#Tech

#Tech


IoT Report: How Internet of Things technology growth is reaching mainstream companies and consumers

Posted: 19 Jan 2019 02:01 PM PST

This is a preview of the Internet of Things (2018) research report from Business Insider Intelligence. To learn more about the IoT ecosystem, tech trends and industry forecasts, 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.

Investments into Internet of Things solutions

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.

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Leaked screenshots reveal Verizon is already testing a video-game streaming service to compete with Microsoft, Google, and Amazon

Posted: 19 Jan 2019 01:13 PM PST

verizon 5g home service

  • Verizon is the latest company known to be planning a cloud gaming service. Verizon Gaming will let users stream video games directly to their smartphones and other devices.
  • The Verge reported that the Verizon Gaming app is being tested on the Nvidia Shield, a home-theater streaming device, and will be headed to Android devices next.
  • Other companies pursuing cloud gaming services include Microsoft, Google, Amazon, Sony, and Electronic Arts.

Verizon is planning a new streaming service for video games called Verizon Gaming, according to a report from The Verge. Screenshots of an early test version of the Verizon Gaming app have surfaced, and Verizon has made more than 135 games available for streaming.

Test participants receive a Nvidia Shield, an Xbox One controller, and a Verizon Gaming account, and will be awarded a $150 Amazon gift card once the test is complete. The Verizon Gaming app comes preinstalled on the Nvidia Shield, which is an Android-based device with access to the Google Play store.

Cloud gaming services use remote servers to stream top-quality video games directly to the player. In the simplest terms, the server runs the game and sends the player a video feed from the cloud, while the player's controller inputs are sent back to the server. This allows the user to play the game remotely on their choice of computer or mobile device.

With the server doing the heavy lifting, players no longer need expensive video-game consoles to run the latest games. This has sparked the interest of major tech companies looking to get involved in the video-game industry without investing in expensive consoles and other hardware.

Cloud-based services still require a strong, stable internet connection to stream games properly, and Verizon's 5G mobile-data infrastructure would be ideal for delivering games at high speeds. Amazon and Microsoft, two of the world's largest server providers, will also be testing their own cloud gaming services this year.

Early screenshots from Verizon Gaming obtained by The Verge show a number of popular titles, including "Grand Theft Auto V," "Fortnite," and "Destiny 2,"  but also include PlayStation 4 exclusives such as "God of War 2" and "Knack." However, Verizon informed participants that some of the titles might just be placeholders. Verizon Gaming is also in such an early stage that players cannot save their progress; the game starts fresh each time they boot the app. 

“This trial is primarily focused on performance,” the Verizon Gaming team told test participants in an email, according to The Verge. “At a later date, when we advance the product, our library will consist of most or all of the top games you are familiar with — but at this early stage we’re working on the engine and its parts.”

The Verge found multiple job listings connected to Verizon's cloud-gaming, mobile-gaming, and video-game initiatives, suggesting that the project is still expanding.  The test is due to run through the end of January.

Expect more beta testing for cloud gaming services to pop up during 2019. Google's Project Stream beta test ends January 15, while Microsoft promised a beta test for their Project xCloud service later this year.

You can check out leaked screenshots of Verizon Gaming over at The Verge.

SEE ALSO: Google's new video-game streaming service could mark the beginning of the end for gaming consoles

SEE ALSO: Amazon is reportedly building a Netflix-like service for video games

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The organizers of the Google Walkout are calling on the tech industry to end forced arbitration employment agreements completely (GOOG, GOOGL, FB)

Posted: 19 Jan 2019 01:13 PM PST

google walkout

  • Organizers of last year's Google Walkout, where thousands of employees left their desks to protest the company's handling of executive sexual misconduct cases, are launching a social media campaign called "End Forced Arbitration." 
  • Forced arbitration is an employment practice whereby workers are required to settle any disputes with management out of court, privately. 
  • The campaign will debut Tuesday, Jan. 15 at 9 am EST, and will feature interviews on Twitter and Instagram with sexual harassment and assault survivors, as well as experts.
  • The 'public education' campaign is meant to be an effort that sparks change throughout the industry, at Google and beyond.

Organizers of last year's Google Walkout are not done yet. 

After November's headline-making march, where thousands of Google workers across the world all left work in protest of the company's handling of executive sexual misconduct cases, some organizers are taking it one step further with a new effort called "End Forced Arbitration." 

Forced arbitration is a widespread practice where employers require that workers resolve disputes with management privately, outside of a court of law. 

In response to the Google Walkout, tech companies across the industry, including eBay, Airbnb, Facebook, and Google itself, made forced arbitration optional in cases of sexual assault. However, organizers believe that the change "provided no meaningful gains for worker equity nor an actual change in employee contracts or future offer letters," and calls on in the industry to ban the practice entirely in all cases, according to their statement. 

The organizers claim that they've confirmed that Google and Facebook are still sending out offer letters to prospective new employees with its old arbitration policy fully intact. 

Google and Facebook did not immediately respond to request for comment on Monday morning. 

On Tuesday, January 15 starting at 9 am EST, the social media handle "@endforcedarb" will share interviews with sexual harassment survivors and experts as well as "facts about forced arbitration" throughout the day on Twitter and Instagram

The campaign will feature stories from inside Google, but will not be limited to it: people from academic institutions, advocacy groups and government agencies sent in their own employment agreements, too, organizers say. 

"Ending forced arbitration is the gateway change needed to transparently address inequity in the workplace," the statement said. 

Tweets about what forced arbitration means will be shared on End Forced Arbitration's Twitter handle every hour on the hour, and interviews with survivors and experts will be posted on its Instagram every hour on the half hour.

Got a tip about what it's like to work at Google after the walkout? Contact this reporter via email at mgebel@businessinsider.com or by Twitter DM @MeiraGebel

SEE ALSO: Alphabet's board of directors is being sued for allegations that it covered up claims of sexual harassment by top executives

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The 7 biggest things to expect from Nintendo in 2019

Posted: 19 Jan 2019 01:13 PM PST

Super Mario Odyssey

  • In 2019, Nintendo plans to release the first-ever "core" Pokémon game for the Nintendo Switch.
  • Nintendo is also reportedly working on a new version of the Nintendo Switch, which could arrive in the coming year.
  • Before the end of March 2019, Nintendo is expected to launch its first "Mario Kart" game for smartphones.

Nintendo is a notoriously secretive company, and much of the coming year for the Japanese gaming giant is a mystery. 

That said, we have a pretty good idea about some of Nintendo's biggest plans for 2019: a new main-series "Pokémon" game on the Switch, the first-ever "Mario Kart" game for smartphones in the not-so-distant future, and maybe even a new version of the wildly popular Switch console itself!

And that's before we start talking about the big unknowns. Is 2019 the year when we see more of "Metroid Prime 4" than a logo? Perhaps "Bayonetta 3"?

Here's everything we know — and a few things we're less certain of, but are still entirely possible — about Nintendo's coming year:

SEE ALSO: The 5 biggest things to expect from PlayStation in 2019

1. A new "core" Pokémon game

Pokémon is coming to the Nintendo Switch — prepare yourself!

