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The CEO of the $3.9 billion company at the heart of the cloud wars talks about going public after 29 years (PVTL)

Posted: 20 Apr 2018 02:18 PM PDT

pivotal ceo rob mee IPO

  • Pivotal Software began trading publicly on Friday, closing up about 5% from its listing price of $15. It's now valued at $3.9 billion.
  • Pivotal's biggest business is in selling tools that help developers deploy their apps across Microsoft's, Amazon's, and Google's massive cloud computing platforms. 
  • Pivotal isn't profitable, and CEO Rob Mee says that it's focusing on growth right now.
  • The company is independent, but Dell is the majority shareholder. Mee says that the company is allowed to make its own decisions, and is run like a startup.


Cloud computing company Pivotal Software made its Wall Street debut on Friday, and is now worth about $3.9 billion — a significant uptick from its $2.8 billion valuation in 2016, when it raised a $253 million private funding round led by Ford.

The Pivotal IPO was short on drama: While it popped from its original price of $15 to just over $16 out of the gate, it ended up closing at $15.73, giving it a small rise of about 5%. It's not bad, but it' fairly muted compared with the rocketship IPOs enjoyed by companies like Dropbox.

Pivotal Software CEO Rob Mee tells Business Insider that the first-day stock price doesn't bother him one way or the other: A first-day pop is nice, he says, but he'd prefer Pivotal be known for "stability and strength, long-term," and that kind of investor exuberance can lead to disappointment later.

"I don't know that a big pop is really what I want," says Mee. 

Indeed, Pivotal raised $555 million in the IPO. Had Pivotal priced its IPO lower to get a first-day pop, the upside would have gone to the banks and Pivotal would not have raised as much cash.

The Dell connection — "Michael's message has been pretty consistent"

Michael DellThe stocks' relatively muted first trading day may also have a lot to do with Pivotal's relationship with Dell.

It became clear from Pivotal's IPO filings that Dell owns around 70% of the company. With the company's non-traditional stock structure, that gives Dell 96% of voting rights. So while Pivotal is an independent company, its filing warned investors that "Dell Technologies can effectively control and direct our board of directors." The same filing disclosed that 37% of Pivotal's deals came via partnerships with Dell and its VMware subsidiary.

Mee says that he's never felt pressured by Pivotal's relationship with Dell. In fact, he says that CEO Michael Dell has been nothing but supportive — Pivotal partners with Microsoft, Google, and Amazon to bring their software and services to their respective cloud platforms; Dell understands the need for the company to be "agnostic."

"Michael's message has been pretty consistent: 'You run the company. I'm here to help,'" says Mee. "We are free to partner with whoever we want." 

Pivotal's business breaks down into two buckets: Pivotal Labs, the descendant of the original company, which helps companies train their engineering teams around how to be more productive. The other side of the business is in selling Pivotal Cloud Foundry, Pivotal Big Data Suite, and other software.

Those tools let developers easily make software that runs as well on their own servers as it does in Amazon's, Microsoft's, or Google's cloud computing platform. And while the consulting services are still "strategic" to Pivotal, says Mee, the software is the "part that's growing fast," recently hitting a $300 billion run rate.

The company isn't profitable — it lost $163 million last fiscal year, compared with a $232 million net loss the year before. However, while Mee says that the company is on the right trajectory to achieve profitability, he's more focused on growing that software business. Cloud computing is growing fast, and Pivotal is an "agnostic" partner to all of them. That means that as the mega-cap tech companies continue to battle, Pivotal stands to gain ground.

"We're really starting to take shape in a meaningful way," says Mee.

A twisting path to IPO day

The unusual arrangement with Dell comes as the result of Pivotal's non-traditional path to today's IPO. 

In its first iteration, Pivotal Labs was a consulting company that helped customers like Twitter and eBay learn how to organize their engineering teams for peak efficiency. 

In 2012, EMC bought Pivotal in an all-cash deal, only to spin it back out in 2013 as a new company called Pivotal Software, with Paul Maritz — an industry legend who had most recently served as the CEO of VMware, an EMC subsidiary — as its chief executive.

In 2015, Maritz stepped down as CEO, though he kept his role as executive chairman. Mee found himself back in charge of the company he had created, sold, and stuck with through the spinout. Around the same time, Dell bought EMC in a monster $67 billion deal, inheriting its controlling stake of Pivotal. 

Still, Mee says that even amid the changes, he's kept his eye on the prize. When Pivotal spun out in 2013, he says, he was quick to underline to employees that it was being run as an independent company, with the goal of achieving the kinds of high-scale growth that technology companies are known for.

"We really right away communicated to employees, we're a startup," Mee says. "Kind of a big one." 

SEE ALSO: It took 26 years, a huge acquisition, and a deal with Ford, but this founder is now the CEO of a $2.8 billion company

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: How one CEO went from rejecting an offer from Steve Jobs to an $11 billion IPO

DIGITAL ENGAGEMENT AND THE CONNECTED CAR: How cars are transforming into digital platforms and opening an entirely new channel for service providers

Posted: 20 Apr 2018 02:03 PM PDT

monthlytimespentThis 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.

Media consumption is at a saturation point. After rising for much of the last decade, total digital time spent has been nearly static since the start of 2015. As a result, it's increasingly difficult for content producers to win over minutes of consumers' time.

One platform, though, is poised to move the needle and provide a new avenue to boost digital time spent: the connected car. Consumers will spend more time in cars that offer a range of connectivity options, giving them the chance to use the services they know and love in the car.

The key question for service providers is how to take advantage of the connected car by integrating their services into this growing platform.

In a new report from Business Insider Intelligence, we provide a roadmap for service providers looking to offer their services in the car. We analyze media consumption and overall digital time spent trends, and then forecast the growth of the connected car market in relation to the digital time opportunity. Finally, we propose potential routes that service providers can take to get into connected cars and ride-hailing vehicles.

Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • Digital time spent has become nearly static; however, people are spending more time in cars every year, and the growth of connected cars will likely turn these extra minutes into digital time.
  • Getting services into the car is more complicated than ever before, and will require service providers to take different approaches to integration.
  • The introduction of autonomous vehicles and the growth of ride-hailing services in the coming years will completely change what people can do in cars, which will alter the requirements for digital services in these developing platforms.

In full, the report:

  • Analyzes trends in digital time spent and the growth of connected cars.
  • Explains the connected-car ecosystem, where service providers fit in, and what relationships they need to succeed in the space.
  • Provides a detailed explanation of the future of connected cars, which will expand media consumption and offer new e-commerce and payments opportunities.

Subscribe to an All-Access pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to:

This report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports
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Purchase & download the full report from our research store

 

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Critics are slamming the new iMessage-like feature coming soon to all Android phones for not being secure

Posted: 20 Apr 2018 01:59 PM PDT

Google Pixel

  • A new feature called "Chat" will soon be deployed across every Android phone, as it will be automatically turned on within the default "Messages" app.
  • Chat is not a Google service, although Google did help make it. 
  • Chat is based on a new universal standard called "RCS," or "Rich Communication Services," which is designed to supplant SMS. It supports read receipts, full-resolution photos and video, and group texts, among other features.
  • Chat did not get an upgrade from SMS in the encryption department. Chat is not end-to-end encrypted, which means it is not as secure as Apple's iMessage, or WhatsApp.
  • Critics are calling out Google for not having end-to-end encryption in the default Android app in 2018.

 

A new feature called "Chat" is coming soon to all Android phones, but from a security standpoint, it's hardly an upgrade from SMS — and it's nowhere as secure as Apple's iMessage or WhatsApp.

Google has been working with major carriers and phone makers on a new text-messaging standard that will replace SMS on Android devices. And so, "Chat," which is the consumer-facing name for "RCS, or "Rich Communication Services," will be the new name of the "Messages" app in the near future. Almost every major carrier and Android phone maker has already signed on.

Unfortunately, the new Chat feature, like SMS before it, will not be encrypted. From The Verge (emphasis ours):

"In a sign of its strategic importance to Google, the company has spearheaded development on the new standard, so that every carrier's Chat services will be interoperable. But, like SMS, Chat won't be end-to-end encrypted, and it will follow the same legal intercept standards. In other words: it won't be as secure as iMessage or Signal."

On Friday, just hours after the initial announcement, Amnesty International's Technology and Human Rights researcher Joe Westby released a statement slamming Google and the new Chat service:

"In the wake of the recent Facebook data scandal, Google's decision is not only dangerous but also out of step with current attitudes to data privacy. It means Google will now be actively encouraging Android phone users to give up their privacy by switching to a service where their communications are effectively there for all to see.

"It is difficult to see why any Android user would choose to use the new Chat service. Google should immediately scrap it in its current form and instead give its customers a product that protects their privacy."

We reached out to Google for comment on why the new Chat feature lacks end-to-end encryption. We haven't heard back.

Westby also called the decision to launch a messaging service without end-to-end encryption "baffling," and said the move shows "utter contempt for the privacy of Android users" as it allows easy access for governments and criminals to snoop on the communications of Android users.

Others on Twitter balked at the decision to release the new Chat service without end-to-end encryption.

 

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The top 10 games coming in 2018

The new 'God of War' is one of the best-looking games ever made — see for yourself

Posted: 20 Apr 2018 01:55 PM PDT

god of war ps4

The new "God of War" game, which launches as a PlayStation 4 exclusive this week, is one of the best-looking games ever made. Period.

Sony was kind enough to provide us with a review copy of the game a few weeks before launch, but while we don't want to spoil the game or any of its many surprises, we'd love to give you an idea of the kind of visual treat customers are in for.

