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These $150 wireless earbuds from a company you've probably never heard of made me want to ditch my $250 AirPods Pro (AAPL)

Business Insider SAI - 2 hodiny 37 min zpět

  • The Anker Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro earbuds offer great sound, long battery life, and a comfortable fit at an affordable price.
  • The Liberty 2 Pros also come in a compact case that's easy open with one hand and store in a pocket or purse. 
  • They're lacking some of the features I've come to appreciate from Apple's AirPods, but they're still a worthwhile option for those looking to spend a little less on a great pair of wireless earbuds.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. 

Apple may be responsible for popularizing the truly wireless earbud trend with its AirPods, which have become so popular they've inspired memes and helped make the company's wearables business as big as a Fortune 200 company.

But since the original AirPods debuted in 2016, dozens of platform-agnostic alternatives have entered the market — many of which are less expensive than the iPhone maker's cord-free earbuds. 

Anker's Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro earbuds, which launched in September, are one such example. Originally priced at $150 and currently selling for $110, they're cheaper than the $160 AirPods and noticeably less expensive than $250 AirPods Pro. Yet they still offer long battery life, a customizable and comfortable fit, and good sound quality.

Although they lack some of Apple's more useful features, I found that I didn't miss my AirPods much at all when making the switch. 

Here's a closer look at what it's been like to use them. 

SEE ALSO: I'm a loyal Apple Watch user, but after switching to Fitbit, I found 3 things I liked better and 3 things I didn't

The Liberty 2 Pro earbuds fit comfortably and offer more customization than some alternatives.

Although the ear tips that came on my Liberty 2 Pro's out of the box fit just fine, I appreciated that I had seven options to choose from. Anker offers tips in extra small, small, medium, large, extra large, and other sizes, giving wearers plenty of options to choose from.

I also found them to be more comfortable than alternatives around the same price range, like the $130 Samsung Galaxy Buds and $130 Echo Buds.

Similar to AirPods and the Sony WF-1000XM3, I found that I didn't have to adjust or fuss with the Liberty 2 Pros much to get them to fit snugly and comfortably in my ear. In fact, the Liberty 2 Pro's shape is similar to that of Sony's earbuds. 

They also provide a much better seal than the standard $160 AirPods, which aren't designed for noise-cancellation despite being slightly more expensive than the Liberty 2 Pros. Soundcore's earbuds don't feel quite as light as Apple's AirPods — both the regular version and the Pro edition — but they're still very comfortable. 


The audio quality is great, but Apple's AirPods Pro still sounded slightly better.

The Liberty 2 Pros offer crisp, vibrant sound that feels close to what I experienced when listening to music through the AirPods Pro.

Whether I was playing pop, rock, hip hop, or electronic music, I didn't notice huge difference in audio quality when switching back and forth between my Liberty 2 Pros and Apple's pricier AirPods Pro. The Soundcore app also has an equalizer that lets you optimize the sound according to genre, a feature that Apple doesn't offer. 

Apple's AirPods Pro, however, were better at separating the various instruments in a song, especially when it comes to rock music. 

And unlike the AirPods Pro, the Liberty 2 Pros don't offer active noise-cancellation. Instead, they offer noise-reduction, and the earbuds' design provides a tight yet comfortable seal that adequately blocks out sound.

When I wore them during the workday, the Liberty 2 Pros were capable of dulling the chatter from my coworkers, which represented an improvement over the standard $160 AirPods which provide no enclosure whatsoever. But the pricier AirPods Pro made it nearly impossible to hear what was happening around me when I turned on active noise-cancellation. 

The Liberty 2 Pros also seem to last a long time on a single charge.

I've been using the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pros sporadically for roughly three weeks, and I haven't had to charge the case since I first unboxed them.

That being said, I've mostly been using them in 25-to-40-minute increments during my workouts roughly two to three times a week. That means I've probably used them for approximately between three and four hours so far, and the battery level is still high.

Soundcore claims the earbuds can last for eight hours on a single charge and that the case will allow for 32 hours of battery life. That beats Apple's claims of 24 hours of listening time with the case for its AirPods and AirPods Pro. 

The case is compact and easy to flip open quickly, although it's slightly larger than Apple's AirPods case.

I also appreciated how portable and convenient the Soundcore Liberty 2 Pro's case is compared to other headphones I've tried from alternatives like Beats, Amazon, and Sony. The Liberty 2 Pro's case is slightly larger than that of the AirPods and AirPods Pro, but it's still small enough to easily hold in one hand or fit into a pocket.

The lid also slides open like a door rather than flicking open, making it easy to slip open with one hand. That's important for wireless headphones that are meant to be used on-the-go like the Liberty 2 Pros, making them easy to quickly pop in my ears as I'm waiting for the train or preparing to hop on the treadmill for a workout. 


But they're missing the features that make AirPods feel so convenient.

The Liberty 2 Pros sound excellent, are comfortable to wear for long periods of time, and offer long battery life. But iPhone owners will be missing out on the features that make AirPods so great.

Soundcore's headphones, for example, can't detect when one earbud is removed from your ear to automatically pause audio — a handy trick that the AirPods as well as Amazon's Echo Buds offer. 

They also don't seamlessly pair with your phone as soon as you flip the case's lid open the way that AirPods do. And you can't access your phone's voice assistant hands-free the way you can with AirPods and the Echo Buds.

Those may sound like small features, but taken together, they add a lot of convenience to Apple's AirPods. The Liberty 2 Pros do, however, include touch controls for accessing your phone's voice assistant, skipping tracks, and adjusting the volume. 

So are they right for you?

If you're looking for a solid pair of wireless earbuds that aren't quite as expensive as the $250 AirPods Pro or $230 Sony WF-1000XM3, but still have more to offer than the standard $160 AirPods, the $150 Soundcore Liberty 2 Pros are an excellent option.

