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Agregátor zdrojů | FLOPS

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Chatbots 101: How AI is Fueling the Disruptive Force in Customer Relations

Business Insider SAI - 4 hodiny 38 min zpět

Advancements in artificial intelligence, coupled with the rise of messaging apps, are fueling the development of chatbots — software programs that use messaging as the interface through which to carry out any number of tasks, from scheduling a meeting, to reporting the weather, to helping users buy a pair of shoes.

Businesses are foreseeing immense potential and are investing heavily in this burgeoning chatbot economy. In the near future, chatbots may do everything from distributing media content to offering personalized concierge services.

In The Chatbots 101 Report, Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, breaks down how chatbots work and looks at the future of the market.

This exclusive report can be yours for FREE today.

Join the conversation about this story »

Tech and business giants mourn the unexpected death of NBA legend turned investor Kobe Bryant, who was known for his 'obsessive' work ethic and used to call leaders like Tim Cook for advice

Business Insider SAI - 5 hodin 52 min zpět

  • Tech and business leaders from Apple and Microsoft as well as high-profile investors reacted with shock, sadness, and respect for Kobe Bryant's legacy on Sunday, following the news that the NBA legend Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter crash at age 41.
  • Bryant may be best known for his achievements on the court, but he became a savvy investor in his later career.
  • The former NBA star is also said to have sought advice from business leaders like Oprah Winfrey, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and former Nike CEO Mark Parker.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. 

Tech and business leaders mourned the unexpected death of NBA legend Kobe Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash on Sunday in California at age 41.

Executives from Apple and Microsoft as well as high-profile investors expressed shock, sadness, and respect for Bryant's legacy in Twitter posts on Sunday.

During his storied career with the Los Angeles Lakers, Bryant became the fourth all-time high scorer in the NBA and won five NBA championships. While much of his fame may be defined by his accomplishments on the court, he also became an established presence in the business world.

He launched a $100 million venture capital fund with investor Jeff Stibel following his retirement from the NBA in 2016, but he delved into the business world long before then. In 2014, for example, he invested a 10% stake in the sports drink BodyArmor, which is now said to be worth $200 million after Coca-Cola purchased a stake in the firm.

Bryant even said that he hoped to be remembered for his investments just as much as his NBA career when speaking with CNBC in 2016. "If you really want to create something that lasts generations, you have to help inspired the next generation, right?" Bryant said to the network. "They create something great. And then that generation will inspire the one behind them. That's when you create something forever."

Among those who shared their reactions on Sunday were Apple CEO Tim Cook, former Microsoft CEO and Los Angeles Clippers chairman Steve Ballmer, and billionaire entrepreneur and "Shark Tank" TV personality Mark Cuban.

Devastated and heartbroken by the passing of Kobe Bryant. I admired his athletic prowess from afar and his humanity close up. He was an original. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends and fans. RIP.

— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) January 26, 2020

The Clippers mourn Kobe Bryant, an icon in this city and this sport, who inspired teammates and opponents with his drive and determination. Kobe left an indelible mark on the world. His family, friends, fans and the Laker organization are in our prayers. We will miss him.

— Steve Ballmer (@Steven_Ballmer) January 26, 2020

Kobe. Fuck. There will be a lot of takes. But, not sure I will ever know anyone else with his work ethic. Legend. #RIPMamba

— Chris Sacca (@sacca) January 26, 2020

"My brain . . . it cannot process failure. It will not process failure. Because if I sit there and have to face myself and tell myself, ‘You’re a failure’ . . . I think that’s almost worse than death." -- Kobe Bryant, basketball legend, RIP

— Marc Andreessen (@pmarca) January 26, 2020

Damn. RIP Mamba. May your memory be a blessing

— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) January 26, 2020


Bryant was known to have a tireless work ethic. When speaking on Bill Simmons' podcast back in 2016, investor and former Shark Tank host Chris Sacca said Bryant would consistently text and call him with Ted Talks and other news while doing research for his business ventures.

"He was bringing the same obsessive work ethic to learning about startups that he does to training, to rehab, to his thousand makes a day, to everything," Sacca said. He also wasn't afraid to call other successful leaders for advice, as he told Alex Rodriguez and Dan Catz on an episode of "The Corp" in 2018, according to CNBC.

He said he learned a lot from Oprah Winfrey, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and former Nike CEO Mark Parker in particular, especially when it comes to handling mistakes. "We all make mistakes," Bryant said, according to CNBC. "We all make decisions. And you just continue to plow forward. You continue to figure it out."

SEE ALSO: The incredible life of Kobe Bryant, the 41-year-old basketball legend who died in a helicopter crash on Sunday

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NOW WATCH: 8 weird robots NASA wants to send to space

Today, the Trident era ends

OS News - 7 hodin 10 min zpět
Starting now, Microsoft will roll out their new Chromium-based Edge browser to their millions of Windows 10 users. And this will also mark the end of an era. The era of the Trident-Engine. But hadn’t the Trident era already ended when Edge appeared? Not really. This is a very deep look at the Trident engine. Goodness.

How to rise the ranks at Point72; a leaked pitch deck reveals WarnerMedia's aggressive HBO Max strategy; Apple and Amazon could dismantle healthcare as we know it

Business Insider SAI - Ne, 2020-01-26 17:28



Finance editor Meredith Mazzilli here, taking the final turn as guest host while executive editor Matt Turner wraps up parental leave. 

I'll get the shameless promotion for my own newsletter out of the way first — you can sign up here for Wall Street Insider to get a behind-the-scenes look at the finance team's biggest scoops and deep dives. 

The world's most powerful leaders and execs (not to mention a sizable Business Insider contingent) flocked to Davos this week. Here are some interesting nuggets from the sidelines of this annual meeting of the minds: 

      • A generation of private-equity leaders is getting ready to hand over the reins to successors. Dakin Campbell spoke with Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman, who explained why he kept his next in line a secret for more than a year.
      • Joe Ciolli chatted with Amy Webb, a quantitative futurist and professor of strategic foresight at NYU, who predicted that tech giants like Amazon and Apple will "completely dismantle the healthcare industry as we know it."
      • Attention job-seekers: Andy Baldwin, the global managing partner of client services at EY, told Cadie Thompson that the firm wants to hire for more tech roles in the years ahead, and explained why it's changing what it looks for in candidates.
      • Buzzwords are often maddening corporate-speak to soften the blow of big, unpopular decisions. And that's exactly why they're worth unpacking. As Joe reports, the word "upskilling" kept popping up during most of Business Insider's conversations with execs, investors, and strategists. Here's why.
      • Spiked seltzer was everywhere in 2019. John Blood, the chief legal and corporate-affairs officer and corporate secretary for AB InBev, told Cadie how the company is thinking about the fizzy booze market now, and why it doesn't spend much time worrying about White Claw. 
Digging into buzzy healthcare startup One Medical 

Speaking of the rich and powerful — I'm a big fan of stories that sift through hundreds of pages of jargon and boilerplate in S-1 filings to uncover the juiciest stuff companies share before going public.

One of the fun things we get to learn is who's about to get richer.

Primary-care startup One Medical recently filed paperwork to go public, and Lydia Ramsey broke out the investors and execs with the biggest stakes, plus how much they stand to gain. Topping the list is The Carlyle Group, which led a $220 million private financing round for One Medical in 2018. The firm owns a nearly 27% stake that would be worth $450.5 million at the top of the IPO range.

Still, there's plenty of red ink: One Medical's net losses have been deepening for the membership-based platform even as users climbed (sound familiar?

Finance and Investing The head of professional development at Steve Cohen's Point72 explains how to climb from fresh college grad to portfolio manager at the $16 billion hedge fund firm

Going from fresh-out-of-college, brand-new analyst to running an investment team as a portfolio manager at Steve Cohen's Point72 isn't a linear path. Here are the different ways to rise the ranks. 

Fortress CEO Wes Edens didn't show up to board meetings while his private-equity firm racked up a $115 million tab managing local newspaper chain GateHouse

Billionaire and Milwaukee Bucks co-owner Wes Edens was chairman of the firm overseeing one of America's largest newspaper chains, but skipped more than a quarter of its board and committee meetings in 2018. 

The legendary author of 'Rich Dad, Poor Dad' says he's avoiding stocks as he braces for the next market crash — and warns mom and pop investors are being set up for disaster

Robert Kiyosaki, author of the #1 personal finance book of all time "Rich Dad, Poor Dad," thinks public-market investors are being duped.

Tech, Media, Telecoms Leaked pitch deck shows how WarnerMedia plans to become the dominant media company by spending on HBO Max and adtech division Xandr

AT&T has made no secret of its desire to lead the increasingly fractured media landscape through its newly acquired WarnerMedia entertainment properties and Xandr adtech division. 

72 startups that will boom in 2020, according to VCs

We asked a group of investors at successful venture capital firms to name the startups that will boom this year. 