All of these images show actual gameplay, and were captured on a PlayStation 4. Note: The thin black bars around the screen are present if you play the regular PS4 version of "God of War," but do not exist on the PlayStation 4 Pro version. It's hardly noticeable, but makes it possible for this incredibly visual game to run on years-old hardware.

Take an early look at "God of War" (don't worry — no spoilers here):







See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Facebook's rep has taken a hit from the Cambridge Analytica scandal — but its ad business hasn't (FB)

Posted: 20 Apr 2018 01:34 PM PDT

Mark Zuckerberg happy smile smiling cheerful congress

  • Despite all the negative news lately, particularly relating to the Cambridge Analytica data leak, Facebook's advertising business appears to be plugging along, Baird analyst Colin Sebastian said in a research note Friday.
  • Ad spending on Facebook continues to grow rapidly, Sebastian reported, citing recent research from data firms.
  • While some companies with well-known brands may scale back their spending on Facebook, the impact is likely to be minimal, he said.


Facebook's stock and reputation were pummeled in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, but its actual business is likely doing just fine, thank you very much.

That's the take of Baird analyst Colin Sebastian after checking in with advertisers and reviewing some of the latest research on ad spending. Although the company faces some risk that usage of its service may decline thanks to the negative sentiment surrounding it, its advertising business appears to be largely unaffected by the scandal, Sebastian said in a research note issued Friday.

"Our checks suggest advertiser response to the negative headlines is relatively modest," he said, reiterating his "outperform" rating and $210 price target on Facebook's shares.

In recent trading on Friday, Facebook stock was off $1.46, or about 1%, to $166.64 a share.

The social media company has been surrounded by negative news for much of the last 18 months, since news broke that Russian-linked groups allegedly hijacked its service to spread propaganda to try to influence the 2016 election. But scrutiny of the company reached new heights last months after reports that Cambridge Analytica, a data research firm linked to Donald Trump's election campaign, illegitimately gained access to the personal data of potentially tens of millions of Facebook users via a Facebook app.

In response to the negative sentiments, some users have vowed to disconnect from the service. And in the fourth quarter, usage of the social network in the United States and Canada declined for the first-time ever.

Advertisers seem to be taking the negative news in stride, but Instagram could be a wildcard

But for the most part, advertisers so far seem to be ignoring the negative sentiments and declining usage data, Sebastian said. Advertising spending on Facebook's eponymous service grew 48% in the first quarter compared with the same period a year earlier, he noted, citing data from advertising research firm Merkle. That was in line with growth rates in the first through third quarter of last year and well above that posted in the fourth quarter, he said.

That data aligns with the reporting of Business Insider's Mike Shields, who found that a good chunk of Facebook's 6 million advertisers are not even thinking of cutting back spending on Facebook post Cambridge Analytica scandal. 

One reason for the advertiser indifference is that many Facebook marketers are not big brands with a public image to uphold, but smaller, so-called "direct advertisers." Facebook advertising is a crucial channel for driving sales in their business, so they can't afford "to be precious," as one advertiser said. 

Facebook's Instagram by contrast, is much more heavily skewed to big brand advertisers. And ad spending on Instragram during Q1 grew 62%, Sebastian said, again pointing to Merkle data. That's a significant slowdown from the 122% year-over-year growth the service posted in the fourth quarter (although the Q4 holiday period is seasonally strong). 

More broadly, advertising spending on social networks grew 37% on an annual basis in the first quarter, Sebastian noted, citing data from digital marketing firm Kenshoo. That's down only marginally from the 39% rate social ad spending grew by in the fourth quarter, he said. Meanwhile, Kenshoo's data indicates advertisers didn't change the amount they were spending on Facebook in reaction to the Cambridge Analytica fiasco, he said.

"Digital ad trends appear stable," he said.

Baird's own checks with advertisers indicate that some companies with well-known brands and some small and mid-size business may cut back on their spending on Facebook. But the impact is likely to be minimal, Sebastian said, at least in the near future.

"We continue to recommend that investors with a longer-term time horizon add to positions opportunistically," he said.

SEE ALSO: Facebook is probably tracking you whether you use it or not — and it doesn't really give you a choice

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Here's the best smartphone camera you can buy

Pentagon warns that the US is falling behind to China in hypersonic missile race

Posted: 20 Apr 2018 12:46 PM PDT

X 51 waverider hypersonic missile

  • Mike Griffin, the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, said at two congressional hearings that China is beating the US when it comes to hypersonic missile development. 
  • He also said that the only way the US could win a war against China was through superior technology, and that the US needed to invest more in new projects to regain its technological edge.
  • The US Air Force awarded a contract worth up to $1 billion with Lockheed Martin to develop a "hypersonic conventional strike weapon."

Mike Griffin, the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, made some worrying admissions this week about China's growing military capabilities, and the US' decline in technological advances.

"Our adversaries have taken advantage of what I have referred to as a holiday for the United States," Griffin said Wednesday, referring to the West's victory over its communist rivals in the Cold War. The Pentagon official was speaking at a hearing for the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities.

"China has understood fully how to be a superpower," Griffin said. "We gave them the playbook and they are executing."

One problem discussed was anti-access/area denial through the use of hypersonic weapons — missiles or glide vehicles that fly at mach 5 or above, making them so fast that they can bypass almost all current missile defense systems.

"China has fielded or can field ... hypersonic delivery systems for conventional prompt strike than can reach out thousands of kilometers from the Chinese shore, and hold our carrier battle groups or our forward deployed forces ... at risk," he said

He also added that the US does not have a weapon that can similarly threaten the Chinese, and that the US has no defenses against China's hypersonic missiles.

"We, today, do not have systems which can hold them at risk in a corresponding manner, and we don't have defenses against those systems," Griffin said, adding that "should they choose to deploy them we would be, today, at a disadvantage. 

The statements echo similar warnings that Griffin told the House Armed Services Committee a day before. In that hearing, Griffin said that hypersonic weapons were "the most significant advance" made by the US' adversaries. 

"We will, with today's defensive systems, not see these things coming," he said Tuesday.

China has already made huge gains over the US when it comes to hypersonic glide vehicles. Russian President Vladimir Putin has also said that Russia successfully tested an "invincible" hypersonic cruise missile.

Months after Putin's announcement, the US Air Force awarded Lockheed Martin with a $1 billion contract to create what is calls "hypersonic conventional strike weapon." 

Boeing made a hypersonic vehicle similar to a cruise missile called the X-51 Waverider which first flew in 2010. The device flew mach 5.1 for 6 minutes during one test.

SEE ALSO: Hypersonic weapons can make virtually all missile defenses useless — and destabilize the world order

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Dropbox CEO talks about how he went from rejecting Steve Jobs to an $11 billion IPO

Facebook's drones unit is conducting a mysterious test in the desert near New Mexico's 'spaceport' (FB)

Posted: 20 Apr 2018 12:07 PM PDT

facebook ceo mark zuckerberg

  • Facebook's drones unit is conducting tests of experimental wireless equipment in New Mexico.
  • The tests were revealed in FCC filings seen by Business Insider.
  • FCL Tech, which develops internet-enabled drones for the developing world, said it is working on a "connectivity project."


Facebook's drones unit is quietly conducting tests of experimental wireless communications equipment in the New Mexico desert, according to company filings.

Documents filed with the FCC show that FCL Tech Inc. — a Facebook subsidiary that develops drones aimed at providing internet access in the developing world — was approved to conduct tests for three months from March to June 2018.

The tests are for an "LTE-based connectivity project requires a hardware prototype testing facility." And interestingly, the location of the tests is the town of Truth or Consequences, New Mexico — also home to Spaceport America.

Details of the effort are being kept secret, though the filing notes that the tests will involve the 3650 - 3700 Mhz radio frequency — that's the spectrum for the so-called Citizens Radio Broadband Service, an unlicensed radio band that many companies believe could be useful for 4G LTE wireless networks. FCL will also conduct tests in the 2500 Mhz range, the filings say.

It's unclear from the filings whether the tests are taking place at Spaceport America, or simply in the nearby desert. A representative for Spaceport America declined to comment. 

A hub for space tourism that's also attracted Google

The Spaceport facility, funded by the state of New Mexico, hopes to be the center of the nascent space tourism industry and includes tenants like Virgin Galactic. Google has also previously conducted tests at Spaceport America, for radio technology involving aircraft hovering 25,000 feet in the air.

Facebook is building solar-powered "Aquila" drones to deliver internet access to various parts of the world. The drones are very large, with the wingspan of a Boeing 737, and are designed to fly at an altitude of 60,000 feet for up to three months at a time. Facebook is testing those drones in Arizona.

facebook fcl tech test new mexico

In one the filings, FCL Tech refers obliquely to its tests as a "connectivity project," writing: "This LTE-based connectivity project requires a hardware prototype testing facility to assess key risks associated with communication system architecture, channel modeling and link budget verification at a coverage area spanning 50 km radius." (LTE stands for Long-Term Evolution, and is a standard for 4G wireless communications.)

The filings also disclose that distance from the ground to the tip of the antenna is 30 meters, and there are two testing stations. 

One expert Business Insider spoke to speculated that the project could be related to testing wireless signal strength, an essential component of drone technology, and that New Mexico could offer ideal conditions to do so.

"From the phrase 'channel modeling and link budget verification' my best guess, and that’s all that it is, is that this is en experiment of signal propagation," consulting wireless engineer Steven Crowley wrote in an email.

A system to control and monitor drone flights?

