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Thursday, November 30, 2017

#Tech

#Tech


I wrote about how much I hate my iPhone X — and an army of Apple fans attacked me online

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 01:41 PM PST

iphone x

  • I wrote an article about why I hate my new iPhone X.
  • A lot of people didn't agree with me.
  • That doesn't change my opinion.


When I published my article on the iPhone X, I was prepared for a bit of hate mail.

After all, I was going against the consensus, and I knew many people didn't think my biggest complaint — that it's difficult to use with one hand — was anything to make a stink about.

And if I didn't know that before I published, I certainly would have realized soon after. Both my inbox and my  Twitter notifications flooded with reader responses, almost all negative and condescending.

Apple fans are a notoriously loyal bunch — the company regularly appears on lists of consumers' most-loved brands — so it's no surprise the article's publication stirred a hornet's nest.

Some people seem to have taken personally my wish to have a phone that works for me. Some told me to stop driving and texting at the same time (I don't own a car). Others insinuated I might be new to technology or Apple products (I've used an iPhone since 2012).

Apple fanboy tweet

One reader email used a flawed example of how we have adapted to touchscreen technology over time, and how my issue is no different. This reader conflated issues of adaptation and ergonomics. I say you can't fit a square peg in a round hole.

There were, of course, jokes about the size of my hands. I like to think of my hands as relatively average-sized, but they might be below-average. The point being, there are plenty of people with smaller hands than me, who probably would also like to use Apple's latest device with one hand.

Apple fanboy tweetApple fanboy tweetApple fanboy tweet

Many, many people told me to enable "reachability," Apple's solution to using large-screened phones with one hand. Some even went so far as to tweet screenshots of the function's location in settings. Very helpful.

If they actually read the post, they would have seen that I had enabled reachability, but I found its usability very poor and very inconsistent. Oh, well.

The general sentiment was that I was using the phone wrong, and that if I could just fix that, the phone would be perfect. I don't know if the anger was directed towards me out of loyalty to Apple, or to justify their own choice to spend $1,000 on a phone. It was obvious that much of the criticism came from people who had never used the phone themselves.

Many readers guessed correctly that I was not a user of the Plus models of iPhones before. I believe I am in good company here, as Apple’s smaller phones remain their most widely used models. If the iPhone is going to reach a mass audience, it needs to take concerns like mine into account.

Macalope, a pseudonymous Apple blogger, even featured my post as one of his "big complaint" features. I was honored. 

Apple fanboy tweetApple fanboy tweetI understand his point — I should have anticipated the difficulty based on how big of a screen the phone has. But the fact is, as much as I had read about it, I didn't. I was focused more on how the case size seemed so similar, which ended up being misleading. There's only one X size, after all.

A lot of Android fans told me I should consider defecting. No chance there. Despite how alluring the new Android-enabled handsets are, I'm way too deep in the Apple ecosystem now.

I was prepared for the criticism — but not how ridiculous it all was.

For what it's worth, I did receive some positive notes from readers. A number of people agreed with me, with some saying that they returned their iPhone X after just a few days with it. I've also talked to a fair number of people in person who agree with my take.

Who knows, though. It's hard to tell who is just humoring you when it's face to face and not over the internet.

SEE ALSO: I've been using my iPhone X for nearly a month, and I've decided I hate it

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: What happens when vegetarians eat meat for the first time

More than half of American workers wouldn't be able to take their sexual harassment claims to court

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 01:27 PM PST

gretchen carlson

  • With each sexual harassment allegation that comes to light, one question continues to arise: How have these harassers been able to get away with it for so long?
  • One major reason is that most of these cases are never brought to court.
  • Critics of mandatory arbitration clauses, which are becoming increasingly common in the US, say these company policies force victims to keep silent, allowing a cycle of abuse to continue. 


Former Fox News Channel host Gretchen Carlson stunned the media world when she filed a sexual-harassment lawsuit against Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes in 2016.

In her lawsuit, Carlson said Ailes repeatedly sexually harassed her, and that she was fired for turning down his sexual advances.

In signing her employment agreement 11 years prior, Carlson had agreed to resolve disputes with Fox News Channel through private arbitration. But she and her legal team found a way around this by suing Ailes personally.

The lawsuit ultimately led to Ailes' resignation from the network, which he had run since its founding in 1996, and Carlson settled the suit for a reported $20 million in 2016. The suit also empowered more women to come forward against their harassers.

But the outcome could have been very different had Carlson simply abided by her mandatory arbitration clause.

With each sexual harassment allegation that comes to light, one question continues to arise: How have these harassers been able to get away with it for so long?

It turns out, the blame falls, in part, on the companies employing them.

