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'We're innovating at the cusp of a whole new ecosystem': A former Goldman Sachs exec explains why she made the leap to blockchain

Posted: 22 Apr 2018 01:17 PM PDT

Breanne Madigan

  • Breanne Madigan spent 13 years at Goldman Sachs. Now she's joining the financial technology startup Blockchain as its head of institutional sales and strategies.
  • She told Business Insider that she was interested in blockchains and cryptocurrencies because, she believes, they will "completely reengineer the way we operate in the future."
  • Since it's an emerging market, she'll have to convince institutional traders that cryptocurrencies are a safe place to invest. But she thinks the team at Blockchain speaks for itself.
  • She's also excited to be an early builder of what she sees as the future of finance.

Breanne Madigan grew up at Goldman Sachs. It was her first job out of college, and she stayed there for 13 years, first as an associate in money markets, moving up to chief operating officer of global foreign exchange, and finishing out her tenure as the head of institutional wealth services for the Americas.

It was a long career at one of the top financial firms in the country, and one which led her to one fundamental belief: Technology is changing the world of finance.

At the heart of that change, Madigan believes, are cryptocurrency and the blockchain technology behind it. So after more than a decade, she changed course and decided to join a blockchain startup — Blockchain, the startup, to be more precise.

Starting next week, Madigan will join Blockchain as its head of institutional sales and strategy. Her goal: To help scale the company's business and convince some of the biggest investors in the world that blockchain technology is the future of financial services.

Madigan sat down with Business Insider to discuss what she learned in her time at Goldman Sachs, the future of finance, and why she left a long career in banking for the wild world of cryptocurrency.

This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.

Becky Peterson: Tell me about your new job.

Breanne Madigan: I'm thrilled to be joining Blockchain. I'm going to be joining as the head of institutional sales and strategy. At a high level, it's really building and helping more traditional investors gain unparalleled access to the future of finance. I can't give too much in the way of details now about all of the exciting things that we have coming, but I can do my best to give you a flavor of what's in store for now.

I'm officially starting a week from now, but I have had the chance to spend time with the leadership team and Liana [Douillet Guzman, COO] in particular on strategy, and I'm looking forward to getting started officially on Monday.

Peterson: How is your new role different from what you were doing at Goldman Sachs?

Madigan: I'd say overall, in terms of my career at Goldman, I'm really grateful for the wonderful experiences that I had there where I was fortunate to help build and manage a number of new businesses, in some cases from scratch.

Some of the key attributes that I'll leverage in my new role here include, first and foremost, a healthy obsession with the quality of the customer experience. We learned at Goldman that always putting the client first is the right way to build any business with long-term excellence in mind.

I guess another thing that I see in common is a culture of very high expectations. Not only of themselves but also of their colleagues, because we all wanted to deliver the very best for our clients. And what's great about me joining Blockchain is that we have all of the very same dedication to excellence but now while operating on the cutting edge of what we view as the future of finance.

'Blockchains will completely reengineer the way we operate'

Peterson: What attracted you to making the switch from traditional banking to cryptocurrencies?

Madigan: I think it's becoming increasingly clear that blockchains will completely reengineer the way we operate in the future, broadly speaking. And I think for this next phase of my career, I am really focused on building new businesses, on partnering with exceptional management teams, and a team that has the vision for the future of the financial system. I'm delighted to say that Blockchain really exceeded every aspect of my goals in this regard.

We're innovating at the cusp of a whole new ecosystem that we believe will change the way that we operate in the future. I'm very thrilled to be a part of their story from the early days, and very much looking forward to helping develop the strategy but also building the products that will really be the foundation of the industry going forward.

Peterson: How did you first learn about cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology?

Madigan: Just anecdotally — reading and learning more about the market, getting excited by talking to colleagues at Goldman. I think a lot of people have said that it's a proverbial rabbit hole — the more you read, the more excited you get.

I've done small investments here and there, and I'm just really excited about the growth potential of the market. And I think Blockchain is the optimal place to position myself to really be a part of the early parts of the growth of this industry and ecosystem.

There is still a lot to 'iron out' in crypto for institutional investors

Peterson: You've spent the last three years of your time at Goldman working closely with institutional investors. What do you see as some of hurdles or barriers to entry for newcomers to crypto?

Madigan: A lot of the traditional financial markets are very mature, so when you're a core institutional investor who operates with governing rules around your fund, and return expectations, it's a little more cookie-cutter.

In an emerging market like cryptocurrency there is still a lot to be ironed out. But we are really well-positioned in terms of interpreting what is currently available from a regulatory perspective, and making sure that we're really operating as open and accessibly as we can, and innovating as we get more clarity around the regulatory landscape.

But since it's not as cookie cutter as the developed liquid markets, some of the institutional investors are looking for more clarity around the rules and the market place before they jump in.

Peterson: Once you start talking to these investors, how do you persuade them to work with startup like Blockchain versus a larger bank like Goldman?

Madigan: We really built the best team of thought leaders who are really mindful of the regulatory environment and the risks associated with building new platforms in a market like this that is evolving every day.

