through Friday. However, as the pandemic continues to change Americans’ attitudes toward work, many are reconsidering how they may balance work and life.
After all of this research, I discovered that the concept of a five-day workweek was first proposed as early as the 1860s by many labor organizations in the United States seeking to pass legislation for an eight-hour working day. The Fair Labor Standards Act was amended in 1938 to limit the workweek to 40 hours per week, which resulted in the Monday through Friday, five-day work week that is well known today, according to Business Insider.
Despite the passage of this law, many individuals are still compelled to work more than 40 hours per week. According to a Gallup poll conducted in 2014, the typical salaried employee put in around 49 hours each week. Furthermore, according to Vox, workers are still clocking more than 40 hours per week even during the COVID-19 epidemic. Many people feel that achieving a work-life balance is difficult because they are either working from home or doing a hybrid arrangement that includes both in-office and at-home work.
A four-hour workweek might be in your future
In the previous decade, businesses and nations all over the world have started to reconsider the five-day workweek. More than 2,500 Icelandic employees were involved in a research in 2015 and 2019 that introduced them to a four-day workweek rather than the usual five-day week. The study’s findings suggested that those who took part in it reported feeling less stress and a better work-life balance, while their employers claimed that their productivity remained the same or improved. Many other countries around the world, such as New Zealand, Singapore, and Spain, subsequently looked into mandating a four-day workweek as a result of these studies. According to The Guardian, several American businesses, including Bolt Electric and Panasonic Electronics, are already adopting the four-day workweek. Microsoft, which offers a four-day workweek for its workers in Japan, states that the four-day workweek has boosted output by 40%.
Although many individuals tout the advantages of switching to a four-day week in place of a five-day one, the United States government has yet to push through any legislation establishing such a schedule in the country.But this may soon change, as more effort is put into protecting employee rights. The Great Resignation, which has seen millions of Americans leave their jobs in the past year, and the current movement for worker rights that has necessitated wage increases in many states have the potential to push forward further workplace reform in the near future, according to Vox.
The Best Valentine’s Day Gifts for Every Stage of Your Relationship, According to a Matchmaker
Rori Sassoon, a celebrity matchmaker and relationship expert, reveals the ideal Valentine’s Day presents for every stage of your love affair.
Valentine’s Day might be a significant event, especially if you’re new to each other. If you’re stumped as to what to get your lover this year, we’ve got you covered. Rori Sassoon, a celebrity matchmaker, offered us her top V-Day present ideas and you’ll want to check them out.
“When shopping for a Valentine’s Day gift, keep in mind that the gift is as big of a deal as your partner places on gift giving,” Rori shared. “Maybe they’re a fan of quality time over a luxury gift. Take that gesture of love and perhaps put it toward a shared experience. Most importantly, while you might strive to be the ultimate gift giver, stay within your means. If you have anxiety about being able to afford something over budget, rethink how you can find a similar item at a price point you’re comfortable with.”
Choosing the ideal present for your spouse on Valentine’s Day may be a difficult task, depending on where you are in your relationship. After all, if you’re just getting acquainted with someone, the presents you give won’t be at the same level as they’d be after a year.
Rori offered some advice on the finest types of presents to get your partner for each stage of your relationship, and we compiled a list of pointers to assist you get started.
It is good to note to learn your partners love language to help know what is the best gift to give to your partner.
Just Started Dating
When you’re starting to date someone around Valentine’s Day, you want to make a point of demonstrating that you care without being too cheesy (if that’s the case). Give them a card and a trifle. You’re indicating that you’d like to continue seeing them without unintentionally making them feel overwhelmed. Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day. However, keep in mind that there’s no need to be excessive—you’re just getting to know this individual.
We’re Not Really Strangers Card Game – 100% Realism Expansion Pack
This 50-card expansion pack for the wildly popular We’re Not Really Strangers Card Game was created for first dates to the “What are we?” phase of the relationship. It comes with all kinds of questions you’ve been dying to ask like “When’s the last time you ghosted someone and why?” and “What was the first thing you you noticed about me when we met in person?” It’s a great way to get to know your new love interest.
You Be My Valentine Pop-Up Card from YouBeBeloved is a lovely expression of love.
