Lee is the latest in a long line of crooked business execs that South Korea has failed to hold accountable — and his early release doesn’t bode well for the country’s global business reputation.
It started with Choi-gate
The scandal Lee was involved in, dubbed “Choi-gate,” unraveled back in late 2016, when Choi Soon-sil, a top advisor to ex-South Korean President Park Geun-hye, was accused of bribing businesses with favors in exchange for donations to a “nonprofit” foundation.
Lee — then Samsung’s heir apparent — was found guilty of “donating” more than $27m to Choi’s foundation (including a $900k horse and equestrian training for Choi’s daughter) in exchange for a sign-off on a big merger.
Too big for justice
Initially, Lee was handed a 5-year prison sentence — and for once, it seemed South Korea’s corrupt business leaders would finally have to face the music.
But alas, that was wishful thinking: yesterday, an appeals court reduced Lee’s sentence from 5 to 2.5 years, then, to the chagrin of protesters, suspended it altogether.
It’s a common tale in South Korea’s business landscape
South Korea’s economy is highly dependant on a group of family-run conglomerates, or “chaebol” (“wealth clique” in Korean).
The 10 biggest chaebol own more than a quarter of Korea’s business assets; Samsung, the largest smartphone maker in the world, is the crown jewel.
Corruption is rampant in the chaebol world, and over the years, many executives (including Lee’s father) have been tried in the courts for bribery. And, like Lee, the majority of these execs end up with suspended sentences, free to return to their businesses.
Lee will likely return to his post — and Samsung’ll keep on singin’.
Lee is free
We are living in the golden age of vape advertising, but for how long?
Over the past decade, vaping has been labeled as a “healthier alternative” to smoking cigarettes. And in the face of research that suggests otherwise, vape companies have adopted marketing strategies reminiscent of big cigarette companies of the ’60s.
E-cig companies — and a e-cig “influencers” — are taking advantage of lax online ad regulations by inserting sneaky native ads that fly under the radar on platforms like YouTube.
DonnySmokes is the new Marlboro Man
Yesterday, Vice published an article about a lanky 21-year-old who, under the YouTube moniker “DonnySmokes,” posts reviews of e-cigs and reels in 3m monthly views from 120k subscribers.
E-cig brands pay DonnySmokes a substantial flat fee for a review in the hopes of reaching their target audience.
This kind of subversive marketing is part of a much wider net cast by the vaping industry: in 2014, e-cig companies spent $115m on ads, and by 2014, about ⅔ of teens in the US had seen one.
A new frontier
Back in the ’60s, brands like Marlboro and Camel used TV ads and the “cool factor” to hook young people on cigarettes. But by 1971, cig ads were banned on television — and today, these companies operate under strict marketing regulations.
In the (relatively) new frontier of the internet, e-cig companies are taking similar liberties, with less restrictions.
Couched in topics like “how to hide your JUUL from your parents,” DonnySmokes’ ads are often not marked as sponsored, and are aimed at a very young crowd who might have trouble distinguishing between a native ad and a genuine review.
Infarm raises $25m to bring fresh produce to cities across Europe
“Urban-farming” company Infarm has raised a $25m Series A led by the London-based VC firm Balderton Capital to let grocery stores grow their own produce.
The round of funding brings the Berlin-based startup’s funding to a total $35m, including a $2.5m grant from the European Commission as part of the Horizon 2020 program — the EU’s largest research and innovation initiative.
“It’s my kale in a box”
Founded in 2013, Infarm created an “indoor vertical farming” system that can grow a plethora of vegetables like herbs and lettuce, as well as fruit, in small, modular greenhouses.
Once grown, the mobile farming units are then placed in city locations like grocery stores, restaurants, shopping malls, and schools, allowing the customer to literally pick their own produce.
But, the setup isn’t just the ultimate gimmick for uber-organic, “pick-your-own” melonheads, according to Infarm, it’s about “disrupting the highly wasteful and inefficient produce supply chain as a whole.”
They’re picking up steam
The company now has more than 50 farms up and running, including locations in 2 of Germany’s largest supermarket chains.
According to the company, their new capital will help them expand into Paris, London, and Copenhagen, as well as other German locations later in the year.
Early employees of Facebook and Google band together to ‘fight’ their creations
A group of high-profile Silicon Valley investors and early employees of Facebook and Google have formed a coalition to battle tech addiction and hold big tech companies accountable for their impact on our psyches — after “profiting enormously” from them, of course.
The group, called the Center for Humane Technology, will lobby for anti-tech addiction legislation and launch an ad campaign titled “The Truth About Tech” to 55k public US schools.
Among those leading the CHT charge are Tristan Harris, a former ethicist at Google, Justin Rosenstein, the inventor of Facebook’s “like” button, and Roger McNamee, an early Facebook investor.
Big tech is having an identity crisis
First it was Mark Zuckerberg’s vision quest across America, followed by sweeping algorithm changes to fight fake news.
Then it was Apple’s investors, Facebook co-creator Sean Parker, and most recently Tim Cook taking a stand against tech addiction.
Cable providers like Comcast and DirecTV are capitalizing on not being child brain-melter #1 in the eyes of the public for once. They’re working with media watchdog group Common Sense Media to give the CHT $50m in free airtime for their campaign.
“Remember the good old days? You know, when we all plugged into the tube as a FAMILY?” — Cable TV
The 2 big ones I’ve used are Greenhouse and Lever, but there are thousands of others. And truthfully, they’re all super similar.
I love Lever most because of their Chrome extension. It lets you browse folks on LinkedIn, quickly add them to your job listing, and automatically email them. Makes outreach simple and fast.
The biggest downside to Lever is that they hide the pricing online. My god, I hate that. Pricing for us (~20 people) is around $400 a month — comparable to most others.
At the end of the day, the difference between the cheap and not cheap ways is convenience. Want to save at least per 10 minutes per job interview with auto scheduling, feedback, and follow up emails? Use Lever.
What other tools should I write about? Let me know in the comments here.
Soothe brings the talent straight to you, complete with tables, oils, and music (unless you want to play your own lovey dovey mix). It’s all the romance with no driving, no tight scheduling, no stress.