Ultimately, it's about these institutional investors learning more about the market and getting more comfortable with their management teams. And I have 100% confidence that as we bring in more institutional investors, they'll realize that the quality of this team and the quality of our offering, and I don't think we'll have quite the hurdle that maybe you're anticipating now.

Joining Blockchain means being on the 'cusp of innovation'

Peterson: It seems like a lot bankers are already convinced that blockchain is the future. We seem report frequently on people leaving large banks and firms to join crypto startups. Why do you think this is?

Madigan: It's becoming increasingly clear by the day that blockchain technology really has the capacity to fundamentally change how the global financial system works, and that's obviously quite exciting and motivating.

I think the opportunity, for those of us who have been in more of a legacy business for a long time, to now to be on the cusp of innovation, and to really be part of literally building the future of finance; it's a really intriguing proposition.

I'm really most excited to be doing this specifically at Blockchain based on the quality of the team. I think everybody has this clear, shared vision of building a radically better financial system, and when you think about the impact that our company software has had already, we offer the largest production blockchain platform in the world, which has powered over 100 million transactions already and empowered users in 140 companies across the globe.

So I think people from Wall Street would naturally be excited by an opportunity to be involved in this type of emerging ecosystem, and especially the opportunity to work at a company like Blockchain.

Peterson: In terms of the future of finance, what do you think will be some of the biggest changes that we see to the financial system in the long term?

Madigan: We all agree that transformation doesn't happen over night. It's very much in the early stages of both crypto and our company, so a lot remains to be seen. Having said so, I think we're really, already, starting to see the transformation impact that this technology will have on individuals and industries broadly across the globe. We all agree that it will fundamentally reengineer the way we transact and exchange value.

I think we as a company will continue to innovate, and find new ways to serve a great proportion for the world. We have a lot more in store that we will share in the coming days and weeks.

SEE ALSO: $1.6 billion cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase is reportedly in talks to become a licensed brokerage firm

Join the conversation about this story »

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9 reasons you should buy an iPhone 8 instead of an iPhone X (AAPL)

Posted: 22 Apr 2018 12:41 PM PDT

iPhone 8 and 8 plus

Apple announced three new iPhones last year: the iPhone 8, the iPhone 8 Plus, and the high-end iPhone X.

Those three phones start at $700, $800, and $1,000, respectively.

The most expensive iPhone model, the iPhone X, in many ways represents the future of the iPhone. But it's not for everyone.

Here are 9 reasons it's worth considering an iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus instead of the iPhone X:

SEE ALSO: 7 reasons you should buy an iPhone X instead of an iPhone 8

DON'T MISS: Forget the iPhone X — the iPhone 7 is an incredible deal right now

1. The iPhone X is more expensive than the iPhone 8.

This might be the most important factor for many people.

The iPhone 8 starts at $700, while the larger iPhone 8 Plus starts at $800.

The iPhone X, on the other hand, starts at $1,000.

Simply, you can save at least $200 by going with an iPhone 8, which, keep in mind, is still a brand-new phone from Apple, with most of the same features as the iPhone X.

2. The iPhone 8 and the 8 Plus are powered by the same brains as the iPhone X.

From a functional standpoint, the iPhone 8 and the 8 Plus are identical to the iPhone X.

Each phone is powered by Apple's new A11 Bionic chip, a neural engine, and the M11 motion coprocessor. The only difference is how the phones use these features: The iPhone X uses the A11 chip and neural engine for its new face-detection system, Face ID, which the iPhone 8 does not have.

And all are also running iOS 11, which means you're getting the same great apps and ecosystem in the iPhone 8 as the iPhone X.

3. Touch ID is faster than Face ID, and superior in some notable ways.

Touch ID, which is used to unlock the device and pay for goods via Apple Pay, is a known, proven entity. I own an iPhone X, and Face ID works well most of the time — but as my colleague Tony points out, Face ID is less reliable than Touch ID, and not as fast.

Face ID is very good. Apple says it's less prone to being tricked than Touch ID, and can work in most situations where you think it wouldn't: in the dark, if you add hats or glasses, or if you make actual changes to your face. Still, Touch ID is comfortable to use, works almost instantaneously, and doesn't require you physically look at the phone.

Face ID has a ton of potential, but Touch ID is still the gold standard.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Alarming photos of the uninhabited island that's home to 37 million pieces of trash

Posted: 22 Apr 2018 12:28 PM PDT

Jennifer Lavers Henderson Island East Beach

A small island smack in the middle of the South Pacific has never been inhabited by people — and yet, its white sand beaches are home to more than 37 million pieces of junk.

Every day on Henderson Island — one of the most remote places on Earth — trash from every continent except Antarctica washes up its shores. Fishing nets and floats, water bottles, and plastics break into small particles against the rocks and sand.

In 2015, Jennifer Lavers, a researcher at the University of Tasmania, traveled to Henderson in an effort to document the extent of plastics pollution. Her research paper has since gone viral.

