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Tesla Motors: stocks plummet, but the innovations continue

Tesla’s products have always created buzzing excitement; so why has Tesla been plagued with financial difficulties and what can you learn from them?




Tesla Motors: a mixed bag of news

Tesla Motors has been making a lot of headlines lately with both its achievements as well as its losses. The electric car manufacturer, which produces an AC powered sports car and luxury sedan, will roll out the world’s first electric SUV later this year. The company is named for infamous visionary physicist, Nikola Tesla, whose 1882 AC motor design directly inspired Tesla Motor’s vehicles.

Tesla just released a video, via Twitter, of a prototype of its “snakebot autocharger” in action. This futuristic feature resembles a metal-plated robot snake that automatically senses when it’s charging point is nearby and gracefully slithers into place to begin charging the vehicle, even after you’ve wandered away from the garage.

A Tesla car recently got hacked

Around the same time, two researchers discovered how to hack Tesla’s Model S. Electric cars can’t be hot wired and stolen like regular vehicles, but their software can be hacked so that thieves could remotely start and stop the vehicle’s engine. The researchers discovered six major vulnerabilities in Tesla’s security systems.

Tesla immediately hired the researchers to help them resolve the problems, hired respected security expect Chris Evans to head the Tesla security team, and issued a downloadable software update to Model S owners to protect against hackers.

The company issues a security patch, moves on

Despite these weaknesses in security, Kevin Mahaffey of the research team that hacked the Model S, considers Tesla’s vehicle to be “the most secure car that we’ve seen.” The research team was impressed that Tesla was able to quickly and remotely send out a software update.

They say that modern smart cars need to be updated as or more often than a home PC, so being able to send out these updates over the air is a huge advantage.

They were also pleased to see that Tesla, unlike other manufacturers like Jeep, has thought ahead about the safety consequences of a potential hacking. If your Jeep gets hacked and your engine is cut off remotely while you’re driving, it’s likely they’ll be scraping you off the pavement. Tesla’s vehicles, on the other hand, if hacked, will go into neutral and the driver will still have control over the steering and brakes, allowing you to cruise to safety.

It took some time, but the company turned a profit

The sheer ingenuity of Tesla’s products has tech and automotive geeks excited, and yet Tesla Motors has been plagued with financial insecurities throughout its lifetime. The company was founded in 2003, yet didn’t turn a profit until ten years later.

In a recent announcement of its second quarter earnings for 2015, Musk admitted that they would not be able to reach their goal of disturbing 55,000 electric SUV’s this September, and would shoot for a more modest 5,000. Within minutes, Tesla’s stock dropped by eight percent.

Apparently the Model X, with its Back to the Future style fold-up doors, is perhaps the most challenging vehicle to build on the market today. The Model X shares an assembly line with the Model S at Tesla’s Fremont, California factory, and Musk thinks this might slow down their entire operation as they troubleshoot some of the finer points of building the first electric SUV.

Will they reach their profit goals this year?

Although the announcement that they’d be rolling out fewer Model X’s than expected scared some stockholders into selling, Tesla did have some good news to share, as they revealed better than expected second quarter earnings, with slightly more revenue generated and less net loss than analysts had predicted. What’s more, its new program to sell used electric cars generated an additional $20 million in profits. Industry analyst Cathie Wood says that “the fact that used Teslas were selling faster than they were coming in indicated the company might have a potential winning hand moving into the used car market.”

However, Tesla’s chief financial officer, Deepak Ahuja, said it would be too “close to call” as to whether or not they would reach their profit goals for the end of this year, and may need until the first quarter of 2016 to catch up.

Regardless, the innovations continue

Despite the company’s financial ups and downs, its CEO, Elon Musk, still has more than enough cash on hand to contribute to charitable causes he cares about such as – get this – protecting the world against a potential robot takeover. Early this year, Musk donated $10 million to the Future of Life Institute, a non-profit organization that researches “artificial intelligence safety.” The donation will be used by FLI to fund an open grants competition, and the organization is calling for proposals for new research and ideas around protecting humanity from the potential negative impacts of artificial intelligence.

In an interview, Musk explained that, when it comes to artificial intelligence, it is possible to imagine disaster situations in which “recovery of human civilization does not occur.” He argues that is time to invest in preventing such negative outcomes, rather than reacting to them after it’s too late.