Nintendo said a "core RPG Pokémon title" is coming to the Nintendo Switch. Not a spin-off, like "Pokémon Stadium" and "Pokémon Snap" way back on the Nintendo 64, but a full-on main-series entry.

The beloved Pokémon game series has always been a portable affair. With few exceptions, the only way to engage with the long-running series was on Nintendo's handheld consoles. But with this new entry, that's about to change.

Nintendo said the next main entry in the long-running Pokémon game franchise — the successor to "Pokémon Ultra Sun" and "Pokémon Ultra Moon" — will arrive in "late 2019." For now, that's all we know.



2. A new version of the Nintendo Switch?

Not a new Nintendo console, mind you, but a new version of an existing one: It looks like Nintendo is already deep in development of a new version of the Nintendo Switch.

Rumors point to logical upgrades, such as a brighter screen, better battery life, and a slimmer profile — Nintendo has yet to say anything officially.

That said, Nintendo has a long history of making new variants of its game consoles.

There are several different versions of the Nintendo 3DS handheld, for instance, some with more horsepower and bigger screens than others. The same could be said for the Nintendo DS before it, and the Game Boy Advance before that.

It's more than just a rumor, it's entirely likely that Nintendo will release new iterations of the Nintendo Switch. And 2019 is said to be the year that we'll see the first of those iterations.



3. "Metroid Prime 4"

What is "Metroid Prime 4"? Little more than a logo at this point, at least publicly speaking.

"Metroid Prime 4" is the fourth game in the first-person "Metroid Prime" series. The franchise began its life on the Nintendo GameCube and drew a legion of loyal fans across several sequels. It's been over a decade since the last major entry, "Metroid Prime 3," arrived on the Nintendo Wii.

The next game is said to be in production by Japanese game company Bandai Namco, rather than the studio responsible for the previous three games, though Nintendo has yet to confirm as much.

After announcing the game through a logo back in June 2017 (pictured above), Nintendo has yet to say another word about the highly anticipated sequel. 



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

The best new technology we saw at CES 2019

Posted: 19 Jan 2019 01:11 PM PST

kia read

  • Business Insider scoured the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas to find the very best cutting-edge tech.
  • The best new technology we saw at the show came from Kia, with its "Real-Time Emotion Adaptive Driving" tech, or READ.
  • READ scans passengers in the car, detecting their heart rate and facial expressions, to provide a more customizable driving experience tailored around how you're feeling. 

ces 2019 graphicCars are soon going to be able to drive themselves — and that means automakers can start designing vehicles that don't need steering wheels, or even traditional seats for that matter.

At CES, the biggest annual tech show in the world, we saw lots of car companies presenting their ideas for what driverless cars could look like, or do.

But the coolest car concept we saw at CES 2019, and easily the best new technology we glimpsed at the show, is what Kia calls “real-time emotion adaptive driving,” or READ.

Take a look.

 

 

 

SEE ALSO: The best consumer concept we saw at CES 2019

READ, which was co-developed by Kia and researchers from MIT, uses artificial intelligence to customize the in-car experience based on the passenger's emotional state.



The car can monitor heart rate and read facial expressions, and it uses that data to adjust the lighting and sounds in the car to complement your mood.



If you're tired, or stressed, for example, Kia's READ system could dim the lighting and turn on some relaxing music.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

CEO Satya Nadella didn't think it was worth celebrating when Microsoft became the world's most valuable company: 'That’s just not stable' (MSFT)

Posted: 19 Jan 2019 01:11 PM PST

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks to guests at an Economic Club of Chicago dinner on October 3, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois.

  • 2018 was a fantastic year for Microsoft shareholders.
  • But Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told journalists Monday that the price of Microsoft's shares, or its stint as the world's most valuable company, wasn't the kind of metrics that thrill him.
  • Instead, Nadella says that it's more instructive to measure the impact that Microsoft has on the economies in which in participates. 

 

2018 was a standout year for Microsoft shareholders. But that success wasn't a focus for Microsoft's CEO Satya Nadella, he told journalists Monday at an invitational media day at the company's headquarters.

To recap: In July, the stock hit an all-time high of above $108 a share. It hit another all-time high over $115 a share in October. Microsoft even dethroned Apple as the most valuable company in the world in November, and held the distinction until early January when it was overtaken by Amazon.

Nadella told the gathered journalists that he's not the type to celebrate these milestones, though.

"I’m not one of those guys who says, 'let's celebrate some market cap measure.' That’s just not stable," he said. 

He said he was far more interested in how the many people outside of the company who rely on its products for their livelihoods, are faring, instead. 

"Our business model is about creating more surplus outside us. We will only be long-term success when the people are making more money around us," he said.

This is a nod to a theory espoused by former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, an advisor to Nadella, that you can only call something a platform when the total value of the ecosystem around it is more valuable than the company that created it. In other words, other companies need to succeed for Microsoft to call itself a success on its own terms. 

Nadella added that his upbringing in India makes him particularly sensitive to the need for companies to contribute to the economies in which they participate. 

"As a guy who grew up in a country that was colonized by multi-nationals without necessarily contributing, I’m always cognizant of that — this thing about showing up and saying I collect rent and no local contribution," he said.

That said, Microsoft doesn't share much data about the impact of its ecosystem, except in the occasional press release. For instance, in October, IDC released several reports predicting Microsoft's cloud will create about 125,000 jobs collectively in several Arab nations over the next five years. 

That said, despite Nadella's lack of enthusiasm, there may still be many more days of share-price highs for him to not celebrate.

Although Microsoft's shares have floated back down to the low $100s, Wall Street analysts are generally bullish on the growth of the company's cloud computing business, and believe the stock will zoom up again. Some analysts think Microsoft could be the next company to reached become worth a trillion dollars, after Apple and Amazon. Its market cap is currently over $780 billion.

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IT pros in Washington, DC, are ready to ditch their current jobs and flock to Amazon's HQ2, a new survey says (AMZN)

Posted: 19 Jan 2019 01:11 PM PST

jeff bezos

  • Washington, DC, information-technology professionals are happy that Amazon is opening up one of its HQ2 campuses in the area, a new poll indicates.
  • Almost three-quarters of them said they would be willing to leave their current job to work for Amazon.
  • Many are hoping that Amazon will pay higher salaries. But there are other reasons they like the idea of working for the tech giant.

While Amazon has faced a slew of protests over its decision to hire up to 25,000 people for its new HQ2 offices in New York, it can expect a much warmer welcome in the Virginia and Washington, DC, area, a new poll from Eagle Hill Consulting indicates.

Amazon expects to hire about 25,000 people for its new office in Crystal City, Virginia, which is in the larger Washington, DC, metropolitan area. Information-technology workers in the area are looking forward to the possibilities working at Amazon will give them, the survey of about 1,000 working-age people in the DC area found.

Of IT workers surveyed, 71% said they would consider leaving their job to work at Amazon. Furthermore, 71% of that group said the most enticing reason to leave would be if Amazon offered them a better salary.

Read more: Amazon struck a blow against Google by buying a tiny Israeli cloud company for a reported $200 million-plus

That may not happen as automatically as these IT pros might think. The DC area is already the third-highest-paying area overall, after San Francisco and Amazon's hometown of Seattle, according to data from LinkedIn. While competition for employees should drive up salaries, there's no reason to believe that Amazon will automatically be paying its DC employees the same rates as it does in Seattle.