"Monitoring the signal strength between the two points and seeing how it varies with weather and terrain. Then change the two points and test again.  The channel model and link budget would be used to predict the signal strength and, depending on the results, they might go back and adjust the channel model and link budget to make it more accurate. "

Google DronesHe added: "They could test in Menlo Park, but it is a different, more congested environment. The area around Truth or Consequences is relatively flat and much less urban. They might have a reason for wanting to know the propagation conditions there as precisely as possible — by actually testing there and not trying to extrapolate from elsewhere. 

"Just speculating, I can imagine fixed communications equipment spaced at intervals to control and monitor drone flights. You’d want those links to be highly reliable. Painstaking testing can help ensure that.  

"Then again, I’d think you could just boost the power some on the ground and on the drone. Power can make up for lack of knowledge of, and help overcome variations in, the channel. I expect there is not much there they can interfere with. So it’s still somewhat of a mystery."

While Facebook's primary drone effort revolves around Aquila, the company also appears to be testing wireless tech on smaller drones. In 2016, Facebook's FCL Tech asked the FCC for permission to test wireless equipment on a small drone with a maximum flight level of 400 feet, above its Menlo Park, Calif. headquarters. Facebook has since expanded those tests with what appears to be a fleet of 30 such drones. 

Facebook declined to comment. 

Know more? Contact the author: rprice@businessinsider.com

SEE ALSO: Undercover author finds Amazon warehouse workers in UK 'peed in bottles' over fears of being punished for taking a break

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: How does MoviePass make money?

A flight attendant's primary job is to keep you safe — and they're trained extensively for any kind of emergency

Posted: 20 Apr 2018 11:48 AM PDT

China Eastern Airlines Held Emergency Water Evacuation Drill

  • During a plane emergency, flight attendants know exactly what to do.
  • It's a flight attendant's primary role to keep passengers safe — serving you drinks and meals comes second.
  • To know exactly what to do in an emergency, flight attendants must complete about two months of extensive, hands-on training.

 

Even though midair disasters like the one that happened aboard Southwest Airlines flight 1380 on Tuesday are rare, plane emergencies are a possibility when you fly.

After Flight 1380 experienced a major engine failure, along with a window failure, that resulted in a passenger death on Tuesday, Southwest's crew were commended for how they handled the emergency landing — and they have their extensive training to thank.

"By all accounts, the crew — both the pilots and the flight attendants — did an outstanding job," wrote Patrick Smith, a commercial airline pilot who runs the blog AskThePilot.com. "That is to say, they did exactly what they were trained to do, what they were supposed to do, and what they were expected to do."

It's understandable that the story would strike fear into even the most confident flier's heart.

But you may take some comfort in learning that airline crew on all airlines are trained extensively on how to handle any emergency — ensuring your safety is, after all, their primary role.

"People think we are just there to serve up Cokes and attitude, but we're fully equipped to save you and your loved ones in an emergency," Riley, a flight attendant with three years' experience, told Business Insider.

Other flight attendants say one of the most common misconceptions people have about their jobs — that they are simply glorified waitresses — is flat out wrong.

"Our job is dangerous, physically demanding, and laden with immense responsibility for the safety, security, and survival of our passengers," a flight attendant with 23 years' experience told Business Insider.

Here's how flight attendants know exactly what to do during a plane emergency:

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

SEE ALSO: Here's what it's REALLY like to be a Delta Air Lines flight attendant, one of the most competitive jobs out there

Getting through flight attendant training is no walk in the park

Getting invited to the Delta flight-attendant training center, for example, is more difficult than getting into Harvard University. According to Delta, of the 150,000 people that applied to be a Delta Flight Attendant in 2016, only 1% made the cut. By comparison, the acceptance rate for Harvard's class of 2021 was 5.2%.

Making it through flight-attendant training is no picnic either, and flunking out results in not getting hired, Annette Long, a flight attendant with 16 years of experience, told Business Insider. 

During the 2006 Travel Channel show "Flight Attendant School," Frontier's then vice-president of in-flight services and instructor Pam Gardner noted that one in three trainees never make it through Frontier training, either because they drop out or are removed for not maintaining academic requirements or meeting the standards of conduct. Throughout the docu-series, you see students ejected for showing up late to class or failing more than two exams.

"It's pretty stressful, and I think it's designed to be that way," Long said.



Flight attendants have six to eight weeks to learn everything there is to know about the plane, FAA and other safety regulations, and how to handle emergencies

For many airlines, training lasts around six weeks. Other airlines' trainings last eight weeks.

During flight attendant training, students have a huge amount of information to learn, which Long considers a challenge given the time. 

"It's really stressful. And you can't study ahead — you have to stay right where you are at all times, so you can't even try to get ahead," she said.

Among other things, students learn federal aviation regulations, how to defend themselves and passengers, how to evacuate on water and land, how to handle medical emergencies, and how to use all the equipment.

"The whole training is devoted to — with very few exceptions — learning the aircraft and the safety aspects of it," she said.

Long recalls a time when her training was put to the test during a 747 flight to Frankfurt. "I was brand spanking new on this plane — and the cockpit had an alarm that told them there was smoke up in the crew rest," she said.

"So here I go running through the airplane with my fire extinguisher and another flight attendant and pulling out panels to where the pilot told us to go," Long said.

"Fortunately it was just a faulty alarm. But when you're thinking about fire over the Atlantic in a 747, it'll get that training out," she said. "It's down to you. It's not like they can land in the nearest airport."



Medical training covers all the bases

As part of Delta Air Lines' "Earning Our Wings" YouTube series, an instructor named Mallory said that on her very first flight as a flight attendant, she had a medical emergency on board. Luckily, thanks to her medical training, she knew exactly what to do.

"It's multiple hats wrapped into one," a flight attendant trainee named Cesar said in the video. "If something were to happen on board an aircraft, you are the doctor, you are the police officer ... you are the firefighter if need be. We have to be prepared for anything."

During medical and first-aid training, flight attendants learn all manner of skills, from using an AED to performing CPR on adults, children, and infants.

"I could deliver a baby if I have to," Long told Business Insider.

"These skills are just great life skills," a flight attendant trainee named Sharyl said in the Delta video.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

The SEC charges a third Centra cryptocurrency 'mastermind' with fraud over its $32 million ICO

Posted: 20 Apr 2018 11:44 AM PDT

Centra cofounders

  • Federal authorities have charged the third Centra founder and an alleged "mastermind" behind the cryptocurrency scheme, Ray Trapani, with fraud. 
  • Trapani's cofounders at Centra, Sam Sharma and Robert Farkas, were charged and arrested on April 1 over allegations of fraud related to the startup's initial coin offering.
  • Centra, which claimed to be building a debit card for cryptocurrencies, raised $32 million in its September ICO.
  • The three co-founders exchanged text messages about cooking up false documents and blaming freelancers for misleading marketing materials, according to the SEC. 


An alleged "mastermind" behind the controversial cryptocurrency startup Centra is facing federal criminal and civil charges related to the company's $32 million initial coin offering (ICO) in September.

Centra cofounder Ray Trapani was charged with fraud by the Securites and Exchange Commission on Friday. The news comes nearly three weeks after Sam Sharma and Robert Farkas, the other co-founders of Centra, were charged and arrested by criminal autorities accusing them of orchestrating a fraudulent ICO.

All three face civil fraud charges from the SEC, as well. 

It's not immediately clear why Trapani, whose involvement with the startup was documented by Business Insider in November, was not included in the original complaint.

But the SEC alleges that it was text messages between the three co-conspirators which "reveal their fraudulent intent." 

"After receiving a cease-and-desist letter from a major bank directing him to remove any reference to the bank from Centra’s marketing materials, Sharma texted to Farkas and Trapani: '[w]e gotta get that s[***] removed everywhere and blame freelancers lol,'" the SEC said in a press release.

"And, while trying to get the CTR Tokens listed on an exchange using phony credentials, Trapani texted Sharma to 'cook me up' a false document, prompting Sharma to reply, 'Don’t text me that s[***] lol.  Delete,'" the SEC said.   

“We allege that the Centra co-founders went to great lengths to create the false impression that they had developed a viable, cutting-edge technology,” Robert A. Cohen, chief of the SEC Enforcement Division’s cyber unit, said in a statement. “Investors should exercise caution about investments in digital assets, especially when they are marketed with claims that seem too good to be true.”

Centra has been under investigation since February

The SEC first notified Sharma that Centra was under investigation in mid-February, according to the civil complaint. By March 30, "Centra’s bank accounts were depleted and most of its employees had been terminated."

Farkas allegedly made a flight reservation to leave the US on April 1 but was arrested before boarding his flight, according to the complaint.

Ray Trapani FacebookCentra sold $32 million in "CTR Tokens" to investors in September, saying it planned to create a cryptocurrency debit card backed by Visa and Mastercard that could be used at stores just like a credit card. The SEC alleges that Centra had no relationship with Visa or MasterCard. The SEC also alleges that Sharma and Farkas created "fictional executives with impressive biographies" to promote the ICO to investors.

Following its own investigation, Business Insider in November reported it had similarly found multiple fake executive profiles. At the time, the company attributed those profiles to mistakes made by freelancers. 

In addition to the other charges, the SEC alleges the company posted false or misleading marketing materials to its website and paid celebrities to "tout the ICO on social media." 

After announcing its product in August 2017, Centra brought on board celebrity endorsers including boxer Floyd Mayweather and musician DJ Khaled to promote its fundraising effort.

A lawyer for Centra Tech shared a statement in response to the charges from early April. 

"Centra Tech is aware of the allegations and will not be commenting. Mr. Sharma and Mr. Farkas are represented by personal counsel who will be handling the matters," the statement reads. 

Read the full story about how Centra's founders raised $32 million here. 