The 17 hottest brands in influencer marketing that work with creators on YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and other platforms

These brands have built lasting partnerships with creators on social media, and include names like SeatGeek, Sephora, and Chipotle.

Healthcare, Retail, Transportation The CEO of troubled cannabis company MedMen told us investors were right to punish his stock. Now he says they'd be smart to bet on a turnaround.

MedMen, a flashy cannabis retailer with stores in Las Vegas, Los Angeles' Venice Beach neighborhood, and on New York's Fifth Avenue, has been punished by investors.

A startup run by a Tesla veteran and backed by Bill Gates is promising to build a long-duration battery that's 50 to 100 times cheaper than lithium-ion

There's a reason lithium-ion batteries are in nearly every electronic device — they're energy-dense, lightweight, and don't degrade quickly. Where they fall short is in the storage of electricity on the grid for multiple days. 

Inside Walmart's thriving TikTok account, which has over 127,000 followers and is luring a new generation of Gen Z shoppers to the superstore

Walmart joining TikTok might just be the crossover event of the century. The nearly 60-year-old retailer is surprisingly active on the social media platform that has gained explosive popularity among young people, especially Gen Z.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: WeWork went from a $47 billion valuation to a failed IPO. Here's how the company makes money.

'Bad Boys for Life' wins the box office for a second-straight weekend (SNE)

Business Insider SAI - Ne, 2020-01-26 17:15

  • "Bad Boys for Life" won the domestic box office for a second-straight weekend, bringing in $34 million.
  • Its domestic box office total is over $100 million.
  • Universal's Oscar frontrunner "1917" came in second place with $15.8 million.
  • That movie has also crossed the $100 million milestone at the domestic box office.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Sony's "Bad Boys for Life" continues to have an amazing run at the box office.

Saturday the action/comedy starring Will Smith and Martin Lawrence crossed the $100 million mark at the domestic box office, then on Sunday it topped the domestic box office for a second-straight weekend, bringing in an estimated $34 million. That's just a 46% drop from its opening weekend.

And it's possible the movie has enough witchcraft left in it to stay on the throne for one more weekend.

Next weekend the only competition is Paramount's gritty revenge tale "The Rhythm Section," starring Blake Lively as an assassin and directed by Reed Morano ("The Handmaid's Tale"). There's a chance audiences will favor the "Bad Boys" for a third weekend rather than Lively learning to become a contract killer. Time will tell.

Universal's "1917" has also crossed the $100 million mark at the domestic box office and came in second place this weekend with a $15.8 million take. Over the weekend Sam Mendes won the best director prize at the DGA Awards, strengthening its frontrunner status for the Oscars. Because of that, audiences are heading to the multiplex to see what all the fuss is about.

Box-office highlights:
  • STXfilms is starting off 2020 strong with a $11 million opening on 2,165 screens for "The Gentlemen." The Guy Ritchie-directed gangster movie performed better than its industry projections.
  • However, Universal's horror "The Turning" had a disappointing opening weekend, only bringing in $7.3 million on 2,839 screens and receiving a CinemaScore grade of "F."

SEE ALSO: The 11 emerging movie directors who will take over Hollywood in 2020 and beyond

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns explains why country music is universal

As Airbnb prepares to go public, here are the five things things investors will be focused on

Business Insider SAI - Ne, 2020-01-26 17:14

Airbnb started in 2008 as a way for people to rent out spare rooms to strangers. Since then, it has grown into a global travel company valued by private investors at $31 billion by offering everything from bespoke trips to property management services, with seven million rental listings in more than 220 countries. 

Last September, Airbnb announced its plans to become a publicly traded company in 2020, and some market watchers are speculating that the company could start that process in the first half of this year. It's also reportedly considering listing its shares directly rather than through a traditional initial public offering.

Airbnb's path to the public markets has been slower than some of its peers — a source of tension among both executives and rank-and-file employees. CEO and co-founder Brian Chesky has said the company is simply taking a long-term view of its business, or what Chesky has called an "infinite time horizon."

As Airbnb debated where a public offering should fit on that horizon, many of its fellow "unicorns" — companies valued at more than $1 billion — decided to take the plunge last year.

But Wall Street wasn't impressed. Companies like Uber, Lyft, and Slack have struggled to drive up stock prices, while WeWork abandoned its IPO entirely amid controversies surrounding its financials and governance.

It's against this backdrop — and amid fears of an impending economic recession — that Airbnb readies itself for public scrutiny. So, when investors finally get to kick the tires, they'll be paying especially close attention to these five things.

Profit and margins: Is Airbnb actually making money, and if so, how much?

Investors have become wary of buzzy startups like Uber and Lyft that, subsidized by venture capital money, prioritized growth over identifying a sustainable business model. That means they'll be taking a closer look at Airbnb's profits (or losses) as well as its margins.

"Just like generals fight the last war, investors fight the last IPO," said Mark Mahaney, a managing director at RBC Capital Markets."

Airbnb said it was profitable in both 2017 and 2018 before accounting for interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA). The company also reportedly has at least $3 billion in cash on its balance sheet, both good signs. However, its year-over-year losses reportedly doubled in the first quarter of 2019 as marketing expenses skyrocketed, which could give investors pause.

Mahaney said investors will key in on "bookings growth, number of customers, and the growth trends," as well as any other metrics Airbnb decides to provide as they try to determine whether its growth is sustainable.

Airbnb's marketing costs could skyrocket as it scales and takes on Google.

As businesses grow, their marketing costs scale as well — particularly around making sure they feature prominently on search engines like Google.

Airbnb's strong branding has helped it spend less here relative to competitors like Booking.com and TripAdvisor, said Dennis Schaal, executive editor at Skift, a travel industry news and research site.

"That's the narrative that they've always tried to sell that, 'hey, we get more direct traffic than those other people, we have a better brand," Schaal said.

As of December 2019, Airbnb got more than 60% of its web traffic from people going directly to its site, according to SimilarWeb.

But that may be changing as Airbnb tries to reach new customers. The same report on Airbnb's 2019 losses said the company spent $367 million in the first quarter on sales and marketing, a 58% increase from the same period in 2018.

Crucially, Google could play a substantial role here. In 2018, Google began including vacation rentals from travel sites like Booking.com in its search results — at no costs to those sites. Airbnb didn't jump on board until October 2019, perhaps worried about becoming too dependent on Google.

"Airbnb is in there for free and Google is very glad to have them there, but what happens when Google turns on the monetization spigots," Schaal said.

When it comes to competitors, he said, "it might be Booking.com right now, but the biggest competitor will be Google — that's the one Airbnb's afraid of."


From local bed-and-breakfasts to hotels and professional property management: how will Airbnb solve its identity crisis?

Airbnb, originally founded as "AirBed&Breakfast," pitched itself as the anti-hotel, offering travelers a unique, affordable experience by connecting them with local hosts who had a room to spare. But seven million listings later, Airbnb has drifted from those roots.

"Hotels want to be more like Airbnb, and Airbnb wants to be more like hotels," said April Rinne, who advises sharing economy companies (Rinne has worked with Airbnb in the past but does not speak on behalf of the company).

In recent years, Airbnb's acquisitions have helped it expand into property management software as well as rental marketplaces for office spaces, corporate travel, luxury rentals, and hotel reservations. Factor in the success of its Airbnb for Work program and an Airbnb-branded hotel in Miami, and all signs suggest that Airbnb is looking to cater to customers looking for a more standardized travel experience.

"You want things to be professional in terms of the quality of the stay, you want to have standards," Schaal said, "but will Airbnb lose its soul in the process?"

Trust and safety: will Airbnb be able to crack down on party houses and fraud, and at what cost?

A mass shooting at an Airbnb property in California last October and a Vice investigation that revealed widespread fraud on the platform have renewed scrutiny of the company's efforts to weed out bad actors.

In response, Chesky announced that Airbnb plans to manually verify the accuracy and quality of all seven million of its listings by the end of 2020, crack down on unauthorized parties, and launch a 24/7 hotline for people to report issues — which could be easier said than done.

"The biggest question is about how they'll be able to do that at scale," said Mike Coletta, manager of research and and innovation at Phocuswright, a travel market research firm.

"The people I've talked to and interviewed have a lot of doubts that it can be done as early as it needs to be in a way that doesn't spiral out of control in terms of cost," he said.

Regulatory risk: can Airbnb make peace with its neighbors?

Airbnb currently operates in more than 100,000 cities, but not all have welcomed the company with open arms. Paris, Japan, New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and New Orleans are just some of the locations that have placed restrictions or bans on short-term rentals.

Local officials have accused Airbnb of driving up rent prices, not paying its fair share in taxes, and effectively running a hotel business while not having to abide by the same regulations as hotels. It doesn't help that the hotel industry has fanned those flames.

Rinne said efforts to address the regulatory gray area surrounding Airbnb have been playing out at the local level, which means "millions of sets of negotiations."

