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Most Innovative Companies

Author: Fast Company

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Which companies are on the cutting edge of artificial intelligence? What’s the next major breakthrough in healthcare? How do iconic brands reinvent themselves to appeal to the next generation? Most Innovative Companies is where tech, business, and innovation convene. Join host Yasmin Gagne as she brings you the latest innovations transforming business and society—and highlights the companies that are reshaping industries and culture.

120 Episodes
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The WNBA’s 2024 season comes on the heels of a recent groundswell of interest in women’s basketball. Last year was the WNBA’s most-watched regular season in over two decades and the recently wrapped NCAA tournament has brought a new generation of fans to the sport. The women’s March Madness final averaged 18.7 million viewers, while the men’s final averaged just 14.82 million viewers. Basically, the WNBA is a hot commodity and brands are noticing. Fast Company Staff Editor AJ Hess joined us to explain how this happened and why the stakes for the WNBA are so high this season. Then, in a bit of a role reversal, Josh played the interviewer and asked Yaz about her latest reporting on Oprah. It covered Weight Watchers, diet culture, and our favorite topic on this show, GLP-1s. The impetus for Yaz's article was a Weight Watchers event last week in New York where Oprah was speaking. Yaz explained what happened and what it means for the future of the company.
It’s May! We’re enjoying the spring weather and getting ready for this summer. So, we wanted to chat with some Fast Company folks who have their ears to the ground on what’s going to be a hit this summer. Fast Company Associate Editor David Salazar and Senior Staff Writer Liz Segran joined us to share their ideas—and a big shout-out to our interns, Ellie Stevens and Leila Frankina, for their help. Then, we sat down with Airbnb's Chief Business Officer Dave Stephenson where we chatted about the so-called "Airbnb Effect" happening in certain communities around the country, the company's efforts to advocate for renters, and the its latest Icons offerings.
InVision was once a prominent player in the design software space. But the company that was once valued at $2 billion announced it will be discontinuing its design-collaboration services by the end of this year. The cofounders, Clark Valberg and Ben Nadel, originally designed the software as a prototyping tool for designers but it quickly gained popularity and ultimately achieved unicorn status after raising $100 million in 2017. This was followed by another milestone when it raised $115 million, which effectively doubled its valuation. So, what happened? How did this unicorn unravel? ‘Fast Company’ contributing writer Nicole Gull McElroy joined us to explain and discuss. Then we chatted with legendary English fashion designer Paul Smith who has been working in the industry for more than 50 years. Aside from the clothes, he’s also heavily involved in designing the look of his stores around the world. His iconic store on L.A’.s Melrose Avenue has a bright pink wall that’s been around since the early 2000s. But since the 2010s, that wall has become an Instagram hot spot with people lining up to take photos against the hot pink backdrop. Smith explained to us how the wall—which costs about $66,000 a year to maintain—has changed brand awareness, and spoke about his long career as designer-of-choice for such stars as Daniel Day-Lewis, David Bowie, and Jony Ive.
Fast food workers in California are seeing an increase in their paychecks. This is because of a recent minimum wage law that went into effect earlier this month. The law requires fast food chains like McDonald’s and Starbucks to pay workers $20 per hour. It will also affect restaurants that have at least 60 other locations nationwide. Opponents of the law say it will lead to layoffs and store closures . . . but for fast food workers who have been fighting for better pay, this could mean being able to get a decent living wage. Fast Company Staff Writer Pavithra Mohan joined us to unpack it all. For more on this, check out Pavithra's reporting. Then we chatted with Lyft CEO David Risher about taking over the company after cofounders Logan Green and John Zimmer left a year ago, having to lay off more than a quarter of the company’s workforce last April, and focusing on his key strategy: “customer obsession drives profitable growth.” We also discussed the company’s future in Minneapolis, whether self-driving cars will transform the industry, and what Risher learned heading up U.S. retail at Amazon under Jeff Bezos.
Boeing has been in the news recently . . . Between a door plug blowing off mid-flight and sudden nose dives causing injuries, the company has been in very hot water. ‘Fast Company’ contributing writer Clint Rainey joined us to explain what’s really going on at Boeing and how it plans to address safety and quality concerns. For more on our Boeing coverage. Then, we spoke with Ghia founder and CEO Melanie Masarin and Nowadays cofounder and CEO Justin Tidwell to understand what’s behind all the demand for non-alcoholic drinks. Companies like Athletic Brewing are experiencing enormous growth as consumers are embracing Sober October and Dry January and curbing their drinking in general. It’s perhaps not going all that well for all brands. After we recorded this interview on April 9th, Boisson, the largest nonalcoholic retailer in New York, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and closed all eight of its brick-and-mortar stores. Still, the nonalcoholic market is forecasted to grow exponentially within the next decade, especially as major breweries such as Anheuser-Busch and Heineken expand their alcohol-free offerings.
Two weeks ago, the former Republican National Committee boss Ronna McDaniel was hired and then fired as an MSNBC contributor. This came about after pushback from staff, including complaints that she had touted Donald Trump’s debunked claims of voting malfeasance in the 2020 election. At the same time, there was backlash from people on the right who chalked up her dismissal as proof of left-wing media bias. Presiding over the chaos was NBCUniversal News chairman Cesar Conde, who has been trying to make the network for all viewpoints. But is that even possible in the Trump era? We talked to Fast Company contributing writer Brian Stelter, who profiled Cesar Conde in our upcoming spring issue. Then we chatted about one of Fast Company’s recognition programs, Brands That Matter. This is where Fast Company highlights companies that build a connection with their audiences by being culturally relevant, making an impact, and communicating their mission and values clearly. Our advertising and brand correspondent, Jeff Beer, joined us to share his favorite brands at the moment. Kristen Wiig's reprisal of the Target lady, SunChips jumping on the eclipse phenomenon, and . . . Dramamine producing a short documentary about barf bags.
Truth Social went public last week. The company disclosed its finances in an SEC filing that revealed it had brought in just over $4 million in revenue while losing more than $58 million in 2023. Those numbers don’t seem to make sense. ‘Fast Company’ senior staff editor Max Ufberg joined us to break down what is responsible for the dire state of that business. Also, tweens and teens experimenting with makeup and skincare is nothing new, but there’s a new trend happening where tweens are showing a lot of interest in the Sephora brand . . . so we wanted to hear directly from them and got to speak with one tween about how they got so interested in skincare, and, of course, what their favorite products are. Then we spoke with Artemis Patrick, president and CEO of Sephora North America, who shared why she thinks tweens love the brand so much and what the company is doing to connect with that community.
Y Combinator and Oishii

