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A startup raised $59 million in a token sale to usher in the next generation of crypto

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 01:31 PM PST

unnamed 8

  • Polymath, a blockchain company looking to revolutionize the crypto world, just raised $59 million in what might be the first SEC-compliant token sale. 
  • A portion of the token sale went towards building a platform that would help companies create their own securitized tokens. 

Polymath, a startup that wants to usher in a crypto revolution, has raised $58.7 million in a token sale, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission

The token sale, which was open to accredited investors, was filed with the regulator as a private placement, a way for companies to raise capital from a select amount of investors, after the company raised the funds.  

A portion of the token sale went towards building Polymath's platform, which aims to allow financial-services companies to make and issue tokenized securities, according to a person familiar with the matter. 

Currently, most tokens in the digital coin market are so-called utility tokens which provide holders access to certain services. The point of the Polymath platform is to make it easier for companies to issue digital securities to raise money in a compliant way. 

"The technology serves as a launch pad or on-ramp for companies who want to create and issue tokenized securities, with the complex technical and legal functions of a token sale, Know Your Customer program, and development built in," a statement from the company said. 

The fact that Polymath filed with the SEC as a private placement for its token sale is striking considering remarks Tuesday from SEC head Jay Clayton. 

During a hearing on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Clayton said initial coin offerings should be filing under private placement rules. Here's Clayton:

"I'm unhappy about people conducting ICOs when they should be following private placement rules under our existing securities regulations. Distributed ledger technology has so much promise, as do pure cryptocurrencies, but I'm concerned about ICOs."

The funding mechanism, which is a darling of young tech companies, has helped some raise hundreds of millions of dollars, although not without controversy. Already, the SEC has halted a number of ICOs through its Cyber Unit for issuing securities to investors.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Amazon is shaking up a healthcare industry that's ripe for disruption

POINT-OF-SALE TERMINALS: How evolving merchant demands are pushing POS terminal providers to up their game in an increasingly competitive environment

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 01:03 PM PST

pos terminals graphicThis is a preview of a research report from BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about BI Intelligence, click here.

The downfall of US brick-and-mortar commerce is overblown — despite sharp gains in e-commerce, which will nearly double between now and 2021, the lion’s share of purchasing continues to take place in-store. And that’s unlikely to change anytime soon, since the online environment can’t yet compensate for the reasons customers like brick-and-mortar shopping.

That means the point-of-sale (POS) terminal, which merchants use to accept payments of all types and to complete transactions, isn’t going anywhere. But that doesn’t mean it’s not changing. As merchants look to cut costs amidst shifts in consumer shopping habits, POS terminals, which were once predominantly hardware offerings used exclusively for payment acceptance, are evolving into full-service, comprehensive solutions. These new POS terminals are providing an array of business management solutions and connected offerings to complement payment services. 

This is where the smart terminal, a new product that’s part-tablet, part-register, comes in. Merchants are increasingly seeking out these offerings, which afford them the connectivity, mobility, and interoperability to run their entire business. And that’s shaking up the space, since it’s not just legacy firms, but also mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) players and newer upstarts, that offer these products. 

As merchants begin demanding a wide variety of payment solutions, terminal providers are scrambling to meet their needs in order to maintain existing customers and attract new ones. This is leading to rapid innovation and increased competition in both the POS terminal hardware and software spaces.

BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has put together a detailed report on the shifts in this landscape, how leading players can meet them, and who’s doing it most effectively.

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  • Evolving merchant needs are impacting POS terminal players’ strategies. Merchants select terminal providers based on four key areas: payment functionality, user experience (UX), over-the-top (OTT) offerings, and distribution/customer service. Terminal firms need to innovate in these areas, or risk falling behind.
  • Larger players need to double down on existing success. Smaller players can often be more nimble, which gives them the opportunity to innovate more quickly and build in-demand solutions. That’s a disadvantage to market leaders; however, they can, and should, leverage their massive distribution networks when upgrading or updating their offerings. Meanwhile, smaller players can win by focusing on niches instead.
  • It’s all about the platform. No single feature is likely to make or break a merchant’s decision to pursue a specific provider. Above all, they want a robust ecosystem that can evolve over time. 

In full, the report:

  • Explains the current state of in-store retail and why terminal firms need to evolve to meet it.
  • Groups features that matter to merchants and explains why they’re important and what terminal providers stand to gain from focusing on them.
  • Determines the leading players in the space.
  • Assesses how the leading players stack up, and which offerings are the most comprehensive.
  • Issues recommendations about how to develop an attractive platform that best serves merchants' needs as the market continues to shift. 

Interested in getting the full report? Here are two ways to access it:

  1. Subscribe to an ALL-ACCESS Membership with BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report AND more than 250 other expertly researched deep-dive reports, subscriptions to all of our daily newsletters, and much more. >> Learn More Now
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2 startups are joining forces — and together they could pose a threat to Bloomberg

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 11:33 AM PST

traders in front of bloomberg terminal

  • Symphony, a messaging service used by some Wall Streeters, is being integrated onto OpenFin's platform of financial-services apps. 
  • The integration could allow Wall Streeters to create their own pick-a-mix platforms, combining Symphony's chat function with trading and data apps already on OpenFin. 
  • That could pose a threat to Bloomberg's terminal business and Thomson Reuter's Eikon. 

Symphony, a messaging service that has gained some traction among Wall Street firms, has been integrated into OpenFin, an operating system built for financial-services, the two companies announced Thursday. 

OpenFin hosts more than a hundred applications on its platform, and the integration means Symphony will be "interoperable" with those apps, the same way social media apps on your phone are able to talk with one another.

“By enabling Symphony to run on the OpenFin operating system, we are making it easy for our mutual customers to unify the Symphony desktop experience with their other OpenFin-based apps," Mazy Dar, chief executive of OpenFin, said of the news. 

In total, Symphony has 230,000 users across 200 firms, whereas OpenFin can be found on more than 100,000 desktops across the Street. Symphony, a unicorn, announced a $63 million fundraise in May, bringing the total amount the company has raised to $234 million. OpenFin finished a $15 million round of venture funding backed by JPMorgan in February 2017. It has raised $22 million in total funding.

In a way, Symphony replicates the messaging feature of a Bloomberg terminal. Many of its backers, including Goldman Sachs, got behind the company to put pressure on the industry data giant, which charges its users more than $20,000 per year for a subscription to its signature terminal.

OpenFin has ambitions to be to Wall Street what iOS and Android are to the mobile application world. In so doing, it's creating the possibility for a Wall Streeter to create his or her own pick-a-max terminal-like platform by matching Symphony with other OpenFin apps relevant to their business at a much lower cost. Symphony charges $20 a month for its messaging service, while OpenFin's platform is free for firms. 

For Dar, however, the integration is more about making Wall Street resemble Silicon Valley.

"At our core, OpenFin is a technology company cut from the same cloth as the giants of Silicon Valley, but with a focus on the world’s financial hubs," he said. "A commitment to open source software has been a massive contributor to the success of those companies and we’ve always strongly supported the[Symphony] Foundation’s efforts to bring that ethos to finance."

