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Attempting to reform gig work via co-ops

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Ride-hailing service The Drivers Cooperative recently debuted in New York City, claiming that its lack of VC funding would result in better driver pay and lower passenger costs.

Why it matters: TDC’s approach is a direct rebuke to the venture capital-fueled gig economy model.


Details: The organization is incorporated as a “worker cooperative corporation” and currently lets every signed-up driver enroll as a member of the co-op, which means receiving one share in the company and one shareholder vote.

  • The co-op takes a 15% cut of rides (compared to Uber and Lyft’s roughly 20%) to fund its operations, and any leftovers at the end of the year will go back to drivers via profit-sharing.
  • The company says its drivers currently make on average about 30% more than they would driving for Uber or Lyft, and that riders pay slightly less.

The big picture: A number of companies have tried (and often failed) to reform the model popularized by Uber and Lyft, including:

  • Juno: The NYC-born startup promised it would give drivers equity in its company. It eventually sold to U.K.-based Gett and backtracked on its equity promise because regulators wouldn’t allow it.
  • Austin’s indies: A crop of upstarts, including a nonprofit and a Facebook group matching drivers and riders, emerged in Austin a few years ago when Uber and Lyft ceased operating for a year.
  • Dumpling: The startup, which charges drivers a monthly fee for using its app instead of taking a cut from each transaction, recently expanded into ride-hailing after getting its start in grocery delivery. Unfortunately, it’s reportedly also run afoul of some workers with changes made to its apps.

Between the lines: “We’re actually selling things for the price that they cost,” says TDC co-founder Erik Forman, adding that Uber and Lyft’s lack of profits are a sign that their approach isn’t actually working.

  • The argument for the venture-backed model has been that it takes a lot of upfront capital to set up operations and grow very quickly to capture market share and compete with rivals.
  • That’s also meant price wars on all fronts — including price cuts for riders and earnings bumps for drivers — which has mostly been financed by venture capital for the first several years of a company’s life.
  • TDC has only raised about $300,000 via mostly debt and is preparing to raise just over $1 million.

And it’s not the only one to take this approach. Driver’s Seat, an app for drivers to collect and analyze data about their hours and earnings, is also set up as a cooperative. While free for drivers, it sells access to aggregate data and insights to municipalities.

  • Co-founder Hays Witt says the aim is to give drivers back some ownership and control over their work data.

Yes, but: It remains to be seen how a smaller, local upstart can fare in the face of multibillion-dollar public companies that are already household names.

  • While its brand can certainly appeal to many drivers’ and passengers’ sense of using a more “ethical” service, some will undoubtedly prefer convenience or sticking with the familiar.
  • And while Forman sees the technology as a commodity, companies like Uber and Lyft spend tremendous resources on developing, maintaining and fine-tuning their apps to keep drivers and riders happy.

The bottom line: Uber and Lyft proved there’s a market for smartphone-enabled urban transportation — but the quest to meet that demand via a radically different approach to business is ongoing.

Source: https://www.axios.com/reform-gig-work-co-ops-ride-hailing-uber-lyft-ee4848cf-d80c-4fa7-9297-10a19b23196d.html
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Kia Kokalitcheva

How to Start a Concierge Business

Starting a concierge business is a great idea! People are busier than ever these days, and you can provide a much-needed service by helping them take care of things like errands and other tasks. Even better, you can run this business out of your home and you don’t need anyone other than yourself. You can always grow your team after you find your niche and become successful.

