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How I Managed My Growing Company While Being COVID-19 Positive – ReadWrite



How I Managed My Growing Company While Being COVID-19 Positive - ReadWrite

I received a positive COVID-19 test result on December 9th. I was working from home and had avoided socializing for months, but the virus reached me through my daughter’s kindergarten.

Staying isolated for a couple of weeks wasn’t going to be a problem. Still, the timing for getting sick was unfortunate. Everyone who has ever led a company knows how hectic the end of the year can be. Budget planning, yearly reports, and employee review meetings can be stressful even when you’re healthy, let alone when you’re ailing.

It was already enough of a challenge to lead a rapidly growing company with all my team working from home. It became a gargantuan task when I found that I was COVID-19 positive.

Despite being ill, I wasn’t able to completely “switch off” from managing my company. DeskTime is a productivity tracking software that has seen its user count tripled since the start of the pandemic. Ironically, COVID-19 brought us a growth spurt – and here I was, suffering from the disease myself.

How I Managed My Growing Company While Being COVID-19 Positive

Here, I want to share the attitudes that helped me stay sane while juggling health issues and a rapidly growing company from my home.

1. Being honest with my team

I hadn’t met any team members, or partners face to face for a while, so I didn’t need to worry about having infected someone. However, I wanted to be honest with my employees and let them know what was going on.

My team received the news of my illness with understanding and support. I think my honesty urged them to be even more empathic and take up extra tasks to unburden my schedule.

Physical Symptoms

My main symptoms were fever, an intense headache, sensitivity to light, and a slight cough. I lost my sense of taste and smell for around ten days, and the cough lingered for five days.

The headache and fever stayed for three days, and that was the hardest time. During these days, I could only join in on video calls with our business partners via audio – I couldn’t participate, just listen. I’m thankful to my team managers who took over the meeting moderation process from me.

Working-while-sick couldn’t have worked if I hadn’t been honest with my team and told them that I would need their help and support for an unknown period — because no one could tell how long this disease would linger.

2. Setting priorities and delegating

I was sick, and I was stressed about it, and I had a hectic month ahead of me. My Google Calendar was merciless — from December 9 to 22, I had 32 meetings scheduled. I had to do some serious prioritizing in order to take care of my own health while not abandoning my responsibilities as CEO.

Clearing my schedule

I cleared my schedule of everything that didn’t absolutely require my involvement. As a result, I worked three to four hours a day. As my first priority, I wanted to be (virtually) present in all employee annual evaluation meetings. I also could not postpone finalizing the company budget for 2021.


I decided to delegate yearly review meetings with outsourced employees and agencies to the team managers. As for accounting and other paperwork, I moved it to the bottom of my priority list. This “maintenance mode” helped me stay afloat without falling too far behind on critical tasks.

Seeing how efficiently I could delegate in times of need made me appreciate my team even more. I believe this trust shouldn’t be taken for granted – it’s a foundation for success in any company.

3. Being prepared

We live in times when anyone could get sick, so it’s better to have systems in place so that work is not disrupted in case a manager – or even the CEO – suddenly needs time off.

My company didn’t come to a standstill due to my illness because we’ve all been working and communicating remotely for almost a year now. Each team member has their yearly and monthly goals, and everyone knows their tasks.

We kept each other up to date thanks to regular team calls and company-wide online meetings. Regardless of whether the boss is sick or healthy, the well-oiled machine can power onwards and work never stops.

4. Nurturing a healthy and supportive company culture

Being sick and confined to the house made me realize what matters most – the happiness and well-being of the people on my team. We had been working remotely since the pandemic began in order to stay safe and prevent spreading the virus. But could I do more to reassure my team and support their well-being?

Keep a remote and hybrid work format ready

It’s now clear to us that we will keep a remote or a hybrid work format even after the pandemic. Our team has embraced the work from home model; in summer, we worked from our summer houses and even while traveling around the country.

In addition, I’m supporting healthy team-building initiatives, like a calorie-burning challenge with a traveling trophy. I also encourage my team members to plan flexible workdays, including a walk or a run during work hours.

Our own time tracking software lets us keep an eye on how many hours we’ve worked each day, allowing us to follow our individual progress and fill in the necessary work hours when we feel most productive.

COVID-19 – a catalyst for change

Since I only felt very ill for three days, my team didn’t feel my absence. But COVID and other illnesses hang on longer. Now I can say I was lucky to get through the illness with relative ease. However, this time was full of emotional tension, and I came out of it with changed priorities and eye-opening conclusions.

COVID-19 applied the breaks on the world, but it reminded us about different work formats that may be a key to better work-life balance for many people.

If a year ago remote work was only a trendy perk some employers could choose to offer; now we’re successfully working from home and other places where we feel safe and comfortable.

With the right mindset, who knows how many more life-enhancing things we can accomplish in the near future?

Image Credit: andrea piacquadio; pexels; thank you

Artis Rozentals

Artis Rozentals is a productivity enthusiast and CEO of DeskTime, employee productivity and time tracking software with nearly 200k users worldwide. He’s also an amateur cyclist, biohacker, and father of two.


Fintech Kennek raises $12.5M seed round to digitize lending



Google eyed for $2 billion Anthropic deal after major Amazon play

London-based fintech startup Kennek has raised $12.5 million in seed funding to expand its lending operating system.

According to an Oct. 10 report, the round was led by HV Capital and included participation from Dutch Founders Fund, AlbionVC, FFVC, Plug & Play Ventures, and Syndicate One. Kennek offers software-as-a-service tools to help non-bank lenders streamline their operations using open banking, open finance, and payments.

