The buy side’s big bet on cloud: Here’s how firms like Point72, Blackstone, and Millennium are leveraging the tech to their advantage

banks and public cloud providers 4x3
The buy side is embracing the public cloud.

  • Buy-side firms are increasingly looking to migrate workloads to the public cloud.
  • Some view the move as a recruiting tool, while others hope to cut costs and increase compute power.
  • Here’s an inside look at six firms’ strategies when it comes to the public cloud.

The buy side is aiming for the clouds.

Top hedge funds, investment firms, and private-equity shops are turning to public clouds managed by Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and IBM.

Specific motivating factors for the switch varies at individual firms, but a common theme among nearly all of them is the realization that the public cloud is a more cost-effective option than physical data centers.

The migration of buy-side firms to the cloud comes as providers are increasingly targeting Wall Street with finance-specific offerings. Firms are also picking one public cloud as a preferred or primary partner.

Insider spoke to tech executives at the top firms on the buy side to understand their cloud strategy. Here’s how they’re approaching the tech migration, and the benefits they’re already realizing from the move.


AQR

Stephen Mock's head shot
Stephen Mock, principal and co-chief technology officer, AQR.

Moving workloads and data to the public cloud is a big tech lift for any firm. But for $137 billion quantitative investment manager AQR, it was a welcome one.

Quantitative research is the bread and butter of AQR, a value-oriented investment manager that typically takes a longer-term view on its portfolio. As with other quantitative funds, that means access to readily-available financial and economic data – and lots of it – is paramount.

And while transitions to the public cloud carry an up-front cost, more financial firms are embracing the value they see in the cloud relative to on-premise data storage.

But for AQR, a move to the cloud was approached much the same way it handles investing: meticulous planning and research.

Inside $137 billion quantitative manager AQR’s shift to the public cloud that will see it cut costs as much as 30%


Blackstone

John Stecher Blackstone
Blackstone’s John Stecher.

As firms across Wall Street embrace public and hybrid cloud strategies to boost their tech prowess, one private investing giant is looking to Amazon Web Services.

John Stecher, Blackstone’s chief technology officer, told Insider the private-equity giant is in the midst of a “firm-wide initiative” to migrate much of Blackstone’s technology operations to Amazon Web Service’s public cloud by roughly the end of this year.

“We want to be able to use best-of-breed hardware and software programming models that AWS gives you to be able to deliver features and function at the speed that the business needs and that our engineers are truly capable of,” Stecher told Insider.

Blackstone is migrating to AWS public cloud by year end. The private-equity giant’s CTO explains what prompted the move.


Citco

Albert Bauer Citco
Albert Bauer is a managing director for Citco.

There’s big cloud-migration projects, and then there’s Citco.

The fund administration giant, with $1.6 trillion in assets under administration, took 18 months to migrate $1 trillion of those assets – from more than 550 hedge funds and other clients that total 10,000 accounts – from physical data centers to the cloud.

Hosted on Amazon Web Services, these accounts now have a more streamlined administration of their portfolios, and access to different tools Citco has built out on the cloud, such as a software-as-a-service tool that helps managers with Treasury functions.

$1 trillion in assets, now all on the cloud: Inside Citco’s 18-month transition from physical data centers to AWS


Millennium

izzy Israel Englander
Millennium Management founder Israel Englander.

As the war for talent rages among hedge funds, one firm is using technology as a key value prop for recruitment and retention.

Millennium Management, the New York-based hedge fund founded by billionaire Israel Englander with $52.3 billion of assets under management, is investing in cloud technology to stand out among hedge funds.

Michael Brams joined the firm in 2016 to help build out Millennium’s cloud capabilities. The first production use case, a large-scale data analytics tool set for compliance, went live in late 2017.

The firm saw how much faster its employees could test new tools and datasets using the cloud, which led it to invest more in the tech.

Millennium is using AWS to attract top portfolio managers. Here’s how the $52 billion hedge fund is leveraging cloud tech.


Point72

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Point72 founder Steve Cohen.

Point72 is in the midst of a sweeping, multi-year overhaul to transform the $21.8 billion hedge fund into a cloud-first operation.

The five-year project, which is slated to wrap at the end of 2024, is aimed at migrating 70% to 80% of the hedge fund’s cloud-eligible applications to the new tech. Currently, 20% of this work has been completed.

The $21.8 billion fund is also re-architecting its entire tech stack; building out a team of at least 60 cloud engineers, infrastructure coders, and application developers; and solidifying a hybrid, multi-cloud strategy, Mark Brubaker, the chief technology officer, told Insider.

Steve Cohen’s Point72 is betting big on the cloud. The $21.8 billion hedge fund’s CTO takes us inside its five-year project.


Two Sigma

David Siegel Two Sigma
David Siegel, cofounder and co-chairman, Two Sigma Investments.

Two Sigma had a big problem in 2014: the compute power needed for the quantitative fund’s research workflows was 10 times greater than what its data centers could provide.

“We said, ‘You know what, we’re not going to build out a 10x physical presence. That’s just enormous, that feels wrong to us,” Camille Fournier, Two Sigma’s head of platform engineering, told Insider.

As a quantitative fund, the problem was particularly salient for Two Sigma. Quant funds rely on mathematical and computer-based modeling to make their bets in the market, meaning their demand for computer firepower can often be enormous. Two Sigma, founded by billionaires John Overdeck and David Siegel, is known for pushing the limit on computing and data usage, even amongst its fellow quant peers.

Instead of building more physical data centers, the decision was made to push the fund into the public cloud.