But whether the company has come to the table or taken a more aggressive approach, those negotiations have given Airbnb lots of practice dealing with regulators, something investors have likely noticed.

"It should sort of be priced in already because it's pretty obvious that they've been having regulatory battles for years," said Coletta.

That experience could also help Airbnb shape the narrative as regulators try to navigate the unique challenge of regulating online platforms.

"The biggest advantage they have right now is that the gap between technology and policymakers' level of expertise is so wide and it's growing," Rinne said.


California's big new privacy law is creating a $55 billion opportunity, and tech companies are rushing to get in on it

Business Insider SAI - Ne, 2020-01-26 16:04

  • The California Consumer Privacy Act, or CCPA, is intended to give consumers a lot more control over the personal data that's collected by websites and apps.
  • California itself estimates that companies will spend $55 billion this year to get into compliance with the law.
  • Experts say that startups are well-positioned to capitalize on CCPA by going after a slice of that very large pie.
  • While there are many companies, including Box and Very Good Security, that offer tools to help manage a company's data, there's no "single silver bullet" solution out there, experts say.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

On January 1st, the California Consumer Privacy Act, or CCPA, officially went into effect — a landmark new privacy law championed by Governor Gavin Newsom intended to give consumers in the state more control over the personal data collected by websites, apps, and other online services.

While California's attorney general is putting finishing touches on the law and isn't expected to start enforcing it until July, companies are already starting to worry about getting into compliance. Indeed, companies are expected to spend $55 billion this year to get in compliance with California's law, according to the state's own estimate

That's created a huge opportunity for tech companies, and perhaps especially startups, several Silicon Valley insiders have told Business Insider. The law requires companies to allow their customers to request a copy of all the data it's collected about them — and, furthermore, requires that data be deleted upon request.

That's a problem for a lot of companies, who may simply not have the tools to process all of their customer data across various systems and software and put it into a tidy report, let alone to delete all of it as required by the law. For tech companies that specialize in data management, then, this could be a boon.

"We want to be an enabler to companies being able to stay compliant with all of these new, emerging privacy laws. So for us, realistically, this is actually a tailwind to our business model, it's a positive trend for us," Aaron Levie, CEO of business cloud-storage company Box, told Business Insider.

That's good news for established companies like Box, for sure, but also for smaller startups. The scale of the problem is such that no single company can currently tackle it on their own, said Bart Willemsen, an analyst at Gartner.

There are lots of different pieces of the puzzle, here, he says: Not only how companies handle the data they've collected, but also the ways and tools they use to collect it in the first place, as well as the customer experience for making it easy and seamless for customers to access that data, as required by law. No one company can do all of it — and, indeed, it falls on the company itself to figure out the best combination of tools to get there.

"There are those that present themselves as the, 'we do everything for you with the one single silver bullet,' but I don't believe that. Nobody makes an organization compliant other than the organization itself," Willemsen told Business Insider. 

The opportunity

Robert Cattanach, a lawyer who specializes in data regulations and data breaches, said right now most companies aren't equipped to deal with a request from a consumer asking what data they have on them.

"I see the biggest issue as understanding where data is and how to access that data...their data systems have not been developed with that kind of functionality in mind, so they're having to create it...so I think that response to consumer requests is going to be the biggest challenge," Cattanach said. 

In-Sik Rhee, a partner at Vertex Ventures, said data privacy and compliance is a space where his firm is looking for investment opportunities in the next year. He adds that there's going to be a huge need for companies to organize and better manage their data. 

"I think for a lot of companies they're not really selling your data or doing other things, but they are capturing the data. But those that have captured data, they now need to have better hygiene in terms of sorting it properly or protecting it," Rhee said. "So there's companies that are helping just manage the data as you've collected it."

And there are already many smaller companies being born with the goal of meeting those needs.

Very Good Security (VGS) is one such startup, which layers itself on top of a company's software and parses out which data is most sensitive. That data then gets shunted to VGS's own systems for safeguarding and processing, taking the burden of protecting it away from the customer while also making it easier to make sense of all of it. That approach got a vote of confidence from investors from Visa and Goldman Sachs.

"We understand the intent of where and how you're receiving that data so that you can perform operations on it without necessarily having it. So you've shifted custodianship to VGS and all you have is a reference that looks like the real data, but it's useless," Mahmoud Abdelkader, co-founder and CEO of VGS, told Business Insider. 

Indeed, Rehan Jalil — the founder of a company called Securiti.ai, formed by ex-Symantec employees — says that regulations like CCPR and Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) are going to require a rethinking of how data is handled, with a focus on making it as easy and automatic as possible to protect customer data. Jalil calls this approach "privacy ops." 

"That's where I see the biggest opportunities and a lot of companies are working on it and will continue to work on it, how to operationalize privacy and automate privacy inside a company," Jalil said.

No magic bullet

It also remains to be seen what new data privacy regulations come about in other states or nationwide.

Willemsen, the Gartner analyst, said tackling this long term means companies have to acknowledge that data privacy and management is an integral part of their organization, regardless of if laws require it. Those that already see that, and are taking moves to better protect and serve their customers, are further alone the curve than the rest, he says.

"Privacy in itself is infinitely more than just regulatory compliance," he said. "And if an organization gets it right and understands the principle here, you'll see that they are further ahead in terms of many different things compared to their opposition." 

Got a tip? Contact this reporter via email at pzaveri@businessinsider.com or Signal at 925-364-4258. (PR pitches by email only, please.) You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.

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NOW WATCH: 9 items to avoid buying at Costco

There's a 'Pro' version of every major Apple gadget except for the Apple Watch. It's time for that to change. (AAPL)

Business Insider SAI - Ne, 2020-01-26 15:49

  • Apple has used the "Pro" name for its Mac products, iPads, and more recently the iPhone and iPad. Now, it may be time for it to make an Apple Watch Pro as well.
  • Some of the newer features to have debuted on the Apple Watch in recent years, while innovative, target specific use cases and may not be worth the premium price for shoppers that just want to see notifications on their wrist or measure activity.
  • With this in mind, it may make sense for Apple to launch a "Pro" version of the Apple Watch, much like it's done for the iPhone, AirPods, and its other popular products.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. 

It's no secret that Apple's product lineup has grown larger, more diverse, and increasingly complex in recent years. It now sells four different types of iPhones and iPads, offers three different buying options for AirPods, and sells the Apple Watch in five different flavors.

Apple distinguishes many of its products from one another by branding certain versions as "Pro" models, which are typically more expensive and come with a few extra features that are missing from the regular version. For the iPhone, it's an extra telephoto camera and more contrast-friendly OLED screen that separates the iPhone 11 Pro from the iPhone 11, for instance. For AirPods, it's active noise cancellation and multiple ear tips.

Apple has used the "Pro" name for its MacBook, Mac, and iPad gadgets for years, but only brought this branding to the iPhone and AirPods in 2019. That makes the Apple Watch one of the few Apple products without a "Pro" option.

And perhaps it's time for that to change. Here's why:

SEE ALSO: Fitbit quietly added a new feature to some of its products that the Apple Watch doesn't have

Newer Apple Watch features push the category forward, but aren't as necessary to the overall experience compared to older upgrades.

The Apple Watch has steadily grown to become one of the company's most important products, helping skyrocket the Cupertino-based tech giant to become the market leader in wearable technology. The company has unveiled a new model every September since 2014, when the first version made its public debut before launching in spring 2015.

Early versions brought crucial upgrades that boosted the value proposition of owning a smartwatch in the first place, like better performance and support for cellular connectivity. But while more recent models offer impressive technologies that have turned the Apple Watch into a more comprehensive health monitoring device, such features aren't necessarily critical to the overall Apple Watch experience. That's especially true considering several of the Apple Watch's most important new features are pushed through software updates and don't depend on the latest hardware.  

The second generation Apple Watch, for instance, included several meaningful improvements over the first, such as water resistance and the inclusion of integrated GPS — two features that were substantial in establishing the Apple Watch as a viable fitness tracker that could compete with offerings from companies like Garmin and Fitbit. And the Apple Watch Series 3 that launched in 2017 brought cellular connectivity to the device, a capability that made the watch significantly more independent of your iPhone. 

But as the smartwatch market has matured, the Apple Watch's progression has started to feel different. Some new features feel minor, like the Series 5's compass, while others are significant but only immediately useful under specific circumstances for targeted use cases.

Take the Apple Watch Series 4, for example, which was released in 2018 and started at $400. That release marked a milestone for the Apple Watch since it introduced more sophisticated health-oriented features that made it more than just a fitness tracker. The Series 4 was the first model capable of capturing an electrocardiogram, making it possible to use the watch to detect atrial fibrillation, or an irregular heartbeat. It also comes with a feature that offers the option to dial emergency services straight from the watch when it understands that the wearer has taken a hard fall.

