2019 Ford Endeavour revealed ahead of official launch on February 22

first_imgFord Endeavour facelift is all set to be introduced in India on February 22. Ahead of the launch, the company has officially revealed the 2019 version of the premium SUV. It will take on the likes of Toyota Fortuner and Mahindra Alturas G4.There were already rumours that the front portion of the 2019 Endeavour will get some tweaks and these have been justified by the minor cosmetic changes in the facelift in the form of a refurbished grille and bumper. Instead of the expected 20-inch alloy wheels, the SUV will sport 18-inch ones. On the inside, the company has given the vehicle more luxurious feel with fresh upholstery. It also gets keyless entry and a smart boot opening system.Presently, Ford Endeavour gets two diesel powertrain options — a 2.2-litre TDCi engine churning out 160 PS of power and 385 Nm of torque and a 3.2-litre TDCi mill good for 200 PS of power and 470 Nm of torque. Both the motors are mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.The outgoing Endeavour is available in three variants — 2.2-litre 4X2 AT Trend, 2.2-litre 4X2 AT Titanium and 3.2-litre 4X4 AT Titanium. While Trend is priced at Rs 26.82 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), 4X2 Titanium comes in at Rs 31.07 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi). The top-end 4X4 Titanium costs Rs 33.31 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi).The 2019 Endeavour will not have the Trend variant. It will only come in two trims — Titanium and Titanium+. The facelift will be powered by the same engines that are offered on the outgoing variant. One major update in the facelift is that the 2.2-litre variant will now be available with a manual gearbox, which was earlier discontinued in this model.advertisementFord has not revealed the prices of the 2019 Endeavour. While Fortuner is priced between Rs 27.58 lakh and Rs 33.28 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), Alturas G4 costs Rs 26.95 lakh and Rs 29.95 lakh (ex-showroom, pan-India). Keeping the prices of these two SUVs in mind, one can imagine that Endeavour facelift will be offered at a very competitive cost.ALSO READ | Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza: Five reasons why the compact SUV is popular among the buyersALSO READ | Skoda offers six-year warranty under Shield Plus initiative, applicable on Octavia and other modelsALSO READ | Hero MotoCorp installs combined braking system in Splendor+ and HF Deluxe i3Slast_img read more

Ebony Drags Feet on Freelancer Payments Despite Barrage of Criticism

first_imgThis article has been updated to reflect a response from Ebony.Faced with the threat of a second lawsuit in 12 months, Ebony has completed the third of four quarterly payments owed to freelance writers it had stiffed on a collective $78,000 of work going back to 2015—after initially failing to meet a court-ordered Sept. 28 deadline.The installment of $29,850—which covers 14 of the 45 total writers under the terms of a February settlement between Ebony owner Clear View Group and the National Writers Union—comes after two earlier installments of $14,385 and $15,955, both of which were paid on time. A final $18,328 payment is due Dec. 28 to 16 writers.After the Sept. 28 deadline came and went, the writers union threatened further legal action to compel payment from CVG, which is bound by the agreement—reached in the circuit court of Cook County, Ill.—to cover the payments should Ebony find itself unable to make them.“CVG was about three weeks late and wasn’t returning calls or emails,” National Writers Union president Larry Goldbetter tells Folio:. “After the [court] filing, the checks went out.”Michael Gibson, the chairman of CVG—a Texas-based private equity firm which bought Ebony in 2016—declined to share any reasons for the delay, but confirmed that the third set of checks have been mailed and said the fourth and final payment will be made in December. A spokeswoman for Ebony blamed “legacy business issues” for the outstanding payments. Michael GibsonAs writers awaiting overdue checks aired grievances on social media in recent weeks, Ebony promoted a star-studded gala celebrating its annual Power 100 list set for Friday evening at the Beverly Hilton—the site of the Golden Globe Awards since 1961—hosted by Chris Tucker.“I got my check at the end of October and was shocked to receive it, to be honest,” says Adrienne Gibbs, who served as managing editor of Ebony‘s January 2017 issue among other contributions, adding that another writer in that issue, Rashod Ollison, passed away last month from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma before ever receiving his $900 check.“I talked with [Rashod’s] sister and made sure CVG—via the union’s lawyers—had his sister’s address,” Gibbs adds. “Rashod’s check was ‘in the mail’ for weeks even as he died and was raising money for medical bills.”The controversy ramped up in April of last year, when freelancer Jagger Blaec wrote an article on The Establishment asking, “Why Isn’t Ebony Paying Its Black Writers?” On Twitter, aggrieved freelancers coalesced around the hashtag #EbonyOwes, eliciting initial pushback from both Ebony and CVG vice-chairman Willard Jackson, who accused Blaec of writing an “attack article” and “wanting to tear down black businesses.”“Yeah well, your little Twitter rant isn’t going to change the way the media business is run,” read a deleted Tweet from the official Ebony account. “Y’all acting like it’s 100s of people. It’s 10.” (Turns out it’s at least 45.)Adrienne GibbsWeeks later, however, CVG issued a statement to NBC, asserting that it would pay all debts by early July 2017. When that deadline passed, the National Writers Union became involved, led by Goldbetter and Gibbs.Following the completion of the third quarter payment, the oldest outstanding invoice is now from this past March, and the most any individual writer is owed is $2,650.“In the time since we have started this case, I’ve heard from 10 additional writers who wanted to join the suit,” says Gibbs. “The whole situation is just sad. Every time a new story surfaces, even more people come out of the woodwork.”Gibson disputed this article shortly after it was posted, writing via email, “This story as we see it is completely inaccurate.” Asked which aspects, specifically, are inaccurate, Gibson referred Folio: to Katrina Witherspoon, SVP of marketing for Ebony, who gave the following statement:While unfortunately EBONY was contacted to provide limited response to only one question from Folio pertaining to this particular matter, Michael Gibson made it clear the company has satisfied all outstanding payments with the National Writers Union.As we have stated previously, all prior issues related to payment obligations to former freelance writers were the result of legacy business issues that predated the new business model put in place by Ebony’s current management. Furthermore, as it relates specifically to freelance writers, Ebony has instituted a policy that now provides increased transparency regarding payment terms and conditions for freelance writers we engage.The brand will continue to endure and evolve with a digital first strategy, ensuring its persistence and relevance for decades to come.last_img read more