SEE ALSO: 20-something founders who love cash and cars — and got DJ Khaled to promote their startup — resign weeks after raising $32 million

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NOW WATCH: NFL superstar Richard Sherman is all-in on cryptocurrencies, but doesn't think his grandmother should invest

DIGITAL HEALTH BRIEFING: Ford to offer medical transportation — Google Glass improves clinical workflow — Employer health benefits miss value for workers

Posted: 20 Apr 2018 11:39 AM PDT

Welcome to Digital Health Briefing, the newsletter providing the latest news, data, and insight on how digital technology is disrupting the healthcare ecosystem, produced by Business Insider Intelligence.

Sign up and receive Digital Health Briefing free to your inbox.

Have feedback? We'd like to hear from you. Write me at: lbeaver@businessinsider.com


FORD IS ENTERING THE CROWDED MEDICAL TRANSPORTATION MARKET: Car manufacturer Ford is launching an on-demand non-emergency medical transport (NEMT) service, according to TechCrunch. Dubbed "GoRide," the service aims to help non-urgent patients get to their appointments at partnered hospitals and facilities. Ford will launch the project with Beaumont Health, a network with more than 200 facilities. The company currently has 15 transit vans with plans to expand to 60 vans by the end of the year. 

Ford is entering an increasingly crowded market. Ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft have made several forays into the NEMT market. For example, Lyft teamed up with Acuity Link to expand its NEMT footprint in March, and in February partnered with Hitch Health. A beta version of the Uber Health platform released in July 2017 is already being used by more than 100 healthcare organizations in the US. That’s on top of other companies, like Veyo, that are dedicated NEMT services providers. 

Health systems likely view the growing interest in NEMT as an opportunity to overcome the massive annual loss of revenue caused by missed appointments. In the US, missed appointments cost healthcare providers as much as $150 billion each year, with no-show rates as high as 30%, according to SCI Solutions.

The Top 5 Trends Shaping the Future of Digital Health: FREE Report

However, as non-health specific companies take on NEMT, they're likely to face barriers that could stymie adoption and growth. For example, there is some concern over whether drivers will be liable for anything that happens to the patient on route to their appointment, according to BuzzFeed. Further, it’s not clear whether ride-sharing has a positive impact on appointment no-shows, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine.

GOOGLE GLASS IMPROVES HEALTH SYSTEM WORKFLOW: Physicians at California-based health system Sutter Health are using Google’s augmented reality (AR) enabled Glasses to cut back on the amount of time they spend on administrative tasks, according to mHealthIntelligence. Google Glass devices are embedded with mHealth tech from Augmedix — a company that makes software for smartglasses. With the physician wearing the Glasses, Sutter’s remote scribes can “sit in” on the visit, taking notes in real-time as the physician sees to the patient. Doctors can also use the glasses to pull up patient files and look up health information without having to turn away from the patient. In addition to improving the physician-patient relationship, the tech streamlines the process of note taking, immediately storing it in the electronic health record server. This cuts down on the amount of time physicians spend writing notes after the session and reduces the risk of physician burnout, which can negatively impact productivity and customer relations. Physician burnout affects 32% of clinicians in the US, according to a survey by Medscape.

bii global vr & ar in healthcare value

EMPLOYER HEALTH BENEFITS DON'T ALIGN WITH WHAT EMPLOYEE WANT: Digital health offerings supported by employer health benefit plans aren’t in line with employee demands, according to a newly released report from health navigation company Castlight Health. These offerings, which are value-adds to health insurance plans, include things like digital therapeutics, such as weight loss programs on apps, and telemedicine services that allow workers to have their consultations remotely. While 77% of employers surveyed offered their workers a smoking cessation service, the most sought-after health goal for employess was weight loss, for example.  As consumers continue to seek out digital health solutions, employers have an opportunity to provide them with health services that can improve workers' overall wellbeing. In turn, that can cut down on the amount of time-off taken by employees and increase productivity. Workers performing at less than full productivity because of illness is estimated to cost employers $160 billion per year. For insurers, these value-adds not only make their business more appealing to employers, but can help to reduce costs associated with unnecessary hospital visits and expensive services. 

bii employees health goals

JURY IS STILL OUT ON WHETHER APPS CAN IMPROVE MEDICATION ADHERENCE: Smartphone apps may not be very effective at improving medication adherence, according to a new study published in JAMA. The randomized study aimed to determine if the Medisafe smartphone app could improve self-reported medication adherence and blood pressure control among hypertension patients. The results of the study suggest that it’s still unclear whether these services have any positive impact on patient care. There was a small improvement in self-reported medication adherence by the test group — those who downloaded and used the app — compared to the control group — those who didn’t get the app. However, blood-pressure results were the same between the two groups. Despite the lack of research supporting the advantages of mHealth apps, the solutions remain an attractive option for healthcare professionals and health systems looking to engage with and monitor their patients outside of the clinical setting. And the popularity of the overall mHealth app market continues to accelerate — by the end of 2017, the global mHealth market is estimated to have raked in $26 billion in revenue, up 33% year-over-year. And we believe the market will continue on this trajectory, particularly as demand for things like virtual consultations spread into emerging and developing smartphone markets, such as India, parts of Asia and Latin America.

IN OTHER NEWS:

  • Pear Therapeutics, the digital health startup that makes apps to help people with substance abuse disorder, joined forces with Novartis-owned pharmaceutical company Sandoz to commercialize new prescription digital therapeutics, according to Reuters.
  • A texting service could reduce the rate of opioid relapses, according to a joint study developed by a team of researchers at Washington University, Epharmix, and Preferred Family Healthcare. By the end of the three-month study, the researchers found that 50% of participants reported not using opiates, while 12% said they had in the past three days — down from 42% at the beginning of the study.
  • The US House Agriculture Committee, passed a bill Wednesday that increases funding for distance learning and telemedicine by $82 million and re-authorizes the program through 2023, POLITICO reports.

Join the conversation about this story »

Southwest reportedly gives passengers who were on fatal flight $5,000 check and a $1,000 travel voucher (LUV)

Posted: 20 Apr 2018 11:27 AM PDT

southwest emergency landing

  • Southwest Airlines has sent a $5,000 check and promised a $1,000 travel voucher to passengers on Tuesday's flight that made an emergency landing after an engine exploded, ABC News reports.
  • The letters reportedly contain an apology from the airline, a customer service phone number recipients can call for assistance, a $5,000 check, and state that the airline will send the recipient a $1,000 travel voucher via email.
  • Southwest confirmed to Business Insider that it did send letters to passengers on Flight 1380 without commenting on the letters' contents.

Southwest Airlines has sent a $5,000 check and promised a $1,000 travel voucher to passengers on Tuesday's flight that made an emergency landing after an engine exploded, ABC News reports.

ABC News obtained copies of the letter passengers received. The letter contains an apology from the airline, a customer service phone number recipients can call for assistance, a $5,000 check, and states that the airline will send the recipient a $1,000 travel voucher via email.

"While the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) continues its investigation as to the circumstances surrounding the accident, our primary focus and commitment is to assist you in every way possible," Southwest said in a copy of a letter obtained by ABC News. "We value you as our Customer and hope you will allow us another opportunity to restore your confidence in Southwest as the airline you can count on for your travel needs."

Southwest confirmed to Business Insider that it did send letters to passengers on Flight 1380 without commenting on the letters' contents.

"We can confirm the communication and gesture are authentic and heartfelt," an airline representative said.

Transportation lawyer and CNN analyst Mary Schiavo told the New York Post that airlines sometimes compensate passengers after particularly stressful flights.

“It gets money in the hands of people that need it for counseling or something,” she said.

On Tuesday, Flight 1380 made an emergency landing in Philadelphia after an engine exploded. One passenger died on the flight and seven were injured. The passenger who was killed was identified as Jennifer Riordan, 43.

National Transportation Safety Board chairman Robert Sumwalt said the death was the first in a US passenger airline accident in over nine years. Before Tuesday, the most recent fatal accident came in February 2009 near Buffalo, New York, when an aircraft operated by the now-defunct regional airline Colgan Air crashed. Fifty people were killed in that crash — 49 people on the plane and one person on the ground.

The NTSB sent a team to Philadelphia to investigate the crash on Tuesday. The agency said a full investigation will take 12-15 months

SEE ALSO: Here's what happened on the fatal Southwest Airlines flight

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: A $700 billion investor explains why traders should brush off an ominous market signal that's flashing

Audible's founder talks about selling his company to Amazon for $300 million, bonding with Jeff Bezos, and how he managed to have a 'nontoxic' midlife crisis (AMZN)

Posted: 20 Apr 2018 11:24 AM PDT

audible ceo don katz

  • Audible CEO Don Katz founded the digital audiobook company in 1995, launched with one of the world's first digital audio players.
  • The company made it through the late 1990s tech bubble and the death of a CEO Katz hired.
  • Katz sold Audible to Amazon in 2008 for $300 million, keeping it largely independent and retaining his role as CEO.
  • He shared what he learned from switching careers so late, and why he bonded with Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.


Don Katz sounds more like a college English professor than a tech CEO. He's obsessed with literature and writing.

And it's why he started Audible, the audiobook company owned by Amazon, in 1995.

"It was all about the stories, and it was all about the voice of the stories," Katz said on Business Insider's podcast, "Success! How I Did It." "I was always an ear-driven writer, and I kind of heard things when I read it."

Katz has been running a tech company for over a decade, and he got his master's in economics in the '70s. But storytelling is his passion above all else.

He was one of the earliest writers for Rolling Stone, where he covered terrorism and revolutions around the world.

