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A Magic Leap employee who allegedly stole $1 million is the latest sign of mayhem at the billion-dollar startup

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 02:20 PM PST

Magic Leap CEO Rony Abovitz

  • A police report filed by Magic Leap in October alleges that the company was falsely billed for more than $1 million.
  • The report alleges that an outside recruiting firm, which worked with with Magic Leap's Senior Manager for Talent Acquisition, collected fees for 39 hires it had no involvement with.
  • The incident, for which Magic Leap is considering pressing charges, illustrates the turmoil at the fast-growing company.


Magic Leap, the secretive Florida startup developing futuristic augmented reality glasses, raised a whopping $502 million in October.

Two days later, it called the cops and told them an employee had stolen over $1 million over a period of 23 months. 

Magic Leap's allegation of theft, which has not been reported until now, is one of several strange problems that have bedeviled the young company, whose innovative technology is a subject of both fascination and skepticism among industry insiders. 

Magic Leap's augmented reality technology has dazzled a string of early users, including celebrities like Shaquille O'Neal and Steven Spielberg, who have been granted access to its Florida test lab to try prototypes. The glasses produce a hallucinatory effect by superimposing advanced computer graphics onto the wearer's view of the real world. 

But the company, led by CEO Rony Abovitz, has been plagued by missed deadlines and executive departures.

The allegation of the stolen money, involving an HR manager and a recruiting company, follows another incident involving the company's head of security and allegations of extortion. Together, the incidents, deadlines, and departures raise questions about Magic Leap's ability to timely deliver a much-hyped technology that has attracted billions of dollars from backers including Google and Alibaba.

A need for bodies

Magic Leap HQMagic Leap's total of $1.9 billion raised since 2011 makes it the most well-funded startup in the AR space. The next most richly funded AR startup is Pokemon Go parent Niantic, which has raised $225 million. 

Those billions have funded huge and rapid growth for a company that now has offices in Los Angeles, Mountain View, Seattle, Austin, Dallas, the UK, New Zealand, and Israel, according to its website. That’s in addition to its new headquarters in Plantation, Florida,a former Motorola facility, it moved into in 2017.

From its beginning in 2011 with a few employees in a room, Magic Leap has swelled into 1,400-person organization, albeit one that has not yet launched a commercial product. 

The rapid growth may have created the opportunity for alleged misdeeds. Magic Leap filed an incident report with the Plantation, Florida police department in October 2017 which alleged that an outside recruiting firm falsely claiming to have filled jobs at the company and collecting the fees.

Cheryl MartinThe report describes an outside hiring agency called the Hampton Group, that claimed to have worked alongside Magic Leap's Senior Manager for Talent Acquisition at the time, Cheryl Martin. 

According to the October 19 police report, with Martin's help, the Hampton Group invoiced Magic Leap for more than $1,000,000 in recruiting fees for 39 hires from August 2015 to July 2017.  After an internal investigation, the company found the Hampton Group had no involvement in any of those hires, a Magic Leap auditor told the police.

Magic Leap wants to press charges, according to the police report. The investigation is ongoing, said a person familiar with the matter. Martin did not respond to requests for comment and declined to comment through a representative. In a conversation with Business Insider, Ann Smith of The Hampton Group said she could not remember the events because she had recently taken medication, and later declined to comment through a representative. 

Not quite standard security procedures

Shaq Magic LeapBut that isn't the only allegation of internal turmoil that Magic Leap is dealing with. On Wednesday, the company filed a pre-emptive lawsuit against Todd Keil, its senior director of global security, who it alleges is trying to extort millions of dollars from the company under the guise of whistleblower lawsuits. You can read the entire complaint at The Verge, which first reported the lawsuit. 

In the complaint, Magic Leap makes several explosive allegations, including that Keil paid $250,000 above market rates to hire an Israeli security vendor that he personally knew. Magic Leap also says that Keil has claimed the company may have intended to reverse-engineer Microsoft's Hololens, a competing augmented reality hardware device — a claim that Magic Leap denies.

The lawsuit also provides a revealing window into the level of mistrust and paranoia at the company, which has struggled to combat leaks, describing an effort to spy on Keil with a digital camera.

Magic Leap's VP of Physical Security "wanted to assess whether the security cameras in the newly opened Florida facility might be vulnerable to manipulation or disruption by handheld personal devices, including digital cameras,” according to the lawsuit, so he stuck a digital camera in the room he shared with Keil.

A photograph of a Magic Leap prototype was published by Business Insider in February 2017. “As all of you know, certain of our confidential information has recently leaked to the media. This constitutes not only a violation of our policies and procedures, but could also potentially violate various federal criminal statutes,” Abovitz wrote in a memo to employees the week after Business Insider’s story published. 

Keil did not respond to an emailed request for comment. 

The aim of the complaint filed this week was to head off Keil's efforts, and Magic Leap felt it had nothing to hide, according to a person with knowledge of the company's reasoning behind the preemptive suit. 

Growing pains or red flags?

Magic Leap OneGiven Magic Leap's fast growth, some level of turmoil is to be expected. In fact, one person familiar with Magic Leap’s operations downplays the significance of the incidents.

"It's growth pains. That happens when you quadruple in size every year for five years," the person said. 

The race to bring its product to market has resulted in a $50 million per month burn rate, according to a separate person familiar with the matter. And the allegations of financial shenanigans raise questions about its ability to certain employees, even as it seeks to raise more cash.

Magic Leap filed paperwork authorizing it to raise up over $1 billion in its most recent round, and it has continued to seek investment. German media giant Axel Springer, Business Insider's parent company, said it invested an undisclosed amount in Magic Leap last month. Magic Leap is currently in talks with Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund for an investment which could total as much as $400 million, the Financial Times reported. PIF did not return Business Insider's request for comment. 

Magic Leap is not just designing computer hardware and glasses. It also has a large content operation called Magic Leap Studios, with hundreds of employees.

And it's getting closer to finally releasing its product. CEO Abovitz confirmed last month that Magic Leap will release a "creator version" of its smartglasses before the end of the year. The smartglasses are called Lightwear, and they attach with a cord to a pocket-sized computer and battery, called Lightpack. 

How do the glasses perform? Nearly everyone who has tried Magic Leap's demo has said it is amazing. However, discussion of the experience is limited by a required non-disclosure agreement.

