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Matt Lauer Accuser Speaks Out in Ronan Farrow’s New Book

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For more than 20 years, Matt Lauer was a star anchor of NBC’s most profitable franchise, “Today.” His downfall came in November 2017, when the network fired him after receiving a complaint of sexual misconduct against him. The accusation was soon followed by others.

Now, the circumstances of that firing have resurfaced in a book by the investigative journalist Ronan Farrow that contains new details from Mr. Lauer’s primary accuser, including her account of a rape. The book, “Catch and Kill,” is expected to be released on Tuesday.

The accuser provided an account of her interactions with Mr. Lauer to The New York Times nearly two years ago, but said she was not willing to go public with her story at the time. On Wednesday, Variety reported that Mr. Farrow had secured an on-the-record interview with the woman, Brooke Nevils, who allowed the author to name her in the book.

Ms. Nevils gave Mr. Farrow a detailed description of an encounter with Mr. Lauer, which took place when the network was covering the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Mr. Lauer anally raped Ms. Nevils, she told Mr. Farrow.

Mr. Lauer denied the allegation in a letter provided by his lawyer on Wednesday.

“In a new book, it is alleged that an extramarital, but consensual, sexual encounter I have previously admitted having, was in fact an assault,” Mr. Lauer wrote. “It is categorically false, ignores the facts, and defies common sense. I had an extramarital affair with Brooke Nevils in 2014. It began when she came to my hotel room very late one night in Sochi, Russia. We engaged in a variety of sexual acts. We performed oral sex on each other, we had vaginal sex, and we had anal sex. Each act was mutual and completely consensual.”

A lawyer for Ms. Nevils declined to comment. Little, Brown, the publisher of “Catch and Kill,” did not immediately comment.

Before he left for The New Yorker, Mr. Farrow was a reporter at NBC News, working as a contributor to MSNBC and, for a time, as a correspondent on “Today,” with a segment called “Undercover With Ronan Farrow.” At the time of his departure from the network in August 2017, he was pursuing allegations of sexual misconduct against the film mogul Harvey Weinstein. Mr. Farrow and executives at NBC News disagreed bitterly over whether or not his reporting was ready for broadcast, and their working relationship came to an end.

In an interview with The Times, a news producer who worked with Mr. Farrow at NBC, Rich McHugh, accused the network of impeding Mr. Farrow’s reporting on Mr. Weinstein. He called the interference “a massive breach of journalistic integrity.”

NBC News disagreed. In an email to the staff, the NBC News chairman Andrew Lack said that the network “had nothing yet fit to broadcast,” adding, “We spent eight months pursuing the story but at the end of that time, NBC News — like many others before us — still did not have a single victim or witness willing to go on the record.”

In “Catch and Kill,” Mr. Farrow has set his sights on Mr. Lack and the NBC News president Noah Oppenheim. The book includes a more detailed account of the pushback Mr. Farrow said he received from the news division’s executives, and its new allegations concerning Mr. Lauer could have reverberations at the network.

At the time of Mr. Lauer’s firing, NBC News executives said that they had not been aware of the host’s sexual misconduct until the first accuser filed a complaint. In a memo to the staff, Mr. Lack wrote: “While it is the first complaint about his behavior in the over 20 years he’s been at NBC News, we were also presented with reason to believe this may not have been an isolated incident.”

The network started an inquiry. Unlike previous investigations of sexual misconduct involving employees at media companies like NPR and Fox News, which relied on the work of outside law firms, NBC used its own counsel to look into the question of whether or not its executives were aware of Mr. Lauer’s behavior before any complaint was lodged against him.

Five months after the firing, the NBCUniversal legal team filed a report clearing NBC News management of any misconduct regarding Mr. Lauer’s workplace conduct.

“We found no evidence indicating that any NBC News or ‘Today’ show leadership, News H.R. or others in positions of authority in the News Division received any complaints about Lauer’s workplace behavior prior to Nov. 27, 2017,” the report concluded.



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Fiksu DSP now offers even more efficient ad campaign optimization and complete transparency through their self-serve platform

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Fiksu, a demand-side platform for digital advertising, has announced the launch of its self-serve DSP. The platform has been built to empower marketers with scalable advertising tools and ensure full control over their ad campaigns. With the help of Fiksu self-serve DSP, advertisers can access inventory from premium supply-side platforms in various environments. 

Now marketers can deliver their ads not only on mobile, but also in the most promising digital environment: Connected TV. This provides brands with excellent opportunities. Firstly, direct-to-consumer (DTC) shoppers spend more time streaming than on social media. Secondly, 90% of viewers confirm that CTV advertising is more relevant than traditional TV ads. And lastly, in most cases, connected TV ads will be seen by several people in a household, which significantly increases the reach. 

Aside from quality inventory, users of Fiksu self-serve DSP enjoy exceptionally detailed reporting and efficient campaign optimization tools. The key metrics that advertisers can view include total viewability time, video completion rate (VCR), and view-through rate (VTR). And those who want to dig deeper into data can study customized reports on impressions and total spend. 

Fiksu DSP reconfirms its commitment to fraud prevention and brand safety. The platform has teamed-up with Pixalate to ward off fraudulent ad impressions. This market-leading solution analyzes the myriad of devices to identify suspicious activity before any of the ad budget is spent. Thus, marketers are guaranteed that their money will not be wasted by ill-intentioned vendors.