Lavers shared images from her trip with us. 

SEE ALSO: Disturbing before-and-after images show what major US cities could look like in the year 2100

Jennifer Lavers first saw Henderson Island in Google Street View. She's been documenting islands-turned-junkyards for years. Henderson was the epitome of the phenomenon.

Few humans have set foot on the island, which lies halfway between New Zealand and South America, 71 miles away from the nearest settlement. To get there, Lavers joined a freight ship traveling from New Zealand and asked it to change course for Henderson.

When she arrived, it felt "a bit like being the first to land on the moon," Lavers told Business Insider. It became immediately clear that something on Henderson was awry.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Netflix's 'Amateur' director had to navigate real-life NCAA regulations in casting a 15 year old as a basketball star

Posted: 22 Apr 2018 12:08 PM PDT

Amateur_William Gray Netflix final

Director Ryan Koo got himself the golden ticket when his directorial debut “Amateur” was bought by Netflix in the script stage to be one of its original movies. But the journey the movie took to get to the streaming giant’s millions of viewers was a challenging one.

It’s a struggle to make every movie, but Koo can make the argument that he took on obstacles that most first-time filmmakers don’t.

In “Amateur” (currently available on Netflix) we get a look inside what young basketball phenoms go through to get the attention of a big-time Division I NCAA school. Main character 14-year-old Terron Forte is a star on his school basketball team, but to get to the next level his family enrolls him in a shady prep-school. In doing so, we see firsthand the corruption behind youth athletics where the kids no longer play for the coach, or to get into college, or even the NBA — they play for the brands.

To capture that authentic feel, Koo cast 15-year-old actor Michael Rainey Jr. in the role of Terron. And as he explained to Business Insider, what came with that decision were a lot of restrictions that, if navigated incorrectly, could have crippled the entire movie.

SEE ALSO: The director of HBO's Andre the Giant documentary explains how he debunked some major myths and got Vince McMahon to cry

The frustrations behind finding a lead actor

Koo said a big reason why it took years for “Amateur” to get made was because of his insistence on having a real teen for the lead role.

Not only would that mean that there would be production restrictions laid on him because he was working with a minor (more on that below), but he would have to find a kid who wasn’t just skilled at basketball, but had top acting skills to carry a feature film.

“In basketball films you are working with an actor who probably had to learn how to play the sport for the role rather than come from a starting point of being a great basketball player themselves,” Koo said. “So I always assumed I was going to need to cast a basketball player who had never acted before.”

The problem Koo found in his research is a skilled high school basketball player could potentially play in college. If he were to pay that person for being in the movie that person would lose his eligibility to play basketball in college, according to the rules by the NCAA which does not allow its student athletes to be paid.

“You're talking about a weeks-long movie shoot as a full time job, which you can't pay your lead actor,” Koo said. “So we were on the phone with the NCAA a few times about this to try to figure out what we could and couldn't do and who we could cast.”

Eventually Koo got extremely lucky and found an actor who had been a talented basketball player for years.

Michael Rainey Jr. had been a working actor since 8 years old, starring along side Common in the 2012 movie “Luv” and the son of Sophia Burset in “Orange is the New Black.” But Koo learned that he had also played basketball as well, even running point on an AAU team.

Rainey got the part and Koo teamed him with a basketball trainer to hone the moves he would show off in the movie.

But things didn’t get easier for Koo going into production.

The crew's worst nightmare: Shooting a movie in "splits"

It’s a term that gives movie crews the chills — splits. That’s when a production’s shooting day is split up between a daytime block and a night block. The “Amateur” production had to do this because it was shooting a movie with a minor, so he could only work 8-and-a-half hours per day with production required to stop at 12:30 am. And because high-school basketball games are played in the evening, there would be a lot of evening scenes.

“That gives you very little flexibility to swap things,” Koo said. “You have to make the first half of your day because you're racing daylight, and we had a hard out every night at 12:30.”

So most days would start with the production getting set up at noon on its Denver set, Rainey would show up on set at 3 p.m. and they would immediately begin shooting. They would break for lunch at 8 p.m., wait until it got dark, and then shoot the evening scenes until Rainey had to wrap at 12:30.

And because Koo and his production were racing the clock daily, the “Amateur” production never had a company move (meaning packing everything up and moving to another location). That's a rarity for any movie.

“We had no time,” Koo said. “So what we ended up doing was finding locations that we could use for many locations. In the movie it looks like Terron goes from this less well-off public school to a much nicer, posh private school. There's one school I used for at least four schools. In the gym we did painting and made it into different colors to make it look like they played in different gyms.”

A 15 year old's remarkable poise during the drama to get the movie's final shot

“Amateur” ends with a powerful scene where Terron breaks down and cries after thinking back on the experience he’s just gone through and what the future may bring.

For the scene, Koo wanted Rainey to show real emotion and not have him do it with fake tears. Rainey was up for it, and everyone was set up to start the scene once he gave the sign to Koo that he was ready. Koo said all was going according to plan and he thought the scene was perfect when he said “cut.” However, there was one problem.