Facebook Buys Social Startup Branch to Spearhead New Conversations Group

first_img Facebook has acquired social startup Branch Media and hired its 9-person team to head up its new Facebook Conversations group in New York.In an announcement on Facebook this morning, Branch CEO and co-founder Josh Miller explained the new arm of the company was created “with the goal of helping people connect with others around their interests. Their pitch to us was: ‘Build Branch at Facebook scale!'” According to a report from The Verge, Branch was purchased for about $15 million.Related: Pinterest Buys Startup Specializing in Visual Search TechnologyBranch is behind several messaging and discussion tools, including the eponymous Branch (initially called Roundtable), a platform for invitation-only, in-depth conversations. The company also created Potluck, a “bite-sized” link-sharing service for the iPhone, and most recently, PhoneTag Messenger, described as a “free photo walkie-talkie” that has users send a photo with an accompanying voice recording.Miller wrote in his announcement that while the future Facebook products will be “reminiscent of Branch and Potluck,” the existing Branch tools will continue to be their own entities. He also thanked the company’s investors, including Buzzfeed’s Jonah Peretti and Twitter co-founders Evan Williams and Biz Stone and mentor Jason Goldman, who supported Branch through their incubator, the Obvious Corporation.Related: Is Snapchat’s Co-Founder Completely Crazy for Turning Down $3 Billion From Facebook?Along with co-founders Hursh Agrawal and Cemre Güngör, Miller clearly aims to influence how people engage with each other online, and has been critical and vocal about Facebook’s scope and impact in the past.In a Medium post from May titled “The Next Facebook,” Miller wrote, “My hunch is that for a company to become The Next Facebook, it will need to enable a novel network of people. That’s not to say it won’t start with your friends — Twitter didn’t have Oprah on Day One — but ultimately its network will need to look different than your Address Book. Otherwise, it’ll just be another watering hole.” With that attitude in mind, it will be interesting to see how the Conversations group evolves.Related: Google Snaps Up Company Whose Robots Remind People of ‘Terminator’ Movies This hands-on workshop will give you the tools to authentically connect with an increasingly skeptical online audience. Enroll Now for Free January 13, 2014center_img 2 min read Free Workshop | August 28: Get Better Engagement and Build Trust With Customers Nowlast_img read more

How Bots Can Benefit Businesses According to Messengers Director of Global Partnerships