He had a long career as a writer. But in his 40s, he decided to take a giant leap into another direction. It all started with a fanny pack (or belly pack, as he calls it).

Listen to the full episode here:

Subscribe to "Success! How I Did It" on Apple PodcastsGoogle Play, or your favorite podcast app. Check out previous episodes with:

The following transcript has been edited for clarity.

Don Katz: I loved listening to well-composed, artfully performed words when I jogged in Riverside Park. I would listen in the old-school way, which was to have tapes in my belly pack. I always talked about the fact that they were profoundly inefficient. They froze in the winter. They would bake in the dashboard in the summer. There's nothing worse when you're aerobically taxed than trying to futz with them and change them out in your Walkman, an ancient device. There was no question that I realized that there was an element of the standing business of audiobooks that was not very efficient. There are many other strains of why Audible exists, and clearly that one relates to the fact that when we did figure out the technology — and this was 1994 and 1995 — that included how to download a file, how to secure that file.

riverside parkRichard Feloni: Like MP3 files.

Katz: Exactly, but this was before the term was used. As with most things we've done. (We had programming five years before a "podcast" was named.) To think that we survived — because usually you don't get to be six or seven years before market and survive — is one of the great mysteries.

Feloni: In the '90s.

Katz: Yeah, this was the mid-'90s, and I realized, "We have to make it so I can get this into my belly pack." And that led to the invention of the first solid state digital audio device, and that's why, in 1994, I was walking around trying to convince smart people I knew that there was this future of the best of civilization packed in these devices in our pocket. Which at the time was — to say that people thought I was crazy and didn't know what I was talking about was a huge understatement. When you think of how early we came out, five years before the iPod, it's still stunning that we survived those early days.

Feloni: Well, how'd you get the resources to make this device in the first place?

Katz: This was a case of just pretty classic venture capital working to support innovation, or as we have as a tenet at Audible, inventing before the customer asks. We share that with Amazon, and it is very different than the business school concept of solving the problem of a customer. When we had this concept, I wrote a 120-page business plan.

Feloni: Like a good author would!

Katz: Exactly. The joke there being that I showed it to a business person I knew was a real great business leader, and she said to me, "Where are the bullet points?" I memorably said, "What's a bullet point?"

Feloni: It was like basically a novel.

Katz: I was a prose writer, and so I write this plan. What I did is I used my journalism to become ever more expert on digital technology.

A hotshot young journalist traveling the world

Feloni: How long had you been a journalist at this point?

Katz: Well, I put my figurative pen down in 1995, and that was 20 years to the day that I made my living as an author and a writer. It was quite a long run. I was a writer in the sense of the old Rolling Stone voice. I was one of the original Rolling Stone writers, and we did non-fiction storytelling that was true. This kind of narrative non-fiction storytelling that we had developed there was based on novelistic recreation of the truth at a time when other outlets were not necessarily telling the truth about either civil rights, or the Vietnam War and the like.

Feloni: Can you tell us a little bit more about those early days at Rolling Stone?

jann wenner rolling stoneKatz: I had one of these weirdly precocious starts to a career. I was a student at the London School of Economics and I had just finished my masters. My roommate from Chicago was a rock writer, and she was always a rock and roll fan. I went out for dinner with her one night, and I'm sitting next to this guy who says he's from Rolling Stone. I tell him what I'm doing, and he basically says, "You know, you should write a letter to this guy, Jann Wenner, and you've got such good access to what's going on in Europe. You should just do some storytelling, if you like writing." I told him I was an English major before I went to economic school.

Long story short, I get a letter from the magazine when Francisco Franco, the dictator of Spain, starts to die. I'm asked to go to Spain and cover the death. In that period, I learned to be a journalist because it was the last hurrah of all the World War II correspondents. And one way or another, I write a 5,000 or 6,000-word story, and it proceeds to come out on the front page of Rolling Stone, and with almost no edits. It's called "Dispatch from the Valley of the Fallen." I went into the head of the London School of Economics and said, "I'm out of here."

I proceeded to become a freelance writer who worked mostly for Rolling Stone, but I avoided the editors whenever they would come to London. Because I looked like I was about 11 when I was 23. It was just an amazing thing to be part of the first 10 years. I would do crazy things: I covered the Ethiopian revolution — I was the only American on the ground; I ran around with the guys who became the Red Brigade in Italy; I covered the Northern Ireland crisis when there was shooting. I think I was probably thinking that if I almost got killed, that they'd publish me.

Feloni: Just a kid going into war zones.

Katz: Rolling Stone for my generation was a kind of literary Bible. It was like a dream to be able to write for them. Then they consolidated from San Francisco to New York, and I was brought back to be a foreign correspondent and feature writer. It was just an amazing couple of years. In many ways my current life is not that far unconnected. I often say that Audible is precisely the business a professional writer would make if they were interested in the business and organizational underpinnings of how they made a living. It is a fantastic background. I wouldn't trade those 20 years as a writer for anything.

From writer to inventor

Feloni: When did you decide to go from journalism to being an inventor?

Katz: My whole thing was: "What do these things mean, as opposed to what they do?" The Rolling Stone idea was you'd get close to, as I did, to terrorists, or to people throughout the '70s who were fighting wars of liberation, willing to die for a cause. What was it like to have that happen? Then when I wrote books about business — and I wrote a book about Sears, a 600-page tome; I wrote a book about Nike. I asked: What do these companies mean to all the constituents around them and to the culture in general?

I think that allowed Audible to grow up as a company that was really consistent about opening up opportunities to consumers in particular. This weirdness of customer centricity is what I bonded with Jeff Bezos on, where you really are working backwards from a different idea. How can you actually import something profound to people, because of the power of an organization, as opposed to measuring yourself in dollars and cents or just permutations on a theme?

We went at it saying there's a media type that doesn't exist in America for all sorts of artificial reasons, and that is the spoken word. This civilization, this American culture, and all of our literature is based on an oral and vernacular tradition.

Feloni: It was all about the stories for you.

Katz: It was all about the stories, and it was all about the voice of the stories. I was always an ear-driven writer, and I heard things when I read.

Feloni: It wasn't as big a leap as it might have been.

Katz: It wasn't. But I knew that the general snobbery around the idea of recording a book came from this idea that textual culture was somehow morally and intellectually superior. I never bought it. The reason I never bought it was my mentor in college was Ralph Ellison, the great American writer, and Ralph was an unbelievably deep student of the vernacular tradition. I read a lot of the studies, from the 1920s in particular, about how American literature became this function of oral culture. Of course, historically, there was no written culture. From the ancient Greeks through the end of St. Augustine, all found writing intellectually inferior, because it would atrophy memory and the ability to think.

Audible came into existence for a lot of different reasons, but I was a pretty rare literary writer who actually thought the sound of literature had the same integrity as the look of it.

Feloni: Why wait 20 years into your career?

Katz: I'm still more the student and the celebrator of advanced technology than I am the creator of it. I often say that being an inquisitive journalist is probably one of the best backgrounds to start a company, because if you're good as a reporter, you actually know you don't know enough. You have to then, in some basically moral level of honesty, go out and find the truth, and you have to supplement it by getting people to trust you, tell you the realities of things. I think that it's a fantastic way to be honest about what you don't know.

Now that I'm a very active angel investor and started a venture fund, I see that there is an instinct with particularly pure tech younger entrepreneurs, that they can do it all, and it's just not true, and I think you do actually have to have this fearless inventory of what you just don't know. Otherwise, you can't write the truth.

audible mobile player

Feloni: You and your roommate, you're able to complement each other's skill sets, and you have this great idea. When did you decide that this could actually become a company, and when did you make that leap?

Katz: It was literally us just riffing on an idea, which sounded like a business idea, with all the rationalization of cost and a focus on more consumer choice. The weird thing was that Ed Lau, who's one of my best friends to this day, knew how to do spreadsheets, unlike me. The business plan began to really look like a business plan.

Feloni: It went from a novel to an actual business plan.

Katz: It did, and very quickly. I got a lot of under-employed geniuses out of Bell Labs to build from whole cloth all of the code. You don't think about how many things you needed to invent in that day, to say nothing of designing the hardware and the like.

It had a lot of funny moments to it — I remember $14,000 on my credit card. As a working writer with a house and kids, it was a stress point. I took an 85% year-over-year pay cut between my last year as a writer and my first year as an entrepreneur.

Feloni: What did your family think of that?

Katz: My wife has always supported me working without a net. You can't do this stuff without that kind of home support.

The funny thing about the patent I got was that it was for a solid state cassette. It was shaped like an old school cassette. The idea was you loaded up off the phone lines. You stuck it in the tape bed in your car, and that proceeded to turn electro-mechanical controls into digital controls. You look back and think, well the tape bed was going out of existence, and so it was one of those kind of like "good idea at the time things." In our many cases of Audible-ready devices, they are all the museum pieces at Audible headquarters. The original sits there as the first thing we thought of.

Surviving the tech bubble and a tragedy

Feloni: What was it like trying to survive in the early years?

Katz: We really took off in 2003, and it was '95 we started the company. Usually you don't get more than months, let alone years.

We did a lot of smart things to survive, and I think part of it was I had watched business as a student. In many ways I was more of a student of larger organizations than I was a starter of smaller companies. I knew enough to know that I was not going to give our IPO money, from when we went public in the summer of 1999, to either Yahoo or AOL — which almost everyone did at that point. Because as soon as the bubble broke in April of 2000, they had no money. We kept our money.

We partnered precociously with big companies, which was one of our distinctive angles, to succeed by partnering with the competition. We did end up having big partners, like Microsoft and Bertelsmann, who were there to back us up during tough times. All the tech companies were in a dark place for much of 2000 until probably the middle of 2003. The decimation, I've heard, is on the order of 1,500 publicly traded internet companies down to 140 by the end.