Even Adam Silver said he was constrained from discussing the experience because he signed an NDA while he discussed the NBA's partnership with Magic Leap at a Recode conference last month. "I've signed the NDA too, so I've seen the first generation of it," Silver said.

The company still has some big hurdles to overcome. 

One current issue with the headset is battery life and charging; the device doesn't charge while it's plugged in and being used at the same time, according to people familiar with Magic Leap's hardware. Solving this issue is important to ensure that people could continue to use the device while it's plugged in.

Magic Leap also needs to ensure that there is a strong and steady pipeline of interesting apps and experiences for early adopters of its glasses.

That's a lot to deal with, even without lawsuits and police reports.

Business Insider's parent company, Axel Springer, is an investor in Magic Leap through its subsidiary Axel Springer Digital Ventures.

SEE ALSO: After 6 years and $1.9 billion, secretive startup Magic Leap unveils its smart glasses for first time

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Silicon Valley’s tech elites are adopting uncomfortable habits to condition their bodies

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 02:15 PM PST

Wim Hof

  • Silicon Valley tech elites are adopting some of the latest and most extreme techniques for performance enhancement.
  • These techniques include immersion in freezing water, fasting, and attending camps that have participants crawl through snake-filled boxes.
  • The basic idea is to learn techniques for coping with mental and physical stress.


From athletics to business, learning to deal with stress is an essential key to improving performance. That's because stress can push people to perform at their best — or cause them to shut down.

So it's no surprise that in the metrics-obsessed world of Silicon Valley, tech elites are turning to the latest in performance science and psychology to learn to adapt to stress — even by doing physically and mentally uncomfortable things.

Stress-adapting techniques for devotees of the latest in performance science include immersion in freezing cold temperatures, forgoing food for 15 hours a day, and attending training camps with elite athletes, where they crawl through snake-filled boxes or do improv.

As Christina Farr explains in a story for CNBC, this "positive stress movement," as it's known, is filled with "tech workers who claim that such radical tactics will help them live better and longer or — in Silicon Valley — work better for longer."

According to Farr, start-up founder Zachary Rapp credits an early morning run followed by a freezing cold shower and the occasional ice bath as the way to be ready for the stress that comes with 18-hour workdays.

Rapp is far from the only one engaged in this sort of activity.

Red Bull Performing Under Pressure

Pushing the limits of human performance

The notion that it's beneficial to learn how to cope with stress and build psychological resilience isn't new. Cultures going at least as far back as Sparta trained people by having them face a sequence of unexpected and difficult tasks.

But the modern iteration of this sort of training is backed — at least in some ways — by modern scientific research.

And while much of this sort of training has long had an appeal to elite athletes, people in the tech and business world are increasingly driven to improve their performance in similar ways.

That's why Andy Walshe, a biomechanics expert from Australia who runs a "Performing Under Pressure" clinic for Red Bull, started inviting people like Will Weisman, an executive director at Singularity University, to train with elite rock climbers and big-wave surfers. Activities at the clinic include the aforementioned snake box, solving puzzles underwater, and facing a charging bear — all in the name of improving an individual's response to stress.

"Better at who you are is better at what you do," Walshe previously told Business Insider.

Red Bull Performing Under Pressure

It's the same idea that drives those who opt for ice baths or daily cold showers. The idea behind "environmental conditioning," as Dutch fitness guru Wim Hof explains it, is that our bodies evolved to be challenged by factors like extreme cold and heat. Without those stresses, our overall stress response may go haywire. That's why Hof advocates for a combination of environmental conditioning and controlled breathwork that he argues can have a transformative effect on health.

In Silicon Valley, the cold shower movement is so popular that — of course — there's an app to help people do it.

Fasting is yet another area that fascinates both scientists interested in pushing human limits and people in the tech world. There's some good data showing that fasting could potentially help cure disease and slow aging. A number of Silicon Valley elites have focused on various forms of intermittent fasting as one potential way to get the health-boosting benefits of a fast.

As Facebook analytics director Dan Zigmond previously told Business Insider, adopting a strict schedule of only eating during a nine-hour period each day helped him lose weight and feel like he had more energy.

"It took me a couple of weeks," he said. "But I got pretty quickly used to this nine-hour diet. I just loved it. I almost immediately felt better. And I started losing weight."

In many of these cases, the science behind these things — cold immersion, intermittent fasting, or just putting yourself in a scary situation — is still emerging. Some things may turn to be excellent means of performance enhancement, others less so.

But as "crazy" as some of these challenges may seem, they're still classic examples of human performance enhancement. To get better, you have to push yourself — even if that requires being extra-creative.

SEE ALSO: There may be a 3rd pillar of physical fitness beyond diet and exercise

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THE INTERNET OF THINGS 2018 REPORT: How the IoT is evolving to reach the mainstream with businesses and consumers

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 02:07 PM PST

planned investment iot 2018This 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 Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming how companies and consumers go about their days around the world. The technology that underlies this whole segment is evolving quickly, whether it’s the rapid rise of the Amazon Echo and voice assistants upending the consumer space, or growth of AI-powered analytics platforms for the enterprise market.

And BI Intelligence is keeping its finger on the pulse of this ongoing revolution by conducting our second annual Global IoT Executive Survey, which provides us with critical insights on new developments within the IoT and explains how top-level perspectives are changing year-to-year. Our survey includes more than 400 responses from key executives around the world, including C-suite and director-level respondents.

Through this exclusive study and in-depth research into the field, BI Intelligence details the components that make up the IoT ecosystem. We size the IoT market and use exclusive data to identify key trends in device installations and investment. And we profile the enterprise and consumer IoT segments individually, drilling down into the drivers and characteristics that are shaping each market.

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  • We project that there will be more than 55 billion IoT devices by 2025, up from about 9 billion in 2017.
  • We forecast that there will be nearly $15 trillion in aggregate IoT investment between 2017 and 2025, with survey data showing that companies' plans to invest in IoT solutions are accelerating.
  • The report highlights the opinions and experiences of IoT decision-makers on topics that include: drivers for adoption; major challenges and pain points; deployment and maturity of IoT implementations; investment in and utilization of devices; the decision-making process; and forward- looking plans.

