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S4's Sir Martin Sorrell is calling time on the ad agency holding company model, and thinks that big players like WPP and Publicis should go private

Posted: 26 Jun 2019 02:11 PM PDT

Sir Martin Sorrell

  • As the holding company model continues to face threats on numerous fronts, the five biggest ones should consider going private, said S4 Capital's Sir Martin Sorrell.
  • In an interview during the Cannes Lions Festival of International Creativity last week, Sorrell said the holding companies were stuck in outmoded ways of working.
  • Sorrell also said that ad agencies his new company S4 Capital is trying to provide advertisers with an alternative by focusing on data, digital and being better, faster and cheaper than traditional agencies.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

In their heyday, ad holding companies allowed agency groups to serve an array of clients with various marketing functions while achieving economies of scale.

But with the holding company model facing threats and shares of big players like WPP, Publicis, and IPG continuing to slide, they may be better off going private, said former WPP chief and S4 Capital head Sir Martin Sorrell.

"There's a serious question to be asked as to whether the 'big five' would be better off private," Sorrell told Business Insider during an interview during the Cannes Lions Festival of International Creativity last week.

"Do they need more scale? Probably not. A lot of clients believe that small is beautiful on the creative side of the business, and brain is becoming more important on the media side than brawn, certainly in programmatic." he said. 

Sorrell says ad agencies are stuck in outmoded ways of working

Holding companies have struggled as big clients like Procter & Gamble pull back on ad spending, brands experiment with taking more functions in-house, and Facebook and Google continue to dominate digital advertising. Some, like WPP, are responding by simplifying their networks, and integrating creative, digital, and media teams.

Read More: Consumers are avoiding ads more than ever, so P&G is striking creative partnerships with big names like John Legend and Arianna Huffington

But that won't be enough, said Sorrell.

"The Pavlovian reflex reaction of most traditional agencies is still around a TV film," he said. "They are still rooted in the 'Draper-esque' past, the 'Mad Men,' mad women, past, rather than looking to the future. Clients continuously complain that agencies don't respond in a digital way, or even in a balanced way."

Read More: Hershey's bet on in-housing is yielding sweet results, with overhead costs down 25%, output up fivefold and over $4 million saved in agency fees

With S4, Sorrell is trying to build an alternative to the holding companies

Since leaving WPP last year after allegations of misuse of assets and improper behavior, Sorrell has begun to build a holding-company alternative in S4 Capital by acquiring companies like programmatic firm MightyHive and digital production company MediaMonks.

Sorrell said his goal is to create a global advertising, marketing, and ad-tech company that's focused on digital and first-party data and is better, faster and cheaper than traditional agencies. S4 Capital reported $150 million in revenue in 2018, and has clients including Procter & Gamble, Nestlé, and Avon.

"We focus purely on digital, which is the growth segment of the business, and continues to grow at around 20% as opposed to the old stuff, which is actually declining in some channels," he said. "I get harangued for saying cheaper by [CEO of Accenture Interactive] Brian Whipple and others, and that may sound glib and superficial, but it really does resonate [with clients]."

Sorrell claims that by being technologically agnostic, S4 is not beholden to or dependent on any platforms. In signing clients, he said the company prioritizes top-line growth, and margins, not sacrificing them as he said holding companies have done.

Still, while brands are putting more of their spend in digital, S4 Capital is barely a year old, and has access to a fraction of the marketing pie compared to the incumbents. And the holding companies are fighting back, acquiring data-driven marketing businesses like Epsilon and Acxiom. Plus, S4 isn't immune to the trend of clients taking functions in-house.

One is Hershey's, which set up its own internal in-house content studio. "I could not get good social work out of my agencies because they were so determined to keep things the same," its CMO Jill Baskin told Business Insider earlier this month. "They were so stuck in their models."

Sorrell maintains S4 Capital will prevail over traditional holding companies because his company's functions are all connected from the start.

"In other words, a company not fragmented by earnouts or by the silos, all the verticals but truly integrated," he said.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Stewart Butterfield, co-founder of Slack and Flickr, says 2 beliefs have brought him the greatest success in life

This device will be the next smartphone

Posted: 26 Jun 2019 02:03 PM PDT

The Next Smartphone

The smartphone is an essential part of our everyday lives.

But as with all technology, things change. So the question becomes: What will be the next smartphone?

Will it be the connected car? Or the smart speaker? What about the smartwatch?

Find out which device, if any, will take over the smartphone's role with this brand new slide deck from  Business Insider Intelligence called The Next Smartphone.

Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • Smartphones are the fastest adopted tech in the U.S.
  • Whichever device becomes the next smartphone needs to go everywhere
  • Consumer expectations around the smartphone are changing
  • And much more

To get your copy of this FREE slide deck, simply click here.

Join the conversation about this story »

How to set a password on your Mac computer and lock it, in 5 different ways

Posted: 26 Jun 2019 01:59 PM PDT

Macbook Air

  • Figuring out how to lock your Mac can be as easy as closing your laptop, or as difficult as memorizing new keyboard commands.
  • You'll need to set up a password for your Mac before you can properly lock it.
  • Here's what you should know about locking your Mac.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

For those who are new to Mac computers, the various settings and shortcuts can seem confusing. But once you get the hang of it, those will become second-nature. 

A good first step is figuring out how to lock your Mac, keeping it more secure from intruders.

Here's how to set up a password and several ways to lock your Mac once that's in place:

Check out the products mentioned in this article:

MacBook (From $1,299 at Apple)

How to set up up a password on your Mac

In order to lock your Mac, you'll need a password — this will be required for both logging into your Mac as well as approving changes to your computer later on. Here's how to set one up:

1. Click the Apple icon, located in the top-left corner of your screen.

2. Select "System Preferences."

3. Click "Security and Privacy" (located in the first row).

4. Check the box that says "Require password," and input your desired password as well as any preference for the amount of time you want to elapse between your screensaver (or sleep mode) coming on and your Mac automatically locking.

1 HOW T0 LOCK MAC

5. Optional: Click "Advanced" (in the lower-right corner of the window) and specify how long your computer can be idle before automatically logging out of that user profile

How to lock your Mac

Here are five ways to lock your Mac.

  • If it's a MacBook or other laptop, shut it.
  • Leave the computer idle for the amount of time you specified in the Security and Privacy window.
  • Click the Apple icon and select, in order:
    • "Log out [User Name]"
    • Sleep
    • Shut down

2 HOW TO LOCK MAC

  • Use keyboard shortcuts:
    • Hold down Shift + Command + Q
    • Hold down Control + Shift + Power button (located in the top-right corner of your keyboard)
    • Hold down Command + Option + Power button (this will put your computer in sleep mode)

Another, slightly more involved option is:

  • Hot Corners: Click the Apple icon, then "System Preferences" followed by "Desktop and Screen Saver." Now click "Hot Corners" and set one of those to either "Put display to sleep" or "Start Screen Saver" when you move your cursor there.

3 HOW TO LOCK MAC

The method you choose really doesn't matter as long as you feel like it's protecting your computer. Though it's worth pointing out that leaving your computer idle is probably the least secure way to get it done, so it's best left as a last line of defense. In other words, developing a different log-out or locking practice will serve you well going forward.

SEE ALSO: The best budget laptops you can buy

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Here are the best updates coming to your iPhone this fall

Best Buy is offering up to $90 off JBL headphones and speakers for a limited time

Posted: 26 Jun 2019 01:40 PM PDT

JBL boombox

  • Best Buy is having a sale on select JBL headphones and speakers.
  • Many different devices are discounted, so there should be a pair of headphones or a speaker to suit most people's needs.

Summer is here, and that means going outside, hitting the pool or the beach, and throwing parties. It also means that you might want a decent speaker or pair of headphones to accompany you on your adventures — and Best Buy has a massive sale on JBL wireless speakers and headphones going on for a limited time.

There are a range of headphones and speakers on offer, so there should be something on sale for everyone. Discounted products range from affordable and budget products to the more expensive, high-end devices.

Keep scrolling to see the best deals on JBL speakers and headphones or shop the full sale at Best Buy here.

Wireless speaker deals

There are several JBL wireless speakers on sale at Best Buy, and they're well worth considering. Some of the speakers offer super loud audio that's perfect for parties and others are water resistant, so you can take them to the pool or beach. Check out JBL's wireless speaker deals below.



Wireless headphones deals

JBL's headphones have gotten better and better over the last few years, and its current lineup includes a range of over-ear headphones that will offer better audio quality and in-ear headphones that are more convenient and portable. There are even some true wireless headphones on offer, including some that are built for sports and will stay squarely in your ears.