Feloni: It was devastating. To step back to day one, what was it like going from journalist to the CEO of a team of these very talented people you had assembled?

Katz: The best thing for me was I wasn't much of a lone wolf. The kind of job I had before, I would go off on these long features or books that would take me several years. I learned a lot from so many people, but ultimately I'd come back and I would have to be in a room writing. It was me and the ideas.

But I realized at various points in my life, notably raising a whole lot of money to rebuild a library in my hometown, that I was pretty good at galvanizing teams around ideas and visions, and creating missions that you could build consensus around. I just thought, "How great would it be to have colleagues?" One of the biggest changes was just being together.

I remember we were at a retreat in 1996 for all 11 of us or whatever. We go off and everybody goes around the room to say what's exciting about this to them. The office manager spoke and she said, "Well, the amazing thing for me is that my boss never worked in an office before." I said, "Well, there was an office. There was just no one else there." I think that's part of it, is just the camaraderie was edifying. To this day, I think I'm really one of those people who thinks that Audible had lots of founders.

Feloni: In a couple years then you had brought in an external CEO, right?

Katz: Yeah, I did. I was easy about whether I was a chairman, or the driving presence, the CEO. There was a point where the tech build, particularly being in the hardware business, was so specific that I recruited a great guy to just be CEO for the tech development capacity he had. He unfortunately died on a basketball court at 39 years old, of an aneurysm. I often said that, of those of us around, then the 30 some of us, it totally steeled people to some of the external realities of life. I think it actually toughened people up. I realized I was the only one in the company who had ever really had tragic sudden death kind of loss in their life. A grief counselor came in and everything. It was a painful passage. The guy's name was Andy Huffman. He was a great, great guy.

I took back over, and then there was another point where there was briefly another CEO who came out of big media, and that was another era for the early internet 1.0 era, where it became very sexy to work at companies like Audible. But that didn't keep, and I was CEO again.

I've been there. I'm one of those strange animals in that I'm a founder still there after all this time.

Meeting Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos

Feloni: When did you and Jeff Bezos have your first conversation about the deal?

Katz: The first conversation we had about it probably was in 2006, and then we consummated the marriage in 2008. It was a lot of discussion, but we were always interacting. I'd go to Seattle and I would pitch digital ideas. He and his team were not ready for digital going way back — and he was not necessarily wrong, because it was difficult to get a lot of traction in digital media before a lot of infrastructure was there. We had a big part of it, and we did actually empower the real revenue and the real content of a lot of the devices in that day.

What happened was that, when the bubble blew out, we decided to just double down on serving customers in the best possible way, and that meant we developed all kinds of SDKs [software development kits] and firmware that would be built into the MP3 players so that they natively worked with Audible. That's what happened with the iPod. We had chips that were made that were Audible compatible. And then we created a membership program, which, again, was not normal. Most people thought it was just going to be you sold a book à la carte.

The quality of the service, the customer care, and the content kept going up and up. And then became the largest maker of spoken word audio, as well as the largest seller. It ended up being that what we were doing is creating these lifelong loyalists. In normal retail you can have loyalty, but it's not something people do every day, like they do with Audible.

Feloni: Could you tell me what the conversation was like with Bezos when you realized that this would be a good partnership?

Katz: I forget who came up with the idea first, but when we got together it was just to trade ideas, which was always what I did from the time I met him in the mid '90s. Which was just: What do you think about this and what are you thinking about this? It always was a great way to interact when we saw each other.

We also shared this whole idea that he's very specific on, which is about "missionaries" and "mercenaries." Mercenaries are those people who sell the company before it's anything, changed jobs all the time. They're in it for them. They're really good at review time, but they don't actually add value. It's a pretty negative critique, but let's face it, there's a lot of people who see the world that way and often go into businesses where you are measuring things only in money. Then there's these missionaries, who just get hooked on an idea and can't let it go. They subordinate the noise to that stuff. I don't necessarily — I see the gray area a lot.

Those are the kinds of things we always talked about that made me admire him from the beginning.

Feloni: Amazon bought your company for $300 million in 2008, and you and Bezos had established this personal connection. So it just felt right at that point and it seemed like this is what could take Audible to the next stage?

Katz: Yeah. I mean, there were negotiations, and we were a public company, so fiduciarily we talked to other companies, which is what you do. It's part of the rules and the law and shareholder responsibility.

But it was pretty easy, because a lot of the people that I still work with there I had known since 2000, because that's when we sold 5% of Audible to Jeff. The first thing we did after acquisition was have about 150 engineers working on transferring our massive code base over to be compatible with Amazon's. Then you could use your Amazon ID to be a member and that opened up access to the greatest agglomeration of consumers probably in the history of commerce, Amazon, to Audible. That whole idea of how high we could go started happening fairly quickly after acquisition.

Tying Audible's success to Newark's

newark new jersey

Feloni: Why did you move Audible to Newark in 2007?

Katz: That was really part of this whole idea of: What does a company mean in ways that can transcend what it does? We knew we wanted to move to a place that these amazing number of voice actors we were now employing could get to more easily, and Newark is only 17 or 18 minutes from Penn Station — one of its great advantages in its massive comeback.

I was always interested in urban transformation, and you saw how you could teach a kid out of poverty through the amazing dedication of teachers. I was very focused on that, and I got to know Newark that way. We wanted to move in and start to define the culture through these other things, like embracing as a customer set people without socioeconomic privilege, just because it seemed like the right thing to do.

First thing we did is we made a rule that all the nepotistic hiring of the kids of my friends and things like that was going to end, because you had to be a kid from Newark to be a paid intern at Audible. That immediately changed the culture for the better. These amazing kids came into our world. Now we're the biggest employer of actors in the New York area. The kids are there. Rocket-scientist-level technologists alongside English majors turned into business people. It becomes this really rich place to work, and even so much better for being in Newark.

Then I began to get pulled into the idea of being the chairman of the economic development corporation. You began to see all sorts of ways to be disruptively progressive about how to create growth and change. That led to things like the founding of Newark Venture Partners, which is an old school venture fund that's really taking off. It's right in our building because if you do the more advanced research, you see that tech actually is a key to urban transformation. You see it in other cities, because it actually generates massive numbers of jobs at all levels for every tech or coding job.

Feloni: How did you avoid seeming like an outsider parachuting in? Kind of being like, "I know what's good for you, and just follow what we do."

Katz: One thing is you just have to be much more schooled on history than frankly a lot of college graduates who want to do good are. Just to understand that will lower some level of appearing to be patronizing. You can't change the color of your skin, but you can do the right thing, and I found amazing allies from all political walks of life. Partly, too, it's just because we  put our money where our mouth is. We make sure the school system has Audible service, like we've done this year. We do things like subsidize our employees living in the city. Just trying to get other corporations to get with it.

Feloni: What's next for Audible?

Katz: I think Audible's just going to keep getting weirdly bigger at massive scale, which is not easy to manage. There's not many companies that have achieved high growth and high scale. My kids would call it a first world problem!

It's beyond my original dream for it. But the big thing for us now is that we're inviting the professional creative class to write and perform to a very distinctive aesthetic, and going way beyond audio books, as we have been from the beginning. Robin Williams, Ricky Gervais — people like that worked for us five years before the word podcast was in the lexicon.

It's really been fascinating — we opened a whole new theater fund to enfranchise playwrights who are writing one- and two-voice productions. The dream there is to potentially become the electronic analog to theater. There's just so much talent. An amazing number of young playwrights are, I would say, underemployed. We're looking at that class.

You just consistently see new opportunities. Again, I'm wondering how high we can go. That's the fun for me after all these years.

How to have a productive midlife crisis

Feloni: What advice would you give to someone who — maybe they are 20 years into their career, as you were — is considering a big change, or starting their own business?

Katz: Well, my wife would say that it's better to have a nontoxic midlife crisis like I did, rather than some of the other things people get up to when they hit the middle of their lives. I would recommend trying to start a business, rather than other things people get up to.

The question is, can you take what you probably get to know a little bit more, because you've accumulated more experience, and then be as inventive as somebody younger who has this monolithic belief in a new idea? You have to be one of these relentless people. If I listened to a lot of the people around me, largely people who went to business school, we'd have shut the company down six or seven different times, just to be "responsible." I was nothing but irresponsible. I always found more money. We always got through the problems.

You keep your energy up and look for opportunities. I think that the other thing, though, is don't avoid history. No matter what you think up, you probably need to have historical context. Then you also have to have colleagues you trust. You have to define your vision around the right kind of metrics, because you need to have a vision of what you're going to measure in the early days. Because if you don't, the people you get the money from will tell you how to measure, and you won't necessarily want that until it's the right time.

Feloni: Well, thank you so much, Don.

Katz: Thank you, guys. It was great.

SEE ALSO: Media mogul Tina Brown on what she learned transforming Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, enduring a failed partnership with Harvey Weinstein, and what the #MeToo movement is missing

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The man behind the excellent new 'God of War' breaks down in reaction to the game's success: 'Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I'm glad I didn't f--- it up.'

Posted: 20 Apr 2018 11:14 AM PDT

God of War (2018)

  • The new "God of War" game is excellent, and critics are singing the game's praises.
  • After working on the game for five years, director Cory Barlog filmed himself looking at reviews for the first time.
  • As he realized that the game was universally praised, Barlog broke down and began crying.
  • "Thank you from the bottom of my heart," he said, "I'm glad I didn't f--- it up."


Making video games is a tremendously hard job. Making huge blockbuster video games like the new "God of War" is even harder.

