This could be as impactful as the discovery of penicillin
Why haven’t you heard of him? Because he’s dedicated to science, not sales. So, what do scientists and entrepreneurs have in common? They both dedicate their lives to making a difference, discovering ways to make the world operate more effectively. But there’s an important cultural distinction between the two: Entrepreneurs’ success is tied to dollars, while scientists’ success is tied to discovery.
Remember how penicillin altered history? We might be at that moment in history again, but with a “ketone ester” drink invented by Dr. Veech, that has insanely widespread uses. Imagine a drink that could treat Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, epilepsy, concussions, heart failure, all while helping elite endurance athletes break world records. Then, imagine that it’s a formula perfected over decades, but only now ready in an era where genetics is sexiest of sciences, so this liquid goes underfunded and underproduced. It seems too good to be true, but it’s not. It’s real.
Add to the issue of funding is an overly modest old scientist who said he would literally run if someone called him a hero for his work.
Next, toss in imitation products that use salt-filled caffeinated versions of Dr. Veech’s decades old, already discarded work and you might be left very confused. If a breakthrough sports drink and patient treatment exists, would anyone even believe it?
So what is this ketone ester?
Ketones are human’s back up fuel system that kicks in when humans starve, or at least run out of sugar. The body then burns fat to create an efficient ketone fuel. What many of the therapeutic uses (including Alzheimer’s) have in common is the brain’s blockage of the path to use sugar for energy, meanwhile ketones can bypass this blockage and simply fuels the brain.
Dr. Veech invented a way to bottle that fuel, in a fat-free and salt-free super FDA-approved concentrated food, not a drug. Ketosis is the metabolic state that uses ketones as a primary fuel source, but is mainly known by those that undergo an Atkin-like ketogenic high fat diet. This is drastically different because you get the benefits of ketones without the drawbacks of the high fat. Some call the fat-free version of ketosis, “Veetosis,” in honor of Dr. Veech, the doctor who holds the key to so many treatments.
The catch is that even though billions can be made from this invention, it is unbelievably expensive to make and there’s no funding for an older scientist that doesn’t schmooze. How expensive? For scientific purposes, labs can make a patented product, and for this exact ester they charge $60,000 per 25 mL serving, but with a newly discovered process and an investment, that could drop quickly to $20 a drink.
Absent a single investment, perhaps that can be done via the new world of crowdfunding (or rich, science-inclined geeky startup folks), so hopefully you’ll see Dr. Veech’s ketone ester on shelves sooner rather than later.
The path to the discovery has been long
Dr. Veech worked in 1966 with Dr. Cahill (the man that starved volunteers to prove the brain could run on ketones), and in 1969 under nobel laureate Dr. Krebs (if you took chemistry, you have definitely heard of the Krebs cycle). Dr Veech solved a problem which Krebs delegated to him. Krebs said he must be wrong, only to come back later to co-author the longest paper of Krebs’ career. It was the foundation for understanding why ketones work. Right now, our science geek readers get it – Dr Veech is a pretty big deal, and his work should be taken seriously.
Fast forward to 1995, Dr. Veech co-authored a breakthrough paper on how ketones change metabolism, and in 2000, a paper on Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and abolishing the effects of free radical damage.
In 2004, as part of a competition to find a new fuel for the special forces, the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), gave a handful of groups $2 million each per year. Only Dr Veech’s group, including Oxford University partner Dr. Kieran Clarke, was left standing. They earned $10 million of total funding, resulting in an FDA-approved food. Who would have guessed DARPA’s role in potentially treating millions of patients with this new food?
A modest scientist does not a salesman make
Even a simple Oxford-approved boxing study to demonstrate ketone ester’s benefits for concussions hasn’t been picked up. One would think a football team owner might want to donate to prove a treatment backed by science that may bring a $20 million a year quarterback that has been earholed, back onto the field a few games earlier. Not to mention, the league could limit the potential liability around debilitating diseases plaguing players decades later.
So the path to the discovery has been long, but anyone we spoke to that was aware of Dr. Veech’s work sung his praises. The challenge is that the older sharp-tongued doctor is hyper-focused on his work, isn’t interested in fame, noting that it is “unseemly for doctors to promote themselves,” and that it is “not part of the job.” Times have changed, and modesty has been replaced by self promotion, as the driver in today’s world of discoveries.
Ketone esters have had success with human testing
In endurance sports, the ketone ester has been proven in a lab to increase output by up to 2%. That can be the difference between a gold and not placing. When tested on 19 elite rowers, there were nine season’s bests, five personal bests and one world record. Only one did slightly worse than the placebo test.