A growing number of American companies are requiring workers as a condition of their employment to sign agreements that stipulate they must resolve a dispute with their employer through arbitration. This agreement is known as a mandatory arbitration clause.

As a result, more than half of American workers wouldn't be able to take their sexual harassment claims to court.

More than 56% of American workers — about 60 million — are subject to mandatory arbitration in the US, according to the Economic Policy Institute's survey of nonunion private-sector employers.

This means that more than half of private-sector employees in the US have signed an agreement with their employer stating that, should they have a legal claim against the employer, they are barred from taking their issue to court and must instead handle the claim through the arbitration procedure designated in the agreement.

The New York Times reports that, between 2005 and 2015, thousands of businesses across the US used private arbitration, depriving tens of millions of Americans of their day in court.

"This amounts to the whole-scale privatization of the justice system," Myriam Gilles, a law professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, told the New York Times. "Americans are actively being deprived of their rights."

These clauses are often buried so deep in the fine print that employees are usually unaware that they have signed away their right to bring their case to public court.

What's more, The Times reports that, with private arbitration, "rules tend to favor businesses, and judges and juries have been replaced by arbitrators who commonly consider the companies their clients."

Research published in the Brooklyn Law Review shows that employees who are covered by mandatory arbitration provisions rarely actually file arbitration claims. Another study by Cornell University found that those employees who do file arbitration claims are less likely to win and recover lower damages than employees who go to trial.

What's more, oftentimes arbitration is private and decisions are not published.

"This veil of secrecy protects serial harassers by keeping other potential victims in the dark, and minimizing pressure on companies to fire predators," Carlson wrote for The Times.

The Arbitration Fairness Act of 2017, which is before the House Judiciary Committee and for which Carlson is an advocate, would prohibit employers from requiring arbitration.

"Reforming arbitration laws is key to stopping sexual harassment," Carlson wrote.

But she said that it's also up to companies to act, too.

"By ending arbitration clauses, blacklisting, and workplace cultures where abuse thrives, we can ensure that victims of harassment speak out," Carlson wrote.

In a blog post titled "Five Things Tech Companies Can Do Better", Susan Fowler, the ex-Uber employee who wrote a tell-all about sexual harassment and gender bias that shook up the company, also advocates for ending forced arbitration.

She wrote that it "deprives employees of their constitutional rights, and it forces employees who have been treated unlawfully to keep silent about what they have experienced. It is entirely in the interests of the company and not the employee."

DON'T MISS: Sexual harassment isn't a Hollywood, tech, or media issue — it affects everyone

SEE ALSO: 6 signs you're being sexually harassed at work

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Megyn Kelly heard rumors about Matt Lauer and 'hoped it wasn't true'

WHITE HOUSE: Cryptocurrencies are 'being monitored by our team'

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 12:55 PM PST

sarah huckabee sanders

  • The White House is monitoring cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, according to press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. 
  • Bitcoin, the red-hot cryptocurrency, is up more than 850% year-to-date.

 

Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the White House is monitoring cryptocurrencies like bitcoin

"I know this is something that is being monitored by our team here," Sanders said during a press conference on Thursday, answering a reporter's question about whether the government would regulate cryptocurrencies. 

Sanders said she didn't have anything specific to share on the matter. Still, it was brought up by an advisor to President Trump recently.

"Tom Bossert, with the Homeland Security team, an advisor to the president, has brought this up in a meeting earlier this week," she said."I know this is something he is keeping an eye on."

Bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency by market cap, has been on a tear since the US Thanksgiving holiday. The coin is up 850% year-to-date. 

This appears to be the first time the White House has commented on the cryptocurrency craze sweeping both Wall Street and Main Street. 

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The CIO of a crypto hedge fund explains the value in cryptocurrency — and why the market will explode over the next 2 years

Pinterest president and top business chief Tim Kendall is out

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 12:35 PM PST

Tim Kendall

  • Pinterest's president and top business executive, Tim Kendall, is leaving to create a startup with the goal of curbing tech device addiction.
  • He will be replaced by Pinterest's current SVP of ads and commerce, Jon Alferness, and continue to serve as an advisor.
  • Pinterest raised $150 million in funding at a roughly $12 billion valuation earlier this year and reportedly expects to make $500 million in ad revenue for 2017.


Pinterest's longtime president and top business exec, Tim Kendall, is leaving to launch a startup aimed at curbing tech device addiction, Pinterest told Business Insider on Thursday.

His departure from Pinterest comes as the visual discovery platform reportedly expects to make roughly $500 million in ad revenue this year and mulls an eventual initial public offering. Kendall joined Pinterest six years ago and previously served as an early executive at Facebook.

