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Warren Buffett's best-performing stock over the past 3 months isn't Apple or Amazon. It's a luxury furniture company.

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 11:49

  • Warren Buffett's best-performing stock over the past three months isn't Apple or Amazon.
  • The billionaire investor and Berkshire Hathaway CEO's biggest gainer is Restoration Hardware, a luxury-furniture seller whose shares have more than doubled in value since the start of May.
  • Buffett's second-best performer over the period is StoneCo, which has soared more than 80%.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Warren Buffett's best-performing stock over the past three months isn't Apple or Amazon, even though shares of both tech titans surged to all-time highs this week.

Instead, the star holding of the famed investor and Berkshire Hathaway CEO since early May is Restoration Hardware, a high-end furniture retailer. Buffett's second-best performer is StoneCo, a Brazilian digital-payments company.

Apple stock has climbed about 52% over the past three months, while Amazon has gained 37%.

Meanwhile, Restoration Hardware shares have rocketed up 106% and StoneCo has surged 81%. Another standout in Buffett's portfolio is package delivery company United Parcel Service, which has soared about 58% in the period, according to Gurufocus.

Read More: Morgan Stanley's top transportation analyst shared with us his playbook for profiting from the space-investing boom — and explained why SpaceX could be in a 'winner-take-all' position

True, Apple and Amazon's greater size means the rally in their respective stocks over the last three months has added more than $1 trillion to their combined market capitalizations.

Meanwhile, Restoration Hardware and StoneCo have added less than $10 billion in total to theirs.

Moreover, Buffett owned about 245 million Apple shares at the last count. Those are currently worth close to $112 billion, making the iPhone maker by far the most valuable holding in his stock portfolio.

As a result, any movement in Apple stock matters much more to Berkshire's overall value than a change in the price of its Restoration Hardware or StoneCo shares. The same is true for Amazon, assuming Berkshire still holds a $1.7 billion stake in the e-commerce giant.

Still, it's surprising that, for all the hype around Apple and Amazon, they are far from Buffett's best-performing holdings on a percentage basis in recent months.

Read More: 'I'd rather turn them into robo cops': Execs from Man Group, Bridgewater, and Schonfeld explain how they're trying to blend humans and machines

Berkshire first invested in Restoration Hardware in the third quarter of 2019, buying about 1.1 million shares. It boosted that stake to more than 1.7 million shares in the following quarter, or nearly 9% of the total shares outstanding.

With the coronavirus pandemic confining millions of Americans to their homes earlier this year, so-called "stay at home" stocks, such as furniture retailers and home-improvement chains have seen their shares soar in value.

Buffett's company took a position in StoneCo in the fourth quarter of 2018. It bought about 14.2 million shares that it hasn't touched since, giving it a roughly 5% stake.

Assuming Buffett hasn't adjusted those holdings, they are currently worth around $695 million and $516 million respectively.

Read More: Tom Marsico's global fund has crushed its benchmark for 13 years — and returned 28 times its peers in 2020. Here's what he's been buying, and the beaten-down stocks he plans to grab after the pandemic.

Here's a chart showing the four stocks' recent performance, indexed to May 1:

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Drivers on French rideshare app BlaBlaCar volunteered to deliver medicine during COVID-19. It highlights the cultural chasm between it and its gig-economy rivals, Uber and Lyft.

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 11:11

  • French rideshare app BlaBlaCar, like its rivals Uber and Lyft, saw its business plummet during the coronavirus lockdown.
  • A group of drivers, with the company's support, created BlaBlaHelp, a volunteer mutual-aid network that dropped off essential items to people in need. 20,000 people registered within 72 hours.
  • The move highlights the cultural chasm that has emerged between BlaBlaCar and its gig economy rivals.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A month into the coronavirus quarantine, French rideshare company BlaBlaCar turned its users into a makeshift volunteer network. Instead of being paid for rides, drivers offered to deliver essential items to people who needed them by downloading BlaBlaHelp. This tech shortcut to mutual aid clearly struck a chord — 20,000 people registered within 72 hours and thousands have followed since. 

The move highlighted the cultural chasm that has opened up, and is still widening, between the startup and its rivals, such as Uber and Lyft.

BlaBlaCar launched in 2006 and now has a billion-dollar valuation. It has gained nearly 90 million users and expanded to 22 countries across four continents. Profits increased by 71% in 2019 as the company expanded operations to include buses (BlaBlaBus) and regular commutes (BlaBlaLines). The company announced BlaBlaRide, a scooter service, earlier this month. In other words, it's growing just as fast as its rivals — but it differs in two key areas. 

Firstly, it focuses on carpooling, connecting drivers planning an intercity trip with passengers who have the same destination. Secondly, its drivers do it to cut costs, not make a profit. They are part of the sharing economy, not the gig economy — and pricing is designed to cover gas, wear and tear, and BlaBlaCar's operation fee (10-20% depending on the journey). 

Because the company doesn't employ freelance taxi drivers, it has avoided many of the regulatory headaches Uber and Lyft have faced, particularly in Europe. But it, like other startups, has had a difficult year. Coronavirus nearly brought operations to a complete stop — the prospect of sharing a car with a stranger was either unappetizing or against lockdown rules. In France, where 40% of people aged 18-35 are BlaBlaCar users, the company was operating at less than 10% of normal capacity. Uber and Lyft were similarly devastated during lockdown — Uber lost nearly $1.8 billion in the second quarter of the year.

BlaBlaHelp was the result of a week-long hackathon, which began after around 50 BlaBlaCar drivers decided they wanted to help others during the pandemic. The app connects volunteers, called Helpers, with neighbors in need of groceries or medication.

To participate, a BlaBlaCar user just needs to connect their existing account to the BlaBlaHelp app. From there, others in the area can see a brief bio and their star rating, imported from BlaBlaCar. Once a Helper lists themselves as available, they are connected to a neighbor in need. 

"We asked ourselves and our community how we could best contribute in these difficult times … Now it's over to the community to play their part," chief executive and co-founder Nicolas Brusson said in the company's official statement. BlaBlaCar charges a service fee per journey but BlaBlaHelp does not.

Volunteers around the world advertise their help on the app. In the suburbs of Paris, Axelle says she "can get your groceries, pick up your packages, your medication, and more if you need it!" Lucia, in Madrid, says: "Just let me know what you need and where you are." 

Mutual aid and the gig economy

According to a study commissioned by BlaBlaCar in 2016, users see ridesharing as "a relationship of equals." Research conducted by New York University in partnership with the company showed similar results. Almost half of BlaBlaCar users say ridesharing has made them "more open to others," emphasizing the social nature of the platform.

Uber's research on its users in 2015 revealed different motivations. "Driver-partners" use the app in order to "be their own boss". The research did not mention helping others as a motive. They have continued to drive, despite the danger of exposure to the virus, because they need money. Nearly two-thirds of Uber drivers who responded to a survey said they have no alternative source of income.

As demand for rides plunged, Uber pledged 10 million rides and food deliveries to healthcare workers and people in need as part of its Move What Matters campaign. The company is also providing governments with user data to aid contact tracing. 

But, in May, a survey by The Rideshare Guy blog found nearly 80% of drivers felt rideshare companies weren't doing enough to support them during the pandemic. Despite Lyft and Uber distributing money to drivers since the crisis began, critics have argued that financial assistance like sick pay should not be ad-hoc charity but an automatic right.

"It's not in the same spirit at all. Uber isn't a cooperative mutual aid platform like BlaBlaCar," says driver Franck O'Clair, who has logged 343 trips in BlaBlaCar, but none for Uber.

Perhaps this goodwill has contributed to BlaBlaCar's recovery. After coming to a near standstill in spring, the company has reported hundreds of thousands of bookings for summer vacations. 

"I don't like to make money with BlaBlaCar because for me, that's not the point. I'm not a taxi driver, and the passengers aren't cash cows," O'Clair said. 

SEE ALSO: Uber reports a $1.78 billion loss as its food-delivery business outshines rides for the first time

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Trump's vaguely-worded executive order targeting Tencent initially wiped $45 billion off its value

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 10:51

  • Tencent's stock fell as much as 10% after Trump issued a vaguely-worded executive order banning US individuals and companies from doing business with its chat app WeChat.
  • A second order targeted TikTok owner ByteDance.
  • It was initially clear whether the order targeted Tencent's entire business. Tencent has a big presence in gaming, with stakes in Epic Games, Activision/Blizzard, and Ubisoft.
  • Tencent's stock recovered slightly after a White House official clarified the order only applied to WeChat.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Chinese tech giant Tencent's stock fell by as much as 10% Thursday, wiping $45 billion off its market cap, after it was named in a vaguely-worded executive order issued by President Trump.

The order, which goes into effect on September 20, prohibits US citizens and companies from carrying out any "transaction" with Tencent-owned chat app WeChat, although the orders were not precise about what counts as a "transaction."

A second, similar order was targeted at ByteDance, the Chinese firm which owns wildly popular short-form video app TikTok.

The Tencent order stipulated that it applied to: "Any transaction that is related to WeChat by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, with Tencent Holdings Ltd [...] or any subsidiary of that entity.'

The vague wording implied that Tencent's entire business could be impacted, with potentially serious ramifications for the US gaming industry.

As well as owning WeChat, which is extremely prevalent in mainland China, Tencent is also the largest gaming company in the world with stakes in Epic Games, Activision/Blizzard, and Ubisoft, as well as outright owning LA-based games studio Riot Games.

A White House official confirmed to Business Insider late Thursday that the order only applies to transactions relating to WeChat, and not Tencent's wider business.

Nonetheless, it hammered the company's market value. Tencent's stock plummeted as much as 10% after the order was first issued, wiping $45 billion off its market value, Bloomberg reports.

The stock recovered after the clarification, and was down 5% on Friday morning.

At time of writing Tencent's market cap stands at $5 trillion.

Tencent did not immediately respond to a request for comment. ByteDance has threatened to sue the Trump administration over the order, which it says was issued without due process.

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TikTok threatens to sue the Trump administration over the executive order barring US firms from doing business with its parent

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 09:49

  • TikTok has threatened to sue the Trump administration over Thursday's executive order that bans US citizens and companies from doing business with its Chinese parent company ByteDance.
  • TikTok responded to the order on Friday, saying it was issued "without any due process."
  • The executive order prohibits US individuals and companies from making "any transactions" with TikTok's parent company ByteDance. Another order on Thursday targets Tencent-owned WeChat.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

TikTok has threatened to sue the Trump administration over the president's executive order banning US companies and individuals from doing business with its parent company ByteDance.

Trump signed the executive order Thursday, claiming the Chinese firm poses a national security risk.

"We are shocked by the recent Executive Order, which was issued without any due process," TikTok said in a statement published Friday.