While they don't offer active noise-cancellation like the AirPods Pro, they're still capable of blocking out some sound from your environment. They're also comfortable to wear for long periods of time, come with plenty of ear tip choices, are sweat-resistant, and offer great sound quality for the price.

As an iPhone user, I sometimes miss the convenient extras that AirPods offer, like the custom Apple interface that pops up to display your AirPods battery level and confirm they're connected whenever you open the lid. But those omissions aside, the Liberty 2 Pros deliver where it counts. 

Uber reveals the top 15 countries users visited, according to its own data

Business Insider SAI - 2 hodiny 49 min zpět

Uber has released a list of 15 countries that US tourists took the most international trips to, with neighboring Mexico topping the list.

The ride-hailing company used its own rider data to compile the list in its "A look back at 2019" report. The list includes six European countries, including the Netherlands and France.

The company also found that the Saturday of St. Patrick's Day saw the most Uber rides in the US. This is the second year the Irish holiday claimed such a title, although Halloween celebrations on October 26 and November 2 were close contenders, according to Uber

Keep scrolling to see the other countries on Uber's roundup:

SEE ALSO: Gulfstream's new $75 million private jet is the world's largest — see inside

15. South Africa

14. Dominican Republic

13. Peru

12. Germany

11. Netherlands

10. Spain

9. Portugal

8. Colombia

7. Australia

6. India

5. France

4. Brazil

3. United Kingdom

2. Canada

1. Mexico

12 kinds of shopping tech that didn't exist 10 years ago but have changed retail as we know it

Business Insider SAI - 3 hodiny 3 min zpět

The past decade has transformed modern retail as we know it. 

Advances in technology have drastically changed the way consumers shop, both in-store and online. The last decade ushered in the rise of the direct-to-consumer brand and companies built nearly entirely on social media. Offline, stores began experimenting with new forms of tech to lure shoppers back into brick-and-mortar spaces as foot traffic declined and locations shuttered in the face of the retail apocalypse. 

While some took off better than others — buy-online-pick-up-in-store continues to expand while the obsession with chatbot concierges has tapered off in recent years — each development changed the way consumers shop. 

Here's a closer look at 12 of the biggest innovations in retail technology over the past decade. 

SEE ALSO: Here are 9 kinds of tech you can expect to see in every store by 2030, according to analysts


According to Business Insider Intelligence, 68% of US consumers have used buy-online-pickup-in-store — otherwise known as BOPIS — when ordering products online. Many consumers are looking to cut down on shipping costs, and an influx of retailers have begun offering the service. 

Smart dressing rooms

In 2015, Ralph Lauren debuted interactive mirrors in its New York City flagship that allowed shoppers to change the lighting of the room, request a new size or style, and browse other items. It was the first of its kind, and before long other retailers joined in trying the technology. 

RFID technology

One of the biggest developments of the past decade was RFID technology — an acronym that stands for radio-frequency identification — which essentially functions as a smart label affixed to products. These "intelligent barcodes" allow retailers to better track inventory and better understand product life cycles. 

QR codes

QR codes have transformed retail in the past decade in a variety of ways, but most notably in the development of virtual stores like Amazon Go. Using Amazon's "just walk out" technology, shoppers enter the store while scanning a QR code and leave after they've collected what they need. Payments are then deducted through the app. 

Instagram shopping

Instagram launched shopping in November 2016, which elevated the app from aspirational social platform to full-on e-commerce channel. The update allowed verified brands to develop shoppable posts that would direct users to their respective online shopping pages. 

In March 2019, Instagram took this one step further by adding shoppable tools to Instagram Stories. 

Visual search

Just like facial-recognition technology can scan a face and use it to determine an identity, visual search made it possible for shoppers to upload a product and identify its origin or else find similar models. 

In 2015, platforms like Pinterest began integrating visual-search technology into their platform. In 2017, Pinterest launched shoppable pins to help drive e-commerce conversions. 

3D printing

Though 3D-printed apparel once sounded like a futuristic novelty, it's now being used to make everything from Adidas sneakers to suit jackets.

Automated checkout

The past decade brought major advancements in automation, including self-checkout that now goes beyond the 10-items-or-less Target line and features cashierless Amazon Go stores that you can just walk in and out of. 


Chatbots became an integral part of the growth of automation this decade, with retailers experimenting with several types of bots, ranging from Facebook integrations and SMS messaging to concierge services on their websites. 

Mobile pay and mobile wallets

Thanks to mobile providers rolling out services like Apple Pay and Samsung Pay, payments conducted via smartphones have exploded in the past decade. Today various retailers like Gap offer mobile pay, making it easier than ever for shoppers to make payments. 

Augmented-reality apps

In the last few years, augmented-reality apps and screens have transformed how shoppers test beauty products everywhere from Sephora to traditional department stores like Nordstrom. Assisted by technology services like Modiface, these programs allow shoppers to virtually test out lipstick shades and eyeshadow palettes without needing to leave their home or grab a wet wipe. 



Body scanning and smart mirrors

Turns out body scanning isn't relegated just to airport security lines. Companies like Naked Labs developed 3D body-scanning tools that provide information on factors including weight, body mass index, and body measurements. By integrating this information into a smart-mirror format, users can virtually try on outfits and shop from the comfort of home. 

Uber and Lyft know they have to raise prices in order to turn a profit. Neither of them wants to make the first move. (UBER, LYFT)

Business Insider SAI - 3 hodiny 9 min zpět

  • Uber and Lyft are playing chicken with each other. 
  • Both companies need to raise prices and wean customers off the coupons that helped grow market share in years past if they ever want to turn a profit.
  • Lyft said last week that it tried to cut back on coupons, but didn't see it matched by Uber, leading it to change course. 
  • Analysts agree that rationalization is coming to the ride-hailing industry. But someone has to lead that charge, and so far, neither company seems to want to go first. 
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

The day of reckoning is coming.