Reddit has 'quarantined' one of the biggest communities of Trump supporters on the internet, citing 'threats of violence against police and public officials'

Posted: 26 Jun 2019 01:09 PM PDT

reddit quarantine the_donald

  • Reddit has taken action to restrict a wildly popular pro-Trump subreddit, r/The_Donald, saying it contains "rule-breaking behavior" and content in violation of the platform's policies.
  • The subreddit has been "quarantined," meaning it won't generate revenue or appear in search and recommendation results, and Reddit now requires users to explicitly opt in to view the community's content.
  • Reddit said the quarantine was issued because of "threats of violence against police and public officials."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Reddit has punished a subreddit popular among President Donald Trump supporters with a "quarantine," citing "threats of violence against police and public officials."

The subreddit r/The_Donald, an online forum that has more than 750,000 subscribers, was quarantined on Wednesday. That means that neither the subreddit nor its posts will appear in search and recommendation results, including Reddit's Popular feed. The subreddit will also not be able to generate revenue.

Trying to access the r/The_Donald subreddit will now present you with a warning message (like the one above) that notifies you of the thread's quarantine because of violations of Reddit's conduct policy, including "threats of violence against police and public officials." As part of the quarantine, users who want to access the subreddit will have to explicitly, and manually, opt in to view the page.

The quarantine seems to be in response to recent posts threatening violence toward public officials in Oregon, according to a message from Reddit that a r/The_Donald moderator shared online. In Oregon, nearly a dozen Republican lawmakers recently fled the state to prevent climate-change legislation from passing.

After the state's Democratic senator said she would use law enforcement to make the lawmakers return for the vote, multiple users on r/The_Donald said they would resort to violence to protect GOP politicians, according to the right-wing watchdog group Media Matters, which shared some of these Reddit posts in an article published on Monday. In a thread about Oregon, one user wrote, "everyone needs to start getting into shape, sharpening up your marksmanship and learning the ins and outs of all your fire arms. Stock upon that ammo too," according to Media Matters.

Read more: The Reddit starter pack: These are the 41 best subreddits everyone should follow

A Reddit spokesperson referred Business Insider to its platform's policies, which ban content encouraging or threatening violence.

"As we have shared, we are sensitive to what could be considered political speech, however, recent behaviors including threats against the police and public figures is content that is prohibited by our violence policy," the Reddit spokesperson said. "As a result, we have actioned individual users and quarantined the subreddit."

Criticism from right-wing supporters, and contributors to the r/The_Donald, was swift in response to the quarantine. Moderators for r/The_Donald turned to Twitter to voice their unhappiness and float the theory that the quarantine was purposefully aligned with the first Democratic presidential debate happening Wednesday night.

Although r/The_Donald had never been quarantined before, other popular right-wing subreddits have been banned from the platform. The r/Pizzagate community was banned in late 2016 because of its promotion of a conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton was leading a child abuse ring out of a Washington, DC pizza shop. In 2017, the r/altright subreddit was banned due to "the proliferation of personal and confidential information," and the alt-right subreddit r/clownworldwar was banned earlier on Wednesday.

SEE ALSO: Almost 100 Google employees are petitioning San Francisco Pride to ban Google from sponsoring and participating in the parade — read the full letter here

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Here's why it's so hard to switch from Apple to Android

The Uber executive who was linked to company scandals was reportedly vetted by Trump for a Cabinet position

Posted: 26 Jun 2019 01:02 PM PDT

Emil Michael uber

  • Emil Michael, the former Uber executive that suggested hiring opposition researchers to dig up dirt on the firm's critics, was reportedly vetted for a Cabinet position within the Trump administration, according to Axios.
  • Michael is said to have been vetted for the position of Secretary of Transportation, although it's unclear whether he was aware that he was being considered.
  • Michael left Uber in 2017 following a probe into the company's workplace culture and a report that he had attended an "escort bar" in Seoul with other Uber executives, including then-CEO Travis Kalanick.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Emil Michael, Uber's former chief business officer who was linked to some of the company's scandals several years ago, was briefly considered for a Cabinet position in the Trump administration, according to Axios.

The former Uber executive was reportedly being considered for the Secretary of Transportation position, although the report notes Michael may not have been aware that he was being considered. Michael, who departed the ride-hailing giant in 2017, was tied to some of the company's high-profile scandals several years ago.

In 2014, BuzzFeed reported that he suggested Uber should dig up dirt on media outlets that were critical of the company — comments that he later walked back. He is also said to have accompanied former Uber CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick to an escort bar in South Korea along with other senior executives, which resulted in an HR complaint, according to The Information

The vetting document obtained by Axios cites Michael's comments regarding pursuing a smear campaign against journalists as a red flag, as well as a dispute that he had with his landlord in 2013 and previous political donations he's made. The document also lists his past work experience, education, political affiliations, and questions to be asked about the controversies at Uber and transportation policy. 

Michael, who was in Kalanick's inner circle at the company, left Uber after an investigation into the firm's culture. He did not provide a reason for leaving the firm in 2017. 

A spokesperson for Michael declined to comment for this story. 

SEE ALSO: 9 incredibly useful Google Maps features everyone should know about

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The incredible story behind Slack, the app that's taken over offices everywhere

Walmart reveals it's planning an Amazon Prime Day counterattack with thousands of deals (WMT)

Posted: 26 Jun 2019 12:53 PM PDT

Walmart

Walmart is hoping to steal some fire from Amazon Prime Day.

The retailer is planning to release thousands of "special buys" and "rollbacks" — which is Walmart's term for discounts — between July 14 and July 17, a Walmart spokeswoman told Business Insider. Deals will include discounts of more than $100 on items like the HP 15.6" HD Touch Display Laptop and the Dyson Multifloor Bagless Upright Vacuum, the company said.

Walmart's discounts will coincide with Amazon's fourth annual Prime Day, a 48-hour sale that will be held on July 15 and July 16.

Amazon launched Prime Day in 2015, and it's now one of the company's biggest shopping event of the year, behind Cyber Monday.

Read more: Walmart reveals it's tracking checkout theft with AI-powered cameras in 1,000 stores

This isn't the first time that Walmart has offered discounts to rival Amazon Prime Day. The company, along with hundreds of other retailers including Target, eBay, and Macy's, now offer discounts every year around the annual shopping event. Analysts have started referring to this widespread promotional activity as "Black Friday in July."

This year, Target is offering "deal days" — what it says will be its biggest sale of the summer — on July 15 and July 16 to rival Prime Day. EBay is offering discounts starting July 1, along with a "crash sale" featuring special discounts if Amazon's site crashes on Prime Day. 

About 70% of consumers plan to shop Amazon during the July sales events, while 44% plan to shop Walmart, 40% plan to shop Target, and 24% plan to shop Best Buy, according to a survey by Bizaarevoice, a retail consulting firm.

Amazon Prime Day will last 48 hours this year, which is longer than ever before. This will turn up the competitive pressure on its rivals, according to Moody's vice president Charlie O'Shea. 

"Amazon's announcement that its annual Prime Day promotion now requires 'pluralizing' as it will be two days this year, running July 15 and 16, following 2018's 36 hour 'day', will make an already acutely-competitive retail environment even tougher," O'Shea said in a recent note to clients. "Making this even tougher, Walmart and Target will react, further turning up the competitive heat."

SEE ALSO: Walmart reveals it's tracking checkout theft with AI-powered cameras in 1,000 stores

Join the conversation about this story »

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The 5 TV shows returning in July that everyone will be talking about

Posted: 26 Jun 2019 12:47 PM PDT

stranger things

  • Every month, Business Insider looks at the most anticipated returning shows thanks to data from television tracking app, TV Time.
  • Netflix's "Orange Is the New Black" and "Stranger Things" return in July.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

July is a huge month for Netflix, as two of its biggest shows return. The final season of "Orange Is the New Black" and the third season of "Stranger Things" both debut on the service.

Hulu's revival of "Veronica Mars" also arrives.

Every month, Business Insider looks at the most anticipated returning shows thanks to data from television-tracking app TV Time, based on its 12 million global users.

Here are the top five for July:

SEE ALSO: The Obamas are making 7 new Netflix movies and TV shows — here are all the details, including the first release date

5. "Suits" (Season 9) — USA Network, July 17

Description: "SUITS delves into the world of a top corporate law firm where a legendary hotshot lawyer makes a risky move by hiring a brilliant but unmotivated college dropout, as his associate."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 100% (Season 8)

What critics said: "Suits maintains its swagger while feeling a little chillier than it used to." — Salon (Season 8)

 



4. "Veronica Mars" (Season 4) — Hulu, July 26

Description: "In the wealthy, seaside community of Neptune, the rich and powerful make the rules. They own the town and the high school, and they desperately try to keep their dirty little secrets just that ... secret. Unfortunately for them, there's Veronica Mars, a smart, fearless 18-year-old apprentice private investigator dedicated to solving the town's toughest mysteries. During the day, high school senior Veronica negotiates the halls of Neptune High like any average teenage girl. By night, she helps with her father Keith's private investigator business, sneaking through back alleys and scoping out no-tell motels with a telescopic-lens camera —while studying her math book--in an attempt to uncover the California beach town's darkest secrets."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 89% (Season 3)

What critics said: "What Veronica Mars does better than almost any current series is give you a sense that it's building to something big." — Emily VanDerWerff, Slant (Season 3)



3. "Orange Is the New Black" (Season 7) — Netflix, July 26

Description: "A privileged New Yorker ends up in a women's prison when a past crime catches up with her in this Emmy-winning series from the creator of 'Weeds.'"