"Tim has made important contributions to Pinterest and we are pleased that he will continue to serve as an advisor to the company," Pinterest said in an emailed statement. "Jon Alferness, Senior Vice President for Ads and Commerce, will now lead the world-class team driving our rapidly growing ads business. Our focus continues to be measurable and actionable results for our partners while giving Pinners relevant ideas to help them discover and do new things."

Just one day before his departure was announced, Kendall appeared at Business Insider's IGNITION conference in New York to champion Pinterest as a challenger to the Facebook-Google duopoly over the digital advertising business.

Now he's leaving Pinterest to launch a startup aimed at fighting tech device addiction. Given his background working at both Facebook and Pinterest, it's an area he's well suited for.

SEE ALSO: Pinterest thinks it can challenge the Facebook-Google duopoly

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: A recipe called 'Mississippi Roast' came out of nowhere and got shared on Pinterest 1 million times

Billionaire Carl Icahn says bitcoin is a lot like an obscure bubble involving swampland in Mississippi

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 11:56 AM PST

carl icahn

  • Carl Icahn is the latest investment legend to weigh in on bitcoin. 
  • He told CNBC it is similar to a bubble involving swamp land hugging the Mississippi River. 
  • The Mississippi Bubble was brought on by John Law, a Scottish adventurer, in the early 1700s.

 

Carl Icahn is the latest Wall Street legend to weigh in on bitcoin

The cryptocurrency has gripped the attention of Main Street and Wall Street as it has zipped to incredible heights, soaring over $11,000 a coin on Wednesday. 

Icahn falls among the many Wall Streeters who think the cryptocurrency is in a bubble. The billionaire, who admits to not know much about the technology of bitcoin, told CNBC it reminded him of an obscure bubble involving swampland in Mississippi. 

"Where John Law went around selling all this land in Mississippi that was sort of worthless and the French were going crazy giving him all this money, and then one night it all blew up," Icahn said. 

What was the Mississippi Bubble?

The Mississippi Bubble was brought on by John Law, a Scottish adventurer and economist, in the early 1700s. Law was granted the authority by the French government to open up a company to oversee the French's territorial claims hugging the Mississippi River in the present day US. In order to fund the venture he issued paper shares to investors.

"The lure of gold and silver brought out many eager investors in the Mississippi Company," wrote historian Jon Moen at the University of Mississippi.

As such, the value of the company's share spiked as investors, enchanted by the idea of far-flung lands and riches, poured in. Here's Moen (emphasis ours):

"The financial district in Paris became so agitated at times with investors that soldiers would be sent in at night to maintain order. Shares in the Mississippi Company started at around 500 livres tournois (the French unit of account at the time) per share in January 1719. By December 1719, share prices had reached 10,000 livres, an increase of 1900 percent in just under a year."

By way of comparison, bitcoin is up more than 860% year-to-date. That tear has been triggered by new found interest from regulator investors looking to jump on the bandwagon. Coinbase, the largest platform to buy and sell cryptocurrencies in the US, added 100,000 users from Wednesday to Thursday the week of Thanksgiving.

During the Mississippi Bubble, even peasants were scrapping together whatever they could to get in on the scorching-hot venture. Many millionaires were created, according to Moen. But once people realized much of the lands were worthless swamps, things turned south.

"In the end, many of the new millionaires were financially destroyed. So was France," Moen wrote. "It would be eighty years before France would again introduce paper money into its economy."

UBS warned clients in October that it doesn't think bitcoin's price is supported by fundamentals.

"We think the sharp rise in crypto-currency valuations in recent months is a speculative bubble," the bank wrote.

A note sent from UBS's chief investment office compared the current rush to invest in cryptocurrencies to the Dutch Tulip bulb bubble of the 17th century, the South Sea bubble, and the dot-com bubble.

Now we can add the Mississippi Bubble to the list. 

SEE ALSO: We just got a glimpse of how bitcoin futures will work

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Why this New York City preschool accepts bitcoin but doesn't accept credit cards

Diane Bryant is leaving Intel to become Google Cloud's new COO (GOOG)

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 11:36 AM PST

Diane Bryant

  • Diane Bryant is joining Google Cloud as its new Chief Operating Officer.
  • Bryant will be leaving Intel, where she worked for over 30 years.
  • In May, Intel announced that Bryant would be taking a leave of absence from the company for six to eight months to tend to a personal matter.


Diane Bryant is permanently leaving her position at Intel after spending her entire 32-year career there to become Google Cloud's new Chief Operating Officer. 

She had been on a hiatus at Intel since May, when Intel announced that Bryant would be taking a leave of absence in order to "tend to a personal family matter." Intel's CEO, Brian Krzanich, said at that time, he expected Bryant to return in six to eight months with a new position to be announced when she returned.

Prior to that break, Bryant became the well-known face of one of Intel's most important business units. She ran its  Data Center Group, which generating $17 billion in revenue for the company in 2016 and really helped pick up the slack at Intel as the PC industry declined.