"For nearly a year, we have sought to engage with the US government in good faith to provide a constructive solution to the concerns that have been expressed. What we encountered instead was that the Administration paid no attention to facts, dictated terms of an agreement without going through standard legal processes, and tried to insert itself into negotiations between private businesses," it added.

TikTok suggested that the executive order was illegal and that it may challenge the diktat in court.

The company said: "We will pursue all remedies available to us in order to ensure that the rule of law is not discarded and that our company and our users are treated fairly – if not by the Administration, then by the US courts."

This week reports emerged that the Trump administration was forcing TikTok to sell off its US business or face a ban. Microsoft has publicly announced its pursuing acquisition talks for TikTok's US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand business.

TikTok accused the Trump administration of flouting the law by ignoring due process. "This Executive Order risks undermining global businesses' trust in the United States' commitment to the rule of law, which has served as a magnet for investment and spurred decades of American economic growth," it says.

Here's TikTok's response to the order:

"TikTok is a community full of creativity and passion, a home that brings joy to families and meaningful careers to creators. And we are building this platform for the long term. TikTok will be here for many years to come.

"We are shocked by the recent Executive Order, which was issued without any due process. For nearly a year, we have sought to engage with the US government in good faith to provide a constructive solution to the concerns that have been expressed. What we encountered instead was that the Administration paid no attention to facts, dictated terms of an agreement without going through standard legal processes, and tried to insert itself into negotiations between private businesses.

"We made clear our intentions to work with the appropriate officials to devise a solution to benefit our users, creators, partners, employees, and the broader community in the United States. There has been, and continues to be, no due process or adherence to the law. The text of the decision makes it plain that there has been a reliance on unnamed "reports" with no citations, fears that the app "may be" used for misinformation campaigns with no substantiation of such fears, and concerns about the collection of data that is industry standard for thousands of mobile apps around the world. We have made clear that TikTok has never shared user data with the Chinese government, nor censored content at its request. In fact, we make our moderation guidelines and algorithm source code available in our Transparency Center, which is a level of accountability no peer company has committed to. We even expressed our willingness to pursue a full sale of the US business to an American company.

"This Executive Order risks undermining global businesses' trust in the United States' commitment to the rule of law, which has served as a magnet for investment and spurred decades of American economic growth. And it sets a dangerous precedent for the concept of free expression and open markets. We will pursue all remedies available to us in order to ensure that the rule of law is not discarded and that our company and our users are treated fairly – if not by the Administration, then by the US courts.

"We want the 100 million Americans who love our platform because it is your home for expression, entertainment, and connection to know: TikTok has never, and will never, waver in our commitment to you. We prioritize your safety, security, and the trust of our community – always. As TikTok users, creators, partners, and family, you have the right to express your opinions to your elected representatives, including the White House. You have the right to be heard."

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Two execs who helped expand $1 billion ClassPass into 26 markets give their playbook for scaling a growth company

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 09:30

  • Fitness startup ClassPass has raised a total of $549 million since it was founded in 2013 to launch its subscription fitness service across the world, and was valued at $1 billion in January.
  • In the past two years, the company has launched into 26 new markets. Using a tried and tested formula it now launches into new countries in a matter of weeks. 
  • Two of its leading execs shared their five lessons for scaling a startup in foreign markets. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

ClassPass was launched in 2013 as a platform aggregating fitness classes for a monthly subscription fee. 

Users can choose plans from around $19 to $79 a month, which gives them credits to use on classes from the more than 30,000 exercise studios ClassPass partners with.

Subscribers pay less for classes than they would if they bought them directly, while studios can raise their profile and fill some of the empty slots. 

Excess capacity in the fitness industry is the problem ClassPass is trying to solve — 60% of the mats, bikes, and slots in exercise classes are empty, according to Chloe Ross, VP International at ClassPass. By matching users with empty slots ClassPass looks to recoup this lost revenue for fitness studios.

The tech unicorn has raised $549 million in total, most recently in a $285 million Series E led by private equity firm L Catterton and growth fund Apax Digital, and plans to IPO in the foreseeable future. It was valued at more than $1 billion at its last financing in January.

After a number of years ironing out its business model in the US, the company has successfully launched into dozens of new markets over the past two years. 

"In 2018 we were live in four countries, and we're now live in 30," says Ross. "The vast majority of that growth is fueled by us developing a playbook for how we launch in a new city in a new country and just repeating that in a very efficient way."

Using this playbook, the ClassPass team are able to launch into new markets in a matter of weeks. 

Chloe Ross and Rachel Moncton, ClassPass' managing director for Europe, share their five top tips for other startups looking to scale internationally:

1. Focus on suppliers

Securing the best fitness studios guarantees a high-quality product for users, making it easier to sell subscriptions. 

"The user base comes quite quickly if we get the supply right," says Moncton. "So we spend a lot of our time in the pre-launch focusing on the studio partners."

"It would only take us a couple of weeks to scout out what we thought to be the top studios and gyms in a city," she adds. "Signing them up actually wasn't so difficult. We'd have teams of six or seven on the ground and would get 100 or 200 studios ready for launch."

2. Use competition to your advantage

If people already have experience with your competitors, leverage this to explain how your product is different.

Around the world ClassPass competes with a number of other subscription fitness class platforms, including Gympass and Equinox in Europe.

"The great news was actually, in Europe, something about the competitors helped, where the studios understood what a third-party aggregator could do for them," says Moncton. "When we talked about how our our our model was different it really resonated."

By explaining how ClassPass addressed the pain point that fitness studios had experienced with other providers, adds Moncton, they were able to get them on board. 

3. Use marketing to get the first customers through the door

Once you have the right suppliers, use that as a hook to get customers interested. 

A good way to enhance your marketing campaign is to offer a free trial, adds Moncton. 

"We have a really slick app, it's super intuitive to use," she says. "So our thought was if we can just get people in the door trying it, it's great and then we grow a lot from referrals from that first cohort of users."

4. Tackle the easiest markets first

ClassPass has now scaled across 30 countries covering most continents. But, it chose to launch first in the countries with the least complexity in terms of language and cultural barriers.

"We started with the English speaking world, the UK, Australia, and then we went to some major international cities in Asia, then we went to continental Europe," says Ross. 

"Now we're growing our business in China, in Shanghai and Beijing, and what we do there is really very different. We have a different app there."

In China, ClassPass is integrated into the company's widely used communications platform WeChat, enabling users to pay for plans with WeChat Pay.

5. Think about the local culture

"Localization is definitely important," says Moncton. "Language is a key one. There are also things with payment types. Credit cards aren't always popular everywhere, so we've added new ways to pay that might make more sense."

For ClassPass, this has meant establishing local marketing teams that tailor the look and feel of the app to the market, as well as consider the best channels to promote it to new users. 

But, beyond those things, the core offering of ClassPass works globally: "The concept of people who want an app to go to all these classes, that resonates everywhere."

She adds: "That's how we were able to launch at such a speed."

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10 things in tech you need to know today

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 07:54

Good morning! This is the tech news you need to know this Friday. Sign up here to get this email in your inbox every morning.

  1. Trump issued two executive orders aimed at Chinese-owned apps, barring US companies from doing business with TikTok parent company ByteDance and messaging app WeChat. The order, which is set to go into effect in 45 days, claims TikTok "continues to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States."
  2. Mark Zuckerberg tells Facebook employees he's "really worried" about a possible TikTok ban. "It's a really bad long-term precedent, and that it needs to be handled with the utmost care and gravity whatever the solution is," Zuckerberg reportedly said. 
  3. Zuckerberg's net worth ballooned above $100 billion for the first time ever. Zuckerberg, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, and Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates are now the only three people in the world to be worth more than $100 billion, per Bloomberg.
  4. The first app using Apple and Google's COVID-19 contact tracing tech in the US is about to launch. Apple and Google's contact tracing tech has seen slow adoption since it was first rolled out in May, but the companies now say 20 states have expressed interest.
  5. Twitter is adding labels to the accounts of state-affiliated media and government officials. The labels impact the accounts of US officials like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo but do not affect personal accounts of heads of state such as that of President Donald Trump.
  6. TikTok is setting up a new $500 million data center in Ireland. The data center is slated to open in early 2022, and will house user data from TikTok's European users.
  7. Google deleted 2,500 YouTube accounts with ties to China to combat disinformation on the platform as the 2020 election draws closer. News of the removal comes as relations between China and the US grow increasingly tense.
  8. UK fintech startup Starling Bank tripled its customer deposits in 9 months and says it plans to break even by 2021 despite the COVID-19 pandemicStarling, which famously shunned VC funding after it was founded in 2014, grew customer deposits from £1.01 billion ($1.33 billion) in November 2019 to more than £3 billion ($3.9 billion) at the end of July. 
  9. Google is quietly killing the Pixel 4 smartphone it launched less than a year ago ahead of the Pixel 5's release. Google also plans to launch two more smartphones in the fall: the Pixel 4a 5G and the Pixel 5.
  10. Google's first foldable Pixel phone is reportedly coming late next year, according to a leaked internal document. The foldable device is codenamed "passport."

Have an Amazon Alexa device? Now you can hear 10 Things in Tech each morning. Just search for "Business Insider" in your Alexa's flash briefing settings.

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Trump's attempt to ban TikTok and WeChat could face legal trouble for infringing on free speech, according to a First Amendment expert

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 05:49

After weeks of ramping up his rhetorical attacks on TikTok, President Donald Trump issued an executive order Thursday banning "any transactions" with its parent company ByteDance.

He didn't stop there, issuing a second order shortly after targeted at transactions with Tencent-owned messaging app WeChat.

In both cases, Trump cited concerns that the apps could allow the Chinese government to spy on Americans and claiming that Beijing could pressure the companies to censor content it doesn't like.

But attempting to censor free speech is the exact reason Trump's executive orders could run into legal trouble in US courts, according to one legal expert.

Kyle Langvardt, a law professor at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, told Business Insider that Trump's orders "are likely to have First Amendment problems."

"The reason is that they discriminate based on the identity of the speaker (Bytedance, Tencent), and also, arguably, based on the 'content' of their speech," Langvardt said.

In Thursday's orders Trump invoked his authority the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, a 1977 law that allows him to declare a national emergency, during which he has "broad authority" to regulate foreign economic transactions.

In an executive order implemented last year, Trump used the IEEPA to give the administration the ability to interfere in any business transaction involving "information and communications technology or services" that "otherwise pose an unacceptable risk to the national security of the United States or the security and safety of United States persons."

Langvardt said that "both orders probably comply with the IEEPA," but they still could face legal scrutiny for  discriminating against certain speakers or types of speech. 

"Content discrimination is unconstitutional unless the law is 'narrowly tailored' to serve a 'compelling governmental purpose,'" he said. "Most laws fail this test."