Inside Two Sigma’s cloud strategy: hundreds of new engineers, a multi-provider approach, and ‘tremendous savings’

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US weekly jobless claims slide below 300,000 to new pandemic low

Unemployment protest
Unemployed people at a rally last year in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

  • Weekly jobless claims fell to 293,000 last week, marking the lowest reading since March 2020.
  • Economists expected claims to drop to 319,000, which would’ve been just above pandemic-era lows.
  • Continuing claims dropped to 2.59 million for the week that ended October 2, beating forecasts.

The number of people filing for unemployment insurance in the US tumbled last week to the lowest level since the pandemic slammed the US economy.

Jobless claims totaled 293,000 last week, the Labor Department announced Thursday. That came in below the median estimate of 319,000 claims from economists surveyed by Bloomberg. It also marks a second-straight decline and the lowest level since March 2020.

The prior week’s total was revised to 329,000 from 326,000.

Continuing claims, which track Americans receiving UI payments, fell to 2.59 million in the week that ended October 2. Economists expected continuing claims to total 2.67 million. The reading also marked a fresh pandemic-era low.

The report shows jobless claims sliding below 300,000 for the first time in the pandemic era, a key milestone after nearly two years of elevated filings. Weekly totals still sit well above the pre-crisis norm of roughly 200,000. There’s a good chance the country never see readings that low again, Katheryn Anne Edwards, an economist at the RAND Corporation, told Insider in August. Boosted UI benefits could’ve permanently raised awareness of the program. If more Americans take advantage of the safety net, claims could stay put at historically high levels, she said.

Elsewhere in the labor market

The readings suggest the labor market recovery picked up speed in early October. Data out last week showed the hiring recovery shifting into a lower gear as the Delta wave curbed job creation. The country added just 194,000 nonfarm payrolls in September, badly missing the median estimate for 500,000 new jobs. It also marked a slowdown from the already dismal hiring pace seen in August.

Still, the unemployment rate dropped to 4.8% and the average hourly wage rose more than expected. The payrolls miss was also influenced by the report’s survey period. The report stopped collecting data in the middle of September, the same time that daily case counts peaked in the US. Cases have steadily declined since, and it’s likely hiring fared better as the virus situation improved.

In other labor-market news, job openings fell to 10.4 million in August as hiring started to decelerate. That missed the median estimate of 10.9 million and marked a decline from the July reading of 11.1 million openings.

To be sure, 10.4 million is still a massive amount of openings. The US hadn’t seen openings rise above 10 million since the pandemic. And openings continue to outpace available workers. There are about 0.8 workers for each listing, suggesting jobless Americans still have plenty of options for finding new work.

Quits rose to another record high of 4.3 million in August. While such high quit rates initially seem like an obstacle for the recovery, the data points to a more promising trend. Elevated quits signal Americans are confident in their ability to find new and better jobs. That shakeup in the labor market can lead to higher pay, stronger productivity, and a better match between people’s skills and their work.

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Meet the millennial and Gen Z founders dressing Jill Biden, opening NFT art galleries, and raising millions in funding

"Star, Rising" with the world map behind it on a blue background with faint glowing stars scattered around.
“Star, Rising” is a series highlighting early entrepreneurs and businesses.

  • Insider’s series Star, Rising highlights early-stage entrepreneurs and companies who are gaining popularity.
  • So far, Insider has profiled founders all over the world who are innovating their respective industries.
  • Here are the 15 burgeoning business owners in Insider’s Star, Rising series.

The pandemic spurred a new wave of entrepreneurship, prompting people to start their own companies, and that doesn’t seem to be slowing down.

The US saw 4.3 million new business applications in 2020-a 24.3% increase from 2019-and 3.8 million so far this year, according to the US Census Bureau. That’s in addition to the rise in hustle culture, as the gig economy grows and social media paves way for more virtual shops and accessible marketplaces. In particular, many millennials and Gen Zers are disrupting the industries they work in as they find their place in the protean landscape of entrepreneurship.

With so much change, it can often be hard to track the new innovators seeking to redefine the world around them. That’s why Insider has started profiling them in its series Star, Rising, which explores how these entrepreneurs built their businesses, who they call mentors, and what advice they would give others looking to follow in their footsteps.

So far, the series has introduced Oladosu Teyibo, who is sourcing African talent for his software company to increase representation in tech, and. Sharmadean Reid, who launched a female-centric financial news publication to educate the rising crop of entrepreneurs. Here are the 13 other burgeoning founders in Insider’s Star, Rising series.

Sharmadean Reid’s new business aims to empower entrepreneurial women.

Sharmadean Reid
Sharmadean Reid

Reid is the founder of The Stack World, a female-centric financial publication that aims to be the stepping stone between Cosmopolitan and The Financial Times. Based in London, the outlet is on track to hit 10,000 subscribers by next year and has more than 420,000 followers on Instagram.

In 2019, Reid raised nearly £4 million ($5.5 million) in a funding round led by Index Ventures for BeautyStack and has since rebranded and expanded the platform into The Stack World’s marketplace. That milestone made her one of 10 Black female entrepreneurs in the UK who’s raised venture capital between 2009 and 2019.

Two Gen Zers turned a $2,000 investment into an art gallery that sells $600K pieces. They want to usher in a new generation of art collectors.

Alexis de Bernede (L) and Marius Jacob (R)
Alexis de Bernede (R) and Marius Jacob (L))

Based in France, Alexis de Bernede and Marius Jacob are the founders of Darmo Art gallery. This summer, their two shows netted six figures each, and they are now planning future exhibitions in Paris, the French Riviera, and at the Grand Hotel Heiligendamm, an exclusive report in Germany.

