Tuesday, December 29, 2015

USAA: Serving the Needs of the Men and Women of the US Military

The United Services Automobile Association (USAA) was originally known as the United States Army Automobile Association upon its inception in 1922 by US Army officers who established it as a mutual insurance company. Its current name was adopted in 1924 when the commissioned officers of the other branches of the US military became eligible for membership.

From its 286-acre headquarters in San Antonio, Texas, the USAA has become a group of companies engaged in diversified financial services offering a wide range of banking, insurance, and investments to individuals and their immediate families who are in active service or who have served in the United States military. By the end of 2014, the Fortune 500 company had 10.7 million members and counting.

The USAA is also considered an innovator in the industry. For example, it is a pioneer in the direct marketing model wherein most of its transactions are conducted by employees, not agents, using telephone and Internet technology. It first conducted the bulk of its business via mail in the 1960s, which transitioned into phone-based services in the late 1960s, followed by a toll-free number in 1978, and finally the Internet-based sales and services via its website in 1999.

The organization has several lines of business including:

• Casualty, life, and property insurance including homeowner, renters, and automobile insurance as well as personal property and umbrella insurance, among others. Emphasis must be made that while its life insurance policies are mostly standard in the business, these are different than most because these exclude the war exclusion clause.

• Banking services are provided by financial centers as well as the USAA Federal Savings Bank, which was established in December 1983 and which held more than $43.8 billion in deposits from over 6.3 million accounts (as of June 2011). The USAA Federal Savings Bank is the only facility offering full-service banking services while the financial centers provide related services, such as assistance and advice in obtaining USAA’s services including online opening of accounts.

Other services are investments and financial planning, mail-order catalog service, and real estate services.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Valve Corporation Engages Consumers With Its Videogames

Gabe Newell and Mike Harrington, former Microsoft employees, founded Valve LLC in August 1996. In April 2003, the company changed its name from Valve LLC to Valve Corporation as well as moved its headquarters from Kirkland, Washington to Bellevue, Washington where Sierra On-Line, Inc., its original publisher, was also based.

Valve Corporation is among the most well-known videogame developers as well as digital distribution companies in the United States. The company has developed several successful videogames including Counter-Strike, Half-Life, Day of Defeat, Portal, Left 4 Dead, Team Fortress, and Dota 2, among others; all of these videogames have been both critically acclaimed and commercially successful.

The videogame developer also develops and maintains Source, which supports most of its games, and Steam, a software distribution platform. Steam, in turn, has resulted in the development of Steam Machine, a line of pre-built gaming personal computers with SteamOS at their core.

Valve Corporation also has an office in Luxembourg for its European offices.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

VantagePoint Capital Partners Makes Worthwhile Investments

In 1996, Alan E. Salzman and Jim Marver founded VantagePoint Venture Partners and had led its success since then. The co-founders established the venture capital firm with a mission of identifying, inventing in, and mentoring entrepreneurs and start-ups that want to revolutionize sectors and change the world. The venture capital firm has maintained its focus on investments in the healthcare, clean technology, and information technology industries for this reason.

After making several successful investments in information technology and Internet, VantagePoint Venture Partners realized that its investment focus should also include clean energy technology. Said realization came after observations that the world’s energy practices should be modernized considering its over-reliance on fossil fuels, crumbling infrastructures, and growing inefficiency worsened by a growing world population. The firm decided that these energy issues can be addressed by the careful applications of advanced technology in several areas including solid-state lighting, bio-chemicals, solar power generation, electrification of transportation, resource efficiency, and grid modernization.

While still making investments in information technology, healthcare, digital media, and financial technology, the venture firm shifted its focus on start-ups and companies making notable innovations in energy-related fields. Among its early investments are Tesla, an electric vehicle manufacturer; BrightSource Energy, a utility scale solar power provider; Bridgelux, an LED lighting pioneer; and Genomatica, an advanced biochemical innovator, among others.

In 2010, the firm changed its name from VantagePoint Venture Partners to VantagePoint Capital Partners. The change was brought about by the firm’s desire to better reflect its change of focus from venture funding to growth equity funding, a move that goes beyond the limits of venture funding. The company also wanted to reflect the increased complexity of its funding structure in terms of its support for the scale-up and build-out of the highly innovative companies it invests in.