Game director Cory Barlog has been working on bringing the new "God of War" to life for the past five years. More specifically, Barlog and dozens of other people have been working on bringing it to life. 

The weight of that is clearly weighing on Barlog. 

In a video he posted to his personal YouTube channel on Thursday, Barlog visibly broke down upon seeing the impressively high score "God of War" received from nearly 100 critics on reviews aggregation site Metacritic

Cory Barlog (Sony Santa Monica/God of War)

The game's currently sitting at a 95/100 average score, making it the highest-rated game of 2018 thus far. If you're looking for even more confirmation of how good the new "God of War" is, look no further than our own glowingly positive review.

Barlog paused from looking at reviews to say, "Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I'm glad I didn't f--k it up." 

More than just an outrageously expensive project, the new "God of War" is a major reboot for an important Sony franchise. There's a lot riding on it being a major success, meeting or exceeding the bar set by the original games. It's a platform for re-establishing a major Sony franchise. 

It's not the same magnitude, but it wouldn't be far-off to compare Barlog's task here with that of J.J. Abrams in the new "Star Wars" movies — there's a lot of baggage to deal with, and a lot of money involved, and a lot of passionate fans with strong opinions. "God of War" has been a major Sony franchise since 2005, starting on the PlayStation 2.

Like the new "Star Wars" movies, the new "God of War" takes major characters and established series norms to new places. It's an evolution of the series in every sense, from the main character, to the gameplay, to the universe it's set within. 

God of War (2018)

Barlog is clearly aware of the risk involved here.

"I'm not gonna bulls--t you — I was freaked out, man," he said in the video. "I guess I didn't want to believe that others would see it was we saw it. Sometimes a crazy idea can make something special."

You can watch the full video right here:

SEE ALSO: The new 'God of War' on PS4 is the first must-play game of 2018

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Amazon executives sat through a brutally uncomfortable 4.5-minute phone call that showed them just how much Jeff Bezos cares about customers (AMZN)

Posted: 20 Apr 2018 11:10 AM PDT

jeff bezos

  • During an executive meeting, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos once called the VP of customer service out for extended hold times, according to an excerpt from Brad Stone's "The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon."
  • After VP Bill Price asserted that customers were waiting on the phones for less than a minute, Bezos tested it out for himself — and grew increasingly angry as the minutes ramped up.
  • About 30 executives watched as Bezos put his stance on customer experience on display.


Jeff Bezos takes customer service seriously.

That's the lesson former global VP of customer service Bill Price learned during a meeting of 30 Amazon executives years ago, according to an excerpt from Brad Stone's "The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon."

When Bezos asked Price how long the telephone-support hold times were as sales were picking up during the holiday season, Price responded without proof that they were less than a minute, so Bezos set out to fact-check him.

"Really?" he said. "Let's see."

Bezos dialed Amazon's 800 number on the room's speakerphone, and all 30 executives waited out many brutal minutes of cheerful hold music. Bezos grew angrier, Price fumbled with his phone, and the others fidgeted until finally a representative answered and the CEO said "I'm just calling to check" and slammed the phone down.

It was around four and a half minutes before anyone responded, according to multiple people at the meeting who relayed the details to Stone, but "the wait seemed interminable."

The nature of the meeting alone should have clued Price off: It was a daily occurrence during the holiday season, held for the sole purpose of reviewing company and customer issues, and it was called "the war room." This was the very beginning of one of those meetings, and toward the end of Price's career — the VP apparently resigned less than a year later.

You can read more about how Bezos built Amazon in Stone's fascinating book, "The Everything Store."

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What marijuana really does to your body and brain

Posted: 20 Apr 2018 10:52 AM PDT

marijuana

Marijuana's official designation as a Schedule 1 drug — something with "no currently accepted medical use" — means it's pretty tough to study.

Yet a growing body of research and numerous anecdotal reports link cannabis with several health benefits, including pain relief and the potential to help with certain forms of epilepsy. In addition, researchers say there are many other ways marijuana might affect health that they want to better understand.

Along with several other recent studies, a massive report released this year by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine helps sum up exactly what we know — and what we don't — about the science of weed.

SEE ALSO: Silicon Valley's LSD habit is exploding, and now a 27-year old is offering how-to tutorials over Skype

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Marijuana can make you feel good.

One of weed's active ingredients, tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, interacts with the brain's reward system, the part primed to respond to things that make us feel good, like eating and sex.

When overexcited by drugs, the reward system creates feelings of euphoria. This is also why some studies have suggested that excessive marijuana use can be a problem for some people — the more often you trigger that euphoria, the less you may feel during other rewarding experiences.



In the short term, it can also make your heart race.

Within a few minutes of inhaling marijuana, your heart rate can increase by between 20 and 50 beats a minute. This can last anywhere from 20 minutes to three hours, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The new report found insufficient evidence to support or refute the idea that cannabis might increase the overall risk of a heart attack. The same report, however, also found some limited evidence that smoking could be a trigger for a heart attack.



Marijuana's effects on the heart could be tied to effects on blood pressure, but the link needs more research.

In August, a study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology appeared to suggest that marijuana smokers face a threefold higher risk of dying from high blood pressure than people who have never smoked — but the study came with an important caveat: it defined a "marijuana user" as anyone who'd ever tried the drug.

Research suggests this is a poor assumption — and one that could have interfered with the study's results. According to a recent survey, about 52% of Americans have tried cannabis at some point, yet only 14% used the drug at least once a month.

Other studies have also come to the opposite conclusion of the present study. According to the Mayo Clinic, using cannabis could result in decreased — not increased — blood pressure.

So while there's probably a link between smoking marijuana and high blood pressure, there's not enough research yet to say that one leads to the other.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

The cities where homeowners will benefit the most if Amazon's second headquarters lands there

Posted: 20 Apr 2018 10:33 AM PDT

Amazon SouthLakeUnion Seattle (23 of 57)

  • A new report explores how much home values may rise in each of the top cities for HQ2, Amazon's second headquarters.
  • A dramatic rise in home values is usually not great for residents overall, but it's good news for homeowners looking to sell their properties.
  • Newark, New Jersey; Raleigh, North Carolina; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania could see the biggest gains in home values if Amazon chooses them, according to the analysis. 
  • Home values will likely increase wherever HQ2 lands.

Twenty North American cities are competing to become a new home for Amazon, which which will start building a massive second headquarters, dubbed HQ2, in 2019.

The $5 billion campus, expected to bring 50,000 high-paying jobs, is bound to transform the character of the city where it lands. City-planning experts also expect HQ2 to bring soaring housing prices, with some areas seeing more dramatic rises than others.

As Seattle has seen, a large increase in housing prices may not be beneficial for the chosen city overall. While Amazon's first headquarters helped spur a booming tech industry in Seattle, the city is now dealing with an affordable housing crisis, which local housing experts link to the company's growth. 

The company's rapid growth may have made Seattle's housing too pricey for some longtime residents, who have accused Amazon of perpetuating income inequality in the city.

Amazon will undoubtedly affect housing prices for longtime residents in the chosen city for the second headquarters. At the same time, a rise in home prices will be good news for most homeowners near HQ2, who could see big profits if they decide to sell.

A new report from Mr. Cooper, the largest non-bank mortgage servicer in the US, explores how property values could rise in each of the top cities from June 2018 to June 2019 with HQ2. 

Raleigh north carolinaIn its analysis, Quantarium, Mr. Cooper's research arm, first considered how Amazon's headquarters affected home prices in Seattle. The team then forecasted what home prices might look like in the top potential HQ2 cities with the addition of a new campus, taking into consideration differences in population, GDP, unemployment rate, and average income. (Note: Toronto and Northern Virginia were excluded due to insufficient data.)

The analysis suggests that homeowners would see the biggest gains in Newark, New Jersey and Raleigh, North Carolina, where property values would rise 33.5% and 27.5%, respectively. For these two cities, the researchers project that the rate of increase would be even higher and faster than what Seattle experienced after Amazon arrived in the late 1990s. 

Newark, a city with a struggling housing market, is a unique case. New Jersey's government is trying to lure Amazon with $7 billion in economic incentives, likely because Newark has a lot to gain if HQ2 lands there. Out of all the top contenders, Newark is the only city where property values may decrease (by 5%) over the next year without Amazon.

The smallest increases in home values would be in Los Angeles (3.9%) and Boston (0.4%), according to the report. These cities already have relatively high GDPs and dense populations, two factors that would lead to a lower rate of change. 

There is speculation that Amazon will pick a site in the Washington, DC area, which includes Northern Virginia and Montgomery, Maryland. According to Quantarium's report, Washington, DC would see few increases in home values (3.9%), but Montgomery would experience significant gains (11.3%).

A real-estate fund called Third Avenue is already making bets that HQ2 will land in the Washington, DC area. The fund recently bought $10 million in shares in JBG Smith, a real-estate investment trust working on a massive redevelopment in Crystal City, a neighborhood in Northern Virginia. Bloomberg reported this week that Third Avenue told investors its shares in properties near Washington, DC will "likely be worth a lot more than our current estimates" if Amazon comes.

"Washington, DC seems to rank near the top of the list," the fund wrote. "Should it ultimately be selected for its second headquarters, JBG Smith is likely to be a big winner as its Crystal City and Pentagon City locations are natural candidates for Amazon to utilize as it initially relocates employees to the region."