The millennial founder of a software company on track to net seven figures this year is fostering Africa’s rising tech stars.

Oladosu Teyibo stands wearing a black shirt in the middle of the street smiling
Oladosu Teyibo

Oladosu Teyibo is the founder of Analog Teams, a software development company focused on hiring talent from underrepresented communities. The company is on track to net seven figures in revenue this year and has already expanded into six African countries, including Kenya, Ghana, and Nigeria.

Hogoè Kpessou worked as an Uber Eats driver before she launched her handbag brand last year. Now she’s on track to net seven figures.

photo of Hogoè Kpessou
Hogoè Kpessou

Luxury designer Hogoè Kpessou is best known for her backpacks emblazoned with a gold bumblebee. Before starting her eponymous company, she held weekend shifts at a local restaurant and delivered food for Uber Eats. Now she expects to hit seven figures in revenue by the beginning of next year.

The 24-year-old cofounder of an NFT art gallery raised $7.6 million in funds on his quest to create the ‘Instagram for NFTs’.

Alex Masmej headshot
Alex Masmej

Alex Masmej made headlines last year after turning himself into a token on crypto-platform Ethereum. Now, he’s working on his next venture, called Showtime, which is an art gallery that focuses on highlighting non-fungible tokens. In April, he raised $7.6 million in venture capital and hopes to make Showtime one of the biggest NFT art galleries in the world.

Three millennial cofounders created a job platform that looks like TikTok and works with Panda Express, H&M, and Everlane.

Three men sit in a grocery store looking at the camera smiling
(L-R) Tristan Petit, Adrien Dewulf and Cyriac Lefort

Tristan Petit, Adrien Dewulf, and Cyriac Lefort are the cofounders of the job platform Heroes, which allows individuals to submit video job applications and lets employers share day-in-the-life videos of workers. The platform seeks to help Gen Z workers get jobs at retailers such as Panda Express and H&M. What’s more, last year it closed a $6 million seed round, led by Greg McAdoo of venture capital firm Bolt.

Entrepreneur Anne Onyeneho turned a cookbook into a meal-prepping business and soon a restaurant.

Anne Onyeneho standing in her kitchen posing
Anne Onyeneho

Last November, Anne Onyeneho authored a cookbook full of plant-based recipes called PlantBaed to help people prepare their own healthy dishes at home. Four months later, she launched a meal prepping service, named after the cookbook, so customers could buy healthy dishes directly from her. She’s on track to net six figures in revenue by the end of this year and looking to open a restaurant.

Millennial fashion designer Alexandra O’Neill is seeing cocktail dress sales skyrocket as customers prepare for the new Roaring 20s

Markarian designer Alexandra O'Neill sits in front of clothes

Alexandra O’Neill is the founder of luxury brand Markarian and made headlines this year after First Lady Jill Biden wore a custom Markarian piece for Inauguration. Since then, the company has seen sales skyrocket. What’s more, O’Neill held her first New York Fashion Week presentation in September, showing off a collection inspired by Lauren Bacall in the movie “How to Marry a Millionaire.”

3 Gen Zers created a competition to connect young creatives with cash and careers amid the pandemic.

(L-R) Harry Beard, Alexandre Daillance, Adam Flanagan
(L-R) Harry Beard, Alexandre Daillance, Adam Flanagan

Harry Beard, Alexandre Daillance, Adam Flanagan launched the competition Prospect 100 last year to help young creatives showcase their work as the pandemic shuttered the arts industry. Since last May, it’s held six competitions with more than 15,000 participants from 82 countries. Additionally, past judges include Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak and Yeezy design director Steven Smith.

Brittni Popp’s 6-figure side hustle is making custom cakes for celebrities like Paris Hilton and Khloe Kardashian.

Brittni Popp

Brittni Popp likes to help people commemorate their important life moments, whether that’s a bridal party, divorce, or even an expunged DUI. Her business, Betchin Cakes, sells customized baked goods that come adorned with decorations like Barbie dolls or empty nips. In the two years since she launched her side hustle, she’s landed high-profile customers like Paris Hilton and Khloe Kardashian, and is on track to make six figures in revenue this year.

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Check out 8 pitch decks that legal-tech startups used to raise millions

legal tech lady justice code 4x3
The legal-tech space has raised more than $1 billion in funding so far this year.

  • Funding for legal-tech has surprassed $1 billion for 2021 so far.
  • VC firms, private equity, and even traditional law players are pouring money in.
  • Check out these 8 pitch decks for examples of how legal-tech startup founders sold their vision.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

As law firms and their clients seek to digitize and streamline work, VCs have been opening their wallets to the growing legal-tech space. The total value of deals in the global legal-tech market through the end of the third quarter clocks in at $1.47 billion – far surpassing the $607 million figure from all of 2020, according to data from PitchBook.

Private equity firms are also increasingly eyeing legal tech, investing more than $3.6 billion in Q1 of 2021 alone, according to market intelligence platform Bodhala.

Here’s a look at our legal-tech pitch deck collection.


ContractPodAi

masayoshi son softbank
SoftBank founder Masa Son.

A startup looking to streamline how companies handle contracts nabbed an investment from one of the world’s most high-profile investors in a nod to the rising interest in legal tech.

ContractPodAi, which helps in-house legal teams automate and manage their contracts, raised a $115 million Series C in late September led by SoftBank. The round quintupled ContractPodAi’s valuation since its last funding round in 2019, though the company declined to disclose specific valuation numbers.