“Our cameras didn’t work,” he said.

They tried another take, and again, the cameras didn’t work. Though Koo said both he and Rainey were upset about what was happening, the director commends his young lead actor’s composure.

“We got it on the third take,” Koo said.

Looking back Koo can’t believe they pulled it off with all the restrictions against them. But he admits he would absolutely work with a teen as the lead in his movie again.

“There is no substitute for the very real, very unique, emotions of youth,” he said. “I think that's why audiences respond to coming-of-age stories — we are aware, especially later in life, of how fleeting those moments were. We'll never be the same age again and we'll never get those feelings back. When I look at Michael in the film I feel privileged to have captured, and preserved, those emotions on-screen.”

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Surreal photos from Coachella take you inside the most famous music festival on Earth

Posted: 22 Apr 2018 12:07 PM PDT

coachella 2018 beyonce

Coachella may be having its greatest year on record.

Fans are losing their minds over one jaw-dropping show after the next at the annual music-and-arts festival hosted in Indio, California.

Many on Twitter are even calling it "Beychella" after Beyoncé delivered not one but two headliner performances of a lifetime on consecutive Saturday nights.

Here's what you're missing at Coachella 2018:

SEE ALSO: Beyoncé gave what fans are calling the greatest show in history at Coachella — here's what happened

DON'T MISS: Beyoncé and Solange fell onstage at Coachella and recovered like pros

Let's just jump right in: Beyoncé slayed Coachella better than any artist in history.

Read more: Beyoncé's Coachella set was the most-viewed live performance on YouTube in the festival's history

Queen Bey brought out Destiny's Child, Solange, and Jay-Z for a truly inspired set.

Read more: Beyoncé and Solange fell onstage at Coachella and recovered like pros

It took no few than 100 backup performers, three months of rehearsals, and five costume changes. Critics and entertainers are calling it the GOAT Coachella show.

Read more: Beyoncé gave what fans are calling the greatest show in history at Coachella — here's what happened

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

How to find the secret ending to the huge new 'God of War' game on PlayStation 4

Posted: 22 Apr 2018 10:08 AM PDT

God of War (2018)

  • The new "God of War" game has a secret ending.
  • It's easy to miss, but it's not hard to find after you finish the game's main storyline.
  • Here are spoiler-free instructions for how to see the ending.

The new "God of War" game is so much fun to play, you may have missed its secret ending.

The PlayStation 4-exclusive is a triumph of storytelling and design, offering dozens of hours of gameplay within its gorgeous version of the mythological Norse realm of Midgard. After the game's story comes to an end, you may think that's all there is. And it's understandable — it's a satisfying conclusion.

But "God of War" has a Marvel-esque hidden ending, one that you can only unlock after you complete the game's final story mission and the credits roll. If you were paying attention to the game's story at all, you'll be eager to see the secret finale.

God of War (2018)

Without saying anything about the secret ending itself (no spoilers!), here's how to unlock it:

After the credits roll, the game informs you that you can return to the open world and continue exploring. But you have another option: Return to the house you started in at the beginning of the game. 

God of War (2018)

When you get to the house, enter through the front door. Inside, you'll find a button prompt near the beds of Kratos and Atreus. It's a small house, so the prompt isn't hard to find.

Once there, you can choose to go to sleep for the first time since your adventure began. Doing so will trigger the secret ending.

If you care at all about the future of the "God of War" franchise, you'll be excited to see the hidden finale. Enjoy!

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

Join the conversation about this story »

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'The market is robust:' Goldman Sachs-backed Circle doubles minimum bitcoin trade size to $500,000

Posted: 22 Apr 2018 10:06 AM PDT

happy trader

  • Circle Trade, the trading operation of Circle, has increased its minimum ticket size on bitcoin trades to $500,000 from $250,000.
  • The move comes during a trading lull in the market for digital currencies across crypto exchange venues.
  • Chief executive Jeremy Allaire told Business Insider the size of block trades has grown significantly since the beginning of the year.

Trading activity at one of the largest cryptocurrency trading shops is picking up despite a lull across exchanges that trade crypto.

In an interview with Business Insider, Circle chief executive Jeremy Allaire said the size of block trades made by Circle Trade, the firm's over-the-counter trading desk, has grown since the beginning of the year. The firm has also doubled the size of its minimum crypto trades from $250,000 to $500,000, according to Allaire.

That's despite a sharp decline in cryptocurrency trading volumes across retail exchanges. Per data from CoinMarketCap, 24-hour trading volumes are down to about $20 billion a day from all-time highs near $70 billion at the beginning of the year.

But "the market is robust" for Circle.

"The minimum ticket size has moved up to $500,000 with an average of $1 million," Allaire said.

Some transactions, according to Allaire, are larger than $100 million.

"That watermark will continue to rise," Allaire said.

OTC trading occurs off exchange venues, such as Coinbase's GDAX or Kraken, for instance. The point of such desks is to provide a platform for high-net-worth crypto-holders and institutions to make large trades without impacting the broader market.

