This Black founder sold her company to P&G—she says she’s ‘selling up’

On Jan. 11, Monique Rodriguez, founder and CEO of multi-million-dollar natural hair care brand Mielle Organics, announced she had sold her company to P&G Beauty, sending Black Twitter into a frenzy. Though Rodriguez and her husband will remain CEO and COO of the brand, some consumers are upset to see that it’s no longer Black-owned.

“I don’t wanna hear nothing about supporting Black businesses because the second Black companies get all the support they need from the Black dollar they hand everything over to the person with the biggest check,” said one Twitter user.

For Black founders, success in business can be a double-edged sword. Some would consider selling your company — often for millions — to be a major accomplishment, but Black founders are continually scrutinized by their peers and customers for making this choice.

Another Black entrepreneur faced a similar backlash in 2017. Richelieu Dennis is the co-founder of Sundial Brands, which revolutionized the natural hair care business when his product, Shea Moisture, hit shelves in 2008. However, when Dennis sold the brand to Unilever in for an estimated $1.6 billion, he was called a sellout.

Rodriguez views the move both she and Dennis made as ‘selling up’ — not selling out — and says the backlash is due to a lack of general knowledge about what goes into building a business.

“People don’t understand how hard we work as business owners,” Rodriguez tells CNBC Make It. “People don’t understand what it takes to scale … that when we’re on the shelf at the retailers, we have to fight for our territory when we’re up against these larger companies. Our community doesn’t know what we go through as business owners.”

“We were nervous when we talked about our deal.”

Rodriguez and many other Black founders share a similar road to getting their businesses off the ground – depleting savings and putting any money made back into the company.

“Being a Black woman starting a company, the banks don’t believe in you. You haven’t proved yourself so investors don’t really believe in you [either]. So I had to bootstrap, utilize my paychecks and my husband’s bank account … everything would go to the business.”

While Rodriguez was making it work, in the long run, she knew continuing like this wouldn’t be sustainable. But with the success of her products, she started to catch the attention of investors, and in 2021, she got her first “historic” deal: $100 million in funding from Berkshire Partners, a private equity firm — a feat she was hesitant to share. 

“We were nervous when we talked about the Berkshire deal because we were afraid that the community was going to look at us like, okay, they partnered with this so-called white firm, but people make that assumption because they don’t understand business.” 

Selling up versus selling out

In the book “Sellout: The Politics of Racial Betrayal,” author and Harvard law professor Randall Kennedy explains that a sellout is someone who “betrays something to which she is said to owe allegiance. When used in a racial context among African Americans, ‘sellout’ is a disparaging term that refers to Blacks who knowingly or with gross negligence act against the interest of Blacks as a whole.”

This term has been thrown around loosely by many Black consumers when Black entrepreneurs partner with or sell their companies to large — and usually white owned — conglomerates. Yet, the pool of Black-owned conglomerates is slim, often leaving them with no other choice.

“If there were Black conglomerates, and Black, big, private equity firms and partnerships that allowed them to inject capital and allow us to grow, we would go to those Black companies,” Rodriguez says. “But if you can think within the universe, where are those companies? There are none. So where do we go to get the money and the capital in order to scale?”

Rodriguez says that rather than labeling these entrepreneurs as sellouts, people should view partnerships, investments, and acquisitions as opportunities to sell up.

“It’s not about selling out, it’s about selling up in order to grow and scale your company … in order to take that wealth and give back to the community.”

Using Shea Moisture as an example, Rodriguez explains that despite the backlash, the brand still operates according to the foundations set by Richelieu Dennis, and since the acquisition, he’s been able to start the New Voices Fund, a venture capital firm dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs of color, and invest in many Black-owned businesses.

The importance of an exit strategy

Having a successful business is a major accomplishment, but who’s to say that a person wants to be a business owner for the rest of their life?

“Some [entrepreneurs] may have the goal of running a business forever, or just like every individual in their career, may want to try new things and pivot,” says Angelina Darrisaw, a career coach and diversity expert. “Black business owners should have the capability of doing that as well.”