The investment came from SoftBank’s Vision Fund 2. Its predecessor, the original $100 billion megafund Vision Fund, has invested in dozens of household names including WeWork, Uber, and DoorDash. While some of the fund’s bets were wildly successful, others fell short of expectations.

ContractPodAi is the first legal-tech investment by either of SoftBank’s Vision Funds.

Here’s the 7-page pitch deck that legal-tech startup ContractPodAi used to convince SoftBank’s Masa Son to lead its $115 million Series C


Jus Mundi

Jean-Rémi de Maistre CEO Jus Mundi
Jean-Rémi de Maistre, CEO and co-founder of Jus Mundi.

Jus Mundi, an AI-powered legal search engine for international law and arbitration, snapped up $10 million for its Series A in September 2021.

In 2019, Jean-Rémi de Maistre, a former lawyer at the International Court of Justice, co-launched the company after realizing how hard it was to conduct research for cross-border legal cases.

Paris-based Jus Mundi raised a €1 million ($1.17 USD) seed round in March 2020, spurring a fivefold growth in annual recurring revenue over the span of 2020, according to the company. Its most recent $10 million Series A was led by C4 Ventures, a European VC firm founded by Pascal Cagni, a former head of Apple Europe. The VC firm has also invested in hot-ticket companies like Foursquare, Nest, and Via.

Here’s the 16-page pitch deck that landed legal research company Jus Mundi a $10 million Series A


LawVu

LawVu's cofounders, Tim Boyne and Sam Kidd, in front of an artsy wall
LawVu co-founders Tim Boyne and Sam Kidd.

LawVu, an end-to-end software platform for in-house legal teams, snapped up a $17 million Series A in August.

Founded in 2015, the New Zealand-based startup enables companies’ in-house lawyers to manage contracts, documents, billing, and more on one platform.

The funding round was led by the private-equity firm Insight Partners, which has invested in other legal-tech companies like DocuSign, Kira Systems, and ContractPodAI, as well as big-ticket businesses like Twitter, Shopify, and Hello Fresh. AirTree Ventures, an Australia-based venture-capital firm, co-led the Series A.

See the 12-page pitch deck that LawVu, a startup that wants to be Salesforce for lawyers, used to nab $17 million from investors like Insight Partners


Athennian

Adrian Camara
Athennian’s CEO and founder, Adrian Camara.

Athennian, which helps law firms and legal departments manage data and workflow around legal entities, raised a $7 million CAD (more than $5.5 million USD) Series A extension in the beginning of March, nearly doubling its initial $8 million Series A round last year.

Athennian’s revenue and headcount more than doubled since the original Series A, according to founder and CEO Adrian Camara. He declined to disclose revenue numbers, but said that the sales and marketing team grew from 35 people in September to around 70 in March.

Launched in 2017, Athennian is used by nearly 200 legal departments and law firms, including Dentons, Fastkind, and Paul Hastings, to automate documents like board minutes, stock certificates, and shareholder consents.

The Series A extension was led by Arthur Ventures. New investors Touchdown Ventures and Clio’s CEO, Jack Newton, also participated in the round, alongside Round13 Capital and other existing investors. To date, Athennian has raised $17 million CAD, or around $14 million USD, in venture capital funding, per Pitchbook.

Here’s the small but mighty pitch deck that nearly doubled legal tech Athennian’s Series A to $12 million.


Evisort

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Evisort’s CEO and co-founder Jerry Ting.

Contract tech is the frontrunner in the legal tech space, as companies across industries seek to streamline their contract creation, negotiation, and management processes.

Evisort, a contract lifecycle management (CLM) platform, raised $35 million in its Series B announced late February, bringing total funding to $55.5 million. The private equity firm General Atlantic led its latest funding round, with participation from existing investors Amity Ventures, Microsoft’s venture firm M12, and Vertex Ventures.

Founded in 2016, Evisort uses artificial intelligence to help businesses categorize, search, and act on documents.

Its CEO Jerry Ting founded Evisort while he was still attending Harvard Law School. He spent one summer working at Fried Frank, but soon realized that he didn’t want to be a lawyer because he didn’t want to spend excruciating hours manually reading fifty-page contracts. He did, however, recognize how important they are to corporations, and co-founded Evisort as a tool to locate and track valuable information like a contract’s expiration date and obligations like payment dates.

Evisort’s CEO walks through the 11-page pitch deck that the contract software startup used to nab $35 million from investors like General Atlantic – and lays out its path to an IPO


Contractbook

Contractbook_founders_2 min
Niels Brøchner, Jarek Owczarek, and Viktor Heide founded Contractbook to offer a client-centric tool to manage contracts,

Try to imagine the contracts negotiation process, and one might conjure up a scene where a sheaf of papers, tucked discreetly into a manila folder, is shuttled from one law office to the mahogany table of another. With a stroke of a fountain pen, the deal is sealed.

Those old-school methods have long been replaced with the adoption of PDFs, redlined versions of which zip from email inbox to inbox. Now, contracting is undergoing another digital shift that will streamline the process as companies are becoming more comfortable with tech and are seeking greater efficiencies – and investors are taking note.

Contractbook, a Denmark-based contract lifecycle management platform, late last year raised $9.4 million in its Series A investment round, led by venture capital titan Bessemer Venture Partners. In November 2019, Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI-focused venture fund, led Contractbook’s $3.9 million seed round.