[Edit]Steps

[Edit]Business Organization

  1. Select which services you will offer. A personal concierge can offer a wide variety of services for their clients. Write down exactly what sort of concierge you want to be and what you will do. For example, maybe you are going to be a personal concierge that assists with errands and household tasks. You might include services like:[1]
    Start a Concierge Business Step 1 Version 2.jpg
    • Grocery shopping
    • Picking up/dropping off dry cleaning
    • Purchasing and sending gifts
    • Walking dogs
    • Caring for plants
  2. Focus on a niche where you can excel. You might start by offering a wide array of services and discover that you are better at some than others. You might also find that you really love doing some things and really dislike some others. It’s definitely okay to adjust your services as you grow your business. Find a niche where you can really do well and focus on expanding that area of your business.[2]
    Start a Concierge Business Step 2 Version 2.jpg
    • For example, maybe you discover that you’re getting a lot of great feedback about your gift buying services. Start developing that part of your business by adding more customizable options and doing more marketing in that area.
  3. Give your clients a high standard of service so they refer you to others. You want each client to feel like they are your most important. Try adding an extra touch, like leaving a personal note when you drop off their groceries or spending an extra few minutes playing with their dog. When your clients give you positive feedback, ask if they would mind leaving a positive review on social media or giving your name to a friend.[3]
    Start a Concierge Business Step 3 Version 2.jpg
    • You can use these positive reviews in marketing and advertising your business.
  4. Get basic office equipment and reliable internet to run your business. Make sure that you have a cell phone that gets good reception so that your clients can easily reach you. You’ll also need a laptop with a stable internet connection so that you can work on your website and keep your accounts up to date. You don’t need much in the way of office furniture, especially if it’s just you starting your own business. If you have other employees, you might consider renting office space.[4]
    Start a Concierge Business Step 4 Version 2.jpg
    • You can print your promotional materials at a place like a FedEx or UPS store that offers professional printing so that you don’t have to invest in your own equipment.
  5. Expect to work non-traditional hours. A good concierge should be available when clients need them. That means that you shouldn’t plan to work a traditional 9-5 job. Depending on what types of services you offer, you might find yourself working early mornings, evenings, weekends, and even holidays.[5]
    Start a Concierge Business Step 5 Version 2.jpg
    • It’s also important to understand that most of your days will probably be different from each other. For example, you might have 7 clients on Mondays, but only 1 on Tuesdays. Use your downtime to work on things like billing and marketing.

[Edit]Finances and Insurance

  1. Draft a basic business plan to help define your business. You can develop a thorough plan at some point, but to get started, write a short plan that is about 10 pages. This will help you get a concrete idea of what your business will look like. You’ll be able to show it to others as you work to get the permits and insurance that you’ll need to get going. Make sure your business plan includes:[6]
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    • Your business concept
    • Market analysis
    • Financial analysis
  2. Consult an expert about legal requirements for setting up a business. When you start a business, you need to determine if you should set it up as an LLC or an S corp. You also need to make sure that you get all of the local permits that are required. Sound confusing? It’s not just you that feels that way, so don’t worry. You’re not expected to know these things, so take a deep breath and ask someone who is an expert. Ask an attorney, your accountant, or tax preparer for advice.[7]
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    • Share your business plan with them and ask them to help you navigate specific resources that you need for a concierge business. Your needs are probably different from someone opening up a cafe, for example.
    • Check city hall’s website for resources for starting a new business in your community. You’ll find lots of resources there, too.
    • Don’t shrug off getting permits. If you don’t have them, you could get in trouble for not properly setting up your business.
  3. Call your insurance agent to get coverage for your business. Even if you’re the only employee and you’re working from home, your personal insurance won’t cover your business. Call or email your insurance carrier and ask about business coverage. They might need to see your business plan, so be prepared to send them what you have. Ask them to walk you through different coverage options and the rates for each.[8]
    Start a Concierge Business Step 8 Version 2.jpg
    • Explain to the agent where your business will be located, how many employees will be working there, and answer any questions they have. This will help them understand your needs for your concierge business.
    • Get quotes from a couple of other agents. It never hurts to shop around a little for great rates. You can usually get a quick quote by visiting a website or making a phone call.
  4. Open business banking and credit accounts. Even though it might seem easier, don’t use your personal accounts to run your business. It will make things a lot easier at tax time and for general record-keeping if you keep things separate right from the start. Call or visit your bank and ask them to help you get set up with business accounts.[9]
    Start a Concierge Business Step 9 Version 2.jpg
    • For a business credit card, ask for one with a low APR and perks like cashback.
  5. Charge hourly rates for customers who use your services occasionally. As a concierge, you may have customers who contact you a few times a week or maybe a couple of times a year. For these types of clients, it’s probably a good idea to set up an hourly rate schedule. Determine your rates in advance and include them on your website. It’s okay to have different rates for different services. When your figure out your rates, take into account the difficulty of the task, whether you need transportation or equipment, and the going rate in your area.[10]
    Start a Concierge Business Step 10 Version 2.jpg
    • For example, you might charge $25 an hour for light housekeeping, but only $20 an hour for basic house sitting services that include bringing in mail and watering plants.
    • Typically, concierge services range from $25 per hour to $125 depending on the service and the market.
  6. Offer monthly rates for regular clients. You may attract clients that want to take advantage of many of your services on a regular basis. In this case, you will both probably find it easier if they pay a flat monthly fee rather than billing them by the hour. You can determine a maximum number of hours that you will work and make that part of the agreement. Make it clear on your website what a monthly rate includes.[11]
    Start a Concierge Business Step 11.jpg
    • For example, you could advertise a “Premium Package” that includes weekly errands, light housekeeping, and other tasks for $1500.
  7. Adjust your pricing as necessary. Once you’ve started taking clients you might realize that you have set your prices too low and you’re not making enough money. Or you might see the opposite and find out you’ve set prices too high and you’re having a hard time attracting clients. Don’t be afraid to adjust your prices as necessary. Starting a business is a learning curve.[12]
    Start a Concierge Business Step 12.jpg