The choice to sell a business is seldom made on the fly, according to Darrisaw, who says that “one of the main things in any business course, or even as you’re writing your business plan, that a founder will be asked to consider is what is their exit strategy?”

“For founders like Monique, having exits is important for the long term … being able to have a wider pool of high net worth individuals who can support, help fundraise, and invest in other businesses so that we’re not seeing these bleak statistics anymore, like less than 1% [of Black founders] being able to secure $1 million in investments. So successful Black founders need exits to be able to pour capital back into our communities over time.”

Prior to the announcement of the P&G Beauty acquisition, Mielle Organics went viral after a white influencer, Alix Earle, encouraged her followers to buy the brand’s Rosemary Mint Oil. As a result, the product flew off of shelves nationwide, making it hard to access for Black women who relied on it.

Rodriguez’s exit as owner will not only “accelerate” the brand’s access for more Black women, but Mielle and P&G both pledged $10 million to expand the impact of the Mielle Cares charity, which provides education, economic opportunities and business relief for Black communities.

Rodriguez urges people to celebrate Black founders who achieve these milestones, instead of tearing them down.

“We can’t get ahead as a community if we continue to talk badly against people that make wise, strategic decisions to grow their business and to create generational wealth in their communities. So I think we need to just normalize partnerships. We need to normalize these collaborations, and congratulate these brands for doing things and selling up to create wealth and to reach back and help Black community.”

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Alex Rodriguez reveals the book ‘that changed my financial life’

Alex Rodriguez is just as interested in Prince Harry as the rest of the world.

The co-owner of the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves and former New York Yankees All-Star third baseman this week shared five of his favorite books with his Instagram followers, with the smash hit from the British royal making the cut.

The New York-born Rodriguez — who over the course of his 24-season playing career earned $455 million, according to Spotrac — called “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” the book “that changed my financial life.”

“It was really the epitome of what my poor parents taught me and exactly the opposite, I’m teaching my daughters,” he said.

The self-help book, which had sold tens of millions of copies in more than 40 languages, is an allegorical story about author Robert Kiyosaki and his biological father, the “poor dad,” and his best friend’s father, the “rich dad.”

Kiyosaki tells readers how his experiences with both men shaped his financial outlook on life, and he shares the lessons about money that he follows to this day.

Rodriguez also recommends “The Winner Within” by legendary NBA coach and executive Pat Riley, calling the book, a meditation on success and what it takes to achieve it, “more relevant today than even 30 years ago.”

Rounding out his list, Rodriguez recommended a trio of memoirs all written by the same ghostwriter: J.R. Moehringer.

In addition to Prince Harry’s “Spare”, Rodriguez liked Moehringer work on 2009′s “Open” for American tennis star Andre Agassi and 2016′s “Shoe Dog” for Nike founder Phil Knight. 

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Ron Klain, Biden’s White House chief of staff, is reportedly expected to step down

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (R) is joined by Ebola Response Coordinator Ron Klain (L) in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington, U.S. November 13, 2014.

Larry Downing | Reuters

White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain is preparing to step down in the coming weeks, according to a report from The New York Times.

Klain, a longtime adviser to President Joe Biden, supported Biden through his 2020 campaign and has helped guide his administration since he was elected to office. After the midterm elections in November and an action-packed two years in the White House, Klain has told colleagues that he is ready for something different, the report said.

A search for Klain’s replacement is reportedly underway, but it is not clear if a successor has already been chosen or when the decision will be announced.

Klain previously acted as Biden’s chief of staff during former President Barack Obama’s first term, and he’s worked with Biden since he ran for president back in 1987. Biden selected Klain as his chief of staff in November 2020, and he has been a part of the administration’s various successes and failures ever since — Klain helped oversee the Covid-19 relief plan and vaccine distribution, the bipartisan infrastructure program and historic investments in climate change while battling high levels of inflation and slowing economic growth.

Klain’s resignation would be a significant departure in an administration that has so far avoided many turnovers. All of Biden’s statutory cabinet members have stayed on, and Klain is proud he has lasted longer than any other Democratic president’s first chief of staff in more than 50 years, according to the Times report.