In full, the report:

  • Provides a primer on the basics of the IoT ecosystem.
  • Offers forecasts for the IoT moving forward, and highlights areas of interest in the coming years.
  • Looks at who is and is not adopting the IoT, and why.
  • Highlights drivers and challenges facing companies that are implementing IoT solutions.

To get your copy of this invaluable guide to the IoT, 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

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THE DATA BREACHES REPORT: The strategies companies are using to protect their customers, and themselves, in the age of massive breaches

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 01:32 PM PST

dbnew3This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here.

Over the past five years, the world has seen a seemingly unending series of high-profile data breaches, defined as incidents in which unauthorized parties access and retrieve sensitive, secure, or private data.

Major incidents, like the 2013 Yahoo breach, which impacted all 3 million of the tech giant’s customers, and the more recent Equifax breach, which exposed the information of at least 143 million US adults, has kept this risk, and these threats, at the forefront for both businesses and consumers. And businesses have good reason to be concerned — of organizations breached, 22% lost customers, 29% lost revenue, and 23% lost business opportunities.

This threat isn’t going anywhere. Each of the past five years has seen, on average, 1,704 security incidents, impacting nearly 2 billion records. And hackers could be getting more efficient, using new technological tools to extract more data in fewer breach attempts. That’s making the security threat an industry-agnostic for any business holding sensitive data — at this point, virtually all companies — and therefore a necessity for firms to address proactively and prepare to react to.

The majority of breaches come from the outside, when a malicious actor is usually seeking access to records for financial gain, and tend to leverage malware or other software and hardware-related tools to access records. But they can come internally, as well as from accidents perpetrated by employees, like lost or stolen records or devices.

That means that firms need to have a broad-ranging plan in place, focusing on preventing breaches, detecting them quickly, and resolving and responding to them in the best possible way. That involves understanding protectable assets, ensuring compliance, and training employees, but also protecting data, investing in software to understand what normal and abnormal performance looks like, training employees, and building a response plan to mitigate as much damage as possible when the inevitable does occur.

Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has put together a detailed report on the data breach threat, who and what companies need to protect themselves from, and how they can most effectively do so from a technological and organizational perspective.

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  • The breach threat isn’t going anywhere. The number of overall breaches isn’t consistent — it soared from 2013 to 2016, but ticked down slightly last year — but hackers might be becoming better at obtaining more records with less work, which magnifies risk.
  • The majority of breaches come from the outside, and leverage software and hardware attacks, like malware, web app attacks, point-of-service (POS) intrusion, and card skimmers.
  • Firms need to build a strong front door to prevent as many breaches as possible, but they also need to develop institutional knowledge to detect a breach quickly, and plan for how to resolve and respond to it in order to limit damage — both financial and subjective — as effectively as possible.

In full, the report:

  • Explains the scope of the breach threat, by industry and year, and identifies the top attacks.
  • Identifies leading perpetrators and causes of breaches.
  • Addresses strategies to cope with the threat in three key areas: prevention, detection, and resolution and response.
  • Issues recommendations from both a technological and organizational perspective in each of these categories so that companies can avoid the fallout that a data breach can bring.

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

  1. Subscribe to an ALL-ACCESS Membership with Business Insider 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
  2. Purchase and download the report from our research store. >> Purchase & Download Now

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The storied Chicago Stock Exchange could be a takeover target for a crypto company

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 01:12 PM PST

A wall of miners, seen at the cryptocurrency farming operation, Bitfarms, in Farnham, Quebec, Canada, February 2, 2018. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

  • The Chicago Stock Exchange hit a brick wall when the SEC denied its request to merge with a Chinese-based company. 
  • A pivot to crypto might help revitalize the exchange, which commands a paltry 0.5% of the market, writes Richard Johnson, a vice president at Greenwich Associates. 
  • If a Chicago crypto exchange does come about, it would probably occur through an acquisition, Johnson writes in this op-ed. tZERO is one potential acquirer.

On February 15, the SEC blocked the sale of the Chicago Stock Exchange (CHX) to a China-based consortium, due to concerns over the proposed ownership structure. This is the latest blow to the storied exchange, which was founded in 1882 but has struggled to stay relevant in a space dominated by ICE, Nasdaq and Cboe Global Markets. Back in October, the SEC also put a halt on their plans to implement a speed bump that the CHX hoped would attract new business and boost their market share from a paltry 0.5%.

With both initiatives scuppered, many are wondering what’s next for the exchange and whether it can continue to survive. At first glance, the prospects look bleak: There is no clear strategy to grow market share, and the incumbent domestic exchange operators are unlikely acquirers, as they already have multiple U.S. equity exchange licenses.

Transforming the CHX?

But another angle or alternate type of listing could revitalize the exchange and leapfrog it ahead of the competition—the CHX should pivot toward being a cryptocurrency exchange.

By this I don’t (just) mean bitcoin, ether and other cryptocurrencies, but rather the nascent market for “securities tokens” or “crypto-securities.” These are assets issued on a blockchain that are fully compliant with U.S. securities regulations. These differ from the vast majority of ICOs, which purport to be “utility tokens,” whereby the holder of the utility token can use it on the blockchain network—for example, to purchase file storage on a decentralized cloud network.

In a recent op-ed, SEC Commissioner Jay Clayton and CFTC Chairman J. Christopher Giancarlo expressed concern that many companies launching initial coin offerings (ICOs) were actually selling securities and bypassing federal regulations designed to protect investors. Commissioner Clayton has gone on to say that every ICO he has seen is, in fact, a security and that “platforms that effect or facilitate transactions in these products…may be operating unregistered exchanges or broker-dealers that are in violation of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.”

More Regulations for Cryptocurrency Markets

This toughening regulatory stance suggests we are entering a new stage in the evolution of crypto markets. Future token issuances will need to be compliant with securities regulations, some existing tokens may be restructured for regulatory compliance, and marketplaces for these tokens may need to become compliant under the Exchange Act of ’34. Thus the exchange license that the CHX owns is now a potentially valuable asset for a crypto exchange.

There is already an example of a company that is building a crypto-security trading system compliant with the federal securities regulations. tZero (t0), a subsidiary of Overstock.com, owns and operates an ATS (which is governed by Reg ATS of the Exchange Act of ’34), and is currently conducting their own ICO in which the tokens will be “Reg D” securities issued only to accredited investors. These tokens will likely be the first to trade on its platform.