She'll be working for another famous Diane in the tech industry, Diane Greene, who runs Google's Cloud unit as senior vice president. Bryant cut her teeth as an engineer, worked as a CIO for Intel and was lately helping Intel get into new markets including artificial intelligence. All of that will be directly applicable to what Google is doing with its cloud, where Google hopes to win customers away from cloud computing giant Amazon Web Services with machine learning and artificial intelligence technology.

In fact, this announcement helped Google steal a bit of thunder away from AWS which is holding its big cloud computing conference in Las Vegas this week.

Bryant will be officially leaving Intel as of December 1. Intel will pay $4.5 million to Bryant as a separation payment, according to CNBC.

SEE ALSO: 'Artificial intelligence is not our friend:' Hillary Clinton is worried about the future of technology

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: A Navy SEAL explains what to do if you're attacked by a dog

Vine's former CEO says he's working on a 'follow-up' to the shuttered app (TWTR)

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 11:34 AM PST

vine app iphone wide

  • A "follow-up" to Vine is being developed by the app's ex-CEO, Dom Hofmann.
  • Hofmann said he's personally funding the project.
  • Twitter acquired Vine in 2012 and killed the video app roughly one year ago.


Former Vine cofounder and CEO Dom Hofmann is working on a successor to the six-second video app, which Twitter bought in 2012 for roughly $30 million and shut down last year.

Hofmann revealed that he's working on a "follow-up" to Vine in a series of tweets Thursday. He said he would personally fund the app's development as a side project and that his "first priority" is still running a mysterious startup he recently created called Interspace.

Hofmann stepped down from his lead role at Vine in 2014 and more recently worked on an odd app called Byte that quickly fizzled. He declined to comment on Business Insider's request for additional information about how his forthcoming Vine successor would work or when it will be released.

While beloved by its users, Vine struggled to grow its business and retain its most popular creators under Twitter's watch. The app's growth slowly withered until Twitter announced it would shut the app down altogether in October 2016.

Vine's two other cofounders, Colin Kroll and Rus Yusupov, currently run HQ Trivia, the new and increasingly popular live game show app.

You can read Hofmann's tweets about creating a successor to Vine below:

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Vine has officially shut down — we unearthed Trump's deleted account from 2013

A net neutrality supporter allegedly threatened to kill a congressman and his family if he didn't back the internet rules

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 11:26 AM PST

john katko

  • A supporter of net neutrality allegedly threatened to kill a New York congressman and his family if he didn't back the rules.
  • The death threat comes as the Federal Communications Commission is preparing to overturn its broadly popular net neutrality rules. 
  • The death threat and the FCC's upcoming vote come amid charges that the agency's comment process on its proposal was seriously flawed. 


The Federal Communications Commission's effort to overturn net neutrality rules is stirring up intense passions, allegedly even criminal ones. 

Criminal charges were filed against a Syracuse man who allegedly threatened to kill Rep. John Katko and Katko's family, if the Republican congressman from New York didn't support net neutrality, according to a press release from the FCC on Thursday. The individual, whom the press release didn't name, allegedly left a voicemail at Katko's office saying "'[I]f you don't support net neutrality, I will find you and your family and I will kill ... you ... all."

In the press statement, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said: "I condemn in the strongest possible terms any attempts to intimidate government officials with violent threats, and in particular, efforts to target their families." 

Pai, who is spearheading the move to roll back the net neutrality rules, has himself personally been targeted by supporters of those regulations. Net neutrality supporters reportedly posted cardboard protest signs recently outside his home. One of the signs read, "Dad murdered democracy in cold blood," Fox News reported on Monday.

"Families ... should remain out of it and stop harassing us at our homes," Pai told Fox News.

The death threat and the intense criticism come as the FCC is preparing to vote to overturn its net neutrality rules on December 14. Voted in place in 2015 under the Obama administration, the rules bar broadband access providers from blocking, throttling or providing paid preferential access to particular online sites or services. 

The intense passions also come amid an ongoing investigation into the public comment process the FCC held on its proposal to overturn the rules. More than half of the 21.7 million comments submitted to the FCC over its proposal appear to have been faked, according to a study released Wednesday by the Pew Research Center. Among those, thousands appear to be comments that were submitted by people using names other than their own, allegedly without the knowledge or consent of those whose names were used.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is leading an official investigation into the comment process, believes the impersonations were likely designed to "drown out the views of real people and businesses" regarding the repeal of net neutrality. The FCC has refused to cooperate with Schneiderman's investigation. 

The net neutrality rules are broadly popular and have bipartisan support among the general public. Comments submitted to the FCC in reaction to its proposal to do away with the rules were overwhelmingly in favor of keeping them in place, according to an estimate commissioned by the broadband industry, which wants to overturn the rules. 

