A More Inclusive Workplace. At a time when many Muslims are feeling increasingly unwelcome in the U.S., more businesses are seeking to maintain Muslim-friendly workplaces. As Bloomberg reports, “The motivations may be principled, but the moves are practical. Managers want to keep talented workers and avoid conflict, and litigation.” The practices companies are implementing are modest (such as making sure major events don’t conflict with Muslim holidays and eliminating pork and alcohol from events), yet they add up to a much more welcome environment. And companies battling for talent are smart to make these changes: by 2035, Muslims will be the second largest non-Christian group in the U.S.
Unilever Buys Dollar Shave Club. Unilever is getting into the razor business, having paid $1 billion for upstart Dollar Shave Club (Fortune). It’s a big win for investors–and strong evidence that inspired disruptors continue to make an impact. In particular, as Ben Thompson notes, it’s evidence of the eventual disruption of everything. Why was Unilever an ideal buyer? Because it doesn’t have an existing shaving business to protect. The shift to new sorts of businesses continues. And, here on NewCo Shift, read VC David Pakman’s take, Dollar Shave Club: How Michael Dubin Created A Massively Successful Company and Re-Defined CPG.
Also New on NewCo Shift. In our latest NewCo Shift Dialog, our founder and editor in chief John Battelle hosts a wide-ranging conversation with Tim O’Reilly that touches on everything from how companies should behave to the pros and cons of universal basic income. We’ve also published a personal op-ed by Battelle arguing why Trump is bad for innovation.
Learning from Cleveland’s Rise and Fall. All eyes are on Cleveland this week as it hosts the Republican National Convention. The Economist’s Schumpeter columnist looks back at the city’s history as the Silicon Valley of the second industrial revolution and finds rich examples of how economic clusters rise and fall. Some of Cleveland’s long-ago triumphs are still alive (it still hosts one of the country’s finest orchestras) but in other ways it is a clear symbol of rust-belt decline (its population has fallen by more than half since the 1950s). The main lessons it draws: clusters with a narrow base are dangerous and once decline starts it can be self-reinforcing. Cleveland eventually did diversify, “but downtown can still feel like a ghost town at night.” The Cavs notwithstanding, the city still has a long way to come back.
This Is What Governing Looks Like. Not all states are enthusiastic about the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, a series of environmental regulations currently in legal limbo. But even governors who have explicitly ordered regulators not to comply are quietly preparing to do so (New York Times). If the plan survives legal challenges (it may take two years for it to get to the Supreme Court), it would require “shutting down hundreds of power plants that run on fossil fuels and building new ones powered by the wind, the sun and other low-carbon sources,” no small undertaking. And even Republican governors involved in the legal challenges “are making a political calculation: If Hillary Clinton is elected president and appoints a new Supreme Court justice, Mr. Obama’s climate plan will probably survive.” Much of this planning is happening in private, but it’s heartening to see some officials, even those who oppose a law for political reasons, actually governing.
Slack Funds Its Own Ecosystem. Late last year, Slack launched an $80 million fund along with other VCs to invest in companies offering products that integrate with its messaging application. Yesterday it revealed the identity of 11 startup investments (recode). They include some of the bots that have become popular on the service (Growbot, Sudo), as well as services that connect Slack to other crucial SaaS platforms (Birdly gets Salesforce inside Slack). There are more investments to be announced, but this round of startup investments underlines Slack’s desire to “do more than kill email.”