If a Chicago crypto exchange does come about, it would probably occur through an acquisition. tZERO is one potential acquirer. Although they already operate an ATS, an exchange license is an additional level of regulatory compliance and can offer added benefits as a listing venue. tZERO is raising $250 million in their ICO, so they could certainly afford the reported $20 million that was the price agreed to in the failed Chinese transaction.

Other Suitors for CHX

Other potential acquirers could include Circle, which this week agreed to buy Poloniex, a crypto-exchange, for $400 million. Circle/Poloniex buying the CHX would make a lot of sense: Circle is well capitalized and has embraced regulation, first by gaining a rare New York State Department of Financial Services (NY DFS) BitLicense, and by further seeking a federal banking charter. Poloniex has focused more on the digital-token space, which can be thought of as pre-cursors to crypto securities.

Coinbase, whose investors include ICE’s NYSE, is another potential acquirer. They have shown little interest in the token space, however, preferring to focus on cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ether, and Litecoin. Kraken and Bittrex are other U.S.-based exchanges that trade digital tokens and could potentially benefit from a tie-up with the federally regulated CHX.

Nevertheless, there are significant obstacles to a crypto-CHX merger. Crypto exchanges may not want to make a move before there is more certainty around the future regulatory structure, and the tokens that they currently trade may have to be delisted if they deemed securities and not utility tokens. But the regulatory landscape for cryptocurrencies and tokens is evolving rapidly, and increased regulation in the space is only a matter of when not if. Even if a Chicago crypto exchange doesn’t happen now, an Exchange-Act-regulated crypto exchange will soon have a place in U.S. markets. 

Richard Johnson is an equities and financial technology expert in Greenwich Associates' Market Structure and Technology practice. He has 20 years of industry experience in financial markets.

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

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 01:06 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
  2. Purchase and download the report from our research store. >> Purchase & Download Now

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Ford says Trump's new tariffs could hurt US companies' ability to compete (GM, F, TSLA)

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 12:56 PM PST

donald trump

  • Trump's tariff's on steel and aluminum could raise the prices of vehicles that his voters like to buy.
  • Ford pickups, which use a lot of aluminum in their construction, could cost more.
  • However, the auto industry might take the tariffs in stride and eat the higher commodity costs.

On Thursday, the Trump administration announced a tariff on imported steel and aluminum, signaling a willingness to start a trade war so that that the President could keep a campaign promise.

The response from US steel- and aluminum makers was swift and positive, although it's worth noting that the aluminum industry in the country has been in steady retreat since 1980. 

Automakers who use a lot of steel and aluminum in their vehicles were either quiet or diplomatic, even as slower February sales compared to a year ago and the Trump announcement send the entire sector's stock prices into decline.

"We purchase over 90% of our steel for US production from US suppliers," General Motor said in an emailed statement to Business Insider.

"We need to better understand the details around the announcement today, but the bottom line is we support trade policies that enable US manufacturers to win and grow jobs in the US, and at the same time succeed in global markets. Over the last several years, we have shown we are a disciplined company with the ability to adjust and adapt to a variety of market changes around the world, and we’ll do that again as needed."

Ford also said that it buys much of its raw materials domestically for US production, but added that higher steel and aluminum costs could hurt the competitiveness of US companies, CNBC's Phil LeBeau reported.

Trying to understand Trump tariffs

A finished Ford F150 pickup leaves the final inspection station at Ford's Kansas City Assembly Plant where new aluminum intensive Ford F-Series pickups are built in Claycomo, Missouri May 5, 2015. REUTERS/Dave Kaup

The automaker has shifted to using more lightweight aluminum in its bestselling, highly profitable F-Series pickup trucks. Shedding weight helps the company meet more stringent federal fuel-economy standards.

Tesla's pricey luxury vehicles, the Model S sedan and Model X SUV, use a lot of aluminum in their construction, but the company declined to comment on the tariff, which would be 10%. (Steel would be 25%.)

Carmakers aren't in the dark about changes to commodity pricing. Earlier this year, Ford CFO Bob Shanks said that the company was preparing to for higher commodity costs to hit its bottom line.

Additionally, the industry in the US as a whole had been girding for a Trump border tax in 2017. The expectation at the time, according to various sources, was that a continued strong economy coupled with a corporate tax cut would even everything out.

Trump tariffs are the new border tax

Tesla Factory

In that context, the tariffs are the new border tax. It will now be up to automakers to determine whether they should absorb the higher cost or pass it on to consumers.

The latter could be more likely because as sales have plateaued in the US, transaction prices have moved up. A better economy has meant that more people can afford to pony up more money for well-optioned vehicles. Extended loan terms and low-interest rates have also helped. 

Barring an economic shock, automakers should be able to ask for more from customers. 

Of course, for reliable Ford pickup truck buyers concentrated in states that Trump carried in 2016, tariffs could simply mean a costlier set of wheels. The idea is that steel and aluminum manufacturers will pay Trump back with hiring. Tariffs might have some effect on the steel business, but on aluminum, it's improbable. There are just two operational smelters in the entire country; over half of the US supply is imported.

It remains to be seen whether the tariffs will actually hurt the automakers' business; it's possible that they'll take them in stride. 

But there are signs that 2018 in the year that booming US auto sales will cool off, after a three-year run. The market won't tank, but car companies could go into a defensive mode. For Trump, this means that layoffs of autoworkers could replace hiring, and new factories will be put on hold. Investment driven by the tax cut won't happen because it will have to used to pay for more expensive raw materials.

But during the presidential campaign and into his first year in office, Trump has shown little understanding of the global auto industry. So it shouldn't be a surprise that, although he needs Detroit to invest and hire in critical 2020 election states such as Michigan and Ohio, he's doing exactly the opposite of what the industry needs — and maybe even raising the price on that new pickup a voter has been planning to spend his tax-cut money on.