As an alternative to crypto-exchanges, they typically have deeper liquidity to support such transactions. One industry insider told Business Insider that deeper liquidity in OTC markets has played into the growth of a number of trading shops.

"If I have $5 million, I can't do that trade on GDAX," the person said.

OTC desks can also provide a more secure alternative to crypto exchanges, which are known for hacks and outages.

Circle, which counts investment bank Goldman Sachs as a a strategic backer, trades more than $2 billion in cyptocurency a month. It recently expanded its operations in Asia, Bloomberg reported.

Recently, Circle announced it acquired Poloniex, a cryptocurrency exchange. It plans to scale the business by bringing it to new markets, adding the number of coins on its platform, and enabling fiat-to-crypto transactions.

Elsewhere in the cypto OTC market, DRW's Cumberland operates a trading desk. Kraken, as Business Insider first reported, recently launched their own, too.

A person familiar with operations at Genesis, another cryptocurrency trading shop, told Business Insider its average trade size has increased to about $300,000. The company trades $1 to $2 billion a month, the person said.

SEE ALSO: A veteran Wall Streeter has left Credit Suisse for a crypto trading desk

Join the conversation about this story »

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China is boosting its undersea-warfare capabilities — and stealing US technology to do so, a US admiral says

Posted: 22 Apr 2018 10:00 AM PDT

The pro-privacy backlash against Facebook might actually make it even stronger (FB)

Posted: 22 Apr 2018 09:36 AM PDT

facebook ceo mark zuckerberg

  • Pro-privacy regulations could have an unintended consequence: reinforcing Facebook's dominance.
  • New rules taking effect next month in Europe and ones being discussed in the US and elsewhere could throw up barriers to competitors and funnel more ad dollars to Facebook, a Morningstar analyst said in a new report.
  • Another analyst agreed the concern was "plausible," but said the new rules could also end up fundamentally changing the market.

Battered over privacy issues in recent weeks, Facebook faces tough new regulations in Europe and potentially elsewhere, including at home.

But rather than curtailing the social networking giant's power, the rules could leave it stronger than ever.

That's the take of Morningstar Equity Research analyst Ali Mogharabi. The new regulations could actually create hurdles that will be a bigger burden for potential competitors to Facebook than for Facebook itself, Mogharabi said in a research note Friday.

"Future regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation in Europe or some bills being proposed in the United States, are likely to create barriers to entry," he wrote. "This might actually make it harder for competing social networks to collect valuable user data to sell ads, and in turn may help Facebook maintain its dominant position as the social network of choice for advertisers."

Set to take effect next month, the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) promises to give European consumers more control over their private information. Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, some US lawmakers are discussing putting in place similar rules.

While some have seen such rules as a way to rein in Facebook, GDPR and similar potential regulations in the US could prove to be a financial windfall for the company, especially if they help weed out its competitors, Mogharabi said.

"Further regulations could limit Facebook's access to and/or utilization of user data, which could lower its advertising prices," he wrote. But, he added, "we think they could also ... help Facebook maintain its dominant position in the social network space, possibly resulting in higher Facebook ad prices as advertisers find even fewer digital alternatives."

The analyst estimates Facebook's stock, which closed regular trading Friday at $166.28, has a "fair value" of $198.

Not everyone's convinced Facebook will benefit from the rules

But other Facebook analysts aren't as optimistic about how the company will fare under new regulations. Instead, they argue that stricter privacy rules could precipitate a broader transformation in the market that may or may not work in Facebook's favour.

GDPR will likely cause "a general slowdown in digital spending in Europe," Pivotal Research Group's Brian Wieser said in his own research note Thursday. While Facebook "may very well grow its share, growth will likely slow along with the market share."

facebook zuckerberg hearing senator Richard BlumenthalWieser has been far more bearish on Facebook than Mogharabi and other financial analysts. He has a rare "sell" rating on the company's shares and a price target of $138.

Mogharabi's analysis of how Facebook might benefit from regulations is "plausible," Wieser told Business Insider. But, he added, the analysis is also "willfully optimistic."

GDPR and similar regulations will make it more difficult for Facebook and other companies to use customers' data. That could lead to an increased stream of ad dollars into Facebook, Wieser said. But it could also spark a broader shift in online advertising.

If advertisers see user-targeting through Facebook and similar services as increasingly difficult, they might fall back on older strategies, such as placing ads next to content — videos, articles, and the like — that itself is targeted at particular audiences. Traditional publishers can accommodate that kind of strategy, but Facebook can't, he said.

Similarly, you might see companies emerge that are "legitimately GDPR-privacy-friendly-by-design," Wieser said. These would be Facebook alternatives that wouldn't be reliant on user-targeted advertising and so wouldn't be constrained by GDPR or similar regulations. Such companies might also see a boost from increased consumer awareness of privacy issues, he said.

More radically, if the new regulations are accompanied by a sea change in attitudes towards public data sharing, Facebook and other social networking services may see their use and relevance diminish.

