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Tech Execs Stand Up Against Trump Presidency

More than 145 current and former technology leaders have issued an open letter to the American people decrying Donald Trump’s candidacy for president, calling him a “disaster for innovation.”

Apple’s Steve Wozniak, Twitter’s Ev Williams, Samsung’s Richard Titus, eBay’s Pierre Omidyar, Qualcomm’s Irwin and Paul Jacobs, Girls Who Code’s Reshma Saujani and Yelp’s Luther Lowe are among the signatories.

All agreed to a disclaimer that reads: “The individuals listed below have endorsed in their personal capacity and this does not reflect the endorsement of any organization, corporation or entity to which they are affiliated. Titles and affiliations of each individual are provided for identification purposes only.”

Excerpts from the letter include:

“We are inventors, entrepreneurs, engineers, investors, researchers, and business leaders working in the technology sector. We are proud that American innovation is the envy of the world, a source of widely-shared prosperity, and a hallmark of our global leadership.

“We believe in an inclusive country that fosters opportunity, creativity and a level playing field. Donald Trump does not. He campaigns on anger, bigotry, fear of new ideas and new people, and a fundamental belief that America is weak and in decline. We have listened to Donald Trump over the past year and we have concluded: Trump would be a disaster for innovation. His vision stands against the open exchange of ideas, free movement of people, and productive engagement with the outside world that is critical to our economy—and that provide the foundation for innovation and growth.

It concludes:

“We stand against Donald Trump’s divisive candidacy and want a candidate who embraces the ideals that built America’s technology industry: freedom of expression, openness to newcomers, equality of opportunity, public investments in research and infrastructure, and respect for the rule of law. We embrace an optimistic vision for a more inclusive country, where American innovation continues to fuel opportunity, prosperity and leadership.”

Sears Denies Plans To Pull The Plug On Kmart

Published reports of Kmart’s impending demise are now reaching a fever pitch.

Sales associates who spoke to Business Insider believe the beleaguered chain is in the process of liquidating many of its remaining 941 stores.

The evidence: Stores are entering numbered phases, i.e., Phase 1, Phase 2, which are accompanied by layoffs, reduced hours and stock-room purges, a practice in which all remaining stock room merchandise is moved to the sales floor.

According to employee message board chatter, Kmart locations are typically shuttered within nine months of a stock-room purge, Business Insider said.

Staffers were told the actions are part of a “Path to Profitability” strategy, or “P2P,” to make the stores more lucrative. Corporate parent Sears Holdings — which said it would close another 68 Kmart stores this summer after shutting about 50 locations earlier this year — told Business Insider that Kmart remains “a key piece of our asset portfolio.” It said the stock-room clearances are making way for directto-shelf deliveries in a refinement of its inventory replenishment process that will allow employees to spend more time on the sales floor.

Sears acknowledged it is considering additional store closures, layoffs, loans and asset sales to help stem mounting losses, which totaled $471 million in the first quarter, ended April 30.

But the chain took strong exception to TWICE’s published speculation of its demise.

“We strongly disagree with the conclusions being drawn in the article. The article ignores the work that’s been done in the last 12 months at Kmart to relaunch the brand, bring back the Bluelight specials and make shopping fun again. Kmart even hosted its first-ever cross-format preview event featuring the new 2016 summer and fall collection in NYC in May.

“And worse, it doesn’t give any credit to the tens of thousands of men and women who are working so hard to keep our strong stores strong and get our underperforming stores headed in the right direction.

“In addition, Sears Holdings is highly focused on restoring profitability to the company, and Kmart remains a key piece of our asset portfolio.

“We are already receiving positive feedback from our associates on the changes (e.g., such as their job is now more simple and enjoyable), and we will continue to educate them on the strategy.

“Beyond that, we don’t comment on rumor or speculation.”

Amazon Adds KickStarter Collection To Startup Section

Amazon has added a dedicated Made on Kickstarter section to its crowdfunded Launchpad department.

Like Launchpad, the new section highlights “unique and unexpected products from today’s brightest startups,” albeit those culled from the Kickstarter platform.

More than 300 CE devices, wireless accessories, books, home and kitchen products, and toys and games are available on the micro-site from companies including MudWatt, Piper, Prynt and Zivix.

Amazon VP Jim Adkins said the crowdfunding forum provides the e-tailer with a barometer of consumer interest. “Working with Kickstarter is a great way for us to hear directly from customers what products they care about, since they truly hold the power to bring these products to life,” he explained.

Adkins added that the larger Launchpad program was created last year to enable creators, inventors and startups “to reach Amazon’s hundreds of millions of customers and to overcome one of the biggest challenges any startup faces — bringing their product to market successfully.”

PMDA, PMAI Team, Form The Imaging Alliance

The PhotoImaging Manufacturers and Distributors Association (PMDA), formed in 1934, and the Photo Marketing Association International (PMAI), founded in 1928, announced the formation of a new industry association, The Imaging Alliance.

According to the new executive team, The Imaging Alliance will more efficiently and holistically represent the evolving needs of an industry that has seen dramatic change, including the rise of content and non-hardware image-based businesses.

PMDA president Jim Malcolm, formerly of Ricoh and now CEO of Xiality Group, will serve as president of the new organization, and PMDA executive director Jerry Grossman, editor in chief and editorial director of Digital Imaging Reporter, now serves as executive director of The Imaging Alliance.

Gaby Mullinax of Fullerton Photo, who was PMAI president, joins The Imaging Alliance board of directors.

Malcolm cited a number of non-traditional image-based businesses that the alliance hopes to embrace, including VR and 360 content providers, social media and augmented reality. “We are a single unifying group that is more the consumerfacing side of the industry,” he told TWICE in a phone briefing. “In every instance we are looking at businesses and technologies and asking first: ‘Is there a commerce opportunity? Is it a business built around images?’”

Current PMDA and PMAI members, in good standing, will automatically become members of The Imaging Alliance for the remainder of 2016. The Imaging Alliance is openly soliciting new members from the growing spectrum of companies offering hardware, software, online services, and applications as well as from retailers, photographers and media representatives who service the imaging industry.


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