SEE ALSO: A little-known startup that has quietly amassed 100,000 Wall Street users just scored a big investment

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NOW WATCH: Expect Amazon to make a surprising acquisition in 2018, says CFRA

A new Netflix documentary shows a side of Gloria Allred the public has never seen — and it took the filmmakers years for her to agree to do it

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 11:14 AM PST

seeing allred sundance institute

  • The Netflix documentary "Seeing Allred" gives viewers a look inside the life and career of attorney Gloria Allred.
  • Filmmakers Roberta Grossman, Sophie Sartain, and executive producer Marta Kauffman told Business Insider how they worked in the #MeToo movement just before they had to hand the movie in.

Women's rights attorney Gloria Allred has spent a good chunk of her four-decade career getting in front of the camera. Her fight for women's equality has often seen her in the spotlight, holding press conferences with her female clients who, over the years, have alleged sexual assault by some of the biggest names in entertainment, politics, sports, and business.

But when filmmakers Roberta Grossman and Sophie Sartain approached Allred about making a documentary about her life and career, the media-savvy attorney wasn't very interested.

"We were persistent," Sartain told Business Insider at the Sundance Film Festival, where the movie had its world premiere (it's now available on Netflix), on how they pulled it off. "After about three years she agreed."

During that time, Grossman and Sartain began to build a friendship with Allred's law partners, who relayed to her that the filmmakers were sincere about doing a legacy piece on her. Grossman and Sartain had also brought on veteran TV producer Marta Kauffman (co-creator of "Friends") to executive produce.

Kauffman's involvement helped land Netflix. The streaming giant agreed to take on the movie after seeing some of the footage the filmmakers had shot in 2014, the most striking of which shows Allred holding press conferences with women alleging Bill Cosby sexually assaulted them after spiking their drinks. This news would become a huge media story around the world.

Seeing Allred Roberta Grossman Sophie Sartain Gloria Allred Marta Kaufman Michael Loccisano GettyAlong with looking at Allred's life, "Seeing Allred" also highlights the landmark moments leading up to the current #MeToo and Time's Up movements. Before the bombshell stories emerged about Harvey Weinstein, Allred was representing women willing to go on the record and allege they had been sexually abused by Cosby — and soon after, then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.

The movie also looks back on Allred's history as a dogged advocate. In the 1970s, Allred, who had begun practicing law, was suddenly on talk shows and rallies being a vocal leader on women's issues like sexual harassment in the workplace and the wage gap. Women had someone they could turn to at a time when few lawyers would take on these issues.

The emergence of #MeToo

The challenge for the filmmakers came when the Weinstein allegations surfaced and the #MeToo movement went viral. Or when, as Kauffman put it, "The world changed."

"We thought the film was done," Grossman said.

"I had a day of panic," Sartain said, in response to a question of how the filmmakers approached the idea of including the #MeToo movement in the movie.

"We knew we had to get this moment in as we felt [Allred] in part is responsible for it," Grossman said. "It just reframed everything."

But with a deadline looming and knowing that Allred's constant work meant the film would have to end while she was still in the middle of cases — Allred represents numerous women who have come forward saying Weinstein assaulted them — they couldn't delve too heavily into #MeToo.

Then there's the fact that Allred's daughter, attorney Lisa Bloom, was an advisor to Weinstein when the story in The New York Times came out (Bloom resigned soon after the story ran), something that is touched on very briefly in the movie.

"That was all happening right as we were finishing, we didn't want it to hijack the film," Grossman said of Bloom's involvement with Weinstein.

The filmmakers ended up using the post-Weinstein allegations as a way to close out the movie, with Allred simply saying in a voiceover, "The fight has just begun."

What the movie does drive home is the shift in how Allred is portrayed now in the media. The lawyer, once the butt of jokes by late-night hosts and even portrayed on an episode of "South Park," is now being championed for her work.

"Gloria Allred is a metaphor for the entire movement," Kauffman said of #MeToo and Time's Up. "People look at her as strident, a loud mouth, you can list the adjectives, but people said the same thing about feminists. I think in the film, by deepening her it deepens the movement, and it lets you see beyond what most people think is a brashness. Also, if she was a man fighting for something she'd be portrayed as an incredible leader."

SEE ALSO: "The Tale" is an explosive look at its director's experience with sexual abuse that has Sundance audiences buzzing

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CHATBOTS EXPLAINED: Why businesses should be paying attention to the chatbot revolution (FB, AAPL, GOOG)

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 11:09 AM PST

bii chatbot ecosystem

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.

Advancements in artificial intelligence, coupled with the proliferation of messaging apps, are fueling the development of chatbots — software programs that use messaging as the interface through which to carry out any number of tasks, from scheduling a meeting, to reporting weather, to helping users buy a pair of shoes. 

Foreseeing immense potential, businesses are starting to invest heavily in the burgeoning bot economy. A number of brands and publishers have already deployed bots on messaging and collaboration channels, including HP, 1-800-Flowers, and CNN. While the bot revolution is still in the early phase, many believe 2016 will be the year these conversational interactions take off.

In a new report from BI Intelligence, we explore the growing and disruptive bot landscape by investigating what bots are, how businesses are leveraging them, and where they will have the biggest impact. We outline the burgeoning bot ecosystem by segment, look at companies that offer bot-enabling technology, distribution channels, and some of the key third-party bots already on offer. 

The report also forecasts the potential annual savings that businesses could realize if chatbots replace some of their customer service and sales reps. Finally, we compare the potential of chatbot monetization on a platform like Facebook Messenger against the iOS App Store and Google Play store.

Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • AI has reached a stage in which chatbots can have increasingly engaging and human conversations, allowing businesses to leverage the inexpensive and wide-reaching technology to engage with more consumers.
  • Chatbots are particularly well suited for mobile — perhaps more so than apps. Messaging is at the heart of the mobile experience, as the rapid adoption of chat apps demonstrates.
  • The chatbot ecosystem is already robust, encompassing many different third-party chat bots, native bots, distribution channels, and enabling technology companies. 
  • Chatbots could be lucrative for messaging apps and the developers who build bots for these platforms, similar to how app stores have developed into moneymaking ecosystems.  

In full, the report:

  • Breaks down the pros and cons of chatbots.
  • Explains the different ways businesses can access, utilize, and distribute content via chatbots.
  • Forecasts the potential impact chatbots could have for businesses.
  • Looks at the potential barriers that could limit the growth, adoption, and use of chatbots.
  • And much more.

Interested in getting the full report? Here are several ways to access it:

  1. Subscribe to an All-Access pass to BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and over 100 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you'll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. >> Learn More Now
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Small brands and influencers are worried that Instagram is choking off their traffic — just like Facebook did with publishers

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 10:43 AM PST


  • A growing number of brands and social stars that have built followings on Instagram now fear that the platform is killing their business.
  • They are certain that fewer people are seeing their posts in recent weeks, and fear that Instagram could follow in the footsteps of Facebook's News Feed change.
  • But Instagram says it has not rolled out any changes that would impact reach for a particular type of account, and that its algorithm is based on machine learning and is constantly evolving. 

Instagram has helped foster a unique crop of social media-savvy brands and stars, ranging from the cosmetics company Anastasia Beverly Hills to food influencer brunchboys.

But some of those Instagram-born creators are starting to lose faith in the platform. 

Ever since Facebook announced its massive News Feed shake-up last month, many publishers and social-media-dependent brands have been in panic mode, believing that the days of quickly building audiences on the social network organically (i.e. without paying for them) — are numbered.