Uber, and later Lyft, got consumers around the world hooked on ride-hailing with heavily subsidized rides. (You can thank Softbank, Saudi Arabia, and plenty of other venture-capital investors for that).

But things are different now. Following lackluster initial public offerings this year, both companies are under tremendous pressure from investors to turn a profit. The only way to get there — besides big job cuts — is convincing the public to pay what these rides actually cost to provide.

That's the hard part.

"We took a little bit of risk for the first time and led the market in two small, modest pricing increases over the last couple of quarters," Logan Green, Lyft's chief executive, said at a conference hosted by Credit Suisse last week.

For the most part, those were matched by the competition, he said without naming names (but heavily implying Uber). But when it came to ending the coupons that hit customers' inboxes and apps on a seemingly weekly basis in some markets, things were different.

"We sort of attempted to do the same thing in terms of couponing and lead in creating a more rational market," Green said. "We have not seen that matched. So we're going to change our stance, and we'll sort of revert to a match and follow position."

That shocked markets, sending Lyft's shares plunging as much as 6% in trading from the remarks through the end of the week.

It all comes down to what industry watchers call rationalization. In short, the oft-quoted word — as it relates to ride-hailing — simply means a switch away from heavily subsidized rides into a sustainable business model that can survive a recession and appease anxious investors.

Until then, it's the world's strangest game of chicken.

Even Wall Street analysts don't know who might do it first, but agree that rationalization has to happen at some point.

"The US ride-hailing market is essentially a duopoly, and we believe both companies are highly motivated to behave rationally as both have publicly stated a timeline to profitability," Brent Thill, an analyst at Jefferies, said in a note to clients on Friday.

By his data, Uber has done more couponing than Lyft over the past few weeks, but has pulled back recently.

"Although we should continue to see occasional promotions, we believe the market's overall direction will be rational and reflect economic realities" Thill said. "We think permanent, heavy discounting is unsustainable and not the likely scenario."

Uber, for its part, hasn't publicly discussed couponing much (the company did not respond to a request for comment for this story). However, rationalization has increasingly been a topic of conversation by executives.

Nelson Chai, Uber's chief financial officer, said in November it's thanks to Lyft specifically that "the rationalization here has happened faster," than previously assumed.

"They're bogey in the sand," he said at the conference hosted by RBC in London. 

In the meantime, market share levels appear to have leveled by some measures, giving analysts confidence that rationality could come next. 

"Uber and Lyft appear to have settled into a ~60/40% share split, which we expect should be supportive of near-term margin improvement as driven by moderating driver bonuses and rider subsidies to the benefit of take-rates," Benjamin Black, an analyst at Evercore ISI, said in a note to clients last month. 

SEE ALSO: Uber's CEO shares the best advice he ever received — and explains why young people shouldn't plan their life too rigidly

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: What it takes to be a first-class flight attendant for Emirates

Renderings reveal how failed designs from the past may have looked if they were made today

Business Insider SAI - 3 hodiny 12 min zpět

  • The classic 1982 science fiction movie "Blade Runner" predicted we'd have flying cars in 2019.
  • That hasn't panned out, and companies seem to be moving into self-driving, rather than flying cars.
  • Over the years many inventors have patented designs of what a flying car could look like, although they never actually made it to production.
  • Scottish leasing comparison startup LeaseFetcher commissioned a studio to render what these designs would look like if they were made.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

"Blade Runner" predicted that in 2019 we'd zoom around Los Angeles in flying cars, but that hasn't quite worked out. Although this forecast hasn't manifested in actual vehicles beyond basic prototypes, there's been no shortage of optimistic inventors eager to throw together their own designs. 

Scottish leasing comparison startup LeaseFetcher charged creative studio NeoMam with the task of bringing patent sketches to life with realistic renderings. The patents span from nearly 100 years ago in 1921 to as recently as 2016.

Flying cars no longer seem like the clear vision of the future that they once were. Waymo, Uber, Tesla, and other companies have instead turned their efforts towards self-driving technology, but these renderings offer a look at how people in the past envisioned the future. Scroll to see drawings from patents, and how designers rendered them.

SEE ALSO: 5 tech predictions the original 'Blade Runner' got wrong about 2019

This 1921 design by Henry J Snook has propellers that lift it up in the air. Snook patented this design only eight years after the Model T became the first car produced on an assembly line.

The rendering of this vehicle looks almost like a bus with propellers on top.

In 1939, Bruce L Beals designed a long, narrow flying car that resembled earth-bound cars of the period.

The studio's rendering shows the car looks like a small plane from above, just with a car attached to the bottom.

A 1959 design by Einarsson Einar has front and back propellers, plus adjustable wings.

Neomam's rending of the design has the look of a classic '60s style car and shows the propellers in motion.

Jung-Do Kee's 1996 design almost looks like the front of a plane attached to the back of a car, with a propeller and wings coming out of the trunk.

Nomam kept this aesthetic, using different colors for an average-looking sedan and the rear wings and propeller.

Around the new millennium, designs began to have more clean lines, like this 2001 Bradford Sorensen patent.

The rendering of this car almost does look like something out of "Blade Runner," more so than earlier models that looked like typical plane parts attached to cars.

Another 2001 design, this one from Cheng Ji, also achieved a sleek look almost resembling wings in nature.

Although the wings on this car might be the largest, they feel more like part of the design, rather than pasting two different types of vehicles together at the end.

Larry D. Long's 2003 design is a departure from earlier uses of wings and propellers, using rotors instead.

This design also resembles "Blade Runner's" idea of flying cars of the future, not bogged down with wings or other features.