SEE ALSO: We drove a $63,000 Ford Raptor and a $58,000 Chevy Silverado Z71 to see which pickup truck we liked better — here's the verdict

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'Pretty much every one on the plane threw up': Pilot reports horrifying descent during nor'easter storm

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 11:19 AM PST

airplane

  • Powerful storms throughout the Northeast on Friday have led to thousands of delayed and canceled flights.
  • A report from a pilot who landed at Washington Dulles International Airport near Washington, DC, on Friday morning described a horrifying descent that led numerous passengers to vomit.
  • "Very bumpy on descent," the pilot wrote. "Pretty much every one on the plane threw up. Pilots were on the verge of throwing up."

Powerful storms throughout the Northeast on Friday have led to thousands of delayed and canceled flights — but some passengers apparently have had worse luck.

A report from a pilot who landed at Washington Dulles International Airport near Washington, DC, on Friday morning described a horrifying descent that caused several passengers to vomit.

"Very bumpy on descent," the pilot wrote in a PIREP, a report that pilots often send to ground stations when they face poor weather conditions.

"Pretty much every one on the plane threw up," the pilot added. "Pilots were on the verge of throwing up."

The reports usually just note the weather conditions, but this one took it a step further, providing graphic details about what must have been an incredibly unpleasant flight.

The National Weather Service's Boston outpost described the nor'easter — a storm that brings strong northeast winds, often along the East Coast during the winter — in a tweet on Thursday as "a LIFE & DEATH" situation.

John F. Kennedy International Airport, LaGuardia Airport, and Washington Dulles have issued ground stops for flights arriving during the storm.

According to the flight-tracking site FlightAware, more than 2,800 flights within, into, or out of the US had been canceled as of Friday afternoon, while more than 2,000 had been delayed.

This storm follows the "bomb cyclone" in January that similarly led to thousands of delayed and canceled flights along the East Coast.

SEE ALSO: Delta could face a $40 million blow over the NRA after backlash from Georgia lawmakers — but the airline still won't move its headquarters

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Wall Street trading giant Virtu is preparing to take legal action against a fake copycat cryptocurrency

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 11:15 AM PST

Virtu trader

  • Virtu Financial says a fake cryptocurrency called Virt Coin has no connection to the trading giant.
  • The fake project put out a press release Thursday falsely outlining Virtu's plan to launch a digital token. 

Virtu Financial, the Wall Street trading giant, is preparing to take legal action against a fake cryptocurrency that's using its likeness and claiming a connection to the firm. 

Virt Coin, a fake cryptocurrency project, put out a press release Thursday outlining Virtu Financial's supposed plan to launch its own digital token.

"Douglas Cifu, Virtu Financial's chief executive, told Wall Street recently that the company is going to issue the upcoming token VIRT for the trading desk," the release said. 

The claims in the release are completely false, according to Virtu. Virt Coin is not listed on the widely used cryptocurrency data site CoinMarketCap

"VirtCoin has no relationship, connection, or affiliation to Virtu Financial," the company said in a tweet. "Virtu has notified the appropriate authorities and intends to commence all necessary legal actions to defend itself from any attempt to infringe on its trademarks and intellectual property."

screenshot virtcoin.co 2018.03.02 13 22 10

Virt Coin's website sports Virtu's logo in the left hand corner and a white paper uses a font that resembles the shade of green used by Virtu in its marketing materials. 

It's not clear if the folks behind Virt Coin are malicious actors or just pranksters. Still, an employee at Virtu described one section of the white paper to Business Insider as "hilarious." It uses stock photos of 20-year-olds to show the company's upper management, instead of its actual staff:

screenshot virtcoin.co 2018.03.02 14 30 08

Virtu, a market-making firm, is known to have traded in crypto assets, but is a bit more shy about its presence in the market relative to other trading firms such as DRW, B2C2, Akuna Capital, and DV Trading — just to name a few. 

The cryptocurrency world has its fair share of fraud. Copycat tactics — in which fake entities claim to be associated with established brands or people — are especially common. For example, crypto trolls looking to solicit money from gullible passersby have made fake accounts in the likeness of figures such as Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin and Commodities Futures and Trading Commission Chairman J Christopher Giancarlo. 

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NOW WATCH: Here's why the recent stock market sell-off could save us from a repeat of "Black Monday"

Here are all the changes Amazon is making to Whole Foods (AMZN)

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 11:14 AM PST

Whole Foods

  • Amazon hasn't hesitated in making major changes at Whole Foods after acquiring the grocery chain for $13.7 billion. 
  • Changes have included price cuts, selling Amazon tech in grocery stores, and an upcoming switch to Amazon Prime as Whole Foods' new rewards program.
  • More changes are on the horizon. 

Whole Foods is swiftly transforming under Amazon's control. 

Amazon's $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods formally went through in August.

The changes began immediately, from cutting costs to internal restructuring. And, in the months since August, Amazon has only accelerated the pace of change. 

Here's what changes have been revealed so far — and how they'll affect Whole Foods shoppers. 

SEE ALSO: I visited Whole Foods on the day it was acquired by Amazon — and it's clear it'll never be the same

Amazon is testing two-hour delivery from Whole Foods.

In February, Amazon and Whole Foods launched a test to deliver groceries and other goods directly from Whole Foods in four cities across the US. The company plans to roll out the service through Prime Now to more cities this year. 

In the test, Whole Foods is basically used as an Amazon depot. Customers can order fresh produce, seafood, meat, flowers, baked goods, and dairy products for delivery, with items arriving at their doorstep within two hours.



Amazon credit-card holders now get 5% cash back at Whole Foods.

Later in February, Amazon extended its 5% cash-back benefit to Prime members shopping at Whole Foods with the Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Card. 

In 2017, the e-commerce giant began offering cardholders who are also Prime subscribers 5% back on all Amazon purchases. Cardholders who are not Prime subscribers now receive 3% cash back on purchases made at Amazon.com and Whole Foods. 



Whole Foods immediately slashed prices — and announced another round of price cuts in November.

The day the acquisition went through, prices of many Whole Foods staples immediately dropped. Some price tags decreased by up to 40%. 

An identical basket of items from a Whole Foods location in Brooklyn went from $97.76 pre-acquisition to $75.85 post-acquisition.

In November, the grocery chain announced that it had cut prices on more items, with a focus on holiday staples and best-sellers. Whole Foods cut prices on a number of brands, including Siggis Yogurt, Chobani, and Tom's of Maine, in addition to Whole Foods' private-label 365 line of products. 