Despite the rules' popularity, they've generally been oppoosed by Republican public officials. Pai, a Republican, voted against adoption of the rules in 2015 and made clear even before he became chairman that he would seek to eliminate them. 

That the FCC has continued with its process to overturn the rules despite evidence that the comment system was tampered with and despite the rules' public support has led to frustration and anger among many supporters of the rules, many of whom have taken to Twitter and other forums to harshly express their views. 

SEE ALSO: Over half of public comments to FCC on net neutrality appear fake: study

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Here's what Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak thinks of the net neutrality battle — and why it matters

Snapchat's VP of Content talks about the app's biggest redesign yet

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 10:50 AM PST

During an interview at Business Insider's IGNITION conference in New York, Snapchat's VP of Content, Nick Bell, walked through all the changes coming up in the app's biggest redesign. Following is a transcript of the video.

Nick Bell: What we’ve really done here is double down on what has made Snapchat great today but simplified it. And I think, you know, you look at it now, there are three screens. As Evan said, you open up the camera, we think that really aids self-expression and it's the kind of blinking cursor of the new mobile age.

On the left-hand side, you have the friend feed and I think what's key here is that the conversation with your best friend was happening on the left-hand side anyway. It’s where you were chatting with your friends but it was slightly awkward because the stories from your friends were appearing on the other side of the camera and therefore you were occasionally missing some of those stories from your best friends. So by creating one page where all of that lives together simplifies it and we think is going to really aid that conversation and the relationship with your friends.

Then on the right-hand side, we now have much more prominent, much more real estate for premium content from our publishers and media partners, which I think is going to be really exciting and is going to aid the discovery of new content for people.

The other thing that it’s done is allowed us to, as Evan said, separate the social from the media because we know the relationship that you have with your friends is very different to the relationship you have with content. And I think what’s happened traditionally with news feeds is those two have been blurred together and the signals that were indicating this content you were seeing was based on your friends.

But what's actually kind of interesting is that although I’ve got great relationships with my friends, my interests are personal to me and not personal to my friend. So just because my friends like skateboarding doesn't mean I like skateboarding. So here, by separating these two aspects out, we think it's a much cleaner solution and we think that actually what's going to happen is we're going to be able to optimize the two experiences. One to focus on relationships and one to focus on interest.  

Join the conversation about this story »

HENRY BLODGET: 14 things you’ll want to know about the future of media

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 10:47 AM PST

Henry Blodget IGNITION 2017

We're at Business Insider's IGNITION event to hear the leaders in tech and media discuss where the biggest transformations are happening in today's digital landscape.

To kick off the event, Business Insider CEO Henry Blodget delivered the following presentation put together with help from the BI Intelligence team. It focuses on 14 key insights into the future of media.

The slides from the presentation are below, but you can also access the full 49-page deck as a downloadable PDF by clicking here.







See the rest of the story at Business Insider

A personal trainer reveals the 'most effective method of intermittent fasting' — here's how to get started

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 10:10 AM PST

Intermittent fasting is changing the way people eat. But there are so many different ways to fast these days, is one method better than all the rest? Personal trainer and health coach, Max Lowery says, cutting your eating down to just 2 meals a day is the best way to tackle fasting head-on. He also believes that the popular 16:8 method isn't as perfect as it seems.

With just one slight adjustment, he says you can make it far more effective. You can learn more about his lifestyle on Instagram. Lowery also has a book "The 2 Meal Day" about his intermittent fasting technique, on sale in the US Dec. 5. Following is a transcript of the video.

Max Lowery: So 16:8 is basically, you break your day up into a period of a 16-hour fast with an 8-hour eating window. And I think it's just, you know, for me, it's just the more natural way of eating. Obviously, most people that start doing the two meal day is because of weight loss, and yes, they are losing weight but actually, we're constantly hearing how people have so much more energy throughout the day. They are not having, you know, this energy crashes because they aren't so dependent on food for energy, they are using body fat. They realize that they don't have to constantly eat to get themselves through the day.

So the reason I started the two meal day — it's not the 16:8, is because one of the main issues that people come into with the 16:8 is that they get obsessed with the time periods. And they start counting down the hours until they can eat and they end up eating because the clock tells them to rather than their body tells them to. It's essentially the same thing, in terms of, what's going on, but just changing the focus to listening to your body is when it becomes a way of life because you're understanding yourself better. 

