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Famed digital media pioneers join forces to launch Brain+Trust Partners

(BUSINESS NEWS) What happens when five industry pioneers finally merge their expertise and experience to form a company? Brain+Trust Partners, that’s what.

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Five heavyweights join forces

After moving far beyond their initial industry fame to lead massive teams and companies across America, five digital media pioneers (that anyone in tech, marketing, or communications can name) have come together to form Brain+Trust Partners.

“Five years ago, there were roughly 500 [marketing technology] tools on the market, and now there are over 5,000,” said partner Tim Hayden. “It has become tough to believe the 55 emails a day that business leaders get, proclaiming there’s a better conversion tool, a better social listening tool.”

That’s the crux of Brain+Trust, “to come in as a common sense, experienced partner for a build-to-buy strategy, to offer strategic guidance and insight” to companies and executives inundated by the noise of the onslaught of promises the tech industry offers.

You know the five founders:

The five partners are all names you know for their work at Ford, GM, the US Missile Defense Agency, Comcast, Zignal, IBM, Edelman, Voce, and their many industry-altering efforts that have landed them in college textbooks and countless case studies (in alphabetical order):

Hayden tells us that all of the partners have learned from the front lines, noting that the corporate world is changing – Walmart acquired Jet.com, Unilever acquired Dollar Shave Club, Starbucks developed their own payment system prior to partnering with Square. Brands are “making economic moves in acquiring proven technologies instead of building them [in-house].”

And that’s where we predict Brain+Trust Partners’ sweet spot will be. They’re experts on all corners of the process and have experienced the ups and downs of the market.

Hayden says they’re a “light solution to standard consulting partners,” as their focus is strategy as they “vet vendors, tools, and agencies, reducing the cost of business with assured confidence.” Brands now have help in going to market and move forward with plans with more confidence. #CompetitiveAdvantage

“I’m thrilled to be part of Brain+Trust,” Barger opined, “because my partners are all brilliant thinkers who fit this mold; we share outlooks and approaches, and we have a similar desire to emphasize business results. When you find a cadre of colleagues who share your perspectives and priorities, AND you enjoy working with them and consider them friends, the sky’s the limit on what you can accomplish — for yourselves, and for your clients.”

Why headquartered in Austin?

If you note in the list above, the partners live all over the nation, but the company will call Austin home (as do we at The American Genius). But why?

Hayden noted six sensible reasons they’re headquartered in Austin:

  1. It’s business friendly. Hayden says they were advised by counsel that Texas is the most business friendly, from a taxation, court, and regulatory perspective. If they were seeking VC funds or going IPO, they would have considered other cities.
  2. Austin offers better access. If you’re in California and want to meet Tim Cook or Ross Perot, Hayden notes it might take six weeks if you’re able to get a meeting. In Austin if you’re an entrepreneur seeking to meet with Brett Hurt or Michael Dell, it could be this week. Austin is collaborative.
  3. Austin is the center of an “incredible engineering community,” supported by so many universities like the University of Texas, the Austin Community College system, Texas State, St. Edward’s University, Southwestern University, and even nearby Texas A&M.
  4. People stay. When Trilogy shipped in people from across the nation years ago, they stayed. When Dell brought in so many MBA folks, most stayed. Tivoli? They stayed.
  5. Austin has a burgeoning cottage industry – Whole Foods, Central Market, Sweet Leaf Tea, the list goes on.
  6. Logistics. “We’re in the middle of the country, and it’s only a 3.5 hour flight anywhere in the nation,” said Hayden.
  7. “Plus, it’s home,” asserts Hayden, who spent the last two years in the valley, keeping his home in Austin unoccupied and furnished for an eventual return. “Austin has the best of combined values, environment, and ecosystem for an organization that is about change and tackling the future with confidence.”

We’ll be watching for Brain+Trust Partners here in our own back yard to start their next professional chapter as a united front and be referenced in even more case studies and college textbooks.

#BrainTrust

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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Better.com CEO fires nearly 900 folks over Zoom, right before the holidays

(NEWS) Better.com CEO, Vishal Garg is no stranger to controversy, but now he emotionlessly laid off 900 employees, effective immediately, via Zoom.

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Better.com CEO Garg

The ironically named website, Better.com, is a mortgage originator with a 4 Billion dollar valuation. Better.com CEO, Vishal Garg is no stranger to controversy not only for alleged fraudulent activities at two previous business ventures and for allegedly misappropriating tens of millions of dollars, but also for the mistreatment of his employees. His now-infamous email, which was leaked by Forbes where he berated his staff, calling them “Dumb Dolphins” and claimed they were “embarrassing him”. One of his “most loyal lieutenants” had to be placed on administrative leave for, surprise-surprise, bullying.

Once again, Garg is making headlines for the mistreatment of his employees. He emotionlessly laid off 900 employees, effective immediately, via a Zoom call. Garg cites “stealing from co-workers and customers by only working two hours per week the as a reason for the mass lay off, claiming that some of his staff only worked two hours per week. What is important to remember, however, is that much of his staff are comprised of underwriters, who are capped at a certain number of files per day, and once they have completed those files, they cannot work again until the next day. This obviously means that “productivity” would look very different for underwriters as opposed to other members of staff.