Now, some are worried they are seeing the same sort of trend unfold on Instagram. Specifically a growing number of creators are worried that fewer people are seeing their posts.

Screen Shot 2018 02 07 at 12.01.36 PM"The new Instagram algorithm is hurting the artist community, small brands and even those with lots of followers as most posts are hidden unless they spike in engagement right away," beauty brand Anastasia Beverly Hills posted on its Instagram page. The post has racked up over 310,000 likes and over 30,000 comments since it was first posted on January 25.  

Anastasia Beverly Hills is hardly the only one. Cosplay creator Jessica Nigri recently told Business Insider that she felt that Instagram was starting to restrict creators' reach. Ryan Babenzien, CEO and Founder of Brooklyn-based sneaker startup Greats echoed Nigri, adding that small brands and creators were losing their trust in the platform.

"One should assume that announcements of algorithm changes to the public are the final product, and not what Instagram has been testing without telling anyone," he told Business Insider, saying that the brand had seen its reach fall recently. "When Greats started we gained 10,000 followers completely organically within a matter of weeks. Let's just say those days are over."

Creators say their Instagram audience is not what it used to be

Jeremy Jacobowitz is yet another example. He is the creator of brunchboys, a popular food account on Instagram with nearly 450,000 followers. He says that he feels that his reach has tanked in recent months due to some sort of change in the algorithm, but not necessarily his engagement. 

Screen Shot 2018 02 07 at 6.12.31 PM"My reach, and consequently my growth, has fallen," he told Business Insider. "I'd get 1,000 new followers a day; now it's less than half."

Unlike its sibling Facebook, Instagram has not publicly announced any changes to its algorithm since 2016, when it switched from a chronological algorithm to one that tailors posts for each specific user. This algorithm uses machine learning to rank posts in users' feeds, so it is constantly adapting and improving over time based on new data, a company rep told Business Insider.

Instagram says it has not rolled out any changes that would impact reach for a particular type of account, regardless of how many followers it has, and no content posted by an account is ever "hidden" from the feeds of those who follow that account.

A spokesperson said that the reach of individual accounts can vary based on a number of factors, and a typical Instagrammer followers hundreds of accounts and has hundreds or even thousands of posts in their feed every day, so it is normal for people to not see them all. 

Instagram's quiet tweaking may be feeding creators' paranoia

Regardless, a series of recent behind-the-scenes changes have led some in the Instagram world to predict that the app will follow sibling Facebook's lead and significantly adjust its algorithm — and severely impact how content is discovered.

Instagram added two new features in December that have yet again altered users' feeds: The ability for users to follow hashtags and surfacing hashtag-focused posts in its feed as well as a "Recommended for you" section that will show posts that users' friends have liked. 

These add to an already cluttered feed, worrying creators and brands that posts that are not backed by a robust paid Instagram strategy are likely to get buried further.

"The platform has been less vocal about any recent changes to its algorithm," said Ben Arnold, managing director at We Are Social North America. "There is a concern that Instagram will go the way of Facebook — which effectively 'switched off' the remaining organic value of content on its platform last month."

Arnold added that while there hasn't been enough data yet to prove a decline in reach over the past one month, these concerns may be valid as the trend leading up to this point has been to increasingly prioritize posts which have driven interactions, in the forms of likes or comments.

Some experts are also viewing this all as a bid to push small brands to pay for more ads on Instagram. Brands of all sizes have been paying to play on Facebook for years, which in turn has seen a tremendous growth in its ad revenue coming from small businesses. So it was only a matter of time before Instagram took a page out of its parent company's playbook, the thinking goes.

"When you look at the commercial success that Facebook has delivered through the monetization of its platform, you would expect Instagram to follow suit at some point in time," Arnold said. "Using Instagram to grow organically as a small brand is definitely going to be tricky."

"Any time a company that makes all its money on advertising controls the throttle and reach — which at one point was purely organic and now is pay-to-play — you can assume that it will affect any brand or person on Instagram while allowing Instagram to increase their ad revenue," said Greats' Babenzien.

Some marketers are seeing plenty of Instagram success

Not everyone in the Instagram world is freaking out. In fact, some brands and creators, such as oral hygiene brand Quip and haircare brand Function of Beauty, say that they have actually seen improvements in their reach and engagement in recent weeks. 

Screen Shot 2018 02 07 at 6.17.34 PMComparing January to October, for example, Quip actually saw a 118% increase in organic likes per post and a 56% increase in organic reach per post. Function of Beauty too said that both its reach and engagement grew consistently between October 2017 and January 2018, with the brand reaching over 923,000 collectively in the same time period.

"We have always valued engagement over anything else, and our content is tailored for our very engaged audience," said Zahir Dossa, CEO and co-Founder at Function of Beauty. "Instagram is a meritocracy and has a democratic process in place where everyone is given a platform and where good posts get traction."

Ultimately, quality content will win, said Andy Amendola, senior director of digital strategy and media at The Community. And even if audience growth plateaus and creators reach a smaller audience, one way of looking at it is that audience will engage more meaningfully.

"It’s not personal; the machine learning and AI behind the algorithm doesn’t take sides," he said. "If you create engaging content, your audience will continue to get it."

Anna Lee, vp of growth at women-focused digital publisher PureWow, agreed.

"Success in this environment for any business — small or large  starts with great content," she said. "It's impossible to predict what will happen next, but great, value adding content will always be a sound investment on this platform."

Join the conversation about this story »

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People are confusing a weather phenomenon known as 'light pillars' with UFOs — here are the photos

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 08:03 AM PST

light pillar photography 2

Imagine stepping into the night and seeing beams of light that shoot from the earth straight into the atmosphere. You might suspect alien spaceships, but light pillars are of this world.

When a blast of cold weather comes down from the Arctic, flat ice crystals form in the air and hang there like pixie dust. Any source of light reflects off the crystals, creating a dazzling display of brightly colored rods of light known as light pillars.

The appearance of these pillars south of polar regions is so rare that people have reported them as UFO sightings in the past — as some did with SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket launch in December.

Photographer Ray Majoran captured the otherworldly display outside his home in Ontario, Canada. He shared some photos with us. Follow him on Instagram for more.

SEE ALSO: Lake Erie can get extremely violent and these are the photos to prove it

On a late night in January, Ray Majoran was sitting on his couch when he got a text from his friend with a photo of the sky. "My phone does not come close to doing it justice," he said.

Majoran didn't hesitate. He grabbed his camera and took off down the main highway in search of light pillars. He turned his eyes to the sky and at first saw darkness. "Then it happened," Majoran said.