The most recent design, Akash Girendra Barot's 2016 car, also uses rotors and can fit two or more seats.

The designers took another average-looking sedan for this rendering, complete with rotors near the tires.

These 10 'voice-first' startups are building apps for smart speakers, cars and watches that will completely change how we use computers

Business Insider SAI - 3 hodiny 22 min zpět

The ascent of mobile devices and cloud computing spurred a new generation of startups that were mobile-first, or mobile-only, designing their products for smartphone users instead of desktop users. The same is happening for voice.

As more people equip their homes with smart speakers, displays, vacuums, and thermostats, a new crop of startups are racing to create apps for these voice-controlled devices. Others are testing the boundaries of voice computing with applications in cognitive neuroscience and early childhood development.

Startups are taking voice computing outside the home, with hands-free apps for the phone and voice-controlled games for the car. Paul Bernard, director of Amazon's corporate venture fund, Alexa Fund, said the rise of use cases that go beyond asking for the weather forecast or setting an alarm will help voice technology become mainstream.

"I've had my eye on the idea that Alexa would need to become untethered from the home at some point to fully manifest the vision of pervasive ambient voice computing," he said.

From new ways to shop to audio erotica, these are the voice-first startups to watch.

SEE ALSO: Goodbye screens, Hello voice: Tech's biggest platform shift since the smartphone is happening. Here's what it means.

SEE ALSO: In-house venture funds at Amazon and Google are leading the charge into the voice-first revolution and pouring millions of dollars into startups

Volley thinks smart speakers are the future of family game night.

What it is: Founded by a pair of former roommates at Harvard, Volley builds voice-controlled games for smart speakers and phones. Its top titles, like "Song Quiz" and "Yes Sire," have captured a following of more than half a million users in the Alexa Skills Store.

The power of voice, says cofounder Max Child, is that it makes it easy for anyone ages 5 to 95 to pick up the rules of a game. There's no fumbling with a controller or a screen. Volley's games allow people to play together gathered around a speaker, which makes them a high-tech substitute for the board game.

Child, who grew up playing intense games of Cranium, said the company sees huge spikes in users playing in groups of two or more on holidays.

Founded: 2017 by Max Child and James Wilsterman.

Funding: $5.75 million from Advancit Capital, Amplify.LA, MTGx, Rainfall Ventures, Y Combinator, and NFX Capital, among others.

HereAfter lets people hear stories from their dead loved ones after they're gone.

What it is: Almost as soon as James Vlahos, a journalist, wrote about the chatbot that he created to mimic his dying father, he started hearing from people who wanted a "legacy bot" of their own. His company, HereAfter, transforms hours of recorded interviews with a subject into a conversational voice bot. It can make small talk and tells stories through Amazon Alexa.

Vlahos said he gets asked often about a 2013 episode of "Black Mirror," in which a young woman tries a service that brings back her dead boyfriend as a bot. He agrees that the outcome was creepy.

"But that's because it was trying to actually replicate the woman's dead boyfriend," Vlahos said. "HereAfter is in no way trying to replicate the people we love. We're just creating a better way to help remember them."

HereAfter has hundreds of people on a waitlist for its private beta program. The company plans to raise outside funding in early 2020 to help scale the product.

Founded: 2019 by Sonia Talati and James Vlahos.

Funding: Bootstrapped.

Blutag brings the power of voice to online shopping.

What it is: If voice technology is the next frontier of personal computing, it's no surprise that Amazon is getting a jump on what shopping might look like in the voice era. It created a corporate venture fund, Alexa Fund, with a focus on investing in companies that build tools for Amazon's smart assistant.

Backed by the fund, Blutag develops software for retailers that want to have voice-controlled apps for the Alexa family of devices. Its app for EZneeds, a delivery service for big-box stores, for example, lets customers order and re-order items, request coupons, and get personalized recommendations. 

Paul Bernard, director of Alexa Fund, said voice-controlled apps have become "a must-have for a lot of different companies."

Founded: 2015 by Shilp Agarwal and Rahul Agarwal.

Funding: $1.81 million from Alexa Fund.

Drivetime thinks the future of voice entertainment will be in the car.

What it is: Gaming was the catalyst for the mobile computing explosion, and startup founder Niko Vuori is betting that games will also help usher in the era of voice computing.

The former Zynga employee partnered with other gaming industry experts in 2018 to create Drivetime. The startup is working on technology that allows drivers to play voice-controlled games in cars equipped with Amazon's Alexa.

"Voice is here and it's growing," Vuori tells us. "The car is the most obvious and natural platform for it because your voice is the only way to interact and engage while you are driving."

Founded: 2018 by Niko Vuori, Justin Cooper, and Cory Johnson.

Funding: $15 million from Makers Fund, Alexa Fund, Canaan Partners, Sinai Ventures, Fuel Capital, and Access Ventures, among others.

WinterLight Labs is working to diagnose cognitive impairments using short speech samples.

What it is: Based in Toronto, Canada, WinterLight Labs builds tools to help screen patients for the onset of symptoms associated with dementia, schizophrenia, and other mental illness. Its iPad app provides short verbal exercises, such as describing a picture on screen, and analyzes those speech samples to identify if the speaker is at risk of a decline in cognitive health.

The company is working with senior care facilities and clinical researchers to help them evaluate individuals more frequently and with greater objectivity. 

Its combination of computational linguistics, cognitive neuroscience, and machine learning could help healthcare providers diagnose and monitor cognitive impairments, as well as help pharmacists adjust drug dosages.

Founded: 2015 by Liam Kaufman, Katie Fraser, Maria Yancheva, and Frank Rudzicz.

Funding: $5.45 million from Pacific Health Ventures, Hikma Ventures, Grey Sky Venture Partners, First Star Ventures, and Novatio Ventures, among others.

