- A futuristic Hyperloop system may be coming to 3 unlikely cities
- The SEC has shut down another ICO — this time an alleged $600 million scam in Texas
- AMD is rising after beating across the board (AMD)
- Cities are starting to put beet juice, beer waste, and pickle brine on icy winter roads to cut down on salt
- Mercedes just revealed how it plans to conquer electric cars — and Tesla should be nervous (TSLA)
- Snowflake's CEO shares how he get got a $1.5 billion valuation from Sequoia Capital just four years out of stealth mode
- The scariest thing about bad sleep could be what it means for your brain
- Waymo just put Uber and Lyft on notice that it’s charging full speed ahead into their core, ride-hailing business (GOOG)
- It takes 2 days for the US Navy to get its oldest deployable warship out to sea — watch how it happens
- Warren Buffett has been speaking out about the cost of healthcare for years — and it could hint at what’s to come with a new health venture
- Facebook is banning all ads for bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, and ICOs (FB)
- I spent 2 weeks texting a bot about my anxiety — and found it to be surprisingly helpful
- Here's how Amazon's and Apple's new smart speakers stack up with consumers (AMZN, AAPL)
- Cosplay superstar Jessica Nigri talks about turning her passion into a full-time job, and how Facebook's algorithm changes have affected her
- Vice Media has fired the founder of its digital ad agency Carrot Creative following a sexual misconduct investigation
- Bitcoin tumbles below $10,000 for the 2nd time in less than 2 weeks
- Astronomers are broadcasting live video of Wednesday's 'super blue blood moon' online — here's how to watch
- THE CHATBOT MONETIZATION REPORT: Sizing the market, key strategies, and how to navigate the chatbot opportunity (FB, AAPL, GOOG)
- Here are the 4 times Amazon has panicked investors in other companies
- AMD is slipping ahead of earnings (AMD)
Posted: 30 Jan 2018 01:14 PM PST
The study will examine the technical alignment and potential economic benefits of the Hyperloop system, and will be conducted by a combination of public and private organizations, including Black & Veatch, the University of Missouri System, and Virgin Hyperloop One. The proposed 240-mile route could allow passengers to travel between Kansas City and St. Louis in less than 30 minutes.
Virgin Group invested in Hyperloop One in October 2017. The startup has successfully tested its Hyperloop system twice on a 500-meter track in Nevada. It reached a top speed of 192 mph during the tests.
Hyperloop is a high-speed transportation system that was first proposed by Elon Musk in a 2013 white paper. While the system is still in the early stages of development, it could one day allow passengers to travel in pods through tubes at speeds exceeding 500 mph.
Musk's Boring Company is attempting to create the tunnel infrastructure that could make Hyperloop possible, but it has faced resistance from local governments. Two of Musk's other companies, SpaceX and Tesla, tested a Hyperloop pod in 2015 that reached a top speed of 220 mph, which is the fasted recorded time to date.
Posted: 30 Jan 2018 01:03 PM PST
AriseBank allegedly used celebrity endorsers — including boxer Evander Holyfield — and social media to swindle retail investors out of $600 million of the firm’s $1 billion goal for “AriseCoin," the SEC said on Tuesday.
"We allege that AriseBank and its principals sought to raise hundreds of millions from investors by misrepresenting the company as a first-of-its-kind decentralized bank offering its own cryptocurrency to be used for a broad range of customer products and services," the SEC’s co-chair of enforcement said in a press release. "This is the first time the Commission has sought the appointment of a receiver in connection with an ICO fraud."
The halt and seizure of assets comes less than a week after the Texas Department of Banking sent a cease-and-desist letter to the company on January 26 and barred its cryptocurrency banking platform in the state.
According to the bank’s website, which was offline Tuesday morning, AriseBank is working on "the first ever decentralized banking platform," and lists several transfer products with whimsical tech-infused names like aiExchanger, aTransfer, and aEx, and celebrity endorsements.
AriseBank could not be reached for comment, but the firm published a blog post on Medium when discussions that it may be a scam first started appearing online in early January.
“AriseBank isn’t a scam,” the brief essay reads. "It’s a victim of libel and slander." The post goes on to share the contact info of co-founder and CEO Jared Rice on messaging app Telegram. Rice has not responded to Markets Insider's request for comment.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Rice is simultaneously CEO of Dallas marketing firm Dotoji. However many links on the company’s homepage, including those to supposed contact information, point to offline pages. Dotoji’s registered business address is a home in a residential section of Dallas.
On January 18, AriseBank blasted out a press release saying it had acquired an Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation insured bank holding company. However, neither Arise Bank nor KFMC Bank Holding Company appear to be registered with regulators including the Texas Secretary of State nor the FDIC.
TPGB, another bank Arise says it has acquired a 25% stake in, does not appear to exist in any capacity.
Mark Rasmussen, a partner at global law firm Jones Day has been appointed by the United States District Court in Dallas as a third-party, independent recevier of AriseBank's siezed assets, the firm told Business Insider in an email.
AriseBank is far from the first ICO to be accused of fraud. Consulting firm Ernst & Young estimates that more than $400 million of the $3.7 billion raised through ICOs so far has been stolen by hackers, with phishing siphoning off up to $1.5 million each month.
In December, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton had harsh words for ICOs after the agency shut down an offering. Clayton said in a blog post that despite claims of not being subject to regulation, many of the digital coins were in fact securities and thus subject to the agency’s authority.