Both capabilities are undoubtedly useful for those who need them. But potential buyers who just want an Apple Watch for viewing notifications on their wrist and measuring steps and activity would probably be happy to pay less for an Apple Watch with a standard heart-rate monitor. Apple could easily launch a "Pro" model that includes these more specialized features alongside a standard version with simpler capabilities.

A similar statement could be made about the $400 Series 5, which has many of the same features as the Series 4 but with an always-on display and a compass. The former enables the screen to show the time and other information even when the display isn't activated, while the latter allows for more precise location tracking.

Again, while these additions are appreciated and certainly make Apple's smartwatch better, I'm still able to get the biggest benefits the Apple Watch has to offer without them. I don't need these features to see if I've closed my Activity Rings for the day, or to view the text message I received while my phone has been tucked away in my bag. I don't need them to see the latest headlines from Apple News on my wrist.

And apparently I'm not alone in how I use my Apple Watch. When it comes to smartwatch functions that wearers use daily, notifications and text alerts, activity tracking, and news updates topped the list, according to a 2017 survey from market research firm NPD Group.

That's not to say features like ECG monitoring, fall detection, and always-on display technology aren't useful and innovative. They are, but the experience of using an Apple Watch wouldn't necessarily be hampered without them either. Some may argue that the same can be said for the earlier versions of the Apple Watch, but some of those advancements — like cellular connectivity support — at least helped answer the question as to why you may want to purchase a smartwatch in the first place.

The Apple Watch Series 3 presents the best case yet for a standard and "Pro" Apple Watch.

Perhaps the Apple Watch Series 3 is the biggest case to be made that there's an audience for a lower-cost Apple Watch that doesn't have all of the bells and whistles of the latest model.

The Series 3, which Apple still sells alongside the Series 5 for $200, offers similar performance when it comes to running apps and can handle almost any task the Series 5 can — except for taking an ECG, measuring a hard fall, and showing information on the watch's screen even when the display is turned off. Other important new features, like the ability to download apps to the watch straight from your wrist without turning to your iPhone and monitoring activity trends over time, also launched on the Series 3 through software updates.

Apple doesn't break out specific sales figures for the Apple Watch, so it's difficult to tell exactly how well the Apple Watch Series 3 is currently selling alongside the Series 5. But the International Data Corporation did cite the Series 3 as a driver of Apple's growth in the wearables space in the third quarter of 2019, saying that the price reduction it implemented following the Series 5's launch helped to boost Apple's leadership position in the industry. 

It's possible that the wearables market is starting to reach a turning point much like the smartphone industry, even though it's not as mature as the mobile phone space. That's to say that smartwatches have seemingly become so advanced that it's become more difficult to differentiate newer models from the last. 

One way some tech companies have addressed this in the smartphone market has been by launching cheaper versions of their flagship phones that offer many of the same features at a lower price. This has seemingly worked for Apple with the iPhone so far; the cheaper iPhone 11, and more premium 11 Pro and 11 Pro Max, made up 20% of Apple's third quarter sales, says Consumer Intelligence Research Partners.

It could be time, then, for Apple to position its smartwatch lineup the same way by dividing them into Pro and standard versions.  

Here's how an ex-CIA officer and a tech entrepreneur are using AI to hunt sex traffickers on Super Bowl Sunday

Business Insider SAI - Ne, 2020-01-26 15:15

  • Emil Mikhailov, founder of XIX, a computer vision startup, and Nic McKinley, founder of Deliver Fund, a nonprofit started by an ex-CIA agent, have teamed up to use AI to fight human trafficking.
  • Deliver Fund uses XIX's technology to scan and analyze massive numbers of online images to identify and expose sex trafficking rings. The XIX platform looks for "signals" in the photos — visual elements that suggest a link to the illicit sex trade.
  • "Human traffickers oftentimes will brand their victims as property," McKinley, who has been dubbed "the Real Jack Ryan" in a documentary, told Business Insider.
  • Deliver Fund will use XIX's platform while working with law enforcement agencies in the upcoming Super Bowl weekend in Miami. The Super Bowl typically leads to an uptick in sex trafficking activity in the city where it is to be held, creating opportunities for law enforcers to identify them.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

One is ex-CIA, dubbed the 'real Jack Ryan, who's looking to stamp out modern-day slavery. The other, a tech entrepreneur from Moscow who hopes to deploy AI for noble causes.

Nic McKinley, founder and CEO of Deliver Fund, a Dallas nonprofit dedicated to fighting human trafficking, and Emil Mikhailov, founder and CEO of XIX, a San Francisco AI computer vision startup, have teamed up for an unconventional use of artificial intelligence: battling human trafficking.

McKinley's exploits as a CIA field agent were highlighted in a 2018 Vice News documentary which dubbed him "The Real Jack Ryan," referring to the fictional CIA analyst and operative in a popular TV series. (He says "the real Jack Ryan character doesn't exist, because you're either an operative or an analyst. You're not both.")

Deliver Fund uses XIX's AI-powered software to gather intelligence on criminal rings in a $100 billion global industry that coerces people to work in the illicit sex trade or other forms of forced labor. The partnership underscores how AI, now known mainly either as a powerful business tool or an Orwellian weapon against dissidents, is also being deployed by startups and advocacy groups against crime and exploitation. 

In fact, Deliver Fund, working with law enforcers and using the XIX's platform, is gearing up for an event that's known to spark an uptick in sex trafficking: The Super Bowl, slated to be held on Feb. 2 in Miami.

"We're taking all the skills that we've learned in the fight against terrorism and applying that to the fight against human trafficking here in the United States," McKinley told Business Insider.

For Mikhailov, sharing the XIX technology with McKinley's team is not about making money.  "We don't sell it to Deliver Fund," he said. "We do it for free."

Using AI to scan trafficking images

They're also applying XIX's AI-powered platform, which is able to quickly scan and analyze information on the web, specifically photos and images posted on social networks, porn and other sites where traffickers are known to look for customers.

"Those are very explicit imagery," Mikhailov told Business Insider. The XIX platform, he said, scans for "signals," or visual elements on images that are known to be associated with trafficking.

"Human trafficking has its own featured signals, meaning specific attributes," he said.

McKinley cited one example, tattoos.

"Human traffickers oftentimes will brand their victims as property," he said. "If you have a victim who has, say, a tattoo of a clown on her face and her trafficker's name tattooed right underneath it, we'll have the algorithm that can go out and find every other photo within the system that has that clown on it."

Deliver Fund shares the information they collect through the XIX platform and other methods with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies. 

Their efforts have led to some dramatic successes. In 2018, they helped rescue a young woman in the southwest who was betrayed by a boyfriend by turning her over to a sex trafficker, who subjected her to horrific abuse. The girl escaped and went to the police who sought Deliver Fund's help in hunting down her traffickers. With the help of the XIX platform, Deliver Fund found them in days.

"A few days later, a SWAT team kicked in his front door and arrested him and freed the other girls that were in his custody," McKinley said.

A 'centralized brain' to fight human trafficking

A former CIA special agent and US Air Force pararescue instructor, McKinley said he launched Deliver Fund in 2014 after realizing a huge gap in the federal government's capabilities in fighting trafficking, McKinley said. 

While there's a federal agency, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), dedicated to fighting the illicit use and sale of alcohol, tobacco and firearms, which are legal commodities, no such infrastructure exists to fight a worse, and totally illegal activity, human trafficking, he said. 

"We have an entire government bureaucracy around fighting the illicit use and sale" of alcohol, tobacco and firearms, McKinley said. "You know, 100% of human trafficking is illegal, yet we don't have a single centralized brain for fighting the issue."

He started Deliver Fund with other veterans of the military and intelligence services, including the Navy SEALs and the National Security Agency. 

"We equip, train and advise law enforcement and regulatory authorities for their fight against human trafficking," he said. "We're able to do that because most of us are coming from an intelligence background."

'Okay, there's something new here'

The Vice documentary on McKinley mentioned Deliver Fund's work which caught Mikhailov's attention. He was intrigued, thinking, "This is a very important problem to work on, interesting from a technological perspective."

He emailed McKinley who quickly became impressed with XIX's technology. "I get hit up by companies routinely wanting us to use their technologies," he said. "I saw what he was actually doing. I was like, 'Okay, there's something new here that I haven't seen before that we actually desperately need."

What was new was XIX's ability to analyze fast and on a massive scale images associated with sex trafficking. "They had cracked the nut on data collection and computer visualization coming through on the same platform," he said. "That was something we really needed."

The XIX platform was particularly effective in analyzing online advertisements for purportedly legal services, such as massages or escorts and sex chats, but which sex traffickers use to find customers. 

"At the end of the day, the commercial sex advertisement is a starting point," he said. "It's not enough just to look at a commercial sex advertisement and and say, 'I believe this is human trafficking.' When you can start connecting those advertisements with other data coming out of social media or other databases, that's the true magic."

Other tools are able make those connections using text-based AI, he said. "But if you have a trafficker on Instagram, and he's just posting an Instagram photo, and there's no text, well, that becomes irrelevant data to those other platforms."