Maslo is a voice journal app that lets executive coaches pulse a client's mood between sessions.

What it is: Maslo is essentially a smart diary. The app suggests a series of prompts, such as, "What is something you learned in the last week?" and the user responds out loud. Maslo's algorithms track hundreds of data points, from voice pitch to loudness and vocabulary to sentiment, and visualize changes in mood and energy.

Ross Ingram, cofounder and chief executive of Maslo, likens the "digital companion" to a good friend. "They don't try to fix you," Ingram said.

In October, the company released a new app and dashboard for executive coaches and their clients. The coaches can read transcripts of journal entries with the client's permission, or get a summary of their wellness and energy.

Founded: 2017 by Ross Ingram and Cristina Poindexter.

Funding: Undisclosed seed round from Techstars, Right Side Capital Management, and angel investor Ray Mazuka, the founder and former chief executive of Bioware, among others.

Wunder makes a monitor that listens for the quality of your child's play and learning environment.

What it is: For the parent who wants to know everything about their young child, a device from Wunder uses natural language processing technology to measure the number of words a child hears, how often they speak, and how often they're spoken to. The company's app can make recommendations for activities and books for parent and child to enjoy together, with the goal of improving language development.

While plenty of people are wary of devices that are "always listening," Wunder cofounder and chief executive Lamont Tang sees their benefit.

"Capturing language in a child's natural habitat allows us to provide cost-effective benefits such as improving a child's language and cognitive benefits," said Tang, explaining that Wunder hopes to help young children avoid expensive speech therapy in the future.

Wunder, formerly known as Oya Labs, is testing the device in a beta program and plans to start selling it in spring 2020.

Founded: 2017 by Lamont Tang and SC Yu.

Funding: $2 million from Johnson & Johnson Innovation, StartX, SOSV, and Cloud Angel Fund, among others.

Dipsea makes audio erotica for the podcast-obsessed generation.

What it is: Inspired by research that suggests the vast majority of women use their imagination to get turned on, Dipsea is a content studio that writes, produces, and distributes short audio stories designed to titillate the mind. A monthly subscription costs $9 and unlocks a library of nearly 200 stories.

Gina Gutierrez, Dipsea's chief executive, says audio has certain advantages over the traditional text-based erotic fiction.

"In a Dipsea story, talented actors help get you inside a story, so you can relate to the characters and feel their chemistry," Gutierrez said. "If we can suspend your disbelief, then your imagination can run wild. A Dipsea story can be imagined a hundred different ways by a hundred different people. When you think about how diverse people's preferences are, that's a really powerful thing."

Founded: 2018 by Gina Gutierrez and Faye Keegan.

Funding: $5.5 million from Bedrock, Thrive Capital, and angel investor Heidi Zak, the chief executive of ThirdLove, among others.

Voiceitt helps people with severe speech disorders be understood.

What it is: A startup graduate of Amazon's Alexa Accelerator, Voiceitt is working on a suite of products to make voice technology more accessible

Its main app, Talkitt, lets someone with a severe speech disorder talk into their smart speaker, tablet, or phone, and it reads out a transcript of what the person said. The company's speech recognition software becomes trained on the speaker's voice so it gets better at understanding their unique speech irregularities and pronunciations.

"We try to shoot for first in kind integration," said Paul Bernard, Alexa Fund's director. "The companies we invest in bring entirely new utility to our customers."

Founded: 2012 by Danny Weissberg, Stas Tiomkin, and Sara Smolley.

Funding: $9.75 million from Microsoft, Alexa Fund, Connecticut Innovations, VentureClash, M12, and Cahn Capital, among others.

Novel Effect wants to make reading interactive for the entire family.

What it is: Novel Effect uses speech recognition technology to add sound effects and music to children's books. The company was part of the first class of Amazon's Alexa Accelerator and appeared on TV show "Shark Tank."

Husband and wife founding team Matt and Melissa Hammersley came up with the idea for Novel Effect when they were expecting their first child in 2015. They wanted to make reading fun while preserving the bonding experience for the entire family. They first built the technology to simulate a theatrical reading performed at their baby shower.

The company's library contains more than 250 titles, including "The Cat in the Hat" and "The Tale of Peter Rabbit."

Founded: 2015 by Matt and Melissa Hammersley.

Funding: $5.09 million from Alexa Fund, TenOneTen Ventures, Lux Capital, Carbon Ventures, Waverly Capital, Maveron, and Techstars, among others.

There might be another reason Instagram is testing hiding 'likes': to get you to post more

Business Insider SAI - 4 hodiny 18 min zpět

  • Instagram, the wildly popular photo- and video-sharing app owned by Facebook, is testing out a major change: hiding "likes."
  • The move has been controversial, and Instagram leader Adam Mosseri has explained by saying, "Our interest in hiding likes really is just to depressurize Instagram for young people."
  • But, according to a new report from CNBC, there's another, more business-focused reason Instagram is dropping likes: because Facebook believes it will get users to post more.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Instagram is making a huge move: It's dropping "likes" from the wildly popular photo- and video-sharing app for some users in an ambitious test.

You'll still be able to see the likes on your own posts, just not those of others, a move that Instagram head Adam Mosseri said is intended to "depressurize Instagram for young people." 

So the logic goes: If you can't see likes on other peoples' posts, you won't feel bad that your posts have fewer likes than theirs. "We will make decisions that hurt the business if they help people's well-being and health," Mosseri said at Wired25 in mid-November.

But that explanation isn't the full story, according to a new CNBC report. Apparently Facebook's growth and data science teams believe that hiding likes may actually increase user engagement.

In short: Without likes, people may post more.

More than just posting more, the theory goes, users will stay engaged with the app for longer periods of time — thus, boosting Facebook's potential ad revenue from Instagram users. 