"The sky became littered with light pillars. There were stars above me, yet there were little crystals of ice falling like manna from heaven," he said.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

The new Salesforce Tower is the tallest building in San Francisco, but it's not much taller than the Eiffel Tower (CRM)

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 08:00 AM PST

Salesforce tower vs other tall buildings in the world_BI Graphics

  • San Francisco isn't really known for the height of its skyline, and nothing makes that more clear than the newly opened Salesforce Tower.
  • At 1070 feet and 61 stories high, Salesforce Tower is by far the tallest building in the tech metropolis. It stands out as the highest point on the skyline when viewed from both inside the city at Mission Dolores Park, and from across the bay in Oakland.
  • The second tallest building in San Francisco, the Transamerica Pyramid, opened in 1972. It's 853 feet and 48 stories high. 
  • Ultimately, Salesforce Tower is just not that tall compared to other buildings around the world. The world-famous Eiffel Tower of Paris, completed in 1889, is just 7 feet shorter than the Salesforce Tower. 
  • The skyscraper, which opened on January 8, is called Salesforce Tower after the influential cloud software company that both owns the naming rights, and leases half the building.
  • The coworking company WeWork also leases three floors, which it opens to its customers as office space and a floating workspace. The rest of the tenants are to be determined. 

Here's what the view is like from the top floor, the Ohana Room, which boasts 360 degree views of San Francisco:



SEE ALSO: Salesforce hired a DJ to pump beats for employees on 'move-in' day at its giant new San Francisco tower

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Amazon is ignoring a huge chunk of the population and a multimillion-dollar opportunity with its new grocery store of the future

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 08:00 AM PST

Amazon Go

  • Amazon recently opened its first brick-and-mortar grocery store in Seattle, Washington.
  • The store does not use cashiers. Shoppers instead scan their phones at turnstiles, and Amazon charges them automatically.
  • Amazon said the new store will not accept food stamps for the foreseeable future. An expert says Amazon is ignoring a large population of potential shoppers.

Amazon pitches its new Go store in Seattle as the supermarket of the future.

The store does not feature cashiers or checkout lines. Instead, a sensor-and-camera system detects when shoppers pick items off the shelves, and Amazon charges them automatically via an app when they leave.

In January, Slate's April Glaser noted another glaring difference between Amazon Go and most traditional supermarkets. The former does not accept food stamps (also known as EBT cards) that are part of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). An Amazon spokesperson confirmed to Business Insider that the company does not plan to accept EBT cards at the store, at least for the foreseeable future.

But that could be a bad business move for Amazon, according to Riana Lynn, a biologist and technologist who researches how cities can make fresh food more accessible.

"They could be raking in millions more dollars," she told Business Insider. "It's a no-brainer that accepting SNAP could be a lot of money for [Amazon], especially since it's getting into fresher groceries."

Just in the city of Seattle, 83,560 people use food stamps, which totals $98.8 million in annual expenditures, according to 2016 data from the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services. Since some of these SNAP recipients could theoretically be shopping at the Amazon Go store, Lynn considers that a missed market opportunity.

When asked about the decision to not accept food stamps, the Amazon spokesperson said federal law would not allow the company to do so in its Go store.

"The current law does not allow for SNAP benefits to be used on Amazon.com or at Amazon Go, but we’re excited to be working on a pilot program with the USDA to accept SNAP benefits on Amazon.com," they said.

In 2018, Amazon will start participating in a two-year USDA pilot program that allows customers in three states to use food stamps on Amazon.com. Washington, where the Amazon Go store is located, is not included in the pilot.

The company has also offered discounted Prime memberships for food stamp recipients, but they still can't use SNAP to pay for Prime or grocery delivery charges. 

At grocery stores that accept SNAP — including Amazon-owned Whole Foods — customers pay with EBT cards by entering a PIN at the register. The first Amazon Go store was not designed with this capability, but Lynn said it would not be hard to develop. 

"We have people now that are building systems with two-factor authentication to be able to send millions of dollars of bitcoin. I think we can figure out how to authenticate SNAP cards," she said.

There are few online-only retailers that accept EBT cards. In addition to Amazon, FreshDirect and Thrive Market are also a part of the aforementioned USDA pilot. Online-only grocer Schwan's lets people pay online with EBT cards. Other chains with physical stores are part of the pilot program, including Safeway, ShopRite, and Hy-Vees. Nationwide, over 240,000 retailers accept food stamps at the register.

Approximately 42 million people receive SNAP benefits in the US. The program requires able-bodied adults without children to find a job within three months and to work at least 20 hours weekly. For people under the age of 65, food stamps lift more Americans out of poverty than any other government program besides the Earned Income Tax Credit, according to the Brookings Institution.

Amazon declined to say if it plans to launch more Go locations. If the company decided to expand outside Seattle, it opens the door to even more SNAP opportunity. Nationwide, the federal government spends about $73 billion on the program every year.

"If [Amazon Go] becomes a model across the grocery industry, and food stamps weren’t accepted, that would indeed be alarming," said Mark Coleman of Food Lifeline, a nonprofit that works with SNAP recipients in Western Washington.

Lynn added that big food retailers will need to work together with policymakers, developers, supply chain experts, and local entrepreneurs to help make their stores more economically inclusive.

"We're going to have to continue to work together to bring fresh food to communities who need it most," she said. "It's not just going to be one company. We need to change the entire food ecosystem, because in the past two to three decades, it has become so industrialized and broken."

SEE ALSO: Some Americans are so afraid of the 'end of the world as we know it,' they are avoiding having kids

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The best current TV show on each network — from ABC to FX to Netflix

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 07:50 AM PST

better call saul

In today's crowded TV landscape, there are more outlets for great shows than ever before.

TV networks and streaming services are always on the hunt for the next great series, and the competition among them has enhanced not only the breadth, but also the quality of their offerings.

To figure out which current shows are worth watching across all outlets, we turned to the reviews aggregator Rotten Tomatoes to select the most critically acclaimed scripted show that each network and service is currently producing.

We excluded children's shows, talk shows, and docuseries, and we only selected from networks with scripted shows that had enough reviews to receive a "Fresh" designation. We also used audience scores to break any ties within networks.

 Here is the best current TV show on each network, according to critics:

SEE ALSO: The worst TV show of every year since 2000, according to critics

ABC: "Speechless"

Critic score: 98%

Audience score: 75%

Summary: "The family of a special-needs teen is good at dealing with the challenges he faces - and excellent at creating new ones."

Adult Swim: "Rick and Morty"

Critic score: 97%

Audience score: 96%

Summary: "An animated series that follows the exploits of a super scientist and his not-so-bright grandson."

Amazon: "Catastrophe"

Critic score: 100%

Audience score: 92%

Summary: "American boy Rob gets Irish girl Sharon pregnant while they hook up for a week while on a business trip to London."

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

This engineer created a fool-proof plan to overcome shyness — and it led her to jobs at Apple, Google, and now Microsoft (MSFT, AAPL, GOOG, GOOGL)

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 07:30 AM PST

Sophia Velastegui Chief Product Officer doppler labs

A couple of months ago, Sophia Velastegui was approached with an exciting job offer: To become the general manager of Microsoft's artificial intelligence product unit.

She began the job in December. It was another pinnacle career move for the star engineer, named to Business Insider's list of the most powerful female engineers of 2017.

Before Microsoft, Velastegui worked at a number of tech companies: Most recently, she was at Doppler Labs, the smart headphone company that shut down in November. She's also worked at Nest, then Alphabet's smart home company, where she was in charge of the roadmap for the chips in the company's smart home appliances. She also spent 5 years as a manager at Apple. Plus, she holds several patents and sits on the board of Georgia Tech's College of Engineering.

Velastegui tells us that after she appeared on our annual list, she was approached by a number of companies. She says she was even asked to come back to Apple, which was tempting because she still lives a few miles from the its Silicon Valley headquarters.