Wise advice from the man behind the automatic snakebot, who will also be releasing an autopilot test program to select electric car drivers later this month. Soon Musk will be delivering cars that charge and drive themselves – but that doesn’t mean he trusts the robots not to take things too far.


Ellen Vessels, a Staff Writer at The American Genius, is respected for their wide range of work, with a focus on generational marketing and business trends. Ellen is also a performance artist when not writing, and has a passion for sustainability, social justice, and the arts.

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Business News

Corporate-franchise relationships: How has COVID affected them?

(BUSINESS NEWS) Being a part of a franchise has made sense for a long time for both the corporation and the franchisee, but the long stretch of COVID is adding complications.



A franchise cup on a wooden table.

Americans love a franchise. We love knowing that every Dunkin Donuts iced coffee will taste the same as it did 3 states away – and every McDonald’s snack wrap will meet our expectations.

Franchises rose in popularity after World War II, and the corporate-franchise relationship since has generally been a happy one – that is, until COVID-19.

What’s their relationship?

Franchises are easier to start than a small business from scratch. You receive a business playbook and brand loyalty from corporate – if the business at large is doing well, chances are your franchise will mirror that. No need for independent advertising!

From the franchises, corporate gets an upfront fee and ongoing royalties. (For a McDonalds franchise, that’s $45k and 4% of monthly gross sales, respectively.)

Basically, it’s win-win. Both parties are happy.

Pandemic strain

The pandemic has shrunk margins across most industries, and the chain hotels, restaurants and services have been hit hard. As a result, corporate is adding more costs for franchisees, such as big cleaning bills and promotional discounts to bring back some revenue during COVID.

However, with corporate still taking the same amount from the franchises every month, these newly instated policies threaten to drive some stores into the ground – and franchisees are fighting back.

“I get that franchising isn’t a democracy,” said a Subway franchisee, who objected to the unprofitable “2-Subs-for-$10” promotion that corporate was pushing for. “But at the same time, it’s not a dictatorship.”

What I see here is corporate greed at work; they need to keep their margins up in a sinking economy, so they’re looking to the pockets of their franchisees to make up for that lost dough.

The pandemic has not been easy on any business (with the exception, of course, of Amazon, Facebook, and Tesla, which is a whole other story). However, that’s the draw of being connected to corporate – you are tied to something bigger than your individual store, and will thus stay afloat as long as they do. It’s a big reason why many opt for starting a franchise as opposed to starting their own, independent small business.

I’m glad to see individuals fighting back against corporate policies that don’t benefit them. They held up their side of the bargain – let’s see if corporate can continue to hold up theirs.

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Business News

What to do if you think you have been wrongfully terminated

(BUSINESS NEWS) Being fired hurts, but especially if you were wrongfully terminated. Here is what you can do if you need to take action.



Stressed man staring at computer after being wrongfully terminated.

While there are plenty of ways an employer can legally fire an employee, there’s also a long list of unethical and illegal methods. If you suspect you’ve been wrongfully terminated from your job, it’s imperative that you fight back.

Common Signs of Wrongful Termination

Research shows that around 150,000 people are unjustly fired every year in the United States. That’s more than 410 people per day – roughly 17 people per hour. Here are some common signs that you’re a victim:

  • Violation of written rules or promises. The vast majority of employment is known as “at-will” employment. This means you may be fired at any time for any reason (so long as the reason is not illegal). However, if there’s a written statement or contract that implies job security, then you’re probably not an at-will employee. Review all of your employment documents to see what sort of language exists around the topic of termination.
  • Discrimination. It doesn’t matter if you’re an at-will employee or not, employers can never fire someone based on discrimination. It’s illegal – point blank, period. If you suspect you’ve been fired because of your color, race, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, disability, age, religion, or pregnancy, discrimination could be to blame.
  • Breach of good faith. Employers are known to breach good faith when they do things like mislead employees regarding their chances for promotions; fabricate reasons for firing; transfer or fire an employee to prevent the collection of sales commissions; and other similar situations.

Every situation is different, but these three signs are clear indicators that you have a potential wrongful termination claim. How you proceed will determine what happens next.