Founded in Copenhagen in 2017, Contractbook uses data to automate documents, offering an end-to-end contracts platform for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Niels Brøchner, the company’s CEO and co-founder, said that Contractbook was born out of the notion that existing contract solutions failed to use a document’s data – from names of parties to the folder the document is stored in – to automate the process and drive workflow.

Here’s the 13-page pitch deck that Contractbook, which wants to take on legal tech giants like DocuSign, used to raise $9.4 million from investors like Bessemer Ventures


Disco

Kiwi Camara DISCO headshot
Kiwi Camara, CEO and cofounder of Disco.

Cloud-based technology is having its moment, especially in the legal industry.

As attorneys have been propelled to work remotely amid the pandemic, data security and streamlined work processes are top-of-mind for law firms, leading them to adopt cloud technology.

Investors are taking note. Disco, a cloud-based ediscovery platform that uses artificial intelligence to streamline the litigation process, snapped up $60 million in equity financing in October.

Its Series F, led by Georgian Partners and also backed by VC titans like Bessemer Venture Partners and LiveOak Venture Partners, brings total investment to $195 million, valuing the company at $785 million.

Launched in Houston in 2012, Disco offers AI-fueled products geared towards helping lawyers review and analyze vast quantities of documents, allowing them to more efficiently determine which ones are relevant to a case.

The CEO of Disco, a legal tech that sells cloud-based discovery software, walked us through a 20-page pitch deck the startup used to nab $60 million


BlackBoiler

Dan Broderick BlackBoiler
Dan Broderick, cofounder and CEO of BlackBoiler.

BlackBoiler is an automated contract markup software that’s used by Am Law 25 firms and several Fortune 1000 companies.

The software uses machine learning to automate the process of reviewing and revising documents in “track changes.” This saves attorneys the time they would typically spend marking up contracts that often use standard boilerplate language.

As a pre-execution software used in the negotiation and markup stage of the contracts process, BlackBoiler has carved out a unique space in the $35 billion contracts industry, said Dan Broderick, a lawyer who co-founded the company in 2015 and is now its CEO.

Broderick walked Insider through the pitch deck the company used to attract funding from investors, including DocuSign as well as 10 attorneys that run the gamut from Am Law 50 partners to general counsel at large corporations.

Check out the 14-page pitch deck that contract-editing startup BlackBoiler used to nab $3.2 million from investors including DocuSign

Read the original article on Business Insider

The top 1% officially have more money than the whole middle class

Rich People
The top 1% are doing very well.

  • The latest data from the Federal Reserve shows that the top 1% has more wealth than the middle 60% of the income distribution.
  • While most Americans have seen an increase in net worth over the last year, the fortunes of the very top have skyrocketed.
  • Wealth and income inequality are top priorities for progressives in Congress.

American wealth is only getting more concentrated at the top.

As Bloomberg first reported, the middle 60% of American households by income now cumulatively hold less in assets than the top 1%. It’s the latest data point in a trend of increasing wealth concentration for the top and stagnation for everyone else.

According to the latest release on the distribution of wealth in the US from the Federal Reserve, as of the second quarter of 2021, the top 1% of Americans by income had an aggregate net worth of $36.2 trillion, edging out the aggregate net worth of the middle 60% of $35.7 trillion. That’s the first time the total wealth of the top 1% has been higher than the middle 60% since the Federal Reserve began tracking this data in 1989:

Both the top and the middle have added quite a bit to their aggregate wealth since the beginning of the pandemic. Government stimulus and social support packages over the last year and a half bolstered the balance sheets of the middle class, jolting that pattern of stagnation. For example, researchers at Barnard College, Columbia University, and Bocconi University say that the expansion of the child tax credit – which delivers monthly checks to parents – “represented a historic deviation from the direction of the U.S. welfare state throughout the past three decades.”

At the same time, stock markets have been on a wild tear after their initial dip last March, greatly adding to the wealth of those at the top In 2020 the top 1% of Americans added around $4 trillion to their wealth – more than the total amount of wealth that the bottom 5o% of Americans held that year. Since the pandemic began, American billionaires added $1.8 trillion to their collective net worths, according to a report from the left-leaning Institute for Policy Studies and Americans for Tax Fairness.

Wealth accumulation has become increasingly harder for the typical American family over the past five decades. Jason Furman, a former top economist to President Barack Obama, found that from 1943 to 1973, the typical American family would double their income around every 23 years. But over the past five decades, that amount of time has lengthened to 100 years.

“We are in an absolute crisis of inequality,” Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter of Furman’s findings, which he testified about in front of the Select Committee on Economic Disparity and Fairness in Growth.

Some of that inequality could be addressed if progressives get their way. They’ve laid out a number of tax increases aimed at the highest-earners, with revenue meant to offset spending on a $3.5 trillion infrastructure package. An analysis from the Tax Policy Center finds that the top 1% would see their taxes go up by around $160,000 if Democrats’ tax plan passes; the top 0.1% would pay $1.1 million more.

In a tweet, Senator Bernie Sanders didn’t mince words: “We must stand up to a corrupt oligarchy. It is not acceptable that the top 1% now owns more wealth than our entire middle class. We must pass the $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act, invest in the working class & take on the greed of the billionaires by taxing the rich.”

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Another 4 million workers quit for the 5th month in a row, and it shows how the pandemic is still making people rethink what they want out of work and life

someone quitting job during covid
  • In August, more than 4 million workers quit their jobs – marking the fifth month in a row of record quits.
  • It’s a trend that’s only accelerated and shows no signs of stopping as the pandemic continues on.
  • Workers are likely quitting over work conditions, pay, the virus itself, or rethinking their own lives.