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 83% (Season 6)

What critics said: "Some episodes are dazzling, some sloppy, but Orange and its creator, Jenji Kohan, are still pulling off tricks and twists that few other shows dare attempt." — The Atlantic (Season 6)



2. "Money Heist" (Season 3) — Netflix, July 19

Description: "Eight thieves take hostages and lock themselves in the Royal Mint of Spain as a criminal mastermind manipulates the police to carry out his plan."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: N/A

What critics said: "It's wildly suspenseful, addictive, and at times, infuriating, but those are all the makings for the best kind of heist thriller." — Decider



1. "Stranger Things" (Season 3) — Netflix, July 4

Description: "When a young boy vanishes, a small town uncovers a mystery involving secret experiments, terrifying supernatural forces and one strange little girl."

Rotten Tomatoes critic score: 94% (Season 2)

What critics said: "Stranger Things provides a form of escapism that has nothing to do with alternate dimensions. It invites viewers to indulge in the sweet self-righteousness that can come with getting excluded for being uncool." — Alison Willmore, Buzzfeed (Season 2)



How to bypass the Activation Lock on an iPhone or iPad

Posted: 26 Jun 2019 12:26 PM PDT

ipad pro iphone 6s

  • If you're having trouble figuring out how to bypass the Activation Lock on an iPhone or iPad, don't feel bad — it's meant to be difficult.
  • Activation Lock is an iOS feature that prevents theft by requiring you to enter your Apple ID password before using an iPhone or iPad.
  • If you acquire an iPhone or iPad that's Activation Locked, you should get the Apple ID password from the original owner or ask that person to unlock it via iCloud.
  • If it's impossible to get the password, you might be able to get the iPhone or iPad unlocked by Apple Support. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Activation Lock is an iOS feature that has probably done more to prevent iPhone and iPad theft than any other security measure. Once locked, it's nearly impossible to use the iPad or iPhone without an authorized Apple ID and password. The device can't be erased, reset, or otherwise modified to get it to work. 

Unfortunately, this can be a problem if you somehow legitimately find yourself with an Activation Locked device. The most common reason this happens is you've bought or inherited an iPhone or iPad that came locked, and the original owner failed to unlock it for you. 

There are only two practical remedies: You either need the Apple ID and password, or, with sufficient proof of ownership, you might be able to get Apple Support to do it for you. 

Check out the products mentioned in this guide:

iPad 9.7-inch (From $329 at Apple)

iPhone Xs (From $999 at Apple)

How to bypass the Activation Lock on an iPhone or iPad

If you've been able to get the Apple ID and password from the original owner of the iPhone or iPad, regaining access to the device is very straightforward.

The screenshots below depict how to do this on an iPad, but the steps for doing this are the same on both the iPhone and iPad.

1. Turn on the iPhone or iPad. When you see the Activation Lock screen, enter the Apple ID password. 

activation 1

2. When the iPhone or iPad finishes starting, you will want to disable Activation Lock:

  • If the iPad or iPhone is running iOS 10.3 or later, start the Settings app, tap the username at the top of the screen, and then tap "Sign Out." You'll need to re-enter the password, and then tap "Turn Off."
  • On an older device, start the Settings app, tap "iCloud," and then tap "Sign Out." Re-enter the password, and then tap "Delete from My iPhone."

activation 2

3. Tap "General."

4. Tap "Reset," and then tap "Erase All Content and Settings."

When the device restarts, you'll have a like-new device reset to its factory conditions, without an Activation Lock.

How to bypass the Activation Lock using iCloud

If the person with the password is not close enough to enter the password into the iPhone or iPad or give you the info, you can still bypass the Activation Lock, but the password owner will need to use iCloud's Find My Phone feature in a web browser.

1. The password owner should go to iCloud's Find My iPhone page and log in with the Apple ID password.

2. Click "All Devices" and select the device that needs to be unlocked. 

activation 3

3. Click "Erase iPad" or "Erase iPhone" and confirm by clicking "Erase" again. 

4. Click "Remove from Account."

The device should now be unlocked, and it has already been reset to factory conditions.  

Ask Apple to bypass the Activation Lock

If you simply can't get access to the Apple ID password, then unfortunately you don't have a lot of other options. 

It's possible that Apple will unlock the device for you. You'll need to have some proof that you are the legal owner of the device (like a receipt or an email that confirms the previous owner has transferred ownership to you). Then contact Apple support and request assistance. 

Related coverage from How To Do Everything: Tech:

SEE ALSO: The best lightning cable chargers for your iPad or iPhone

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Facebook's scandals weren't enough for people to stop using it. Here's how the company has held up through data hacks, lawsuits, and massive security threats.

SoftBank hasn't paid e-commerce startup Brandless $100 million of its investment, and there are conflicting stories about what's going on, according to a report

Posted: 26 Jun 2019 12:09 PM PDT

tina sharkey brandless

  • In March, Tina Sharkey stepped down as CEO of Brandless, the direct-to-consumer retailer of "unbranded" household items. Brandless recently brought in former Walmart COO John Rittenhouse to replace Sharkey.
  • New reporting from The Information reveals the move was partly a response to tension with the company's largest investor SoftBank, which wanted Brandless to turn a profit.
  • SoftBank invested $200 million in Brandless in 2018 through its Vision Fund — a sum that would be paid out in installments. 
  • So far, Brandless has only received one of these installments, and a person with direct knowledge of the matter told The Information that SoftBank may not pay the final $100 million if the company doesn't meet certain financial targets.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Brandless, a fast-growing e-commerce startup valued at $500 million, is in an increasingly rocky relationship with SoftBank, its biggest backer, according to a report published by The Information on Wednesday.

The friction is apparently due to the company's finances, with SoftBank pushing for Brandless to clamp down on spending and to turn a profit, The Information reports. The situation has resulted in the departure of several executives, and a change in CEO.

While CEO Tina Sharkey wrote in March that she was stepping down from the job to have a "more focused role" at the company, the change was partly due to growing tension with SoftBank, according to the Information, which cites a source familiar with the situation.

In 2018, SoftBank's Vision Fund invested $200 million in Brandless, bringing the company's valuation to $500 million, according to The Information. The deal gave SoftBank a 40% stake in the company. SoftBank was going to pay out the investment in installments, but Brandless is said to have received just the first of these installments so far. 

Now, SoftBank investors have said they may not pay the remaining balance of $100 million if Brandless doesn't meet financial targets, according to an anonymous source who spoke to The Information. But The Information also cited a different source who said the money is simply being delayed, by unanimous vote of the Brandless board of directors, because the company has sufficient capital.

Whatever the case, the fraying relationship is worth paying attention to as SoftBank has become one of the biggest investors in Silicon Valley tech startups in recent years, with large stakes in dozens of companies including Uber, Slack SoFi.

Brandless, which was founded in 2015, sells household goods directly to consumers.  A representative at SoftBank could not immediately be reached for comment.

A Brandless spokeseperson sent Business Insider a statement that said the company "is well capitalized to continue innovating across multiple wellness verticals and accelerate our distribution into new channels."

The statement also said that new CEO John Rittenhouse "has decades of ecommerce and retail experience from senior leadership roles at Walmart, Target, LVMH and Moda Operandi, and has a deep understanding of the complexities of operating a CPG business."

The recent upheaval at Brandless has prompted several other executives to leave, including COO Meghan Laffey, head of business development Lee Anne Grant, and head of supply chain and operations Dave McClure, according to The Information.

SEE ALSO: Instagram head denies widely-held belief that Instagram and Facebook listen in through smartphones

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NOW WATCH: Watch Apple's 2019 WWDC event in 11 minutes

Almost 40% of LGBTQ tech employees that participated in a survey said they've witnessed homophobic discrimination and harassment at work

Posted: 26 Jun 2019 11:25 AM PDT

gay marriage

Nearly 40% of LGBTQ employees at tech companies who participated in a recent survey said they've witnessed some form of gender or sexuality-related discrimination at work.

The anonymous workplace chat app Blind recently polled more than 7,000 Silicon Valley workers about their perceptions of their companies' acceptance and treatment of LGBTQ employees. The results, provided exclusively to Business Insider, show that although an overwhelming majority of queer tech employees say their workplaces are "safe spaces," a significant number of respondents say they've witnessed homophobic and discriminatory behavior.