[Edit]Marketing and Advertising

  1. Come up with a memorable name for your business. The name is going to be what people use to find your business, so try to come up with one that is catchy and descriptive. It should let people know what your business does and also be something that they will easily be able to recall.[13]
    Start a Concierge Business Step 13.jpg
    • Something like Paul’s Personal Concierge Service lets customers know that they will receive personal attention and the alliteration might help them remember it.
    • Run a quick Google search to make sure there is not already a business with the name you want to use.
  2. Build a basic website that is easy for customers to use. This might sound really tough, but don’t worry. There are lots of tools available to help you if you’ve never set up a website before. You can use an online platform like Weebly or Wix that will help you build a website for free.[14]
    Start a Concierge Business Step 14.jpg
    • You can also hire a professional to build and maintain your website for you if this is something you really don’t want to tackle.
  3. Use social media to attract customers. Social media is one of the best ways to advertise your new business because you can easily reach a wide audience and it’s free. Set up accounts for your business on popular sites like Instagram, Twitter, and Linkedin. Make sure to include important information like how to contact you and what services you provide in your bio.[15]
    Start a Concierge Business Step 15.jpg
    • Keep your posts professional and positive. Try an Instagram post that is a photo of a dog with the caption, “Does your best friend need some extra company while you work? Call Paul’s Personal Concierge Service! Available for pet care and all of your other personal assistant needs!”
  4. Ask everyone you know to spread the word about your new business. Word of mouth is another effective and free way to get new customers. Encourage family and friends to tell people about your new business. Let them know the important details, like the name, contact info, and services you provide.[16]
    Start a Concierge Business Step 16.jpg
    • Say something like, “Hey, it seems like the people you work with might be interested in a personal concierge. Would you mind hanging up one of my flyers in your break room?”

[Edit]Tips

  • Ask other small business owners in your area for tips about getting started.
  • Make sure you have reliable transportation for running errands.

[Edit]References

  1. https://theworkathomewife.com/how-to-start-a-personal-concierge-service-business/
  2. https://theconciergesociety.com/starting-a-personal-concierge-business-my-take-after-12-years-in-business/
  3. https://howtostartanllc.com/business-ideas/personal-concierge
  4. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/37930
  5. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/37930
  6. https://theworkathomewife.com/how-to-start-a-personal-concierge-service-business/
  7. https://theworkathomewife.com/how-to-start-a-personal-concierge-service-business/
  8. https://theconciergesociety.com/starting-a-personal-concierge-business-my-take-after-12-years-in-business/
  9. https://howtostartanllc.com/business-ideas/personal-concierge
  10. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/37930
  11. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/37930
  12. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/37930
  13. https://seniorservicebusiness.com/how-to-start-a-senior-concierge-business-in-10-easy-steps/
  14. https://howtostartanllc.com/business-ideas/personal-concierge
  15. https://howtostartanllc.com/business-ideas/personal-concierge
  16. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/37930

Source: https://www.wikihow.com/Start-a-Concierge-Business
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The Article Was Written/Published By:

Bezos says Amazon should “do a better job for our employees” after union vote

A man in a suit gestures during a presentation.

Enlarge (credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos used his final letter to Amazon shareholders to focus on employee well-being and the company’s significant carbon footprint.

Bezos’ new emphasis on employee well-being comes on the heels of a contentious unionization vote at one of its warehouses in Bessemer, Alabama. Though Amazon won, with 1,798 employees voting against unionizing out of 3,041 total ballots cast, participation was low, with just over half of eligible voters participating. Labor organizers have made it clear that even if unionization votes continue to go against them, they’ll keep pressuring Amazon through other means.

That strategy may be working. Bezos dedicates a significant portion of his letter to both the unionization vote and to employee well-being. Whereas Bezos wrote a single paragraph about a tuition reimbursement program three years ago, he wrote nearly 1,200 words about pay rates, employee satisfaction, and workplace safety this year.