"They exist today, and something different could exist in the future. People can get tired of Facebook," Wieser said. "You can't take it as a given that it persists. It probably does, but it could just as easily fade away."

SEE ALSO: Facebook's drones unit is conducting a mysterious test in the desert near New Mexico's 'spaceport'

Join the conversation about this story »

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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: 22 Apr 2018 09:34 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

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump tried to cut a secret deal with Planned Parenthood — here's what happened

Disturbing before-and-after images show what major US cities could look like in the year 2100

Posted: 22 Apr 2018 09:22 AM PDT

trump plaza jersey city new jersey climate change

The world's sea levels are rising at faster and faster rates as waters warm and ice sheets melt.

Researchers led by Steve Nerem, a professor of aerospace engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder, looked at satellite data dating back to 1993 to track sea-level rise.

Their findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, show that sea levels aren't just rising, but that the rate has been accelerating over the past 25 years.

Even small increases can have huge consequences, experts on climate say. If the worst climate-change predictions come true, coastal US cities from New York to New Orleans will be devastated by flooding and greater exposure to storm surges by 2100.

The research group Climate Central has created a plug-in for Google Earth to illustrate how catastrophic an "extreme" sea-level-rise scenario would be if the flooding happened today, based on projections in a 2017 report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

You can install the plug-in and see what might become of major US cities.

SEE ALSO: 37 incredible drone photos from across the globe that would be illegal today

In a worst-case scenario, flooding caused by polar melting and ice-sheet collapses could cause a sea-level rise of 10 to 12 feet by 2100, NOAA reported in January 2017.

Here's Washington, DC, today, with the Potomac River running through it.

And here's what Washington, DC, might look like in 2100, as seen on Climate Central's plug-in for Google Earth. Rising sea levels could cause the river to overflow.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

This couple wants tourists to pay $6 a day to store their luggage with a total stranger

Posted: 22 Apr 2018 09:00 AM PDT


Husband and wife Neha and Sid Khattri were on the final leg of a four-week vacation when they found themselves in an inconvenient predicament: The Khattris had plans to visit LA's beaches before their flight home to New York, but had nowhere to leave their bags for the day. 

Saddled with a month's worth of luggage, they decided to find a place to ditch their three oversized suitcases before heading to the beach. However, this quickly turned into what Neha Khattri described as a "mad scramble." Their Airbnb host declined to watch the bags for a few extra hours. The airline wouldn't take the bags early, either.

"It ruined our day," Neha told Business Insider.

In a moment of desperation, they decided to ask a local shopkeeper if they wouldn't mind watching the bags for a few hours in exchange for quick cash. They agreed — for the price of $20 per bag. $60 later, the Khattris had solved their problem, but were somehow more upset than ever.

The couple decided to vent their frustrations into an entrepreneurial endeavor. Two years later, they launched Vertoe, the short-term luggage solution that the Khattris wish would have existed when they took their getaway.

Vertoe has a booking process similar to that of Airbnb: The company connects shopkeepers with extra space to travelers in need of a short term storage spot. You can book your bags on Vertoe from anything between one hour to one month. (The company offers discounts for anyone storing their belongings for longer than a week.)

Vertoe's daily rate is $6 per bag, whether you leave your luggage for two hours or for the entire 24. "We didn't want to make bookings in hourly segments because we thought people would find it too stressful," said Neha. 

The only catch is that you're leaving your belongings with people you don't know. Most of the businesses that use Vertoe are mom and pop shops located in high-traffic neighborhoods, or stores in areas close to bus stations and airports with a little extra space to spare. However, Neha said that Vertoe has a strict vetting process that includes interviewing each shopkeeper, an inspection of the store, and a two week probation period.  Since Vertoe's launch in 2016, Neha said that they've only had to remove one shopkeeper. "He wasn't very nice to people," she said. 

As another precautionary measure, Vertoe requires security cameras to be installed at each business's location and covers up to $3000 per bag in insurance costs. So far, Vertoe is only available in New York, but the company has plans to expand to more cities throughout the US. 

Here's how Vertoe works: 

To book your bags on Vertoe, go to the company's website and select a time and location when you'd like to drop off your bags. As a trial run, I made a booking for the earliest time available, which turned out to be 30 minutes out. I set my location for JFK Airport and said that I needed storage for only one hour.

While most of the last minute options near JFK were about 10 miles away, there was one option that was less than a mile and a half away from the airport.

Vertoe keeps the name of the business private until you book and enter you credit card information. But as you can see here, the site does tell you how close that business is to your destination.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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

Posted: 22 Apr 2018 08:02 AM PDT

planned investment iot 2018This 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.

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

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

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

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

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

In full, the report:

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

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

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This venture capitalist throws the most exclusive and outrageous parties in Silicon Valley — take a look inside

Posted: 22 Apr 2018 08:00 AM PDT

jillian manus silicon valley parties 2

When venture capitalist and philanthropist Jillian Manus throws a party, the who's who of Silicon Valley shows up. That's because her parties are legendary. The budget? Exorbitant.

