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The Big Business of Beer – Celebrating International Beer Day (IBD) and its Largest Cities

Ah another day to meet up with your friends and crack open a cold one. What are we celebrating this time? International Beer Day (IBD) of course! As the beer industry in the United States continues to grow and house over 6,300 breweries, we can only safely assume that Americans across the country will be partaking in this holiday this year.

A Day We Can All Make a Toast to

breweries bought by bigger brands

International Beer Day (IBD) was first celebrated by Jesse Avshalomov at his local bar, in 2008. The celebration has since expanded to 207 cities, 80 countries and across 6 continents. Originally, the event would take place on the 5th of August. However, after a poll of fans was taken, it was decided to move the holiday to the first Friday in August. The purpose of the celebration, according to IBD’s website, is as follows:

  1. Gathering with friends and enjoy the deliciousness that is beer.
  2. Celebrating the dedicated men and women who brew and serve our beer.
  3. Bringing the world together by celebrating the beers of all nations and cultures on this remarkable day.

IBD recommends celebrating this day with friends. Going out to your favorite bar, thanking and sharing a drink with your appreciated brewers and bartenders. They also suggest trying a new beer from different cultures.

It’s a big beer world out there full of wondrous new flavors.  Be adventurous, try something new on International Beer Day!

The Cities Driving the Industry as we Celebrate International Beer Day

The Brewers Association tells us that there were over 6,300 breweries in the U.S. in 2017. This is up 257% from the number of breweries in 2012, 2,475. Which cities are contributing the most to the rapidly expanding industry? Using Russel Goldenberg’s chart for the cities with the best brewing industry, we examined the top 8 cities based on quality (60%) and quantity (40%), microbreweries and brewhubs not included.

map showing cities with craft breweries
Its International Beer Day

San Diego, California

Sporting 25 breweries and another 105 microbreweries and brewpubs, San Diego is the best brewing city in the U.S. AleSmith Brewing Company, Green Flash Brewing Company, Societe Brewing Company and Pizza Port can all be found in San Diego. These are home to some of the best brews in the Country. The city is also home to the San Diego Beer Week, a 10-day celebration that features over 130 independent craft breweries in San Diego County.

Denver, Colorado

Not only is Denver home to the most breweries out of all U.S. cities, it also features some of the best beers in the country. The city boasts a total of 72 breweries and microbreweries including Great Divide Brewing Company, Crooked Stave and the Hogshead Brewery. And if you can’t satisfy your beer thirst in Denver, a quick drive to Boulder (Avery) or Fort Collins (New Belgium) will also offer you another great beer experience.

Portland, Oregon

In 2016 the entire state of Oregon had an economic impact of $4.49 billion, so it comes to no surprise that Portland, home to 27 breweries, made this list. Portland is another city that hosts an annual beer festival, the Oregon Brewers Festival. Portland features big name breweries like Hair of the Dog Brewing Company, Great Notion Brewing, Upright Brewing and Gigantic Brewing Co.

Santa Rosa, California

While Santa Rosa may only be home to 12 breweries, they are among the best quality in the U.S. The Santa Rosa area has always been well known for its wine, however it has also become a hub for craft beer as well. Given the title of Microbrew Capital of the United States, the city features Russian River Brewing, Bear Republic Brewing Company, Shady Oak Barrel House and Moonlight Brewing Company.

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Minneapolis is host to 18 breweries. The city also hosts the annual Minnesota Craft Beer Festival in April. The biggest breweries in Minneapolis are Surly Brewing Company, Steel toe Brewing Company and Dangerous Man Brewing Company.

Burlington, Vermont

Burlington is home to 22 breweries and host of the Vermont Brewers Festival. The Hill Farmstead Brewery, four time winner of RateBeer’s best brewery in the world, can also be found here. The Alchemist, also found in Burlington, features one of the world greatest brews, the “Heady Topper.”

Portland, Maine

Portland has one of the densest populations of breweries. The 18 breweries and small population mean that there is approximately 1 brewery for 3,900 residents. SmartAsset even ranked Portland as the 2nd best city for beer drinkers in 2017. The city is home to Maine Beer Company, Bissell Brothers Brewing Company, Allagash Brewing Company and Oxbow Brewing Company.