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Source: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2021/04/jeff-bezos-says-amazon-must-reduce-warehouse-injuries-after-union-vote/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Tim De Chant

Contractors, Beware: This Robot Is Coming for Your Job

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It’s been hard to automate construction and home improvement. While there is plenty of room for robots on the worksite, I doubt any of us have seen anything quite like the Baubot, a construction bot that can carry heavy loads, lay bricks, and even sand sheetrock, feats once only performed by folks in hardhats and…

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Source: https://gizmodo.com/contractors-beware-this-robot-is-coming-for-your-job-1846681399
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The Article Was Written/Published By: John Biggs

Amazon defeats warehouse union push, RWDSU challenges results

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Efforts to unionize Amazon’s Bessemer, Alabama warehouse were defeated by a wide margin in the second day of vote counting. More than half of the 3,215 votes cast broke in in factor of the retailer. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which would have served as the workers’ union, had the vote passed, was quick to challenge the results.

RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement offered to TechCrunch,

Amazon has left no stone unturned in its efforts to gaslight its own employees. We won’t let Amazon’s lies, deception and illegal activities go unchallenged, which is why we are formally filing charges against all of the egregious and blatantly illegal actions taken by Amazon during the union vote. Amazon knew full well that unless they did everything they possibly could, even illegal activity, their workers would have continued supporting the union.

That’s why they required all their employees to attend lecture after lecture, filled with mistruths and lies, where workers had to listen to the company demand they oppose the union. That’s why they flooded the internet, the airwaves and social media with ads spreading misinformation. That’s why they brought in dozens of outsiders and union-busters to walk the floor of the warehouse. That’s why they bombarded people with signs throughout the facility and with text messages and calls at home. And that’s why they have been lying about union dues in a right to work state. Amazon’s conduct has been despicable.

This initial defeat represents a large setback in the biggest unionization push in Amazon’s 27 year history. What might have represented a sea change for both the retail giant and blue collar tech workers has, for now, been fairly soundly defeated.

Amazon has, of course, long insisted that it treats workers fairly, making such union efforts unnecessary. The company cites such standards as a $15 an hour minimum wage, a factor the company initial pushed back on, but ultimately instated after pressure from legislators.

It was a hard fought battle on both sides. A number of legislators threw their weight behind unionization efforts, in an unlikely alliance that ranged from Bernie Sanders to Marco Rubio. The conservative Florida Senator noted the company’s “uniquely malicious corporate behavior.” President Joe Biden also sided with the workers, calling himself, “the most pro-union president you’ve ever seen.”

The company will no doubt tout the results as vindication. It noted in an early statement, “[O]ur employees are smart and know the truth—starting wages of $15 or more, health care from day one, and a safe and inclusive workplace. We encourage all of our employees to vote.” We’ve reached out to the company for a statement following this morning’s news.

Among the expected challenges from the union are lingering questions around ballot boxes reportedly installed by the company in violation of labor board terms.”[E]ven though the NLRB definitively denied Amazon’s request for a drop box on the warehouse property, Amazon felt it was above the law and worked with the postal service anyway to install one,” the RWDSU writes. “They did this because it provided a clear ability to intimidate workers.”

The Bessemer warehouse, which employees around 6,000 workers, was opened at the end of March 2020, as the company looked to expand the operation of its essential workers during the impending lock down. The conversation has surface variously long standing complaints around the company’s treatment of blue collar workers, including numerous reports that employees urinate in water bottles, in order to meet stringent performance standards.

The company initially denied these claims during a social media offensive, but later clarified its stance in an apology of sorts, appearing to shift the blame to wider industry problems. The company also ran anti-union ads on its subsidiary, Twitch, before the streaming platform pulled them, stating that they “should never have been allowed to run.”

All told, 3,215 were cast, representing more than half of the workers at the Alabama warehouse. In spite of Amazon winning more than half the votes, counting will continue. Challenges are likely to stretch on for weeks.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/04/09/amazon-defeats-warehouse-union-push-challenges-expected/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Techcrunch+%28TechCrunch%29
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Brian Heater

How 5G Could Drastically Change Your Job

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As 5G connectivity becomes more widespread—fueled by its great hype machine—the wonders promised seem incomprehensible at times. Remote control of fleets of vehicles from hundreds of miles away. Squads of cars or trucks that move in perfect synchronicity, communicating with not just one another but with the road…

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Source: https://gizmodo.com/how-5g-could-drastically-change-your-job-1846455040
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Wes Davis

The staying power of the stay-at-home economy

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The pandemic proved a large swath of the population can produce services and consume goods without leaving their homes — if supported by other workers.

Why it matters: We risk becoming an even more divided society — with Peloton-riding, Amazon Prime-ordering office workers living within a convenient, luxurious stay-at-home economy and essential workers servicing that lifestyle while scraping by themselves.