Former President Donald Trump, in contrast, was on his third chief of staff, his third national security advisor and had lost 15 of his initial cabinet secretary appointees by this point in his presidency.

Klain has been open about his intentions to eventually leave his post, and he will stay long enough to help the new chief of staff transition and settle in, according to the Times.

The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s requests for comment.

Read the full New York Times report here.

Ex-Genesis execs raised cash for crypto hedge fund before bankruptcy

Crypto broker Genesis files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Just weeks before crypto lender Genesis filed for bankruptcy, three former employees of the company had secured millions of dollars for a new crypto hedge fund, according to correspondence viewed by CNBC.

Matt Ballensweig, who left Genesis in September after more than five years at the firm, sent a message to a prospective investor in mid-December, regarding a fund he was starting called Hunting Hill Digital. Ballensweig said he’d already secured $2.5 million from Bessemer Venture Partners at a $30 million post-money valuation, and wrote in the message that he and his partners were in the process of raising another $5 million.

The fund’s “flagship product” would go live in the first quarter of 2023, the message said.

Other partners in the fund would include Martin Garcia, who spent more than six years at Genesis, and Reed Werbitt, Genesis’ former head of trading, the message said. Werbitt, Garcia, and Ballensweig all left Genesis around the same time in 2022.

Genesis, which is owned by Barry Silbert’s Digital Currency Group, filed for bankruptcy protection on Thursday, the latest casualty in the industry contagion caused by the collapse of crypto exchange FTX in November. In its bankruptcy filing, Genesis listed over 100,000 creditors, with aggregate liabilities ranging from $1.2 billion to $11 billion dollars.

Ballensweig was named in legal filings surrounding the implosion of Genesis’ lending book. Gemini, a crypto exchange and major Genesis client, accused Ballensweig of falsely reassuring Gemini in July that Genesis was financially stable. Gemini claimed that Ballensweig told its representatives that Genesis had “capital to operate… for the long term,” according to court filings.

Ballensweig did not respond to a request for comment on the allegations made against him by Gemini or on his recent capital raise.

Ballensweig spent his final nine months at Genesis as managing director and co-head of trading and lending.

The ex-Genesis employees teamed up with Adam Guren from hedge fund Hunting Hill, Ballensweig said. Hunting Hill is a $718 million hedge fund, which launched in 2010 and moved into digital asset investing in 2020 with a crypto opportunities fund.

Neither Hunting Hill nor Bessemer immediately responded to a request for comment.

Ballensweig pitched the flagship product as an “alpha multistrat (delta neutral),” or a fund specializing in multi-strategy, low-risk, high-return investments. He added that the trio would also launch two other beta products including a “Top 25 Index” and a “DeFi beta.”

“Think you’d be a valuable early partner,” Ballensweig said in his pitch.

Ballensweig isn’t the only Genesis alum seeking to launch a fund. Roshun Patel, a former vice president at Genesis who left the company in March after almost four years, was raising cash for a new fund in mid-2022. CNBC reached out to Garcia, Werbitt and Patel for comment on their raises but did not immediately hear back.

WATCH: Crypto lender Genesis files for bankruptcy

Crypto lender Genesis files for bankruptcy, and bitcoin reclaims $21,000 level: CNBC Crypto World

Google employees scramble for answers after layoffs hit long-tenured

Google employees are scrambling for answers from leadership and from colleagues as the company undergoes a massive layoff.

On Friday, Alphabet-owned Google announced it was cutting 12,000 employees, roughly 6% of the full-time workforce. While employees had been bracing for a potential layoff, they are questioning leadership about the criteria for layoffs which surprised some employees, who woke up to find their access to company properties cut off. Some of the laid-off employees had been long-tenured or recently promoted, raising questions about the criteria used to decide whose jobs were cut.

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Shortly after CEO Sundar Pichai’s initial email to employees Friday morning, Google’s search boss Prabhakar Raghavan sent an email to employees saying he “also feels the responsibility to reach out” and asking for them to save questions for next week’s town hall. There will be “bumps in the road” as the organization moves forward with the layoffs, Raghavan noted.