"I believe that initial coin offerings – whether they represent offerings of securities or not – can be effective ways for entrepreneurs and others to raise funding, including for innovative projects," he said.
"However, any such activity that involves an offering of securities must be accompanied by the important disclosures, processes and other investor protections that our securities laws require."
This post will be updated if AriseBank or its executives respond to requests for comment.
Posted: 30 Jan 2018 12:54 PM PST
The company reported earnings of $0.08 per share vs. $0.05 per share expected. AMD reported revenue of $1.48 billion vs $1.408 billion expected. Shares are down more than 6% immediately following the report but have since settled about 1.94% higher at $13.12 in after-hours trading.
The company reported its second-straight quarter of GAAP profitability, boosted by a 60% year-over-year increase in computing and graphics sales.
"2017 marked a key inflection point for AMD as we re-shaped our product portfolio, delivered 25 percent annual
The company guided to revenue of $1.55 billion in the first quarter of 2018, which would be a 32% increase over the same period last year. AMD said it will be adjusting the way it reports revenue in the future, but doesn't see a material impact from the change for 2018.
Wall Street was mostly neutral on the stock ahead of the report, with 14 of the 28 analysts tracked by Bloomberg rating the company as a "hold."
Investors will be looking for the company to comment on the Spectre and Meltdown security flaws that have impacted every major central processing unit manufacturer. Industry patches to solve the problem have been buggy, and it's still unknown how the final fixes will affect performance. Systems could take as much as a 30% hit to performance because of the patches, according to some estimates.
The company will also likely address the impact of the cryptocurrency boom on sales of its graphics processing units. Cryptocurrency miners have been buying the cards en masse to capitalize on a boom in crypto prices. Computer gamers, the traditional market for AMD's cards, have expressed frustration at the higher prices and limited supply.
John Pitzer, an analyst at Credit Suisse, said before the report that the crypto boom will likely outweigh any negative effects from the Spectre and Meltdown flaws. Last week, Intel, one of AMD's main rivals in the CPU space, said the flaws would not materially affect sales. Pitzer thinks AMD will also be safe from any fallout from the flaws as well.
AMD shares are up about 16% this year.
SEE ALSO: AMD is slipping ahead of earnings
Posted: 30 Jan 2018 12:53 PM PST
While salt helps keep your tires and feet from slipping on icy, snow-covered pavement, it's bad for the environment.
More than 20 million tons of salt are dumped on icy roads throughout the US each year, according to The Associated Press. The problem, many researchers say, is that after cities put salt on roads, the snow and ice inevitably melt, and the salt gets washed into rivers and lakes, increasing the salinity to sometimes dangerous levels.
A study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) published this month found that increased salinity can catalyze the release of toxic metals into bodies of freshwater. The report concluded that many lakes and rivers in the Northeastern US would not be fit for human consumption and would actually become toxic to freshwater life within the next century if cities and freeway authorities continue to dump salt at the current rate.
That's why some cities are turning to unique concoctions, adding things like beet juice, beer waste, and pickle brine to help salt stick to roads and sidewalks more effectively.
These types of liquefied organic additives both help the salt stick to the pavement better so that less washes into rivers and lakes, and also increase the capacity for the salt to melt ice. That means less salt is needed over the course of a winter.
So far, municipalities in New Jersey and North Dakota have experimented with adding beet juice. A county in Wisconsin (a state known for its cheese production) has started using cheese brine, a salty byproduct of making cheese, to line its roads in advance of big snowstorms.
All of these solutions help reduce the amount of road salt municipalities need to make driving safe.
"There has been a sense of alarm on the impacts of road salt on organisms and ecosystems," Victoria Kelly, from the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, told the AP. "We've seen increasing concentrations in river water, lakes, streams. Then, scientists started asking the question: What is going to happen to the organisms living in freshwater bodies and what will happen to the freshwater bodies as a whole?"
According to The Conversation, increased salinity can lead to dead zones at the bottom of lakes, where the salt water is denser than the freshwater. This can destroy prime habitats for microscopic organisms like algae and zooplankton, and cause disastrous effects throughout the food chain. A 2016 study tested 327 lakes and found that more than 40% of them had increased levels of salinity.
On top of that, salt causes billions of dollars of damage by corroding cars, pipes, and other critical pieces of infrastructure every year.
While municipal experiments with beet juice and beer waste seem promising, there's still the smell to consider. Residents in a few North Dakota communities where beet juice was mixed with road salt complained that it made the roads smell like soy sauce or stale coffee, according to The Conversation.
Still, that's probably better than killing the local freshwater fish.
Posted: 30 Jan 2018 12:48 PM PST
On Monday, Mercedes outlined how it plans to challenge Tesla as the premier luxury electric car brand.
In a press release posted to the website of its parent company, Daimler, Mercedes said it will produce electric vehicles in six plants across three continents. The brand also said it will create a "global battery network" to produce batteries for its vehicles. It currently has five battery factories and plans to complete a sixth in 2018.
Daimler had previously announced that it would invest $11 billion to make sure each Mercedes-Benz vehicle would have a fully-electric or hybrid version by 2022, which signaled that the brand would take a more aggressive approach to producing electric cars than many of its competitors. The brand plans to launch its electric EQ brand with the fully-electric EQC SUV, which is set for production in 2019.