Instagram did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment. 

Though Mosseri has acknowledged the potential for this effect before, the explanation for removing likes from Instagram has repeatedly focused on efforts to make the platform less toxic. 

"It's about young people," Mosseri said at Wired25 in mid-November. "The idea is to try and depressurize Instagram, make it more of a competition, give people more space to focus on connecting with the people that they love, the things that inspire them. But it's really focused on young people."

Notably, for now, it's just a test, and the company hasn't announced more official plans for a permanent change. Even still, there's already been one unintended consequence: Instagram's most valuable users — influencers and celebrities — are threatening to leave if the platform eliminates likes. 

Mosseri has acknowledged that the change could have other consequences, like increasing user engagement — but that's not the point, he said.

"It'll likely effect [sic] how much some people engage on Instagram, probably liking a bit less and posting a bit more," Mosseri said on Twitter, "but the main thing we're trying to learn is how this effects how people feel."

SEE ALSO: Here's what your Instagram posts will look like without 'likes'

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Inside one of the worst years in media history, where 7,600 jobs were axed and billions in value have been shed

Business Insider SAI - 4 hodiny 22 min zpět

  • Digital media went through a bloodbath in 2019, with investors seeing billions in theoretical value wiped out and scores of people losing their jobs.
  • Some venture capital funding continued to pour into media companies, but many journalism upstarts didn't meet aggressive growth expectations, which forced them to look for buyers and sell for less than their onetime private market value.
  • Observers predict more firesales and consolidations in 2020 as there are still many small, independent digital outlets facing an unfriendly business climate.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories

2019 has been one of the most difficult years for the media industry in history.

More than 7,600 jobs were lost, compared to an estimated 5,000 between 2014 and 2017. That's approaching the recession high, when more than 7,000 journalism jobs were lost during the first five months of 2009.

Investors who poured millions into digital media upstarts earlier in the decade saw billions in estimated value disappear as those companies missed growth targets and were forced into downrounds, firesales, head-scratching mergers, and shutdowns.  

In one of the year's biggest deals, Vice Media acquired Refinery29, a company that had raised $133 million, for mostly stock. Group Nine Media also acquired fellow millennial media company Pop Sugar in a stock deal.

A third major tie-up saw Vox Media acquire New York Media, with the goal of future proofing both businesses.

"We've observed a spate of mergers and acquisitions in our sector and have often been struck by their lackluster rationales and ambitions," Vox CEO Jim Bankoff and New York Media owner Pam Wasserstein said at the time.  "Too many deals are done to buy some time or quickly change a narrative if a company has failed to innovate. By contrast, this combination is solely about leadership, growth, and opportunity." 

Bustle Digital Group emerged as a buyer of last resort, acquiring a string of sites including Inverse, Gawker, and The Outline, often at bargain-basement prices. 

Read: Insiders say morale at Bustle Digital Group is cratering as it quietly axes staff and loses focus

In most of those deals, the acquired companies lost a hefty chunk of their onetime valuations, signaling a sort of private-market correction.

Nicole Quinn, a partner at Lightspeed which made bets on Jon Steinberg's Cheddar (a successful $200 million cash acquisition) and Mic (a flop), said watching media business models over-rely on digital advertising has sharpened the firm's investing criteria. "It has made us more focused on companies that are capital-efficient and profitable," she said.

Observers predict more such deals in 2020 as there are still many small, independent digital outlets facing an unfriendly business climate. There are also still funders and buyers for digital startups that aren't wholly dependent on ad revenue, like The Athletic and Food52; niche sites like Byrdie, which sold to IAC; and older digital sites like BabyCenter, which sold this year to J2, a portfolio of internet media and services companies.

"I'm looking for digital brands that have durability, that have been able to sustain all the changes," said Vivek Shah, CEO of J2. "I will always value those that can stand the test of time."

The Athletic, the breakout media startup of the year, made waves by amassing a huge subscriber base of more than 600,000 sports fans. But the subscription revenue approach didn't work for every publisher. Take Quartz, which struggled to turn its free distribution, ad-based business model into a membership one. 

Still, there are some signals that digital media will turn a corner in 2020. Fred Wilson, a partner at Union Square Ventures who has a knack for nailing startup trends, thinks now could be the perfect time to invest in media companies.

Digital media investment peaked in 2014, when venture capitalists invested $1.1 billion into 82 digital media startups — three times what they invested the year prior, according to Pitchbook. By 2018, that figure had fallen to $237 million, though it has rebounded to more than $537 million in 2019.

"We're intrigued about what looks like a little bit of a vacuum now in media," Wilson told Business Insider in a recent interview. "I like to zig when other people zag. I like to get to things before people get into them or when other people have gotten out of them. Those are generally the good time to invest in companies."

So far, the size of Wilson's bets are relatively small as he tests the waters. He recently invested $5 million in video news startup on The Recount, not $50 million like in digital media's heyday.

GroupNine CEO Ben Lerer believes some of the tough decisions made this year will result in longer-term success.

"We went from the perception that it was an industry without a plan or a path to one where there's a much clearer set of winners," he told Business Insider.

"There was a destruction of value from a perceived value standpoint. I do think there was a creation or meaningful value protection with some of the combinations that happened. We all have a lot of work to do. But we are coming out of 2019 so much stronger than we were."