He said Mikhailov's team figured out how to "pull metadata that we'd never seen anybody pulling before and be able to use their algorithms to connect advertisements that we'd never seen anybody able to connect before."

Deliver Fund has also tried other tools that rely only on facial recognition technology, which is now commonly used by some law enforcement agencies in the search for known victims, McKinley said. 

But "a lot of the human trafficking victims have their faces covered or blurred out, because the traffickers are on to the fact that law enforcement is using facial recognition," he said. "Facial recognition doesn't work in those instances."

Because it's able to analyze more elements of an image beyond a person's face, the XIX platform has proven to be a more powerful tool, giving Deliver Fund the ability to "pull other things out and connect them across platforms."

Sex trafficking at the Super Bowl

The XIX platform has proven to be a critical tool in what has turned into an annual major anti-trafficking operation. 

As fans of the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs gear up for Super Bowl LIV in Miami, McKinley's team will be working with law enforcement agencies, to take on a loathsome fallout from the yearly football showdown: sex trafficking.

"Wherever a Super Bowl or a large sporting event in particular is being held, it attracts a large number of people who are there for something more than the event itself,"  McKinley said.

He used a military analogy to explain why the Super Bowl is an opportune time to target sex traffickers. "If you're in Afghanistan, and you have snipers on a hillside, you're not going to see them until they move, then that's when you see them. The Super Bowl is the incentive for these traffickers to move. And so it allows us to identify them."

The Super Bowl anti-trafficking operations actually highlighted the effectiveness of the XIX platform. The startup was not involved in the 2018 Super Bowl operation in Minneapolis which led to the arrest or identification of about 40 traffickers, McKinley said. 

But XIX became part of the anti-trafficking operation's arsenal in the 2019 Super Bowl in Atlanta. The platform helped Deliver Fund and law enforcers identify and build cases on 50 sex traffickers. More importantly, they were able to do so faster and with fewer staff.

"That's the beauty of the XIX platform, is it reduces the man-hours needed to build one of these cases," McKinley said.

Ultimately, operations similar to the ones conducted in connection with the Super Bowl are just a small part of a bigger and longer campaign, McKinley said. 

The business of human trafficking 

Human trafficking, which rakes in about $100 billion to $150 billion a year according to some estimates, is such a huge, global problem that it cannot be solved just by taking down individual traffickers.

"We are not going to arrest our way out of this problem," he said. To have a meaningful impact, he said, they need to focus on the tools and institutions used by the traffickers, such as banks and hotel chains.

Major human trafficking rings typically rely on banks and hotels to operate. Greg Switzer, vice president of Deliver Fund's commercial operations, said the organizations is also working with and sharing information on confirmed human trafficking groups with major financial institutions and hotels that may be inadvertently offering services to criminal organizations.

"They may be looking for a tool that meets some regulatory compliance needs," he told Business Insider. "They may want to protect their company from brand damage once association is made with their products and services involved with human trafficking."

McKinley said Deliver Fund has helped open money laundering investigations on 20 suspected human trafficking organizations.

"The way that we're going to solve this problem," he said, is to "permanently disrupt this market."

"If a human trafficker can't rent a hotel room, if they can't rent a car, if they can't open a bank account, then you know how difficult we just made it for them to make money," McKinley said. 

For Mikhailov, working with Deliver Fund, while not a money-making partnership, has been valuable in terms of developing its technology and defining the startup's direction.

Working with McKinley's team has given his team an opportunity to develop XIX's computer vision technology based on a real-world dynamic application. The startup, which has raised $2 million from angel investors, aims to be a leading AI-powered computer vision platform. 

One of their first investors is Arjun Bansal, founder of the AI startup Nervana, which was acquired by Intel in 2016  and who recently launched a new AI startup, XOKind. 

"Purely from a social good aspect, that's amazing what they're doing," Bansal told Business Insider. "I'm really happy as an investor to support that kind of work. With this product, it's always about keeping yourself open to finding where the product market fit is going to happen. So I think that continuing to explore that in a bunch of different domains and I think the outcome that they've seen with this engagement is really, really great."

XIX does have paying clients. One is a company that uses the tool to filter out "not-safe-for-work" images on its site. Another client is a fintech company that uses the tool to verify account holders to comply with anti-money laundering regulations.

AI for social good

XIX is a rare example of a startup deploying AI for social causes. Another is Hatebase, a Toronto-based startup which uses AI to monitor hate speech online, which has been used by the Sentinel Project, a nonprofit to assist vulnerable communities that are potential targets of violence and genocide. In 2017, the Sentinel Project, which is based in Canada, used other tools, including a heat map, to monitor false reports that a gang was about to attack some slum communities in Kenya.

Working with McKinley's team also speaks to how Mikhailove hopes to build XIX as an AI company. 

AI has also been used by federal agencies, such as ICE, or the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, to hunt down undocumented immigrants and refugees. Mikhailov said it's an area that his startup hopes to avoid. "It's not something that we feel comfortable with," he said.

Mikhailov also hopes XIX can go beyond the typical business uses of AI is now commonly deployed to generate leads or sales faster and more effectively.

XIX is aiming higher, Mikhailov said. His big hope for XIX, he said, is to "actually build a metric that translates to saving lives."

Got a tip about XIX or another tech company? Contact this reporter via email at bpimentel@businessinsider.com, message him on Twitter @benpimentel or send him a secure message through Signal at (510) 731-8429. You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.

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Amazon is known for its ruthless interviewing process. We talked to insiders about how to get a job there.

Business Insider SAI - Ne, 2020-01-26 15:00

  • Business Insider spoke to insiders about how to master Amazon's rigorous interview process.
  • Candidates should memorize Amazon's 14 leadership practices and prepare to answer behavioral-based questions backed with data and examples in interviews that can last six or more hours.
  • Amazon's interview process involves its "loop" system, including a "bar-raiser," someone designated to assess whether a candidate will fit into the culture.
  • Advertising is a big part of Amazon's hiring effort, with more than 1,000 advertising jobs open across seven teams.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

Amazon is known as one of the most difficult companies to interview with. The e-commerce giant is known for asking tough questions and quizzing candidates on 14 core leadership principles that prioritize behavioral traits over job qualifications.

But as its expected $17 billion advertising business grows, Amazon has become one of a few companies that is rivaling Facebook and Google as destination for job-seekers, said two insiders familiar with Amazon's hiring practices.

Advertising in particular is a big focus, where Amazon has more than 1,000 openings across seven teams. While hiring activity can widely vary by time of the year, that figure is well above the 130 roles that were open in June.

"They are actually working on genuinely cool problems in the space," said one source who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person is interviewing at the company. "There is a bit of prestige of having Amazon on the resume."

Business Insider spoke to current and former employees, one job applicant, and a recruiting firm for tips on getting a job at Amazon and what to expect.

How to get in the door

A referral will give candidates a leg up, and employees get a bonus for making a successful referral, but Amazon doesn't lean on referrals as much as other tech companies, according to Glassdoor. 12% of reviewers on Glassdoor said that they got an interview at Amazon this way. To compare, 15% of Netflix employees come from referrals, and 25% of Facebook employees come from referrals, according to Glassdoor.

An Amazon spokesperson said that while referrals can give candidates a boost, the company's full interview process plays a bigger role.

How to prepare for the interview 

Amazon is known for tough interview questions. Instead of asking about people's background or resume, candidates are asked behavioral-based questions. The goal is to find people who align with the company's culture, and it's normal to only be asked a few questions during an hour-long interview, sources said.

Connor Folley, CEO of Amazon-focused adtech firm Downstream and a former Amazon employee, said that he prepared for interviews by scouring Glassdoor and compiled all of the questions into a word document.

"You'll find that people with no marketing experience are hired into a marketing manager role," he said. "More important is your proclivity towards these leadership principles than having experience in the role itself."

Here are some examples of typical interview questions, according to Amazon's Glassdoor page:

  • Tell me about a time that you disagreed with a manager or team member.
  • Describe a time when you went above and beyond the scope of your job.
  • Tell me about a time that you handled a crisis.
  • What is an example of a time you had to make a high-impact business decision with little data or time.  

Amazon's 14 leadership principles are at the core of the interview process. The principles include "customer obsession" and "learn and be curious."

Applicants are encouraged to memorize the principles and provide examples of how they embody the values.

Amazon also uses the STAR method, which stands for Situation, Task, Action, and Result, in interviews. Candidates are first asked to describe a situation where they were faced with one of the leadership principles. They are asked to detail the problem and how they solved it. Data-based answers can make a candidate stand out, sources said.

The Amazon employee estimated that more than half of successfully answering interview questions comes from being able to quantify an experience and explain it well. For example, Amazon may ask an advertising job candidate about how they helped a brand with its ad-targeting strategy. A good answer would include specific controls and measures the candidate used to tweak the strategy, the employee said.