But the thought of diving deep into AI, one of the most important up-and-coming technologies, and at the position of general manager — just a few rungs down from the executive leadership team — was too good to pass up, even though it means having to move her family to the Seattle area, she tells Business Insider.

And all of her success to date is because when Velastegui first started out, she realized that her career depended on overcoming her natural shyness.

A phobia of public speaking

Velastegui was working at Applied Materials when her boss gave her an opportunity that could advance her career. She was to give a public presentation on the team's work, putting her in the spotlight.

public speaking"Pubic speaking was kind of a phobia," she explains, but she agreed to do it anyway. "I presented to the vice president and I was horrible at it."

But instead of crawling into a corner and giving up, she figured that "deliberate practice makes perfect." 

And she came up with a game plan that she perfected over the years that trained her out of her shyness, helped her network at business events, and led her to job offers from Apple, Google and Microsoft.

  • She joined Toastmasters, a nonprofit organization that helps its members practice their public speaking skills in a friendly environment.
  • She volunteered for speaking gigs internally within Applied Materials, even though they terrified her. After a while, she grew more skilled at it and comfortable. "You have to practice, have to take more risks and then you get better," she discovered.

As she grew more comfortable speaking to strangers, she engineered a plan that allowed her to grow her business network, too, which led her to job offers at Apple and then Google.

Anyone can do this

This is Velastegui's process for overcoming her shyness. It's a plan that can be used by anyone, shy or not, to boost your career.

  1. Pick people you want to meet ahead of time. This step is about overcoming the fear of talking to strangers at parties. Ahead of each event, she scans the attendees list and the speaker list, finding 10 people she would like to meet and "five people I make it a point to meet," she says.
  2. Plan some conversation starters. She studies their LinkedIn profiles and other background information, which helps her plan some conversation-starters.
  3. Make a meet-up plan ahead of time. She sends a LinkedIn message to the people she wants to speak with, asking to meet her at the event.
  4. Make them remember her. At the event, her goal is to have a good conversation so they remember her and are willing to meet her again.
  5. woman meeting coffeeThe most important part: follow-up with people in your network. "I try to have 4-5 more follow-ups per month, one a week," she says. "[You need to] nurture your network so you have relationships," not just the empty LinkedIn stats on how many people are in your network.
  6. View this as a work project. As for finding the time, she views her career as just another long-term project she is working on. "Networking for career development should be just as important as the projects I work on," she says. "If this is a project just like anything else, [one] that can lead ot a promotion, why wouldn’t I spend this kind of effort, 30 minutes to 1 hour a week?" She says that for the benefits you get, the time investment is "basically nothing."
  7. Cast a wide net. She networks with people outside and insider her company. Knowing more people at your own company is "super helpful when you have to do work internally," she says.
  8. Equal opportunity and safe networking. She reaches out to both women and men. Pro tip: "Always take a location that is very public and not, like, the hottest date location," she says with a laugh. A breakfast, lunch or coffee during the day is better than a dinner or a drink in the evening, too.  There should be no question that the invitation is a business meetup, not a social one.
  9. Two a month. Finally, she attends at least two networking events or conferences a month, looking for shindigs that let her meet a wide variety of people, from engineers to business people to lawyers. She's not focused just on hanging out with like-minded engineers.
  10. View yourself as "a company." The key is to "view yourself as a company," she says. "You need a board of directors ... you want a broad perspective. When you look for mentors and advocates it should be people of different backgrounds."

After years of hacking her career, she's become so skilled and confident in public speaking and networking with strangers, she doesn't think twice. For instance, after she was named to Business Insider's list of powerful engineers, she contacted many other women on the list to introduce herself.

grace hopper celebrationAnd then she took it the next level, organizing a panel at the annual Grace Hopper Celebration — a conference for women in computing — with eight other women on the list. It was a workshop on how women engineers can take their careers to the next level.

She only had a couple of days to pull the panel together. "I bombarded them," she said, to get enough people to agree to do the panel with her. And it turned out to be one of the big hit sessions of the conference. 

And at the event, she met Terry Myerson, Microsoft's executive vice president of Windows and Devices for a networking coffee. A month later, she had a job offer from Microsoft.

And there's another bonus to hacking her career like this, it has made her a much better manager, she says. "I know how to get people excited about a project using the same skills as I've developed for external networking. It's no longer scary for me," she says.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Microsoft built tree houses in the woods for its employees — here's a look inside

I tried Prime Now, Amazon's 2-hour delivery service — and I discovered a glaring flaw

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 07:10 AM PST

Amazon Prime Now

  • I tried Amazon Prime Now, the company's two-hour delivery service.
  • I found it was full of surprising costs, and it took longer than two hours.
  • Still, it's massively convenient for some specific needs.

Amazon Prime Now is getting all the attention these days.

The service, which promises two-hour delivery for a wide variety of items from grocery to electronics, has been expanding rapidly across the country.

Most recently, Amazon added Whole Foods to its list of Prime Now stores in four select cities, with plans to roll out to more cities throughout the year.

Prime Now is also one of the most important pillars in Amazon's quest to take a bigger bite of the grocery market by combining convenience with selection.

So, with Amazon funneling efforts into growing the service, I decided to check out how it really works: 

SEE ALSO: A couple keeps getting mysterious Amazon packages they didn't order — and they can't make it stop

Here's where it all starts: PrimeNow.com. This website is a separate portal from Amazon.com, and it's where all the Prime Now purchasing happens. You could also order items for delivery on the Amazon Prime Now app.

To shop on Prime Now, you have to first select which store you're ordering from. I decided on Amazon, as I thought it would be the fairest test, but I could have also ordered from two different Manhattan grocery stores or a liquor store.

I found some on-sale goodies that looked perfect for a test of the service.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

7 tips to make learning a new language on Duolingo much easier

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 07:00 AM PST

Woman in bed looking at her phoneDuolingo is a simple and fun way to get started learning the basics of a new language.

I've been using the app for a little over a year now to teach myself French. I'm no master just yet, but I've learned a lot about the language, and the app itself

There are several ways to tweak the Duolingo app to make it more efficient for you — several of these tips really do make it easier to learn the language you're trying to understand.

Here are 7 simple ways to better learn a new language on Duolingo:

SEE ALSO: I've been learning French on the Duolingo app for over a year now — here's what it's like to use the app

1. Set your daily goal to "casual" so you're responsible for only one lesson per day.

Setting your daily goal to casual makes it so you only need to do one lesson per day to keep maintain a streak, making it easier to keep a streak.

A streak in Duolingo is exactly what it sounds like: If you complete one lesson per day for consecutive days, you start a streak. If you maintain your streak for 10 days, 20 days, 30 days, or beyond, you'll get a prize.

Prizes usually in the form of "lingots," Duolingo's in-app currency used to purchase in-app power-ups, bonus skill levels, and fun little features related to the app's owl mascot, Duo. So it's beneficial to maintain your streak for as long as possible.

That's why it's smart to set your goals to just one lesson per day. It's a simple mental trick: The fewer lessons you're on the hook for, the less likely you are to shirk off your studies due to laziness. You can always do more than one lesson, but after one lesson, the app counts your daily goal as complete.