The company provided an FAQ for the layoffs, which CNBC has seen, but employees have complained that it doesn’t give much detail on many answers. Employees have flooded Dory, the company’s question-asking platform, and set up virtual communities to figure out who’s been laid off and why. Directors have been telling employees to hold questions for the town hall taking place next week.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The scramble highlights the challenges Google could face in maintaining a supportive and productive company culture for its restive workforce of more than 160,000 full-time employees. Further confrontations are possible, as the company said it plans to lay off international employees but has yet to determine which ones.

So far in the U.S., employees have been laid off across business units including Chrome, Cloud, and its experimental Area 120 unit. Some employees working on the company’s artificial intelligence programs were also laid off, according to Bloomberg.

A list of top-rated inquiries from employees, viewed by CNBC, contained pointed questions for executives.

“How were the layoffs decided? Some high performers were let go from our teams,” one top-rated question read. “This negatively impacts the remaining Googlers who see someone with high recognition, positive reviews, promo but still getting laid off.”

“What metrics were used to determine who was laid off?” another top-rated question read. “Was the decision based on their performance, scope of work, or both, or something else?”

Another asked: “How much runway are we hoping to gain with the layoffs?” and “Would you explain clearly what the layoff allows Google to do that Google could not have done without layoffs?”

Another highly rated one questioned CEO Sundar Pichai’s statement, which said, “I take full responsibility for the decisions that led us here.”

“What does taking full responsibility entail?,” one employee asked on Dory. “Responsibility without consequence seems like an empty platitude. Is leadership forgoing bonuses and pay raises this year? Will anyone be stepping down?”

Some employees came together on their own, organizing ad hoc groups to try and get answers. Employees created a Google doc spreadsheet as a way to keep track of people who were laid off and which part of the business they worked in.

More than 5,000 laid-off employees started a Discord channel called Google post-layoffs, ranging in topics from venting to labor organizing and visa immigration. Some employees organized virtual Google meetings with people on video calls. Others tried to organize physical meet-ups.

Some turned to the company’s internal meme-generator as a means to connect with each other, for answers and for comfort. 

One meme showed Mila Kunis from the film “Friends with Benefits.” Kunis spoke to the Google logo, saying the line: “The sad thing is, I actually thought you were different.” Another meme showed former President Bill Clinton gesturing the word “zero” with the title “Leadership paycut.”

“Alphabet leadership claims ‘full responsibility’ for this decision, but that is little comfort to the 12,000 workers who are now without jobs,” said Parul Koul, executive chair of Alphabet Workers Union-CWA in a statement Friday. “This is egregious and unacceptable behavior by a company that made $17 billion dollars in profit last quarter alone.”

Inclusive Capital takes a stake in Bayer. Here are 3 ways it may build value

Logo and flags of Bayer AG are pictured outside a plant of the German pharmaceutical and chemical maker in Wuppertal, Germany.

Wolfgang Rattay | Reuters

Company: Bayer AG (BAYRY)

Activist: Inclusive Capital Partners

Percentage Ownership: 0.83%

Average Cost: n/a

Activist Commentary: Inclusive Capital Partners is a San Francisco-based investment firm focused on increasing shareholder value and promoting sound environmental, social and governance practices. It was formed in 2020 by ValueAct founder Jeff Ubben to leverage capitalism and governance in pursuit of a healthy planet and the health of its inhabitants. As a pioneering active ESG (“AESG”) investor, Inclusive seeks long-term shareholder value through active partnership with companies whose core businesses contribute solutions to this pursuit. Their primary focus is on environmental and social value creation, which creates value for shareholders.

What’s Happening?

Inclusive Capital Partners has acquired a 0.83% interest in BAYRY for investment purposes.

Behind the Scenes

As an impact-focused investor, Inclusive’s portfolio companies always have a dual mandate of being a compelling value proposition and generating a measurable positive impact on the environment and society. The firm’s thesis at Bayer is no different. Inclusive believes that Bayer, as a leader in the global agribusiness industry, is well-positioned to develop and proliferate technology which addresses humanity’s challenge of boosting food supply in the wake of increased global demand while also decreasing environmental impact.