Avi Bogart, managing director of recruitment at Three Pillars Recruiting, a firm that places talent at adtech and media companies, said this focus on specificity is meant to evaluate a candidate's credibility.

"When someone isn't being specific, chances are that something is missing — that's such an important thing for how Amazon candidates respond," he said.

How the interview process works

The interview process lasts about a month, which sources described as quick for a hiring process. Hiring managers are expected to get back to candidates about next steps two days after a phone interview. Those who get an in-person interview can expect to hear back within five days, say people who are familiar with the system.

"Amazon has a rule to treat their candidates like customers," said the advertising employee. "They're not in to waste candidates' time. They want to be quick, transparent and over-communicate where they are in each step."

An hour-long phone interview is followed by in-person interviews with multiple people in what's known as Amazon's "loop" system.

It works like this: Candidates come in and interview with about six employees one at a time, with each employee asking questions about one or two of the leadership principles. Interviewers type detailed notes, which limits the amount of eye contact that they make with candidates. All in, the process can last six or more hours, according to sources.

Most of the interviewers are employees in the area the candidate is interviewing for. There's also a person called a bar-raiser from a different department. Sources said that candidates might not know which interviewer is the bar-raiser. These people are well regarded internally and undergo rigorous training to act as a neutral party whose role is to ask tough questions. 

Bar-raisers are meant to make sure that the candidate is better than half of the employees who currently have the role. Both the bar-raiser and hiring manager have to agree to make an offer to a candidate.

"Their job is to dig deeper and probe you — they'll always ask 'Why?'" said Rina Yashayeva, VP of marketplace strategy at Stella Rising, an ad agency that specializes in Amazon and a former Amazon employee who worked there for three years. "Everything should be backed by data."

While Amazon's interview process is rigorous and specific to the company, Downstream's Folley said going through the process is a good way to get jobs elsewhere. Downstream's hiring system uses the same method as Amazon's.

"We find often times in our hiring that when presented with a rigorous hiring process, the right kind of candidate appreciates it, sees it as a challenge and feels comfortable aligning their personal brand and career with that organization," he said. "It's almost like the process of becoming a Navy SEAL. You see the challenge, want to prove that you can meet it, and become part of that team."

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A blogger took Amtrak across the country from San Francisco to New York and recorded the whole trip on TikTok

Business Insider SAI - Ne, 2020-01-26 14:48

  • Kelsey Silver and her cousin dreamed of crossing the US by train.
  • Starting in California, they took two Amtrak trains — the California Zephyr and the Lakeshore Limited  — to make their dream a reality.
  • Along the way, Silver documented the trip with photos and TikTok videos.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Kelsey Silver and her cousin dreamed of a train trip across the US ever since they saw a blog post that described how to do the trip for only about $200.

Four years later, they finally decided to take the trip in December 2019, although they opted to spend more for a more comfortable journey.

The two flew into San Francisco to catch the California Zephyr and start a three day trip to Chicago, where they spent the night before taking the Lakeshore Limited train the rest of the way to New York City. With private rooms on both trains, Silver told Business Insider that travel costs were about $2,000 total for her and her cousin.

"If you really want to see America, this is the way to do it," Silver said.

Amtrak offers a few routes for train enthusiasts looking for a trip across the country. In November, Business Insider transportation reporter Graham Rapier spent 96 hours traveling from New York to Seattle. He said he'd "do it again in a heartbeat."

SEE ALSO: This stunning San Francisco floating home was constructed for $500,000 — see inside

Silver and her cousin started their trip in San Francisco.

They boarded the California Zephyr, a 51-hour Amtrak trip from San Francisco to Chicago. She showed off her tickets, and explained that the entire trip to NY would take 4 days.



The two bought the largest room available, the Superliner bedroom, which comes with two beds and a private bathroom.

She gave TikTok followers a tour of her room here.



The three-day trip takes passengers through some of the most famous areas of the west, including the Rocky Mountains, Sierra Nevadas, Moffat Tunnel, Colorado's Gore, Truckee River, Donner Lake, and the Carquinez Strait.

It makes mostly short, five-minute stops, with slightly longer stops in Denver and Salt Lake City.

It's often referred to as the most scenic train ride in North America.

Silver summed up her first day on the rails in this TikTok, from breakfast in San Francisco to lunch in Nevada, with dinner in Utah, and falling asleep in Colorado.



Every night, a car attendant came to the room to turn down the room, and in the morning to make it up.

There's also juice, coffee, and tea in each car.

Silver made a TikTok showing her morning routine on the train, where she and her cousin woke up and tried to guess where they were before pressing the button for turndown service, getting coffee, and sitting in the observation car.



Silver said the observation car was one of her favorite parts of the trip.

"If you want to see some of the best views in America while sipping on some pinot grigio, this is the way to do it," she told Business Insider.

The observation car has extra windows, so you can really take in the views.

Silver recapped her second day here, starting in Colorado, traveling through Aspen and the Rocky Mountains, and heading through Nebraska.



Silver said that if she wasn't in the observation car, she could usually be found in the dining car.

Passengers make a reservation, and groups of two often get seated with another couple. Silver said that the food and dining experienced exceeded her expectations for an Amtrak train.

On day three, Silver woke up in Iowa, crossed the border into Illinois, and finally made it Chicago.



After 51 hours in transit, Silver and her cousin spent a night in Chicago before boarding their next train.

Lake Shore Limited, which goes from Chicago to New York City, was "way less exciting than the first train," according to Silver. The trip was also much shorter; they boarded the train at 8 pm and arrived in New York the next evening.

This leg of the trip was more sparse. There was no observation car, and the snack car had a limited menu. Silver gave a tour of their tiny roomette.



After ending their trip in New York, Silver told Business Insider that "the trip was a once in a lifetime experience that I would recommend to anyone and everyone."

Inside a $1 million fixer-upper listing for sale across the bay from San Francisco that might actually turn out to be a bargain

Business Insider SAI - Ne, 2020-01-26 14:45

  • A century-old dilapidated home atop a 6,450 square-foot lot in Oakland — a city just east across the bay from San Francisco — is for sale for $1 million.
  • "Fixer-uppers" selling for millions isn't new in the Bay Area, but this listing is more of a bargain since it includes city-approved plans to build five units. All the buyer has to do is purchase building permits. 
  • The property sits in West Oakland, near a train station that is merely one stop away from San Francisco.
  • In a region with a housing shortage, and a demand for housing close to transit, the additional units would likely be welcome.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Seeing the descriptor of 'fixer-upper,' paired with a million-dollar price tag, in not exactly uncommon in the San Francisco Bay Area's real estate market.

The demand for housing is so great, and prospective buyers' pockets are so deep, that inconsequential details like fire damage and outdated plumbing don't put off some home hunters.

But a stretch of land across the bay in West Oakland with a 960-square-foot, century-old dilapidated, yet historically relevant, Victorian home is more than a mere fixer-upper. It's more of a development project, listing agent Kevin Cunningham of Red Oak Realty told Business Insider. The listing at 1818 Adeline Street comes with city-approved architectural plans to build out the lot into five housing units total, two of which would be apart of the existing Victorian structure.

The ability to add five new housing units is a minor miracle in the San Francisco Bay Area, with its limited housing stock and growing population. San Francisco may make headlines the most often for its influx of professionals and for the city's myriad reasons for not being able to keep up with housing demand, but the effects are most certainly felt in Oakland and other Bay Area cities as well. There are many that live in Oakland and commute into San Francisco for work to avoid the city's sky-high rent.

And with the listing's location being near a BART station, the Bay Area's regional train system, it will likely attract workers looking to do just that.

If the prospective buyer pays $988,000 — working out to about $200,000 per future unit before development costs — they'll have an opportunity to develop housing units to lease out that could then provide a nice revenue stream.

All of which is to say, this isn't your run-of-the-mill, multi-million-dollar San Francisco Bay Area fixer-upper. This is more of a bargain, at least for those with the resources to pay to develop it.

"It seems pretty reasonable for whoever wants to get in and get going at it," Cunningham said.

Take a look at the West Oakland listing.

SEE ALSO: Inside one of San Francisco's iconic Painted Ladies homes that's a 'fixer-upper' and on sale for $2.75 million

The listing at 1818 Adeline in West Oakland is "shovel-ready," according to Cunningham.

The property sits in West Oakland. The lot is specifically located in the heart of the residential district on a semi-main street with a large park nearby.

It's also close to a West Oakland BART station, which is just one stop away from San Francisco's Embarcadero station across the water.

The property has been in the owner's family for 60 years. He would rather develop the property himself, but Cunningham said at this point he's selling for personal reasons.

"It's just kind of in that in-between space where the traditional sort of fixer-flipper market, it's too big of a project for them but not big enough for the bigger developers like Lennar or Toll Brothers or whoever else," Cunningham said.