However, money isn't the only thing they find exciting about Amazon, according to the survey.

Forty-five percent of respondents said they found Amazon a compelling employer because it could lead to more interesting work than they're currently doing. Given that Amazon likes to build its own technology in-house and that it works on everything from advertising to cloud computing to the Alexa voice assistant, this could be a perk.

Likewise, 45% said they liked the idea of working for a "progressive "company. Amazon has been known to champion progressive causes. In November 2018, the company signed a letter to the Trump administration opposing changes that would define gender as biological sex at birth. And last year, after being criticized for its pay practices, Amazon raised its minimum wage to $15.

Note that this poll was completed in December 2018, before the Trump administration's battle with Congress over funding for a border wall shut down much of the federal government. That shutdown could have a ripple effect over Amazon's bid for the $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud-computing contract with the Pentagon.

That's important because the survey respondents included federal workers as well as local businesses. In the Washington, DC, area, many private businesses supply the public sector, even if they're not government agencies themselves. So for any workers who feel like their livelihoods are threatened by the ongoing political turmoil on Capitol Hill, Amazon's entrance into the job market could come as a huge relief.

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Apple is putting the brakes on hiring for certain groups because of slowing iPhone sales (AAPL)

Posted: 19 Jan 2019 01:10 PM PST

Tim Cook

  • Apple plans to reduce hiring in certain groups, according to a Bloomberg report.
  • CEO Tim Cook informed employees about the hiring changes during an internal meeting earlier this month, but said it was not decided which groups would be affected.
  • Cook stressed that Apple was not implementing a broad-based hiring freeze, and noted that some groups, like its artificial intelligence team, would not be affected. 

Apple will cut back on hiring for certain divisions as the company re-adjusts its plans in the face of slowing iPhone sales, according to a Bloomberg report on Wednesday.

CEO Tim Cook told employees during a meeting earlier this month that Apple would reduce hiring for certain unspecified groups, but said the company would not impose a hiring freeze, Bloomberg reported citing anonymous sources. 

Cook said he still had not fully decided which groups within Apple would be affected. 

The comments were reportedly made at an all-hands meeting the day after Apple's surprise disclosure that sales in its holiday quarter fell billions of dollars short of its expectations. Apple blamed the slowing Chinese economy and weaker-than-expected smartphone demand for the shortfall in iPhone sales.

During the all-hands meeting Cook singled out Apple's artificial intelligence group as one area that would not be affected by the hiring slowdown. And he said that plans to open offices in Austin and Los Angeles would also not change, Bloomberg reported.

Apple had 132,000 full-time employees as of September 29. That number includes employees at Apple's Cupertino Calif. headquarters and its various offices, as well as the staffers that work at Apple's network of retail stores around the world.

Apple did not immediately return a request for comment.

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Astronauts can attend Amazon's new cutting-edge tech conference for free (AMZN)

Posted: 19 Jan 2019 01:10 PM PST

Jeff Bezos

  • Amazon is introducing a new event called re:MARS, which focuses on machine learning, automation, robotics, and space technology.
  • re:MARS is inspired by MARS, a private invite-only event hosted by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, focused on artificial intelligence and space.
  • The first event will take place this year from June 4-7, and registration will open in March.
  • Pricing information isn't available yet, but astronauts can attend for free.

Amazon announced Thursday a new conference that's all about artificial intelligence, robots, outer space and other cutting-edge technology.

This event is called re:MARS, which stands for "Machine learning, Automation, Robotics and Space." This year's event will take place June 4-7 at the ARIA Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. It was inspired by MARS, which is an exclusive invite-only AI-focused event hosted by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.

Now, Amazon is introducing a larger event, open to the paying public, to bring together academics, engineers, roboticists, executives, and more to learn how AI can be used in business.

“We’re at the beginning of a golden age of AI. Recent advancements have already led to invention that previously lived in the realm of science fiction—and we’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible,” Bezos said in a statement. “AI is an enabling technology that can improve products and services across all industries."

Registration will open in March, and pricing information isn't available yet — although astronauts can attend for free. Although re:MARS has some similarities to Amazon's re:Invent cloud conference, and will include Amazon Web Services-related workshops, re:MARS is more specifically focused on the latest innovations in AI.

The event this year will include speakers from MIT, UC Berkeley, the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and more. Participants will also see robotics demos and the Blue Origin New Shepard crew capsule, and they will have the chance to participate in AI hackathons and technical workshops on Amazon's AI technology, like Alexa and Amazon Go.

Read more: Amazon is releasing a $400 self-driving toy car that you can program yourself – and it's launching a racing league to test your skills

At last year's AWS re:Invent, Amazon made an assortment of new AI announcements, including releasing an AI chip and a self-driving toy car. Also, Amazon has already gotten into the space business. Last November, Amazon announced a new offering that lets businesses rent access to data from satellites.

Meanwhile, Bezos' more exclusive MARS conference have always made a splash — last year, the exec took a robot dog for a walk, and before that, he showed up in a 13-foot-tall robot suit.

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Netflix's 18% price hike shows it got too comfortable being the only game in town, and it could be a costly mistake (NFLX, DIS, T, CMCSA)

Posted: 19 Jan 2019 01:10 PM PST

reed hastings netflix

  • Netflix's price hike, announced Tuesday, could hurt the company eventually, if not immediately, the Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter says.
  • Customers may not notice it right away, he said in an interview, but could pay more attention later this year when Disney launches a rival service with movies and shows that are no longer on Netflix.
  • He said that few consumers were likely to choose more than one pure streaming service and that Netflix's price hike had left it vulnerable to price competition.

Netflix's price hike may come back to bite the streaming video leader — and maybe not so far in the future.

The company's second price increase in less than two years, announced Tuesday, delighted investors accustomed to the intoxicating pricing power that comes when a business dominates a market the way Netflix does. 

But Netflix is about to face a new class of heavyweight competitors, Michael Pachter, a financial analyst who covers the company for Wedbush, told Business Insider in an interview Tuesday. What's more, many of these new rivals are likely to remove the movies and TV shows they license to Netflix, folding the content into their streaming services instead.

With Netflix's prices going up, its offerings arguably becoming less attractive, and a growing number of options to choose from, consumers, including some Netflix customers, are likely to start opting for other streaming services, Pachter said.

When it comes to which streaming video offering customers subscribe to, "it's not going to be all Netflix anymore," Pachter said.

Analysts and investors seem sanguine about the price hike

Netflix announced its biggest-ever price increases on Tuesday, saying it would hike its plan prices by 13% to 18%. Thanks to the move, its most popular plan will cost $13 a month, up from $11. That puts Netflix's price within spitting distance of that of the traditional premium TV leader HBO, which charges $15 a month for its standalone HBO Now streaming service.

Despite the steepness of the price hike and the fact that it is the second for the company in less than two years, few analysts seemed worried about it. Netflix's subscriber base continued to grow after its most recent price hike, noted Tuna Amobi, a financial analyst who covers the company for CFRA. Netflix added about 4 million new paying subscribers in the first nine months of last year, following its late 2017 price increase.

"It went seamlessly," Amobi said, adding that he thought Netflix had pricing power in its business model.

For their part, investors seemed enthused by the new price hike. Following Netflix's announcement, the company's stock finished Tuesday's regular trading session up 6.5%.

Though Pachter is a longtime bear on Netflix's stock — he has an underperform rating and a $150 price target on it — he's similarly sanguine about the price hike. Few, if any, Netflix subscribers will cancel their service immediately because of it, he said, arguing that the real danger to the company from the increase will materialize later this year.

Read this: Netflix is betting billions on its original shows and movies — but this analyst warns it's a far riskier gamble than investors realize

Netflix is losing content and gaining rivals

Netflix's deal with Disney is ending this year, and the company will most likely start pulling its movies and show from the former's service soon. Assuming it completes its planned acquisition of 21st Century Fox, it could also start pulling Fox's shows.

Bob Iger Mickey Drew Angerer Getty finalConsumers most likely won't notice many of the changes right away, Pachter said. But when Disney launches its streaming service later this year with content that used to be on Netflix, that could be a wakeup call.

"Sometime later this year, people are going notice that there's nothing on Netflix," he said.

And the landscape could get even more competitive. Warner Bros. plans to launch its own streaming service later this year and could similarly pull its shows and movies from Netflix and put them on its offering. The Comcast-owned NBC Universal announced this week that it was planning to launch a streaming service next year.

Together, video from Disney, Fox, Warner, and Comcast accounts for some 20% of Netflix's content, according to research from Ampere Analysis reported by Recode.

"When all that s--- disappears, Netflix has a problem," Pachter said bluntly.

It could be undercut on price

And by raising its prices, Netflix has also made itself vulnerable to competition on price. Disney CEO Bob Iger has said his company's streaming service will be "substantially cheaper" than Netflix — and that was before Netflix's latest price hike. Likewise, Netflix's current rivals Amazon and Hulu could play up the difference in price between their offerings and that of the streaming giant. Hulu's ad-free service costs $12 a month, while Amazon Prime costs $10 a month on an annual basis.

"If you don't think Amazon going exploit that in advertisements, you're wrong," Pachter said. "They will."

To date, consumers interested in streaming video have generally opted to subscribe to Netflix. While many consumers subscribe to Amazon Prime also, most do so because they signed up for the service's free shipping offering, not for streaming video, Pachter said. Hulu also doesn't directly compete with Netflix, because most consumers use it to watch broadcast TV shows they missed, he said.

The coming services from Disney and Warner Bros. are likely to be much more competitive with Netflix. Because most consumers have limited budgets, Pachter reckons the streaming video market is likely to shake out similarly to the market for premium cable channels: The majority of consumers will subscribe to just one. Though HBO is the leader, many consumers subscribe to Showtime or Starz instead, he said.

"Most people pick one," he said.

SEE ALSO: Netflix is now the most popular TV service in the US — here's why its lead is likely to only get larger

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Amid fears of an impending recession, some employees at Silicon Valley's IPO-bound startups say they're starting to get anxious

Posted: 19 Jan 2019 01:10 PM PST

Uber employees

  • 2019 was supposed to be a blockbuster year for tech companies going public — but the volatility of the public markets is making some employees at IPO-bound tech companies nervous. 
  • We spoke to a current employee at Uber and a current employee at Airbnb. Both companies are expected to hold their long-awaited IPOs this year. 
  • The Uber employee says that there's a lot of anxiety within the company over the company's valuation — conflicting reports have said that Uber could go public with a market cap as high as $120 billion or as low as $90 billion. That number has a huge bearing on the value of employees' shares. 
  • Meanwhile, the Airbnb employee says that the company is doubling down on customer service and safety so as to make sure it avoids any scandals ahead of an IPO. (A spokesperson for Airbnb says that this is "false," and that its investments in those areas are independent of any IPO plans.)
  • Indeed, both companies are very sensitive to negative press in the run-up to IPO, say both tech workers.

This is slated to be a blockbuster year for IPOs — mega-valuable startups like Uber, Lyft, Slack, Palantir, and Airbnb are all anticipated to make their public-market debut in 2019, giving investors and employees the chance to hopefully cash out big on their shares. 

And as you might imagine, the excitement at the possibility of becoming an instant millionaire is getting to employees. A current Uber employee, who wished to remain anonymous, tells Business Insider that the recently-announced IPO is the talk of the office, with employees bringing it up at every company-wide all-hands meeting.

Some engineers are fantasizing about buying their first homes in the wildly expensive San Francisco Bay Area, while others are planning on using the windfall to put their kids through college, the Uber employee says. 

"It’s such a big event when so much of your compensation is tied up in equity," the Uber employee told us. "Definitely, the entire climate is like: When are we IPO-ing? How much money am I going to get?"

Uber declined to comment for this story.

At Airbnb, the excitement has manifested in the form of a renewed focus on the work, as workers go "heads down," says a current employee at the home-sharing firm. 

"We just want to make sure [the IPO] happens," he said. While the company has not formally announced an IPO, the company said on Tuesday that it's profitable, and is widely expected to make the move this year. Early last year, CEO Brian Chesky told Fortune that Airbnb would be "ready" to IPO in 2019, "but I don’t know if we will,” 

Brian Chesky

Still, this enthusiasm is tempered by a healthy dose of reality, says the Uber employee. As fears of a recession swirl, and the public markets go through a period of volatility, there are concerns within the ride-sharing firm that its IPO may fall short of early projections. The employee says that at Uber, they "aren’t necessarily getting their heads over their skis" — as in, they're trying to keep their expectations in check. 

Read more: 2019 was supposed to be a banner year for IPOs, but now it's turning into a 's---show'

Specifically, Uber employees are worrying a lot about the company's potential public valuation. Early reports pegged Uber at going public with a market cap of $120 billion, but a more recent analysis of leaked Uber financials show that its market cap could be closer to $90 billion at the time of its debut. That discrepancy would make a huge difference in the value of employees' shares — contributing to internal anxiety, says the employee.

“Will it be $90 [billion]? Will it be $120 [billion]? Will it be less than that?" the current Uber employee told us, referring to the company's potential market cap at the time of IPO. "People are kind of more like, ‘let’s see what the price is before we start speculating wildly.’”

Even Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi showed signs of restraint last week when he spoke to The Wall Street Journal about going public in an unstable market. “We’ll do it when we’re ready, and, hopefully, the markets will be in a good state,” Khosrowshahi said.

The bad news factor

Another big point of concern at both Uber and Airbnb is the possibility of bad press in the run-up to the IPO, say both employees we spoke to. This is important, as both companies have found themselves at the center of controversy in recent memory — something to which employees are very sensitive, says the Uber employee.

“The pure fact that we’re pre-IPO just means our valuation can fluctuate so much based on news stories. Everyone is very sensitive about every news story that comes out, which there are a lot for Uber," says the Uber employee. 

In 2017, Uber founder Travis Kalanick stepped down as CEO after a string of high-profile scandals, and in 2018, a self-driving Uber vehicle was responsible for the death of a pedestrian.

And the Airbnb employee cites an episode from early 2018 where a guest allegedly threw a massive 300-person party, doing lots of damage to the home — and the host said that she didn't hear back from Airbnb about the issue for weeks afterwards, sparking an outcry.

Dara Khosrowshahi

The Airbnb employee told us that the company is building out its customer support teams to avoid any such public relations scandals ahead of its public offering. 

“A lot of the talk internally is about buttoning everything up,” the Airbnb employee said. “So we’re bulking up on teams like Trust & Safety and Support.”

However, Airbnb disputed this account of things in a statement to Business Insider, saying that any investments in customer service and safety are just a natural extension of its continued popularity, and unrelated to a potential IPO.

"This rumor is false," said Nick Papas, Airbnb's global press secretary.

"We are always committed to supporting our community and continuing to scale this support as the community grows. Our ongoing investments in trust and safety have nothing to do with an IPO and everything to do with continuing to support a community that is on course to grow to 500m guest arrivals over this quarter."

Regardless of the reasoning, the Airbnb employee is glad that the company is taking proactive measures now, before these incidents potentially impact the value of employees' shares later.

“It’s better to remedy things now before you’re on the public markets," says the Airbnb employee. 

Got a tip? Contact this reporter via Signal at +1 (209) 730-3387, email at nbastone@businessinsider.com, or Twitter DM at @nickbastone.

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2019 was supposed to be a banner year for IPOs, but now it's turning into a 's---show'

Posted: 19 Jan 2019 01:10 PM PST

beyond burger

  • This year was supposed to be the year of the unicorn initial public offering, with massively funded private startups like Uber, Lyft, and Slack all preparing to go public.
  • Now, just two weeks into the year, bankers say it's turning into a "s---show."
  • The federal-government shutdown has left the Securities and Exchange Commission closed, which means most companies cannot move forward with going public.
  • Market volatility is also creating an unstable environment for soon-to-be-public companies.

Ask any banker which of the multibillion-dollar startups will go public first in 2019, and the answer is a sigh of resignation.

Back in December 2018, 2019 was set to be the year of unicorns, with windfalls for patient investors, equity-vested employees, and gleeful investment bankers alike. Now, just two weeks into the year, bankers have a new way of characterizing the market for tech initial public offerings: "a s---show."

For the most part, bankers said, tech IPOs are at a standstill. That means bankers aren't getting paid the tens of millions in underwriting fees (not to mention bragging rights) they expected to land this year.

Meanwhile, those banks are bracing for painful fourth-quarter results after facing a very difficult December 2018 amid market volatility.

IPOs on pause, from Cloudflare and Zoom to Beyond Meat

zoom eric yuanLawyers, who handle most of the IPO filings with regulators, can't get paperwork approved because employees at the Securities and Exchange Commission haven't been working because of the federal-government shutdown.

"The biggest impact is for people that are trying to get out right now. There's no good way to do that," said Tom Holden, a partner at Ropes & Gray. "Longer horizon IPOs are moving forward. It's not like people are just shutting down altogether. We just don't know when the SEC is going to open its doors again."

At the end of 2018, bankers told Business Insider they expect to see about 50 IPOs this year, and many said they expect the deal value to be around 2018's total of $19.8 billion.

Companies including Uber and Lyft, which both confidentially filed at the beginning of December 2018, reportedly have not seen comments on their first draft.

Others, including Cloudflare and Zoom, held bake-offs to pick underwriters in early fall and were on track to file in early January, but have put it off due to the government situation, according to one source.

Sure, back in December 2018, the biggest question on everyone's minds was market volatility. Tencent Music went public in the middle of the month and suffered for it. But others, like Beyond Meat, Revolve, and Virgin Trains, filed publicly at the end of the year. They're ready to go but still haven't listed.

Read more: Uber, Lyft, China, and more — top tech investment bankers share their biggest hopes and fears for IPOs in 2019

And while volatility remains a factor, some believe the shutdown is taking time out of a precious window of opportunity when investors are eager to see new assets on the public markets.

"There's a perception right now that the market is open and that there would be demand for IPOs," said Kenton King, a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. "That's not always the case, and the IPO market is notoriously volatile, even in the best of times. When there's demand for new issuances, you want to get out and you want to get it done."

Don't expect a tech IPO before spring

If and when the federal government reopens, the paperwork pipeline will likely be backed up. But people close to the process told Business Insider not to expect a race to the public markets, especially not immediately after February 14.

Once mid-February hits, companies will be obligated to provide the SEC with updated financial information, which means anything filed before then will be considered outdated, multiple lawyers told Business Insider.

After February 14, it will take companies a few weeks to get their audited financials together. This will most strongly impact companies that follow a calendar-year schedule and whose full-year financials will need to be audited in addition to quarterly financials.

A company has to publicly file, price, and list on the public markets before February 14 for it to be legally sound.

That process takes 3 1/2 weeks to a month for companies that have not already filed publicly, according to Holden. Once a company files publicly, it has to wait two weeks before going to the roadshow, where executives and bankers tout the company to institutional investors.

"The issue is, people time their filings in order to hit specific windows," King said. "You work back from when you think you will price and when your financial statements will go stale. This throws the entire timing off."

And if the federal government stays closed for "months or even years," as President Donald Trump threatened last week?

"There's not really a plan B. The plan B will be M&A [mergers and acquisitions] activity, for some companies," Holden said, adding that biotech companies are particularly vulnerable. "For the big companies that aren't in dire need of money, they can ride it out. But there will be companies who really need the money, and if they can't access the capital markets and there's not private money available either, then M&A is the next option."

SEE ALSO: 2 tech M&A trends that bankers and insiders expect to see in 2019

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The reclusive founder of Huawei broke years of silence after his daughter's arrest in Canada to say he misses her 'very much'

Posted: 19 Jan 2019 01:09 PM PST

Ren Zhengfei

  • Huawei's founder, Ren Zhengfei, breaking years of silence, has denied charges that his company spies on behalf of China.
  • Huawei is the second-biggest smartphone maker after Samsung and also provides core telecommunications kit to countries around the world.
  • Ren's daughter Meng Wanzhou is Huawei's chief financial officer, who was arrested in Canada at the behest of US authorities in December.
  • The press-shy founder said he missed his daughter and said justice would prevail.
  • Huawei is under unprecedented scrutiny over allegations against Meng involving Iran and thanks to the US-China trade war.

Ren Zhengfei, the press-shy founder of the Chinese electronics giant Huawei, broke years of public silence on Tuesday, telling reporters that he missed his daughter Meng Wanzhou "very much" and denying any wrongdoing by his company.

Meng is Huawei's chief financial officer, and she is being detained in Canada at the request of the US. Authorities have accused Huawei of violating US sanctions by doing business with Iran, a charge Meng has denied.

Ren, despite his prominent position, is fairly reclusive. He held a press conference with reporters in Shenzhen on Tuesday where he denied suggestions that Huawei spied on behalf of the Chinese government. It was his first time speaking with the international media since 2015.

Read more: An arrest, a debutante ball, and 3 marriages: Inside the lives of the super rich Huawei dynasty

According to the Financial Times, he said Huawei had "never received any request from any government to provide improper information."

"I still love my country, I support the Communist Party, but I will never do anything to harm any country in the world," he said.

According to The Wall Street Journal, he added: "I personally would never harm the interest of my customers and me and my company would not answer to such requests."

He said justice would prevail in the case of his daughter.

US lawmakers have been fretting about Huawei for years

Meng Wanzhou

Huawei is best known to consumers as the second-biggest maker of smartphones behind Samsung, but its core business is in providing telecommunications infrastructure to mobile companies around the world.

It is one of the most successful companies in China, but US politicians worry that the telecommunications kit it sells to mobile companies is compromised, allowing the Chinese government to spy on US communications. The company has always denied this.

US President Donald Trump's trade war has escalated general tensions with China, and the arrest of Meng in December has only compounded the issue.

The case against Meng centers on two companies operating in Iran: the equipment seller Skycom and the shell company Canicula Holdings. Authorities claim that Meng tricked banks into clearing transactions with these two firms in violation of US sanctions on Iran by claiming they were independent of Huawei. But Reuters uncovered in documents earlier in January showing that Huawei was closely linked to both firms.

Just two days ago, Huawei fired an executive who had been charged with spying in Poland.

"Huawei is only a sesame seed in the trade conflict between China and the US," Bloomberg reported Ren as saying.

Ren stepped back from day-to-day operations at Huawei in 2011, and the company is now run by executives who change roles every few months. His daughter replaced him as vice chairman in March.

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Aaron Sorkin says it's time for a sequel to 'The Social Network' after Facebook’s nightmare year

Posted: 19 Jan 2019 01:09 PM PST

Social Network

  • Writer Aaron Sorkin thinks there should be a sequel to the Facebook origins film he wrote, "The Social Network."
  • He said "a lot of very interesting, dramatic stuff" has happened since the movie came out in 2010.
  • The film's producer has also floated the idea of revisiting the subject. 

There should a sequel to "The Social Network," the 2010 film on the origins of Facebook.

That's the view of the man who wrote it, Aaron Sorkin, who said there is plenty of new material for another movie after a nightmare year for Facebook, in which it has made headlines for all the wrong reasons.

"I know a lot more about Facebook in 2005 than I do in 2018, but I know enough to know that there should be a sequel," Sorkin told AP Entertainment.

The 2010 film, directed by David Fincher, dramatises Facebook's early years and the legal battles fought by Zuckerberg with his cofounder Eduardo Saverin and the Winklevoss twins.

"A lot of very interesting, dramatic stuff has happened since the movie ends with settling the lawsuit from the Winklevoss Twins and Eduardo Saverin" Sorkin added.

Read more: Facebook's disastrous run may actually worsen in 2019, with advertisers possibly turned off by its 'toxicity'

The screenwriter, who has penned shows including "The West Wing" and films such as "Molly's Game," added that "The Social Network's" producer Scott Rudin is also enthusiastic about revisiting Facebook. 

"I’ve gotten more than one email from him with an article attached saying, ‘Isn’t it time for a sequel?'" Sorkin said.

He did not expand on whether actor Jesse Eisenberg might reprise his role as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, or whether David Fincher would return to direct. 

Facebook's disastrous year began when the explosive Cambridge Analytica data breach was exposed in March 2018. Since then, the company has discovered more data breaches, found further evidence of bad actors using Facebook to interfere in elections, been the subject of a shareholder revolt, and been accused of smearing critics

SEE ALSO: A picture of a humble egg just became the most-liked Instagram post ever

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Apple needs to get serious about video. Here are 3 Hollywood studios it could buy to boost its new streaming service. (AAPL)

Posted: 19 Jan 2019 01:09 PM PST

Apple CEO Tim Cook

  • Apple should be in the hunt for a video content company, Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said in a new report.
  • The company's future growth is dependent on its services business, and a streaming video offering is expected and needed to drive that business, Ives said.
  • Ives think the company has several potential and notable targets.

Dan Ives thinks the time has come for Apple to open up its wallet and buy a piece of Hollywood.

Like others on Wall Street, Ives, an analyst who covers the iPhone maker for Wedbush, thinks the company's future is in its services business. A key component of that business going forward is likely to be the subscription streaming video offering it's widely expected to launch this year.

But even as Apple is spending more than $1 billion a year to develop new video content, it faces a big challenge going up against Netflix, not to mention the new and upcoming streaming services from Disney and the combined AT&T-Time Warner — it has little in the way of a library of movies and TV shows.

"Now is the time for Apple to rip off the band-aid and finally do significant content [mergers and acquisitions]," Ives said in a new research note. Should the company pass on the opportunity, he continued, "it will be a major strategic mistake ... that will haunt the company for years to come, [because] content [is] the rocket fuel in the services engine that is currently missing in the portfolio."

Read this: Investors focused on Apple's disappointing iPhone sales are missing the company's hidden goldmine

Making such an acquisition would represent a major shift for Apple. While the iPhone maker has purchased lots of smaller companies, it has traditionally eschewed big mergers. To date, the biggest acquisition deal Apple has ever completed was its $3 billion purchase of headphone maker Beats in 2014.

But with some $237 billion in cash and investments as of the end of September, Apple has plenty of money with which to go shopping. And now would be an ideal time, argued Ives. With AT&T having completed its merger with Time Warner last year and Disney expected to close its deal to acquire 21st Century Fox this spring, consolidation is about to become the name of the game in the content business, he said.

While Apple has been trying to build up its content library piece by piece, it risks being left far behind by rivals that are spending many times what it is each year and which already have significant holdings of movies and TV shows, Ives said.

"Apple significantly lacks the core content to get its loyal customer base to pay $10 per month," he said, adding that CEO Tim "Cook, Jony Ive (Chief Design Officer), Eddy Cue (head of Apple's content strategy), and others on the leadership/strategy team continue to drive in the right lane at 55 mph, while competitors from all areas of technology and media are passing the technology stalwart in the left lane driving 100 mph in their new content sports cars."

So where should Apple put its money? What content companies should it buy?

Here are the ones that Ives thinks could be prime targets for Apple:

SEE ALSO: Here's why Apple's China situation is at 'code red,' and why it needs to take dramatic action to plug up a key weakness in the business

A24

An independent film distribution and production house, A24 has made a splash in recent years with several acclaimed films, including "Lady Bird" and Jonah Hill's "Mid90s."

The studio has more recently branched into television, distributing last year's "Pod Save America" TV special and the upcoming "At Home with Amy Sedaris."



Lionsgate

A venerable player in the independent film market, Lionsgate hit it big in recent years with some popular franchise films, most notably "The Hunger Games" series. The company also owns the rights to the "Divergent" and "Twilight" series.

The company also has a significant television arm. Among its more notable productions are "Nashville" and Netflix hit "Orange is the New Black."



Sony Pictures

An Apple acquisition of Sony Pictures would be an interesting turn of events. The studio was formed in the late 1980s when that era's dominant electronics firm — Sony — decided it needed to get into the content business and purchased Columbia Pictures from Coca-Cola.

Purchasing Sony Pictures would be among the biggest moves Apple could feasibly make; Sony Pictures is considered to be one of the Big Six Hollywood studios. In addition to films such as the "Spider-Man" series, Sony Pictures has a major television arm, which has produced shows such as "Shark Tank" and "Masters of Sex."



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Someone in Silicon Valley is renting a studio apartment for $1,500 a month just for his two cats

Posted: 19 Jan 2019 01:09 PM PST

Maine Coon cat

  • A Silicon Valley landlord is renting his San Jose studio apartment to a pair of cats, whose owner couldn't keep them in his own apartment, according to a San Jose Mercury News report on Sunday. 
  • Rent for the cats is $1,500 per month. 
  • "Basically I've got two renters that don't have opposable thumbs," the landlord said. 

Rental prices in Silicon Valley have skyrocketed to some of the highest in the country, as troves of tech workers have made the move with grand dreams of cashing in on the next big thing. Now, prospective renters may have to start competing for the limited amount of housing with our four-legged friends, too. 

On Sunday, the San Jose Mercury News reported that a Silicon Valley landlord is renting his studio apartment to a pair of Maine Coon-mixed cats, whose owner couldn't keep them in his own apartment. 

"Basically I've got two renters that don't have opposable thumbs," the landlord, David Callisch, told the Mercury. "It's actually great. They're very quiet, obviously. The only problem is they stink up the place."

Rent for the cats — named Tina and Louise, after characters from the animated show Bob's Burgers — is $1,500 per month, according to the report. 

Callisch says the situation happened by chance, as his friend Troy Good — the renter in question, who builds custom phone booths for tech offices with open floor plans — needed a place for his daughter's beloved cats to live while she moved away to college. The felines, apparently, were not getting along with his fiance's terrier dog. 

Read more: Photos show what it's like for Silicon Valley's 'working homeless' who live down the street from tech giants

The situation has struck some as absurd, given Silicon Valley's ongoing housing crisis. 

"Silicon Valley is a place with so much inequality where thousands of people sleep on the streets every night while someone rents a below-market studio for $1,500 a month to two cats," tweeted Seattle Times real estate reporter Mike Rosenberg.

The cats do keep an active Instagram account to show off their apartment living. The account — described as "Two spoiled Maine coon/ Bombay sisters" — can be found here

Read the full San Jose Mercury News report here.

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Three ways brands can benefit from adopting voice technology (AAPL, AMZN, GOOGL, MSFT)

Posted: 19 Jan 2019 01:01 PM PST

  • Voice assistants like Amazon's Alexa, Google's Assistant, Apple's Siri, and Microsoft's Cortana, are pegged to trigger a widespread transformation across the retail industry in the years to come.
  • The current interest in, and adoption of, voice assistants for commerce is being driven by recent technological breakthroughs, advantages of the tech over existing channels, and the development of voice apps.
  • As consumer demand for voice technology mounts, brands offering this functionality throughout the entire customer journey stand to gain in three key ways.

Not too long ago, if your friend had a smart speaker like Amazon's Alexa or Google's Assistant in their living room, it seemed like a rare novelty. Within a matter of months, however, smart speakers have started becoming household staples — and they're still only at a fraction of their growth potential.

US Consumers Use Voice Assistants Throughout the Entire Shopping Journey

One of the biggest drivers of adoption has been increased functionality. Smart speakers aren't just changing the music and turning on the lights; they're helping consumers find new products and make purchases — and they're quickly becoming a preferred method of shopping.

In fact, nearly a quarter of consumers globally already prefer using a voice assistant over going to a company website or mobile app to shop. This share will jump to 40% by 2021, according to Capgemini.

Consumers are on board with the prompt, convenient nature of shopping with smart speakers — and brands who join them stand to reap massive rewards. The Voice in Retail Report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, highlights the value voice brings to the shopping funnel and how retailers can implement it throughout the customer journey.

Here are three ways brands can capture consumers with voice technology:

  • Driving product purchases: Voice assistants make spending faster and easier when consumers are unable to use their hands. The ability to make a purchase on any channel and the addition of personalized, intelligent elements to the shopping experience are simplifying the transition from product discovery to product purchase.
  • Heightening customer loyalty: Brands can leverage voice assistants in the post-purchase phase to track delivery status, automate part of the return process, interact with customer service, offer feedback, and collect consumer behavioral and transactional data.
  • Shifting consumers' spending behaviors: Smart device ownership has a snowball effect, so as the smart device ecosystem reaches the mainstream, consumers will flock to connected cars, smart home devices and appliances, and connected virtual reality and augmented reality (VR/AR) headsets.

Want to Learn More?

Shoppers are interested in using voice assistants for every stage of the customer journey, from initial product search and discovery to post-purchase customer service and delivery status. And retailers that take advantage of consumers' desire to leverage voice will be in a stronger position to heighten customer engagement, increase conversion times, drive sales, and boost operational efficiency.

The Voice in Retail Report from Business Insider Intelligence examines the trends driving the adoption of voice commerce, details the role of voice throughout the customer shopping journey, outlines how brands can benefit from implementing voice in their strategies, and explores what's ahead for the technology in retail.

 

 

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Here's an early glimpse into the autonomous trucking market — and how self-driving technology is disrupting the way goods are delivered

Posted: 19 Jan 2019 12:37 PM PST

autonomous trucking graphic

This 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. Current subscribers can read the report here.

Trucking is set to transform radically in the coming years, with innovative technologies enabling trucks to take over more and more driving responsibilities, saving time and money for operators and businesses that rely on shipping.

Autonomous trucks are being tested on roads around the world, and systems from startups like Peloton and Embark could make their way into commercial trucks as soon as next year. Fleets will be able to leverage autonomous technologies to cut costs and gain a critical edge over competitors.

But to start planning for, and to eventually implement, those technologies, companies need to know what sorts of systems will be ready and when, and what regulatory hurdles will need to be overcome to get autonomous trucks on the road. 

In The Autonomous Trucking Report, Business Insider Intelligence provides an early glimpse into the emerging autonomous trucking market. First, we look at the trucking market as it stands today, offering a basic profile of the industry and highlighting a number of the challenges and issues it faces. Then, we go through the three waves of autonomous technology that are set to upend the industry — platooning, semi-autonomous systems, and fully autonomous trucks — looking at who is making strides in each of these areas, when the technology can be expected to start making an impact, and what companies can do to get ahead of the curve.

Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • Advanced and autonomous technology will enable operators and shipping firms to eradicate some of the challenges that have long plagued them. Trucks will take over more and more driving responsibilities, saving time and money for operators and businesses that rely on shipping.
  • The impact of autonomous technologies on the trucking industry will come in three major waves: platooning or fuel-saving vehicle convoys, semi-autonomous highway control systems, and fully autonomous trucks.
  • Change to the trucking industry will be gradual but inexorable. Companies with foresight can start to make long-term plans to account for the ways that autonomous technologies will change how goods and products move from place to place.

In full, the report:

  • Analyzes the development of autonomous trucking technology.
  • Explains the waves in which advanced and autonomous technologies will start to impact the trucking industry, providing detailed explanations of how a company can take advantage of the disruptive technology transforming logistics at each stage.
  • Profiles the efforts of the companies that are at the forefront of new technology in trucking, looking at what they're working on and when their efforts could start to impact the market.