Chicago, Illinois

While Chicago may only sport 19 breweries, it is host to another 131 microbreweries and brewhubs. In fact, Chicago is emerging as the craft beer capital of the U.S. The city hosts the Chicago Beer Festival where its largest breweries, Pipeworks Brewing Company, Half Acre Beer Company and Spiteful Brewing go to their Ale.

Statistics of Brewery Growth
Statistics of Brewery Growth

The business of beer is growing exponentially across the United States and the world as smaller breweries are making larger impacts on society, our social habits and taste buds.

AT&T and Time Warner Merger – What Large Media Deals May Follow?

AT&T acquires Time Warner, Inc. as the US federal court recently ruled in their favor —a deal that brings together a number of global entertainment leaders. HBO, Warner Bros., and Turner now fall under AT&T’s leadership in technology and video, as well as in mobile and broadband. With such a huge deal, what does this disruption mean for the future of the TV industry?

Before the official announcement, many people were antsy about the decision. “Literally, the world could change on June 12,” declared Tim Nollen, an analyst at Macquarie Research. And that, it did.

After spending $85.4 billion to acquire Time Warner, AT&T needed to recover the money they spent somehow. As such, the company is raising prices on customer fees. They are quietly earning back the chunk they spent on acquiring some of the biggest global entertainment names. AT&T increased their price twice in three months: 50 cents at first and then another 73 cents in June. As such, their customers now pay an additional $1.23 in admin fees—an $800 million extra revenue for AT&T, affecting 85% of their 64.5 million postpaid phone users.

Greenlight for Other Mergers and Acquisitions?

at&t acquires time warner, can comcast, verizon, cbs, and charter made it too?
Large Potential Media and Telecom Alignments

Because of the AT&T ruling, the doors are open for other telecoms and media outlets.

Comcast and Fox

Comcast has plans of making an all-cash offer for 21st Century Fox’s studio and entertainment cable channels. Insiders say the company is willing to give out $60 billion. Hoping to “undo” the deal struck by Disney last December, Comcast is attempting and successfully buying the same assets for $52 billion in a mix of stock and cash. Experts say Disney would most likely raise their offer to $65 billion. Fox’s controlling shareholder Rupert Murdoch is open to taking the highest bid.

The Comcast–Fox deal is not final. Moreover, this bidding battle has had rumors of having a third player, Apple, which has previously emerged but not come to fruition.

The Fox situation could get more complicated if other bidders jump in. In recent days, rumors are circulating of a third bidder. And some in the media industry wondering whether Apple could be a buyer. This idea has surfaced before but never became a reality.

Additionally, this Fox bid pretty much parallels a separate yet related bidding war. Both Fox and Comcast are interested with Sky plc, a pay TV operator in the United Kingdom. Fox already owns 39% of Sky and wants to buy the rest with Disney’s help. Comcast oddly outbid them, but Fox intends to bid higher. This is a crucial move as Disney and Comcast both have aspirations of creating their own online streaming services.

Verizon and CBS

Verizon may bid for CBS Corporation. According to industry insiders, the company expressed interest. But CBS Vice Chairwoman Shari Redstone is only interested in selling if Verizon would also buy Viacom, her other media company. With AT&T’s recent success, Verizon might just get the push they need in buying both of Redstone’s companies.

However, Verizon’s plan is still far from turning into reality. Verizon’s CEO Lowell McAdam recently told CNBC that buying a content company is not part of the company’s strategy at present. In addition, their new Chief Technology Officer Hans Vestberg (formerly the head of Ericsson) will succeed McAdam by August, and he also said that content isn’t their top priority. But if the price of an entertainment company is affordably low enough, Verizon might just change its mind. After all, Verizon bought both AOL and Yahoo, showing an interest in digital media in the past.