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 11:05 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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The Netherlands built a bridge that partially floods when it rains

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 10:41 AM PST

zalige bridge next architecture infrastructure netherlands

In low-lying Dutch cities, sea-level rise poses a real threat to communties, especially those along the coast. For centuries, dykes have helped manage severe flooding in the seaside town of Nijmegen, for example. But as PRI notes, even those structures are starting to crack, putting the city's infrastructure at risk.

Instead of fighting the rising tides, architects have designed a bridge that adapts to rising sea levels in Nijmegen. Dutch design firms Next Architects and H+N+S Landscape Architects created the Zalige bridge, which is meant to partially flood after storms.

Even when water submerges the bridge, pedestrians can still use its stepping stones to cross it.

Check it out below.

SEE ALSO: Incredible images of Los Angeles when it was covered in wetlands

The Zalige bridge straddles the Waal river, located in the 2,000-year-old city of Nijmegen.

The region is known for its chronic flooding, when can damage roads, homes, and other infrastructure along the coast. 



Located in the floodplain, the bridge features stepping stones so that visitors can use it even when surrounding tides are high.



Next Architects describes the bridge as "the ultimate place to experience the high water."

Source: Next Architects



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

I took a $400,000 Rolls-Royce Dawn convertible on a road trip through New Jersey — here's what it was like

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 10:04 AM PST

Rolls Royce Dawn 29

  • Business Insider took a Rolls-Royce Dawn on a road trip through New Jersey.
  • The Dawn convertible shares a platform with the Ghost sedan and Wraith Coupe.
  • We were blown away by Dawn's power, smoothness, and unique driving experience.

Over the past 15 years, Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, a company with more than a century's worth of heritage and brand equity, has completely reinvented itself under BMW ownership. This reinvention was not conducted in a way that abandons tradition — because that would be foolish— but rather by embracing it while injecting a heavy dose of modernity.

In other words, rather than slapping the brand's badge on a run-of-the-mill luxury car, they decided to build honest-to-God Rolls-Royce motor cars with the latest chassis, engine, and infotainment technology money can buy.

First, there was the flagship Phantom limo. Then came the "entry-level" Ghost sedan. That was followed by Wraith coupe. Now, with the arrival of the Dawn, it's safe to say the Rolls-Royce revolution is complete.

Rolls-Royce dropped off a brand new Dawn for Business Insider to check out at our top secret suburban New Jersey road test facility — the nerve center of our vast vehicle evaluation operation. Otherwise known as my colleague Matt DeBord's driveway.

Obviously, this was the perfect opportunity for a weekend drive through the wilds of New Jersey.

The Rolls-Royce Dawn starts at a lofty $335,000. However, our option-laden test car clad in Midnight Sapphire and Blue Ice livery cost a whopping $402,675.

Hollis Johnson contributed to this story.

SEE ALSO: We drove a $246,000 Bentley Bentayga SUV to see if it's worth the money — here's the verdict

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I began the day at Business Insider's suburban test car facility located not too far from BMW/Rolls-Royce North America's headquarters in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.



The Dawn joins the flagship Phantom VIII, ...



... The Ghost, and...



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Amazon's Alexa smart assistant is having major issues right now — and it seems to be affecting everyone

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 10:02 AM PST

People using Amazon's smart-assistant Alexa on Friday, either through an app or one of Amazon's many Echo devices, are finding that the typically attentive assistant isn't working as it normally does. 

One Twitter user took a video showing how Alexa on his Amazon Echo Dot is acting sluggish and not answering questions properly:

Amazon Echo owners at Business Insider confirmed that Alexa is acting up, and it's being slow and buggy. I tried playing a song on an Alexa-powered Sonos One speaker and Alexa simply said "Sorry, something went wrong."

Alexa acting up doesn't just affect your usual news bulletins or music controls. Anyone who uses Alexa to control smart-home devices, like smart light bulbs, could experience delays before Alexa carries out your command. In some cases, those connected devices may not work at all, if Alexa is having trouble connecting to the internet. In all likelihood, given the widespread issues, this has something to do with Amazon's normally reliable web-services cloud, known as AWS.

Amazon was not immediately available to respond to comment.

SEE ALSO: Toyota is adding Amazon's Alexa to cars. We've been using Alexa in a car for 6 months and it's the best infotainment system we've ever used.

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NOW WATCH: What it's really like inside Amazon's new no-line grocery store.

11 truths about flying only flight attendants know

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 09:57 AM PST

flight attendants secrets flying

  • Flight attendants tend to know more about flying than the average passenger.
  • To unearth their secrets, we turned to the experts and asked them what most people don't know about flying.
  • Among the secrets were that you can't actually open the plane door mid-flight (though some have tried) and that many flight attendants avoid drinking the coffee.

No one has more insider knowledge about flying than flight attendants.

By talking to these veteran globetrotters, we unearthed 11 secrets about flying.

Whether you want more attentive service or want to avoid getting kicked off your flight, read on for the inside scoop.

SEE ALSO: A day in the life of a United Airlines flight attendant, who woke up before 3 a.m. and ran circles around me for 9 hours

DON'T MISS: Most people only see part of a flight attendants' job — here are the behind-the-scenes secrets you never knew

READ MORE: A look inside the secret, crew-only lounge where flight attendants hang out when they're not flying

You can't physically open a door mid-flight — and trying could get you kicked off the plane.

Annette Long, a flight attendant with 17 years of experience, told Business Insider that though opening a door mid-flight is impossible, trying to do so would still get you into trouble.

As we've seen in previous incidents, passengers who try to make a jump for it while the plane is in the air usually wind up restrained during the flight and in handcuffs once the plane lands.

In some cases, pilots will make an emergency landing to get the passenger off the flight.

"I don't make those decisions," Long said. "I convey the information to the cockpit and the chief flight attendant, and they make the decision about whether or not we're going to land and get someone off the plane.

Long added: "Most of the pilots say to us, 'If you've got a problem with them, I've got a problem with them,' and they will back us up 100%."



The plane isn't getting cleaned as much as you'd hope.

"The dirtiest part of the plane has to be the tray tables — people constantly lay their heads on them, change babies' diapers, and rest their feet on them," a flight attendant for JetBlue told Business Insider. "I wouldn’t eat off of that even after sanitizing it."