Go deeper into recent digital media trends:

SEE ALSO: How Refinery29 bootstrapped for 8 years, caught fire, and raised $133 million — only to end up selling to another struggling startup, Vice Media, for mostly stock

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Cybersecurity insiders say big companies use NDAs to hide data breaches, potentially avoiding millions of dollars in fines

Business Insider SAI - 9 hodin 21 min zpět

  • Strict European data laws mean companies can face millions of dollars in fines if they are hacked or have a security breach.
  • But cybersecurity insiders say some companies have found a loophole to avoid disclosure — using NDAs as a way to avoid scrutiny.
  • One cybersecurity employee claimed a major international law firm suffered a hack where its webcams were hijacked to listen in on sensitive meetings for weeks on end.
  • Legal experts say Europe might need to tighten up its data laws to close this type of loophole.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

Cybersecurity insiders have told Business Insider that non-disclosure agreements allow European firms to "make a mockery" of Europe's data laws, letting them cover up security breaches and potentially avoid millions of dollars in fines.

Europe's GDPR legislation, which came into force in May 2018, requires firms to disclose major data breaches to local regulators.

European regulators enforcing the law have shown some teeth, with the UK's data watchdog fining British Airways and hotel group Marriott for data breaches this year. British Airways was told to cough up around $229 million, while Marriott was fined close to $130 million.

But two senior employees at some of the UK's most prominent cybersecurity firms say the use of NDAs by clients means similar breaches aren't being disclosed to the authorities.

Cybersecurity firms don't have to disclose data breaches that affect their clients

The use of NDAs has become standard practice between those offering cybersecurity expertise and their clients, due to the sensitive nature of their work.

And security firms are not obliged to report their clients' data breaches to the authorities.

One employee, who spoke to Business Insider on the condition of anonymity, said they were personally aware of a number of high-profile companies which had kept their security breaches a secret, but declined to name the companies.

A second person described an incident in which an unknown agent hacked into a major international law firm's webcams, listening into weeks' worth of private meetings in which sensitive information was discussed.

"Unfortunately, it isn't our job to do anything about it. We just find out what's going on and tell our client," the person said. "Even then, after we tell them what's happened, they don't necessarily take all the steps they could to prevent it happening again. If there's no tangible consequences, why would they?"

Under the GDPR, failure to notify authorities of a data breach can cost a company up to $11 million or 2% of global annual turnover, depending which is higher. In the UK, companies affected must notify the ICO within 72 hours of becoming aware of the breach.

Ahmal Johal, director of consumer rights action law firm Your Lawyers, which is representing victims of the BA breach, told Business Insider "firmer legal procedures" could force companies that have suffered breaches to be more transparent.

"If there is any uncertainty as to whether GDPR can supersede an NDA or not, it seems that the rules need to be reviewed," he said. "We may need firmer legal procedures in place to ensure consumer data protection is not obstructed by NDAs. If this issue results in businesses concealing potentially serious data breaches, then the way these relationships are regulated should be revised."

He added: "The key priority for businesses should be to protect the personal data of their clients. There should be transparency between businesses, cybersecurity firms and the ICO to ensure this is upheld."

But others defended the nature of the relationship between cybersecurity companies and their clients. Jeremy Hendy, CEO at IT security firm Skurio, said: "It's hard to envisage a situation where we would feel it appropriate or necessary to independently inform the ICO of a data breach.

"Where our analyst teams are working on behalf of a customer, our duty is to inform that customer of our findings, and it's their responsibility to investigate and report it. Everything we do for our clients is kept confidential, as it's really important we're seen to act as an extension to their internal resource."

Paul Sutton, head of research and development at cyber firm Redscan, agreed, saying it was the responsibility of the breached organisation to report it.

"NDAs are common practice between security providers and their clients, helping to establish a level of trust between parties," he said. "If businesses believe they can't trust their security partners, then many may choose not to seek the help they need. The result of this, ironically, is more breaches may be swept under the carpet."

When approached by Business Insider, the ICO confirmed cybersecurity companies were under no obligation to report their clients' data breaches, but did point us to its whistleblower guidelines.

"If a cybersecurity firm has concerns [their client] is failing to act after being made aware of a breach...we do investigate reports and intelligence from third parties that alert us but aren't themselves victims," a spokesman said. "If an individual or entity has concerns about data protection law being broken, we would always suggest they notify us so that we can decide how to proceed."

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T-Mobile is outpacing the rest of the Big Four US carriers on value, loyalty, and satisfaction — here's what consumers say is most important when selecting a mobile provider (TMUS, S, VZ, T)

Business Insider SAI - 15 hodin 18 min zpět

This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. This report is exclusively available to enterprise subscribers. To learn more about getting access to this report, email Senior Account Executive Jeff Jordan at jjordan@businessinsider.com, or check to see if your company already has access.

Although competition in the US wireless carrier market remains fierce, the price war among the Big Four US carriers — Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint — began to cool over the past year.

In an attempt to avoid further competition on price, carriers began shifting their focus to adding value to their mobile plans with new offerings to differentiate from the competition. This helped average revenue per user (ARPU) start to stabilize across all carriers in Q1 2018, after declining over the last two years.

The Big Four have now begun reshuffling their unlimited plans to lure subscribers by providing more options. This strategy has been unrolling in two flavors: introducing new, expensive unlimited plan tiers loaded with an array of features and choices, while also catering to price-sensitive customers with more affordable plans that strip away extra perks like free digital content and international coverage. As a result, a new battleground is emerging, with differentiation now coming down to the value loaded in their mobile plans.

Looking forward, the US carrier market will see competitive pressure pick up due to a number of trends: 

  • The US smartphone market is creeping toward saturation. Penetration in the US hit 85% in 2018, up from 82% in 2017 and 77% in 2016.
  • eSIM technology is making it easier for consumers to switch carriers. eSIM technology is a nonphysical SIM card slot that pairs with the physical SIM card to enable dual-SIM functionality — allowing customers to switch carriers without changing to a different SIM card or device.
  • And cable mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) are edging in on US carriers' share of wireless adds. Cable MVNOs, such as Comcast's Xfinity Mobile and Charter's Spectrum Mobile, are expected to snag roughly 50% of total wireless customer net adds, or about 2.2 million subscribers, by 2020.