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Fiserv's $22 billion deal for First Data is one of the biggest deals in fintech history, and already some on Wall Street are warning of a culture war (FISV, FDC)

Posted: 19 Jan 2019 12:35 PM PST

first data ceo frank bisignano

  • The financial-technology company Fiserv on Wednesday said it was acquiring First Data for $22 billion.
  • The companies said they expected at least $500 million in revenue and $900 million in cost savings from synergies — the benefits created when two companies merge.
  • Some Wall Street analysts remain skeptical those estimates are practical considering the lack of overlap between the two companies and the difficulty they will face selling to each other's customers.
  • One analyst in an investor note pointed to First Data's below-average employee rating on Glassdoor as a potential indicator of culture issues.

It's one of the biggest deals in financial-technology history, with promises of hefty additional revenue generation and cost savings to boot.

But some Wall Street analysts are skeptical about the $1.4 billion in revenue and cost-saving synergies Fiserv and First Data have said will come from their $22 billion deal announced Wednesday.

The announcement came to the surprise of many in the industry given the lack of overlapping business the two companies share. Fiserv's main business is focused on financial technology for small and medium-size banks, while First Data specifically handles payment processing.

The companies said they expected at least $500 million in revenue synergies — the benefits created when two companies merge — thanks to areas such as bank-merchant services and FirstData's card-payment solution for merchants, Clover. That's in addition to $900 million the firms expect to save in costs over the same time period from consolidating the firms' corporate structures and streamlining tech and operations.

These goals may be lofty, say some analysts who follow the companies. 

Moshe Katri, an analyst at Wedbush, told Business Insider that while cost savings could be expected through the new deal, creating additional revenue might be a tall task.

"The revenue synergies are likely optimistic," Katri said. "I would say that historically, Fiserv has not been able to consistently deliver on the top line. And I would say the same thing on First Data."

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In a note to clients, the SunTrust Robinson Humphrey analyst Andrew Jeffrey offered a similar sentiment.

"We have faith in Fiserv's management to at least execute around $900 million of run-rate cost synergies; projected $500 million of rev synergies will likely be much more difficult," the note said. "While we appreciate the merits of combining the companies' complementary offerings and FI bases, they couldn't be more culturally disparate. In addition, a recent First Data customer conversation highlights challenges with US service levels, in our opinion. This raises the execution bar for the combined co, in our view."

Larry Berlin, a senior vice president who specializes in research at the venture-capital firm First Analysis, told Business Insider he'd never imagined that the two companies would merge. While there is some overlap in what they do in the payments space, he said they were still different businesses in different markets.

The base of Fiserv's business is providing core banking systems to small and medium-size banks, he said. That type of offering isn't appealing to many of First Data's clients: large banks and merchants.

First Data clients like Wells Fargo and Bank of America don't need core processing from Fiserv, as they handle it internally, Berlin said. And while Fiserv already has those banks as clients for its bill-payment offering, getting them to adopt its main business would be a big ask, he added.

Colin Plunkett, an analyst at Morningstar, questioned the combined company's ability to meet its cost-savings plans. He cited the fact that since Frank Bisignano was named CEO of First Data in 2013 the company's operating expenses had barely moved, suggesting it was already fairly lean.

Plunkett said that because the operating platforms would not be merged, cost cuts would have to come from reducing corporate overhead. He also cited Fiserv's 2015 plan to reach cost savings of $250 million over five years, a significantly more moderate expectation compared with the company's latest goal.

Corporate culture is always a big factor during mergers and acquisitions. The potential challenges of bringing together two companies of this size was noted by some analysts.

In Plunkett's note, First Data's rating on Glassdoor, a website where current and past employees can rate employers, was highlighted for its low ratings. On approximately 2,500 reviews the company has an average rating of 2.8 out of 5, with Bisignano receiving a 49% approval rating, Plunkett wrote. That's in comparison to Fiserv's rating of 3.3, along with CEO Jeff Yabuki earning a 78% employee approval rating. Plunkett went on to point out that the average rating among all the firms Glassdoor monitored was roughly 3.4.

"We think it's worth mentioning that First Data's Glassdoor employee ratings are alarming," the note said. "While we recognize that these reviews can be falsified and may not give a totally accurate picture of a company, we think it's instructive and warrants further attention in our ongoing research."

Some analysts, however, were less skeptical of Fiserv and First Data's claims of cost savings and revenue generation. Jeff Cantwell, an analyst at Guggenheim, told Business Insider his initial reaction to the deal was positive.

"From a strategic standpoint, it makes sense for both sides to combine," Cantwell said. "You think about going forward. There should be a lot of opportunities on the revenue side and on the cost side for the combined company. It should be a good deal."

A spokeswoman from Fiserv reiterated remarks regarding potential synergies between the two companies made by Yabuki in the conference call Wednesday morning. First Data did not return multiple requests for comment.

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When it comes to VR hardware, consumers are balancing price point and experience

Posted: 19 Jan 2019 11:09 AM PST

Global VR Headset

This 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 virtual reality (VR) market is expected to rally in 2018 after seeing slow growth from 2016 to 2017. The uptick will be largely catalyzed by the emergence of the newest headset form factor, stand-alone VR headsets, which address some of the biggest pain points that have prohibited mainstream consumers from adopting VR.

This new form factor is more affordable than cost-prohibitive high-end headsets and more capable than its smartphone-powered counterparts. Additionally, it features in-unit processing that frees the VR headset from wires. The first major stand-alone headset, the Vive Focus from HTC, was launched in January of this year, and more from other major companies like Oculus and Google are expected to follow over the next six months. 

In a new report, Business Insider Intelligence lays out where the VR market is and forecasts how it will grow over the next five years. We dissect the various hardware categories and the unique strengths and opportunities of each, and identify how they will gain traction at different points of the market's evolution. Finally, we examine various components impacting consumer adoption.

Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • Business Insider Intelligence forecasts shipments of all VR headsets to grow 69% year-over-year (YoY) to reach 13.5 million in 2018. Powering that growth is the stand-alone VR headset category, which is expected to account for 30% of total headsets shipped in the year ahead. 
  • The VR hardware market is volatile because getting a device right is a balancing act. On one hand, the price point needs to be affordable for most consumers, and on the other, the experience has to be distinctive and immersive enough to convince a consumer to strap a visor to their face on a regular basis. 
  • While only a handful of stand-alone VR headsets will hit the market in 2018, they mark the biggest step toward mainstream adoption of consumer-oriented VR headsets by making the technology more accessible for the average consumer. 
  • Declining price points, coupled with high-quality headsets and the introduction of a game-changing app, are crucial for the VR industry to achieve before VR can really gain traction on a global scale.

In full, the report:

  • Forecasts the growth projections and shipment expectations of the global VR headset market, and breaks it up by the major headset categories.
  • Explores the four major segments in the current VR hardware market, defined by the hardware needed to power the experience — stand-alone, smartphone-powered, PC-powered, and game console-powered VR.
  • Identifies the key players shaping the burgeoning stand-alone VR headset segment.
  • Discusses the biggest challenges to VR development and adoption.

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