The number of people quitting reached yet another record high in August, with about 4.3 million Americans leaving their jobs behind – especially in retail, food services, and hospitality.

That means nearly 3% of the US workforce quit in August, according to Tuesday’s data release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover Summary. It’s the fifth month in a row that broke the record and the highest since the BLS started collecting this data in 2001.

Employers scrambling to hire and bemoaning labor shortages likely won’t see relief as, workers show no sign of stopping one of the pandemic’s hottest trend: Quitting your job.

Even as the country added a paltry 366,000 jobs in August – far below economists’ expectations – and an equally dismal 194,000 jobs in September, workers seemed to have no qualms about leaving the jobs they already had. Those smaller gains were driven by the rise of the Delta variant, as the pandemic’s stronghold on the economy and employment continued with increasingly high case loads. But they also signal that workers are increasingly exercising their power and feel comfortable quitting – which isn’t a bad thing economically.

That tracks with who’s quitting: It seems that low-paid, mostly in-person roles saw the largest number of workers quitting. For example, departures were driven by workers leaving accommodations and food services, where the number of workers quitting reached their own series high; the quits rate in that industry was 6.8%, over double the average rate across all industries.

Retail trade also saw its own series high, with the quits rate coming in at 4.7%. Both industries rely heavily on in-person service, which has taken its own dip during the pandemic, and both have struggled with anecdotal labor shortages. Many workers require more – whether it’s benefits, higher wages, or better working conditions – to put their lives on the line for those roles, economists have told Insider.

A survey of 2,099 respondents by jobs site Joblist found that nearly three-quarters of all respondents were thinking about leaving their jobs during July, August or September, Insider’s Grace Dean and Madison Hoff reported. That number was the highest for hospitality workers, with 77% thinking about quitting.

Workers quitting can also lead to cyclical short staffing, causing burnout amongst remaining workers. A September note from Bank of America researchers said that some employers were addressing the labor shortage by simply leaning more on the workers they have. But, as the report’s authors wrote, “this is not sustainable: you can only speed up the treadmill for so long.”

So why’s everyone quitting?

There’s no one answer as to why workers are turning their backs on jobs. Tuesday’s data release doesn’t capture people who are job switching out of one industry into another or into a higher paying role, as Indeed economist Nick Bunker pointed out on Twitter.

The number of people not working due to either caring for themselves or someone else sick with coronavirus symptoms skyrocketed over the summer. To make matters worse, childcare centers have been closing again due to increased case loads.

In August, Daniel Zhao, a senior economist at Glassdoor, told Insider that 3.7 million more people would have quit if there’d been no pandemic – those “missing quits” have continually shrunk as workers leave in droves and make up for lost time.

And then there’s the more existential answer. Organizational psychologist Anthony Klotz, who came up with the phrase the “Great Resignation,” previously told Insider that humans step back and ask existential questions when they come in close contact with death and illness – something tragically abundant throughout the pandemic. That can lead to “life pivots.”

“One hopefully silver lining of this horrible pandemic would be if the world of work transitioned to a more healthy, sustainable place for employee wellbeing,” Klotz said.

Have you quit your job in the past few months and want to share your story? Email these reporters at and .

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US job openings slide for the first time in 6 months in August – and more people quit than ever

Hiring fair Florida coronavirus
A man hands his resume to an employer at the 25th annual Central Florida Employment Council Job Fair at the Central Florida Fairgrounds.

  • US job openings dropped to 10.4 million from 11.1 million in August, according to JOLTS data published Wednesday.
  • The reading missed the median estimate of 10.9 million openings and snapped a five-month streak of record highs.
  • The report also shows openings continuing to exceed workers and hiring slowing sharply.

Job openings fell for the first time in six months as the labor market’s recovery slumped in August.

Openings fell to 10.4 million from 11.1 million, according to Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS, data published Tuesday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expected openings to drop to 10.93 million. The reading marks the first decline since December 2020.

The report signals the labor shortage still going strong in August as the Delta wave intensified. Openings first shot higher through the spring as businesses struggled to attract workers. The labor shortage quickly led some firms to raise wages, while others waited for the virus threat to fade. And while job creation boomed through the summer, openings kept rising to fresh records.

August payroll growth shows Delta’s impact on job creation. The US economy added just 366,000 jobs that month, down from the 1.1-million-payroll gain seen in July and less than half the median forecast. The Delta variant was now officially hampering the hiring recovery, and September gains weren’t any better. Data out Friday showed the US creating just 194,000 payrolls last month, marking the smallest one-month gain of the pandemic era.

The August JOLTS data suggests labor demand held strong amid the hiring slowdown. The worker-to-opening ratio tells a similar story. There were roughly 0.8 available workers for every job opening in August, matching the July reading and ending a steady decline. Readings below mean there are more listings than workers to fill them, and the ratio first fell below 1 in June.

Typically, an abundance of openings comes late in economic expansions. Yet the extraordinary amount of unfilled postings pulled the ratio below zero far more quickly than in past recoveries.

Separately, quits rocketed to a record-high 4.3 million from 4 million in August. Quits have been elevated throughout the spring and summer as workers ditch their old jobs for new work. The extraordinary amount of quitting shows Americans’ confidence in their ability to find work. Still, the shakeup is sure to slow the return to pre-pandemic employment levels.

Where Americans can find jobs and where they’re leaving them

The JOLTS data lags the government’s payrolls reports by one month, meaning some takeaways are already stale by the time they’re published. Still, the Tuesday report reveals just where labor demand is booming and where it’s drying up.