Charter Communications and CBS

This AT&T victory may bring out the “Malone wild card,” referring to billionaire media mogul John Malone. He controls Charter Communications and Discovery Communications. He may potentially try to purchase CBS and Viacom, or even combine some of the companies he already owns like Charter buying Discovery—the latter of which owns Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, and HGTV—or even movie studio Lionsgate, according to Nollen’s recent report for Macquarie.



Artificial Intelligence in Business: How Small and Medium Businesses Can Get in the Game

From chatbots to virtual assistants, the use of artificial intelligence in business seems to be everywhere. But these are just the more visible aspects of artificial intelligence. Businesses of today use artificial intelligence in a variety of ways so that they can get ahead of the competition. And while big businesses are typically the ones using artificial intelligence the most, smaller-size businesses need to pay attention.  According to some experts, investing in the use of artificial intelligence is not only beneficial, it’s crucial. Those small and medium companies that fail to consider the use of artificial intelligence in their business will be left behind.

Fortunately, there is good news. Small and medium businesses can use artificial intelligence in their business platforms easier than many might think. Increasingly, a number of companies are helping businesses integrate artificial intelligence in a variety of ways. The key is to know how to approach the use of artificial intelligence in your business and the AI solution needed. Reshaping your business with artificial intelligence doesn’t have to be complex, but going about it the right way is essential. The companies that effectively use artificial intelligence will be the business leaders of tomorrow regardless of their size.

Artificial Intelligence in Business Is More Common Than You Think

When thinking of artificial intelligence in business, most think of chatbots, virtual assistants, and data mining for consumer trends. Indeed, these are all examples of the use of artificial intelligence in business. But artificial intelligence reflects much more than this. We see notable advances in machine learning, natural language processing, and predictive analytics. All types of businesses use these facets of artificial intelligence in a number of ways. What is interesting is that many times the use of artificial intelligence in a business is not obvious to the consumer or to others. You might not think your competition is using artificial intelligence in their business platforms when, in fact, they are.

According to a Vanson Bourne study in late 2017, around 80% of all enterprises are using some form of artificial intelligence in their business. In addition, about a third plan to expend artificial intelligence in their business platforms over the next 3 years. And 62% expect to hire a chief artificial intelligence officer in the future. These figures highlight that the competitive landscape is changing. Failing to use of artificial intelligence in all types of businesses will soon be the exception and not the norm.

At the end of the day, artificial intelligence is simply math and code. All firms can easily implement artificial intelligence in business areas by simply working with experts in the field. Likewise, artificial intelligence can be readily incorporated into a business through software or through cloud-based systems. The challenging part is collecting data, organizing data, and testing algorithms to be sure they provide insights. This is why it is important to know precisely how artificial intelligence can help you in your business.

How Is Artificial Intelligence Being Used in Business?

A better question might be, “Where is artificial intelligence not being used in business?” The use of artificial intelligence in product development is the most common use of artificial intelligence in business today. Half of the firms using artificial intelligence in their business platforms do so to enhance product value for their customers. Businesses typically use natural language processing and machine learning to gather customer feedback data and buying trends. Other common uses of artificial intelligence involve customer relations management. These solutions commonly use chatbots and virtual assistants but may also involve other AI strategies. Businesses small and large can improve their market position with the use of these AI tools.

graph showing how artificial intelligence in business can drive revenue, Using AI in Small Business
Business AI Capabilities That Drive Revenue

The use of artificial intelligence in business logistics is also quite common. UPS has used machine learning for route optimization for years. Likewise, Amazon has been using AI robots in organizing and retrieving packages and supplies. But more cutting-edge uses of artificial intelligence in business today involves its application to sales, marketing, and employee engagement. In fact, Mark Cuban has invested heavily in AI firms because of the benefits related to artificial intelligence in business sales. Cuban calls AI a “cold-call killer” because of its ability to combine corporate information with personal networks and web-based data.

Companies use artificial intelligence to monitor various pieces of equipment and to enhance operations. With the Internet-of-Things (IOT), equipment and materials can provide data related to wear-and-tear, maintenance needs, performance, and other variables. AI systems in a business setting can suggest proactive strategies to reduce equipment downtime and promote higher performance. AI systems can thus enhance multiple areas in business function using data from an array of sources.