The survey from Blind also showed a breakdown of harassment and discrimination at various tech companies. At least half of LGBTQ-identifying employees at Facebook, Oracle, LinkedIn, and Netflix all said they had witnessed homophobic harassment in the workplace. Silicon Valley staples including Uber, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon all saw more than a quarter of its queer employees say they had seen homophobia on display in their offices.

There was, however, a stark discrepancy between the amount of straight employees and LGBTQ workers who reported witnessing harassment and discriminatory behavior. Although nearly 40% of LGBTQ-identifying employees who responded told Blind they had seen homophobic behavior in the workplace, only 8% of non-LGBTQ tech workers reported witnessing harassment.

The results of the Blind survey are not representative of an entire company or its workforce; they represent only the views of employees who choose to use the Blind app. Still, the survey provides an interesting glimpse into the state of LGBTQ treatment within the Silicon Valley corporate world, at a time when the issue is in the news at one major tech company. 

It's also worth noting that California, where most of the tech companies in the survey have their headquarters, is one of only 21 states in the US that have laws protecting people in the workplace from being fired, not hired, or discriminated against based on gender identity or sexual orientation.

Read more: Tesla employees are complaining that the company is trying to block Blind, an anonymous app for talking about your company — here's how it works

Blind's survey provided a company-by-company breakdown of employees who feel their place of work is a safe space, and most companies included in the results reached above 90% of surveyed employees responding in the affirmative. Intel ranked among the lowest at over 17% saying they did not feel the company was a safe space, followed by Amazon. Interestingly, Apple, whose CEO Tim Cook is openly gay, ranked the third worst in this part of the survey, with 10.2% of respondents describing it as not a safe space for LGBTQ employees.

blind lgbtq tech workplace survey

And Google, the tech company that's gotten the most flak recently over its LGBTQ policies, didn't fare nearly as poorly as some of its Silicon Valley neighbors.

Blind, which verifies users by their work emails, didn't disclose the number of employees from each company who responded, but only 25% of LGBTQ-identifying Google employees said in the survey they had witnessed harassment in the workplace. More than 94% of surveyed Google employees, both straight and LGBTQ-identifying, said they felt the tech giant was a safe space.

Earlier this month, Google decided not to remove videos from a YouTube personality who used homophobic and racial slurs referring to a Vox journalist. YouTube's inaction was met with criticism not only from the public LGBTQ community, but from employees within the company. LGBTQ Googlers told news outlets that they felt afraid to speak up for fear of retaliation from both the company and their coworkers.

"It's hard to put my shoes on everyday and go to work when I don't think the company I work for supports my identity," a Google engineer, who wished to remain anonymous, told Business Insider.

On Monday, leaked internal emails revealed that Google employees who wished to march alongside the official Google float during the San Francisco Pride parade were forbidden from protesting YouTube's LGBTQ policies - doing so would be a violation of the company's communications policy (although Google said employees were free to protest YouTube if they marched on their own, or with other groups).

SEE ALSO: Google employees are speaking out using the hashtag 'NoPrideInYT' after YouTube was slow to punish a right-wing creator for using homophobic slurs

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Here are the best updates coming to your iPhone this fall

In a 'lost city' in the Honduran rainforest, researchers have discovered 3 animals thought to be extinct

Posted: 26 Jun 2019 11:24 AM PDT

snake

Deep in the Honduran jungle lies a "lost" city: La Cuidad Blanca, or the White City.

The ancient place remained untouched for more than half a millennium after ancestors of the indigenous Pech people quickly vacated the city. Archaeologists squabble over whether the city was ever actually lost, but they agree that its lush environment offers a mecca for diverse plant and animal species.

Recently, a team of researchers with the non-profit called Conservation International ventured into the protected, remote Mosquitia rainforest in Honduras to observe the myriad species in the White City.

In one particular area of the complex, called City of the Jaguar, they discovered at least three species previously thought to have been extinct. They also found one previously undocumented fish and many other amphibians and mammals that are threatened with extinction.

Read More: Frogs are dying off at record rates — an ominous sign the 6th mass extinction is hitting one group of creatures hardest

"Many of these species are uncommon or rare in other parts of their range due to habitat loss, degradation, hunting and other pressures," the Conservation International researchers wrote in a new report.

Here are nine of the incredible creatures they documented in the "City of the Jaguar."

SEE ALSO: These 15 ocean species have already gone extinct. A dozen others will probably disappear in our lifetime.

The Cuidad Blanca site is so remote that the researchers had to be transported to and from the complex by helicopter. They brought an armed soldier escort for protection on the expedition, which took place in 2017.



The newly released report describes their findings. One creature they observed was the false tree coral snake, which was thought to have been extinct in Honduras since 1965.



The tiger beetle had only previously been observed at a single site in Nicaragua, and was also thought to be extinct.



Together, the team catalogued about 180 plant species, 250 insect species, and 198 bird species. The researchers rediscovered the pale-faced bat (Phylloderma stenops), which was last documented in Honduras in 1942.



They also identified rare and endangered fish, reptiles, amphibians, and mammals, including this Baird's Tapir (also known as the Central American tapir).



In total, the team documented 246 species of moths and butterflies, including this Morpho helenor butterfly.



One of the fish they found, called Poecilia, may be a brand-new discovery. It's nicknamed "a molly."



Some of the creatures the researchers photographed and catalogued are in dire straits. Fewer than 2,500 mature great green macaws remain in the wilds of Central America.



And the red-eyed tree frog is one of many amphibian species at risk of extinction in this region and around the world. Luckily, the Mosquitia rainforest is the largest contiguous protected area in Latin America north of the Amazon.



But that may not be enough. "Even though many of these places lie in official protected areas, it's very difficult to enforce protection," Trond Larsen, one of the researchers, said in a Conservation International blog post. "In many cases, this illegal activity is being driven tangentially by drug trafficking, so it's driven by powerful people with money."

Source: Conservation International



The 50 best TV show seasons of all time, according to critics

Posted: 26 Jun 2019 11:20 AM PDT

Breaking Bad

The most critically acclaimed TV shows in history have earned their praise by repeatedly producing innovative and memorable seasons.

Shows like "The Wire," "Breaking Bad," and "The Sopranos" consistently won over critics, and their best seasons have set a standard for what great television should look like.

More recent shows like "Fleabag" and "Atlanta" have broken into this elite group, as well.

To find out which series have been the most influential, we turned to the review aggregator Metacritic for its list of the all-time best TV seasons, which ranks shows by their composite critical reception (we excluded miniseries and docuseries).

Check out the 50 best TV-show seasons of all time, according to critics:

SEE ALSO: 103 of Netflix's notable original TV shows, ranked from worst to best

50. "My So-Called Life" (Season 1)

Metacritic score: 92/100

User score: 8.5/10



49. "The Returned" (Season 1)

Metacritic score: 92/100

User score: 8.6/10

 



48. "Transparent" (Season 1)

Metacritic score: 92/100

User score: 7.4/10

 



47. "The Handmaid's Tale" (Season 1)

Metacritic score: 92/100

User score: 7.8/10

 



46. "Homeland" (Season 1)

Metacritic score: 92/100

User score: 8.3/10

 



45. "Rectify" (Season 2)

Metacritic score: 92/100

User score: 9.1/10

 



44. "The Simpsons" (Season 2)

Metacritic score: 92/100

User score: 9.0/10

 



43. "The Americans" (Season 3)

Metacritic score: 92/100

User score: 8.5/10

 



42. "Catastrophe" (Season 4)

Metacritic score: 92/100

User score: 8.1/10



41. "Halt and Catch Fire" (Season 4)

Metacritic score: 92/100

User score: 8.0/10

 



40. "The Shield" (Season 1)

Metacritic score: 92/100

User score: 9.3/10

 



39. "Mad Men" (Season 4)

Metacritic score: 92/100

User score: 9.0/10

 



38. "The Americans" (Season 6)

Metacritic score: 92/100

User score: 8.1/10

 



37. "The Larry Sanders Show" (Season 3)

Metacritic score: 93/100

User score: 7.2/10

 



36. "Bleak House" (Season 1)

Metacritic score: 93/100

User score: 9.1/10

 



35. "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (Season 3)

Metacritic score: 93/100

User score: 8.8/10

 



34. "Louie" (Season 4)

Metacritic score: 93/100

User score: 8.7/10

 



33. "Deadwood" (Season 2)

Metacritic score: 93/100

User score: 9.2/10

 



32. "The Office: UK" (Season 2)

Metacritic score: 93/100

User score: 8.9/10

 



31. "The Americans" (Season 5)

Metacritic score: 94/100

User score: 8.3/10

 



30. "Louie" (Season 3)

Metacritic score: 94/100

User score: 8.8/10

 



29. "Transparent" (Season 2)

Metacritic score: 94/100

User score: 6.7/10

 



28. "Battlestar Galactica" (Season 3)

Metacritic score: 94/100

User score: 9.1/10

 



37. "Game of Thrones" (Season 4)