The prolific hostess is known around the Bay for her over-the-top dinner parties and Valentine's Day galas, which have over the years included a live elephant greeting guests at the door, a recreation of Woodstock, and a San Francisco Symphony concert on the lawn of her Atherton estate.

Business Insider recently spoke to Manus to get the inside scoop on how her talk-of-the-Valley parties come together. She shared photos of her last Valentine's Day bash with us. Take a look.

SEE ALSO: The tech elite are abandoning Silicon Valley in droves because of 'groupthink' and out-of-control living costs— here's where they're headed

"I never just throw a party. I am knee-deep. I roll up my sleeves," Manus said.

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It's no wonder that the venture capitalist's parties are "the toast of Silicon Valley."

Source: San Francisco Chronicle

In 2006, Manus and her then-husband Alan Salzman, an early investor in Tesla, started hosting annual gala benefits on Valentine's Day to raise money for a local cancer clinic.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

These are all the fighter jets in the US Air Force

Posted: 22 Apr 2018 08:00 AM PDT

On Earth Day, National Geographic is broadcasting stunning, previously unreleased photos from its archive — accompanied by music

Posted: 22 Apr 2018 07:59 AM PDT


Earth Day is one of the world's largest celebrations of our environment. 

To commemorate the holiday, National Geographic is debuting a "Symphony for our World": a television event that will pair a slideshow of National Geographic's stunning wildlife photography with a five-part symphony.

The music is created by Bleeding Fingers Music and performed by a full orchestra and choir. The symphony-and-photo pairing will air on National Geographic Wild on Sunday, April 22 at 7 p.m. EST.

A touring, 90-minute live symphony event with projections of the photos will also debut in San Francisco, California on April 22 (Earth Day), then tour around the US and Canada.

Below are some of the most spectacular wildlife images from "Symphony for our World," which were previously unreleased from National Geographic's archive.

SEE ALSO: Soak in the beauty and fragility of our dynamic planet with these stunning photos

The live symphony performances will take place in cities around the US and Canada. After starting in San Francisco on Sunday, the event will then travel to Austin, Texas in July.

The music and images are divided into five parts that correspond with different ecosystems: the sea, coastlines, land, mountains, and sky.

Images from each of those environments will be accompanied by a different chapter of music that's tailored to the ecosystem.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

The new iPad and Apple Pencil helped me finally understand the utility of a tablet

Posted: 22 Apr 2018 07:00 AM PDT

iPad and Apple Pencil

I got very little use out of my first iPad back in 2011. Even amid all of the excitement of having a brand-new Apple device, I felt no real need for my second-generation iPad, between my iPhone and my MacBook.

I know I'm not alone. I've heard a lot of people agree that it's tough to justify spending hundreds of dollars on a third screen size — and yet, Apple keeps on making tablets. Why?

"Both [The Mac and iPad] are incredible," Apple CEO Tim Cook recently told the Sydney Morning Herald's Peter Wells when he negated rumors that the Mac and iPad might eventually merge. "One of the reasons that both of them are incredible is because we pushed them to do what they do well."

So, I decided to take the new reasonably sized and priced iPad for a spin, along with the not-so-reasonably priced Apple Pencil, to figure out what it was that I hadn't considered. I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised. 

Here were my takeaways after owning an iPad for the first time in seven years:

The iPad is the perfect weight and size for commuting, at least for me.

I never had a real complaint about the MacBook's portability before, but there was a time when I was traveling frequently and felt the need to switch to the lighter MacBook Air; I eventually had to go back to the MacBook Pro when I needed more storage. 

The iPad solved the weight-versus-storage issue for me by letting me treat my MacBook Pro like I used to treat my desktop, but with more flexibility.

The MacBook Pro moved around my apartment and went with me to coffee shops when I had to get work done, but it stayed at home any time I had a commute and could get away with accessing files or apps from a self-standing screen that's larger than my iPhone. 

Since I have a separate work computer at the BI office, I could opt for the much more portable iPad over my MacBook Pro on a day-to-day basis. In contrast, Tim Cook said a few years ago that he used his iPad around the house and took his laptop to work — the point is, you have options. 

The iPad makes for a much better mobile experience than the iPhone with regard to multitasking.

If you swipe up, you see the dock, which can support 13 apps plus an additional three that automatically populate as your most recently used. Swipe up even further and you get the Control Center and can see all of the apps you have open. 

On an iPhone, shuffling through your open apps when five or six of them are running at a time is frustrating, but with iOS 11, Apple makes use of the iPad's real estate and lays out all of the app cards without overlap, making for a much more pleasant experience when you're multitasking. 

Multitasking didn't always work, though.

Multitasking got slightly unpleasant when I started testing out the different ways in which you can use two apps at once. 

With Split Screen, you can divide the screen into two sections, with the apps taking the screen 50-50, 75-25, or 25-75. It was great for planning a trip, and I used it to look up sights and book tickets while I jotted things down in the Notes app. I was upset that it didn't work with Google Maps or the Gmail app, though (this is not a Google thing because it worked with Google Photos just fine).