How Can Artificial Intelligence Help Your Business?

The use of artificial intelligence in business offers several benefits. However, we can summarize the benefits of artificial intelligence as four major advantages for any-size business.

  • Better Decision-Making – Artificial intelligence provides better access and organization of information in businesses allowing more effective and efficient decision-making capacities. Being able to make informed decisions in a timely manner offers notable advantages among competitors.
  • Reduced Costs and Expenses – All firms have some degree of inefficiency in operations and resource use. The use of artificial intelligence in business to enhance logistics and systems management streamlines these areas. As a result, artificial intelligence can effectively lower costs and allow greater profitability.
  • Increased Revenue Generation – Artificial intelligence can also boost profits by advancing revenues. The use of artificial intelligence in sales and marketing areas can drive higher revenues. Likewise, the use of AI solutions in product development and customer relations management can do the same.
  • Stronger Value Creation – By using artificial intelligence in product development areas, your business can better design products and services to meet customer needs. The use of AI in marketing areas can also identify consumer needs. These uses of artificial intelligence will promote more valued goods in your business giving you a competitive advantage.

Companies Offering AI Solutions in Business

From large to small, several companies provide AI solutions to help you in reshaping your business with AI platforms. As one of the world’s largest software vendors, SAP offers advanced AI solutions. HANA, SAP’s premier AI  system, enhance sales, customer relations, data processing, and resource use in businesses. Major companies such as Walmart use HANA to improve performance in multiple areas. General Electric also offers artificial intelligence systems for businesses. GE’s Predix AI solution monitors and synthesizes data using machine learning from IOT equipment. The AI system can be used to improve maintenance and performance activities in businesses.

Perhaps your business does not need such a large AI platform. Domo, another business software company, offers affordable cloud-based AI systems. Domo provides an informational dashboard using artificial intelligence, machine learning and predictive analytics for better decision-making. Companies collect ustomer data from over 400 third-party apps and combined with business information to create Domo’s dashboard. Avanade, a joint venture between Microsoft and Accenture, also provides an AI platform using Cortana Intelligence Suite. This AI system is touted to boost revenues in some business by 33%.

Many other smaller companies also provide AI services to businesses.  Gong, Chorus, and Jog provide artificial intelligence solutions to help train and coach sales staff in businesses. Tangowork and Rocketbot can provide internal chatbots to enhance employee engagement through AI business applications. Lastly, Keatext and MonkeyLearn offer AI systems that collect and categorize business customer feedback. The number of these smaller AI companies and their services are growing by leaps and bounds.

Recommendations for Using AI in Small Business

In pursuing AI solution in your business, the process will be very individualized based on specific needs. However, the following provides a “best practices” approach when considering which AI solutions are best for your business.

  • Get Informed – Know what AI business solutions exist for your company. Attend workshops, courses, and training seminars and stay up-to-date on the latest industry news. Some options for educational courses include Udacity, edX, and online lectures from Stanford University.
  • Apply Knowledge to Your Business – Once AI systems are better understood, align possible AI solutions with your business needs. The best approach in using artificial intelligence in small business is to target specific areas for optimal effect.
  • Know Your Limits – Your business may be able to benefit from a certain artificial solution. However, your business may not be ready for it. Knowing your business’s capabilities and capacities is important when considering AI solutions. Because resources are limited, knowing which AI solution best fits your company is important.
  • Start with Small AI Solutions – Introduce AI solutions gradually in your business. By starting with small projects, your company will manage the change more effectively. This will create a strong foundation for expanding AI systems in your business later.
  • Commit to Investing in AI – The writing is on the wall. The use of using AI in small business is the way of the future. For your business to compete, you will need to commit to investing in AI solutions at some point. Sooner may very well be better than later.


Space Exploration: When We Get to Mars, Will we be Able to Breathe?