Langvardt added that, though he doesn't personally buy this interpretation, most First Amendment experts would consider the apps themselves to be "content," and therefore targeting TikTok and WeChat specifically is effectively discriminating against them in violation of the First Amendment.

"The companies express themselves by setting their own rules for what to take down and what to leave up," he said, so "the [executive orders] discriminate against their 'message.'"

Aside from the legality of Trump's orders, there are also practical and technical considerations.

Langvardt and other legal experts told Business Insider that approaches such as removing the apps from Apple and Google's app stores or blocking internet traffic to the apps similar to China's "Great Firewall" both raise significant challenges of their own.

Short of a ban that effectively prevents Americans from using TikTok, Trump has pushed instead for a US company to buy ByteDance's share in the company, thereby severing its Chinese connections.

Right now, Microsoft appears to be the leading contender. The Seattle-based tech giant said earlier this month it's in talks with ByteDance, and Trump said he would be open to a Microsoft purchase due to the company's existing "high-level" security clearances.

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Trump just issued 2 executive orders aimed at Chinese-owned apps, barring US companies from doing business with TikTok parent company ByteDance and messaging app WeChat (MSFT)

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 02:49

  • President Donald Trump issued an executive order Thursday evening prohibiting US individuals and companies from making "any transactions" with TikTok's parent company ByteDance.
  • The order, set to take effect in 45 days, argues that TikTok "continues to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States."
  • Trump also issued a similar order Thursday concerning transactions with WeChat, which is owned by a different Chinese company. It's unclear the extent to which either order is legal or enforceable, and both are likely to face legal challenges.
  • Microsoft has been in talks with ByteDance to acquire TikTok, and Trump said this week that he'd require any sale to an American company to include a "very big" cut going to the US government.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump issued an executive order Thursday that bars US individuals and companies from doing business with TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese firm ByteDance, citing national security concerns.

The order, set to take effect 45 days from Thursday, prohibits "any transaction by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States."

Trump issued a nearly identical order shortly after targeting WeChat, which is owned by the Chinese internet giant Tencent, again citing national security concerns.

It's unclear the extent to which either order is legal or enforceable, and both will most likely face challenges in court.

Both orders included a line saying: "The spread in the United States of mobile applications developed and owned by companies in the People's Republic of China (China) continues to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States."

In the orders, Trump argues that TikTok and WeChat's data-collection practices could "allow the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans' personal and proprietary information — potentially allowing China to track the locations of Federal employees and contractors, build dossiers of personal information for blackmail, and conduct corporate espionage."

TikTok did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Other US politicians and government agencies, including Joe Biden's presidential campaign and several military and government agencies, have barred staff members from using TikTok over similar concerns. Experts, however, have pointed out that the app collects user data in similar ways as US-based competitors like Facebook.

The orders also accuse both apps of censoring content that the Chinese government considers "politically sensitive,"  such as content about Hong Kong protests and its treatment of the Uighur Muslim minority group.

Trump has ratcheted up his threats against TikTok in particular over the past few weeks, saying he would ban the app entirely if ByteDance didn't sell its stake in TikTok to an American company by September 15.

Microsoft said earlier this month that it was in talks to buy the stake, with the app reportedly being worth $30 billion to $50 billion.

Microsoft declined to comment for this story.

Trump also promised to force any acquisition deal involving a US-based company to include a "very big proportion" of the sale price going to the US Treasury Department.

The president has the authority under a 1988 law to block foreign business deals pertaining to US companies if he considers the deals to be a national security threat, which he has used twice before to block deals involving firms from China and Singapore that were looking to acquire American companies.

Trump, who regularly blames the coronavirus pandemic on China and previously said his TikTok ban was meant to punish the country over its response, has also waged a years-long trade war with the country and previously penalized other Chinese tech companies including Huawei and ZTE.

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Uber's CEO took a shot at labor groups, accusing them of being driven by 'politics' in the massive fight over drivers' employment status (UBER, LYFT)

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 00:56

  • Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi slammed labor groups that oppose the company's stance on drivers' employment status, accusing them of being motivated by "politics."
  • During a call with investors Thursday, Khosrowshahi said groups on Uber's side of the issue, conversely, "actually are taking into account the wants and needs of drivers."
  • Uber and other gig-economy companies are engaged in a massive legal and political battle, most notably in California, over whether their drivers are employees or independent contractors.
  • The state's regulators have ruled that drivers are employees under its gig-worker law and have taken Uber and Lyft to court over the issue, while the companies have pumped $30 million each into a ballot measure that would exempt them from the law.
  • The stakes are high — analysts said last year that an adverse ruling on the issue could bankrupt Uber and Lyft.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi took a shot at labor and driver-advocacy groups on Thursday over their stance on drivers' employment status, accusing them of not representing drivers' interests.

During Uber's quarterly earnings call, Khosrowshahi said groups opposing Proposition 22 — the company's ballot measure in California that would permanently make drivers independent contractors — were motivated by "politics."

"We've got terrific supporters [of Proposition 22] in the community as well who actually care about drivers, versus labor unions and politics, they actually are taking into account the wants and needs of drivers," he said.

Labor and driver groups pushed back on Khosrowshahi's comments.

"It is the height of hypocrisy for Uber's rich executives to feign that they care about drivers when they are spending hundreds of millions on a ballot proposition to prevent those workers from receiving the wages, healthcare, and fundamental rights that they have been granted under California law," the Transport Workers Union's president, John Samuelsen, told Business Insider.

Carlos Ramos, a driver and organizer for Gig Workers Rising, said: "From my years of organizing with fellow drivers I can unequivocally say that Dara's words do not reflect Uber's actions. They never have. Uber has always attempted to deceive drivers around new policies and procedures, claiming that changes were made in the best interest of drivers."

Uber, Lyft, and other ride-hailing and food-delivery companies are in the middle of a heated battle in California over whether drivers are employees or contractors under the state's gig-worker law, AB-5, which took effect this year and raised the bar companies must clear to treat workers as contractors.

While the lawmakers behind AB-5 argued it made Uber drivers employees, the companies have refused to reclassify drivers.

In June, the state agency responsible for regulating Uber and Lyft ruled that ride-hailing drivers were considered employees under AB-5, and a month earlier, a group of attorneys general from the state, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego sued both companies over their refusal to reclassify workers.

On Wednesday, Uber and Lyft got hit with another lawsuit from the state's labor commissioner, who accused them of wage theft by refusing to pay drivers minimum wage, sick pay, unemployment, and other benefits guaranteed to employees under California law.

Unlike employees, contractors aren't guaranteed those benefits, and companies aren't bound by certain labor regulations around minimum-wage payments or subject to payroll taxes for those workers, which feed into programs like unemployment insurance.

But Uber is hoping that Proposition 22, which it introduced last fall along with Lyft, DoorDash, Postmates, and Instacart, will pass in November, allowing drivers to remain classified as contractors and making its legal battles a moot point. The companies have pumped more than $110 million into a group supporting the initiative, with Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash contributing $30 million each.

Khosrowshahi called Proposition 22, which also includes new benefits for drivers such as higher wages and some reimbursement for health insurance and vehicle-related expenses, "the best of both worlds."

But driver groups have slammed the companies' proposal, saying it shortchanges drivers by not fully accounting for the actual work they do and the costs they incur. For example, under Proposition 22, drivers would not be paid for the time they spend waiting to get matched with a rider, and they would be reimbursed only $0.30 a mile (the IRS per mile rate for business-related travel is 57.5 cents, by comparison).

Both Uber and driver groups claim drivers are on their side regarding the initiative. Khosrowshahi said the "vast majority of drivers" support it, while Ramos said "tens of thousands of drivers are organizing against" it.

The stakes are undoubtedly high for both drivers and the companies. When AB-5 passed last year, analysts at Barclays concluded that having to reclassify drivers as employees in California alone could cost Uber and Lyft an additional $3,625 a driver.

"We think an adverse ruling on the contract workforce issue would potentially bankrupt both Uber and Lyft," they concluded.

Join the conversation about this story »

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Mark Zuckerberg tells Facebook employees he's 'really worried' about possible TikTok ban

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 00:28

  • The parent company behind TikTok is in discussions with Microsoft and other US tech companies about acquiring the viral app's US operations.
  • Mark Zuckerberg was asked at a recent Facebook all-hands meeting whether the company was interested in acquiring TikTok, BuzzFeed reports. Although Zuckerberg refused to comment on Facebook's business strategy, he did address Donald Trump's threatened ban of TikTok in the US.
  • "It's a really bad long-term precedent, and that it needs to be handled with the utmost care and gravity whatever the solution is," Zuckerberg reportedly said. "I am really worried…it could very well have long-term consequences in other countries around the world."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Mark Zuckerberg reportedly told Facebook employees he's "really worried" about the implications of a potential US-wide ban on TikTok.

BuzzFeed reports that Zuckerberg addressed TikTok's "extraordinary circumstance" at a recent-all hands meeting with Facebook employees. Donald Trump recently threatened to ban the viral video-sharing app in the US due to its ties to China, and insists he'll do so unless a US tech company acquires TikTok's US operations.

"I just think it's a really bad long-term precedent, and that it needs to be handled with the utmost care and gravity whatever the solution is," Zuckerberg reportedly said. "I am really worried…it could very well have long-term consequences in other countries around the world."

TikTok's parent company, ByteDance, is scrambling to find a buyer of its operations by Sept. 15. If they don't meet that deadline, Trump says he'll instate a nationwide ban on the viral video-sharing app. 

Employees reportedly asked Zuckerberg whether Facebook was interested in acquiring TikTok, but the CEO refused to comment on the company's business dealings. Reports have recently valued TikTok as a whole between $30 billion and $50 billion, and Microsoft's portion as between $10 billion and $30 billion.

Microsoft has emerged as the frontrunner in discussions, and has publicly confirmed it's interested in buying TikTok's operations in the US, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. 

Since TikTok came to the US in 2018, it's been a dominant force, outperforming US-based apps that have attracted younger audiences, like Facebook-owned Instagram. A Facebook representative said back in July 2019 that TikTok was one of its main competitors. Since then, Facebook has been working on its own competing feature to take on TikTok. The short-form video-creating format, called Instagram Reels, launched in the US this week as TikTok faces a possible ban.

The Trump administration has been threatening to ban TikTok since early July due to perceived national security risks because of its ties to China through ByteDance, whose headquarters are based in Beijing. Questions have circulated regarding around how much access and influence the Chinese government is afforded over the app's user data and content moderation, although TikTok has consistently said it wouldn't share such information if asked.