If someone says, "Okay, how do I start tomorrow?" First of all, choose whether you're going to find it easier to skip dinner or you're going to find it's easier to skip breakfast. So say you're skipping breakfast, I would say, "Okay, what time do you normally have your breakfast?" Average person says 8 a.m. I'll say, "Okay, rather than 8 a.m., go in to work or whatever you are doing and wait until 10 a.m. and see how you feel." And then basically, over the course of two weeks, push until it's a 16-hour gap. And the whole time you are listening to your body, you're kind of, hopefully learning to understand that just because your stomach is empty, does not mean that you are hungry. 

Then the main thing is that you fundamentally need to be eating whole foods cooked from scratch. A lot of other intermittent fasting methods have been like, "Oh no, you can eat what you want but just in a small time period" or "Eat what you want for 5 days." That doesn't encourage changes in behavior long-term, which is obviously, fundamentally what the issue is for some people. So all I'm trying to do is just educate people and give them the tools to listen to their bodies better and that's really what it boils down to.

Join the conversation about this story »

Dropbox acquired a New York startup that aimed to help publishers make money — and its service will shut down

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 10:00 AM PST

verst 1

  • New York startup Verst has been acquired by Dropbox.
  • The service will be shutting down December 21, and the team will join Dropbox.
  • The startup had previously raised $12 million.


Dropbox has acquired Verst, a New York startup that aimed to help web publishers and creators make money through features like paywalls, the companies announced Thursday.

Verst's service will be shutting down on December 21 and the team will be joining Dropbox. The price of the sale wasn't disclosed.

Verst started its life as DWNLD, which landed $12 million from Greylock Partners in 2015 to build a platform that made people custom apps. The problem was that most people weren't using publisher apps to read or watch content, Verst CEO AJ Frank told Business Insider earlier this year. They were either using social apps like Facebook or the open web.

So DWNLD pivoted to "Verst" about a year ago. The new conception of Verst was an easy platform to help publishers and creators — especially small ones — make revenue on the web.

When Business Insider wrote about Verst in July, it was because it had debuted a paywall feature that let publishers separate publicly accessible content from more "premium" fare. Verst's standard subscription was $29.99 per month and included website hosting, paywall, and other features like the ability to run ads and A/B test headlines and images.

In a statement, the Verst team said it would "apply everything we’ve learned towards Dropbox’s mission to simplify the way people work together."

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Some iPhone users can't type the letter 'i' — here's what's going on and how to fix it

Amazon's CTO thinks the Alexa-powered Billy Bass points to the future of how we'll interact with computers (AMZN)

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 09:59 AM PST

Werner Vogels AWS

  • Speaking to the crowd at the Amazon Web Service user conference on Thursday, Werner Vogels, Amazon's chief technology officer, envisioned a world free from keyboards, screens, and remote controls.
  • Vogels said so-called natural interfaces such as voice and visual signals will become predominant in human-computer interactions. 
  • Vogels announced a new product, Amazon Alexa for Business, which will adapt the popular voice assistant to offices and conference room environments. 


When you're interacting with computers in the not-so-distant future, you'll probably be talking to them instead of using a keyboard or a smartphone app. 

At least that's the view of Werner Vogels, Amazon's chief technology officer. Speaking at the Amazon Web Service user conference in Las Vegas on Thursday, Vogels said keyboards and screens will die out in favor of more intuitive ways of interacting with devices, most notably voice communication. 

"This is not a Slack channel. I'm actually talking to you," Vogels joked to his live audience. "And apparently you came here to hear someone talk."

In coming years, surgeons will guide machines in the operating room with just their voices, he said, and home chefs will check recipes without having to wash their hands between steps. That will be a boon to people like him, he said.

"I'm a stupid European. I can never remember how many milliliters go in a cup," Vogels said. 

Billy Bass Werner Vogels AWS Re:Invent

Vogels and Amazon, of course, think the company's Alexa voice assistant will be an ideal way for consumers to interact with computers in this brave new world. As part of his talk, Vogels announced a new product called Alexa for Business that will allow enterprises to tap into the popular voice assistant. 

To be sure, voice won't be the only way we interact with computers, Vogels said. Instead, we'll see other kinds of so-called natural interfaces, he said, envisioning a world free from light switches, remote controls, and specialized apps.

Instead of relying on a smartphone app to track gas or electricity consumption, for example, Vogels said it would make more sense to have a light on the wall that changes colors. Depending on the colors it displayed, the light could indicate if you're within your home energy goals.

"Just like Billy Bass, all of our environment will become active," Vogels said, referencing the animatronic singing fish which one hobbyist famously linked up with Alexa.

SEE ALSO: Amazon kicked off its huge cloud conference with a big dig at Oracle's Larry Ellison

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: A Navy SEAL explains what to do if you're attacked by a dog

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein says it's too early for the bank to need a bitcoin plan

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 09:48 AM PST

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein

 

  • Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein told Bloomberg Television it is too early for the firm to have a strategy for bitcoin. 
  • Bitcoin's spine-tingling volatility is one of Wall Street's biggest problems with the coin. 


Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein thinks it's too early for the bank to need a strategy on bitcoin. 

The banker told Bloomberg Television the cryptocurrency is too volatile for the bank to consider it as an urgent matter — at least for now. 

“Something that moves up and down 20 percent in a day doesn’t feel like a currency, doesn’t feel like a store of value,” Blankfein said.

Bitcoin is known for its spine-tingling volatility. On Wednesday it crashed by more than $1,000 after it blew past $11,000 per coin. UBS Wealth Management's Paul Donovan is another financier who thinks bitcoin's erratic nature disqualifies it as a currency, according to reporting by Business Insider's Will Martin

"Bitcoin, in particular, has had, I think, three hyperinflation episodes this year," Donovan said. "That is to say its ability to purchase goods has dropped more than 25% in the course of a week. That is not a particularly stable store of value."

Screen Shot 2017 11 30 at 12.36.40 PMStill, bitcoin is far less volatile than it was 6 years ago. And proponents think it will become less volatile as an established ecosystem for the coin develops.

Already, three US exchanges have said they are preparing futures products for bitcoin, which would allow investors to bet on its future price. Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a big report on cryptocurrencies that such products could potentially dampen volatility:

"Derivatives markets might play some role in reducing the volatility of cash markets. We would not overstate this, as a material reduction in volatility would require there to be a large community of speculators prepared to provide liquidity to the natural owners of the various coins, but given the volatility of the coin markets, maybe there already exists a cadre of participants who would look to short coins on strong days and vice versa, which could overall reduce volatility."

Read the full report on Bloomberg

Read more about blockchain, the technology powering bitcoin, here

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The surprising 'prenups' of America's richest couples

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 09:38 AM PST

Beyonce Jay-Z

  • A prenuptial agreement (or prenup) is a legal agreement couples enter into before they get married.
  • Many involve what will happen to the couple's finances should they divorce.
  • However, relationship contracts, whether they be a prenup, postnup, or other agreement, can stipulate more than simply who gets what in case of a breakup.


Successful power couples agree upon important issues from the get go.

And whether it's with a legally-binding prenup, or postnup, or a more flexible relationship agreement, they often put it in writing.

"Two egos in a marriage can be great if all the important issues are agreed upon up front," Handel Group co-president and life coach Laurie Gerber previously told Business Insider.

While prenups are traditionally thought of as worst-case-scenario financial planning, relationship agreements aren't always all about the money.

Some of the most important issues couples should agree upon early on include sexual and romantic needs, family boundaries, and who pays for what, and putting it into writing can give a marriage a better chance of success.

Most breakups happen because of cheating, Gerber says: "Couples who face the reality of this threat head-on and deal with it stand the most chance of success."

"Don't be afraid to put it all in writing to refer back to as a living breathing document," she says. "And plan to have meetings about how you are running your marriage and family just as you would for your company or any other project you care about profoundly."

Here are some of the less conventional things successful power couples have put into writing:

SEE ALSO: Successful power couples that stay together have 8 things in common

DON'T MISS: Why successful people get divorced

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan agreed to spend more time together

Before marrying in 2012, when Priscilla Chan moved to Palo Alto, California, she and Facebook CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg drew up a relationship agreement.

In it, Zuckerberg agreed to take her on a date once a week and spend 100 minutes of alone time each week with her outside the office or his apartment.

The couple are worth an estimated $74.5 billion.



Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake have a clause about cheating

Actors Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake reportedly have an infidelity clause in their prenup that states Biel will receive $500,000 if Timberlake cheats.

The couple are worth an estimated $248 million



Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban agreed not to tolerate drug or alcohol abuse

Actress Nicole Kidman and singer songwriter Keith Urban reportedly signed a prenup stipulating that Urban, who struggled with alcoholism and cocaine abuse, would receive $600,000 a year for every year they are together, but only if Urban refrained from using illegal narcotics or drinks excessively.

The couple married in June 2006, and in October 2006 Urban checked into rehab for an alcohol addiction.

"Definitely we both met each other exactly at the right time," Urban told People magazine in 2007. "She said early on that she wanted to be brave with me. I feel there was something else at work, bringing us together and then just continuing to watch over us." 

The couple are worth an estimated $205 million.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Scott Galloway says Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google should be broken up

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 09:19 AM PST

At Business Insider's IGNITION conference, Scott Galloway gave a blistering presentation on why "The Big Four" — Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google — should be broken up. Galloway is a professor of marketing at the NYU Stern School of Business and the author of "The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google."