Openings dropped the most in the health care and social assistance sector, with related businesses losing 224,000 postings. Hotels, restaurants, and bars shed 178,000 openings, and public schools cut 124,000 openings. Despite the declines, the three sectors still count for a great deal of the country’s job openings.

Openings increased by 22,000 across federal government roles, according to the report.

The sectors with the biggest declines in openings also saw quits soar. Quits rose at hotels, restaurants, and bars by 157,000, while they increased by 25,000 at public schools. The wholesale trade sector gained 26,000 quits in August as well.

With Delta case counts ripping higher throughout the month, the latest data reflects an exodus from in-person jobs. Just as the August jobs report showed hiring following the path of the virus, the JOLTS data suggest service businesses will struggle to fill openings until the coronavirus poses less of a threat.

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Burned out frontline workers are seeking out the lesser evil in their job searches

Hands coming out of a fire inside an open briefcase representing mass job resignation during the COVID-19 pandemic
Many workers are desperate for new lesser evil jobs.

  • Workers are switching industries to get away from abuse, burnout, and harassment.
  • Experts attributed the industry changes to the lack of well-paying, harassment-free hourly gigs.
  • Workers said they recognize every job has its challenges, but they’re choosing ones that benefit their mental health.

Former flight attendant Jada Magwood recalled passengers verbally assaulting her on multiple occasions during the COVID-19 pandemic – including when a police officer had to escort an intoxicated, violent traveler off her plane.

Magwood recently left the travel industry for a job at a tech startup. She didn’t plan on quitting, but the burnout from passenger violence prompted her to seek out jobs without much customer-facing interaction.

Flight attendants, like retail workers and nurses, have endured unruly, and at times violent, behavior from customers over the past year. Some Americans are aggressively opposing mask mandates, while others might be lashing out due to the trauma of the pandemic, experts and workers said.

Workers in general are ditching their usual sector in search of greener pastures. A Prudential survey from April 2021 found that one in five respondents switched jobs during the pandemic, while 26% said they planned to seek new employment after the coronavirus threat subsides.

The abuse “heightened the feeling of being disposable to our airlines during the pandemic,” Magwood said. “At the end of the day, I got to a point where I was not getting paid enough to deal with situations like that.”

Southwest flight attendant cleans the aircraft
Flight attendants are quitting for jobs in different industries due to the uptick in unruly passengers.

Searching for the lesser evil

After months of coping with the abuse, many frontline workers are desperate to find different jobs with new problems that they’re not used to dealing with, gigs that represent the lesser evil. That means beleaguered restaurant staff want to work at warehouses. Tired warehouse workers are desperate to get into retail. Exhausted retail workers are pondering going back to nursing school. And so on.

Magwood said she recognizes working at a tech startup won’t be easy, given the industry’s high rates of burnout and sometimes long work hours. But her company offers mental health days and the ability to work from home permanently, both of which are a welcome change after months dealing with unruly air travelers.

“As a flight attendant, you don’t have the luxury of being able to take 10 minutes for yourself unless you want to stand in the lavatory for those 10 minutes,” she said.

Like Magwood, Jessica Walsh spent much of the pandemic dealing with what she called “snippy,” short-tempered customers in her job in the paint department of a Menard’s craft store in the Midwest.

Walsh said she regularly had to choose between asking sometimes violent customers to put their mask on or letting the shopper potentially expose her to COVID-19. Eventually, she left for a receptionist gig. Walsh said she appreciated how seldom she interacted with clients face-to-face at her new job.

“A lot of people seem to have found other work or expressed moving into different industries; I have a couple friends that have gone back to school,” Walsh told Insider. “The idea seems to be: ‘Get away from retail.'”

worker csat
Warehouses are targeting restaurant workers for recruitment.

Workers and employers are crossing industry lines to find new opportunities

It’s not just employees. The ongoing labor crunch has even prompted a few employers to reach across industry lines in order to attract new applicants. Some supply chain companies strapped for staff are specifically targeting quick-service restaurant employees.

“We’ve found that those types of workers have made a nice transition to warehouse work. They’re very hard workers and used to hourly work,” Maggie Barnett, the COO of logistics provider ShipHero, told Insider.

But the ongoing exodus is likely going to hurt some sectors more than others. Dr. P.K. Kannan, the Dean’s Chair in marketing science at the University of Maryland Robert H. Smith School of Business, told Insider that restaurant workers in particular “found other options” after eateries shut down.

But the challenging hiring environment could also prove to be an opportunity for blue collar workers looking to make a big change.

“If you’ve ever had a dream company you’ve wanted to work for, then now is the time to go for it,” Mathieu Stevenson, CEO of hourly work online marketplace Snagajob, told Insider. “Some hourly employers that we work with are basically saying, ‘We will interview anyone who is willing to work with us as long as they meet the minimum criteria.'”

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A podcast for retail workers is calling out the ‘soul-defeating’ industry for harsh management, abusive customers, and poverty wages

Man screaming into a megaphone while sitting in a shopping cart on a light blue background.

At the returns desk of a home decór store, a woman brought in flower pot writhing with gray maggots in its base. She was furious when an employee said the store would be unable to process the return, given the larvae-infested state of the product.

Steve Rowland, a manager, watched back footage of the exchange like game tape, wondering where the employee went wrong. The customer, who eventually called up the corporate office, hadn’t followed the simple instructions to drill drainage holes in the pot. Still, Rowland was told by a district manager to reprimand the employee for the interaction, despite the fact he’d followed the company’s guidelines. The customer eventually received a full refund and an additional $50 store credit.