What's more, Long said, "remember, they're using a rag to start row one, and when they end up in row 35, that rag has wiped a lot of tables."

Passengers rarely see or consider unsanitary incidents on the plane, like accidents in the lavatory or a passenger's seat.

"Just so you know, when you go to the bathroom and you're barefoot, or you're in your socks, that's not water on the floor," Long said, adding, "It's just not the cleanest environment."



Flight attendants aren't really supposed to help you lift your bags.

Flight attendants have told Business Insider that they get paid only for flight hours, not for time spent boarding or deplaning.

"So for example, your duty day could actually be 12 hours, but you only get paid for six hours of work," one flight attendant said.

Flight attendants' unions won't cover them if they get injured trying to lift your bags into the overhead bin. And since being out of work and out of money is no fun for anybody, you shouldn't expect flight attendants to take that risk for you.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

What Silicon Valley is doing to make humans live longer

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 09:54 AM PST

Peter Diamandis, co-founder of Celularity and Human Longevity, Inc., explains how Silicon Valley can make 100 the new 60. Following is a transcript of the video.

How Silicon Valley can make 100 the new 60. Peter Diamandis is an engineer, physician and entrepreneur. He is best known as founder of the XPRIZE Foundation. He is also co-founder of Celularity and Human Longevity, Inc. These companies work to extend the human life span. 

Peter Diamandis: So, what do we do right now? So, it's still the basics, eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep. But what else can you do? There's a couple different things.

It's a company called Human Longevity Inc, H-L-I. We have a service at HLI called the Health Nucleus. When you come to the Health Nucleus, we spend three hours with you, we sequence your genome, all 3.2 billion letters of your life. We do a full-body MRI that's able to detect cancer. We basically collect 150 gigabits of data about you, we feed it into machine learning and our goal is to find out, is there anything going on inside your body that you should know about. We all eventually have some problem, but we find it at stage zero or stage one, when it's curable or treatable immediately.

Treatments coming in the near future are gonna be the stem cell treatments. The ability to use stem cells to solve autoimmune disease and degenerative disease. The human placenta for 99.999% of the time is thrown away. The placenta is the richest source, the most abundant source of stem cells, and that because these stem cells are immunologically privileged, meaning you can give these stem cells from a single placenta to hundreds, thousands, potentially tens of thousands of individuals, the price of these stem cells will drop down significantly.

Then, there are other treatments that are ongoing right now. You've heard about young blood experiments going on in Silicon Valley, where you transfuse the blood of a young person to an old person. What Elevian has done is recognize not just the whole blood that is important, there is a particular molecule called GDF11 that seems to be the molecule that's most responsible for this rejuvenate effect. And so Elevian is actually commercializing that particular molecule.

Other companies like Unity Biosciences is working on finding those senescent cells in your body and destroying them. So cells will grow and they'll stop growing so they don't become cancerous and it's called senescence. But when those cells start becoming inflammatory, they can damage your body. And so Unity Biosciences is working on how do we find the senescent cells and kill them, making more room for stem cells to grow younger, healthier tissues. So there's a number of these technologies coming on right now.

In 10 to 12 years from now, for every year that you live, science is extending your life for more than a year. These treatments are going to be coming online to help you extend your life, but bottom line, eat right, sleep right, get exercise, that's not going away.

 

 

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Apple's 'defining moment' is here — and it may mean moving past the iPhone (AAPL)

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 09:38 AM PST

Tim Cook with iPhone

  • Apple's slow quarter for iPhone sales may spell trouble ahead for the smartphone.
  • The age of double-digit growth in iPhone sales may be nearing its end, according to UBS Analyst Steven Milunovich. 
  • But Apple has found ways to monetize its installed base through software and new accessories.
  • See Apple's stock price in real time here.


The era of double-digit sales growth for the iPhone may be nearing its end.

Apple is reaching a "defining moment," according to UBS Analyst Steven Milunovich, as demand for the iPhone — the device which catapulted the smartphone revolution and the company's earnings growth — slowed this past quarter. The slowdown suggests that the iPhone" supercycle" is dead.

"The iPhone is now mature," Milunovich wrote. "A mature iPhone means that other categories, especially services and other products, will become material to growth."

The supercycle is marked by a fresh wave of customers and upgrades for a new device, like the iPhone X, which did not materialize in the past quarter. In Apple's first-quarter of 2018 earnings report, the company said it sold 77.3 million iPhone units, down 0.9% year-over-year, compared to analysts' estimates of 80.2 million units.

Some of the weakness in iPhone sales came from China, where the iPhone X has failed to woo consumers because it has been perceived as a smaller phone compared to its predecessors. 

But despite the slowdown in iPhone sales, Apple made a bigger profit this quarter from its installed base of users who bought additional hardware, software and services. Apple devices and accessories like the Apple Watch and AirPod grew 36% year-over-year, and its services segment grew 18.1% year-over-year.

"Not all is lost — the installed device bases are growing, loyalty is high, the iPhone is gaining share, and Apple is far ahead in wearables," Milunovich said.

Milunovich maintained his price target of $190 per share.

Read more about why some analysts think Apple can move past slow iPhone sales and onto making money with other things.

SEE ALSO: Apple proves it can still deliver profit growth despite slower iPhone demand

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NOW WATCH: How to make America great — according to one of the three cofounders of Black Lives Matter

Amazon may soon send you a photo of your own front door — here's why (AMZN)

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 09:04 AM PST

amazon delivery

  • Amazon has quietly expanded its Amazon Logistics Photo On Delivery program.
  • The service involves sending a picture of a package on a customer's porch or doorstep, letting them know when and where it was delivered.
  • The e-commerce giant has been testing the program for at least six months, according to USA Today, but it's expanding as the Amazon Logistics delivery service grows.

Amazon is getting more acquainted with your front porch.

amazon logistics photoAccording to USA Today, the online retailer has recently expanded a program called Amazon Logistics Photo On Delivery that involves a carrier taking a photo of a package after delivering it.

Amazon forwards that photo to the customer, who can view it in the Your Orders section on the website or in a delivery notification on the app.

The photo, included in the delivery confirmation, is meant to help the customer identify where and when the packages were left.