Metacritic score: 94/100

User score: 9.2/10

 



26. "Homicide: Life on the Street" (Season 1)

Metacritic score: 94/100

User score: 8.5/10

 



25. "The Wire" (Season 2)

Metacritic score: 95/100

User score: 9.2/10

 



24. "The Americans" (Season 4)

Metacritic score: 95/100

User score: 8.9/10

 



23. "Enlightened" (Season 2)

Metacritic score: 95/100

User score: 7.6/10

 



22. "Catastrophe" (Season 3)

Metacritic score: 96/100

User score: 8.0/10

 



21. "Fargo" (Season 2)

Metacritic score: 96/100

User score: 9.3/10

 



20. "Better Things" (Season 2)

Metacritic score: 96/100

User score: 7.2/10

 



19. "The Sopranos" (Season 6)

Metacritic score: 96/100

User score: 8.9/10

Notable episodes: "Soprano Home Movies," "Kaisha,"Made in America"



18. "Breaking Bad" (Season 4)

Metacritic score: 96/100

User score: 9.5/10



17. "Fleabag" (Season 2)

Metacritic score: 96/100

User score: 8.8/10

 



16. "Twin Peaks" (Season 1)

Metacritic score: 96/100

User score: 9.3/10

 



15. "Homeland" (Season 2)

Metacritic score: 96/100

User score: 8.3/10

 



14. "The Sopranos" (Season 3)

Metacritic score: 97/100

User score: 9.4/10

 



13. "Atlanta" (Season 2)

Metacritic score: 97/100

User score: 7.9/10

 



12. "The Larry Sanders Show" (Season 5)

Metacritic score: 97/100

User score: 5.6/10

 



11. "The Sopranos" (Season 2)

Metacritic score: 97/100

User score: 9.3/10

 



10. "The Wire" (Season 4)

Metacritic score: 98/100

User score: 9.6/10

 



9. "The Wire" (Season 3)

Metacritic score: 98/100

User score: 9.5/10

 



8. "The Leftovers" (Season 3)

Metacritic score: 98/100

User score: 9.1/10

 



7. "The Office: UK" (Season 1)

Metacritic score: 98/100

User score: 8.5/10

 



6. "The Office: UK" (Season 3)

Metacritic score: 98/100

User score: 8.3/10

 



5. "Breaking Bad" (Season 5)

Metacritic score: 99/100

User score: 9.7/10

 



4. "The Larry Sanders Show" (Season 6)

Metacritic score: 99/100

User score: 5.3/10

 



3. "Murder One" (Season 1)

Metacritic score: 99/100

User score: 6.3/10

 



2. "The Larry Sanders Show" (Season 4)

Metacritic score: 99/100

User score: 5.7/10

 



1. "Rectify" (Season 4)

Metacritic score: 99/100

User score: 8.8/10

 



The Obamas are making 7 new Netflix movies and TV shows — here are all the details, including the first release date

Posted: 26 Jun 2019 11:13 AM PDT

barack and michelle obama

  • Higher Ground, former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama's production company, announced its first wave of content in its partnership with Netflix in April.
  • The first of those projects will arrive on Netflix and in select North American theaters on August 21, according to Indiewire.
  • The Obamas signed a multiyear deal with Netflix last year that was met with conservative backlash.

Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama's production company, Higher Ground, announced in April its first wave of content for Netflix that includes docuseries and feature films. And now we know when the first of those projects will be released.

"American Factory," a documentary Netflix acquired at this year's Sundance Film Festival, will arrive on the streaming service around the world and in select North American theaters on August 21, according to Indiewire. The documentary "takes a deep dive into a post-industrial Ohio, where a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory in the husk of an abandoned General Motors plant."

Other projects include a nonfiction series adaptation of the "Moneyball" author Michael Lewis' "Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy," called "Fifth Risk"; a film adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize winner David W. Blight's "Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom."

Read more: Disney will spend $500 million on original content to take on Netflix next year, but its strategy could actually risk billions

Higher Ground said the projects are in various stages of development and will be released over the next several years.

The Obamas struck a multiyear deal with Netflix in May last year to produce original shows and movies. CNN reported that it was a "high eight-figure deal." 

"Barack and Michelle Obama are among the world's most respected and highly recognized public figures and are uniquely positioned to discover and highlight stories of people who make a difference in their communities and strive to change the world for the better," Ted Sarandos, Netflix's content chief, said at the time.

The deal was quickly met with conservative backlash from those who threatened to cancel their Netflix subscriptions. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has also been critical of President Donald Trump in the past and supported Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election.

Below are the seven projects the Obamas are producing, with details provided by Netflix:

SEE ALSO: 10 popular TV shows that could be in danger of leaving Netflix, including 'The Office'

"American Factory"

Netflix description: "AMERICAN FACTORY was acquired by Netflix in association with Higher Ground Productions out of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Directing Award: U.S. Documentary. From Participant Media, the film is directed by Academy Award®-nominated and Emmy Award®-winners Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert ('The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant,' 'A Lion in the House,' 'Seeing Red'). The acclaimed film takes a deep dive into a post-industrial Ohio, where a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory in the husk of an abandoned General Motors plant and hires two thousand blue-collar Americans. Early days of hope and optimism give way to setbacks as high-tech China clashes with working-class America. The producers are Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert, Jeff Reichert, and Julie Parker Benello."

Release date: August 21



"Bloom"

Netflix description: "BLOOM is an upstairs/downstairs drama series set in the world of fashion in post-WWII New York City that depicts barriers faced by women and by people of color in an era marked by hurdles but also tremendous progress. BLOOM is written and executive produced by Academy Award-winner® Callie Khouri ('Nashville,' 'Thelma and Louise,' the upcoming Aretha Franklin movie at MGM), from an idea developed by Khouri, writer-director Clement Virgo ('The Book Of Negroes,' 'The Wire,' 'Empire') and novelist and producer Juliana Maio ('City of the Sun'). Higher Ground Productions, Khouri, Virgo and Maio will executive produce the series."



"Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom" adaptation

Netflix description: "Higher Ground is producing a feature film adaptation of author David W. Blight's Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom, for which he won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in History. The New York Times called the book 'an ambitious and empathetic biography of a major American life.'"



"Overlooked"

Netflix description: "Adapted from The New York Times' ongoing obituary column Overlooked, telling the stories of remarkable people whose deaths were not reported by the newspaper, Higher Ground is developing OVERLOOKED as a scripted anthology series with producers Liza Chasin of 3dot Productions and Joy Gorman Wettels of Anonymous Content."



"Listen to Your Vegetables and Eat Your Parents"

Netflix description: "For family programming, LISTEN TO YOUR VEGETABLES & EAT YOUR PARENTS will be a half-hour preschool series from creators Jeremy Konner ('Drunk History') and Erika Thormahlen. The show will take young children and their families around the globe on an adventure that tells us the story of our food."



"Fifth Risk"

Netflix description: "From Michael Lewis, the best-selling author of The Big Short and Moneyball, and based on his book The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy, FIFTH RISK, a non-fiction series, will aim to portray the importance of unheralded work done by everyday heroes guiding our government and safeguarding our nation."



"Crip Camp"

Netflix description: "CRIP CAMP is a feature-length documentary film in production that is supported by the Sundance Institute and acquired earlier this year by Higher Ground and Netflix. Just down the road from Woodstock, in the early 1970s, a parallel revolution blossomed in a ramshackle summer camp for disabled teenagers that would transform young lives, and America forever by helping to set in motion the disability rights movement. The film is directed by former camper Jim LeBrecht and Nicole Newnham. Producers include Newnham, LeBrecht and Sara Bolder, with executive producer Howard Gertler."



Leaked Wayfair documents reveal massive racial disparity in company leadership as it grapples with employee-led crisis over furnishing border camps (W)

Posted: 26 Jun 2019 11:03 AM PDT

Wayfair

  • Leaked internal data shows that Wayfair's leadership is 79% white, according to a survey released in March. 
  • Just 3% identified as Hispanic or Latino, 1% identified as black or African American, and 15% identified as Asian, according to data shared with Business Insider. 
  • Wayfair is facing boycott threats as workers prepare for a walkout in response to the company selling furniture to a contractor managing camps along the US southern border. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

As Wayfair faces backlash for selling furniture to furnish migrant detention facilities, internal data shows that the response is being led by an overwhelmingly white leadership team. 

According to internal data shared with Wayfair employees in March, Wayfair's leadership team is 79% white. Just 3% of the team identified as Hispanic or Latino.

One percent identified as black or African American, 2% identified as two or more races, and 15% identified as Asian.

The survey covered all US employees and classified leadership as employees with the rank of associate director or higher. Some 8% of leadership did not provide racial information.

A Wayfair employee who was granted anonymity because they were not authorized to share the data said they did so because they believed it revealed larger issues related to race and "bigotry" at the company. 

