Money makers: Millennial-friendly media

The way younger people were getting their news was leaving them less than well-rounded. Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin set out to do something about it.


Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin: bringing their generation up to speed
(Image credit: Copyright (c) 2016 Rex Features. No use without permission.)

The news isn't broken. It's the delivery. That's the mantra that's earned theSkimm a million daily readers, says Max Chafkin in Bloomberg Businessweek. Co-founders Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin, both 30, realised that their generation was using technology to tailor what news they wanted to see to the detriment of a well-rounded view.

Their answer was to produce a "chatty" newsletter, the Daily Skimm, that reported on everything from America's presidential election to a chain-smoking chimpanzee.

A recent edition covered an election debate between "Trump" and "Hillz". Skimm's take was "surprisingly sober", notes Chafkin. Both candidates were said to have "brought their A-game" to the debate, while moderator Chris Wallace won praise for handling the candidates "like a boss".

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A chef's big gamble

David Chang presides over an impressive food empire. His Momofuku group spans over a dozen restaurants in three countries, nine dessert bars, two cocktail lounges, and a prepared-foods business, says Katie Benner in The New York Times. He has won a brace of Michelin stars. He also appears on TV shows and publishes a magazine called Lucky Peach (the English translation of momofuku).

Still, his latest venture, Ando, takes him into new territory. It's a "restaurant with no dining room" that sees the acclaimed chefdispatching meals to New York office workers. Chang has sought investment from venture capitalists for the first time, which may be a recipe for conflict. "I got into the restaurant business not to make money on other people's terms," he said recently. Too bad, say his wealthy backers, who want nothing less than market domination from Ando.

"You're signing up for a certain level of ambition focused on growth, when you take venture money," says Kirsten Green, whose Forerunner Ventures was the biggest investor in Ando's $7m first round of venture financing. "Hopefully we'll make a big successful business, and then we'll look for a liquidity event" Silicon Valley-speak for cashing out.

But Chang doesn't seem to see it like that. "There have been numerous occasions where we've turned down lucrative offers. We weren't after the almighty dollar. We were on our own path." Where that path leads is up for debate.

Computer programmer who moved into shoes

"I knew I wasn't the greatest shoe designer in the world, or the best [computer] programmer, but very few people have knowledge of both areas," Jos Neves tells the BBC's Suzanne Bearne. While studying economics in the 1990s, Neves began writing software for footwear companies in his native Portugal. "I thought if I can do computers, I can design shoes. You think you can do everything when you are 22." So he created his own range of shoes under the brand, Swear.

In 1995, he moved to London and set up shop in Covent Garden, and followed that with a nearby menswear outlet in 2001. Then, while at Paris Fashion Week in 2007, he met other boutique owners. He noticed that "the ones that were growing had strong online operations". So the following year, he launched Farfetch, an online marketplace for independent designers.

Today, the site sells goods from 400 boutiques from 38 countries, "giving them a global shop window in exchange for a reported 22% commission", says Bearne. Last year, sales reached $512m, a 70% increase on 2014. Neves, who has raised $305m from private investors, is planning to float the firm.

The firm that prints 99% of the world's plastic money

Wigton is a small market town in Cumbria, ten miles from the border with Scotland, with a population of around 6,000. It is also the global centre of plastic money, by dint of being the home of Innovia, the firm that makes most of it. There are 50 billion plastic bank notes in circulation around the world, says Bloomberg's Adam Satariano. Innovia has produced more than 99% of them including the plastic fiver in your wallet. While plastic notes only account for 3% of the world's cash at present, more countries are expected to follow Britain's example in ditching paper for plastic.

At Innovia's factory in Wigton, the plastic arrives in popcorn-size kernels, which are melted at 250C and stretched to 65 times their original length with a blast of air. The holograms and other security features are printed on the thin plastic film, which is cut into 60 note-size sheets to be sent to printer De La Rue, which adds the design details such as the portraits of the Queen and Winston Churchill for the new £5 note. The plastic even carries a unique chemical signature that shops and banks can identify to wheedle out the fakes.

With the fiver in production, Innovia is set to start work on £10 notes, scheduled for release in June, and has tendered a bid to produce the next generation of £20 notes. It's a long way from the firm's roots: it started out in the 1930s making cling film, before moving into cigarette packaging and the labels on shampoo bottles. It generates £380m a year in revenues, of which a third now comes from making money.

The plastic bank notes do cost around twice as much to make as paper ones, but last five times longer. "You can dip them in your wine," says Mark Robertshaw, Innovia's CEO, while videos have appeared online of plastic fivers replacing the needles on vinyl record players. Admittedly, notes Satariano, other videos show the notes being melted in fire. "We don't claim they are indestructible," says Robertshaw.

Chris Carter

Chris Carter spent three glorious years reading English literature on the beautiful Welsh coast at Aberystwyth University. Graduating in 2005, he left for the University of York to specialise in Renaissance literature for his MA, before returning to his native Twickenham, in southwest London. He joined a Richmond-based recruitment company, where he worked with several clients, including the Queen’s bank, Coutts, as well as the super luxury, Dorchester-owned Coworth Park country house hotel, near Ascot in Berkshire.

Then, in 2011, Chris joined MoneyWeek. Initially working as part of the website production team, Chris soon rose to the lofty heights of wealth editor, overseeing MoneyWeek’s Spending It lifestyle section. Chris travels the globe in pursuit of his work, soaking up the local culture and sampling the very finest in cuisine, hotels and resorts for the magazine’s discerning readership. He also enjoys writing his fortnightly page on collectables, delving into the fascinating world of auctions and art, classic cars, coins, watches, wine and whisky investing.

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