Mercedes is serious about electric cars
While other brands have announced ambitious plans related to electric vehicles, Mercedes' intention to build its own batteries signals the brand's seriousness in becoming a major player in the electric market.
Tesla's battery business is one of the company's greatest strengths. Since 2013, the company has been building out its giant battery factory in Nevada, known as the Gigafactory 1, where it makes the batteries for its vehicles and the batteries for its Powerwall and Powerpack. Tesla's early investment in battery production has long been called one of its greatest advantages because it put the company ahead of competitors also pursuing electric cars.
The fact that Mercedes is doubling down on battery factories shows that the company is going after the heart of Tesla's business.
What's more, Mercedes has almost 100 years of experience making cars, while Tesla has less than 20. So it's possible the German automaker will simply outproduce Tesla in EVs. Afterall, Mercedes delivered 2.3 million cars in 2017, while Tesla delivered just 101,000.
Posted: 30 Jan 2018 12:38 PM PST
Snowflake only left stealth mode in 2014, but you wouldn't know it from the amount of money the company has raised.
The San Mateo-based cloud-computing startup just hit unicorn status with $263.5 million in funding led by ICONIQ Capital, Altimeter Capital, and newcomer Sequoia Capital. That brings its total growth funding up to $480 million, with a valuation of $1.5 billion.
The rapidly growing company, which sells data warehouses for the cloud, now has around 1,000 customers including Adobe, Capital One, Sony Pictures, and Instacart.
These enterprises use Snowflake to bridge the gap between old school data storage systems that have been used for decades by large companies, and the more efficient forms of storage that are enabled by cloud computing. Snowflake essentially eases the transition to the cloud for companies that work with ginormous loads of data.
Now, with a hot technology and Microsoft veteran Bob Muglia as CEO, Snowflake is just a few years out from going public. Business Insider checked in with Muglia to find out more about his plans for the company and what it takes to raise a mega round and a unicorn valuation.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Becky Peterson: Your team just raised $263.5 million. What do you plan to use it for?
Bob Muglia: We're going to use the money to expand our sales and services organization globally to bring the product to customers all around the world, and we're going to continue to invest in the team that [co-founder and chief technology officer Benoit Dageville] built.
We feel that we have a really substantive product and head start compared to anyone else. I think we're pulling further ahead and we're going to continue to invest.
Peterson: Are you already international?
Muglia: Yes, we have about 40 people in Europe right now, and five people in Australia. Both of those are new within the last year.
A year ago we were just bringing on board our first folks in Europe. And now we have over 40 people there. In fall we started hiring in Australia. We'll look toward Asia in the coming 12 to 18 months. Probably expanding into the Singapore region and Japan and Korea. Maybe someday China, but that's further out.
Peterson: Why wait on China?
Muglia: China's a tough market for any American company. If you look at where you want to expand, China is toward the tail end.
What we'll probably do is go where our customers want us to go. I know we have some large, multi-national companies that do a fair amount of business in China. And they have to keep data in China. So that's probably what will push us to that market.
Peterson: At $263.5 million, this funding round is large by any measure. From a business perspective, what is the advantage of having such a large funding round?
Muglia: Companies are moving actively and aggressively to the cloud. This funding allows us to take the technology and this service to market to all of our customers around the world and give them support the way they need it. We'll be investing in resources in sales and service to do that, and we'll be building our R&D team around it.
Why do we need so much money? It's a global world, there are a lot of customers out there.
Frankly, we're competing against some of the largest companies on the planet. Companies like Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Oracle. And although $263 million is a lot of money, it's a lot less money than they have.
Frankly, we're competing against some of the largest companies on the planet...And although $263 million is a lot of money, it's a lot less money than they have.
We're competing with extremely well-funded companies with extremely strong cash positions, and this provides us with the financial resources and the capital we need to expand the product and compete in this global world.
Peterson: As a CEO and partial owner in the company, is there a disadvantage for you in taking such a large sum?
Muglia: You always worry about how much money you should take and in what period of time. But on the balance, whatever disadvantages exist are far outweighed by the ability to expand the company. In today's world, the way to succeed in technology is to have a product that is very broadly used, and to get out there. And this money provides us the ability to do that.
Peterson: How did this fundraising round compare to smaller rounds?
Muglia: This is my fourth time. I joined Snowflake in 2014. My first fundraising round was 2015, and it was great. It was a really successful round. At the time, our valuation expanded to $300 million. That was a huge increase.
The next year, we needed to raise a bit more money. This was the first half of 2016, and nobody was giving out any money.
I literally was up and down Sand Hill Road, my cup in hand. I talked to about 24 different VC firms, and all 24 of them said no. Fortunately, my existing investors stepped in and funded us a flat round. So we were able to continue to grow and hire world class people. And then last year we were able to do another round.
In this round, we're thrilled to have Sequoia join us as our newest partner.
Peterson: Was Sequoia one of the companies that said no to you in 2016?
Muglia: They sure were! At the time everybody was saying no to everything. It wasn't just us.
Peterson: Is this the first step in moving toward an initial public offering (IPO)?
Muglia: It is certainly a step in moving toward an IPO. That is where we are hoping to go in the next few years. It's not a near-term thing, but it's something we are looking towards. This funding basically provides us with sufficient capital we think to bridge ourselves to an IPO.