2. Beware of easy grammatical missteps such as plural versus singular, masculine versus feminine.

This is both a Duolingo tip and a language-learning tip in general. In learning a language, it's pretty easy to confuse singular and plural, and masculine and feminine terms, but Duolingo also tries to confuse you sometimes: It'll present you with multiple similar options.

This has tripped me up plenty of times, where I'll choose one option too quickly. In general, just be careful about reading all of the available options before making a decision.

Failing a lesson isn't the worst thing in the world — you'll just redo it until you get it right — but if you want to get better at learning a language, and do it efficiently, be careful about reading every question fully before responding.

3. Switching to other apps may reload your lesson on Duolingo, which can make you lose your progress.

There is a workaround, however, though it's not very convenient: If you're in the middle of a session but you switch to another app, simply access Duolingo from the "recents" section on your smartphone (or multi-tasking on an iPhone). If you attempt to return to the Duolingo app by pressing the app's icon, it may reload the lesson and you may lose your progress on that lesson. 


See the rest of the story at Business Insider

8 mind-expanding TED Talks to watch if you have 20 minutes to spare

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 07:00 AM PST

megan phelps-roper

Over the past several years, TED talks have brought insights from the most prominent academics, business leaders, and writers to the masses.

If you want to get some quick enlightenment, look no further than this list of some of the most thought-provoking and mind-expanding TED talks available.

From Elon Musk discussing his vision for the future, to neuroscientists talking about why reality is nothing but a hallucination, these talks will change the way you look at yourself, and the world around you.

There are worse ways to spend 15 or 20 minutes.

See below for 8 of the most mind-expanding talks: 


SEE ALSO: 11 mind-expanding TED Talks to watch if you only have 10 minutes

"Your brain hallucinates your conscious reality" by Anil Seth

It's not every day that a 15-minute talk can leave you questioning the very nature of your own existence. But Anil Seth, a neuroscientist at the University of Sussex, will do just that. 

Seth posits that our brains are "hallucinating" all the time — and when our hallucinations match up with others, we call that "reality." Prepare to re-think everything you've ever known.

Duration: 17:01



"The danger of a single story" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

"Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity," Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian-born novelist, said in her talk.

Adichie's most recent work, "Americanahexplores the experiences of a Nigerian immigrant to the US, and the differences and the common threads that bind us all together. In her talk, Adichie highlights the power of storytelling, and how we must seek diverse stories and opinions to truly understand a place.

If we only hear a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding, Adichie said. 

Duration: 18:42

"My stroke of insight" by Jill Bolte Taylor

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor experienced something very few neuroscientists have: A life-threatening stroke.

It gave her a unique opportunity to actually see and feel the things she dedicated her life to researching. As she watched her brain functions shut down, including her speech, motion, and finally self-awareness, she came away with profound insights into how our brains work, and what it means to be a human being.

Duration: 18:33

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

How drones will change the world in the next 5 years

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 07:00 AM PST

drone hardware market 1

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.

The fast-growing global drone industry has not sat back waiting for government policy to be hammered out before pouring investment and effort into opening up this all-new hardware and computing market. 

A growing ecosystem of drone software and hardware vendors is already catering to a long list of clients in agriculture, land management, energy, and construction. Many of the vendors are smallish private companies and startups — although large defense-focused companies and industrial conglomerates are beginning to invest in drone technology, too. 

In a report from BI Intelligence, we take a deep dive into the various levels of the growing global industry for commercial drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). This report provides forecasts for the business opportunity in commercial drone technology, looks at advances and persistent barriers, highlights the top business-to-business markets in terms of applications and end users, and provides an exclusive list of dozens of notable companies already active in the space. Finally, it digs into the current state of US regulation of commercial drones, recently upended by the issuing of the Federal Aviation Administration's draft rules for commercial drone flights. Few people know that many companies are already authorized to fly small drones commercially under a US government "exemption" program. 

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

  • We project revenues form drones sales to top $12 billion in 2021, up form just over $8 billion last year.
  • Shipments of consumer drones will more than quadruple over the next five years, fueled by increasing price competition and new technologies that make flying drones easier for beginners.
  • Growth in the enterprise sector will outpace the consumer sector in both shipments and revenues as regulations open up new use cases in the US and EU, the two biggest potential markets for enterprise drones.
  • Technologies like geo-fencing and collision avoidance will make flying drones safer and make regulators feel more comfortable with larger numbers of drones taking to the skies.
  • Right now FAA regulations have limited commercial drones to a select few industries and applications like aerial surveying in the agriculture, mining, and oil and gas sectors.
  • The military sector will continue to lead all other sectors in drone spending during our forecast period thanks to the high cost of military drones and the growing number of countries seeking to acquire them.

In full, the report:

  • Compares drone adoption across the consumer, enterprise, and government sectors.
  • Breaks down drone regulations across several key markets and explains how they’ve impacted adoption.
  • Discusses popular use cases for drones in the enterprise sector, as well as nascent use case that are on the rise.
  • Analyzes how different drone manufacturers are trying to differentiate their offerings with better hardware and software components.
  • Explains how drone manufacturers are quickly enabling autonomous flight in their products that will be a major boon for drone adoption.

Simply put, The Drones Report is the only place you can get the full story on the rapidly-evolving world of drones.

To get your copy of this invaluable guide, choose one of these options:

  1. Subscribe to an ALL-ACCESS Membership with BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report AND over 100 other expertly researched deep-dive reports, subscriptions to all of our daily newsletters, and much more. >> START A MEMBERSHIP
  2. Purchase the report and download it immediately from our research store. >> BUY THE REPORT

The choice is yours. But however you decide to acquire this report, you’ve given yourself a powerful advantage in your understanding of the fascinating world of drones.

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Advertising agencies are set to bounce back in 2018 as brand marketing is poised to make a comeback

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 06:45 AM PST

Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO at WPP, delivers a keynote speech at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain February 24, 2016. REUTERS/Albert Gea

  • 2017 was a trying time for ad agencies, but the prospects look a lot brighter in 2018, according to new research issued by UBS.
  • The investment bank surveyed 350 global marketing executives and 500 US CFOs.
  • It has predicted that ad agencies will bounce back in 2018, buoyed by a growth of 4-5% in global advertising spend.
  • Surprisingly, one of the factors behind this growth will be increasing brand media spend, which runs counter to the trend of advertisers doubling down on direct advertising in recent years.

2017 was a trying time for ad agencies, with issues ranging from transparency and brand safety concerns to the looming threat of consulting firms coming to a head last year. 

But the prospects for the advertising industry look a lot brighter in 2018, according to new research issued by UBS.

The investment bank surveyed 350 global marketing executives and 500 US CFOs and has predicted that ad agencies will bounce back in 2018, buoyed by a growth of 4-5% in global advertising spend.

The recovery in 2018 will be driven by a number of factors, UBS analysts said, including large advertisers increasing the scope of work with creative agencies and big sporting and political events driving increasing spend on brand media.

This is particularly interesting, as it runs counter to the trend of advertisers doubling down on direct advertising in recent years, where they have prioritized marketing strategies that drive measurable results.