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A 'Big Four' accounting firm is accepting bitcoin payments

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 09:09 AM PST

bitcoin atm

  • PwC, the accounting firm and consultancy, announced Thursday it is accepting bitcoin payments from its clients.
  • Accounting firms have shown more interest in digital coins than Wall Street banks. 


PwC, the consultancy and "Big Four" accounting firm, announced Thursday that it accepted its first payment in bitcoin.

The announcement, which was reported first by The Wall Street Journal, was made by Raymund Chao, chairman of PwC Asia-Pacific. 

“This decision helps illustrate how we are embracing new technology and incorporating innovative business models across our full range of services," Chao said in a statement. 

Bitcoin, the red-hot cryptocurrency, has dominated financial news cycles as more Wall Street firms dive into the nascent market for digital coins. It blew past $11,000 per coin Wednesday before falling back below $10,000. 

As for PwC, this isn't the firm's first foray into the world of cryptocurrencies. In 2014, the company wrote a report exploring how digital coins like bitcoin could impact a wide-range of industries, including travel and gambling.

"Bitcoin as the ideal casino chip? Possibly. It provides a high level of user privacy, immediate access to funds and irreversibility — to the casino’s and player’s benefit," the firm wrote.

Accounting firms such as PwC and rival Ernst Young have shown more interest in digital currencies than Wall Street banks. EY, for instance, joined the Bitcoin Association, a Switzerland-based bitcoin advocacy firm, in May. 

"It is important to us that everybody gets on board and prepares themselves for the revolution set to take place in the business world through blockchains, smart contracts and digital currencies," Marcel Stalder, CEO of EY Switzerland, said. 

Bank CEOs have had a less favorable view of cryptocurrencies. JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon famously called bitcoin a "fraud." Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein said Thursday his firm is in no rush to develop a strategy on bitcoin, according to a Bloomberg News report. 

Read more about blockchain, the technology powering bitcoin, here

SEE ALSO: Bitcoin keeps sliding a day after wild trading

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Juniper Networks dramatically spikes, then falls, after Nokia denies report of a takeover (JNPR)

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 09:04 AM PST

Juniper Networks

SEE ALSO: Nokia denies report that it's in talks to buy $11 billion Juniper Networks

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Alphabet could reportedly fold Nest into Google's hardware division (GOOG, GOOGL)

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 08:57 AM PST

Nest CTO Yoky Matsuoka

  • Hardware company Nest may be folded into Google's hardware division, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal.
  • The company is currently owned by Google's parent company, Alphabet.
  • Nest — which makes smart thermostats, home security systems, and doorbell cameras — was acquired by Google in 2014 for $3.2 billion.


Google is considering folding Nest into its hardware division, according to a Thursday report from the Wall Street Journal's Jack Nicas.

Nest currently operates as a standalone company under the Alphabet umbrella, but there's a significant amount of overlap between Nest's business — smart thermostats, home security systems, doorbell cameras, and smoke detectors — and Google's hardware division, which includes the Google Home smart speaker and the Pixel smartphone. 

The Journal reports that at one point, Nest and Google were even working on a similar product that had the same name: Weave.

The thinking is that combining the two businesses would help strengthen Google's hardware presence and better take on Amazon, which currently dominates the smart home realm. 

Nest began as a startup founded by Tony Fadell, who helped invent the iPod. Google bought Nest in 2014 for $3.2 billion, then one year later, Alphabet was formed as Google's parent company. Nest became one of the "other bets" under the Alphabet umbrella and remains separate from Google's own hardware division. Nest currently has 1,000 employees, some of whom have already moved over to Google, according to the Journal. 

Google declined to comment on the report. 

SEE ALSO: Nest is launching a redesigned thermostat that costs $80 less than the original

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The only supermoon of 2017 is happening soon — here's what a supermoon actually is

Posted: 30 Nov 2017 08:32 AM PST

The only supermoon of 2017 is rising on December 3. But what is a supermoon? And why do we only see one or two a year? Following is a transcript of the video.

Supermoons are a rare type of full moon. They appear up to 14% bigger and 30% brighter than normal. While the full moon rises about once per month, supermoons can only occur a few times per year — max.

That's because the timing has to be just right. The Moon takes about 27.32 days to orbit Earth. During its orbit, the moon passes through two points: Perigee and apogee. Perigee is about 30,000 miles closer to Earth than apogee.

A supermoon can only occur at perigee-syzygy, when the moon is full and at perigee simultaneously. This is rare because as the Earth revolves around the sun. the moon's orientation to Earth stays mostly the same. This changes where the Moon is in orbit during each full moon. But supermoons would even more rare if the moon didn't precess. Over many years, the moon's precession changes its orientation slightly.

It's often hard to differentiate a supermoon and a regular full moon. The best time to watch a supermoon is when it's low, near the horizon. So you can fully appreciate this rare moment in space and time.

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