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Startup, Leap, is using AI to ensure tech job seekers get that interview

(BUSINESS NEWS) Two ex-googlers have created Leap and are using AI to make sure that techies are getting interviews.

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bureau workey leap hiring culture, bias, job interview, job offer, elevator pitch

Hiring is a hard job

You are looking for that ideal job. Conversely, you may be looking for the ideal candidate for an important vacancy.

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LinkedIn, now under Microsoft, has become the default go-to resource. That status will soon face challenges from ambitious competitors.

Take a leap

Leap.ai, founded by two former Google executives, are making a bold claim: the LinkedIn model, a ubiquitous presence, can still be cumbersome. Looking to upend the antiquated “text crawler” methods that many HR departments use, they are promising a better way to match up candidates and employers— groundbreaking AI powered bots that will weigh candidate’s qualitative markers as efficiently as quantitative ones.

The result—an automated ideal match based on comprehensive aptitude and attitude variables, hitherto unheard of.

CEO Richard Liu was quoted saying, “We learned that hiring is hard. Your ability to learn, collaborate or take initiative are strong characteristics, but it is hard to get a feel for them from an interview”.

Users can sign up on the website or iOS app.

An algorithm matches candidate’s hiring criteria with available jobs, based on candidate profiles, which includes sections on self-assessment, personal values, and job preferences. “We not only send the user’s resume, but also an endorsement that explains why the candidate is a great fit for the company and role,” said Liu.

If successful, such development promises to revolutionize job hunting, significantly cutting down on hiring timeline, resources expended and the need for HR intermediaries eliminated.

But for now, the startup is only focusing on tech jobs.

Artificial Intelligence, artificial success?

Will AI powered data fare any better? Especially, when the suggestion was compiled based on data gathered from job seekers and employers? As such, the matchup is not unlike what dating apps promise—a high degree of relatability.

Future profitability will provide a more direct answer.

In its current model, the new startup makes money only when it facilitates a hire. Although the company is yet to announce profits, at least 70 per cent of their “matches” have passed the first rounds of interview.

Is that rate much higher than what LinkedIn achieves? That data seems to be missing, perhaps because the specific metrics are not being tracked.

Candidate matches are focused on five cities at present—Austin, Silicon Valley, Boulder and New York. However, since there is a lot of demand amongst Asian companies to re-acquire talents back from the America, Leap.ai has plans to expand globally. Interestingly, ZhenFund of China, a major Asian tech VC, has been the leading investor in the company.

“We’re actively seeking opportunities in China [but] we want to make sure we are well established in the U.S. before moving into China,” Liu said. “We’ve set our targets for the U.S., China and India from day one.”

The underdog

Founded under two years ago, the company has only 10 staff (half of whom were hired via their service). Their small size, however, is not stopping the startup from dreaming big. They want to build a mentorship opportunity— guiding young employees through career goals with helpful AI powered data.

Exactly how that goal would be realized remains unclear at this stage.

For now, despite boasting 50 customers including Dropbox, Uber or Chinese companies like Baidu and Didi, the company would require more seed money to become competitive.

It is perhaps ironic that the best place to get a quick background on the founders of the startup that is daring to challenge Linkedin, is in fact, Linkedin.

#Leap

Barnil is a Staff Writer at The American Genius. With a Master's Degree in International Relations, Barnil is a Research Assistant at UT, Austin. When he hikes, he falls. When he swims, he sinks. When he drives, others honk. But when he writes, people read.

Business News

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.

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Package delivery people holding deliveries. Refund instead of returns are common now.

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.

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Business News

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.

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Google complex with human sized chessboard, where a labor union has been formed.

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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Business News

Ticketmaster caught red-handed hacking, hit with major fines

(BUSINESS NEWS) Ticketmaster has agreed to pay $10 million to resolve criminal charges after hacking into a competitor’s network specifically to sabotage.

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Person open on hacking computer screen, typing on keyboard.

Live Nation’s Ticketmaster agreed to pay $10 million to resolve criminal charges after admitting to hacking into a competitor’s network and scheming to “choke off” the ticket seller company and “cut [victim company] off at the knees”.

Ticketmaster admitted hiring former employee, Stephen Mead, from startup rival CrowdSurge (which merged with Songkick) in 2013. In 2012, Mead signed a separation agreement to keep his previous company’s information confidential. When he joined Live Nation, Mead provided that confidential information to the former head of the Artist Services division, Zeeshan Zaidi, and other Ticketmaster employees. The hacking information shared with the company included usernames, passwords, data analytics, and other insider secrets.

“When employees walk out of one company and into another, it’s illegal for them to take proprietary information with them. Ticketmaster used stolen information to gain an advantage over its competition, and then promoted the employees who broke the law. This investigation is a perfect example of why these laws exist – to protect consumers from being cheated in what should be a fair market place,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Sweeney.

In January 2014, Mead gave a Ticketmaster executive multiple sets of login information to Toolboxes, the competitor’s password-protected app that provides real-time data about tickets sold through the company. Later, at an Artists Services Summit, Mead logged into a Toolbox and demonstrated the product to Live Nation and Ticketmaster employees. Information collected from the Toolboxes were used to “benchmark” Ticketmaster’s offerings against the competitor.

“Ticketmaster employees repeatedly – and illegally – accessed a competitor’s computers without authorization using stolen passwords to unlawfully collect business intelligence,” said Acting U.S. Attorney DuCharme in a statement. “Further, Ticketmaster’s employees brazenly held a division-wide ‘summit’ at which the stolen passwords were used to access the victim company’s computers, as if that were an appropriate business tactic.”

The hacking violations were first reported in 2017 when CrowdSurge sued Live Nation for antitrust violations. A spokesperson told The Verge, “Ticketmaster terminated both Zaidi and Mead in 2017, after their conduct came to light. Their actions violated our corporate policies and were inconsistent with our values. We are pleased that this matter is now resolved.”

To resolve the case, Ticketmaster will pay a $10 million criminal penalty, create a compliance and ethics program, and report to the United States Attorney’s Office annually during a three-year term. If the agreement is breached, Ticketmaster will be charged with: “One count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusions, one count of computer intrusion for commercial advantage, one count of computer intrusion in furtherance of fraud, one count of wire fraud conspiracy and one count of wire fraud.”

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