The city-approved plans detail that the existing 1890 house will be lifted up and inched over to make way for the three townhomes that will be built beside it. There will also be a second unit built beneath the Victorian home.

The seller has already taken the painstaking route of getting the approved plans from the city, which is not an easy feat in the Bay Area.

"The structural design, landscaping, parking, layout — it's really, it's totally done," Cunningham said.

Now comes the part of waiting for somebody who can take the plans and execute them.

"Everything has been done except for paying for the building permits and getting started with the actual building process," Cunningham said.

The owner had originally planned to live onsite in the very back unit. So that one is the nicest of the bunch, with a full rooftop deck on the top and a private yard and detached garage space.

Cunningham said a ballpark estimate for the value of the five units collectively would be about $3.7 million once it's all said and done.

The home is in what Cunningham calls an "opportunity zone." The full tax benefits of the zone pertain more so to rentals than to resale. 

"So to kind of capitalize on the opportunity zone, it would sort of be best for somebody, whoever does the development, to rent it out," Cunningham said. 

Most of the prospective buyers would be thinking along the lines of splitting it up into five units and leasing them individually, but just because there are plans included in the listing doesn't mean future buyers have to follow through with them. Cunningham said they could certainly change it up.

"I've heard a couple of potential buyers talk about trying to get a demolition exception and not save the existing house and just tear it down and start over," he said. But he said that may not be a possibility since the home, a Victorian built in 1890, has a minor historical designation to it.

The home has those "good redwood bones" that are virtually extinct nowadays (redwood trees are native to California, but its supply was swallowed up by home building use until the 1960s and 1970s when conservationists stepped in.)

Cunningham said it would be a shame to lose to the home, especially since the city approving the plans partly hinged on the fact that it would be maintained — originally, only four units were outlined to sit on the lot until the city granted a variance to go up to five.

Source: National Park Service

As far as how potential buyers are responding, Cunningham said he's getting calls regarding the listing every day, so he's cautiously optimistic. "We're hoping with the spring market picking back up, we'll find somebody," he said.

Microsoft categorizes partnerships into 'horizons' based on how ambitious they are – from 'bread and butter' to 'change the game' (MSFT)

Business Insider SAI - Ne, 2020-01-26 14:15

  • Microsoft's future rests on forging strong ties with corporate customers, and it relies on a special framework called "horizons" to guide its partnerships.
  • Microsoft executive Peter Lee tells Business Insider how partnerships are categorized in "horizons," based on how ambitious projects are and how much customization they require.
  • The framework fits in to a new focus Microsoft under Satya Nadella to dig deeper into what specific industries need from its products, versus developing something that works for everyone.
  • Click here to read more BI Prime stories

Microsoft is all about corporate customers and, under CEO Satya Nadella, the company has made its mission to go deep into the needs of specific industries instead of trying to make one-size-fits-all technology that works for everyone.

Crucial to that new focus is forging stronger ties with other companies, and Microsoft uses a category system to get customers and partners to think not just about what the company's technology can do now, but how they might work together to create new uses for the partners' or customers' needs.

When Microsoft is deciding how to work with a potential partner, it categorizes projects into what it calls "horizons" based on how ambitious the partnerships are, Microsoft executive Peter Lee told Business Insider this week. These horizons span everything from using the company's "bread and butter" tools like Office to the most aspirational projects that are intended to "change the game."

Lee said Microsoft uses the categories when it inks a "big partnership" with another company, but a Microsoft spokesperson said horizons are used generally to "help customers think about their technology deployment and goals."

Lee is a veteran of Microsoft Research who has transitioned to running the company's health care business at the behest of Nadella. Lee is responsible for finding new uses for technologies like artificial intelligence and cloud computing for Microsoft's health care customers and partners.

What can we work on together that will change the game?

Horizon One is the "bread and butter" of Microsoft, Lee said. Think of Microsoft's exiting tools, such as Office 365, Dynamics customer relationship management, and the Azure cloud. They require little customization.

Then there's Horizon Two, which involves custom engineering. This describes Microsoft's relationship with Walmart, Lee said, intended to take the company's "retail systems to the next level."

Microsoft and Walmart announced a partnership in 2018, which the companies describe as "a broad set of cloud innovation projects that leverage machine learning, artificial intelligence, and data platform solutions for a wide range of external customer-facing services and internal business applications," though they've been quiet about specifics.

Horizon Three is used to describe the most ambitious projects. Lee describes horizon three projects as a question Microsoft asks to potential partners, "What can we work on together uniquely in partnerships that would change the game and lead to real transformation?"

Microsoft's partnership with Swiss multinational pharmaceutical company Novartis is an example. The two companies are building an artificial intelligence laboratory intended to, among other things, improve research and gets drugs on the market more quickly.

It all ties into Satya Nadella's vision of 'tech intensity'

Horizons fit in with Nadella's vision of "tech intensity," which is basically the potential for its customers to grow by adopting technology and then building their own on top of it.

Through the tech intensity pitch, Microsoft is encouraging companies in all industries to adopt Microsoft's latest technology platforms and tools  and then train their workforce to be able to create their own uses for advanced technologies like artificial intelligence.

Meanwhile, analysts expect Microsoft will ink more large partnerships this year, particularly as the company tries to grow its cloud business. 

Salesforce in November chose Microsoft Azure as the public cloud to power its cloud software for marketing professionals. The deal followed Microsoft's other recent cloud tie-ups with companies including SAP and Oracle.

The deals help Microsoft get Azure in front of more customers and help it gain market share faster than if Microsoft did it on its own.

SEE ALSO: Experts say these were the 19 most consequential enterprise tech acquisitions of the last decade, transforming companies like Dell, Microsoft, and Google for a new era

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The cofounder of $1.8 billion PagerDuty explains why the company adopted a 'no a--holes' hiring policy

Business Insider SAI - Ne, 2020-01-26 14:00

  • PagerDuty is a $1.8 billion public company that had a successful IPO in 2019.
  • But the company was almost derailed when it was a tiny startup trying to raise its first round of funding, cofounder and original CEO Alex Solomon recently told Business Insider's US editor in chief Alyson Shontell.
  • In those early days, with only 19 people on the payroll, Solomon had made a classic Silicon Valley mistake and hired what's known as a "brilliant jerk" engineer.
  • After lots of rejection from VCs, PagerDuty was on the cusp of getting a Series A investor when that engineer threatened to quit and take others with him, potentially derailing the investment.
  • The incident forever changed who and how the company hired people, Solomon said.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

One of the stars of last year's enterprise tech IPO market was PagerDuty, with an April debut on the NYSE that soared 60%.

Cofounder and original CEO Alex Solomon, who shepherded the company for its first 11 years, recently sat down with Business Insider's US editor-in-chief Alyson Shontell at the Ascent Conference to talk about those startup years. 

Today the company is valued at $1.8 billion with most analysts bullish on its future, according to Yahoo finance. Revenues have grown from $79.6 million in 2018 to $117.8 million in 2019 under hired-gun CEO Jennifer Tejada who Solomon hired to replace himself in 2016. Solomon is now CTO.

But none of that might have happened if Solomon hadn't thwarted an employee revolt when the company was only 19-people.

Solomon told Shontell how a brilliant but "overly negative" early-hire engineer taught him a valuable lesson about who not to hire.

$20,000 a month and more

PagerDuty is known for its IT incident software that alerts IT pros when they have a system failure and helps them fix it. That product was the brainchild of Solomon's experience working as an engineer at Amazon, where engineers had to carry pagers which would go off if there was a problem with the software they were responsible for, he told Shontell. 

Amazon built an in-house system for managing these alerts.

Solomon and his cofounders, Andrew Miklas and Baskar Puvanathasan, took that idea and built a product that did the same thing for other corporate IT teams, all of whom were, back in those days, on pager duty. 

At first, they bootstrapped their company, with no plan to seek funds with VCs.

"Our dream was when we get to $20,000 a month in recurring revenue, we know we've would have made it and we're going to be sitting on a beach drinking champagne and smoking cigars," Solomon told Shontell. "Obviously that time came and went and we kept on growing."

With growth, they knew they needed help and applied to the famous startup accelerator Y Combinator, which meant moving the company and their families from Toronto to San Francisco. (It took them four tries to get accepted in the program).

Even after Y Combinator, they struggled to get an investor to bite. And just when they were finally on the cusp of getting a Series A term sheet, one of their key engineers threatened to quit. Not only that, two other engineers were threatening to go with him.

"We hired one engineer that was really, really smart but also very negative," Solomon recounted. "He actually ended up influencing two other engineers on the team. They basically ended up banding together."

The three of them wanted to launch their own startup based on an internal tool they had built at PagerDuty. "So they were basically taking something that they had built on company time and wanted to kind of spin it off," he said.

The company only had 19 people at time, so losing three people would have been like "losing one-third of our engineering team" and that, the founders feared, would have scared investors off "weeks before we closed our Series A," he said.