Screen Shot 2018 02 08 at 12.41.02 PM

Specifically, UBS's research found that:

  •  76% of all respondents said that brand advertising still works, and 55% of respondents at large companies said that they would increase brand media spend in 2018 versus 50% in 2017.
  • 56% of large companies said that they were planning to increase brand media spend over the next 5 years, with only 21% saying they would spend less.
  • Respondents, however said that they would increase investments in other areas of marketing including customer retention, public relations and social media marketing faster than brand media.
  • Consumer, finance and retail brands are likely to be the drivers of growth in brand media spend over next five years.

UBS's Evidence Lab CMO survey also found that ad agencies will continue to play a central role despite ongoing challenges to the ad agency model. Nearly 90% of large advertisers said that they believe that creative and media agencies add value, while 67% will increase the amount of work they require of creative agencies in 2018 and 63% for media agencies versus 56% for brand media in total. 

This seems to be in line with what agency holding companies are expecting as well.

Publicis only posted organic growth of 0.8% last year, for instance, but Publicis Media CEO Steve King remained optimistic on the holding company's earnings call. He said that the company expected a number of clients to conduct media reviews in search for efficiencies, but that Publicis is "much more optimistic" about its prospects than last time this happened in 2015.

Join the conversation about this story »

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How compression pants work and why they are so popular

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 06:12 AM PST

Lots of people wear compression gear when they run or workout at the gym, but are they actually doing anything beneficial for you? We spoke with an expert on body movement, Dr. Reed Ferber, director of the Running Injury Clinic, to find out what these articles of clothing are supposed to do. Following is a transcript of the video.

Dr. Reed Ferber: I think compression clothing is so popular, because it's just driven by media.

Runners are looking for the next best thing always. And this just seems to be the flavor of the month that's been hanging around for a couple years.

My name is Dr. Reed Ferber. I hold a PhD in biomechanics, which is the physics of human movement.

Compression gear is any article of clothing, whether it be shirt, pants. Socks are the most common form of compression clothing. Where it constricts the body. 

It's trying to either clear blood more quickly from areas, or it's trying to prevent injury in the first place, by not allowing the body to move in specific ways.

So we'll talk specifically about compression stockings or compression socks.

So generally, you rely on what's called your musculovenous pump. You rely on muscles contracting, and that's what's going to move the blood up from your lower legs into your heart.

The faster, and the more blood you can get out of your legs and back into the general circulation, that blood's going to get scrubbed. 

It's gonna have all the metabolic byproducts of injury and exercise cleaned out of it.

Your body jiggles.

There's a certain amount of vibration that occurs. Your muscles need to tune to whatever environment you're running on. If you're running on something soft, like the grass, there may not be as much jiggle. 

If you're running on the hard pavement, your muscles have to work a little harder, because that's gonna be a bigger shockwave travelling up your system.

So the more your muscles have to tune, the more prone they are to injury, the more byproducts, like lactic acid, your body's going to produce.

So compression socks act to minimize the jiggle, and thereby decrease those metabolic byproducts of injury.

Compression clothing isn't really going to help with more static exercises like lifting weights. They're more designed for dynamic activity such as running.

There's no real science behind the physiological effects of compression clothing. There's been a few dozen studies. They're very small in size. meaning they're only involving a few dozen participants. And the results are mixed.  

So for every one study that says there are benefits to compression clothing, there's another study that says there's no benefits. And there's another study saying that it might actually be harmful to you.

So it's all across the board whether or not compression clothing is actually beneficial.

So the psychological benefits are there. People feel better wearing compression clothing. But the science doesn't support the fact that there's a physiological effect. 

So if somebody's wearing them in the gym to lift weights, for example, they might just feel that it helps them to perform. To lift that heavy weight or perform whatever goal they have for the day. It may just be that little extra that they need to help recover from their injury or prevent injuries as well. 

Have I used compression socks?

Yes. More for the fact that I wanted to get a feeling for what they were all about. They don't necessarily work for me.

They actually cause a little bit of muscle cramping. 

I've tried various sizes, various styles. But for me personally, anecdotally, I just don't like running in compression gear at all.







Join the conversation about this story »

How to make money mining bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies without knowing anything about it

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 06:00 AM PST

FILE PHOTO - Representation of the Bitcoin virtual currency standing on the PC motherboard is seen in this illustration picture, February 3, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Cryptocurrency mining isn't for everyone, and it might seem daunting even if you are interested.

You might think you need an extreme know-how of computers to do any kind of crypto mining, that it couldn't possibly be done by the average person.

Turns out, it's absurdly easy. 

You just need computer parts that are powerful enough to make mining profitable, and a handy piece of software called Nicehash. You literally press a green button on Nicehash to start mining. 

I've been experimenting with crypto mining on Nicehash myself, and it's been a fun little project. I'm not raking in a huge amount of cash, as my mining rig is small enough that it's more like looking for change on a sidewalk. Bigger mining organizations have warehouses full of powerful computer parts that can generate a ton of cryptocurrencies.

And at the end of the day, I'd only really suggest it if you already have a gaming PC with an appropriately powerful graphics card – the key component for mining. And you need to make sure your electricity costs aren't too high, as mining can suck up a ton of energy.

Check out how to get started in mining:

SEE ALSO: I've started to mine cryptocurrency, and it's surprisingly easy — but I'm still 8 months away from breaking even

Before anything, you have to make sure you have the right gear.

Whether or not you know anything about mining, you need to have some powerful hardware.

You could mine with a basic computer that only has a processor, like an Intel or AMD processor. But graphics cards that PC gamers use to power their games are much better suited for the job. 

For the best results, you'll need desktop PC and Nvidia or AMD graphics cards. Laptops, even the gaming variety, may not be very well suited for mining.

For Nvidia cards, you're better off with the current GTX 1000 series of graphics cards, like the GTX 1060 (6GB model) or above. 

As for AMD cards, the best models include the RX470, RX480, RX570, RX 580 (8GB model), RX56, and RX64. But good luck finding an AMD card at any sort of reasonable price these days.

If you already have any of those parts, great! But you probably shouldn't buy more of them just for mining just yet.

It's best to start off with what you've got before splurging on several cards for mining. At this stage, even if you've experimented for a few days and you're still interested in mining, I'd still recommend waiting a while.

Nvidia is expected to announce new cards in March. Those new cards will likely be more efficient at mining than the current models. You don't want to spend money on cards when new models are on their way.

You do, however have some time before AMD releases a new card, as it's expected to release new cards in August. 

If you don't have any of those recommended cards, then it's worth waiting until the new models are released, at least if you want Nvidia cards.

Graphics cards are also being sold at greatly inflated prices these days – if you can even find them – due to shortages in supply, and it's almost entirely because miners are buying up all the cards!

So, you have the right gear, how do you start?

Now, you need to see if your gear is profitable for mining. Nicehash has a profitability calculator that takes into account your electricity costs. You can select your graphics card and type in how much your electricity company charges you for electricity to see how much bitcoin and profit you'll make before and after your electricity costs.

So, with the GTX 1080Ti graphics card, and a 0.23 kWh rate from my electricity company, I'd be making $2.25 per day in total profit. 