Y Combinator and Oishii

2024-03-2701:01:051

Y Combinator has become arguably the most powerful force in tech. It touts that five-and-a-half of the startups that have participated in it have become unicorns . . . which is at least double that of rival accelerators such as TechStars and 500 Global. But it started suffering from exactly the kind of corporate bloat that its founder Paul Graham abhorred. Current president and CEO Garry Tan—who also happens to be a YC alum—took over last January and promised to reclaim YC’s roots and focus on serving early-stage founders. Here’s Fast Company senior writer Ainsley Harris to help fill us in on the behind-the-scenes action. In theory, there are a lot of benefits to indoor farming . . . they often use 90% less water than traditional farms and can produce year-round crops, but we’ve also seen a whole bunch of companies like AeroFarms, AppHarvest, and others really struggle to make the unit economics work. We wanted to hear from Oishii cofounder and CEO Hiroki Koga. His luxury strawberries can be purchased at Whole Foods for $15. Here, he talks about the challenges of vertical farming, and explains why he recently raised a whopping $134 million to expand his operation.
The impact of AI on finance departments will be huge.
Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies list is out! We chatted with Fast Company Executive Editor Amy Farley to hear about the top five winners and who her personal faves were. Spoilers: Nvidia, OpenAI and Microsoft were at the top but some surprises were the National Women's Soccer League, United Auto Workers and ... Chess.com. Then, Fast Company Senior Staff Editor Jeff Beer sat down with Taco Bell CEO Sean Tresvant and CMO Taylor Montgomery to discuss how the fast-food company is one of the most innovative brands out there. For more on the MIC list, check it out here. And check out Jeff's Taco Bell feature story!
Today’s CEOs can’t rely on their CMOs to tell them what’s on the minds of consumers. The modern chief executive must be fully plugged in to consumer wants and needs, which change more quickly than ever as technology evolves. Fast Company Editor-in-Chief Brendan Vaughan chatted with Verizon Consumer CEO Sowmyanarayan Sampath at the Fast Company Grill at this year's South by Southwest to discuss how the leader of Verizon’s consumer business stays on top—and how you can do the same.
This past weekend, Fast Company hosted a three-day event as part of SXSW in Austin. Yaz moderated a bunch of panels, Josh was producing podcasts, and best-friend-of-the-pod Max Ufberg also moderated a number of panels. We met up with Max in person to record the show for the first time! Here's our recap of the weekend at the Fast Company Grill. Then, Netflix’s new series “3 Body Problem” is based on the first volume of the Chinese science fiction trilogy “Remembrance of Earth’s Past.” The series depicts a fictional past, present, and future when an alien civilization comes to Earth. Yaz chatted with “Game of Thrones” showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, “True Blood” executive producer Alexander Woo, and director Derek Tsang about the process of adapting a popular book series and turning it into a successful television show . . . and whether or not fan reactions factor into it.
How artificial intelligence is shaping the product journeys from procurement to end customers.
What is an Oscar campaign? How do studios run them? When does Oscar campaigning start? We spoke with Allie Carieri to learn all about the work (and the money) that go into creating Oscar campaigns. Carieri creates experiences and events around entertainment, awards, film, and television as an independent marketing strategist. She also oversees experiential marketing activations as an accounts director at Civic Entertainment Group. She told us about the history of Oscar campaigns, the budgets behind these efforts, and we list some of the more successful campaigns. On another story, luxury consignment company The RealReal has struggled to prove to investors that it can be a profitable company. But just last week, the company announced that it had its first profitable quarter. Rati Sahi Levesque, president and COO, explains how the company turned things around.
In this podcast, leaders in HR and AI reveal what it will take for businesses to get their staff on board.