Meanwhile, Dr. Mary Newport was trying to treat her husband with Alzheimer’s and discovered Dr. Veech’s work while digging around in his 20+ patents. She was the author of “Alzheimer’s Disease What If There Was a Cure, The Story of Ketones” about her coconut oil therapy that naturally releases ketones, which she said turned her husband’s “lights back on.” Hundreds have written to her claiming similar results. Ultimately, her husband received Dr. Veech’s ketone ester for a few years and Dr. Newport said it was 10x more effective than the coconut therapy.
Think about that for a minute. The lights came back on! Why is the world not freaking out with excitement!?
Another believer in ketones and Dr. Veech is William Curtis. He has had Parkinson’s for over 15 years, and despite being on the common cocktail of meds, he had tremors, severe muscle spasms, and sometimes stared at the computer screen for hours, nearly frozen. With a little biochem in undergrad, he searched and came across Dr. Veech’s papers, emailed with the doctor, and sought alternative natural ways to raise his ketone levels (also referred to as D-bhb levels).
Dr. Veech told him that absent the availability of clinical trials with the ester, and as long as his primary care doctor approved, Curtis could try a high fat morning drink to increase his ketone levels. After some tweaks and fasting each night, Curtis says his results were stellar. He could concentrate for hours, spasm free, and was able to drive again. Dr. Veech has warned Curtis to watch his cholesterol and to stay on his meds. Curtis continues his routine today, shares his successes online, and plans to continue until the ketone ester is available in clinical trials.
This generation’s most significant medical discovery
The final problem is that scientists write papers and seek grants which don’t require a monetary return on investment; for many it’s just not in their nature to write a business plan and go to a bunch of pitch offs.
We believe that with billions being thrown at sciences like space travel, it seems that investors or Congress should be primed to pump a few dollars into a simple ester to treat a dozen common medical problems that impact all of us as individuals and is nearly bankrupting the country.
We will be following Dr. Veech’s progress (he even finally has his own website), and works as he blazes a path in the scientific community, and hopefully soon, the business community. It is our sincere hope that investors (both government, traditional, and non-traditional) “read the damn papers,” as Dr. Veech says, because we believe that he’s sitting on our generation’s equivalent of the discovery of penicillin. If not bigger.
UPDATE: Dr. Veech is now on Twitter so you can connect with him.
Office Depot still open to buyers – just not you, Staples
(BUSINESS NEWS) This isn’t the first time the office giants have tried to combine, but Office Depot has some particular conditions if Staples wants to acquire them.
In Staples’ third attempt to take over Office Depot, its acquisition offer was rejected by the ODP Corporation, Office Depot’s parent company. On January 11, Staples sent a letter to Office Depot’s board of directors offering to buy “100% of the issued and outstanding common stock” from its office-supply rival. At $40 per share, the deal to acquire Office Depot is over $2 billion.
“Staples believes that its all-cash transaction is a compelling value proposition for ODP’s stockholders that offers a high degree of certainty and is superior to the intrinsic, standalone value of ODP,” wrote Stefan Kaluzny, on behalf of the Board of Directors of USR Parent, Inc (Staples).
In response to Staples’ offer, the ODP corporation issued its own letter. “The Board has unanimously concluded that there is a more compelling path forward to create value for ODP and its shareholders than the potential transaction described in your proposal,” wrote ODP Chairman Joseph Vassalluzzo.
Although Office Depot refused Staples’ proposal, the company said it’s willing to make other alternative deals. “We are open to combining our retail and consumer-facing e-commerce operations with Staples under the right set of circumstances and on mutually acceptable terms,” wrote Vassalluzzo.
In the letter, Office Depot said it is willing to consider a joint venture where both companies “would equally share the risks and benefits.” The company would also consider a partial-sale of its retail and consumer-facing e-commerce operations.
If Staples is willing to come to either of those agreements, they will still require regulatory approval. But, Office Depot says their options offer a less “regulatory risk” by pursuing a retail-only transaction. And, will “help maintain competitiveness against nontraditional retailers and optimize ongoing choices for consumers.”
In 1997 and 2016, the Federal Trade Commission blocked the two companies from merging. Who’s to say it won’t happen again, even with the changes Office Depot is telling Staples to make in its offer.