How to Respond to a Wrongful Termination

Emotions tend to run high when you’re fired from a job. Whether you loved the job or not, it’s totally normal to run a little hot under the collar upon being wrongfully terminated. But how you handle the first several hours and days will determine a lot about how this situation unfolds. Now is not the time to fly off the handle and say or do something you’ll regret. Instead, take a diplomatic response that includes steps like:

1. Gather Evidence

Wrongful termination cases are usually more complicated than they first appear on the surface. It’s important that you focus on gathering as much evidence as you possibly can. Any information or documentation you collect will increase your chances for a successful outcome. This may include emails, screenshots, written contracts and documentation, voicemails, text messages, and/or statements from coworkers.

On a related note, remember that your former employer will be doing the same thing (if a claim is brought). Be on your best behavior and don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Avoid venting to coworkers or firing off short, snappy emails to your former boss. As the saying goes, anything you say or do can and will be used against you.

2. Hire an Attorney

Don’t try to handle your wrongful termination case on your own. Hire an experienced lawyer who specializes in situations like yours. This will give you a much better chance of obtaining a successful outcome.

3. Get Legal Funding

If you’re like most victims of wrongful termination, you find yourself with no immediate source of income. This can make it difficult to pay your bills and stay financially solvent in the short term. An employment lawsuit loan could help bridge the gap.

As Upfit Legal Funding explains, “Wrongful termination lawsuit loans provide the necessary financial assistance they need to reach a settlement. This funding helps cover basic living costs until the plaintiff is able to get assistance from their settlement.”

The best thing about these loans is that you only have to repay them if there’s a successful outcome. In other words, if the claim gets thrown out or denied, you owe nothing.

4. File the Proper Paperwork

Work closely with your attorney to make sure that your complaints and claims are filed with the appropriate regulatory agencies (and that you meet the required deadlines). Depending on the type of claim, there are different groups that oversee the complaint and can help you move in the proper direction.

Adding it All Up

Getting fired is serious business. And while there are plenty of legal reasons for being terminated from a job, it’s worth exploring what’s actually going on behind the scenes. If it’s found that your employer stepped out of line, you’ll be compensated in an appropriate manner. This won’t typically help you get your job back, but it can provide some financial rectification.

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Business News

Everyone should have an interview escape plan

(BUSINESS NEWS) A job interview should be a place to ask about qualifications but sometimes things can go south – here’s how to escape when they do.



interview from hell

“So, why did you move from Utah to Austin?” the interviewer asked over the phone.

The question felt a little out of place in the job interview, but I gave my standard answer about wanting a fresh scene. I’d just graduated college and was looking to break into the Austin market. But the interviewer wasn’t done.

“But why Austin?” he insisted, “There can’t be that many Mormons here.”

My stomach curled. This was a job interview – I’d expected to discuss my qualifications for the position and express my interest in the company. Instead, I began to answer more and more invasive questions about my personal life and religion. The whole ordeal left me very uncomfortable, but because I was young and desperate, I put up with it. In fact, I even went back for a second interview!

At the time, I thought I had to put up with that sort of treatment. Only recently have I realized that the interview was extremely unprofessional and it wasn’t something I should have felt obligated to endure.

And I’m not the only one with a bad interview story. Slate ran an article sharing others’ terrible experiences, which ranged from having their purse inspected to being trapped in a 45-minute presentation! No doubt, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to mistreatment by potential employers.

So, why do we put up with it?

Well, sometimes people just don’t know better. Maybe, like I was, they’re young or inexperienced. In these cases, these sorts of situations seem like they could just be the norm. There’s also the obvious power dynamic: you might need a job, but the potential employers probably don’t need you.

While there might be times you have to grit your teeth and bear it, it’s also worth remembering that a bad interview scenario often means bad working conditions later on down the line. After all, if your employers don’t respect you during the interview stage, it’s likely the disrespect will continue when you’re hired.

Once you’ve identified an interview is bad news, though, how do you walk out? Politely. As tempting as it is to make a scene, you probably don’t want to go burning bridges. Instead, excuse yourself by thanking your interviewers, wishing them well, and asserting that you have realized the business wouldn’t be a good fit.

Your time, as well as your comfort, are important! If your gut is telling you something is wrong, it probably is. It isn’t easy, but if a job interview is crossing the line, you’re well within your rights to leave. Better to cut your losses early.

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