The big picture: Income inequality was a huge — and growing — issue before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, but the last year widened the chasm between rich and poor.

  • In Q1 of 2020, the top 1% of Americans held 29.9% of the wealth and the bottom 50% held 1.9%. The gap grew to 31.4% for the top and 2.0% for the bottom by the end of the year, per Fed data.
  • “Let’s not kid ourselves that this is a new problem,” says Richard Reeves, the director of the Future of the Middle Class Initiative at the Brookings Institution. “The pandemic was just a flash of an X-ray bulb exposing these fractures.”

What’s happening: Remote work has become the ultimate privilege, giving those who can work from home sovereignty over time and place, Reeves says. Going to work every day used to be something of an equalizer. The pandemic dismantled that.

  • Remote office workers can come and go as they please, spend more time with family, or even work from exotic locations. In-person workers, who tend to be lower-skilled and lower-income, still have to deal with the rigidity of clocking in and clocking out — and juggling child care, health care and life around it.
  • For example, the Ford Motor Company recently announced all of its office workers can telework as often as they like. But all of the workers in production don’t have that option.

“We’re going to keep seeing this growth of home being the epicenter of life,” says Zara Ingilizian, an expert on the future of consumption at the World Economic Forum. “And not everyone will have access to this at-home future we’re discussing. That has tremendous implications.”

We’re already seeing the far-reaching effects of telework on businesses and individuals alike.

  • As the stay-at-home economy pushes independent restaurants and shops to shutter in droves, retail behemoths who can offer delivery, like Amazon, Walmart and Kroger, have had blockbuster years.
  • Jobs in hospitality and tourism are still down 25% compared with February 2020, while jobs in software development and finance are up 13% and 12%, respectively, according to the jobs site Indeed.

Yes, but: There are silver linings.

  • Flexibility was always an option for workers at the top, Reeves says. At least now it’s spreading to all workers who can telework. “I’d rather leaders have to justify that inequality rather than it being unspoken that managers can come in later than everyone else,” he says.
  • And we could see companies offer new perks to their essential workers to hold onto them. “One implication is companies feel pressure to compensate people who work in-person higher because that is now seen as a detriment,” says Jonathan Rothwell, chief economist at Gallup.

What to watch: Workers in jobs being created by the stay-at-home economy — in food delivery, warehousing and trucking — face a double whammy, says Ingilizian.

  • Many of these roles are gig jobs, without stability and with low pay. And they’re also on the automation chopping block. Per a recent WEF report, 40% of retail job activities and 54% of consumer goods production job tasks are subject to automation.
  • Automation is poised to make the inequality induced by the stay-at-home future even worse, Ingilizian says.

Source: https://www.axios.com/staying-power-stay-at-home-economy-74c6b2c7-e061-40ef-ba7b-a2a6d1a0863c.html
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Erica Pandey

Global chip shortage worsens, forces production cuts at GM, Hyundai

Global chip shortage worsens, forces production cuts at GM, Hyundai

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

The auto industry continues to suffer the effects of a worldwide shortage of silicon chips. General Motors will idle production of midsize pickup trucks at a factory in Missouri until April 12 and extend the shutdown of another factory in Michigan. In South Korea, Hyundai Motor Group, which had been unaffected so far, now says it expects to have production problems in April due to the shortage. And if that wasn’t enough, a fire at a factory in Japan will further exacerbate the problem.

The chip shortage got started with the COVID-19 pandemic. As countries around the world went into lockdown in 2020 to combat the virus’s spread, many automakers saw their sales evaporate at the same time as public health measures forced the closure of some factories. Consequently, some of these companies cancelled pending orders for chips, which resulted in the foundries switching to fulfilling other orders. But as demand for new vehicles started to pick up, the OEMs discovered that it would be some time before their chip suppliers could meet these new orders, as the chip factories had no spare capacity.

In February, GM said it had to halt production at factories in Kansas, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, and South Korea as it prioritized more profitable product lines. Some of those plant closures will continue until April, the company now says. It will now also idle a factory in Missouri that currently builds GMC Canyon and Chevrolet Colorado midsize pickups, until April 12 at the earliest. And another GM factory in Michigan will idle two weeks earlier than planned in late May. And while it is keeping its full-size truck production steady, some of the pickups are leaving the production line without a chip that enables their 5.3 L V8 engines to deactivate certain cylinders for better fuel efficiency.

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Source: https://arstechnica.com/cars/2021/03/global-chip-shortage-worsens-forces-production-cuts-at-gm-hyundai/
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The Article Was Written/Published By: Jonathan M. Gitlin

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