Lovepop has a variety of fun pop-up Valentine’s Day cards that are perfect for newly dating couples like this “Whale you be my Valentine?” card. All the options are really fun and colorful. You’ll definitely put a smile on their face.
We’ll See Where This Goes – Casually Dating
If you’re in a relationship or anything more casual, avoid wrapping gifts. Instead, create the ambiance for a raunchy night — lingerie, candles, romantic music, and maybe a sex toy or two. On this lovey-dovey day, capitalize on your physical attraction to each other. There’s no need to spend a lot of money on someone you don’t know if there’s going to be a long-term connection with. Have fun!
Tease Or Tumble Tower Game
The Tease Or Tumble Tower Game, which is simply a more grown-up version of the same thing, may be played by adults. Each brick has a hot question or activity such as “Remove an article of clothing” or “Massage your spouse for one minute.”
Box Of Dares
This box of challenges was created for couples at all stages and is especially enjoyable for individuals in a “where do we go from here” scenario. It includes 100 cards with dares that range from flirty to erotic, along with a box of 100 stickers.
Dating for at Least Six Months
When you’ve been dating someone for six months, it’s rather obvious that you care about each other. You want to give a gift that demonstrates the kind of giver you are. Gift-giving is one of love languages, and you should attempt to combine equal measures of sexy, fun, and thoughtful into your present. Regardless of the item, keep quality first! Consider a private spa trip or a concert at six months. Shared events will just bring you closer together.
Amorous Arcana: Valentine’s Tarot Lesson & Reading
What’s in store for your relationship in the future? Let the cards be your guide. This Valentine’s Day tarot lesson and reading will stay with you and your spouse forever. You’ll have the opportunity to do a tarot reading while Holly, the instructor and reader, assists you in interpreting the cards. If you already have a tarot deck, the procedure alone costs $25. If you don’t have one, a package including a deck and guidebook can be purchased for $50.
Tickets to a Concert or Event
If you want to give them something they’ll like, get them a ticket to a game, concert, or other event. It will be a shared experience that both of you can enjoy.
Committed for at Least One Year
If you’ve been with someone for a year, there’s always that lovely bright ring to it. You’re likely in love, and you see a hopeful future together. Purchase an outfit together for Valentine’s Day on a shopping trip. If you have a partner who is clueless about fashion, assist them in finding some trendy shoes or a designer belt.
Custom Couple’s Sweatshirts with Embroidered Roman Numeral Date and Initials
If you’re looking for a fun Valentine’s Day present for your significant other, consider getting them a pair of matching sweatshirts from Etsy. You may personalize it to include your initials, a date, and a heart. The New Bedtime Storybook by Leachco has a selection of colors ranging from black to white, light pink, navy, and gold. It’s a must-have for couples that have been together for at least one year.
Vertical and Horizontal Spotify Code Couples Necklace
What’s the song that holds a special meaning for you and your significant other? This personalized Spotify code necklace will always keep it close to your heart. The two necklaces are made of copper, and they’re ideal for keeping your favorite song on repeat. They’ll contain the Spotify code to your song so you can quickly scan and play whenever you want. You have the option of receiving them in rose, gold, or silver.
When you’re in a long-term relationship, you’ve celebrated many Valentine’s Day occasions. You know what your partner wants at this point. If your partner likes jewelry, add something to their collection. If your partner can’t say no to a watch, give it to them. Regardless of the price tag on the present, make sure to include a thoughtful note. Words of encouragement might be the most appealing turn-on. Your fire never has to go out!
Personalized Dinner Spinner Date Night Idea Board
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where it takes hours to figure out what to eat because one spouse is unable to make up his or her mind while the other is great with “whatever”? The Etsy-made personalized dinner spinner board can assist you with this. It’s completely alterable, and you can pick your own names and favorite restaurants. You’ll be wondering why you didn’t get it sooner once you have this!
Personalized Ticket To Love Box
If you enjoy the concept of love coupons, this outstanding personalized ticket box takes it to a new level. You may pick from 40 ticket themes ranging from “Free Back Rub” to “clothing-optional adventures,” and the box can be personalized with your partner’s name. It’s both amusing and distinctive.
The ideas are endless, but really the key is the more thoughtful the gift the better. As well as a gift that makes your partner feel like you really know them. Getting them a gift that is simple that you know is something related to what they like can be the meaningful.