The platform aims to automate time-consuming manual tasks and consolidate fragmented data to simplify lending. Xavier De Pauw, founder of Kennek said:

“Until kennek, lenders had to devote countless hours to menial operational tasks and deal with jumbled and hard-coded data – which makes every other part of lending a headache. As former lenders ourselves, we lived and breathed these frustrations, and built kennek to make them a thing of the past.”

The company said the latest funding round was oversubscribed and closed quickly despite the challenging fundraising environment. The new capital will be used to expand Kennek’s engineering team and strengthen its market position in the UK while exploring expansion into other European markets. Barbod Namini, Partner at lead investor HV Capital, commented on the investment:

“Kennek has developed an ambitious and genuinely unique proposition which we think can be the foundation of the entire alternative lending space. […] It is a complicated market and a solution that brings together all information and stakeholders onto a single platform is highly compelling for both lenders & the ecosystem as a whole.”

The fintech lending space has grown rapidly in recent years, but many lenders still rely on legacy systems and manual processes that limit efficiency and scalability. Kennek aims to leverage open banking and data integration to provide lenders with a more streamlined, automated lending experience.

The seed funding will allow the London-based startup to continue developing its platform and expanding its team to meet demand from non-bank lenders looking to digitize operations. Kennek’s focus on the UK and Europe also comes amid rising adoption of open banking and open finance in the regions.

Featured Image Credit: Photo from; Thank you!

Radek Zielinski

Radek Zielinski is an experienced technology and financial journalist with a passion for cybersecurity and futurology.

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Fortune 500’s race for generative AI breakthroughs



Deanna Ritchie

As excitement around generative AI grows, Fortune 500 companies, including Goldman Sachs, are carefully examining the possible applications of this technology. A recent survey of U.S. executives indicated that 60% believe generative AI will substantially impact their businesses in the long term. However, they anticipate a one to two-year timeframe before implementing their initial solutions. This optimism stems from the potential of generative AI to revolutionize various aspects of businesses, from enhancing customer experiences to optimizing internal processes. In the short term, companies will likely focus on pilot projects and experimentation, gradually integrating generative AI into their operations as they witness its positive influence on efficiency and profitability.

Goldman Sachs’ Cautious Approach to Implementing Generative AI

In a recent interview, Goldman Sachs CIO Marco Argenti revealed that the firm has not yet implemented any generative AI use cases. Instead, the company focuses on experimentation and setting high standards before adopting the technology. Argenti recognized the desire for outcomes in areas like developer and operational efficiency but emphasized ensuring precision before putting experimental AI use cases into production.

According to Argenti, striking the right balance between driving innovation and maintaining accuracy is crucial for successfully integrating generative AI within the firm. Goldman Sachs intends to continue exploring this emerging technology’s potential benefits and applications while diligently assessing risks to ensure it meets the company’s stringent quality standards.

One possible application for Goldman Sachs is in software development, where the company has observed a 20-40% productivity increase during its trials. The goal is for 1,000 developers to utilize generative AI tools by year’s end. However, Argenti emphasized that a well-defined expectation of return on investment is necessary before fully integrating generative AI into production.

To achieve this, the company plans to implement a systematic and strategic approach to adopting generative AI, ensuring that it complements and enhances the skills of its developers. Additionally, Goldman Sachs intends to evaluate the long-term impact of generative AI on their software development processes and the overall quality of the applications being developed.

Goldman Sachs’ approach to AI implementation goes beyond merely executing models. The firm has created a platform encompassing technical, legal, and compliance assessments to filter out improper content and keep track of all interactions. This comprehensive system ensures seamless integration of artificial intelligence in operations while adhering to regulatory standards and maintaining client confidentiality. Moreover, the platform continuously improves and adapts its algorithms, allowing Goldman Sachs to stay at the forefront of technology and offer its clients the most efficient and secure services.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Google DeepMind; Pexels; Thank you!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

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UK seizes web3 opportunity simplifying crypto regulations



Deanna Ritchie

As Web3 companies increasingly consider leaving the United States due to regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom must simplify its cryptocurrency regulations to attract these businesses. The conservative think tank Policy Exchange recently released a report detailing ten suggestions for improving Web3 regulation in the country. Among the recommendations are reducing liability for token holders in decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) and encouraging the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to adopt alternative Know Your Customer (KYC) methodologies, such as digital identities and blockchain analytics tools. These suggestions aim to position the UK as a hub for Web3 innovation and attract blockchain-based businesses looking for a more conducive regulatory environment.

Streamlining Cryptocurrency Regulations for Innovation

To make it easier for emerging Web3 companies to navigate existing legal frameworks and contribute to the UK’s digital economy growth, the government must streamline cryptocurrency regulations and adopt forward-looking approaches. By making the regulatory landscape clear and straightforward, the UK can create an environment that fosters innovation, growth, and competitiveness in the global fintech industry.

The Policy Exchange report also recommends not weakening self-hosted wallets or treating proof-of-stake (PoS) services as financial services. This approach aims to protect the fundamental principles of decentralization and user autonomy while strongly emphasizing security and regulatory compliance. By doing so, the UK can nurture an environment that encourages innovation and the continued growth of blockchain technology.

Despite recent strict measures by UK authorities, such as His Majesty’s Treasury and the FCA, toward the digital assets sector, the proposed changes in the Policy Exchange report strive to make the UK a more attractive location for Web3 enterprises. By adopting these suggestions, the UK can demonstrate its commitment to fostering innovation in the rapidly evolving blockchain and cryptocurrency industries while ensuring a robust and transparent regulatory environment.

The ongoing uncertainty surrounding cryptocurrency regulations in various countries has prompted Web3 companies to explore alternative jurisdictions with more precise legal frameworks. As the United States grapples with regulatory ambiguity, the United Kingdom can position itself as a hub for Web3 innovation by simplifying and streamlining its cryptocurrency regulations.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Jonathan Borba; Pexels; Thank you!

Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

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