Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

03.31.17 | 3:21 pm

This vegan leather handbag feels so real PETA might just throw paint at you

Vicki von Holzhausen began her career as a car designer at Audi and Mercedes Benz. But last year she struck out on her own, launching an eponymous luxury handbag line that stands out for deploying the most sustainable practices in the industry. She sources her leather from Italy, ensuring that it is a by-product of the food industry and is tanned in the least toxic way possible. "Many fashion brands are beginning to think about sustainability, but this isn't trickling into the leather goods space," she says. 

Ultimately, she decided that the most sustainable leather was no leather at all. The problem is that she found most "vegan leather" in the fashion industry did not feel like the real deal: it was too shiny and too plasticky. 

This is when her experience in the auto industry turned into a big advantage. It turns out that car makers are deeply invested in developing cheaper and more sustainable leather alternatives for car seats, since a single car requires 20 hides. Von Holzhausen went back to her industry contacts and worked with a manufacturer to develop a polyurethane-based material, which she is calling Technik-Leather, that has the supple, buttery handfeel of leather, without any of the toxins and waste. She says many of her customers begin by purchasing a leather product, but are drawn to the Technik-Leather range because it feels like leather but is less harmful. 

"I want to innovate," she says. "We're just as much a tech company as a fashion label."

05.25.17 | 5:18 pm

Farewell, Bachman: The best of Silicon Valley’s dumb dope-smoking startup incubator

Alas, Bachmanity is over, my friends. That is to say, Erlich Bachman (aka T.J. Miller) will not be returning for the next season of Silicon Valley. Well, at least we'll have the memories… and the memes and the moronic moments. 

• "My head is so far up my own ass I can see the future."

• "No, this is all wrong. I am sensing a general lack of vision. Your muffins smell like shit. So do your ideas. One of you is the least-attractive person I've ever seen. I'm not gonna say who. Should we leave, or should you?"

• "What kind of monster puts artisanal butter in the freezer?"

• "I know what binary is. Jesus Christ! I memorized the hexadecimal times tables when I was 14 writing machine code, okay? Ask me what 9 times F is. It's fleventy-five. I don't need you telling me what binary is, just like I don't need you thinking about soup or taking pictures of it."

05.25.17 | 3:44 pm

Watch Mark Zuckerberg’s 2017 Harvard commencement address

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg returned to Harvard, from which he dropped out of to start Facebook, to deliver the commencement address on Thursday afternoon.

Rather than use Facebook Live, Harvard is broadcasting the address via YouTube. You can watch the address (which is still taking place right now) below:

05.25.17 | 3:39 pm

Luxury fitness retailer Bandier is racing to the West Coast

In the midst of the retail downturn, Bandier is doing something right. It launched in 2014 with a Southampton store that served as a kind of Barney's for luxury activewear. It has quickly expanded to include a robust online presence, and four stores plus a flagship in New York City that double as a fitness studio and event space. The success of these stores comes, in part, from the fact that the brand thinks of them as community centers where people can gather and relax together, rather than just buy leggings. It also helps that Bandier offers plenty of exclusive products and does collaborations with unexpected designers, such as street artists. 

A year ago, Bandier raised $4.5 million from Simon Ventures, but is already in the midst of closing another round of funding to continue growing. It hopes to put down roots in L.A. later this year and expand its e-commerce presence, which currently drives 45% of its total business. 

05.25.17 | 3:13 pm

Russian hacker leaked Democratic data to GOP operative, says report

Guccifer 2.0, the hacker persona widely believed to be a front for Russian intelligence, leaked Democratic voter turnout predictions to a Republican political consultant, reports The Wall Street Journal. The consultant, Aaron Nevins, published the files on his blog, and Guccifer 2.0 sent a link to famed Republican operative Roger Stone, according to the report.

At least one campaign consultant, who helped flip a House seat from Democratic to Republican, adjusted advertising tactics based on the leaked data, though it's naturally impossible to know if that affected the election's outcome. Guccifer 2.0's tactics match predictions from cybersecurity experts, who suspected Russian hackers might leak documents to political parties and candidates as well as to the media in efforts to influence elections. 

05.25.17 | 3:01 pm

Federal court slams Trump’s travel ban: It “drips with religious intolerance”

In by far the harshest ruling yet on the Trump administration's proposal to restrict travel from six Muslim-majority countries, the 4th circuit court stated today that the ban is "steeped in animus and directed at a single religious group." In upholding the injunction against the ban, the court went on to say that "the text speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination."

The court also stated that the president shouldn't have absolute power in these types of situations:

"Congress granted the President broad power to deny entry to aliens, but that power is not absolute. It cannot go unchecked when, as here, the President wields it through an executive edit that stands to cause irreparable hard to individuals across this nation," a statement from the court reads. "Laid bare, this Executive Order is no more than what the President promised before and after his election: naked invidious discrimination against Muslims."

05.25.17 | 2:00 pm

Apple poaches top NY Mag editor for News role, hinting at some major changes 

Up until now, Apple News has been an aggregation app, at best. But it seems Apple has higher ambitions for its mobile news destination. Politico reports that the Cupertino giant has hired Lauren Kern, New York Magazine's executive editor, as Apple News' new editor-in-chief.