first_img 8 min read Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Bots are the talk of the town, and Anand Chandrasekaran is helping to create the buzz. The former CPO of both SnapDeal and Bharti Airtel, the third largest mobile provider in the world, has plenty of experience with big ideas and global strategy. But he has really been stretching his wings as Global Director of Platforms and Product Partnerships for Messenger at Facebook. With the integration of open-API bots into Messenger, Facebook’s marketing strategy has changed considerably, and Chandrasekaran was kind enough to share some of those thoughts with me.In part two of a two-part, in-person interview, I asked Chandrasekaran about how businesses can best benefit from chatbot technology, and to share some of the use cases he’s seen that have stood out as the most innovative and successful.Newlands: How can businesses and entrepreneurs benefit from understanding how bots work with Messenger?Chandrasekaran: The bot can be the solution, but that’s after first defining what the problem is.If you’re a brand, entrepreneur or developer — using those words interchangeably — there are over 1.2 billion monthly users on Messenger, and they are using Messenger for a greater amount of time every day.If you’re an entrepreneur, this is a platform that you can’t afford to ignore. The way we think about it is, it’s your customers who are on that platform. Wherever you are on that spectrum, if you’re a developer, a brand, or selling a digital service, it’s your customers, fans and users who are on that platform. That is the main benefit for anyone who is looking at Messenger.Related: Top 10 Best Chatbot Platform Tools to Build Chatbots for Your BusinessNewlands: It seems that some bots struggle to be an effective and engaging experience – why is this? And what are solutions for that?Chandrasekaran: I wouldn’t necessarily define this notion as “struggling”, but I will say that when the purpose of the bot is not well-defined, it leaves the user with too many options. Like I said before, our best practices for developers is to always to start with a problem to solve, because when you define the problem very clearly, it becomes very obvious what part of makes sense to automate. That’s when AI functions very well.One of my favorite bots is called Brew the Way; they’ve had iterations of the the bot where it says, “Do you want to buy a coffee, or do you want to fool around?” The joke is that almost everyone who uses a bot wants to trick the bot into doing something silly — it’s everyone’s favorite trick. But what we find is when the goal is clearer, the bot does the fantastic job. So when the bot introduces an experience like, “If you want to order a coffee, here are three steps, but if you want to just play around, we can take you there.” Then they do fantastic job of setting expectations clearly and creating an experience of play that’s fun and engaging for the user, rather than making the bot completely open-ended.Related: How to Create a Facebook Messenger Chatbot For Free Without CodingNewlands: What are some of the advantages that AI and bots provide for businesses? Chandrasekaran: AI allows people to solve basic problems. Sometimes people ask some very basic questions, many of them repetitive, and those are problems best suited for AI to solve. Especially where there is training data available, and there is a use case that is fairly repetitive on top of that training data; even something like, “Are you open right now?” That’s a fairly easy question for an automated system to answer without a human getting involved.One compelling success story is Globe Telecom in the Philippines. They have a hybrid bot called Gie that they’ve given a personality, a woman with a playful nature. When people ask the most obvious questions like, “Can you show me what my balance is,” or “What are your most popular plans,” those don’t necessary need to be escalated to a live person, because they will probably give the same answer. They’ve built an AI layer to respond to those questions promptly. Gie also has the ability to know when the question is a bit personalized or complicated, and can say, “Can you hold on a bit while I ask for a live person?” The question is passed thoughtfully to a human, and then the human can answer the question and pass control back to the bot. What we find is these kinds of purpose-built AI end up being super valuable for developers.You may know that about 15 or 16 months ago we acquired a NLP engine called wit.ai which we use for basic heuristics and basic NLP. It is doing extremely well, and powering a large chunk of AI and NLP today on top of Messenger.Related: 7 Ways Chatbots Can Benefit Your Marketing StrategyNewlands: What about sales?Chandrasekaran: With sales we try to narrow the definition of the problem even more. Sales for a developer is customer acquisition; sales for a commerce provider is revenue; sales for someone who tries to generate awareness is like someone coming back and re-engaging. What we try to do is, regardless of the size of partners or the entrepreneurs that we speak with, we try to sculpt the problem down to: What is the problem statement, and what does success look like? Because the more generic the problem, the harder it is to measure if the project was successful or not.Related: Social Media Marketing Strategies With ChatbotsNewlands: Where are customers engaging with Messenger and what are the business cases of engaging with Messenger? How do you see people do that?Chandrasekaran: If you look at the funnel of interacting with customers, they are engaging throughout that funnel, depending on where you slice it. On the top end of the funnel it’s just generating awareness. At Facebook, we talk about this “generating awareness” case study of Call of Duty. They created a Messenger experience when they launched the game where you answered a bunch of questions in character and in the same language as the game, and if you answered all those questions correctly, you got an unlock code to see the trailer of the next game. If you are Call of Duty fan, it’s awesome that you got an exclusive piece of content for engaging with the Messenger bot. It was purely awareness generation, just to create buzz for the game coming out, and they were able to see about 6 million messages within 24 hours of launching the game, purely with the bot from Messenger.Similarly, we have seen companies like Swelly and SnapTravel succeed on Messenger. They’ve gotten to a place where they are primarily focusing on Messenger as the only thing on which they spend developmental resources. This is, of course, music to our ears, because when you think about where you’re going to find your first five to 10 million users, you can’t put too many of your eggs in one basket or you get into an iteration cycle. It’s great that they choose Messenger, because consumers are there and they are looking for great experiences. These companies are getting a lot of success both in terms of user growth as well as revenue on the platform.The last use case I see towards the second half of the cycle is customer care. The comparison between calling a number, being on hold, and giving them a lot of context information and just pinging a business on Messenger to get a response back is incredible. The awesome thing is that messaging between two people doesn’t need to be synchronous. A customer can go and get dinner and come back to respond to the message, or the agent could look it up, take five minutes and respond. It’s not like they need to respond right away on the phone, so it plays with human nature a bit more and it’s also super convenient. From an agent or call center perspective, we have a couple case studies — like Rogers Telecom in Canada. They actually got a 65% increase in CSAT by using Messenger as a channel.If you look at awareness generation, enabling new functionality, acquiring customers, and well as customer care, those are the four top areas where businesses can really utilize Messenger. Growing a business sometimes requires thinking outside the box. Free Webinar | Sept. 9: The Entrepreneur’s Playbook for Going Global April 21, 2017 Register Now »last_img read more