Who not to hire

Solomon managed to convince the guy and his companions not to leave for a few months until investment money was in hand and they could hire replacements. But he never forgot that dicey time. "This led us to the 'no a--holes' rule because this person was candidly an a--hole," Solomon says. Another common name for this type of Silicon Valley engineer is the "brilliant jerk."

From then on, the founders focused as much on a job candidate's ability to work with their teammates as they did on technical skills. Someone "who complained about their previous coworkers and their previous boss a lot in the interview process, that's a big red flag that we learned along the way," he said.

SEE ALSO: Former Intel and Google exec Diane Bryant tells a heartbreaking story of why she took a CEO job at a startup that hopes to save lives

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NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will be the first to fly SpaceX's Crew Dragon spaceship. Here's how they're preparing.

Business Insider SAI - Ne, 2020-01-26 13:57

SpaceX is poised to launch its first astronauts into space this spring: Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. 

Their flight on the company's Crew Dragon spaceship will mark the first time an American spacecraft has carried NASA astronauts since the Space Shuttle program ended in 2011.

Behnken and Hurley's liftoff is expected to launch a new era of US spaceflight, since it will allow NASA to stop relying on Russian launch systems to get astronauts into space. It will probably also make the two astronauts the first to ever fly a commercial spacecraft.

"Bob and I were lucky enough to be selected together," Hurley told The Atlantic in September. "As we get closer to launch, things in the last year have actually been pretty hectic. We've been spending increasing amounts of time in California, because that's where most of the work is being done for Dragon."

In preparation, they've run through emergency procedures, undergone extensive training the Crew Dragon's mechanisms, worn their new spacesuits, and met with SpaceX CEO Elon Musk.

"People to a degree think it's pretty glamorous to be able to go into space, but it's actually like a messy camping trip," Hurley told Reuters in June.

Here's how the astronauts were selected and how they're preparing to fly Crew Dragon to the space station.

SEE ALSO: NASA has big plans for the 2020s, from powerful new space telescopes to a hunt for alien life on a moon of Saturn. Here's the timeline.

In 2018, NASA selected Behnken and Hurley to be the first astronauts to fly SpaceX's new spaceship. They'll probably be the first to fly any commercial spacecraft.

Source: NASA

SpaceX developed its Crew Dragon spaceship as part of NASA's Commercial Crew program, a competition that spurred private companies to develop new astronaut-ready spacecraft.

In total, NASA selected nine astronauts to conduct the first human test flights of the Crew Dragon and its Boeing counterpart, the CST-100 Starliner.

Source: NASA

Musk expects to send Behnken and Hurley to the International Space Station on Crew Dragon's first manned test flight — called Demo-2 — in April, May, or June.

Source: Business Insider

That would be the first time an American spacecraft has launched astronauts since 2011, when the space shuttle program ended.

Behnken and Hurley have been working closely with SpaceX on the Crew Dragon's development since 2015, so they're well equipped to fly the spacecraft.

Source: Business Insider

Both men started out as military pilots. Hurley spent 24 years as a test and fighter pilot in the Marine Corps, logging over 5,500 hours in more than 25 different aircraft.

Source: Business Insider, NASA

Behnken was an Air Force test pilot. He logged over 1,500 hours flying more than 25 aircraft.

Source: NASA

NASA hired them both as astronauts in 2000, and they became friends when they worked together in the space shuttle program.

Source: NASA, The Atlantic

Behnken flew on two space shuttle missions, logging over 708 hours in space with a total 37 hours of spacewalks.

Source: NASA

Hurley piloted two space shuttles, including the very last one, spending a total of over 683 hours in space.

Source: NASA

Since NASA's final space shuttle flight, however, the agency has relied on Russia's Soyuz system to ferry its astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

But Russia has nearly quadrupled its prices over a decade. A single round-trip seat now costs NASA about $85 million.

Source: CNN

A Crew Dragon seat is expected to cost about $55 million. (Though that doesn't include the $1.2 billion NASA spent on the new spacecraft's development in hope of replacing Soyuz.)

Source: NASA Office of Inspector General

Behnken and Hurley's preparation for the first crewed flight involves intensive training exercises and dry runs of launch day procedures.

In total, the two astronauts have worked together for two decades. "Bob and I got pretty close. It's just like anything else—you gravitate to certain people," Hurley told The Atlantic. "We spent a whole bunch of time together, and I got to the point where I thought, 'Hey, maybe this guy isn't so bad.'"

Source: The Atlantic

In 2003, when the Space Shuttle Columbia broke apart on re-entry, killing its seven-member crew, Hurley and Behnken were stationed on the runway together.

Source: The Atlantic

"I've seen Doug's behavior at my wedding, I've seen Doug's behavior in an airplane, and we've worked together dealing with the aftermath of the worst thing you can imagine happening in our career field. I can predict his actions. He can predict mine," Behnken said.

Source: The Atlantic

Behnken, Hurley, and other Commercial Crew astronauts have advised SpaceX as it develops the Crew Dragon's inner workings, consulting on the designs of switches and control screens.

Source: Business Insider

Commercial Crew astronaut Suni Williams previously told Business Insider that she and other astronauts had warned SpaceX and Boeing that early versions of their spaceships showed the crew too little on-screen information.

Source: Business Insider

"Automation can help us, but then you do have to watch out," Williams said. "We talked to the both partners about: How do I check this? I have a timeline in front of me — how do I know these things are happening? Where do I check? Where do I look? What's my confirming cue?"

Source: Business Insider

"We spend a couple of days every week somewhere in Florida or California, evaluating the final designs. We're not the beneficiaries of a super-formal training program — it's kind of being developed as we go," Behnken told the Atlantic.

Source: The Atlantic

Safety is the top priority, so Commercial Crew astronauts have practiced evacuating SpaceX's launch pad in the unlikely event of danger before liftoff.

Source: NASA

That emergency escape requires the astronauts to load into baskets on a zipline-like wire. Once they zip to the ground, an armored vehicle picks them up.

Source: NASA

After that escape exercise, Behnken said: "Each time today when we headed down the crew access arm, I couldn't help but think about what it will be like to strap into Dragon on launch day."

Source: NASA

The astronauts have also run through the process of being retrieved from the Crew Dragon capsule after it splashes down in the ocean.

Source: NASA

They've even done a dress rehearsal with the new SpaceX spacesuits.

Source: NASA

"NASA has not done a flight-test program for a spaceship since the space shuttle. So you're talking late 70s, early 80s is the last time we kind of did this as an agency," Hurley said in a 2018 NASA video.

Source: NASA

"Some of it is kind of re-learning those techniques and those things that you need to make sure that you're watching out for," he added.

Source: NASA

Both men have said they're looking forward to trying out the new spacecraft and getting back up to the space station.

Source: NASA, Doug Hurley on Twitter

"When you get up there and look back at the Earth, I think there isn't anybody who that hasn't changed," Behnken told The Atlantic. "It really does change you, and hopefully for the better."

Source: The Atlantic

He added: "People ask us about commercialization of space, and I firmly believe that the more people we can get to go into space, the better off the planet's going to be."

Source: The Atlantic

AI 101: How learning computers are becoming smarter

Business Insider SAI - So, 2020-01-25 23:04

Many companies use the term artificial intelligence, or AI, as a way to generate excitement for their products and to present themselves as on the cutting edge of tech development.

But what exactly is artificial intelligence? What does it involve? And how will it help the development of future generations?

Find out the answers to these questions and more in AI 101, a brand new FREE report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, that describes how AI works and looks at its present and potential future applications.

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

Join the conversation about this story »

AI 101: How learning computers are becoming smarter

Business Insider SAI - So, 2020-01-25 23:04

Many companies use the term artificial intelligence, or AI, as a way to generate excitement for their products and to present themselves as on the cutting edge of tech development.

But what exactly is artificial intelligence? What does it involve? And how will it help the development of future generations?

Find out the answers to these questions and more in AI 101, a brand new FREE report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, that describes how AI works and looks at its present and potential future applications.

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

Join the conversation about this story »

AI 101: How learning computers are becoming smarter

Business Insider SAI - So, 2020-01-25 23:04

Many companies use the term artificial intelligence, or AI, as a way to generate excitement for their products and to present themselves as on the cutting edge of tech development.

But what exactly is artificial intelligence? What does it involve? And how will it help the development of future generations?

Find out the answers to these questions and more in AI 101, a brand new FREE report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, that describes how AI works and looks at its present and potential future applications.

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

Join the conversation about this story »

AI 101: How learning computers are becoming smarter

Business Insider SAI - So, 2020-01-25 23:04

Many companies use the term artificial intelligence, or AI, as a way to generate excitement for their products and to present themselves as on the cutting edge of tech development.

But what exactly is artificial intelligence? What does it involve? And how will it help the development of future generations?

Find out the answers to these questions and more in AI 101, a brand new FREE report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, that describes how AI works and looks at its present and potential future applications.

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

Join the conversation about this story »