In the loop: status anxiety and rates relief

As the government tried to quell the backlash against its business rates plans, WhatsApp got tongues wagging with its new, Snapchat-like features

In the loop: status anxiety and rates relief

Workers clocking up billions of pounds worth of unpaid overtime

If you’re in the habit of gobbling a sandwich at your desk while checking emails, pulling late nights or using Sundays to get a head start on the week ahead, you’re far from alone. According to the TUC, the national trade union centre, busy Brits put in £33.6bn worth of unpaid overtime last year, which averages to about 7.7 hours a week.

Highlighting the fact that before today the average person who does unpaid overtime has effectively been working for free for the whole year, the union has branded February 24 national Work Your Proper Hours Day. And according to its findings, chief executives clocked up the highest number of unpaid overtime, proving that it’s not all long lunches and early clock-off times when you reach the top.

Commenting on the report, Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, said that the best bosses understand that long hours doesn’t always equal good work, advising workers to “make a stand today, take your full lunch break and go home on time”. We like the sound of that.

Jay Z rumoured to be launching his own venture-capital firm

As one half of the music industry’s most powerful and wealthy couples, Jay Z has consistently demonstrated his business acumen and has a stellar track record of investing wisely in startups. And according to Dan Primack, business reporter at Axios, the Moet-loving music mogul is immersing himself into the startup world even more by launching a new VC fund. Teaming up with Roc Nation president Jay Brown and VC capital firm Sherpa Capital, Jay Z is reportedly seeking another partner and will be concentrating on backing seed-stage tech companies.

And if his previous investments are anything to go by, he seems to have a knack for spotting a rising star. The rapper invested in Uber back in 2011 and his shares are now worth a cool 20 times more today than what he paid for them. And Tidal, a streaming service he snapped up, has been valued at $600m – over 10 times the $56m he originally invested.

Jay Z once rapped “I’m not a businessman; I’m a business, man”. Either way, we have a feeling tech startups will be queuing round the block to get in front of these investors.

Government help for firms hit by the business rates review

While Sajid Javid tried to enjoy his holiday last week, the backlash against news that business rates were to be reviewed for the first time since 2010 gathered pace. And once back on British soil, the communities secretary struck a decidedly conciliatory note as he addressed the Commons on Wednesday, admitting that “more needs to be done to level the playing field and make the system fairer”. He also announced that businesses hurt most by the changes could receive support in the next budget in an attempt to soothe concerns.

While it’s not clear what the support package will look like, there’s one thing for sure: when April 1 comes around there will be winners and losers. Businesses in poor areas may become more well off but those operating in postcodes where property prices have risen are set to see their costs spiral. And it’s those ventures that will be scrutinising the government’s next budget most closely. 

WhatsApp’s new features dubbed a Snapchat Stories clone

It seems Facebook’s attitude to Snapchat is ‘if you can’t buy them, copy them’. So far, Facebook-owned messaging platform WhatsApp has carved a niche for itself as a somewhat utilitarian service. But an announcement this week of a slew of new features suggests its has ambitions to tap into the increasingly visual, playful way people communicate. And many industry commentators were quick to point out the similarities between these new features and Snapchat Stories.

With WhatsApp Status, people can now share more visual status updates with their friends for 24 hours in the form of videos, photos and GIFs. They can also layer on stickers or drawings to their stories. So far, so familiar. And having tested Status last November, WhatsApp is now rolling it out on iOS, Android and Windows Phone.

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Snapchat’s creators must be feeling pretty good about themselves right now. But they also have to be a tiny bit worried about Status’s potential to encroach on Snapchat’s territory just as it’s gearing up for an IPO.

Maria Barr
Maria Barr

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