Today, the company has $4 billion in managed assets. Vantage Point Capital Partners has also established several strategic partnerships with global corporations including best Buy, Air Products, IBM, Proctor & Gamble, and DuPont, among others.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Venus Swimwear Brings Out The Best in Bodies

In 1984, Daryle Scott formed his company, Venus Body Wear, as a clothing and swimsuit retailer with a wide range of exercise apparel and ladies’ leotards. In 1984, he expanded his product lines to include women’s swimwear, which he called Venus Swimwear.

From its humble beginnings, the Venus brand continued to grow through acquisitions. In 1999, the company purchased WinterSilks, a well-known importer of silk-based ready-to-wear products. In accordance with its expanded product lines, the company changed its name to Venus.

By 2006, Golden Gate Capital acquired 80 percent of Venus, Venus Manufacturing, and WinterSilks; the former used its Catalog Holdings Group for the purchase. The three acquired companies were united under a single company, Venus Holdings LLC.

In 2009, Bon Prix, an Otto subsidiary and a German catalog company, acquired Venus Holdings.

The Venus brand was the official swimsuit sponsor for the Miss America pageant in 2007. It was also the official presenting sponsor for the cheerleaders at the The Jacksonville ROAR 2014/2015.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Vertex Pharmaceuticals: The Science of Possibility

Founded by Joshua Boger and Kevin Kinsella in 1989, Vertex was established on the firm conviction that no challenge should be too great especially where improving the quality of life for people with serious diseases is concerned. The biotechnology firm is also among the first in the industry to use rational drug design as a strategy instead of combinatorial chemistry.

Vertex is proud to be a pioneer in the industry with several firsts including:

• 1996 – The company was the first to publish the hepatitis C virus in cell’s protease crystal structure.

• 1999 – Together with GlaxoSmithKline, the company co-discovered and commercialized an HIV protease inhibitor, which was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration during this year.

• 2005 – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration grants its approval for a second HIV protease inhibitor, which was also created in collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline.

• 2007 – The company conducted its clinical research and development on multiple oral drugs for targeting the underlying causes of cystic fibrosis, not just the symptoms.

• 2010 – The company completes its first-ever New Drug Application, which was followed the following year with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval for its first drug, telaprevir (Incivek). The drug, a protease inhibitor, is an oral treatment for hepatitis C that was developed, commercialized and distributed by Vertex with Johnson & Johnson.

• 2012 – The company receives approval for its first-ever cystic fibrosis medicine in the United States, Canada and Europe. The drug, ivacaftor marketed under the Kalydeco trade name, treats the underlying cause of cystic fibrosis for a specific cohort (i.e., patients 6 years or older who have been identified with the G551D gene mutation.

• 2015 – The company receives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval for its second cystic fibrosis drug.

In fact, Vertex is the first and only biotech company to have developed multiple medicines that target cystic fibrosis’ underlying cause, an achievement for which it was awarded the first Forbes Breakthrough Drug Award.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Visteon Corporation: Establishing Relationships With Major Players

In 2000, Visteon Corporation became an independent company from Ford Motor Company during its spin-off. Since its independence, the American international supplier of automotive electronics products has become a Fortune 500 company with multiple businesses engaged in the design, engineering, and manufacture of systems and solutions for various clients. Among its equally world-renowned clients are Daimler, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, Nissan, and Hyundai, among other major North American, European and Asian automobile manufacturers.

Visteon is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. In 2013, it reported a $7.439 billion sales; $6 billion in total assets; and 24,000 employees in its offices worldwide. By setting a corporate goal of expansion of business with notable companies, Visteon currently enjoys profitable relationships with the abovementioned major companies.

The company maintains three corporate offices, namely, the North American Corporate and Innovation Center in Van Buren Township, Michigan; the Asia Pacific Corporate Office and Innovation Center in Shanghai, China; and the European Corporate Office in Chelmsford, United Kingdom.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

VIZ Media: World’s Leader in Manga and Anime Works

VIZ Media, LLC is among the world’s leaders in the creation of manga, anime and entertainment works, an industry status it has started building since its founding in 1986 as VIZ LLC. The present-day VIZ Media LLC was formed with the merger of VIZ LLC and ShoPro Entertainment, a joint ownership of Shueisha, Shogakukan, and Shogakukan-Shueisha Productions. The Japanese-American company has its headquarters in San Francisco, California.

