Walmart leaps into virtual reality, acquires start-up
Walmart has made a move to strengthen its commitment to virtual reality.
The discounter’s innovation lab, Store No. 8, has acquired Spatialand, a small VR platform and content studio. The studio will be tasked with creating the foundation of Store No 8’s third portfolio company, according to a blog entry on Store No. 8’s website.
The new division will be tasked with developing and exploring new products and uses of VR through immersive retail environments. The plan is to incorporate solutions into all facets of Walmart, online and offline, according to the blog.
Spatialand’s CEO Kimberly Cooper and Jeremy Welt, chief product officer, Store No. 8, will head up the new venture. Cooper has pioneered VR / AR / MR (mixed reality) techniques in storytelling and technology. Under her leadership, Spatialand’s VR platform has created immersive content destinations as seen in projects with Oculus, Intel, Reebok and Linkin Park.
Prior to joining Store No. 8, Welt has played key roles, including helping to launch YouTube’s first-ever commercial deal, as well as working on the Walt Disney Company’s acquisition of Maker Studios.
Katie Finnegan, principal and founder, Store No 8, will also join the team as interim CEO. This will be in addition to her role at the innovation lab, the blog explained.
“While it’s too early to share more about what the team will be working on next, we’re excited to get to work and share more in the future,” Finnegan said in the blog. “Together, we will continue to evolve this technology and develop new product exploration through immersive retail environments.”
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DIR fees tops list of legislative concerns among independents
DIR fees remains the top legislative or regulatory thorn in the side of community pharmacists, according to the fourth annual survey of National Community Pharmacists Association members.
“NCPA’s annual survey of independent community pharmacies helps focus our advocacy efforts, which take on more urgency with a new Congress and president taking office,” Douglas Hoey, NCPA CEO, said. “This year’s top priorities are tied to the questionable business practices of lightly-regulated PBM corporations. Complaints about DIR fees have skyrocketed, so it is not surprising that reining in PBM clawbacks would top the list. The second and third highest ranked priorities are long-standing, PBM-generated challenges—the lack of transparency with generic prescription drug reimbursements and Medicare Part D’s ‘preferred pharmacy’ plans that prevent independent community pharmacy patients from having access to discounted copays.”
NCPA also is equally focused on the changed political landscape and potentially dramatic changes in health care, Hoey said. “As a result, we will make sure the voice of independent community pharmacies is heard. Our main objective is always to maintain patient access to prescription drug services at community pharmacies and continue pushing for pharmacists to be fully utilized as clinically-trained medication experts who improve health outcomes while reducing costs.”
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CVS’ Foulkes named CEO at Hudson’s Bay Company
Helena Foulkes, the executive vice president of CVS Health and president of CVS Pharmacy, has been named CEO of Hudson’s Bay Company, the parent company of Lord & Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue, Hudson’s Bay and other retail banners.
Foulkes’ appointment is effective Feb. 19. She will be responsible for HBC’s global strategy and operations for all banners, overseeing more than 66,000 associates worldwide across a portfolio of more than 480 stores, related e-commerce platforms, supply chain, logistics and technology. Upon joining HBC, she will also be appointed the company’s board.
Foulkes joined CVS in 1992. She has served as executive vice president of CVS Health and president of CVS Pharmacy since January 2014. In the role, she led the strategic vision as well as the operations for all aspects of the company’s retail business, including its nearly 9,700 retail stores, 20 distribution centers and e-commerce sites, as well as merchandising, supply chain, marketing and real estate. She helped lead CVS’s move to discontinue sales of tobacco products. Most recently, she led the company’s decision to eliminate airbrushing of models from the imagery used to promote its in-house beauty brands.
Her vision and leadership will be missed in healthcare at the very time it's most needed.