For Rowland and his staff, it was just another morale-deadening example of management siding against employees who were just following company rules.

After 33 years in retail, Rowland was laid off from his job due to COVID-19. So in February 2021, he did what many others have done: He started a podcast. “Retail Warzone” is hosted by Rowland and Alex Rowland (no relation). The podcast showcases workers’ “horror stories” each week and advocates for pro-worker changes within the sector.

“Retail in general is very soul-defeating,” Rowland told Insider. “It breaks your spirit after a certain amount of time.”

And the state of retail jobs affects a large swath of the labor force. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020 there were about 4 million retail sales jobs, 3.4 million cashier gigs, and 4.4 million food server posts in the United States.

“That’s a lot of people getting stomped on,” Rowland said.

The pandemic has shone a light on the plight of many service workers. Retail workers have contended with workplace violence, often at the hands of enraged shoppers convinced that “the customer is always right.” Rage-quitting and ghosting have become common practices, as a result of these conditions. Many work for low pay, as the federal minimum wage hasn’t risen from $7.25 since 2009 and has failed to keep up with housing costs and productivity. Outsiders levy criticisms about retail workers being lazy, due to the labor shortage.

When he started out in retail in 1988, Rowland said customers would still cross a store to put back items that they decided against purchasing. Over the years, he felt himself watching “the wheels come off the wagon” as “society basically devolved in real time.” Rowland said he blames retailers valuing “profits over people” and rewarding bad behavior from shoppers.

“Customers have become more entitled, more emboldened to treat retail employees, hospitality employees, and grocery employees like servants,” he said. “You’re not paid enough to be a punching bag for the customer. But corporations are willing to sacrifice the mental health and safety of an employee for avoiding getting a bad review on Facebook or Amazon.”

According to Rowland, the result for workers is burnout and depression, on top of issues like low pay, poor benefits, and a lack of professional stability. The podcast host said that, thanks to the hiring crunch, “the workforce has more power right now than they ever have in the history of the retail industry.” Still, he’s upset by the lack of appreciation that frontline workers have received during the pandemic, even after being declared “essential.”

“Retail workers got a little bit of a break in 2020 from the abuse,” Rowland said. “But as soon as we turned the corner into 2021, everybody forgot that and the treatment got worse.”

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More women left the work force in September than the US economy added jobs

woman sitting on the floor in an office wearing a mask
  • In September, women left the labor force in high numbers, meaning they weren’t actively looking for work or employed.
  • According to the latest jobs report, 309,000 women ages 20 and over left the labor force last month.
  • Experts say that’s driven by lack of accessible childcare and the pandemic.

The Delta variant, a chaotic back-to-school season, and childcare issues have all led to yet another dismal month for women’s employment. In September, hundreds of thousands of women dropped out of the labor force completely last month, while men came back.

The US gained 194,000 nonfarm payroll jobs last month, below the estimate of 500,000. Women lost 26,000 jobs in September, according to the establishment survey of businesses run by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“If you look in the economy, women are not coming back into the workforce in as strong of a way as we would want, or as the economy needs in order to continue to expand,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told Insider. “And it’s clear that the number one reason for that is that women are still struggling to find high quality, stable, affordable childcare.”

As seen in the below chart, while 182,000 men aged 20 and over entered the labor force in September, 309,000 women aged 20 and over left the labor force. That means that they weren’t working or actively looking for work.

Jasmine Tucker, director of research at the National Women’s Law Center, told Insider that she’s not surprised by this number, and in fact thought it could have been even higher.

Tucker said with many schools not providing a remote learning option and concerns about the Delta variant, “that there were going to be another wave of labor force dropouts.” She said it came as “no surprise that that was going to fall to women’s shoulders to take on.”

In fact, September marked the biggest drop of labor force participation for women this year – and the National Women’s Law Center notes that this is the biggest drop since September 2020.

The following chart shows just how much labor force participation differs between men and women:

Betsey Stevenson, a former top economist for President Barack Obama, wrote on Twitter that “Women’s employment growth has driven every recovery and its women’s employment growth that has nearly ground to a halt and has slowed our recovery.”

This can be seen when looking at the Great Recession, where women returned to pre-crisis employment levels earlier than men. The following chart shows what the employment recovery looks like for men and women so far during the pandemic and how it compares to recovery from the Great Recession:

Women’s employment is 3.59% below its level in February 2020. Men’s employment isn’t as far below, at only 2.82% below where it was before the pandemic.

Investing in childcare and paid leave could help ease the situation

Tucker said there are a few things that the US and employers can do to support getting women – and parents, broadly – into the labor force. This includes investing in childcare infrastructure, giving all parents access to paid leave, and “strengthen workplace protections.”

“We need to make it so that women can afford to go back to work,” Tucker said. “We need to raise the minimum wage. We need to put in job protections, we need to pave the path for unions so that these jobs are good quality jobs.”

Some good news is that child day care services did add 17,800 jobs in September, although it’s still 10.4% below pre-pandemic levels. But a lot of childcare still remains inaccessible.

“It’s expensive, and a lot of women can’t afford it,” Raimondo said. “That really holds them back from fully participating in the labor force. They don’t take on all the hours. They don’t work full time. They don’t go for promotions and it’s a huge drag on the economy.”

As Tucker succinctly put it: “If you’re not making enough to cover your childcare costs, then you’re probably not going to go back to work.”

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