Crop farming is a large contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. Bayer’s crop science division accounts for approximately 25% of global crop farming. Bayer has been doing a good job at its core value objective of increasing crop yields and agricultural productivity by using innovative technologies and developments in crop science that also offer substantial positive environmental impact. For example, their short-stature corn adds 15% more productivity while also retaining more carbon in the soil and resulting in less waste than standard tall corn varieties that are more easily knocked over by the wind. Also, dry rice seed has the potential to increase yield per acre and produces less methane emissions than wet rice. Additionally, Bayer is working to advance gene-edited crops using CRISPR technology, which Inclusive believes will be more accepted and faster to move to market than genetically modified crops. Emerging crops, including those that are gene-edited, are expected to offer a myriad of benefits, such as improving yields, thus decreasing agricultural land demand and deforestation and reducing reliance on pesticide and fertilizer. Ultimately, these crops result in increased food security and yields of staples like corn, wheat, rice and soy.

Inclusive highlights Bayer’s incumbency in crop science exemplified by the company’s size, talent, significant cashflow and a $2 billion R&D budget. All of this can be used to acquire, develop and scale emerging technologies with the potential for systems change. Inclusive’s focus on impact at scale is why the firm sees the conventional ESG approach to “reject and replace” imperfect incumbents as insufficient to address global challenges.

Often Inclusive invests in companies where ESG improvements drive shareholder value. In this case, it is almost the opposite: Creating shareholder value in the form of a higher stock price and a lower cost of capital will allow Bayer to finance additional ESG opportunities that will also increase crop yield and profitability.

There are several ways to create this shareholder value. First, the board should explore de-conglomerating, primarily by spinning off Monsanto, which would pave the way for a sale of at least the Consumer Health business. Bayer currently trades at approximately 7x earnings while its pure-play crop science peer, Corteva, trades at closer to 20x earnings. If Monsanto got a 20x multiple as a pure play, even after deducting $10 billion of litigation liability, it would be worth the entire market cap of Bayer today. Second, the company could put this Roundup-related litigation to bed with a global settlement. Between August 2018 and May 2019, Bayer lost three lawsuits. This resulted in approximately $11 billion in settlements. However, the company has won its last six lawsuits, which should make settling the remainder easier. Even a $10 billion global settlement would likely benefit the stock price as it would remove a ton of uncertainty and make Bayer a buyable stock for many investors who would not touch it right now. Third, Inclusive is looking to bring in a new CEO as early as its next annual meeting in the spring of this year. Werner Baumann has been serving as CEO since 2016. In September 2020, the company extended his contract until the end of April 2024. Baumann was instrumental in the Monsanto acquisition and is probably the last person who would now support spinning it off and settling its claims. This needs to be done by a fresh CEO who holds no ownership over the Monsanto deal.

Inclusive is an amicable investor that is often invited onto boards and rules by the power of persuasion. We expect this situation to be no different, particularly since the firm is likely receiving a lot of support from other shareholders who have shown their displeasure for many years. In 2019, Baumann lost a vote of no confidence at the company’s annual meeting, with 55.5% of investors voting against ratifying the top management’s actions. In March 2022, Temasek Holdings (a 3% shareholder at the time) called for the replacement of Baumann as CEO. In April 2022, shareholders voted against a management compensation plan.

Jeff Ubben has always liked companies that were misunderstood by the market, and he has another one here. Due to the Monsanto litigation, Bayer is perceived as a bad actor and is somewhat uninvestable to many. Spinning off Monsanto and settling the litigation should remove that stigma. Focusing on the ESG innovations that increase crop yield and efficiency will change the company’s image to one of impact and value. This is a prime example of how Inclusive actively and qualitatively uses ESG and activist value creation together to benefit shareholders.

Ken Squire is the founder and president of 13D Monitor, an institutional research service on shareholder activism, and he is the founder and portfolio manager of the 13D Activist Fund, a mutual fund that invests in a portfolio of activist 13D investments. Squire is also the creator of the AESG™ investment category, an activist investment style focused on improving ESG practices of portfolio companies.

Diabetes and the benefits, risks of personal health on the internet

A blood glucose control system with the help of a smartphone and a meter that is fixed to the skin.

Ute Grabowsky | Photothek | Getty Images

The internet of things to remote monitor and manage common health issues has been growing steadily, led by diabetes patients.

About one out of every 10 Americans, or 37 million people, are living with diabetes. Devices such as insulin pumps, which go back decades, and continuous glucose monitors, which monitor blood sugar levels 24/7, are increasingly connected to smartphones via Bluetooth. The increased connectivity comes with many benefits. People with type 1 diabetes can have much tighter control over their blood sugar levels because they’re able to review weeks of blood sugar and insulin dosing data, making it easier to spot trends and fine-tune dosing. In recent years, diabetes patient became so adept at remote monitoring that a DIY community of patient-hackers manipulated devices to better manage their medical needs, and the medical device industry has learned from them.

But the ability to monitor medical conditions over the internet comes with risks, including nefarious hacking. Though medical devices, which must go through FDA approval, meet a higher standard than fitness devices, there are still risks to protecting patient data and access to the device itself. The FDA has issued periodic warnings about the vulnerability of medical devices such as insulin pumps to hackers, and product makers have issued recalls related to vulnerabilities. In September, that occurred with Medtronic‘s MiniMed 600 Series insulin pump, which the company and FDA warned had a potential issue that could allow unauthorized access, creating a risk that the pump could deliver too much or not enough insulin.

Sleep apnea, Type 2 diabetes and remote health care

It’s not just diabetes where the medical device market is offering patients new benefits from remote monitoring. For sleep apnea, which is estimated to affect as many as 30 million Americans (and one billion people globally) C-PAP machines can now store and send data to health-care providers without needing an office visit. 

The number of internet-connected medical devices grew during the pandemic, as lockdowns created a big push to treat people at home. As virtual care visits rose, “it opened everybody’s eyes to home-based medical devices for remote patient monitoring,” said Gregg Pessin, a senior director of research at Gartner.

Steady sales of continuous glucose monitors and insulin pumps have buoyed companies such as Dexcom, Insulet, Medtronic and Abbott Laboratories, and diabetes tech device sales are expected to grow. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, beyond the 37 million people in the U.S. that have diabetes, there are 96 million adults are estimated to be pre-diabetic. Manufacturers of continuous glucose monitors and insulin pumps, which have been the standard of care for type 1 diabetes for years, are increasingly targeting type 2 diabetes patients as well.

Multiple forms of medical cybersecurity risk

Industry security experts categorize cybersecurity risks of medical devices into three buckets.

First, there’s the risk to patient data. Many medical devices such as insulin pumps require patients to create online accounts to download data to a computer or smartphone. These accounts could include sensitive information, not just sensitive health data but personal details such as Social Security numbers.

Another risk is to the medical device itself, as evidenced by the headlines around the risk of hackers getting into a medical device like Medtronic’s pump and changing dosage settings, with potentially fatal effects. A report by Unit 42, a cybersecurity firm that is part of Palo Alto Networks, found that 75% of infusion pumps — which include insulin pumps — had “known security gaps” that put them at risk of being compromised by attackers. May Wang, chief technology officer of internet of things security at Palo Alto Networks, said that in a lab experiment hackers gained access to infusion pumps, changing medication dosages. “So now cybersecurity is not just about privacy, not just about data leakage. It’s more about life or death,” she said.

But Gartner’s Pessin said that such risk is slight in the real world. In the controlled conditions in a laboratory, “it’s just a matter of time before you’ll be able to do it,” but in the real world, “it’d be much more difficult,” he said.

Why insulin pumps are finally getting smarter

A Medtronic spokeswoman said the company designs and manufacturers medical technologies to be as safe and secure as possible, and that its global product security office continuously monitors the security products throughout their lifecycle. The company also monitors the cybersecurity landscape to address vulnerabilities and to “take action to protect patients through a coordinated disclosure process and security bulletins.”

In September, Medtronic’s notice to users walked them through how to eliminate the risk of unintended insulin delivery by turning off the ability to dose remotely through a separate device.