In accordance with its manga and anime focus, VIZ Media releases its manga ratings for their own content. The ratings include A (All Ages) suitable for all readers; T (Teen) for 13 years and above containing violence, strong language, and crude humor; T+ (Older Teen) for 15 years and above containing intense violence, nudity, and sexual content as well as substance abuse; and M (Mature Readers) for 17 years and above due to extreme violence, graphic depictions, and mature themes. Audiences are advised to follow the manga ratings, which are also used on the licensed anime titles, for full enjoyment of the content.

VIZ Media uses the right-to-left format in many of its publications in accordance with the prevalent Japanese format; these publications include Dragon Ball, as requested by Akira Toriyama, its author; and Vagabond in order to preserve its historical accuracy. Other publications are printed in the Western left-to-right reading format. The company also uses self-censorship practices on some of its titles while also publishing both censored and uncensored formats, such as in the case of Dragon Ball.

For its world-class production quality, VIZ Media has been recognized for its work several times. Its awards include the Diamond Comic Distributors’ 2007 Manga Publisher of the Year Gem Award and the Manga Trade Paperback of the Year for the 14th volume in the Naruto series.

VIZ Media has several ultra-popular series that it has kept on publishing, such as One Piece, Detective Conan, InuYasha, Bleach, and Naruto.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Wakefern Food Corporation: Cooperative Model Taken to the Next Level

Founded in 1946 with its headquarters in Keasbey, New Jersey, the Wakefern Corporation is considered as a pioneer in taking the cooperative business model to the next level. The corporation, after all, is the biggest retailers’ cooperative group of hypermarkets and supermarkets in the United States as well as the State of New Jersey’s largest employer with over 36,000 workers.

Wakefern’s business model is one of the most successful as evidenced by its success, such as owning one of the largest trucking fleets and being the fourth-largest cooperative in the United States; it has over 3000 stores. In 2015, its overall revenue was $15.7 billion, an impressive feat considering the decreasing revenues of many of its competitors.

Wakefern has also been the recipient of many awards for its business model. These include the Retailer Excellence Award by Supermarket News in 2011; the Retailer of the Year by The Griffin Report and Progressive Grocer in 2011; and one of the Best Places to Work in New Jersey by NJBIZ Magazine in 2012.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Wahl Clipper: Grooming Is Its Game

The Wahl Clipper Corporation has been at the forefront of personal and professional grooming products for both people and animals since 1919 when the first practical hair clipper was invented. The company currently has more than 3,300 employees worldwide spread across its Sterling, Illinois headquarters, six manufacturing facilities worldwide and eleven sales officers. With a comprehensive range of world-class grooming products characterized by their efficiency, value and integrity, it’s no wonder that Wahl Clipper’s products are distributed and sold in over 160 countries – and counting.

The seeds for the Wahl Clipper Corporation were planted in 1911 when Leo J. Wahl, then a high school junior, conducted experiments on a vibrating electromagnetic motor and then with a vibrating medical massager while an engineering student. He took over his uncle’s business, Wahl Manufacturing Company, and began manufacturing his electromagnetic hair clipper in 1919.

By 1921, Leo purchased his uncle’s business and incorporated it to become the Wahl Clipper Corporation and, thus, started the years of innovation that continue to drive the corporation forward. Leo himself applied for more than 100 patents for his various inventions, a tradition that the current management continues to this day.

Among its innovations are the professional shear sharpeners, hair dryers, and curling brushes as well as attachments for hair clippers in the 1940s; the flexible-blade electric razor, the Vac Clipper (i.e., a clipper with a built-in vacuum hair pick-up), and the permanent magnet type rotary motor clipper incorporated into a new animal clipper in the 1960s; and the first cordless/rechargeable battery-operated hair clipper/trimmer in 1967.

Other innovations include foot and back massagers with features for controlling heat and vibration (1975); battery-operated brow and nose trimmer (1977); Groomsman, a battery-operated facial hair trimmer (1984); and ZeeCurl and FrenZee, a flat-barrel curling iron (1987).

Today, the corporation is among the international industry leaders in the manufacture of professional and personal beauty and barber salon products as well as animal grooming products.