This follows a trend of top editorial talent—such as the New York Times' Quentin Hardy, who now works at Google—being swayed by tech hype (and deep Silicon Valley pockets). 

What does this mean for Apple News, specifically? With a real editor at the helm, will the app adopt more of a voice or are even bigger changes afoot? I reached out to Apple and Kern, and will update if I hear back. (If you know anything about Apple's news plans, email me!) Perhaps we'll learn more at WWDC next week…

05.25.17 | 1:55 pm

We might still see an in-flight laptop ban on flights from Europe 

There's still a chance that we might see an expansion of the U.S. government's laptop ban, which currently affects flights from 10 airports in the Middle East, before the end of the summer. Earlier this month news spread that the Trump administration was considering banning laptops in the cabin of all flights from Europe, a move said to be based on credible reports that terrorist groups are planning to hide bombs in laptops on planes. Today, the secretary for the Department of Homeland Security said that the agency is continuing to monitor the threat, and it's possible that we could see an expansion of the ban.

If implemented, a laptop ban could severely impact American airlines and travelers. In a recent conversation with Fast Company, Henry Harteveldt, a travel industry analyst and principal at Atmosphere Research, said "If this ban is expanded, I'm concerned that we are in for a summer of international travel hell."

05.25.17 | 1:15 pm

Warby Parker is sending a new pair of glasses to the reporter who was assaulted by a Republican candidate

Now we know that Montana Republican candidate for Montana's congressional seat Greg Gianforte is being charged with assault for "body-slamming" The Guardian reporter Ben Jacobs. But one of the remaining questions was about replacing Jacobs's glasses, which the reporter said were broken in the bizarre altercation. Well, in a prime example of "Brands in the Age of Trump," Warby Parker has stepped up.

05.25.17 | 1:14 pm

After 26 years, Walt Mossberg has written his final tech column

"Personal computers are just too hard to use, and it's not your fault." With those blunt words, the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg began his first technology column in October 1991. He soon became the world's most influential tech writer, for the WSJ and later its All Things D site and, most recently, Recode and The Verge.

Now Mossberg is retiring from weekly writing. His last column says that technology has gotten easier to use, and that, with elements such as AI and advanced sensors playing an ever-growing role, it will soon become ambient. The uncompromising consumer advocacy he brought to his work is quite a legacy—and here's hoping that his influence on tech journalism continues to be felt even though he's leaving the weekly grind. 

05.25.17 | 1:00 pm

Lyft gets black-car service

Lyft has been aggressively expanding in the U.S. this year to catch up with Uber. Now it's launching a black-car service. It's an interesting move for a company that in its original conception encouraged riders to sit in the front seat with drivers. Lyft already offers higher-end rides in BMWs or Mercedes through its "Premier" program. The black-car service is aimed at more business class riders and also offers drivers, who already use a more luxury car to drive for Lyft, a way to expand their earnings. The black-car service has two tiers, Lyft Lux and Lyft Lux SUV. It's first rolling out in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, and San Jose.

05.25.17 | 12:49 pm

Grab your Allen wrenches: Ikea is now a startup incubator

Ikea is getting into the startup incubator business and they are kicking it off in the Nutid-outfitted kitchen, Quartz reports. The Swedish company just announced a new Ikea bootcamp that will focus on food innovation (probably well beyond vegan meatballs and new uses for their cinnamon rolls), as well as customer experience, sustainability, manufacturing, the supply chain, analytics, and disruptive technologies and design (we're guessing Allen wrench replacements). They are interested in products that fit within Ikea's vision of affordability, accessibility, and eco-consciousness. While flat packing is not on the list, it can't hurt to add that option to your product to really catch their eye during the application process.

Successful startup applicants get to spend three months in the company's Ikea lab in Sweden, plus  €20,000 (that's about $22,400 to spend at Ikea) , three months of free Ikea housing, and access to Ikea's prototype shop, a test lab, and hands-on access to the expertise of scientists working in the lab. Even better, Ikea won't take equity in your startup when you're done. Thing you've got what it takes? Apply here

[Photo: Flickr user Mette1977

05.25.17 | 11:57 am

Fight the tampon tax with Sustain’s new line of organic period products

Sexual wellness brand Sustain just released a range of 100% cotton pads, liners, and tampons, along with a bimonthly subscription box that allows women to mix and match period products. This is an obvious extension of the brand: Since its launch in 2014, Sustain has catered to women with sustainable, "vagina-friendly" condoms and lubricants. 

For the first 30 days following this launch, Sustain is matching the dollars it collects via sales taxes with a donation to Girls Helping Girls. Period., a nonprofit provides feminine hygiene products to low-income women in the U.S. This aligns with Sustain's commitment to donate 10% of its profits to organizations like Planned Parenthood and puts its weight behind a movement protesting the "tampon tax"; across 37 states in the U.S., feminine hygiene products are classified as "nonessential" and taxed a minimum of 66 cents per box. 

"It's about equity and access—there's no other tax that's this gender biased," cofounder and CEO Meika Hollender said in a statement. "To tax these items and not acknowledge or exempt them as essential products is another example of gender inequality playing out in policy." [Photo: courtesy of Sustain]