SEE ALSO: The rise of Jake Paul, the YouTube megastar whose home was raided by the FBI as part of an ongoing investigation

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Categories: English

Cadillac just unveiled its Lyriq electric car — the first all-electric vehicle the brand has ever produced and that will challenge Tesla (GM)

Fri, 08/07/2020 - 00:00

  • On Thursday, Cadillac revealed Lyriq, the first all-electric vehicle in its history.
  • Lyriq is the first Cadillac to arrive as the division becomes General Motors' lead electric brand.
  • Lyriq will use Cadillac's new Ultium battery technology and offer more than 300 miles of range on a charge.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

When General Motors said in January of 2019 that Cadillac would become its lead electric brand, it was hard to know what to expect.

But 2020 is the year that the plan begins to take shape, starting with the unveiling of the Lyriq, Caddy's first all-electric vehicle, revealed as a show car on Thursday evening.

"Led by Lyriq, Cadillac will redefine American luxury over the next decade with a new portfolio of transformative EVs," Steve Carlisle, executive vice president and president, GM North America, said in a statement.

The Lyric reveal was supposed to happen in Los Angeles in March, but the coronavirus pandemic scuppered that plan. Business Insider got a look at the vehicle earlier that month, however, when GM held a media day to showcase its forthcoming EV lineup — 22 electrified vehicles coming by 2023 — and share details on its "Ultium" battery technology.

Lyriq is all-electric Caddy number one. Cadillac called the crossover a "show car," to distinguish it from the production version. On a briefing with media this week, Carlisle said the vehicle would launch first in China, and soon after in the US (production should commence in 2022). He also said pricing would be more than $75,000, but less than $100,000, to start.

The design is distinguished by a "black crystal" grille, which Cadillac said is "part of a dramatic lighting choreography that — along with bold vertical, slim LED signature lighting — greets the owner upon approach." 

That motif continues to the Lyriq's rear, where "a split tail-lamp design incorporates slim LEDs that are also integrated into the lighting choreography."

The crossover promises a range of more than 300 miles on a single charge. Cadillac also said that rear- and all-wheel-drive variants would be offered. Critically for customers potentially cross-shopping with Tesla, Lyriq will have Caddy's latest iteration of its Super Cruise semi-self-driving technology, which enables fully hands-free operation on over 200,000 miles of GPS-mapped highways.

A real marquee feature is a gigantic, 33-inch LED screen that stretches across the entire dashboard.

"This new display has the highest pixel density available in the automotive industry today and can display over one billion colors," Cadillac said.

Design and engineering are also important aspects of the Lyriq story.

"With a dedicated EV architecture, [Lyriq's] design eliminates significant physical constraints associated with adapting electric propulsion within a conventional vehicle architecture, for an optimized design that supports greater driving range, an engaging driving experience and a new interpretation of passenger space," Cadillac said in a statement.

The Lyriq is also the first GM vehicle to use the new Ultium battery technology. A 100-kilowatt-hour configuration consists of "large, flat pouch cells that enable smart module construction to reduce complexity and simplify cooling needs," Cadillac said. "Additionally, the battery electronics are incorporated directly into the modules, eliminating nearly 90 percent of the battery pack wiring, compared to GM's current electric vehicles."

Active noise-canceling technology, Cadillac said, would make for a very quiet, relaxing interior — and allow an available 19-speaker AKG Studio audio system to shine.

Of the vehicle, Jamie Brewer, Lyriq's chief engineer, said, "It is not only an exceptional EV, but first and foremost a Cadillac."

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Mark Zuckerberg just became the third person on Earth worth over $100 billion. Here's how the Facebook CEO makes and spends his fortune.

Thu, 08/06/2020 - 23:37

    • Mark Zuckerberg's fortune surpassed $100 billion after Facebook launched its TikTok competitor in the US.
    • That makes the tech titan only the third current centi-billionaire on Earth.
    • In June, advertisers including Verizon, Honda, and Ben & Jerry's boycotted Facebook over the social network's lack of hate-speech moderation. The boycott briefly sunk both Facebook's share price and CEO Mark Zuckerberg's net worth.
    • Zuckerberg drives an affordable car and wears basic clothes, but appears to splurge on real estate, buying houses and then buying the surrounding properties for privacy. 
    • Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan are generous philanthropists, investing billions in childhood education and medical research that they hope will cure all diseases in their children's lifetimes. 
    • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Mark Zuckerberg is richer than he's ever been.

Facebook's shares are on a tear after the company launched a new Instagram feature that will compete with TikTok in the US. The move propelled Zuckerberg's personal net worth over $100 million for the first time.

Before the announcement, Zuckerberg had been having a tough summer. Zuckerberg faced fierce criticism for refusing to moderate Facebook posts in which President Trump called civil rights protesters "thugs" and suggested violence when he wrote "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" in the wake of George Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.

As a result, civil rights organizations including NAACP, Color of Change, and Anti-Defamation League asked advertisers to stop paying for advertisements on Facebook. Many agreed, sending both Facebook's share price and Zuckerberg's net worth into a freefall.

Keep reading to learn more about how the Facebook cofounder makes and spends his centibillion-dollar fortune.

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

DON'T MISS: The richest families in the world, ranked

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

Source: Business Insider

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

Source: Fortune

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

Like many other Silicon Valley stalwarts, Zuckerberg favors a uniform. Though casual in appearance, his signature gray T-shirts and hoodies are designed by luxury brands and are reportedly much more expensive than they look, retailing for hundreds and even thousands of dollars.

Source: Business Insider, GQ

Zuckerberg is known for driving relatively inexpensive cars. He's been seen in an Acura TSX, and a Honda Fit, all of which are valued at or under $30,000.

Sources: Business Insider, CNBC

He's also been spotted driving a black Volkswagen Golf GTI, a car that he bought well into making his fortune. It's a car that would cost about $30,000 when new.

Source: Business Insider

But that's not to say he hasn't dropped serious cash on at least one sports car: an Italian Pagani Huayra that sells for about $1.3 million.

Source: Business Insider; Yahoo

There's one thing Zuckerberg doesn't seem to mind splurging on: real estate. In May 2011, he bought a 5,000-square-foot home — which he's since tricked out with a "custom-made artificially intelligent assistant" — in Palo Alto for $7 million.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, CNBC

The next year, Zuckerberg began buying the properties surrounding his home, spending more than $30 million to acquire four homes, with plans to level them and rebuild.

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, CNBC

He also owns a townhouse in the Mission District of San Francisco. He bought the 5,500-square-foot home in 2013 and proceeded to make over $1 million in renovations, including adding a greenhouse and remodeling the kitchen.

Source: Curbed San Francisco

In 2014, the billionaire's real-estate portfolio jumped the Pacific when he spent $100 million on two properties on the island of Kauai: the Kahu'aina Plantation, a 357-acre former sugarcane plantation, and Pila'a Beach, a 393-acre property with a white-sand beach.

Source: Business Insider, Forbes

Zuckerberg said he and Chan bought the land because they're "dedicated to preserving its natural beauty."

Source: Business Insider, Forbes

According to Zuckerberg's Facebook page, the property's farm is home to goats and turtles. "Our farm animals are ridiculous," he captioned the photo below.

More recently, he dished out on two lakefront properties on Lake Tahoe, which cost a combined $59 million. One of the houses, called the Brushwood Estate, is 5,233 square feet and on six acres. The property features a guest house and a private dock.

Source: Business Insider, SF Gate

Between his two Lake Tahoe properties, he owns about 600 feet of private shoreline on Lake Tahoe's west shore.

Source: Business Insider, SF Gate


When Zuckerberg buys properties, he tends to buy the other homes surrounding it for privacy reasons, just like he has done in Palo Alto.

Source: Business Insider


Privacy is likely the same reason that he bought the second home — and was reportedly in talks to buy a third — in Lake Tahoe.

Source: Business Insider

Zuckerberg doesn't appear to travel much for pleasure. But when he does travel, Facebook foots the bill. Zuckerberg's security detail and transportation cost the company nearly $5 million in 2015.

Source: Business Insider

However, he does occasionally get to spend time with his family while traveling. Zuckerberg and Chan met with the pope in the Vatican and reportedly gave the pope a model Facebook drone.

Source: Business Insider

Zuckerberg used over $1 million in Facebook funds for personal travel in 2018, making it his most expensive year yet. While in Europe, he posted about celebrating his seventh anniversary with Chan at the Parthenon in Athens.

Source: Facebook

In May 2019, he visited Paris to meet with French president Emmanuel Macron.

Sources: Business Insider, Bloomberg

The costs to protect Zuckerberg rose to over $7 million in 2017, after he spent the summer traversing America as part of his personal goal to visit every US state in a year.

Source: Business Insider

On his whirlwind tour around the US, the CEO dined with a family at their home in Ohio, met with former opioid addicts, worked on an assembly line at a Ford factory, met with members of the military, and even fed a calf.

Source: Business Insider

In 2018, Facebook approved a record-high $10 million annual security budget for Zuckerberg for bodyguards, security measures for his houses, and private aircraft.

Source: Business Insider

Zuckerberg has complete control over Facebook's future, thanks to his majority voting rights. Facebook's stock price rose 2% after the FTC announced approval of the social media giant's $5 billion privacy settlement.

Source: Business Insider

Ultimately, opulence and luxury are just a blip on Zuckerberg's radar. In fact, his main priority is giving his money away, rather than spending it.

Zuckerberg is a member of the Giving Pledge, joining Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and over 100 other billionaires vowing to donate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy. He plans to sell 99% of his Facebook shares during his lifetime.

Source: Business Insider

Zuckerberg said in September 2017 that he planned to sell 35 to 75 million shares over the next 18 months to fund the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, totaling between $6 billion and $12 billion.

Source: Business Insider

The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is a philanthropic organization Zuckerberg founded with his wife in 2015 focused on "personalized learning, curing disease, connecting people, and building strong communities."

Source: Business Insider

In 2017, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative partnered with housing startup Landed, giving $5 million to help at least 60 teachers in Redwood City and East Palo Alto, California, purchase real estate.

Source: Business Insider

The couple's charitable initiative is invested in tackling both local and global issues. In 2016, Zuckerberg and Chan invested $3 billion into research focused on curing the world's diseases by the end of the century.

Source: Business Insider

In an in-depth interview with the The New Yorker in late 2018, Zuckerberg said people in Silicon Valley react to his pledge to cure all diseases in one of two ways: "A bunch of people have the reaction of 'Oh, that's obviously going to happen on its own — why don't you just spend your time doing something else?' And then a bunch of people have the reaction of 'Oh, that seems almost impossible — why are you setting your sights so high?'"

Sources: The New Yorker, Business Insider

In order to accomplish this lofty goal, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative launched a $3 billion nonprofit called Biohub to start looking into the cure of disease, including research on genomics, infectious diseases, and implantable devices.

Source: Business Insider

The scientists their nonprofit employed have started a study of brain-machine devices, including one called the Wand, which is an implant they say can help limit the symptoms of diseases like Parkinson's and epilepsy.

Source: Business Insider

Zuckerberg believes that his nonprofit will help speed up research to cure disease, and says that in the future, "We'll basically have been able to manage or cure all of the major things that people suffer from and die from today. Based on the data that we already see, it seems like there's a reasonable shot."

Source: Business Insider

Zuckerberg's leadership hasn't always been popular, however.

Source: Business Insider, Business Insider

Zuckerberg faced outrage from his employees and Facebook users alike after refusing to moderate Trump's posts, where the president called civil rights protesters "thugs" and suggested violence against them by writing "when the looting starts, the shooting starts." One employee of the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative even asked Zuckerberg to resign if the billionaire didn't moderate the posts.

Source: Business Insider, Business Insider

Led by civil rights organizations including NAACP, Color of Change, and Anti-Defamation League, Facebook advertisers revolted too, pulling their ad spending from Facebook in a coordinated boycott beginning in July. The growing boycott wiped $9.6 billion off Zuckerberg's net worth between June 23 and June 28.

The Hershey Co., Unilever, Verizon, Honda, Birchbox, Ben & Jerry's, The North Face, REI, and Patagonia have all signed on, vowing to withhold their ad dollars from the social networking site.

"We invest billions of dollars each year to keep our community safe and continuously work with outside experts to review and update our policies," Facebook said in a statement regarding the boycott. "We've opened ourselves up to a civil rights audit, and we have banned 250 white supremacist organizations from Facebook and Instagram."

"The investments we have made in AI mean that we find nearly 90% of Hate Speech we action before users report it to us, while a recent EU report found Facebook assessed more hate speech reports in 24 hours than Twitter and YouTube," the statement continued. "We know we have more work to do, and we'll continue to work with civil rights groups, GARM, and other experts to develop even more tools, technology and policies to continue this fight."

Source: Business Insider, Bloomberg Billionaires Index

Facebook's tide started to turn on August 6, when the launch of a new Instagram feature design to compete with TikTok sent both the company's share price and Zuckerberg's net worth to new heights. The move caused Zuckerberg's net worth to exceed $100 million for the first time, and makes him only the third centibillionaire currently on Earth.

Source: Bloomberg

Categories: English

A top Wall Street tech analyst says Google is 'less relevant' in e-commerce since the pandemic — and it needs to develop or acquire to start gaining ground on rivals like Amazon (GOOGL)

Thu, 08/06/2020 - 23:31

  • Companies such as Amazon and Shopify have seen huge tailwinds to their e-commerce businesses during COVID-19.
  • Not so much for Google.
  • One top Wall Street analyst says it's something Google "needs to address" in the coming months. "I don't know if they have to acquire or develop their way back," he said.
  • A recent internal reshuffle along with some changes to the selling process could help Google in its efforts to claw back in shopping, but it won't be easy.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

While companies such as Amazon, Shopify, and even Facebook have seen huge tailwinds to their e-commerce businesses during the pandemic, Google continues to lag behind.

That much was made apparent when the company announced its Q2 earnings last week, revealing an 8% drop in search advertising revenue year on year – and a historic revenue decline overall.

Now, Google and analysts have a renewed focus on shopping, but they want to know: can Google catch up?

"There's clearly this spike in e-commerce activity – that's what's behind the rise of Amazon, eBay and Shopify – and at some level you wonder is Google less relevant to overall e-commerce than it used to be?" RBC analyst Mark Mahaney told Business Insider.

"I think it's something they need to address," he added.

Amazon has seen a monumental boost to online shopping during the pandemic,doubling profits to $5.2 billion in the second quarter and exceeding Wall Street expectation by a whopping 600%. Meanwhile, Shopify reported a revenue jump of 97% from a year earlier.

"When we have this pandemic-induced spike in online retail, Amazon full participates, Shopify fully participates, and then Google doesn't," said Mahaney. "So it kind of highlights that they're less relevant in e-commerce, I guess that's the clear evidence. That's something to really mull."

Google has made several recent notable changes in shopping, which analysts believe could pay off in the coming months. For example, at the end of June, it announced it would make it free for retailers to sell products in search results.

Shortly before that, the company shuffled Prabhakar Raghavan – previously SVP of ads, commerce and payments – to the top of a huge internal structure where he'll also oversee search and geo, which could help Google in its efforts to push shopping. 

In fact, on an investors call last week Google CEO Sundar Pichai said there would be a "long-term focused effort on shopping with the new leadership team," alluding to the benefits of the reorg in the coming months.

But it will be a tough battle ahead, particularly going into the holiday months where Amazon will only reap more of the rewards.

"I don't know if they have to acquire or develop their way back. And it may be that they just can't," said Mahaney. "They'll always be relevant, they'll just be at the margins slightly less relevant, and they have enough properties that that's ok. That could be the answer."

He added: "If you wanted to sell on the internet, you once had to pay Google and it drove a lot of traffic your way. It's less obvious now that you have to pay Google to grow."

SEE ALSO: Google's deal for Fitbit faces an EU probe — and regulators who watched the company break a major promise after buying DoubleClick in 2008

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Here's what it's like to travel during the coronavirus outbreak

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The rise of Jake Paul, the YouTube megastar whose home was raided by the FBI as part of an ongoing investigation

Thu, 08/06/2020 - 22:51

  • Jake Paul is a 23-year-old YouTube star who got his start on video-sharing app Vine.
  • The former Disney Channel actor has nearly 20 million subscribers on YouTube, where he posts vlogs and pranks.
  • Paul appeared to marry fellow YouTuber Tana Mongeau in 2019, but it was later revealed that the marriage was fake. 
  • The FBI raided Paul's Calabasas, California mansion on Wednesday as part of an ongoing investigation into unspecified "criminal acts" regarding Paul's May visit to a Scottsdale, Arizona, mall, an agency spokesperson said. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Jake Paul, 23, is one-half of the Paul brothers, two of the most recognizable and controversial YouTube stars. Paul garnered online fame on Vine before even graduating high school, and found early notoriety as a star on Disney Channel. 

Since then, Paul has gained millions of followers across social media who watch his outlandish pranks and vlogs, often featuring his many friends and collaborators in his Calabasas, California, mansion. 

Forbes estimated in 2017 that he was worth $11.5 million. But his career has also been marked by a string of controversies.

Most recently, Paul's mansion was raided by the FBI as part of an ongoing investigation related to his presence at an Arizona mall in May that was looted and vandalized. Law enforcement officers seized several guns from the property, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department confirmed to Insider. 

Here's everything you need to know about YouTube star Jake Paul:

SEE ALSO: Logan Paul reveals his plans to become a professional boxer, release a music album, and try out TikTok in the future

Jake Paul was born on January 17, 1997, and grew up in a suburb of Cleveland with his parents and older brother (and fellow YouTuber), Logan.

Source: Cleveland Plain-Dealer

The two brothers started making videos as children after their father gave them a video camera one year for Christmas.

Jake, who was 10 at the time, said he and his brother would film "comedic bits" around the house.

"We were posting them to YouTube and just generally having a good time, and the people at school thought we were funny," he told the Cleveland Plain-Dealer in 2016.


As a sophomore in high school, Jake Paul joined the wrestling team. He got "really serious" about it, and video making with his brother took a back seat.

Source: Cleveland Plain-Dealer

However, that changed when the video-sharing app Vine came out in 2012.

Paul said he downloaded it "the first day it came out," and he gradually rose in popularity on the app. By the time Vine shut down in early 2017, Paul had 5.3 million followers and nearly 2 billion video plays.

Source: Insider, Cleveland Plain-Dealer

"We didn't care what people thought. We were the loud brothers from Cleveland, kind of crazy, and that made us relatable," Paul said in a 2016 interview. "We were in the right place at the right time, and we were making more money than our parents before we knew it."

Source: Cleveland Plain-Dealer

When it came time for his senior year of high school, the younger Paul brother decided to finish his diploma online and move to Los Angeles with his older brother.

"We knew we had to move to Los Angeles if we wanted to pursue this as a full-time thing," Jake Paul said. "We immediately started taking acting and improv classes and making connections, while still doing the video thing."

Source: Cleveland Plain-Dealer

Paul's first film role came thanks to YouTube: He was cast in "Dance Camp," a movie the platform debuted on its paid streaming subscription service, YouTube Red.

He also scored small roles in films like "Mono" and "Airplane Mode," in which his brother was the main character.

Source: Mashable, Cleveland Plain-Dealer

Paul entered the mainstream when he was cast in 2015 as the main character in a Disney Channel show called "Bizaardvark."

Paul said his character, Dirk Mann, was "a perfect fit" for him. In the show, Dirk was an online video star that hosted a channel where he performed crazy stunts and challenges.

Source: Cleveland Plain-Dealer

As his acting career took off, Paul formed Team 10, a group of social media influencers that he essentially took under his wing to make content with and groom into even bigger stars.

The earliest members of Team 10 members included social media stars like Alissa Violet, and Lucas and Marcus Dobre. Team 10 moved into an $18,000-a-month rented house in Los Angeles' Beverly Grove neighborhood in August 2016.

Source: Hollywood Reporter

Alongside acting, Paul continued to create content on YouTube, where his channel now has over 20 million subscribers.

His channel hosts videos of over-the-top stunts, wild vlogs, and Jackass-style challenges.

One of his earliest attention-grabbing stunts took place when he was invited to the White House in January 2017 for a social media event, along with other online stars.

Paul proceeded to sneak away from the crowd, hideout for hours in the White House bathroom, and sneak out in the middle of the night without being caught by security.

Source: The Sun

That same month, on his 20th birthday, Paul officially unveiled TeamDom, a creative talent agency aimed at helping influencers grow their audience and secure brand deals.

Paul announced TeamDom had raised $1 million in venture capital, and Team 10 as the agency's talent roster.

Source: TechCrunch

It didn't take long before Team 10 started to get more attention — but not the positive kind.

Team 10 member Alissa Violet was kicked out of the squad's house in early 2017 after Paul publicly accused her of cheating on him, and a feud between the former couple ensued across social media.

Source: Seventeen

In July 2017, neighbors living around the Team 10 house complained that Paul had turned their quiet community into a "living hell" and "war zone," and that it was frequently invaded by screaming teenage fans because Paul publicized his address online.

Source: KTLA

Neighbors were debating whether to file a class-action public nuisance lawsuit against him, but Paul and Team 10 had moved out of the neighborhood and into a new home in Calabasas by October 2017 (pictured below).

That didn't stop the landlord of the former Team 10 house from filing a $2.5 million lawsuit against the YouTuber in 2018 for allegedly trashing the rented house.

Source: KTLA, Tubefilter

Paul felt the fallout from the incident with the Team 10 house and its neighbors. Disney announced that Paul would not return to his role on "Bizaardvark" for the second season.

"At this point in time I am wanting to focus more on my personal brand, my YouTube channel, business ventures, growing Team 10, and working on more adult acting roles," Paul wrote on Twitter.

Source: Variety

Beyond Team 10, Paul has also ventured into music and has released a flurry of songs over the years. One the music videos for his song called "It's Everyday Bro" is the third-most-disliked video on YouTube, with over 4.4 million thumbs downvotes.

Source: Business Insider

Paul's music has also been a source of controversy.

In a video leaked in January 2018, Paul dropped the n-word twice while freestyle rapping. A source told TMZ at the time that Paul had "matured a lot" since the video was recorded.

Source: TMZ

Around this time, Paul started dating YouTuber and model Erika Costell.

Costell was briefly Team 10's chief operating officer after the former COO left in May 2018. The couple broke up at the end of 2018, and Costell also departed from Team 10.

Source: Crunchbase, Famous Birthdays

Team 10 is no longer the influencer collective it once was.

Over the years, members have come and gone amid controversial management, relationships, and drama. Two transgender YouTubers said they were kicked out of the Team 10 house after a video editor told them they weren't "real girls."

The YouTube channel and Instagram page for Team 10 have not been active since September 2019. The group's Instagram bio reads: "who will leave next? stay tuned!!!!!!!" 

Instagram Embed:
Width: 540px


Paul drew negative attention in 2019 for actions both on and off of YouTube.

Paul was criticized for advertising "mystery boxes" on his channel derided as scams, and was reportedly the subject of a police investigation related to allegations that a woman was drugged at a party held at Paul's Team 10 house in May 2019. 

Source: Insider, Business Insider

In 2019, fans followed Paul along his wild ride of a relationship with fellow YouTuber, Tana Mongeau.

The couple started dating in May 2019 in what many speculated was a joke. The couple maintained that their love was real. 

Source: Insider

The following month, Paul proposed to Mongeau on her 21st birthday. He also bought her a car worth more than $120,000 to celebrate.

The sudden engagement sparked even further rumors that the relationship was inauthentic.

Source: Business Insider

Paul and Mongeau got married in July 2019 in a Las Vegas wedding that reportedly cost $500,000.

Photos of the wedding showed Paul, Mongeau, and their friends flying in on a private jet, a brawl breaking out seconds after the couple was pronounced husband and wife, and Paul cutting the wedding cake with a "Game of Thrones" replica sword.

Source: Business Insider

It's since come out that Paul and Mongeau's marriage isn't legally binding on paper, but they insisted that the love between them was real. Paul later revealed that the couple was "open."

"Any wedding I have, if I have three more f---ing weddings, I really wouldn't want to do it on paper because I think that legally binding yourself to someone takes away the love," Mongeau said.

Mongeau released a YouTube video on December 29 where she hinted that her and Paul's relationship had gone downhill since their wedding night — which she called "just hell."

Days later, the couple announced they were "taking a break" from their relationship "to focus on our own very crazy lives." In an Instagram post, Paul wrote: "This is bitter sweet but it's what's best for us right now."

The two remain close friends. 

Source: Insider

Paul has continued to fight in boxing matches.

Paul, who wrestled in high school, has followed in his older brother's footsteps by participating in various boxing boxes. He is currently preparing for a match against Nate Robinson, a former NBA player, in September. 


Paul was charged in May with unlawful assembly and trespassing after video showed him at a mall that was being looted and vandalized in Scottsdale, Arizona.

In May, Paul was charged with criminal trespassing and unlawful assembly after he and his videographer Andrew Blue had both posted footage on Instagram that showed chaos and vandalism at the Scottsdale Fashion Square mall in Arizona.

Paul denied the allegations on Twitter.

"For context, we spent the day doing our part to peacefully protest one of the most horrid injustices our country has ever seen, which led us to being tear-gassed for filming the events and brutality that were unfolding in Arizona," he said in a May 31 tweet


Paul came under fire for partying during the COVID-19 pandemic — and even drew ire from the city of Calabasas' mayor.

As cases of the novel coronavirus continued to spike throughout Los Angeles, many influencers and creators — including Paul himself — continued to party and flout social-distancing guidelines.

Paul hosted a day-long party at his Calabasas home in July as he filmed a new music video. Guests of the massive party documented their day on Instagram, showing many of them without face coverings both inside and outside of the home. Bryce Hall, Mongeau, and Arman 'Armani' Izadi were among the guests. 

Tweet Embed:
NEW: The mayor of Calabasas & neighbors tell me they're outraged after they say YouTube celebrity @jakepaul threw a massive party at his mansion on Saturday. They call it irresponsible, selfish, & say it's businesses & workers who pay the price for this w/ lockdowns. 10pm @FOXLA


Calabasas Mayor Alicia Weintraub told local Fox affiliate network Fox 11 that she was outraged by the event. "They're having this large party, no social distancing, no masks, it's just a big, huge disregard for everything that everybody is trying to do to get things back to functioning," she said. 

In an interview with Insider, Paul said he wasn't sure if he would give up partying during the pandemic.

After his party stirred up controversy, Paul told Insider's Kat Tenbarge in a phone call on July 31 that "everything is cool" with the Calabasas mayor.

"I don't know what to think of it, to be honest. I don't think anyone really does," Paul said of the pandemic. "No one has answers, our leadership is failing us, and everyone kind of just doesn't know what to do. But I personally am not the type of person who's gonna sit around and not live my life." 

On Aug. 5, Paul's Calabasas mansion was searched by the FBI as part of an ongoing investigation related to the Scottsdale mall incident, a spokesperson for the agency's Phoenix field office told Insider.



The search was an execution of a federal search warrant. Los Angeles Sheriff's Department officers assisted the FBI's search, a spokesperson said, transporting several guns from the property. The FBI could not comment on whether the guns were being used as evidence in the investigation because of the sealed affidavit. 

Agents in Las Vegas also searched the mansion of 'Armani' Izadi, Paul's longtime friend and collaborator who also officiated his faux wedding with Mongeau in 2019.

Soon after the raid on his home, Izadi posted Instagram story videos with several bikini-clad women at the hot-pink mansion. 

Izadi is an accused pimp who has pleaded guilty to attempted battery with substantial bodily harm, The Daily Beast reported in 2018

In 2013, Izadi was indicted on 20 counts of pimping, robbery, battery, and kidnapping. Investigators described a "prostitution ring" that Izadi would lure women into under false pretenses. "Izadi lured women to his prostitution ring with promises of immense wealth, his companionship, and most of all, his protection," the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported in 2013 after reviewing police records. 

Izadi took a plea deal, pleading guilty to one count of pandering, the legal term for pimping, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.  

In an interview with the YouTube drama reporter Daniel Keem (a.k.a. Keemstar), Adam Quinn, a former manager of Izadi and Paul's YouTuber collective Team 10, said that he left his job because of Izadi's allegedly nefarious behavior.

Categories: English

PayPal's CFO outlines ambitious plans to become your virtual wallet — including a potential partnership with the likes of Amazon or Alibaba

Thu, 08/06/2020 - 22:34

  • PayPal has been an independent company for five years since it was spun off from eBay, which acquired the payments platform in 2002.
  • With the expiration of its eBay operating agreement, PayPal is eyeing growth through partnerships with global e-commerce platforms like Alibaba and Shopify.
  • The company has been red-hot in 2020, with its stock more than doubling since mid-March. 
  • John Rainey, PayPal's CFO, told Business Insider the payments giant wants to do more than process payments for other companies. PayPal has ambitions to replace physical wallets and become consumers' go-to way to spend. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

PayPal has made plenty of big moves since it spun off from eBay in 2015, including a string of acquisitions to solidify itself as more than just the default payment method for the electronic marketplace.

But 2020 has arguably brought the most success the payments giant has ever seen, with its stock more than doubling since mid-March as it reports record numbers of new accounts and transactions.

Part of that is due to the global shift to online spending as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. But PayPal is also making renewed pushes with new products, like QR codes as a way to pay. And its peer-to-peer app Venmo has continued to grow, even amid shelter-in-place conditions.

In the second quarter, PayPal reported 30% growth in volumes, and 25% growth in revenue. It also added over 21 million new accounts, an all-time quarterly high.

"A decade ago, PayPal was thought of as a way to pay on eBay," John Rainey, CFO of PayPal, told Business Insider. 

"Now, we're launching experiences where you'll be able to go into a CVS pharmacy or a grocery store or a major big box retailer, scan a QR code with your iPhone, and check out that way," he added.

Splitting from eBay was always the plan, and PayPal is ready to take off

Today, eBay represents just 9% of PayPal's transaction volume. And Rainey expects that number to drop to around 6% by the end of the year.

"This is a very manageable transition," Rainey said. "We should be able to withstand this without any fiscal impact to our income statement in terms of profitability."

Beyond eBay, PayPal has seen massive transaction volume growth through marketplaces like Etsy and Shopify. While eBay saw about a 30% increase in volume in the second quarter, Etsy and Shopify both reported over 100% growth in sales volumes. 

As part a five-year operating agreement established after PayPal's split from eBay, the payments giant continued to process the vast majority of eBay's transactions. However, PayPal was required to give the marketplace better pricing than a handful of eBay's competitors, the names of which were redacted from the agreement. 

Now that the agreement has expired, eBay will begin to migrate its payments in-house. But PayPal will still be offered as a way to pay on eBay going forward. Rainey said historically, when marketplaces have made the switch to managing their own payments, PayPal retains around 50% of the checkout volumes.

Read more: eBay will manage its own payments now that its 5-year agreement with PayPal has expired, and its head of payments is eyeing $2 billion in new revenue

What's more, PayPal is now free to partner with any marketplace, either domestically or abroad.

"Now we have the unfettered ability to go partner with anyone in the world," Rainey said. "If you think about some of the larger marketplaces, like MercadoLibre or Alibaba or Amazon, should we have the opportunity to work with them, we now can do that without any restrictions."

PayPal is already partnering with MercadoLibre, as well as the likes of Facebook and Google to power their payments. 

In its core markets like Canada, Germany, the UK, and the US, PayPal's strategy is to increase user engagement, Rainey said. Internationally, PayPal has more room to grow, with lower penetration in regions like Asia and South America.

"MercadoLibre is obviously very big in markets like Brazil, Mexico, Argentina," Rainey said. "Those are places where we actually had some white space in terms of our network."

PayPal is also looking to partner with the large e-commerce marketplaces in China, Rainey said. Last December, PayPal acquired Chinese payments platform GoPay, making it the first foreign player with a licence to provide digital payments in China. 

PayPal wants to become your daily-use digital wallet

PayPal also wants to be a part of consumers' daily lives. Over the past few years it's been laying the groundwork to become more than just a payments processor. 

With its acquisitions of peer-to-peer payment app Venmo and rewards startup Honey, it's looking to become a full-fledged digital wallet where consumers can manage their payments, rewards, bills, and credit all in one place.

"The analog is somewhat akin to what your physical wallet is today," Rainey said. "We want to invest in areas that are value-add consumers and really play into our value proposition."

For example, PayPal wants to help users manage their subscription services to keep credit cards up-to-date and proactively prompting users to renew cards set to expire. It's also looking at ways to integrate rewards into its PayPal and Venmo apps, not only through Honey but also through the existing relationships it has with retailers and banks.

Read more: POWER PLAYERS: Meet the 8 PayPal execs shaping the payment giant's future as its stock skyrockets and e-commerce surges

Given these relationships, PayPal could serve as a central wallet linking consumers' loyalty points across brands and cards.

To that end, PayPal plans to spend $300 million working on these initiatives during the second half of this year.

"Even more broadly, if we were to add airlines or rental cars, we provide utility with those loyalty points because our customers can use those as a funding instrument through our wallet, with any of the merchants that we process around the world," Rainey said.

Rainey has big plans for using Venmo

As consumers' financial lives move increasingly online, PayPal isn't the only player trying to replace physical wallets.

Apple and Samsung are making big pushes toward adoption of their respective mobile wallets. Goldman's consumer bank, Marcus, is also working on mobile-based products that could optimize its users spending, saving, and investing. And American Express has been building out its app, looking to bring together customers' spending and rewards.

For PayPal,Venmo figures to be a key part of its digital wallet strategy. 

Often, the app has been used in social settings by groups of friends splitting checks at bars and restaurants. But users are still sending money on the platform. During the second quarter, Venmo's transaction volumes grew by over 50%. The app currently has roughly 60 million users. 

"Historically, there have been more limited use cases for Venmo," Rainey said. 

Especially when it comes to PayPal's push for QR codes as a way to pay, Venmo will be a critical platform to increase user engagement. Venmo also now offers business profiles, and will launch its credit card later this year, Rainey said.

Read more

PayPal's CFO explains why the payment giant is going against the grain and betting big on QR codes as the new way to pay in-store

Goldman Sachs is building an AI-powered digital assistant and checking account for its Marcus consumer bank. Here's how it's shaping up.

POWER PLAYERS: Meet the 8 PayPal execs shaping the payment giant's future as its stock skyrockets and e-commerce surges

SEE ALSO: Here's how PayPal is looking to boost its credit business by leaning into a buy now, pay later frenzy

SEE ALSO: Fintech investors say the Wirecard scandal will put increased regulatory pressure on payments companies and stymie growth for startups

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Pathologists debunk 13 coronavirus myths

Categories: English

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's net worth just ballooned above $100 billion for the first time ever

Thu, 08/06/2020 - 22:28

  • Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's net worth just passed the $100 billion mark.
  • Zuckerberg, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, and Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates are now the only three people in the world to be worth at least $100 billion, per Bloomberg.
  • The executive's ballooned fortune comes as Facebook unveils its Instagram Reels, a TikTok-like feature in the app, and as Facebook has experienced a booming stock price during the pandemic.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's net worth just passed the $100 billion for the first time as the social media firm has enjoyed a soaring stock price during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Per a Bloomberg report, the ballooned fortune lands Zuckerberg with the likes of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Microsoft cofounder Bill Gates, both of whom crested the $100 billion mark already. The three are reportedly the only people in the world worth at least $100 billion. 

Zuckerberg, who has a 13% stake in Facebook, and other executives of online companies have enjoyed a surge in sales during the COVID-19 pandemic as people are ushered into their homes and more so onto their devices.

News of Zuckerberg's expanded fortune comes soon after Facebook released Instagram Reels, a feature largely perceived as a TikTok competitor. Facebook is also still in the limelight following the Big Tech and Congress showdown on July 29 in which Zuckerberg and the CEOs of Amazon, Apple, and Google were grilled by lawmakers over antitrust concerns. 

Zuckerberg has claimed in the past that he intends to give 99% of his Facebook shares away during his lifetime.

SEE ALSO: Jeff Bezos is reportedly now worth over $171 billion, more than he was worth before his divorce

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NOW WATCH: July 15 is Tax Day — here's what it's like to do your own taxes for the very first time

Categories: English

Starz execs explain how they're partnering with potential rivals like Amazon and Apple and sharpening their programming focus to cut through the noise (LGFA)

Thu, 08/06/2020 - 22:26

  • Starz has added streaming subscribers and reduced cancellations, even as legacy-media giants like WarnerMedia and Peacock launch rival offerings. 
  • Two top Starz execs told Business Insider that comarketing with platforms including Amazon Prime Video and Hulu has been key to that growth.
  • "We're going to market with them in a lot of instances to try to grab subscribers together," Alison Hoffman, Starz' president of domestic networks, told Business Insider.
  • The premium-TV service, which hired a new content chief in May, is also ordering more seasons of shows like "P-Valley" and a wide-range of new dramas geared toward its core audience of women to keep the moment going.
  • Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.

Premium-TV network Starz is facing more competition in the streaming space from new entrants like HBO Max, Peacock, and Apple TV Plus.

But its streaming audience has continued to grow, reaching in June new heights of 7.4 million subscribers in the US and 11.4 million globally, including its international version, StarzPlay, and Spanish-language sister service, Pantaya.

Subscription-analytics firm Antenna also found that, while Starz's US rate of conversion from free trials to subscriptions was lower than some other major streaming services, people who paid to subscribe were more likely stick with Starz than its direct competitors. Starz had the lowest pace of cancellations, or churn, among premium-TV rivals including HBO and Showtime from April to June, according to the July report.

Starz also told Business Insider that cancellations were down year-over-year in recent months, and users were watching for longer.

Part of Starz's growth is due to the pandemic, which has people spending more time at home and streaming video.

But two top Starz execs also told Business Insider that the company has been partnering with new streaming entrants to nab more subscribers. Those players are willing to work with Starz because it's so far resisted the trend of expanding into a general-audience streaming service, and sells itself alongside those other platforms.

"We really are sticking to that premium model, which also allows us to partner with a lot of these entrants," Alison Hoffman, Starz' president of domestic networks, told Business Insider. "We're going to market with them in a lot of instances to try to grab subscribers together."

Hoffman, who was Starz's marketing chief before being promoted to her current role in April, said Starz is comarketing its service with well-heeled streamers like Hulu, Apple TV Plus, and Amazon Prime Video. 

Those streamers, incidentally, have been among the heaviest advertisers in the streaming-TV category since the pandemic hit, as Business Insider has reported. Each aired TV ads worth north of $100 million during the second quarter, according to data from iSpot.TV.

Hulu also promoted Starz as an add-on service in recent digital-ad campaign, as Business Insider reported based on data from Pathmatics. And, in November, as Disney was blocking rival Netflix from advertising on many of its TV networks, it was promoting Starz on Disney Plus and ESPN Plus, as The Verge first reported.

C0marketing with other channels served Starz well in the pay-TV ecosystem, when it would sell in bundles with other premium-TV networks HBO or Showtime, on top of basic cable. Starz simply translated it to the streaming world. 

"The more things change, the more they stay the same," Hoffman said. "We're really sticking to our knitting."

Starz is doubling down on its core strategy when it comes to programming, as well.

In May, the company brought on former CBS exec Christina Davis as its head of original programming. She is helping expand Starz's slate of dramas geared toward audiences it says have been traditionally underserved by premium TV, like women, Black, Latinx, and LGBTQ viewers.

The company solidified that approach after its historical drama "The White Queen" hit in 2013, and set the stage for dramas like "Outlander" that came after.

"We saw this influx of women viewers and they were passionate and they were buzzing on social media," Hoffman said. "We said, 'Nobody is doing this and there's such passion and there's such attachment and evangelism, because people aren't finding these voices on premium.'"

Starz is sharpening that focus now to stand out amid the noise in streaming. 

Davis said she's looking for stories that go deeper into character than much of what she was able to shepherd in in the broadcast world.

"I've always been jealous of the outlets that get to actually tell these brilliant stories about brilliant characters that are female and diverse," Davis said. "The stuff that I'm most proud of, I could see on Starz, like 'The Good Wife,' and shows like that, that really get to dig deeper into character exploration and tell a very distinct, potentially provocative story."

Davis is meeting, virtually, with a wide range of writers from the traditional-TV sphere, as well as creators outside of that bubble, given that first-time showrunners like Katori Hall have created huge hits for the network. 

Starz recently ordered a second season of Hall's "P-Valley," a drama about the strip-club scene in Mississippi that made waves after it launched in July. It also renewed the crime drama "Hightown" and set a September premiere date for its "Power" spinoff, "Power Book II: Ghost."

She's also learning to give those creators space to create.

"What I'm noticing is that we're able to let the creators tell these stories," Davis said. "Instead of noting them to death, just let them tell their story and let the passion come out."

Starz released 14 original series in the last year, the company said. It currently has about 20 shows in development, compared with the 50 to 60 series Davis said she would typically develop during an average broadcast season, 10 of which would make it to pilot and roughly four of which would get series orders.

Davis is also starting to think more globally about programming, as Starz has expanded to 50 countries through its international streaming service, StarzPlay.

Starz announced this week its first set of international originals, including local-language coproductions coming out of Spain and Mexico.

"It does feel like audiences around the world are really hungry for great drama and stories well told, with complex narratives," Hoffman said.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: July 15 is Tax Day — here's what it's like to do your own taxes for the very first time

Categories: English

How to watch the UEFA Champions League soccer tournament on CBS All Access

Thu, 08/06/2020 - 22:17

  • The UEFA Champions League, Europe's premier club soccer tournament, resumes with four games on August 7 and 8. 
  • The Champions League was forced to pause in early March amid uncertainty stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. 
  • CBS obtained broadcasting rights to the rest of the tournament when Turner Sports opted out of finishing the 2019-20 season. 
  • CBS will stream all remaining games through its CBS All Access subscription service, and will also broadcast select games through the CBS Sports Network.
  • CBS All Access subscriptions start at $5.99 a month, and new members can receive a one-month free trial

With soccer leagues across Europe finally finishing their respective domestic seasons, 12 elite teams have turned their attention to completing the UEFA Champions League. The Champions League is typically played simultaneously with domestic league seasons. However, once the coronavirus pandemic caused long pauses in many leagues, and the cancellation of seasons in others, the Champions League lost priority to finishing domestic seasons.

The Champions League resumes in the middle of the round of 16 portion of the tournament. The participants for the quarter finals are already determined on one half of the bracket. These four teams were able to finish both legs of their round of 16 ties before the pause. The remaining eight teams still have the second leg of their ties to complete. These games will take place across August 7 and 8. 

Turner Sports, the Champions League official broadcaster in the United States over the past two and a half seasons, forfeited its broadcasting rights for the remainder of the 2019-20 season and the entire 2020-21 competition. CBS then acquired these rights, meaning the remainder of this year's competition will be broadcast by CBS. They were already slated to begin broadcasting Champions League starting with the 2021-22 edition of the competition.

In addition to the Champions League, CBS is broadcasting the UEFA Europa League, which began on August 6. The Europa League is also currently in the round of 16 portion of its competition.

The majority of CBS' Champions League and Europa League coverage will be exclusive to the CBS All Access streaming service

How to watch the UEFA Champions League

CBS will broadcast every UEFA Champions League match on the CBS All Access streaming service. You can sign up for a month-long free trial of the app here. CBS All Access costs $5.99 a month with limited commercials, or $9.99 a month for the commercial free plan. With that said, the commercial free plan still includes ads during live broadcasts.

In addition to CBS All Access, three of the remaining four round of 16 games will also be broadcast on the CBS Sports Network. After that, games stretching from the quarter finals through the final are expected to be exclusive to CBS All Access. 

If you have a supported cable or satellite package, you can watch CBS Sports Network's selection of games on TV.  CBS Sports Network is also available through select live TV streaming services, including FuboTV and Hulu+ Live TV. You can access all of these services on most mobile devices, media players, and connected TVs, including Amazon Fire TV, Apple, Android, Chromecast, PS4, Xbox One, Roku, Samsung smart TVs, and more. 

The UEFA Champions League restart begins August 7 at 3 p.m. ET with Juventus vs. Lyon and Manchester City vs. Real Madrid. You can view a schedule of upcoming games here.

Since CBS also has the rights for next year's season, it's likely that future Champions League games will also be streamed through CBS All Access. The group stages of the 2020-21 Champions League will begin on October 20. 

Major storylines

Since this restart comes in the middle of the competition, there are important factors that are carrying over from when the tournament stopped nearly five months ago. When the tournament paused, four teams had already advanced to the quarter finals. Those teams are Red Bull Leipzig, Paris Saint-Germain, Atalanta, and Atlético Madrid. The four games taking place on August 7 and 8 will decide which remaining teams go through to the quarter finals.

These matches are the second legs of existing ties between teams. The Champions League knockout rounds are composed of two-legged ties. They are two games, played home and away for either team, where the aggregate score determines the winner. Essentially, it's one long 180-minute game played on two separate days. If there's a tie, the tie breaker for the two-game-series is determined by away goals. So, if the combined score from the games sees the teams tied, the team with the most goals scored at the opposing stadium advances. 

With that in mind, the current scores after the first leg of the remaining round of 16 are as follows. Manchester City owns a two to one aggregate advantage over Real Madrid after visiting Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. Barcelona and Napoli tied their first meeting one to one at Napoli's Stadio San Paulo. French club Olympique Lyonnais claimed a surprise one to zero victory over Juventus in Lyon. And finally, Chelsea will look to overcome a three to nothing deficit stemming from their at home defeat to Bayern Munich.

A new caveat of the tournament — in response to a condensed global soccer schedule — is that the quarter finals through the final will not maintain the two-game-series format that is standard to the Champions League. Instead, the eight quarter finalists will meet at the neutral site of Lisbon, Portugal, for a single elimination tournament to decide this year's European club champion. 

This portion of the tournament will stretch between August 12 and August 15. You can find the full Champions League schedule here.


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Categories: English

VOICE ASSISTANTS IN HEALTHCARE: An inside look at 3 emerging voice use cases healthcare providers can deploy to cut costs, build loyalty, and drive revenue

Thu, 08/06/2020 - 22:02

Voice is making waves across industries, but the transformative power of the technology is now at a tipping point in healthcare. The opportunity for voice in healthcare is pegged to mount as the global health virtual assistant market is expected to reach $3.5 billion in 2025. 

US healthcare providers' interest in voice tech is being catalyzed by recent technological breakthroughs growing the tech's potential to transform legacy operations.

Voice tech boasts five distinct advantages that heighten its disruption potential in healthcare and the tech is being optimized for the healthcare sphere, which is increasing the visibility of voice in health and opening the door for voice assistants to perform more sensitive and complex healthcare actions. There are also several pain points within healthcare that up the pressure on providers to tap into the voice opportunity. 

In this report, Business Insider Intelligence outlines the voice opportunity in healthcare and explores the drivers propelling voice adoption in the healthcare realm. We then examine three of the highest-value voice use cases in healthcare — clinical documentation, remote care, and clinical support — and provide examples of early moving health systems and health tech companies implementing voice in each application. 

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report: 

  • Health systems that deploy voice tech to facilitate clinical documentation can reduce physicians' administrative burden, increase patient volume and billable revenue, and eliminate transcription costs.
  • By leveraging voice to increase touchpoints with patients outside the clinic, healthcare organizations can open the opportunity to shrink costs associated with poor medication adherence and slash value-based care (VBC) penalties stemming from preventable readmissions.
  • Healthcare providers can reform diagnostics and better position themselves to deliver preventative medicine by deploying voice technology that can pinpoint diseases based on patients' speech characteristics.

In full, the report:

  • Explores why and how voice is disrupting healthcare. 
  • Details the three key applications where US health systems can apply voice technology. 
  • Offers evidence on how voice assistants provide value in each of the selected voice use cases. 

Want to learn more about the fast-moving world of digital health? Here's how to get access:

  1. Purchase & download the full report from our research store. >> Purchase & Download Now
  2. Sign up for Digital Health Pro , Business Insider Intelligence's expert product suite keeping you up-to-date on the people, technologies, trends, and companies shaping the future of healthcare, delivered to your inbox 6x a week. >> Get Started
  3. Subscribe to a Premium pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you'll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. >> Learn More Now
  4. Current subscribers can read the report here.

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Categories: English

Facial recognition could be coming to your office. Here's why companies pitching the tech say the pandemic is a huge tipping point for adoption.

Thu, 08/06/2020 - 21:47

  • Facial-recognition experts say the technology could become normalized during the coronavirus crisis as tenants and landlords seek seamless entry methods to reduce exposure to germs.
  • The technology has been seen by some as a potential threat to privacy, but facial-recognition experts say it can be deployed responsibly in office workplaces.  
  • Companies such as Clearview AI have raised concerns by scouring the internet for images and creating a database of billions of faces that can be used by surveillance systems to identify nearly anyone, without their consent. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Facial recognition has been quietly used in pharmacies, grocery stores, and by at least one major New York City landlord.

The blowback was fierce, raising uneasy questions whether monitoring and cataloging faces could veer into surveillance and infringe on privacy.

But those involved in the technology say the stigma may soften amid the coronavirus crisis if face reading can play a role in health screening and touchless entry to office buildings as tenants repopulate the workplace.

"I think more and more now, we can use facial recognition in a responsible way to permit access," said Shaun Moore, the CEO and founder of Trueface, a firm that develops face-reading software.

"People assume that it's a form of surveillance, but I think that many fail to acknowledge that if you use a mobile phone or an ATM card, it's the same thing. In fact, there might be more data attached to those."

Read More: Facebook just reached a blockbuster deal to lease the massive Farley Building in NYC as a tech and engineering hub. Here's why it's a huge win for a shaken office market.

Access to large office buildings has remained mostly unchanged for decades: tenants swipe keycards or fobs to pass through turnstiles and open locked doors and guests generally must check in at a security desk.

Already, there was a movement afoot to update those methods.

"We recently initiated a study for commercial buildings larger than 150,000 square feet and we found that only about 5% of commercial buildings are mobile phone app capable," said Aaron Lapsley, the head of Cushman & Wakefield's digital buildings practice. "But that number is increasing fast."

Implementing seamless entry has shifted from a nifty amenity to a health imperative as landlords scramble to create a touchless environment for tenants wary of germs in the workplace.

While smartphone apps can allow workers and visitors to walk into a building and dispatch an elevator without having to pull out a pass or press a button, experts say that facial recognition could be the ultimate outgrowth of the shift to seamlessness.

Read More: Mandatory temperature-taking is largely seen as a critical way to return workers to offices. But some big NYC landlords are worried about its effectiveness.

"If you want to enter a space using the phone in your pocket, you have to have an app running constantly in the background for it to communicate with the building's security systems," Lapsley said.

Privacy concerns also pervade the practice of tracking smart phones, which have been used by companies to record consumer locations and behavior and sell that data or use it to market products to them thorough curated online advertising.

"We do believe there's a future for facial recognition in buildings," said James Segil, the president and co-founder of Openpath, a company that manufactures access control equipment and systems. "It will take time, but it will get to a point of better adoption."

Segil pointed out that the process of visually screening tenants will become more normalized through the use thermal scanning, which is being employed widely by landlords to check building employees and guests for fever.

"It's not hard to add facial to that at some point," Segil said.

Addressing privacy concerns around facial recognition

Some of the recent concerns around facial recognition stem from controversies regarding Clearview AI, a company that developed algorithms that quietly gathered billions of faces globally from pictures posted on the internet and amassed them into a database. The company produced apps and cameras that utilized that data to identify nearly anyone, without their consent or knowledge.

A March report in Buzzfeed revealed that the large New York City landlord Rudin Management used Clearview AI's system as a screening tool at its properties. The company told Buzzfeed that it had discontinued the use of those systems.

Facial-recognition experts say that the methods they envision using in office buildings are far different. Tenants and landlords would control the databases storing facial data, participation would be voluntary, and individuals who no longer want their biometric information stored would have the right to have it deleted.

"Privacy is a legitimate concern if this is not done the right way," Moore said. "We spend a lot of time with clients educating them on how to do this."

Moore said interest is growing. Trueface, he said, is on track to double its revenues this year. He said the company has so far raised about $5 million in funding from investors and doesn't disclose its earnings. 

Openpath, which uses Trueface's software, has raised $63 million in funding in the past four years, its founder, Segil, said. He said its access-control products are used in about 2,000 buildings so far. 

"We have a good traction in a short amount of time," Segil said. "We have broader and bigger plans."

Still, many landlords have remained reticent to employ the technology. 

"Based on my conversations with tenants, many find the concept of facial recognition to be creepy and they are opposed to the idea," said Craig Deitelzweig, CEO of Marx Realty, which has a portfolio of 4.6 million square feet of commercial space. 

Those sentiments could change shortly as tenants begin to filter back to the workplace, Lapsley said, a return that most anticipate will begin after Labor Day.

"It's hard to say when the growth will be," Lapsley said. "We're in August and the decisions to go back to the office space have been delayed and delayed and occupancy levels are 10% or less in most major cities. It's unclear when the money for access entry advances will be deployed, but we think it will be significant for large office buildings and we expect it to happen soon as users return."

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