I wouldn't rule out us doing another round of private funding. But at this moment we think it's possible to move directly into an IPO in the future.
I wouldn't rule out us doing another round of private funding. But at this moment we think it's possible to move directly into an IPO in the future.
Peterson: Do you have a sense of how long it will be until you're profitable?
Muglia: It will be a few years — two to three years at least.
That's always the trade-off you make. When you're growing as fast as a company like Snowflake is, you want to invest as much of your revenue as you can, particularly into your sales.
Right now, my board is much more focused on growth than it is on profitability, but as the company shifts toward a public posture that obviously changes. We're taking steps to prepare.
The fundamentals are there with Snowflake to grow a profitable business. It's really a question of when do you take that revenue we have that we're currently investing into growth, and when do we put it back on the balance sheet and give it to our shareholders.
Peterson: Let's move on to the wider cloud industry. Are there any trends that you see looking forward?
Muglia: The one that's most apparent is that the cloud is happening aggressively with companies in every industry, as well as the federal government.
Another thing we see is that it is a multi-cloud world. Amazon is obviously the strong leader. I anticipate that they will maintain a leadership position. They've been a great partner to us. But we do see customers going to other clouds like Microsoft Azure, sometimes Google.
And we're customer centric, so we're watching that and you can expect us to respond to that customer request to work on multiple clouds.
Posted: 30 Jan 2018 12:32 PM PST
A study recently published in the journal JAMA Neurology found that adults with healthy memories who had disrupted circadian rhythms — also known as sleep cycles — had protein buildups of a substance called amyloid plaque, which can serve as an early sign of Alzheimer's.
The damage that causes Alzheimer's-associated memory loss can begin 15 or 20 years before symptoms of the disease become evident. Other studies have shown that there's a connection between poor sleep and Alzheimer's or dementia as well. This new study provides more evidence of that link, and indicates that sleep disruption might be a very early warning sign of future neurodegenerative disease.
The findings also suggest that working to treat sleep issues early may help protect brain health down the road — though more research is needed to find out.
A growing body of evidence
For the new study, researchers tracked the sleep cycles of 189 cognitively healthy adults with an average age of 66. They also analyzed their brains to look for Alzheimer's-related proteins and plaques.
Most of the participants had relatively normal sleep cycles, and 139 had no signs of amyloid protein buildup. Some of those people had sleep problems, but they could mostly be explained by age, sleep apnea, or other causes.
But the 50 subjects in the study whose brains had Alzheimer's-related proteins all had disrupted body clocks.
"It wasn't that the people in the study were sleep-deprived," lead study author Dr. Erik Musiek said in a press release. "But their sleep tended to be fragmented. Sleeping for eight hours at night is very different from getting eight hours of sleep in one-hour increments during daytime naps."
The researchers also disrupted the sleep rhythms of mice in another study and found that doing so led to a buildup of amyloid plaque in their brains.
Other recent research has shown that people who report sleeping poorly show more signs of Alzheimer's. One recent study found that even disrupting someone's sleep for a night could lead to a spike in Alzheimer's-related proteins.
To be clear, that doesn't mean that one night of bad sleep leads to Alzheimer's. But it does make sleep trouble even more disturbing than the tired feeling that lingers after a restless night — which is good motivation to fix poor sleeping habits.
The issue of causation
The big question that remains is whether bad sleep causes the protein buildup that's linked to Alzheimer's, or whether people whose brains are already changing have more trouble sleeping.
It's quite possible that both are true.
Some research has indicated that any sleep disruption seems to lead to brain changes (in mice and people). We know that sleep has a cleansing function and that in deep sleep our brain washes away some proteins that regularly build up.
But we also know that once these buildups exist, people have a harder time getting that cleansing deep sleep. In other words, regular poor sleep could lead to a vicious cycle that makes it harder to get the rest the brain needs.
The upside of all this is that it could mean that intervening to fix sleep problems early could lead to improved brain health down the road. There are plenty of reasons to try to get a good night's sleep — this seems to be an especially good one.
Posted: 30 Jan 2018 12:26 PM PST
The company announced on Tuesday that it's buying "thousands" of autonomous minivans from Chrysler this year as it prepares to launch its own version of a driverless, ride-hailing service in multiple U.S. cities.
The move marks a significant expansion of Waymo's ride-hailing efforts, and highlights a growing arms race between Waymo and Uber to dominate the transportation services of the future.
Waymo has been testing its self-driving technology in Phoenix since last year with a limited group of users, who have been able to hitch rides around town for free in the autonomous cars. Waymo said on Tuesday that it plans to open the Phoenix ride-hailing service to the public sometime this year. And the company said it would expand the ride-hailing service to several other U.S. cities using the thousands of Chrysler minivans it is purchasing.
The news is similar to Uber's announcement last year that it will buy up to 24,000 self-driving Volvo cars as it seeks to expand its autonomous service outside closed trials in Arizona and Pittsburgh.
What happens next
Google has invested more than a billion dollars into developing Waymo's self-driving technology, which it has said could be used for a variety of purposes, including trucking, logistics, licensing, ride-sharing and personal cars.
But until now its self-driving ride-hailing efforts have been limited to the test in Phoenix, and it's not been clear whether the test was a beachhead for a bigger push to build a commercial ride-hailing service, or simply a way for the company to gauge the public's appetite for self-driving vehicles.