Just note that mining profitability is fluid. That means it's directly related to the price of bitcoin, which is noted at the very bottom in fine print. It might be profitable for you today, but if bitcoin goes down far enough in value tomorrow, mining might actually cost you more than just buying bitcoin.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Goldman Sachs: Apple is primed for a much bigger acquisition than $3 billion Beats (AAPL)

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 05:48 AM PST

Tim Cook

  • After paying taxes, Apple will have about $200 billion in newly available overseas cash to play with, according to Goldman Sachs.
  • "On M&A in particular, Apple’s ability to unlock it’s significant overseas cash balance likely provides potential for larger acquisitions than the company’s historical preference for tuck-in deals."
  • Apple's largest acquisition to date was Beats, valued at $3 billion.
  • Citi believes Apple could pay $74 billion for Netflix.

Goldman Sachs analyst Rod Hall and his team initiated coverage of Apple with a February 6 note which argues the company is now primed for a larger M&A move than the company is used to.

When Apple acquires other companies, it tends to do small "tuck-in" or "acquihire" deals, in which it buys small teams or nascent technologies and apps.  Apple tends not to do blockbuster buyouts of household-name companies valued in the multiple billions of dollars. Its largest-ever acquisition was Beats, the headphones company, at $3 billion.

But that might be about to change, due to the Trump corporate tax cut, according to Goldman's Hall. The tax cut allows Apple to bring back to the US up to $252 billion in cash at a much lower tax rate than previously. After settling a $17 billion tax bill in Ireland, and paying the new, lower US tax bill, Apple will have an M&A war chest of about $200 billion available, the Goldman team says:

"We see capacity for several cash usage scenarios including an increased buyback (GSe $192bn over FY18-FY20), a higher dividend payout, and larger, more meaningful M&A, all of which could be positive events for the stock." 

"... Based on Apple’s anticipated $38bn repatriation tax payment, we expect the company to repatriate almost all of its $252bn in overseas cash. After also accounting for the company’s $17bn Irish tax settlement bill, Apple still has nearly $200bn of repatriated cash which provides significant capacity for buybacks, dividend increases and M&A. On M&A in particular, Apple’s ability to unlock it’s significant overseas cash balance likely provides potential for larger acquisitions than the company’s historical preference for tuck-in deals."

Hall's take is similar to that of Citi analysts Jim Suva and Asiya Merchant, who argued last year that Apple has a 40% chance of acquiring Netflix. Apple has struggled to give its users a compelling video product. iTunes has been a huge hit, but Netflix, Amazon and Hulu have captured traditional TV viewers as they move to the web. Netflix would probably cost about $73 billion — well within Apple's cash budget, Citi believes.

A takeout of that size might cost so much, or be so dilutive to AAPL, it could hurt the stock, Goldman Sachs says:

"To-date, Apple’s largest acquisition was the $3bn purchase of Beats in 2014; a significantly larger purchase could both pressure Apple’s industry-leading margin structure and raise the level of execution risk as the assets are integrated."

apple cash

SEE ALSO: Tim Cook did something unusual on last night's earnings call, sending a signal about Apple's shrinking universe

AND: There is a 40% chance Apple will acquire Netflix, according to Citi

Join the conversation about this story »

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Meet the $12 billion investor who's beat the market since the financial crisis mostly by ignoring it (OPPAX)

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 05:19 AM PST

louis vuitton model runway

  • Oppenheimer Global Fund, a $12 billion portfolio of large-cap global stocks, has outperformed its MSCI benchmark since 2008. 
  • But in picking what stocks go into the fund, portfolio manager John Delano pays little attention to what's happening to the benchmark. 
  • "We have an acronym — MANTRA — which stands for Mass Affluence, New Technology, Restructuring and Aging," he told Business Insider.  

Ignoring your benchmark is one way to consistently beat it.

At least, that approach has helped the $12 billion Oppenheimer Global Fund outperform its MSCI benchmark since 2008, according to data compiled by Morningstar

Sure, the portfolio of large-cap US and foreign stocks has recently benefitted from an overall resurgence in global economic growth. But John Delano, the fund's co-portfolio manager, says a rigorous stock-picking process and a focus on five key themes also guide how its composed.  

Business Insider recently spoke to Delano, who was recently nominated for Morningstar's 2017 International-Stock Fund Manager award.

The interview was edited for length and clarity. 

Akin Oyedele: What are some of the big-picture guidelines that guide your buy or sell decisions? 

John Delano: We don't look at a benchmark.

We're very focused on just finding the best 70-80 stocks with the best return potential. Everything gets driven from a bottom-up as opposed to a top-down perspective. We're thematic investors, so we're looking for economic trends that will go on for five, 10, 20 years.

The turnover in the strategy last year was about 6% or 7%. You're looking at a 15 year holding period on average.

We're looking for companies with a management team that we believe in and really think about partnering with. They've got the financial capabilities to see some of the opportunities that may come along.

We have an acronym — MANTRA — which stands for Mass Affluence, New Technology, Restructuring and Aging. 

As an example, with mass affluence, as the world continues to create more wealth and people are able to move from a needs to a wants category with disposable income, one of the things they naturally want is for luxury goods.

One of our biggest holdings is Louis Vuitton. LVMH [its parent] has been an acquisitive company. They've just bought Christian Dior and have bought some other names over the years. It's one that has the brands and economic moat that gives them a chance to earn sustainable returns.

Oyedele: When you mentioned LVMH I thought about the broader retail sector. Luxury as a category has not always been lumped together with the rest of the sector, but do you get questions about what's happening in retail, and do you see luxury as being different?

John DelanoDelano: I do see it as being different. When I think about retail, I think about selling other people's products. And luxury is really about selling your products. LV is a perfect example of this. They have 100% control over their distribution. So they're really a brand that's got a direct consumer connection.

Other retailers are really just trying to distribute products that they don't own. So the margin opportunity is drastically different.

When you think about retail in general, and in an Amazon world where the efficiency, cost to distribute, and pricing keep coming down, it's a very different situation. If LV was selling somebody else's product, somebody else could sell that even cheaper. That makes it very difficult. But when you're the one selling your product and you're competing on that exclusivity, it's a completely different economic situation. We own really no retail from that standpoint.

Oyedele: Apart from LV are there any other luxury brands that you're betting on?

Delano: We own Kering which owns Gucci, Tiffany, and Brunello Cucinelli.

Oyedele: Outside of retail, are there any other companies that you find particularly interesting right now? You mentioned earlier that you're not trying to mimic a benchmark. Are there any that you see yourself as contrarian on, but confident in?

Delano: Frankly a lot of them are less controversial now than they have been, but I can touch on a couple.

We own AirbusS&P GlobalCitigroupSAP, and BMW.

Emirates Airbus A380 Dual Class ConfigurationRead more about Delano's views on Airbus and the airline industry here.

Oyedele: What are your thoughts on the big tech names like Facebook, Netflix, and Apple

Delano: We're invested in Facebook, we're not invested in the others. [Alphabet is the fund's biggest position.] And it's really about where we find that the valuation is compelling for our shareholders.

Oyedele: Facebook and Google share something in common in that they have recently come under regulatory scrutiny, especially with regards to the 2016 election. How much of a concern is that to you?

Delano: It's a natural evolution. As these companies touch more people's lives more often, the scrutiny they're under will continue to grow. They matter more everyday. I don't find it particularly unusual from that standpoint and it is something that they'll have to address and be cognizant of.

But you have questions about Google from a regulatory standpoint in Europe that aren't just about the 2016 election It doesn't overly concern me, but it's something that the company has to address.

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