“Our experience in business along with knowledge gained from current industry researches and user feedback allows us to identify market demand and implement practical tools that meet it. We foresee more and more advertisers seeking ultimate control over their campaigns, so we launched the Fiksu self-serve DSP to provide them with a high level of autonomy and transparency.” — Anna Kuzmenko, COO at Fiksu.



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Kobe Bryant’s Death Cuts Short a Budding Business Career

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U.S. stock futures are down sharply this morning on fears about the coronavirus outbreak. More below. (Want this in your inbox each morning? Sign up here.)

The death of Kobe Bryant, the retired L.A. Lakers star, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others in a helicopter crash yesterday has stirred up grief across the sports world. It also had corporate leaders lamenting the loss of an up-and-coming business mogul.

Mr. Bryant was one of the greatest N.B.A. players, with five championship rings and 18 All-Star selections in 20 seasons.

But he was building a business empire, too:

• He started the investment firm Bryant Stibel in 2013 with the Web.com founder Jeff Stibel. Bryant Stibel has invested in companies like Dell, Alibaba and Epic Games, the maker of Fortnight.

U.S. stock futures are down sharply this morning, as the death toll of the coronavirus outbreak continues to rise and pressure grows on China’s political leaders and its economy.

An investor group led by Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund is said to be in talks to buy the British soccer club Newcastle United for about $445 million, according to the WSJ and the FT. It could mean another team with well-heeled owners willing to spend millions to chase success.

The current state of play:

• Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund is working with the financier Amanda Staveley and the billionaires David and Simon Reuben.

• The Saudis would own 80 percent of Newcastle in any such deal. Ms. Staveley and the Reubens would split the remainder.

Why Newcastle? It’s one of the better-known English Premier League soccer teams, with stellar attendance at matches. And its current owner, Mike Ashley, has been criticized for not spending enough on players.

The Saudis have been investing in businesses outside the Middle East to diversify their country’s economy away from oil. The sovereign fund, known as P.I.F., has taken stakes in companies like Uber and Tesla.

The question is how much the Saudis are prepared to spend on Newcastle. Abu Dhabi propelled Manchester City to the heights of the Premier League by spending heavily on the team, while Qatar has done something similar with Paris Saint-Germain.

Britain is reportedly expected to give Huawei a limited role in its 5G network this week, George Parker and Nic Fildes of the FT report. That could set up a fight with the Trump administration, which views the Chinese tech giant as a security threat.

Business leaders embraced his work. Andy Grove, a former C.E.O. of Intel, said soon after “The Innovator’s Dilemma” published that it was the most important book he had read in a decade.

Adam Grant, a Wharton professor and fellow sage for the business world, offered this assessment: “His most disruptive innovation was reminding us not to overinvest in careers and underinvest in people.”

More: How direct-to-consumer companies like Dollar Shave Club shook up the world of retail.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin stirred up controversy last week when he said that the climate change activist Greta Thunberg should take a college economics class. But Ms. Thunberg found a supporter in Mr. Mnuchin’s wife, Louise Linton.

“I stand with Greta on this issue. (I don’t have a degree in economics either),” Ms. Linton, a Hollywood actor and producer who is a public supporter of animal rescue organizations, wrote in an Instagram post on Saturday.

Ms. Linton later deleted the post, and then posted to her Instagram Story defending herself, writes William Cummings of USA Today. “I am not my husband,” she wrote to one critic. “I happen to love Greta. Whatever he says has nothing to do with my views or opinions.”

Deals

• Reporters at The Chicago Tribune really want someone to buy out their newspaper’s current owner. (NYT)





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A $100 Million Bet That Vacationland Can Be a Tech Hub, Too

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PORTLAND, Maine — There is nothing obviously wrong with Maine’s biggest city. Its shops buzz in the summer with well-heeled tourists. Zillow rates the real estate market “very hot.” David Geffen’s yacht docks at port from time to time. The food scene is great. In November, the unemployment rate was barely 2.2 percent.

Something is troubling Portland, however. Productivity growth is low. Business formation is anemic. And there is a sense that in an era of technology-driven economic winners, Portland’s 66,000 residents are being left behind.

“It looks like we’re doing fine,” said Jon Jennings, Portland’s city manager. “But just underneath the real estate development, there is that insecurity as to what will actually drive the economy in the future.” Lobstering and tourism will not suffice.

Hoping to draw itself into the high-tech orbit, Portland is about to become a test case. On Monday, officials including Gov. Janet Mills and Mayor Kate Snyder will gather on Portland’s waterfront for the unveiling of a research institute meant to propel the local economy.

If the effort succeeds, it could provide a template for the many American cities struggling to share in the nation’s prosperity.

Its patron is David Roux, who grew up in nearby Lewiston and graduated from Harvard before building a fortune as a Silicon Valley investor. Mr. Roux, a co-founder of the private-equity firm Silver Lake Partners 20 years ago, is giving $100 million to Northeastern University to establish a graduate school and research center in Portland.

The center, to be known as the Roux Institute, will award certificates, master’s degrees and Ph.D.s in artificial intelligence and machine learning — geared in particular toward the life sciences.

“What is it that could be most catalytic to transform and support an economy that doesn’t fully participate in the modern, tech-led innovation economy?” Mr. Roux asked. His answer is “to bring cutting-edge technology capabilities here to Maine and northern New England.”

The goal is to tap into the forces that have funneled knowledge-based affluence into a small number of megacities. Ten cities that are home to less than a quarter of the population generate nearly half of the nation’s patents and a third of its economic output, according to recent research.



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