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Chang becomes CEO of Gradifi


Chang becomes CEO of Gradifi

In the three years since he left the top job in PayPal’s Boston office, David Chang has been the Boston tech community’s consummate joiner. Between his angel investments in nascent companies, his dozens of panel appearances, and his work training entrepreneurs at Harvard and Babson College, Chang’s been hard to miss. But his omnipresence might be somewhat diminished going forward, Chang says: He’s taken a new full-time job. Chang last week stepped in as chief executive of Gradifi, a Boston company that helps businesses offer student loan assistance as an employee benefit. “This is worth me not doing the other 12 projects,” Chang said in an interview, “so I’m tapering off all the other stuff.” Chang, 48, succeeds Tim DeMello, the founder of Gradifi, who had stayed on following the company’s acquisition by First Republic, the San Francisco-based banking company. DeMello left earlier this year. Chang said he’s exploring ways to get more students and graduates using the service. Gradifi works with about 500 companies, and also offers refinancing to individuals. He said his work with students at Harvard and Babson, along with the experience of his grade-school daughter who is starting to think about college, has convinced him that the issue of student debt is among the most important of our time. “I wanted to do something that had a broader purpose and a mission. I gravitated toward things that would impact people’s lives,” he said. “Things that when we leave this planet, I’ll say, I made life better.” — ANDY ROSEN


China issues most international patent applications

A UN agency says China has issued the most international patent applications for an eighth straight year, showing the country’s heft in intellectual property amid President Trump’s accusation that the growing Asia power steals it. The World Intellectual Property Organization said Monday that innovators around the world filed a record 3.17 million patents last year, an annual increase of nearly 6 percent. China’s IP office took in a record 1.38 million patent applications in 2017. The United States, which led the rankings through 2011, was second with nearly 607,000. Japan was third at some 318,000. South Korea and the European Patent Office rounded out the top five. Overall, Asia received nearly two-thirds of all patent filings worldwide, up from just under half of filings a decade earlier. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Walmart to use robots to scrub floors

Robots are coming to a Walmart Inc. near you, and not just as a gimmick. The world’s largest retailer is rolling out 360 autonomous floor-scrubbing robots in some of its stores in the United States by the end of January, it said in a joint statement with Brain Corp., which makes the machines. The autonomous janitors can clean floors on their own even when customers are around, according to the San Diego-based startup. Walmart has already been experimenting with automating the scanning of shelves for out-of-stock items and hauling products from storage for online orders. — BLOOMBERG NEWS



Owners worrying less about health care costs, survey finds

Small business owners are upbeat, looking to expand and worrying less about financial concerns like health costs. That’s the finding of a survey of 1,067 owners released last week by Bank of America. The survey shows owners are optimistic about the short and long term. Fifty-seven percent said they expect their revenue to increase in the next 12 months, and 56 percent have plans to increase business over the next five years. Two-thirds said they’re planning to expand in the coming year. The survey also shows owners are less worried about health care costs than they were a year ago even as the price of insurance is still an issue for many. Sixty-three percent called health care a concern, compared to 72 percent a year ago. — ASSOCIATED PRESS



Elderly woman abandoned alone overnight at airport by wheelchair attendant

American Airlines is investigating how a 67-year-old woman in a wheelchair was left alone overnight at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport when her flight was canceled. The incident, first reported by CBS 2 in Chicago, started Friday night when Olimpia Warsaw’s flight from Chicago to Detroit was canceled and a porter was assigned to take care of her. Her son, Claude Coltea, says Warsaw was offered a hotel room but when nobody would take her, the porter said his shift was over and left. The family grew concerned and called security, and the woman who suffers from Parkinson’s disease and has trouble communicating was located. In a statement, American spokesman Ross Feinstein says the airline met with the family, refunded Warsaw’s ticket, and was taking steps to ‘‘ensure this does not happen again.’’ — ASSOCIATED PRESS


More than 200 employees at Ted Baker allege harassment by CEO

Employees of the high-end British retailer Ted Baker have accused chief executive Ray Kelvin of harassment, claiming the workplace is dominated by a culture of inappropriate hugging and touching, as well as sexually suggestive comments. More than 200 employees released a petition saying the company’s HR department has ignored reports of harassment, which include Kelvin’s ‘‘sexual innuendos at staff,’’ stroking people’s necks, taking off his shirt, and openly talking about his sex life. The petition has racked up more than 2,500 public signatures on the employee campaign site Organise. In a statement, Ted Baker said Kelvin often greets people with hugs, including shareholders, investors, suppliers, customers, and colleagues. The company also said it has ‘‘clear and robust’’ HR policies in place, including a confidential and anonymous 24-hour helpline. — WASHINGTON POST



Price at the pump drops a nickel

The average price of a gallon of gas in Massachusetts continues to plunge, down another nickel in the past week. AAA Northeast reports Monday that its weekly price survey found self-serve, regular selling for an average of $2.64 per gallon, 5 cents lower than last week. The Massachusetts price is 19 cents higher than the national average, and 16 cents higher than the in-state price a year ago. An organization spokeswoman says the current trend indicates December might bring some of the cheapest gas prices of the year with low demand and plentiful supplies. AAA found self-serve regular selling for as low as $2.40 and as high as $3.05 per gallon. — ASSOCIATED PRESS


Celebrities invest in health-tracking ring

Celebrities like Will Smith and Shaquille O’Neal are among the investors who have pledged a total of $23 million to Oura Health, a Finnish startup that’s tapping into the surging wellness market with a health-tracking ring. The latest funding round, led by Michael Dell’s MSD Capital, brought in 4.5 million euros, which will be used to ramp up production. With prices starting at 314 euros and going all the way up to 1,049 euros for the diamond version, the Oura ring’s sensors measure blood flow, temperature, and body movement, and display the data in a smartphone app. The advantage of the ring over other tracking wearables like bracelets and smartwatches is that it can easily be worn while sleeping. — BLOOMBERG NEWS