He also laid off the entire diversity, equity, and inclusion recruiting team, showing what values are actually important to him, and apparently, it is not diversity and inclusion. He claims that Human Resources will be in touch with the recently laid off staff about severance, however, it is unclear what their severance packages will look like. To make matters worse this mass firing occurred just weeks before Christmas. Better.com recently became publicly traded and is prepping to end the year with more than a one BILLION dollar balance sheet.

To treat your employees so callously, and with no regard is totally unacceptable, and the common practice of treating your staff as commodities is becoming increasingly more intolerable. This behavior however is unfortunately not uncommon among CEOs, with an estimated 4%-12% of ALL CEOs exhibiting psychopathic traits, a statistic I was hesitant to believe prior to learning about Garg. And if you feel like you’ve been wrongfully terminated, check out our article to find the best next steps. 

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Business News

Toys R Us is coming back with a vengeance after a rough bankruptcy

(NEWS) Toys R Us is opening their newest store complete with a 2-story slide and ice cream parlor, as well as an exclusive partnership with Macy’s.

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Toys R Us

Millennials rejoice!

Toys R Us is back and better than ever. The toy giant filed for bankruptcy in 2017, which resulted in many nostalgic adults lamenting the loss of their favorite childhood toy store. Not only is Toys R US opening up a new 20,000 square foot location inside New Jersey’s Dream Mall, which will boast a two-story slide and an ice cream parlor, they are also partnering with Macy’s to have products available in 400 stores across the United States, as well as maintaining their presence abroad and online.

This store will be the first Toys R Us owned by WHP Global, who bought a controlling stake this year, but also the only store in the United States. Between big box retailers and one-click ordering with practically instantaneous shipping, many brick-and-mortar retailers just can’t compete. If that wasn’t challenging enough, many businesses face ever-shifting consumer demands, a dragging economy, and a global pandemic, making maintaining brick and mortar stores and businesses, even large ones, incredibly difficult.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, many businesses including JC Penney, J. Crew, and Neiman Marcus have faced the same fate and had to declare bankruptcy. However, bankruptcy is rarely the end for many companies. For companies, bankruptcy can mean many things, from reorganization to liquidation, and in some cases other companies get an opportunity to purchase these businesses, meaning consumers may see their favorite businesses return. Other companies choose to completely eliminate their brick and mortar stores entirely and return solely online.

Many stores and businesses are shifting their offerings, creating limited-edition offerings, and going to great lengths to stay in hopes to compete and stay relevant. For example, PetSmart is targeting pet parents this holiday season by offering matching, customizable pet and human sweaters, and holiday pet portraits. In keeping with the “ugly” holiday sweater craze, Microsoft created and sold out a minesweeper “ugly” sweater. Proactiv, which is a famous skincare brand known for its acne healing effects, is rebranding as Alcheeme and is expanding its product lines to offer solutions to many common skincare issues, including eczema, rosacea. And the Container Store is partnering with vendors such as Circuit, The Home Edit, and Blueland. Their Chief Merchandising Officer, John Gehre, said “Sustainability and the support of small businesses are not only priorities for our company, but our customers, too.”

Businesses are attempting to keep up with the needs and interests of the consumer in many creative and well-researched ways during one of the most difficult times for businesses in history

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Business News

Tis the season for employment scams – here’s what to look out for

(BUSINESS NEWS) Desperate times call for desperate measures. Seasonal employment scams are back on the menu and here’s how you can avoid them.

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A serious man considers a clipboard in potential employment scams.

With the sheer amount of desperation surrounding the holidays, employment scams typically have a resurgence during this season. Thanks to the Better Business Bureau, there are some clear warning signs that can help you spot and avoid seasonal scams this year.

The typical crux of any employment scam revolves around a prospective employee’s willingness to pay for something upfront, be it training or some other kind of quasi-justifiable item (e.g., a uniform). However, other iterations of the scam actually involve an “employer” overpaying for something at the onset—albeit with a fake check—and then asking the recipient to wire “back” the extra money.

Either way, these scams can leave you jobless and with less money than you initially had, so here are some things for which you should watch out.

Firstly, employers shouldn’t ever charge you before hiring you. Some industries do require employees to make small purchases on their own dime (i.e., the aforementioned uniform), but payroll will usually deduct the cost of these materials from the employee’s first paycheck—not require payment upfront.

As a general rule, it’s probably best to avoid companies that charge you at all. Aramark, for example, is known for requiring employees to buy company clothes—and they’re no peach to work with. But desperate times may warrant an exception in this regard.

It’s also to your benefit to avoid postings that boast an “interview-free” experience. Put simply, no one is hiring sans an interview unless it’s nepotism or a scam. If you aren’t related to the poster, that doesn’t leave much up for interpretation. Similarly, advertising a large sum of money for disproportionately low amounts of work is a pretty big warning sign.

Finally, watch out for jobs that ask for a work sample before hiring. While this is common for internships, most entry-level positions and beyond aren’t going to require you to complete a project for free before determining whether or not you’re good for the job. At best, this is a tactic to get free work from you; at worst, your application information can be stolen.

It’s sad to think that people would stoop to the level of scamming others amidst the dumpster fire of a year it’s been, but if you avoid these red flags, you should be able to keep yourself safe during this holiday season.

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