Wayfair did not respond to Business Insider's requests for comment. 

Here is the breakdown of race at Wayfair: 

Race and ethnicity at Wayfair

In tech, only 3% or fewer employees identified as black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, or two or more races. (Tech encompassed workers in the engineering, product, and operations product-innovation team.) 

Overall, 63% of Wayfair employees identify as white. About 10% identify as Asian, 12% as black or African American, and 10% as Hispanic or Latino.

The company gathered the data from US employees' voluntary disclosures. Roughly 7 to 13% of employees in each category did not disclose their race or ethnicity.

"Gathering and analyzing our data is just one step on our continued collective DEI [Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion] journey to increase diverse representation at all levels and to continue developing programs that create a space that is inclusive of all people," Kate Gulliver, Wayfair's head of talent, said in the company-wide email that accompanied the results viewed by Business Insider. 

Gulliver mentioned efforts such as integrating unconscious-bias content into training programs and expanding recruiting efforts through work with organizations such as the apprenticeship nonprofit Apprenti and ReacHire, which helps professional women return to work.

While Wayfair did not confirm the validity of the internal data, the breakdown generally lines up with other sources in regard to the representation of certain groups at the company.

According to Paysa, a company that publicizes salary data, roughly 85% of the roughly 2,000 Wayfair employees using Paysa's platform who disclosed their ethnicity are white. According to Paysa data, about 12% of these Wayfair employees are Asian, 2% are Latino, and less than 1% are black. (Paysa's profiles tend to skew toward more white-collar jobs, with the average Wayfair employee with a profile on the site making $92,157.) 

The underrepresentation of Hispanic, black, and Native American employees is a problem across the tech industry, especially in leadership positions.

A 2018 study of federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission data from 22 major Silicon Valley companies, including Twitter, Facebook, and eBay, found underrepresented minorities — people who did not identify as Asian or white — made up 14% or less of professional employees at each company. None of the 22 companies had teams of managers and executives in which underrepresented minorities made up more than 18% of the total. 

Wayfair faced backlash on Tuesday when news broke that workers were planning a walkout in response to the company selling furniture to a contractor managing camps along the US southern border. 

Read more: Furious customers are threatening to boycott Wayfair over reports the company is furnishing migrant camps

Last week, employees found out that Wayfair sold more than $200,000 worth of furniture to be used at a Carrizo Springs, Texas, facility being set up to detain young migrants, The Boston Globe reported. The Boston Globe said more than 500 employees signed a letter asking for the company to cease all business with contractors participating in the operation of migrant detention camps and establish a code of ethics for business-to-business sales. 

"It's clear that a lack of diversity in the board room as well as the creative team has a huge impact,"  Chris Allieri, the founder of the brand consultancy Mulberry & Astor, told Business Insider. 

"It's one thing to wave a rainbow flag and an LGBT-themed logo, celebrate Hispanic Heritage or Black History months or run diverse ads, it's another thing to make sure every single business decision you make doesn't single out a group and promote racism, bigotry, and hate," Allieri added. 

According to The Globe, Wayfair leadership responded with a letter on Monday evening, saying that it is "standard practice to fulfill all orders" as a retailer.

"As business leaders, we also believe in the importance of respecting diversity of thought without our organization and across our customer base," the letter reads. "No matter how strongly any one of us feels about an issue, it is important to keep in mind that not all employees or customers agree." 

Wayfair faced boycott threats from customers on Tuesday. Politicians including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Ed Markey spoke out in support of protesting Wayfair workers. 

 

The company's stock fell by more than 5% on Tuesday but was up more than 1% as of Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. 

CNN correspondent Cristina Alesci‏ tweeted, "Wayfair plans to announce today that it will donate the profits from the sale of $200k worth of bedroom furniture for use in a migrant detention facility."

Wayfair did not respond to Business Insider's request for comment on the topic. 

If you are a Wayfair employee and have a story to share, reach out to retail@businessinsider.com.

SEE ALSO: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez applauds Wayfair workers speaking out against migrant camps as backlash against the company brews online

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: A handbag expert explains why Hermès Birkin bags are so expensive

The rival companies behind the Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch just sent a joint letter to the US government asking to be left out of Trump's tariffs

Posted: 26 Jun 2019 10:57 AM PDT

Super Mario

  • The three major video game console makers — Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo — sent a joint letter to the US government seeking exemption from Chinese tariffs.
  • "While we appreciate the Administration's efforts to protect US intellectual property and preserve US high-tech leadership," the letter says, "the disproportionate harm caused by these tariffs to US consumers and businesses will undermine — not advance — these goals."
  • The letter is a rare instance of the big three competing game console makers coming together.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Sony's PlayStation 4, Microsoft's Xbox One, and Nintendo's Switch may all compete for consumer attention and spending dollars, but the three major makers of the game consoles are coming together to push back on the Trump administration's Chinese tariffs.

All three companies are represented in a joint letter addressed to Office of United States Trade Representative general counsel Joseph Barloon, originally sent on June 17.

The letter cites "disproportionate harm caused by these tariffs to US consumers and businesses," and asks that game consoles be exempt from the tariffs.

The reason for three competing game console makers coming together is simple: The vast majority of game consoles made by the trio come from China — just over 95% of consoles sold in 2018 were manufactured in China, according to Trade Partnership Worldwide

nintendo switch

Under the Trump administration's proposed tariffs for $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, game console makers would face a 25% tariff, an increase from the existing 10% rate.

The letter indicates that, due to small profit margins on video game consoles, the console makers would pass the added cost on to consumers — which could have a major impact on game console sales.

"A price increase of 25% will likely put a new video game console out of reach for many American families who we expect to be in the market for a console this holiday season," the letter says. "Consumers would pay $840 million more than they otherwise would have."

Moreover, the letter argues, the new tariffs could outright slow innovation in the American technology sector.

"There would be ripple effects extending far beyond the video game industry, because the video game industry has historically and persistently been a leader in US technology innovation in both the hardware and software spaces and beyond the game industry," the letter says.

trump china

Above all other concerns, the letter argues that — in imposing a 25% tariff on Chinese-manufactured game consoles — the goal of protecting intellectual property won't be achieved.

Under a section labeled, "Imposing Tariffs on Video Game Consoles Would Not Be 'Practicable or Effective to Obtain the Elimination' of China's Problematic IP Practices," the letter argues that Chinese game consoles are "virtually non-existent" — that the Chinese market hasn't successfully copied the game consoles made there.

But the letter stops short of pushing back on the plan to increase tariffs on Chinese goods — instead, it seeks to make game consoles exempt. 

Read the full letter right here.

SEE ALSO: Dozens of retailers are in Washington to testify about how Trump's next round of China tariffs could hurt them. Here's what they're saying.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Watch Apple's 2019 WWDC event in 11 minutes

The Pentagon stands by its decision to reject Oracle’s bid for the $10 billion JEDI cloud contract: It's 'not in the same class' as Microsoft and Amazon (ORCL, MSFT, AMZN, GOOG, IBM)

Posted: 26 Jun 2019 10:50 AM PDT

Larry Ellison

  • The Pentagon said Oracle is "not in the same class" as rivals Microsoft and Amazon, the finalists in the contract bid process for the $10 billion JEDI cloud project.
  • Oracle had filed a lawsuit challenging the Defense Department's decision. It accused Amazon of using job offers and bonuses to gain an edge in the bidding process.
  • The Pentagon has rejected the claims, and claimed Oracle misstated an industry report which downplayed the company's position in the cloud.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

The Pentagon threw some serious shade at Oracle, say that it had rejected its aggressive bid for a $10 billion cloud contract because the tech behemoth is "not in the same class" as rivals Microsoft and Amazon.

The Defense Department had named Microsoft and Amazon as the final contenders for the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) project, a platform that will store and manage sensitive military and defense data. In naming those two finalists, the Pentagon rejected the bids of Oracle and IBM. Google dropped out of the running in October, before the bidding process closed. 

But Oracle filed a lawsuit challenging the Pentagon's decision, and the bidding process. In a legal complaint first reported in May, Oracle argued that "JEDI is riddled with improprieties," claiming that "[Amazon Web Services] made undisclosed employment and bonus offers to at least two DoD (Dept. of Defense) JEDI officials."

The Pentagon has denied the allegations. In new legal filings made public last week, the Defense Department also defended its selection of Microsoft and Amazon, arguing that Oracle does not have the qualifications and capabilities of the two finalists.

"Oracle is not in the same class as Microsoft and AWS when it comes to providing commercial IaaS and PaaS cloud services on a broad scale," the fling said, referring to two key cloud technology offerings — specifically, "infrastructure as a service" and "platform as a service."

The Pentagon also accused Oracle of making erroneous claims about its standing in cloud computing.

"Oracle misleadingly asserts that a recent Gartner report has identified Oracle as one of 'six leading IaaS providers,'" the filing said. The report, it added, "identified only AWS, Microsoft, and Google as 'Leaders,' while identifying Oracle as a 'Niche Player.'"

It's not clear which report from analyst firm Gartner that the filing refers to, exactly. However, Gartner research from 2018 viewed by Business Insider shows that that firm rates Oracle below Microsoft, Amazon, and Google on metrics including "completeness of vision" and "ability to execute." 

Oracle declined to comment.

An important player

Amazon dominated the $25 billion public cloud market with 46% market share, according to analyst firm IDC's 2017 data. Microsoft was second with 11%, followed by IBM with 5.6%, Alibaba Group with 4.5% and Google with 3.3%

Oracle has been a dominant player in enterprise software, but the Redwood City, California company is widely considered to have been late in expanding to the cloud. 

Still, IDC President Crawford Del Prete considers Oracle an important player in the cloud market.

"Oracle is a IaaS and PaaS vendor in a market where it is not the share leader," he told Business Insider. "However, there are Oracle customers that rely on the Oracle Cloud to run their business every day. That's for sure."

Analyst Ray Wang of Constellation Research also questioned the Pentagon's decision to limit such a massive cloud product to just one vendor — echoing concerns with the process raised previously by both Oracle and Google. 

"The Pentagon's desire for a one-stop shop in cloud with a winner takes all model is not good for competition and will allow the winner to gain a significant market advantage over the losers," Wang told Business Insider.

The Pentagon JEDI project is expected to be one of the biggest public cloud initiatives in history. That explains the intense interest from major tech giants, highlighted by Oracle's campaign even after its bid was rejected by the Defense Department.

"This is the most important cloud deal ever," Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives told Business Insider, who has speculated that Oracle's legal action has boosted Microsoft's chances against Amazon. "There's a lot riding on it."

A Defense Department spokesperson told Business Insider that the JEDI contract will be awarded as early as August 23. The Pentagon also stressed the importance of moving forward with the project. In its filing, Lieutenant General Bradford Shwedo, chief information officer of the Pentagon Joint Staff, said, "Any delays in the adoption of JEDI Cloud delays our warfighters from receiving information that could make the difference in successfully completing missions and getting home to their families."

Read the Department of Defense response to Oracle's complaint. 

Got a tip about Oracle, Amazon or another tech company? Contact this reporter via email at bpimentel@businessinsider.com, message him on Twitter @benpimentel. You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: MacKenzie Bezos pledged to donate more than half of her life's fortune. Here's how she went from one of Amazon's first employees to an award-winning novelist.

10 popular TV shows that could be in danger of leaving Netflix, including 'The Office'

Posted: 26 Jun 2019 10:48 AM PDT

the office

  • "The Office" is leaving Netflix in 2021 for NBCUniversal's upcoming streaming platform.
  • It raises the question of what other popular shows on Netflix could be in danger of losing, as more companies enter the streaming war.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

"The Office," one of Netflix's most popular TV shows, is leaving the streaming service.

Netflix and NBCUniversal announced Tuesday that the hit comedy will be available through 2020, but NBC will pull the show in 2021 for its upcoming, ad-supported streaming service, to launch in early 2020. The news didn't come out of left field. The Wall Street Journal reported in April that NBCUniversal had been having internal discussions about removing "The Office" to fuel its own platform. 

But as more traditional media companies enter the streaming war to compete against Netflix, it raises the question of what else could be at risk of leaving the streaming giant's catalog.

The internet panicked last year when a note on the Netflix "Friends" page said that the show would be leaving in 2019. Netflix quickly corrected it, and the show will remain on the service through 2019 (after Netflix paid up to $100 million for the rights).

But the Warner Bros. show is in jeopardy after that, as WarnerMedia is also planning to launch its own Netflix competitor later this year.

"The Office" and "Friends" were Netflix's most popular shows in 2018 in the US, according to analytics company Jumpshot. The chart below shows the top 10, and they could all be in danger of leaving in the future as they are owned by other media companies that have (or will launch) their own streaming services that compete with Netflix.

netflix 2018 chart jumpshot

Below are 10 of the most popular shows on Netflix, where they originated, and what their futures may hold:

SEE ALSO: Warner Bros. named a new CEO and 'Justice League' fans started immediately begging her to release the 'Snyder Cut'

10. "Shameless"

Original network: Showtime

Netflix competitor: Showtime (app)

Streaming plans: Viewers can stream "Shameless" through the Showtime website or app with a standalone subscription or by signing in through their TV provider.

 



9. "NCIS"

Original network: CBS

Netflix competitor: CBS All Access

Streaming plans: "NCIS" is currently available on CBS All Access, CBS' streaming service that includes exclusive original content and CBS' library.

 



8. "Supernatural"

Original network: The CW

Netflix competitor: CBS All Access and WarnerMedia's upcoming streaming service (beta at end of 2019)

Streaming plans: The CW is owned by CBS and WarnerMedia. The former already has its own streaming platform, CBS All Access, and the latter is planning to launch its own service, as well. The Verge reported in May that The CW doesn't plan to renew its contract with Netflix this year, but the shows that are currently on the service — including "Supernatural" — are safe.



7. "That '70s Show"

Original network: Fox

Netflix competitor: Hulu and upcoming Disney Plus (November 12)

Streaming plans: The Fox network is owned by Disney, which also controls Hulu. Disney ended a licensing deal with Netflix this year, and is launching a streaming platform, Disney Plus, in November. Does that mean "That '70s Show" could be in danger? If so, it's possible it could head to Hulu, which seems a more likely home than the family-friendly Disney Plus.



6. "Criminal Minds"

Original network: CBS

Netflix competitor: CBS All Access

Streaming plans: "Criminal Minds" is also available on CBS All Access.



5. "New Girl"

Original network: Fox

Netflix competitor: Hulu and upcoming Disney Plus (November 12)

Streaming plans: Fox is owned by Disney. If Disney were to pull Fox content from Netflix, it would likely head for Hulu, which Disney controls.



4. "Grey's Anatomy"

Original network: ABC

Netflix competitor: Hulu and upcoming Disney Plus (November 12)

Streaming plans: Disney owns the ABC network. If Disney pulls all of its content from Netflix, "Grey's Anatomy" is also streaming on Hulu, which Disney controls. 



3. "Parks and Recreation"

Original network: NBC

Netflix competitor: NBCUniversal's upcoming streaming service (2020)

Streaming plans: With NBC pulling "The Office," it wouldn't be shocking for it to also pull "Parks and Rec" to fuel its own streaming service. But "Parks and Rec" also streams on Hulu and Amazon Prime Video. Business Insider has reached out to NBCUniversal for comment on the nature of these deals and the show's future.



2. "Friends"

Original network: NBC

Netflix competitor: WarnerMedia's upcoming streaming service (beta at end of 2019)

Streaming plans: "Friends" is owned by Warner Bros. Its parent company, AT&T, plans to launch its own streaming platform, so the likelihood of "Friends" staying with Netflix for much longer is slim. Fans can stream the show for now, though: Netflix and AT&T struck a deal to keep "Friends" on Netflix through 2019, and Netflix paid up to $100 million for the rights. 



1. "The Office"

Original network: NBC

Netflix competitor: NBCUniversal's upcoming streaming service (2020)

Streaming plans: NBC and Netflix announced on Tuesday that NBC will pull "The Office" from Netflix in 2021 for its own streaming service. NBCUniversal is paying $500 million ($100 million per year for five years) to keep the rights, according to CNBC.



Samsung is reportedly bringing back the classic flip-phone design with a new foldable device

Posted: 26 Jun 2019 10:39 AM PDT

Samsung Fold

  • Samsung is said to be developing a new kind of foldable smartphone that takes inspiration from classic flip-phone designs and folds down the middle of the screen to become more compact when not in use. 
  • The device has a 6.7-inch screen when unfolded and a 1-inch screen on the exterior to show basic information without having to unfold the device, according to the South Korean news outlet ET News. 
  • It's the opposite idea of current foldable smartphones, like Samsung's delayed Galaxy Fold or Huawei's  Mate X, which fold outward like a book. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Samsung is working on new foldable smartphone with a classic flip-phone design, according to the South Korean news outlet ET News, which has been reliable in the past. 

The goal is to offer a traditional smartphone design with a large screen, like the one in your hand or pocket right now, that can be folded to become more compact when not in use. 

ET News reported that Samsung's compact foldable smartphone would have a 6.7-inch screen when unfolded and would fold down the middle of the screen, like a flip phone. According to ET News, the new foldable smartphone will be about the size of the Samsung Galaxy S10 5G when unfolded. Folding it in half would, well, halve the size of the new device when you're not using it. 

There will also be a small 1-inch display on the exterior of the device to display basic information, like notifications.

Foldable smartphones, like Samsung's Galaxy Fold and Huawei's Mate X, offer a somewhat opposite experience. They come with a more-or-less typical smartphone design that can be folded outward, like a book, to reveal a tablet-sized screen. 

Samsung and its Galaxy Fold foldable smartphone have been mired with issues that led to the delay of the phone's release. Some reviewers experienced issues with the very thing that sets the Galaxy Fold apart — its folding screen. Some reviewers reported their units' screens malfunctioning randomly or when a protective layer that wasn't designed to be removed was, indeed, removed. 

SEE ALSO: A small Chinese smartphone company has figured out how to make a full-screen display without a notch or pop-up selfie camera

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NOW WATCH: I tried the $1,980 Samsung Galaxy Fold and it's impressive for a first-generation foldable phone, though far from perfect

Hedge funds’ secret sauce is obscure data like satellite images. Here’s how the people in charge of spending millions on this data find the stuff worth buying.

Posted: 26 Jun 2019 10:35 AM PDT

Roberto Jedreicich, Battlefin

  • At BattleFin's two-day conference in New York last week, 150 alternative-data companies jockeyed for the attention of data buyers from hedge funds like Credit Suisse's QT Fund, ExodusPoint, Millennium, and Third Point. 
  • As hedge funds seek out new ways to beat the market, they're increasingly looking to alternative-data providers that offer obscure insight into companies not found in filings and earnings calls.
  • The once under-the-radar role of data buyer has become more important than ever because they control the purse strings for a $7 billion industry. 
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Roberto Jedreicich gets to the point.

The decision-maker on all things alternative data at Credit Suisse's internal $650 million quant fund, QT, is flooded with pitches and meeting requests from new data vendors on the average day. But last week, at BattleFin's Discovery Day in the opulent Plaza hotel in New York, it was more of a tsunami than a flood — he had 30 official 20-minute meetings in two days and dozens of unofficial ones.

So, with limited time, he listened to these companies' abbreviated histories — how many graduate degrees their founders have, which obscure countries they have real-time data on — and started with one simple question: How does this help me and my fund? 

"I can tell pretty much right away which ones I'm interested in, and they'll know right away if I'm interested," he said in between meetings. Business Insider trailed Jedreicich over the course of a few days at BattleFin, a conference designed to match up companies that provide alternative data with buyers of that data.

Read more: Pricey data, slashed fees, and poor returns are hurting hedge funds' margins —and some are getting in the business of helping their rivals

Whether it's satellite images, credit-card transactions, or information scraped off the web, the collection of obscure data known as alternative data, which is used for investment purposes, is a growing business. A Deloitte report pegged the alternative-data market to surpass the $7 billion mark by 2020.

Data buyers like Jedreicich control the purse strings for the billions of dollars hedge funds plan to spend on this type of information. Data buying wasn't always the sexiest of roles, but as hedge funds seek out new ways to beat the market, they're increasingly looking to alternative-data providers that offer insight into companies not found in filings and earnings calls.

A sampling of the companies at BattleFin that were trying to pitch data buyers included: Zillow, the real-estate database with millions of listings; the Amsterdam-based CGLytics, which consolidates and analyzes corporate governance practices for managers with a social-impact focus; and PatSnap, a company focused on data found in new patents and research from the tech world. 

Jedreicich is Credit Suisse's one-man alternative-data team, a data veteran who has done stints at hedge funds, Deutsche Bank, and Merrill Lynch. With a data-buying budget in the millions, Jedreicich does not have a data-science or quant background. He broke into finance in Solomon's fixed-income department in the early 1990s but didn't get really involved in alternative data until his eight-year stint at Izzy Englander's Millennium, starting in 2008. He joined Credit Suisse last summer from Schonfeld Strategic Advisors.

The data-buying community is small but growing. At BattleFin, which had more than 1,000 registered attendees, Jedreicich and his peers were the center of attention.

A legal battle between WorldQuant, which spun out of Millennium, and its former data buyer Matt Ober a couple years ago showed how much funds are ponying up for the best data finders. WorldQuant had sued Ober, alleging a breach of contract because he began working for Dan Loeb's Third Point before his noncompete ended, and the lawsuit showed that Third Point was paying Ober an annual salary of $2 million. 

And now that coders have more data to play with, new startups are popping up in the alternative-data arena all the time.Number of alternative data providers

It's the job of Jedreicich and his competitors to figure out which ones actually provide anything of value and which ones would just add to the data overload many hedge funds are battling

2 days, 30 dates

Shopping for alternative data isn't like going to the grocery store. Jedreicich is not running down some predetermined list of things he wants to buy.

Instead, he and his competitors at hedge funds like Third Point, ExodusPoint, and Balyasny Asset Management, want anything that can provide alpha — investment returns that an investor wouldn't get from an index fund that is simply mimicking the broad market. 

"My focus is bringing in alpha to the firm, everything else is second," he told Business Insider. 

Out of 100 data providers that pitch him, five to 10 get actual contracts.

"If it has alpha, we'll buy it, no matter what is, no matter how old the firm is," he said.

Read more: Hedge-fund managers are overwhelmed by data, and they're turning to an unlikely source: random people on the internet

Decked out in a fitted black suit, a matching T-shirt, and loafers with no socks, Jedreicich pressed the vendors with the same set of questions: How far back does your data go? What is pricing like? Can I run a trial with real-time data?

The last question can be tricky, he said after he finished scribbling vendors' responses on the back of business cards he just got. Not everyone likes giving away free samples after all.

"Some do [agree], some don't, but I always ask," he said.

He said he had been burned in past after backtesting historical data from a few vendors that his team found had predicted market moves before they happened. After signing a contract and ingesting real-time data, however, the investment signals disappeared, and Jedreicich thinks the historical data might have been tweaked to make the offering look more attractive. 

That's not to say he doesn't trust data vendors — in fact, he vouched for several companies in a quick lap around the exhibit hall, pointing out longtime players that he has worked with for years. RavenPack, a company based in Spain that uses natural-language-processing technology to quickly review earnings transcripts, political speeches, and more, has gotten several contracts from Jedreicich. 

Read more: Silicon Valley has made top data-science talent too expensive for many hedge funds, so they're getting creative to compete

But with any rapidly growing business, there are people looking to make a quick buck.

"It's not snake oil, but there are a lot of datasets that have no value," he said.

He wasn't handing out contracts at BattleFin. Jedreicich, if he liked a pitch, would invite the vendor to his office to meet with his chief research officer and some of his quants. From there, the backtesting of the data can take months, and he often likes to have a monthlong trial with real-time data before signing a contract.

He also asked prospective partners if other quant funds were clients. In an ideal world, the data vendor would have a few quants already signed on but not too many, so Jedreicich feels comfortable that someone else in the industry sees value in the data, but the trades generated from the data haven't become too crowded yet.

From boxed lunches to gold-trimmed plates

A lot of the alternative data for sale now didn't exist two or three years ago, Mike Marrale, the CEO of the alternative-data company M Science, said. The explosion in growth was easily visualized at a BattleFin, where just a couple years ago, attendance was a fraction of what it was last week, and lunch came in a box. On Wednesday and Thursday last week, catered lunches of farro salads and pasta were eaten off plates with gold trim. 

Vendors ponied up at least $3,000 just to attend, though many paid close to $10,000 in order to get a table in the exhibit hall. Data buyers, meanwhile, paid roughly $2,000. 

While the pace of innovation helps hedge funds get the latest and greatest, it can make pricing conversations difficult: How do you charge for something that's never been sold before?

"A lot of folks out there, they're trying to sell the first telephone," said Barry Star, the CEO of the 16-year-old alternative-data company Wall Street Horizon, which tracks corporate events. 

Read more: A growing alternative data company helps hedge funds determine if CEOs are lying using CIA interrogation techniques

Many people, Jedreicich said, think they have "million-dollar ideas. No one actually has a million-dollar idea."

"I don't like insulting the vendor, but I know what it's worth," he said. Satellite data, one of the most well-known forms of alternative data, is something he has never bought because it's too expensive and difficult to digest.

Still, budgets are growing at every firm, and hedge funds need to take chances on datasets that are unorthodox, Chris Petrescu, the head of data strategy at ExodusPoint, said.

"You need to take risks and take chances to stay competitive with others," he said on a panel.

Read more: Hedge funds are watching a key lawsuit involving LinkedIn to see if they can spend billions on web-scraped data

Longtime data buyers say that vendors initially ask for prices they'll never pay because there are so many new companies looking to buy this type of information. At BattleFin, there were panels and educational sessions targeted at how corporations can use different types of alternative data to become more efficient.

"There's a lot of newcomers in the buyer space," said Tom Liu, the CEO of ChinaScope, a data company that consolidates, translates, and analyzes Chinese media reports for Western companies.

"There's a lot of people at the edge of water beginning to wade in," he added.

That won't stop a lot of the startups that paid thousands to BattleFin from fizzling out though, Star said.

"Next year, 50% of them won't be back," he added.

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