But Amazon also does this for internal insurance — it gets a record of whether the package was left at the customer's specified delivery location, should the customer say they never received it.

"Amazon is constantly investing and innovating on behalf of our customers. Amazon Logistics Photo On Delivery provides visual delivery confirmation — it shows customers that their package was safely delivered and where, and it's one of many delivery innovations we're working on to improve convenience for customers," Kristen Kish, an Amazon spokeswoman, told Business Insider.

The program is tied to Amazon's Logistics delivery service, which still accounts for a relatively small portion of its deliveries.

According to The Verge, the photo program is available in markets in Oregon, Las Vegas, Indianapolis, Seattle, San Francisco, and Northern Virginia.

Amazon has been testing the program for at least six months but recently updated the app its carriers use to give all of them access, USA Today reported.

For those who find the photos intrusive or unnecessary, it's possible to opt out of the service at any time.

SEE ALSO: Amazon's futuristic, cashierless stores could be its 'Trojan horse' to conquer traditional retail

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NOW WATCH: What it's really like inside Amazon's new no-line grocery store.

Delta could face a $40 million blow over the NRA after backlash from Georgia lawmakers — but the airline still won't move its headquarters (DAL)

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 08:46 AM PST

RTX1VIUI

  • The Georgia legislature passed a tax reform bill on Thursday which excluded a provision that allowed airlines to re-fuel at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport without paying the state's sales tax.
  • The exclusion was motivated by Delta Air Lines' announcement that it would join a number of businesses in ending its discount program for National Rifle Association members.
  • The bill will cost the airline, which uses Hartsfield-Jackson as its main hub and whose headquarters are located in Atlanta, $40 million.
  • But Delta is unlikely to move its headquarters, as the costs would likely outweigh the benefits.


The Georgia legislature passed a tax reform bill on Thursday which excluded a provision that allowed airlines to re-fuel at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport without paying the state's sales tax. The bill now awaits approval from the state's governor, Nathan Deal, who he said he would sign it during a press conference on Wednesday.

The decision to remove the exemption was motivated by Delta Air Lines' announcement that it would join a number of businesses in ending its discount program for National Rifle Association members in the wake of the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida in February.

If approved, the removal of the fuel tax exemption would hit Delta hardest. The airline, which uses Hartsfield-Jackson as its main hub and whose headquarters are located in Atlanta, would have received $40 million of the $50 million airlines were set to save with the exemption. Delta's 33,000 Georgia employees also make it the state's largest private employer.

Delta won't move its headquarters from Atlanta

Delta CEO Ed Bastian addressed the Georgia legislature's decision in an email to company employees on Friday.

"Our people and our customers have a wide range of views on how to increase safety in our schools and public places, and we are not taking sides. Our objective in removing any implied affiliation with the NRA was to remove Delta from this debate," he wrote. "Our decision was not made for economic gain and our values are not for sale."

Bastian also said that the company was committed to staying in Atlanta. 

"None of this changes the fact that our home is Atlanta and we are proud and honored to locate our headquarters here. And we are supporters of the 2nd Amendment, just as we embrace the entire Constitution of the United States," he said. 

Moving would likely cost more than the loss of the fuel tax exemption and create operational inefficiencies by moving further from the airline's main hub. Given that Hartsfield-Jackson is three times larger than Delta's second and third busiest hubs, Minneapolis and Detroit, it's also unlikely the airline would want to look for a new hub.

Atlanta's chances of getting Amazon's HQ2 may be affected

The Georgia legislature's retaliation against Delta could hurt Atlanta's standing as a contender for Amazon's second headquarters, HQ2. Atlanta is one of 20 cities that Amazon is considering for HQ2, and some analysts have pegged the city as one of the favorites to be chosen as the site for Amazon's second headquarters.

Deal echoed those concerns in a press conference on Wednesday. Though he said he would sign the bill, he expressed reservations over the motivations behind the removal of the fuel tax exemption and said he would find "a pathway forward for the elimination of sales tax on jet fuel, which is non-negotiable."

"I will sign it into law, because it is what is right for our citizens," Deal said of the bill, before stating his concerns over the way its composition and passage were handled.

"If we want to remain a truly competitive hub for global commerce and not be overshadowed by neighboring states, then we need to address the concerns of all in a dignified manner and with a maturity that our people deserve ... We were not elected to give the late night talk show hosts fodder for their monologues or to act with the type of immaturity that has caused so many in our society to have a cynical view of politics."

 

SEE ALSO: The fight between Georgia Republicans and Delta Air Lines over the NRA could be a disaster for Atlanta's bid for Amazon's HQ2

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NOW WATCH: Goldman Sachs investment chief: Bitcoin is definitely a bubble, Ethereum even more so

Mark Zuckerberg and his college-sweetheart wife, Priscilla Chan, are worth $72 billion — see their houses, cars, and travels

Posted: 02 Mar 2018 08:44 AM PST

Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan

  • Mark Zuckerberg has a net worth around $72 billion, making him the fourth-richest person in the world.
  • Zuckerberg drives a cheap car and wears basic clothes, but appears to splurge on real estate.
  • Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan are generous philanthropists, investing billions in childhood education and medical research.

 

Mark Zuckerberg, the 33-year-old founder and CEO of Facebook, has a net worth of $72 billion and counting.

He's the fourth-richest person in the world, according to Bloomberg's Billionaires Index, but it seems he doesn't have a taste for opulence, especially when it comes to cars, clothes, and travel.

As a member of the Giving Pledge and cofounder of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which he started with his wife and college sweetheart, Priscilla Chan, the Harvard dropout has dedicated much of his fortune to charitable causes.

Keep reading to find out exactly how Zuckerberg and Chan spend their billions.

SEE ALSO: A day in the life of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who works up to 60 hours a week and has a squad of 12 employees to help him with social media

DON'T MISS: Meet the 9 richest people in America, who have a combined fortune of $567 billion

In May 2012, eight years after its founding, Facebook debuted on the New York Stock Exchange. At the time, it was the biggest technology IPO in history.



Each year since the IPO, Zuckerberg has added an average of $9 billion to his net worth.

Source: Fortune



Despite his status as one of the richest tech moguls, the Harvard dropout leads a low-key lifestyle with his wife, Priscilla Chan, and their two young daughters.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider