New and frightening COVID-19 variants are infecting people at a record pace. That puts all of us at risk of having to go back to square one.

New and frightening COVID-19 variants are infecting people at a record pace. That puts all of us at risk of having to go back to square one.

May 9, 2021


Welcome to this weekly roundup of stories from Insider’s Business co-Editor in Chief Matt Turner. Subscribe here to get this newsletter in your inbox every Sunday.

What we’re going over today:

  • How certain kinds of variants of the coronavirus threaten to undo all our progress. 
  • We dove into the huge network of spin-off hedge funds from Mets owner Steve Cohen. 
  • Influencers say they were promised the Hollywood dream, but got something far different. 
  • Five Peloton customers shared their experiences with the now-recalled treadmills.

What’s trending this morning:

  • “I took the personality test billionaire Ray Dalio rolled out to employees”: The results were mortifying — and accurate
  • Trump hired dozens of lawyers from two law firms. Only one has been hiring them back.
  • If you make $500,000 a year, you’re rich: Now for the real question. Who should we collect more taxes from?
  • Gartner put together a 37-slide deck on the problems with remote and hybrid work: Here are the three slides you need to see.
  • “I’m worried my team is talking about me behind my back”: Introducing What’s Working?, a new work-advice column. Read the first edition.

Coronavirus variants are threatening our progress

For the first time in over a year, people are starting to feel hope that the pandemic has finally turned a corner. Nearly a third of Americans are fully vaccinated, and the CDC has relaxed its recommendations on outdoor masks. But it’s not that simple:

In reality, we’re entering one of the most precarious moments in the pandemic. 

We’re in a critical race between vaccines and variants of the virus, and despite all the progress we’ve made in recent months, the outcome is far from certain. Fewer than one in 10 people on the planet has had even a single dose of any COVID-19 vaccine, while new and frightening variants are infecting people at a record pace. And that puts all of us — even, in a worst-case scenario, the vaccinated among us — at risk of having to go back to square one.

“It’s not looking good, just to be totally honest,” said leading virologist Dr. James Hildreth. The big question now is, have we seen the worst variations this virus has to offer? More and more, scientists are leaning into the camp of not so sure about that. 

Here are three ways the variants could win:

  • How coronavirus variants called ‘escape mutants’ threaten to undo all our progress

Also read:

  • A new wave of drug startups with big portfolios and precarious valuations has burst onto the scene. Welcome to the era of ‘mega biotechs.’
  • Amazon just signed its first employer client for its medical-care business
  • Startups are battling to solve Americans’ back pain, but a former neurosurgeon thinks they don’t go far enough. See the pitch deck he used to raise $45 million for his answer to the problem.

Inside Steve Cohen’s massive hedge-fund network

An Insider review found more than 80 hedge funds connected to Point72 founder Steve Cohen, including big names and former managers. Insider used LinkedIn, past media reports, industry sources, and more to compile the list:

Steve Cohen’s decades-long career in finance has made him billions of dollars across two different hedge funds and led to the creation of more than 80 other firms.

Dozens of people who have worked for the famed stock picker — who was forced to close his first fund after a yearslong battle with the Justice Department — have gone on to found their own funds.

Notable names to come from now-closed SAC Capital and Cohen’s current fund, the $20 billion Point72, include the founder of the $8 billion fund Melvin Capital, Gabe Plotkin, and the founder of $1.8 billion Honeycomb Asset Management, David Fiszel.

See Cohen’s hedge-fund family tree:

  • Inside the network of dozens of spin-off hedge funds from billionaire New York Mets owner Steve Cohen

Also read:

  • Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Citigroup have sent out offer letters for interns for summer 2022. Here are the details on five banks’ pay, start dates, and signing bonuses.
  • A former analyst at $200 million distress investing fund Foxhill Capital sues firm after claiming he was fired for whistleblowing on alleged insider trading
  • Dan Kamensky, the hedge fund manager who said ‘maybe I should go to jail,’ is sentenced to 6 months in prison

Influencers were promised a Hollywood dream. What they got was much different.

Clubhouse Media Group, headed up by real-estate operator Amir Ben-Yohanan, built a business running a chain of TikTok influencer mansions. In exchange for living rent-free in the luxe setup, influencers are expected to create branded videos for CMG, but many said the luxury wasn’t worth the cost:

At the end of a long driveway in Beverly Hills, California, sits a 12,000-square-foot mansion designed by the mid-century architect William Beckett. 

The multimillion-dollar home, just a few minutes’ drive from the Playboy Mansion and a celebrity hot spot, the Beverly Hills Hotel, is decked out with a wine cellar, a home theater, and a meditation garden. For the past year, it’s been home to a rotating cast of Gen Z internet stars. 

In the 15-second videos that its tenants posted on TikTok, living in a Clubhouse mansion appeared to be a dream gig. But insiders said the lifestyle came at a cost. Behind the scenes, some influencers said, Ben-Yohanan bullied influencers — many of whom are teenagers — and spoke to them in ways they found to be inappropriate and, at times, misogynistic. 

Read more about the influencer mansions:

  • Some TikTok influencers who lived at Clubhouse content mansions say the startup’s CEO bullied talent, made misogynistic comments, and treated their personal lives like ‘a game’

Also read:

  • Cody Ko explains how his 5 years as an app developer helped prepare him for a career as a YouTube superstar with 5.5 million subscribers
  • This anonymous Instagram account is the DeuxMoi of DC

Some Peloton customers reported concerns as early as 2019

Earlier this week, Peloton recalled all of its treadmills after weeks of scrutiny from customers and federal regulators. But before the recall, some customers said they experienced injuries, mechanical malfunctions, a lack of sufficient guidance — and a sluggish response from the company: 

Cary Kelly, a seasoned marathon runner, says she lost her footing two minutes into a workout on her Peloton Tread+ in May 2019. 

When she fell, she says she landed facedown on the treadmill. According to Kelly, the machine then propelled her prone body backward so forcefully her legs broke through the wall. Unable to move, she says she remained stuck in this position as the treadmill belt continued moving beneath her, tearing into her skin on her face and neck. 

“It seemed like a million minutes, like I was there forever,” Kelly said. 

Five Peloton customers shared their experiences:

  • Peloton just recalled its treadmill, but customers reported injuries and safety concerns as early as January 2019

Also read:

  • Peloton’s recall is a logistical nightmare — and a select few logistics companies stand to benefit

Live event invite: Join us Tuesday, May 18 at 12 p.m. ET for “Master Your Money,” where personal finance professionals demystify credit and debt — and offer tips and tricks to help set you up to build wealth. Register here.

Lastly, here are some headlines you might have missed last week.

— Matt

  • I was a 35-year-old global head of communications who landed in the hospital from extreme stress and burnout. It was the push I needed to finally leave agency life and put my wellness first.
  • Pornhub has been in acquisition talks with an investor group led by a Canadian cannabis entrepreneur
  • Inside Verizon Media’s selloff, where staffers are jittery about what’s next for Yahoo, AOL, and TechCrunch — and their jobs — under Apollo
  • Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao breaks down how he built the world’s largest crypto exchange in 180 days — and shares why he’s keeping most of his assets in Bitcoin and Binance Coin
  • The wealthy invested in ‘hidden gem’ locations during the pandemic, propelling property prices in smaller cities to new heights
  • Dave Bujnowski beat 99% of his peers to return 125% last year. The Baillie Gifford investor shares 5 stocks set to benefit from the end of the pandemic and a hyperconnected economy.
  • Meet the Prince devotee teaching yoga and meditation to burned-out DC Democratic insiders
  • Ex-Ark analyst James Wang breaks down his bull case for Ethereum as its token breaches an all-time high of $3,300 — and explains why it could eventually reach $40,000
  • Here’s the 21-page pitch deck a Citi-backed fintech for freelancers used to raise $155 million from investors like hedge fund Tiger Global
  • Adidas is requiring some ad agencies to pay back more than 10% of their earnings, squeezing small firms

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