We are now living in the science fiction world that we only read about decades ago. Robots, artificial intelligence, and space exploration were only the stuff of movies, television, and literature. Now, with the rapid innovations in science and technology, these stories are now a reality and a norm in the grand human experience and making bold impacts on society and its future. For example, colonizing Mars is no longer just a possibility, but an eventuality. There are many ongoing international initiatives toward terraforming Mars, such as Elon Musk and SpaceX’s ambition to ferry basic necessities and people to Mars in the next few years. Building homes on the red planet is a priority in colonizing, but one basic question has not been thoroughly addressed by scientists. Can we breathe on Mars? Can we produce enough oxygen on Mars to survive?

Earth Versus Mars, Terraforming

Cartoon of astronauts on a space exploration.
Space exploration and living in Mars isn’t just in the movies anymore.

Unlike Earth, Mars is quite uninhabitable. Although they have almost the same tilt, which indicates that both planets experience four different seasons, Mars is significantly colder. The average temperature in Earth is 57°F, while in Mars the average temperature is -81°F. It is colder than the Antarctic and drier than the Sahara.

Breathing the air in Mars is detrimental for humans. Its atmosphere is 100 times thinner than Earth’s. Ninety-six percent of the atmosphere in Mars is carbon dioxide, with only 0.15% oxygen on Mars. On Earth, the atmosphere is 77% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and 0.038% carbon dioxide. The Martian atmosphere has only 0.6% of Earth’s atmospheric pressure. Breathing in Mars would be like being in a vacuum. After 15 seconds in Mars, a human would have depleted all oxygen in the body and would lose consciousness. The body would dry up, the moisture lining in the lungs would be inflamed, and saliva in the mouth would boil. The lungs would rupture, effectively killing a human being.

So can we breathe on Mars? The short answer is no—not without any oxygen vessels strapped to our space suits. More than discovering any signs of life or water in Mars, it is more important to find ways for humans to breathe long enough to terraform the planet for human colony.

Hope for Mars Found on Earth

Silk Leaf - a synthetic biological leaf for space exploration and terraforming
Silk Leaf Converts Light and Water Into Oxygen

Now there is new hope in the quest to provide a consistent supply of oxygen for human explorers on Mars: cyanobacteria. Also known as blue-green algae or Cyanophyta, it is a family of bacteria that draws in carbon dioxide and discharges oxygen in some of the most inhospitable places on Earth. Cyanobacteria can use photosynthesis to produce energy, especially in places with far less sunlight. These cyanobacteria thrive in the deepest and darkest areas in the ocean, like the Marianas Trench.

Chlorophyll is instrumental in the photosynthesis process. Plants and other organisms convert visible light into energy using chlorophyll-a. Cyanobacteria, on the other hand, uses a different kind of chlorophyll, chlorophyll-f, to convert far-red/near infrared light into energy. This is their secret to living in environments with hardly any light sources.

This redefines the minimum energy required to process photosynthesis and produce oxygen in Mars. Previous potential plans to create oxygen in Mars involved extreme procedures such as redirecting asteroids to release heat on impact. Another strategy was to set up a giant mirror system to melt the polar ice caps, to release water and carbon dioxide, and thus oxygen, in Mars. These processes would ultimately force an irreversible climate change in the planet to sustain human civilization on Mars.

Scientists found cyanobacteria in the Antarctica, Mojave Desert, and even on the exterior of the International Space Station. As the organism survives in the harshest weather conditions on Earth, it may well adapt and thrive on Mars.

Space Exploration Realized

Perhaps the Mars 2020 rover could bring a sample of cyanobacteria to the red planet on its next mission to test the possibility of growing extraterrestrial oxygen. NASA previously revealed in 2014 that it had an experiment called MOXIE. It involves using the abundant carbon dioxide found in the Mars atmosphere and converting it to oxygen. Many spaces agencies and private companies are working tirelessly to make this into a reality in the future. They believe harnessing photosynthesis could be the key to creating breathable air for humans on Mars.

There are still a lot of critical things that need to be addressed about living and governing in Mars, or space exploration, in general. But with the rapid developments in the world of science, new solutions may be invented before the new Mars rover launches for space exploration. “Can we breathe in mars?” may no longer be a question, but an obstacle that we will have surpassed sooner than we thought.