“What we do not plan to do, however, is engage in a transaction that, as history has shown, would likely result in a prolonged and expensive regulatory review process with no guarantee of success, without a commitment that Staples is willing to bear this risk through a customary “hell or high water” provision,” wrote Vassaluzzo.
Until Staples is willing to come to an agreement with Office Depot that doesn’t include a full takeover, ODP’s answer is a firm “no”.
Big retailers are opting for refunds instead of returns
(BUSINESS NEWS) Due to increased shipping costs, big companies like Amazon and Walmart are opting to give out a refund rather than accepting small items returned.
The holidays are over, and now some people are ready to return an item that didn’t quite work out or wasn’t on their Christmas list. Whatever the reason, some retailers are giving customers a refund and letting them keep the product, too.
When Vancouver, Washington resident, Lorie Anderson, tried returning makeup from Target and batteries from Walmart she had purchased online, the retailers told her she could keep or donate the products. “They were inexpensive, and it wouldn’t make much financial sense to return them by mail,” said Ms. Anderson, 38. “It’s a hassle to pack up the box and drop it at the post office or UPS. This was one less thing I had to worry about.”
Amazon.com Inc., Walmart Inc., and other companies are changing the way they handle returns this year, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal (WSJ). The companies are using artificial intelligence (AI) to weigh the costs of processing physical returns versus just issuing a refund and having customers keep the item.
For instance, if it costs more to ship an inexpensive or larger item than it is to refund the purchase price, companies are giving customers a refund and telling them to keep the products also. Due to an increase in online shopping, it makes sense for companies to change how they manage returns.
Locus Robotics chief executive Rick Faulk told the Journal that the biggest expense when it comes to processing returns is shipping costs. “Returning to a store is significantly cheaper because the retailer can save the freight, which can run 15% to 20% of the cost,” Faulk said.
But, returning products to physical stores isn’t something a lot of people are wanting to do. According to the return processing firm Narvar, online returns increased by 70% in 2020. With people still hunkered down because of the pandemic, changing how to handle returns is a good thing for companies to consider to reduce shipping expenses.
While it might be nice to keep the makeup or batteries for free, don’t expect to return that new PS5 and get to keep it for free, too. According to WSJ, a Walmart spokesperson said the company lets someone keep a refunded item only if the company doesn’t plan on reselling it. And, besides taking the economic costs into consideration, the companies look at the customer’s purchase history as well.
Google workers have formed company’s first labor union
(BUSINESS NEWS) A number of Google employees have agreed to commit 1% of their salary to labor union dues to support employee activism and fight workplace discrimination.
On Monday morning, Google workers announced that they have formed a union with the support of the Communications Workers of America (CWA), the largest communications and media labor union in the U.S.
The new union, Alphabet Workers Union (AWU) was organized in secret for about a year and formed to support employee activism, and fight discrimination and unfairness in the workplace.
“From fighting the ‘real names’ policy, to opposing Project Maven, to protesting the egregious, multi-million dollar payouts that have been given to executives who’ve committed sexual harassment, we’ve seen first-hand that Alphabet responds when we act collectively. Our new union provides a sustainable structure to ensure that our shared values as Alphabet employees are respected even after the headlines fade,” stated Program Manager Nicki Anselmo in a press release.
AWU is the first union in the company’s history, and it is open to all employees and contractors at any Alphabet company in the United States and Canada. The cost of membership is 1% of an employee’s total compensation, and the money collected will be used to fund the union organization.
In a response to the announcement, Google’s Director of People Operations, Kara Silverstein, said, “We’ve always worked hard to create a supportive and rewarding workplace for our workforce. Of course, our employees have protected labor rights that we support. But as we’ve always done, we’ll continue engaging directly with all our employees.”
Unlike other labor unions, the AWU is considered a “Minority Union”. This means it doesn’t need formal recognition from the National Labor Relations Board. However, it also means Alphabet can’t be forced to meet the union’s demands until a majority of employees support it.
So far, the number of members in the union represents a very small portion of Google’s workforce, but it’s growing every day. When the news of the union was first announced on Monday, roughly 230 employees made up the union. Less than 24 hours later, there were 400 employees in the union, and now that number jumped to over 500 employees.
Unions among Silicon Valley’s tech giants are rare, but labor activism is slowly picking up speed, especially with more workers speaking out and organizing.
“The Alphabet Workers Union will be the structure that ensures Google workers can actively push for real changes at the company, from the kinds of contracts Google accepts to employee classification to wage and compensation issues. All issues relevant to Google as a workplace will be the purview of the union and its members,” stated the AWU in a press release.
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