Waymo's announcement on Tuesday was light on details about the forthcoming ride-hailing service. And a company spokesperson declined to say which cities it planned to launch the service in, or when. The company was also mum on the price it would charge passengers to use the self-driving ride hailing service.
Self-driving technology still suffers from many technical and regulatory limitations. The sensors that the cars rely on to "see" their whereabouts do not perform well in rain or snow. And federal and state governments are still grappling with how to create rules around where and how the cars can be used, as well as thorny liability issues.
A web of alliances in a booming market
It's possible that Waymo still envisions its promised ride-hailing service as more of a proof of concept for autonomous vehicles than a full-fledged business opportunity to capitalize on.
But by ratcheting up its ride-hailing operations, Waymo has an opening into a booming market that will put it on a crash course with Uber and Lyft, the two largest self-driving car services in the U.S. And it comes at a time when both Uber and Lyft are considered top candidates for highly-anticipated IPOs.
To complicate matters, Waymo's parent company Alphabet also has financial ties to both Uber and Lyft.
CapitalG, the investment arm of Alphabet, led a $1 billion investment in Lyft in October.
Lyft has also announced a partnership with Waymo on self-driving technology and opened its own self-driving center to work on the technology.
Waymo has an even more complicated relationship with Uber. Waymo's sister company Google Ventures (known as GV) invested about $258 million in Uber in 2013. But now Waymo is suing Uber, alleging one of its former executives stole key self-driving technology when he left Google.
Posted: 30 Jan 2018 12:18 PM PST
Assigned to the United States Seventh Fleet based in Yokosuka, Japan, the Blue Ridge is one of the US Navy's two command ships.
When the US Navy's ships are in port and undergoing maintenance, they are put in dry dock — a narrow basin that a ship can sail into and then have all of the water in it drained. This enables workers to access the ships underside, and enable stability during construction and upgrading operations.
Footage released by the Department of Defense shows that it takes the USS Blue Ridge two days to get out of dry dock.
See the time-lapse video here:
Posted: 30 Jan 2018 12:16 PM PST
Jamie Dimon, Jeff Bezos, and Warren Buffett have a new plan to tackle the rising cost of healthcare in the US.
Bezos's Amazon, along with Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and Dimon's JPMorgan, are teaming up to form an independent venture that'll be focused on healthcare for their US employees.
"The healthcare system is complex, and we enter into this challenge open-eyed about the degree of difficulty,” Bezos said in a release. "Hard as it might be, reducing healthcare’s burden on the economy while improving outcomes for employees and their families would be worth the effort. Success is going to require talented experts, a beginner’s mind, and a long-term orientation."
So far, the companies have only provided a few details about the intial phase of the joint venture, so it's unclear exactly how this new effort will play out. But healthcare has been on these business titans' radars for a while, and what they've said could inform how this venture ultimately works.
Buffett has been the most outspoen, saying that he supports a single-payer system, in which the government provides near-universal healthcare coverage.
"With my limited knowledge, I think that probably is the best system, because it is a system — we are such a rich country. In a sense, we can afford to do it," Buffett told PBS's "News Hour" in June 2017. "But in almost every field of American business, it pays to bring down costs. There’s an awful lot of people involved in the medical — the whole — just the way the ecosystem works, that there is no incentive to bring down costs."
And on multiple occasions he has compared costs to a parasitic worm.
Charlie Munger, Berkshire Hathaway's vice chairman, has also been outspoken about moving to a single-payer healthcare system. Munger is a fan of Kaiser Permanente, a health system on the West Coast that contains both health plans and healthcare providers. "If the whole nation had Kaiser Permanente care, the average quality of the care would go way up and the cost would go way down," Munger said.
If healthcare in the US were to move toward a more single-payer system, it might look a lot like that.
JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon has had the frustration people have over their healthcare costs on his mind as well.
"Low job growth, a lack of opportunity for many, declining wages, students and low wage workers being left behind, economic and job uncertainty, high healthcare costs and growing income inequality all have created deep frustration," Dimon wrote in his 2016 annual letter.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos hasn't said a whole lot about healthcare above considering the potential for artificial intelligence, including Amazon's voice assistant Alexa, to help with an individual's health. Bezos's personal venture capital arm has invested in a number of biotech companies, including Grail, a company developing a cancer-screening blood test to catch cancer early on, and Zocdoc, Denali Therapeutics, and Juno Therapeutics.
The three are going to have a lot to prove. This isn't the first time employers have banded together to try to lower healthcare costs. While the news sent healthcare stocks plummeting on Tuesday morning, analysts were skeptical of any iminent disruption.
Posted: 30 Jan 2018 12:05 PM PST
The social network is banning all ads related to bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, and ICOs, it announced on Tuesday, as it attempts to crack down on scams and fraud.
The new rule "prohibits financial products and services that are frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices, such as binary options, initial coin offerings and cryptocurrency."
It's a far-reaching policy, and Facebook describes it as "intentionally broad."
(For the uninitiated, initial coin offerings, or ICOs, are a largely unregulated method for company fundraising that involves selling investors cryptographic assets, in a similar vein to an IPO.)
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are insanely hot right now — but the space is also riddled with scams, fraud, and other risks.
This week, the SEC shut down one allegedly fraudulent ICO that claimed to have raised $600 million, and it's not uncommon for exchanges to lose hundreds of millions of dollars worth of customer funds in apparent hacks.
A Facebook spokesperson told Business Insider that the new rule bans all ads related to cryptocurrencies — not just those directly trying to sell cryptocurrencies or cryptographic tokens. So ads for Bitcoin wallets are also banned, for example, as are ones for Ethereum-mining hardware.
In a blog post announcing the news, Facebook product management director Rob Leathern suggested Facebook may tweak the policy at some point in the future to let legitimate crypto-related businesses advertise again.
"We want people to continue to discover and learn about new products and services through Facebook ads without fear of scams or deception," he wrote. "That said, there are many companies who are advertising binary options, ICOs and cryptocurrencies that are not currently operating in good faith."
"This policy is intentionally broad while we work to better detect deceptive and misleading advertising practices, and enforcement will begin to ramp up across our platforms including Facebook, Audience Network and Instagram. We will revisit this policy and how we enforce it as our signals improve."
Posted: 30 Jan 2018 12:05 PM PST
We do know that talking seems to help — especially under the guidance of a licensed mental health professional. But therapy is expensive, inconvenient, and often hard to approach. A recent estimate suggests that of the roughly one in five Americans who have a mental illness, close to two-thirds have gone at least a year without treatment.
Several Silicon Valley-style approaches to the problem have emerged: There are apps that replace the traditional psychiatry office with texting, and chat rooms where you can discuss your problems anonymously online.
The newest of these tech-based treatments is Woebot, an artificially intelligent chatbot (and recently launched app) that uses the principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT — one of the most heavily researched clinical approaches to treating depression.
I spent two weeks using the tool. Here's how it went.
The first message appeared around 6 p.m., while I was on the bus. I cupped a hand around my phone and stole a furtive glance at the gray bubble on the screen.
Woebot, which is designed to help people cope with feelings of depression and anxiety, launched as a stand-alone iOS app earlier this month.
Trying it out was my latest jaunt into the new and mostly uncharted territory of digital mental-health care.
Alison Darcy, a clinical psychologist at Stanford University, created Woebot based on cognitive-behavioral therapy, which encourages people to examine how they react to challenging situations.
Woebot isn't a replacement for an in-person therapist, Darcy says, nor will it help you find one.
Instead, the tool is part of a widening array of approaches to mental health. It's fundamentally different from any other form of therapy.
In one of my first interactions with Woebot, I told it about a time I had felt nervous about not being good or smart enough.
Woebot pointed out that I was engaging in a common practice called distorted thinking.
Then it had me re-write the thought in terms that would better reflect reality. In reality, I felt "not good enough" because I was anxious about a presentation I was giving the next day.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Posted: 30 Jan 2018 12:02 PM PST
This is a preview of a research report from BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about BI Intelligence, click here.
Smart speakers — Amazon's Echo, for example — are the latest device category poised to take a chunk of our increasingly digital lives. These devices are made primarily for the home and execute a user's voice commands via an integrated digital assistant. These digital assistants can play music, answer questions, and control other devices within a user's home, among other things.
The central question for this new product category is not when they will take off, but which devices will rise to the top. To answer this question, BI Intelligence surveyed our leading-edge consumer panel, gathering exclusive data on Amazon's recently released Echo Show and Echo Look, as well as Apple's HomePod.
In a new Smart Speaker report, BI Intelligence analyzes the market potential of the Echo Look, Echo Show, and HomePod. Using exclusive survey data, we evaluate each device's potential for adoption based on four criteria: awareness, excitement, usefulness, and purchase intent. And we draw some inferences from our data about the direction the smart speaker market could take from here.
Here are some of the key takeaways:
In full, the report:
Interested in getting the full report? Here are two ways to access it:
Posted: 30 Jan 2018 11:37 AM PST
In 2009, a friend of Nigri's bought her a ticket to attend Comic-Con, the massive convention held every year in San Diego. Nigri did a quick Google search of the event and saw that some people dressed up as their favorite characters to attend, she told Business Insider. She decided to give it a go, and dressed as Pikachu from Pokémon.
Nigri expected to have a good time, and said when she got there she looked around and thought, “These are my people.” But she didn’t expect a photo of her at the convention to go viral, flooding her Facebook and Myspace with friend requests from people she’d never met.
There were a few reasons for that. First, Nigri wasn’t just dressed as Pikachu, but rather “Sexy Pikachu,” sporting a barely-there outfit that generated quite a bit of buzz. Second, in one picture she had a badge with her name on it, so that allowed random people to find her online.
Getting that kind of intense internet reaction from strangers might have terrified some people, but not Nigri.
“It was like an immediate addiction,” Nigri said of her first cosplay experience.
Now Nigri is one of the most popular cosplayers in the world, with beautiful and insanely intricate costumes she makes herself. She has 4.7 million Facebook followers, 2.8 million on Instagram, 1.2 million on YouTube, and even 3,500 on Patreon, who support her with monthly monetary subscriptions.
And the 28 year old has recently made a documentary with digital-media powerhouse Rooster Teeth, "Becoming Jessica Nigri," that looks inside the day-to-day realities of making a living off of cosplay.
Turning a hobby into a job
Nigri said the first time she thought of cosplay as a real business was when she got a call from her job at Trader Joe’s asking if she was still coming in for the 6 a.m. shift. At the time she was actually in Japan, where it was well into the night. She was doing promotion for a video game company and dressed as Juliet Starling, the zombie-hunting cheerleader and protagonist of “Lollipop Chainsaw.” She wasn’t going to make it to her shift.
There are a variety of ways to make money doing cosplay, though the vast majority of people in the community do it just as a hobby.
Nigri listed them off: You can sell prints of photos or other merch from an online store, do appearances for video game companies, make costumes or props for others, get ad money from a YouTube channel, utilize Patreon, and so on. But there isn't one overarching revenue stream that dwarfs the others. If you want to cosplay professionally, you have to cobble sources of revenue together, Nigri said.
But while the ways of making money can change, what is constant is that to become a prominent cosplayer you have to be both authentically connected to the community, and good at cultivating a fan base. Nigri described it as a mixture of personality, genuineness, and craftsmanship in your costumes (“builds”).
“If someone is doing cosplay for the wrong reasons it’s blatantly obvious,” Nigri said. And indeed it would seem extremely difficult for Nigri to fake her enthusiasm for the art given the vast amount of tutorial and behind-the-scenes video content she makes (not to mention the new documentary).
But there are still people who send online hate Nigri’s way, especially given the revealing nature of many of her costumes.
“Honestly I used to really get hurt by it,” Nigri said of some of the negative energy. But she said now she realizes that it usually comes from a place of sadness, of people not feeling 100% adequate themselves. “It’s never a personal thing, I never take it personally,” she said.
Facebook reach has been 'decimated'
While preparing for (and going to) live events is the bedrock of Nigri’s cosplaying, her ability to maintain a following on social media is also a key to the business side of things.
In this realm, while Facebook has put up bigger numbers, YouTube has been the more stable partner. Like many creators and online publishers, Nigri has felt the pain of Facebook’s algorithm shifts over the last year.
“Facebook’s reach has been decimated,” she said, before adding that though she has 4.7 million followers, she has moved away from the platform lately. A lot of other cosplayers have seen decreased reach too, she said, with external links they post not getting the numbers they used to.
When Facebook put an emphasis on video last year, that worked for awhile, then began to fall off. “I have noticed that videos in general are receiving less reach than usual,” she said. “It's concerning because a lot of people depend on social media to showcase their work and reach new audiences."
Now she fears the same thing is happening with Instagram, and said she feels that Instagram is starting to restrict reach.
But no matter what, Nigri is happy to have her day job be making incredible pieces and recapturing the flicker of childhood that's still there.
“We actually just got back from doing a photo shoot with a bunch of wolves,” she said excitedly. For a cosplayer like Nigri, it doesn’t get much cooler than that.
Posted: 30 Jan 2018 11:36 AM PST
The Wrap first reported Germano's ouster. A spokesman confirmed the news to Business Insider.
The news comes less than a month after Germano was put on a leave of absence as the company investigated harassment allegations against him and Vice Media president Andrew Creighton, reported in a story by The New York Times.
Vice is also planning to fold Carrot Creative, which it bought in 2013, into its creative agency Virtue. The merger had been in the works since January 2017 when Vice announced plans to integrate its various ad operations into a single division – Virtue Worldwide. The two agencies had continued to operate separately until now.
Both Germano's ouster and the merger were announced by Vice COO and CFO, Sarah Broderick, in a memo sent to employees Tuesday, according to Digiday.
Vice Media has come under fire since The Times described its culture and workplace environment as "degrading and uncomfortable for women." Germano was specifically called out by two former employees, Amanda Rue and Gabrielle Schaeffer.
Since then, a number of clients including Unilever and Ally Financial, have set up meetings with Vice to discuss their concerns, according to Ad Age.
Posted: 30 Jan 2018 11:16 AM PST
The flagship digital coin now makes up just 33.6% of the world’s total cryptocurrency market value, according to CoinMarketCap.com.
Last year, bitcoin’s price was on path that seemed to have just one direction: up. However, news of crackdowns in the US as well as crypto-centric countries like Russia, China, and South Korea have reinjected violent price swings into the marketplace.
Bitcoin previously fell below $10,000 less than two weeks ago, when what was dubbed a cryptocurrency ‘bloodbath’ wiped out hundreds of billions of dollars worth of value from cryptocurrencies in a matter of days.
The $10,000 benchmark was first crossed in November 2017, as bitcoin’s price skyrocketed to almost $20,000. It eventually peaked just below, at $19,843, according to Markets Insider data.
Posted: 30 Jan 2018 11:09 AM PST
During this astronomical event, the full moon will appear to turn red (a "blood moon") as it travels through the ruddy shadow of Earth. The total lunar eclipse will look slightly larger than normal (a "supermoon"), since the moon is in the part of its orbit that brings it closest to our planet. It also happens to be the second full moon in a month (often called a "blue moon").
But those who live in the eastern US, South America, Africa, Europe, and other regions may have trouble seeing the eclipse at its greatest moment, at least in person.
That's because the event begins at around 5:51 a.m. ET with a partial eclipse, which is when the moon starts to pass into Earth's penumbral or outermost shadow. It will slide deeper into Earth's umbral or innermost shadow over the next couple of hours, peaking at its reddest color around 8:31 a.m. ET. The super blue blood moon will wrap up with a second partial eclipse that ends at 11:08 a.m. ET.
