Discover more from The 21 Hats Morning Report
Resume Gap? Who Cares!!!
Not long ago, companies were reluctant to hire a job candidate with a long stretch of unemployment.
Here are today’s highlights:
How a food-catering business that served white-collar offices survived the pandemic.
With prices surging, the owner of several steakhouses says talking to suppliers feels like day trading.
Will “headless checkout” technology change the way people shop online?
Omicron is likely to challenge U.S. testing capacity.
Boston-based ezCater was supplying food to white-collar offices when offices shut down: “As workplaces shuttered and employees were forced to work from home, [Stefania Mallett’s] business seemingly became irrelevant. Its revenue declined significantly, and it laid off nearly half its workers. The company needed to make a crucial decision: Shut down, change course, or double down. Ultimately, Mallett, the firm’s co-founder and CEO, decided to double down, shifting ezCater’s customer focus from white-collar firms to factories, warehouse distribution centers, hospitals, and other companies that required in-person work or employed essential workers.”
“As the pandemic hit, ezCater saw its business collapse. The company’s revenue dropped 85 percent in the early days of COVID. In April of 2020, it laid off 420 employees.”
“For some, ezCater’s resurgence shows the agility of a company that has adapted to the ever-changing pandemic workplace. For others, it shows something deeper — that maybe the alarm bells heralding the death of in-person work are premature, even as uncertainty around the virus persists.”
“‘There’s a big chunk of the United States that cannot work from home,’ Mallett said in an interview. ‘We can feed those people. They have to eat, too.’” READ MORE
Privacy tech startups are having a moment: “In April, there were 207 privacy and security startups listed on Crunchbase, which together raised more than $3.5 billion in funding. As of December, that number was up to 230. Two such startups are Qonsent, a data privacy platform that helps consumers manage and control their personal information, and Optable, a clean room and data collaboration platform that lets brands and publishers share their audience data securely.”
“‘Folks may not understand how privacy tech works, but they can relate to the mission and the problem we’re trying to solve,’ [Stephano Kim, Qonsent’s president and co-founder] said. ‘There needs to be a fundamental shift in how data is being gathered and used and this goes beyond legislation and regulation.’”
“The idea behind Qonsent is to help solve the problem of getting informed consent directly from users transparently so they know what data is being collected, how it’s being used and over what time horizon.” READ MORE
A startup called Fast wants to use “headless checkout” to change the way people shop and buy things online: “A privately held startup funded by the payments giant Stripe, as well as Addition, Index Ventures, Susa Ventures, and Sugar Capital, Fast is working to make a name for itself in the e-commerce space. Its headless checkout system separates the purchasing and payments experience from online stores, allowing buyers to make purchases from almost anywhere. Buyers can purchase a seller’s product in one click, directly from a Fast Checkout button on a review page, an email, or another digital avenue. That means Fast’s new headless checkout system could be a big payday for certain digital publishers and bloggers as well as live events.”
“Fast is also working with digital publishers like Apartment Therapy and The Kitchn to incorporate headless checkout into select branded content features so readers can stay on the article they’re reading while they make a purchase and advertisers can generate revenue by removing friction from website redirects.” READ MORE
Suddenly, companies are more than willing to hire people who have been unemployed for long stretches: “Jamie Baxter used to be skeptical of job applicants who had not worked for long stretches of time, assuming that other employers had passed them over. ‘My mind would jump to the negative stigma of, Wow, why could this person not get a job for this long?’ said Mr. Baxter, who is chief executive of Qwick, a temporary staffing company for the hospitality industry. Yet recently, he has hired at least half a dozen people who had been out of work for several months or longer. The pandemic, he said, ‘made me open my eyes.’”
“The importance of what are often referred to as ‘résumé gaps’ is fading, experts say, because of labor shortages and more bosses seeming to realize that long absences from the job market shouldn’t taint candidates.”
“Mr. Baxter, whose company is based in Phoenix, said he has learned from his own experience.”
“Forced to lay off roughly 70 percent of his 54 employees when the pandemic hit, he realized he was responsible for creating the very employment gaps he had once used to screen out job applicants.” READ MORE
I almost think Austin Rief, CEO of Morning Brew, is talking about 21 Hats in this Twitter thread:
THE COVID ECONOMY
With consumers facing inflation and shortages, retail sales slowed in November: “Sales at U.S. retail stores, online sellers, and restaurants rose by a seasonally-adjusted 0.3 percent in November from the previous month, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That was smaller than last month’s increase in consumer prices, and a slowdown from October’s robust 1.8 percent sales increase. Broadly consumer demand is strong, and well above last year’s levels. Retail sales rose 18.2 percent in November from a year earlier, showing low unemployment, rising wages and savings from stimulus payments are giving Americans the capacity to spend more this year. That gain well outpaced the 6.8 percent increase in consumer prices in November from a year earlier, according to the Labor Department.”
“Another factor is that holiday shoppers appeared to have started early this year. October’s gain in retail sales was the largest since March.”
“Wednesday’s report showed sales at electronics stores down 4.6 percent in November from the previous month, while sales at general merchandise stores were down 1.2 percent. Spending at non-store retailers, including online sellers, was flat last month.”
“Jill Grobowsky Bergus, co-owner of three Lockhart Smokehouse barbecue restaurants in the Dallas area, said that they have had to raise prices by 20 percent to 30 percent in recent months and have held back from further increases because they worry customers will blanch.”
“‘We’re talking to our meat supplier like we’re day traders,’ Ms. Grobowsky Bergus said. Beef prices are up 21 percent over the past year while pork is up 17 percent, according to government data.” READ MORE
Omicron will challenge U.S. testing capacity: “Biden administration health officials are privately warning Covid-19 test makers and laboratories that demand for tests could double or even triple over the next two months as cases surge across the country, five people with knowledge of the matter told Politico. Internal modeling developed by the Health and Human Services Department’s Testing and Diagnostic Working Group projects that the nation's supply could be stretched by the need to conduct 3 to 5 million tests per day by late January or early February — a sharp increase from current daily levels of more than 1.6 million.”
“The estimate hinges on assumptions that the Omicron variant is three to five times more transmissible than Delta, and that it will become the nation's dominant Covid-19 strain within four weeks, one of the people said.”
“The administration estimates that the number of infections driven by the variant is doubling every two days.” READ MORE
THE 21 HATS PODCAST
The Vomit List: This week, Jay Goltz and William Vanderbloemen talk about what it takes to hold on to your best people, the ones whose departures might send you looking for a trash can. They also discuss whether “hire slow” still works, whether it’s a good idea to rehire a former employee, whether it’s still possible to do a meaningful reference check, how to use 360 reviews and personality tests, and finally, whether Jay and William would be ready to sell their business if someone were to come along and offer them twice what they think it’s worth.
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If you see a story that business owners should know about, hit reply and send me the link. If you got something out of this email, you can click the heart symbol, you can click the comment icon below, and you can share it with a friend. Thanks for reading, everyone. — Loren