The full infographic showing the report's findings is below:amazon hq2 headquarters home values

SEE ALSO: A major real-estate fund is making a $10 million bet that Amazon will choose the Washington, DC area for its second headquarters

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There's a subtle shift underway at JPMorgan, and it shows how Amazon's influenced the Wall Street giant

Posted: 20 Apr 2018 10:15 AM PDT

FILE PHOTO - A view of the exterior of the JPMorgan Chase & Co. corporate headquarters in New York City, U.S. on May 20, 2015.  REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo - RTSW2DW

  • Business Insider recently sat down with Lori Beer, chief information officer at JPMorgan Chase. In that role, she oversees an annual tech spend of $10.8 billion and 50,000 technologists. 
  • We discussed JPMorgan's tech strategy and how JPMorgan's taking inspiration from Amazon.
  • "Jeff Bezos has always looked at his company as being very customer-obsessed," Beer said. "We’re thinking of JPMorgan Chase in the same light."

It's evident when JPMorgan CFO Marianne Lake talks about the bank's opportunity to "delight" customers. Or when co-president Gordon Smith sends a memo to staff highlighting the bank's "customer obsession." CEO Jamie Dimon has even specifically referenced Amazon Prime

That's right. It's clear that JPMorgan's taking inspiration from Amazon.

The US banking behemoth has a close relationship with Amazon, partnering with the company on healthcare along with Berkshire Hathaway. It's also reportedly held talks with Amazon over a partnership around a checking account-type product. It's a user of Amazon Web Services. But the relationship goes further.

There's a subtle shift in mindset across JPMorgan's businesses, and it closely reflects Amazon's own approach, both to customers and to tech. 

"We’re transitioning from meeting the needs of our customers to anticipating their needs," Lori Beer, chief information officer at JPMorgan Chase, told Business Insider. 

In her role, Beer oversees an annual tech spend of $10.8 billion and 50,000 technologists. And she's playing a key role in the shift that's taking place at JPMorgan. 

It could mean opening an API store, giving JPMorgan's markets clients access to the bank's data, analytics and execution tools. Or working with fintech startups. Or experimenting with Finn, an all digital bank that's being trialed in St. Louis and is built using the same technology that powers the Chase mobile platform. 

Business Insider recently sat down with Beer to talk about the bank's tech strategy, Amazon, and experimenting with new products. The following is a lightly edited transcript of the conversation:

Matt Turner: Jamie Dimon recently talked about giving away some things for free as part of a profitable customer relationship, and he cited the Amazon Prime model. What's changed in how you think about the customer relationship?

Lori Beer: What we talk about on the retail side is the Chase customer model. If you think about products, traditionally, we looked very vertically, whether it's a credit card or auto loan. But we're now in 61 million households, almost one in two. The ability to take what we know about a consumer and apply that, knowledge, and insight to how we manage the overall relationship is very powerful. 

Lori Beer JPMorganWe want to be there for our customers in an end-to-end continuum, focusing on how they want to interact with a bank longer-term.

Turner: To what extent is Amazon an inspiration, then?

Beer: When we talk about becoming a digital bank, we actually say, "Powered by a leading technology company." Being a leading technology company is one of our firm-wide priorities. When I was named as the Global CIO, I was also named to the Operating Committee. That's the first time the CIO has actually been on the Operating Committee. I think it's really important from the perspective of how many things are going on and how much technology is being leveraged across the firm.

Jeff Bezos has always looked at his company as being very customer-obsessed. We’re thinking of JPMorgan Chase in the same light.  We’re transitioning from meeting the needs of our customers to anticipating their needs.  How do you anticipate their unmet needs? How do you anticipate where they might need you in the future? How that translates for us into technology, is that companies like Amazon are really good at thinking about how they're building out their platforms. Amazon envisioned how they could leverage technology for future business models.

Turner: What does that actually mean in terms of how you run the business?

Beer: I think for us, it's driving down into, how are we more thoughtful about platforms? How are we more thoughtful about the data and the connectedness of the information? Technology is different now. I went through those generational shifts where when you wanted to go from one system to another system, you had those big bang system migrations, and there was risk in that. With technology today, you can bring data together. You can bring unstructured data more effectively together and you can do it with speed. It's all these things that are helping enable machine learning, too, as we go down that path. We’re not only being thoughtful about being customer-obsessed, but also, think through the design of the platforms and how customers might use those platforms, and how they need to work together.

Turner: It strikes me that what you're describing is a pretty significant shift beyond the traditional product mindset you tend to see in finance. 

Beer: We have a product mindset that includes designing from a customer experience mindset. We'll do consumer testing, where we actually bring customers into our facilities and test products and technology, almost live, and review how these functions might play out and how customers react. We’re moving to a much more agile development environment, something we learned from tech companies. We’ve shifted from releasing software every few months down to every few weeks for some of our newer products.

Turner: What you're doing with Finn sounds a little like what you're describing. 

Beer: If you think about how we created Finn, we used the power of technology at the firm.  We started by thinking about, 'How do we leverage the great platforms we've built?’ We were able to build Finn using the same technology that powers the Chase mobile platform. The pace and speed to market that enables is a significant advantage for us. We can test new user interface designs, test new products, see how they’re adopted and then bring that feedback into our Chase Mobile platform.

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Here's where you can legally smoke marijuana in 2018

Posted: 20 Apr 2018 10:15 AM PDT

marijuana protest

The United States is gradually becoming the land of the red, white, and green.

Nine states and Washington, DC, have legalized marijuana for recreational use — no doctor's letter required — for adults over the age of 21. Medical marijuana is legal in another 29 states.

Support for the drug reached new highs in 2017. A Gallup poll showed that 64% of Americans favor legalization, and even a majority of Republicans back it.

Here's a summary of where Americans can legally light up in 2018.

SEE ALSO: 23 health benefits of marijuana

Alaska

Adults 21 and over can light up in Alaska. In early 2015, the northernmost US state made it legal for residents to use, possess, and transport up to an ounce of marijuana — roughly a sandwich bag full — for recreational use. The first pot shop opened for business in late 2016.

Alaska has pounced on the opportunity to make its recreational pot shops a destination for tourists. More than two million people visit Alaska annually and spend $2 billion.



California

It was the first state to legalize medical marijuana back in 1996. California became even more pot-friendly in 2016 when it made it legal to use and carry up to an ounce of marijuana.

The law also permits adults 21 and over to buy up to eight grams of marijuana concentrates, which are found in edibles, and grow no more than six marijuana plants per household.

But not all Californians can legally smoke marijuana, depending on where they live. Many cities in the Central Valley, including Fresno and Bakersfield, have moved to ban recreational sales.



Colorado

In Colorado, there are more marijuana dispensaries than Starbucks and McDonalds locations combined. The state joined Washington in becoming the first two states to fully legalize the drug in 2012.

Residents and tourists over the age of 21 can buy up to one ounce of marijuana or eight grams of concentrates. Some Colorado counties and cities have passed more restrictive laws.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Automakers are facing an unprecedented shift in the industry — and it's great news for consumers

Posted: 20 Apr 2018 09:52 AM PDT

Jaguar iPACE 1

  • The auto industry is usually thought of as a cyclical business, but the current US sales boom has lasted longer than expected.
  • This has enabled a novel period of long-term strategic planning.

"The auto industry is cyclical."

You hear that all the time in the business world. Translation: in the US, sales boom and sales bust. 

Auto executives have trained themselves to enjoy the good times while they last, but to routinely choppy waters and batten down the hatches when they arrive.

Typically, the agita runs on a predictable, 12-month timetable. The year begins with a brief celebration of the previous year's sales total (if it was good), after which the fretting commences. After a few months, the industry has enough sales data to figure out if a boom will continue, or if a bust is on the horizon.

Sometimes the bust is just a decline, driven by a short recession or some other outside economic shock, such as rising oil prices. And sometimes the bust is a mega-bust, as it was after the financial crisis when US sales fell to 10 million, a devastating event then sent both General Motors and Chrysler into bankruptcy.

The long boom

US Auto Sales Graphic

In 2015, 2016, and 2017, the US sales total came in at over 17 million. There's a decent chance that 2018 could see yet another 17-million year, and that's enabled auto executives to break out of the old 12-month habit. 

A big chunk of those record sales has been profitable pickup trucks and SUVs, so Detroit and the other automakers selling cars in the US are sitting on heaps of cash. They have plenty of dough to ride out the crisis they're always anticipating, so they've been able to relax and think long term.

Widespread electrification and autonomous vehicles, along with ride-hailing and sharing, are multi-decade propositions, and automakers are now planning ahead in double-digit increments, rather than simply through the next five-t0-seven-year product cycle.

It's a fortunate historical anomaly: an extended sales cycle, cheap credit, affordable gas, and a boom in profitable vehicles. For the industry, times have been happy. They will be sad again someday, but that someday keeps getting pushed off. 

So who will be the winners? Well, obviously consumers. Thanks to a market that is enabling automakers to take more risks, consumers are going to have more transportation options in the next 12 years.

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CRYPTO INSIDER: Everyone's biggest fear about ICO's almost came true

Posted: 20 Apr 2018 09:50 AM PDT

Savedroid

Welcome to Crypto Insider, Business Insider’s roundup of all the bitcoin and cryptocurrency news you need to know today. Sign up here to get this email delivered direct to your inbox.

A cryptocurrency CEO bragged that he ran off with $50 million — but after a journalist tracked him down in Egypt, he said it was just a joke, highlighting a major issue in the industry. 

Here are the current prices of major cryptocurrencies:

Bitcoin price today

What's happening:

What other questions do you have about crypto? Ask them in Business Insider's Crypto Insider Facebook group today to discuss with readers from all over the world, as well as BI editorial staff. 

SEE ALSO: Citigroup is looking to hire bitcoin pros to sniff out risks in cryptocurrency

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