The third cybersecurity risk is the connection between the medical device and network, whether it’s WiFi or 5G. As medical devices become more connected, they come with increased risk of malware, a risk well-known in other industries that could soon be in health care. Wong pointed to a case in 2014 in which Target leaked sensitive customer information after installing an HVAC system that was infected with malware.

While there aren’t any known incidents yet of this happening through medical devices used at home, it could be a matter of time, and older devices that are not updated regularly more at risk. In hospitals, old operating systems have left some medical equipment vulnerable to attack. Some medical imaging systems, which can have a lifecycle of over 20 years, are still running on Windows 98 without any security patches and there have been incidents where the MRI scanners or X-ray machines have been hacked to run crypto mining operations, unbeknownst to health-care providers.

Regulation of devices

Lawmakers and health-care leaders have been pushing for more guidance and regulations around medical device security. 

In April of last year, senators introduced the PATCH Act to require medical device makers that are applying for FDA approval to meet certain cybersecurity requirements and maintain updates and security patches. More recently, the $1.65 trillion omnibus appropriations bill passed at the end of 2022 included new medical device cybersecurity requirements. Experts said the law’s provisions did not go as far as the PATCH Act requirements, but are still significant.

An FDA spokesperson told CNBC that the new cybersecurity provisions in the omnibus bill represent a significant step forward in FDA’s oversight of cybersecurity as part of a medical device’s safety and effectiveness. Among the provisions, manufacturers will have to put plans and processes in place to disclose vulnerabilities. Device manufacturers will also have to provide updates and security patches to devices and related systems for “critical vulnerabilities that present uncontrolled risk,” in a timely manner.

How to maintain control as a consumer

As doctors are increasingly prescribing glucose monitors and insulin pumps for not just type 1 diabetes but the much more common type 2 diabetes as well, consumers weighing whether or not to use such a device can start by looking on the manufacturer’s website for statements about cybersecurity and HIPAA compliance for protection of their private health-care information. They can also ask their doctors about security, although cybersecurity experts say there is still work to be done to improve education about these risks among health-care providers.

Consumers with a medical device connected to the internet should register with the manufacturer to ensure they are notified about security updates. Following basic cyber hygiene at home is also key, since many devices now connect to WiFi. Make sure the WiFi network is protected with a strong password and also use a robust username and password for the company’s website if sharing or downloading data. More consumers are now also opting to use a password manager to hold all of their internet login information. Because devices can interact with other devices over WiFi, make sure home laptops and phones are secure as well.

An acupuncturist and pain expert shares the 2 pressure points she uses to ‘quickly relieve headaches’

Tension headaches are no joke. They typically feel like a tight band around the head, and can stem from muscle contractions in the head and neck, stress or even poor posture.

Many people take pain medications like acetaminophen and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) to relieve symptoms. But overusing them without medical guidance can lead to harmful side effects.

As an acupuncturist with 10 years of clinical experience, I’ve had thousands of patients come to me for help with tension headaches.

In acupuncture treatment, pressure is placed on certain points of the body to relax muscles and improve blood flow. Here are some methods I use to quickly relieve headaches — without the needles!

1. Pressing at the base of your skull and neck

These acupuncture points are on the bony base of the skull, on the left and right sides. Placing pressure on them is not just helpful for relieving headaches, but also for neck pain and sinus congestion.

The two points are on the bony base of the skull. Each point is about one finger-width from the midline of the head, on the left and right sides.

Photo: Eileen Li

Directions:

  1. Clasp your hands together behind your head, with your thumbs facing down.
  2. Position your hands so that each thumb presses into the ditch at the base of the skill (one on the left, one on the right).
  3. Apply light-to-moderate pressure and rub in small circles. You may feel some tenderness or tension in this spot, which is normal. 
  4. Do this until you start to feel some relief.

Position your hands so that your thumbs press into the ditch at the base of the skull (one thumb on the left side, and the other on the right).

Photo: Eileen Li

2. Pressing the space between your thumb and index finger

I call this the “painkiller button” because it relieves headaches while also delivering an “it hurts so good” feeling. (If you are pregnant, I recommend avoiding this method because it can be overstimulating.)

This pressure point can help relieve general body aches, headaches, facial pain, neck pain, and abdominal pain.

Photo: Eileen Li

Directions:

  1. Turn your palm to face down and find the fleshy web space between the thumb and index finger.
  2. Press down on this point with the thumb of your opposite hand.
  3. As you press, gently push towards the bone of the index finger, or pinch it down like you’re grabbing a card from a slot.
  4. Hold with mild to moderate pressure for 60 seconds and adjust the pressure intensity as needed.
  5. Repeat two or three times on each hand.

Press into the space between your thumb and index finger.

Photo: Eileen Li

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GM, LG end plans for fourth U.S. battery cell plant; automaker seeks new partner

GM CEO and Chairman Mary Barra and LG Chem Vice Chairman and CEO Hak-Cheol Shin at the automaker’s battery lab in Warren, Mich., where the companies announced a new $2.6-billion joint venture on Dec. 5, 2019.

GM

DETROIT – General Motors and LG Energy Solution have indefinitely shelved plans to build a fourth battery cell plant in the U.S., as talks between the two sides recently ended without an agreement, a person familiar with the plans confirmed to CNBC.

The Detroit automaker is expected to continue with its plans to build the plant but is searching for another partner, according to the person who asked not to be named because the talks are private.

“We’ve been very clear that our plan includes investing in a fourth U.S. cell plant, but we’re not going to comment on speculation,” GM said Friday in an emailed statement.

The Wall Street Journal first reported Friday afternoon that talks had stalled between GM and LG in part because LG Energy executives in Korea were hesitant to commit to the project given the rapid pace of its recent investments with other automakers as well as the uncertain macroeconomic outlook. 

The paper, citing unnamed sources familiar with the plans, said GM is in discussions with at least one other battery supplier to proceed with the fourth U.S. battery-cell factory.

The breakdown in talks comes after GM CEO Mary Barra and other executives have said they’ve been close to announcing details of the fourth plant, which was expected to be built in Indiana, for some time.

GM and LG initially announced the joint-venture for a $2.3 billion plant in Ohio in December 2019, followed by other plants near GM operations in Michigan and Tennessee. Only the Ohio plant is currently operating, while the others are under construction. The joint venture is called Ultium Cells LLC.

A spokeswoman for Ultium referred questions to GM and LG Energy. In an emailed statement, LG Energy said discussions on a fourth Ultium Cells plant “remain ongoing between LG Energy Solution and GM, but no decision has been made.”

The relationship between GM and LG Energy is crucial to the automaker’s future plans for EVs, including topping Tesla and others to become the U.S. leader in all-electric vehicle sales. The Detroit automaker is expected to release a handful of new EVs this year, including mass-market vehicles such as the Equinox, Blazer and Silverado.

GM, in its Friday statement, said its second and third plants with LG are on track to open as scheduled in 2023 and 2024, respectively. The company also confirmed it is on track to hit 1 million EV production capacity annually in North America in 2025.

Goldman Sachs slips on report the Fed is probing its Marcus business

David Solomon, Chairman & CEO of Goldman Sachs, speaking on Squawk Box at the WEF in Davos, Switzerland on Jan. 23rd, 2023. 

Adam Galica | CNBC

Goldman Sachs shares came under pressure Friday after a Wall Street Journal report said the Federal Reserve is investigating the bank’s consumer business.

Shares slipped 2.54% on the news. Goldman is now up just 0.15% on the year.

Goldman Sachs daily stock move

The regulator is looking into whether Goldman had the right safeguards in place to protect consumers when it increased lending in its Marcus division, according to the Journal report, which cites sources familiar with the matter.

The central bank was previously reviewing Marcus, Bloomberg news reported in September.

“As we told the Wall Street Journal, the Federal Reserve is our primary federal bank regulator and we do not comment on the accuracy or inaccuracy of matters relating to discussions with them,” a company spokesperson told CNBC.

Just days ago, Goldman CEO David Solomon admitted that the bank suffered a disappointing quarter in part because it took on too much in the consumer banking business.

Last week, the New York-based investment bank posted its largest quarterly earnings miss in more than a decade, showing falling revenue and rising expenses.

— CNBC’s Yun Li and Hugh Son contributed reporting.