In 2022, The Bored Ape Yacht Club was kind of inescapable on some parts of the internet. People—including a range of celebrities from Gwyneth Paltrow to Eminem—were spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to acquire some monkey jpegs store on the blockchain as NFTs. The conglomerate overseeing the collection along with other NFT series, such as CryptoPunks, is called Yuga Labs. VCs including A16z flocked to invest in it, valuing the company at $4 billion. Yuga’s stated ambition at the time was to create an interoperable gaming metaverse, where NFT holders could game on a browser. Lately, though, it seems that things haven’t been going so well for the company. ‘Fast Company’ tech editor Max Ufberg joined us to interview Yaz and ‘Fast Company’ staff editor, Connie Lin, about what happened and whether NFTs are even still . . . a thing. Then, Bubble Goods founder and CEO Jessica Young wanted to create an online marketplace where you could find the best—and best-for-you—foods right at your fingertips. Bubble Goods carries only packaged goods that are free of preservatives, artificial dyes, and fillers, plus no refined or cane sugar. And everything it sells comes from small, indie makers that Bubble Goods taste-tests first to make sure its worthy of its consumers. We spoke to Jessica about what led her to create this space for food products, the vetting process for items to be on the site, and what are some of her favorites on the platform.
January was a big month for AI hardware, and we wanted to go over some of the biggest devices and tech out there. ‘Fast Company’ global design editor Mark Wilson joined us to chat about a couple of devices, including the Humane Pin, the Rabbit r1, and a wearable AI microphone called Tab. For more on these, check out Mark’s reporting, and what he thinks about the Apple Vision Pro. In 2022, the beauty market—defined as skincare, fragrance, makeup, and haircare—generated approximately $430 billion in revenue. Today, beauty is on an upward trajectory across all categories. It has proven to be resilient amid global economic crises. We wanted to figure out why. So, Yaz sat down with Kara Brothers, president of Starface, which makes star-shaped acne patches so popular with Gen Z on social media; Volition Beauty founder and VC Patricia Santos who also works with influencers to launch products for their audience; and makeup artist and luxury-brand founder Fara Homidi.
We’re about to hit the end of peak dating season with Valentine’s Day this week and what better way to commemorate that than to chat about the state of the dating industry. Fast Company Staff Writer Jess Bursztynsky joined us to chat about what the apps are doing to address dating fatigue and how they're continuing to incorporate AI into their strategies, for example, Tinder is able to use AI to help users pick out which photos in their camera rolls would work best for their profiles.  Then Angara co-founders Aditi and Ankur Daga, and Brilliant Earth CEO Beth Gerstein came on the pod to discuss the lab-grown diamond boom and whether or not you should disclose when you've purchased a lab-grown diamond. Answer: yes. This business is all about trust.
The Super Bowl is set to kick off this Sunday, and we’re taking a look at some of the ads that are already out there. ‘Fast Company’ senior staff editor Jeff Beer joined us to share what he thinks about this year’s slate of ads. He’s noticed how brands are evolving to use the Super Bowl itself in their teasers and ads, which shows the trajectory of the way brands are going . . . they used to go for funny or emotional but now it’s an ad about being an ad. Using the game itself to help advertise a product is creating a very meta approach. We also talked about what’s going on with those Stanley cups. ‘Fast Company’ senior staff writer Liz Segran explained how the trendy tumblers do contain lead but more importantly, how this revelation will impact the company’s dominance in the very crowded reusable water bottle market. Also, how sustainable are these containers when they’re being marketed as a fashion accessory? For more MIC behind the scenes, check out Yaz at @yazzyg on Instagram and Josh @joshuagchris on TikTok!
Yaz wrote a story about an upstart wrestling league called All Elite Wrestling (AEW) and its founder and CEO Tony Khan. ‘Fast Company’ deputy editor David Lidsky joined us to chat about Yaz’s piece on Tony, why he formed AEW in 2019, and how he was a huge wrestling nerd who grew up doing e-wrestling. And here are some more wrestling updates: Starting in January 2025, WWE’s flagship series, Raw, will be moving to Netflix WWE will still have some shows streaming on Peacock and still has pay-per-view offerings Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is joining the board of directors at TKO Group (which consists of UFC and WWE) Then, our producer Blake Odom sat down with Vuori founder and CEO Joe Kudla. They chatted about the company’s $4 billion valuation, its most prominent investor (SoftBank), and how it jumped into the very crowded athleisure space.
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