For those apps, I resorted to Slide Over, which creates a window that's about one-third the size of the screen and sits on top. You can choose where you want to position it, and slide it in and out of view as it's needed. I decided this would be perfect for a music player, but Spotify didn't allow it. 

Still, I was really happy with picture-in-picture support since I could watch videos or FaceTime while I did other things.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

GOLDMAN SACHS: Tech stocks face a looming risk that would make them less appealing

Posted: 22 Apr 2018 06:35 AM PDT

facebook ipo nasdaq bell

  • As the tech industry worried about regulation last week, equity analysts at Goldman Sachs highlighted another risk to tech stocks.
  • S&P Dow Jones Indices is set to make some changes to the S&P 500 in September, and tech stocks are at the center of them.

Tech investors and analysts were captivated last week as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg faced two days of grilling on Capitol Hill over Facebook's handling of users' data.

The concern was that lawmakers may create new regulations that threaten Facebook and its competitors' growth.

At a Goldman Sachs conference with policy experts during Zuckerberg's testimony, the consensus was that new regulation was unlikely this year, according to David Kostin, Goldman's chief US equity strategist.

There is, however, another risk investors should be watching just as closely, he said.

S&P Dow Jones Indices is set to make some changes to the S&P 500 in September. It will take some media and tech stocks and add them to the Telecommunication Services sector, which will be renamed Communication Services. That's in recognition of the fact that many companies have become more integrated; Alphabet, for example, provides internet access through Google Fiber and original media content on YouTube.

"Constituent re-classification represents a second risk to the tech sector," Kostin said in a note on Friday.

He added: "With two of the largest and fastest-growing companies transitioning out of Information Technology, the sector will lose some of its appeal to growth investors. The future 'legacy' Tech (i.e., firms remaining in the sector) will have much slower expected sales and earnings growth and lower margins than both the current Tech sector and the new Communication Services sector, which will also include Telecom and select Consumer Discretionary stocks (DIS, NFLX, and others)."

But this change also represents opportunities for stock pickers, who study the fundamentals of each company before making a trading decision.

"Attractive opportunities exist in the future 'legacy' Tech sector, which will have lower earnings growth, lower valuation, higher shareholder yield, and less regulatory risk than the departing firms," Kostin said.

For example, the largest tech stocks in what's remaining of the sector after the changes will be Apple, Microsoft and Intel. They each have lower earnings growth but also lower valuations, Kostin said.

Below is a breakdown of how the changes would affect the largest tech stocks and their current and future sectors.

Screen Shot 2018 04 16 at 9.05.35 AM

SEE ALSO: Bank of America has identified a major discount in the stock market that's about to get even more enticing

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Forget the iPhone X — Apple could launch a new iPhone with a bigger screen this year for as little as $550 (AAPL)

Posted: 22 Apr 2018 06:30 AM PDT

jony ive and tim cook iphone x launch event

Last year, Apple launched its first $1,000 phone.

The iPhone X is not only Apple's most expensive phone, but also its most advanced model. It featured a screen that stretched across the entire device, and advanced front-sensors that lets the phone scan your face to keep it secure. 

But as soon as September, you might not need to pay $999 to get these features. Several reliable sources — including Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal, Morgan Stanley, and KGI Securities — have said they expect Apple to release a lower-cost iPhone this year.

KGI Securities said in a note seen by Business Insider on Wednesday that it could be priced between $550 and $650. Apple launches new iPhones in September, so that's when it could come out.

Here's what we know about the most important iPhone Apple could launch this year:

The new low-cost iPhone will only be one of three models that are expected to come out this fall. Apple is also expected to launch an updated version of the iPhone X as well as a super-sized iPhone X.

Here's everything Apple's expected to launch this year

But the cheapest of the three new phones is expected to be the best-selling, according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. It could account for 65% to 75% of iPhones sold this upcoming cycle, he said in a note earlier this week.

It could have an edge-to-edge screen and facial recognition.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

The average American's annual food waste, water use, energy consumption, garbage, and carbon emissions in 1 simple chart

Posted: 22 Apr 2018 06:17 AM PDT

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  • The United States comprises about 5% of the world's population.
  • However, Americans consume an far more than that share of the world's food, water, and energy. They also generate a lot of emissions and garbage in the process.
  • In honor of Earth Day, a revealing chart shows how many resources the average American uses per year. 

America's thirst for resources seems unquenchable, and its ability to generate waste can be shocking.

In 2015, for example, 5% of the world's population lived in the United States, but the country consumed about 18% of the planet's energy, according to EIA data.

Meanwhile, Americans in 2010 had a 430-billion-pound bounty of food, yet wasted about 31% of it. That's roughly 141 trillion calories' worth of grub, according to USDA statistics.

In honor of Earth Day on Sunday, April 22, Business Insider crunched these and other numbers to create a full picture of what the average American uses, wastes, and emits each year. Take a look:

Earth day one year average American waste and use chart business insider

SEE ALSO: 17 striking facts about water you probably never knew

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