For most of that time on the East Coast, the sun will be in the sky.
So if you won't be able to see the moon due to strong daylight, bad weather, or other issues, fret not: You can watch the whole thing online via a special YouTube Live webcast.
Slooh, a company that airs live views of space, will host the broadcast and plans to have telescopes trained on the moon as it's eclipsed by Earth. During their live show, which is packed with astronomy buffs, you'll also learn a great deal about the history and science of lunar eclipses.
"It has been almost seven years since the moon entered Earth's umbral shadow as deeply as this one," Paul Cox, an astronomer at Slooh, said in a press release.
You can tune in starting at 5:45 a.m. ET, with Slooh's panel of experts joining in at 7:00 a.m. ET. The eclipse's reddest phase will begin a little after 7:50 a.m. ET.
Posted: 30 Jan 2018 11:01 AM PST
This is a preview of a research report from BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about BI Intelligence, click here.
Improving artificial intelligence (AI) technology and the proliferation of messaging apps — which enable users and businesses to interact through a variety of mediums, including text, voice, image, video, and file sharing — are fueling the popularity of chatbots.
These software programs use messaging as an interface through which to carry out various tasks, like checking the weather or scheduling a meeting. Bots are still nascent and monetization models have yet to be established for the tech, but there are a number of existing strategies — like "as-a-service" or affiliate marketing — that will likely prove successful for bots used as a tool within messaging apps.
Chatbots can also provide brands with value adds — services that don't directly generate revenue, but help increase the ability of brands and businesses to better target and serve customers, and increase productivity. These include bots used for research, lead generation, and customer service.
A new report from BI Intelligence investigates how brands can monetize their chatbots by tailoring existing models. It also explores various ways chatbots can be used to cut businesses' operational costs. And finally, it highlights the slew of barriers that brands need to overcome in order to tap into the potentially lucrative market.
Here are some of the key takeaways:
In full, the report:
Interested in getting the full report? Here are several ways to access it:
Posted: 30 Jan 2018 10:59 AM PST
The company has made a habit out of crushing competitor market values with even the most basic of announcements, and their healthcare team-up is just the latest example of that.
The reasoning is simple — Amazon has a ton of cash and an unparalleled logistical network, and when it looks poised to enter a market, traders get scared and bail out of existing positions in other companies.
Amazon has done this so regularly, in fact, that it can be difficult to keep all the instances straight. That's where we come in.
Below you'll find a list summarizing recent examples of companies getting "Amazon'd" — the Business Insider-coined term for when a stock finds itself at the whim of the ever-expanding juggernaut.
January 2018 — Healthcare stocks tumble after Amazon, JPMorgan, and Berkshire Hathaway announce collaboration to reduce costs for US workers
While the three companies weren't specific about what kind of enterprise they aim to create, noting only that they wanted to improve employee satisfaction while reducing costs, the announcement reverberated through the stock market.
Managed care and pharmacy providers absorbed the brunt of the selling, with companies including MetLife, Express Scripts, and UnitedHealth seeing large share drops that accounted for billions of dollars in lost value.
June 2017 — Grocery stocks slide after Amazon announces $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods ... and then again two months later after price cuts are announced
Amazon hit grocery stocks with a double-whammy of weakness in this particular instance, causing an initial drop after announcing its mega-acquisition of Whole Foods, then reigniting selling two months later after cutting prices.
June 2017 — Athletic apparel retailers slide after report that Amazon was going to partner with Nike
In June 2017, Goldman Sachs published a report speculating that Nike was "close" to commencing a direct relationship selling product on Amazon.com. That caused selling in both athletic apparel manufacturers, as well as retail chains.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Posted: 30 Jan 2018 10:47 AM PST
Analysts are expecting the company to report adjusted earnings of $0.05 per share on revenue of $1.408 billion. Wall Street is mostly neutral on the stock ahead of the report, with 14 of the 28 analysts tracked by Bloomberg rating the company as a hold. 10 analysts rate the company a buy.
John Pitzer, an analyst at Credit Suisse, said that AMD has a number of tailwinds that could boost the company's earnings report higher than expectations. Cryptocurrency miners have been buying the company's GPUs en masse to speed up their mining computers, which would have become more profitable in recent months thanks to the spike in the price of many cryptocurrencies.
Millennial investors, who picked AMD as their favorite stock of 2017, are a bit more hesitant going into the company's report. Young users of the trading app Robinhood are selling shares of the company about 5% more than they are buying shares, according to Robinhood.
Investors will be looking for the company to comment on the recent disclosure of the CPU flaws known as Spectre and Meltdown. The security flaws affect nearly every CPU manufacturer, and patches for the flaw could significantly affect performance, according to some reports. Intel reported that it hadn't seen a material impact on sales as a result of the flaws, and Pitzer said this is good news for AMD.
It's worth noting that Pitzer previously said Intel wouldn't be incentivized to guide to lower sales as a result of the Spectre and Meltdown flaws, as it could turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy if enterprise customers looked elsewhere for their chips as a result of the lower guidance.
Intel has taken the brunt of the criticism over the flaws and their patches. Intel's stock has risen just 2.05% this year, while AMD shares are up 16.02%.
AMD will report its fourth-quarter earnings after the bell on Tuesday.
This page will be updated with the most recent earnings results as they are reported. Check back for more.
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