All of this means fostering loyalty and winning over new subscribers is more important than ever for the Big Four, making it crucial for these mobile carriers to understand consumer sentiment around their services.

In this report, Business Insider Intelligence uses consumer survey data from our proprietary panel, collected during 2017 and 2018, to evaluate which features are most important to consumers when selecting a mobile provider, as well as to determine which features would convince them to switch to the competition. It contains insights that can help telecoms guide strategic investment and marketing decisions to win and retain customers in this increasingly competitive space.

The companies mentioned in the report are: AT&T, Amazon, Apple, Charter, Comcast, Hulu, Netflix, Pandora, Sprint, T-Mobile, Tidal, and Verizon.

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  • T-Mobile came out on top again, outpacing the rest of the Big Four US carriers on value, loyalty, and satisfaction. T-Mobile customers want to see coverage improvements, though. 
  • Verizon customers don't see much more value in its offerings than a year ago.
  • AT&T was the only carrier to show declines in all capacities. 
  • Sprint is still a good deal, but it doesn't offer much else.
  • When it comes to features, subscribers still value the basics most. However, demand for international coverage is growing.
  • 5G is the next major battleground for the Big Four, and the winner of the 5G race has the potential to leap ahead in customer volumes. 

 In full, the report:

  • Determines the features that are most important to consumers when selecting a mobile provider.  
  • Identifies which features are nice to have or essential in consumers' willingness to switch carriers. 
  • Examines consumers' feelings on emerging technologies and trends in the mobile industry, such as 5G, new network-connected devices, and the T-Mobile-Sprint merger.
Online Form - Telecom Edge Report Info Request Powered by Formstack


SEE ALSO: 5G in the IoT: How the next generation of wireless technology will transform the IoT

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AI IN TELECOMMUNICATIONS: Why carriers could lose out if they don't adopt AI fast — and where they can make the biggest gains

Business Insider SAI - 16 hodin 19 min zpět

In the face of rising demand for data, increasingly saturated mobile markets, and stiff opposition from legacy players, tech entrants, and startups, global telecoms are locked in a battle for market share. These market pressures have led to vicious price wars for mobile services and, as a result, declining average revenue per user (ARPU).

Making matters worse, improvements in infrastructure and technology have made telecoms largely comparable in terms of coverage, connection speeds, and service pricing, meaning companies must transform their businesses if they hope to compete.

For many global telecoms, shoring up market share under today's pressures while also future-proofing operations means having to invest in AI. The telecom industry is expected to invest $36.7 billion annually in AI software, hardware, and services by 2025, according to Tractica.

Through its ability to parse large data sets in a contextual manner, provide requested information or analysis, and trigger actions, AI can help telecoms cut costs and streamline by digitizing their operations. In practice, this means leveraging the increasingly vast gold mine of data generated by customers that passes through wireless networks — the amount of data that moves through AT&T's wireless network has increased 470,000% since 2007, for example. 

In the AI in Telecommunications report, Business Insider Intelligence will focus on the use of AI to enhance the customer experience, which can directly impact revenue. Each year, an estimated $62 billion is lost by US businesses after inferior customer experiences, according to NewVoiceMedia. We will discuss the forces driving firms to AI, pinpoint some of the top use cases of AI along the customer journey, and identify some of the leading companies in the space

The companies mentioned in this report are: AT&T, CenturyLink, China Mobile, IBM, Spectrum, Sprint, Swisscom, Telia, T-Mobile, and Vodafone.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

  • Telecoms have long struggled with their customer experience image: In 2018, telecommunications had the lowest average Net Promoter Score (NPS), a measure of how favorably a company is viewed by customers, of any industry.
  • Companies that use advanced analytics, which can be accessed via AI, to improve this image and the overall customer experience are seeing revenue gains and cost reductions within a few years of adoption. 
  • Most (57%) executives believe that AI will transform their companies within three years, per Deloitte's State of AI in Enterprise. 
  • Overall, telecoms should focus on a hybrid organizational model to move beyond pilots to launch full-scale AI solutions that can have the biggest impact on their companies.

In full, the report:

  • Outlines what factors are leading telecoms to turn to AI technology. 
  • Describes the benefits of using AI in telecommunications. 
  • Highlights players that have successfully implemented AI solutions.
  • Discusses how telecoms should move forward with AI projects. 

Interested in getting the full report? Here are three ways to access it:

  1. Purchase & download the full report from our research store. >> Purchase & Download Now
  2. 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
  3. Current subscribers can read the report here.

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Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez calls out Trump after news that Amazon plans to hire 1,500 employees in New York City (AMZN)

Business Insider SAI - 16 hodin 20 min zpět
  • Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Friday that Trump should focus more on getting rid of tax incentives for billionaires after news emerged that Amazon plans to open an office in New York City.
  • In February, Amazon cancelled its original plans to add 25,000 jobs in New York after local politicians — including Ocasio-Cortez — criticized the deal, which would have given Amazon more than $1.5 billion in tax incentives.
  • During a speech in July, Trump had blamed Ocasio-Cortez for Amazon's decision to cancel the proposed move.

After the Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Amazon plans to open a new office in New York City, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted that the Trump administration "should focus more on cutting public assistance to billionaires instead of poor families."

Ocasio-Cortez had been a vocal opponent of Amazon's original plans to set up shop in New York City, which prompted city officials to offer the company more than $1.5 billion in tax incentives

Facing intense pushback from Ocasio-Cortez and other local politicians, Amazon announced in February that it would not continue with its proposed expansion. At the time, many New Yorkers blamed those same politicians for causing the company to withdraw and thus costing the city thousands of jobs.

In a July speech, President Trump called out Ocasio-Cortez specifically, saying that she "kept Amazon out of New York."

In response to Friday's news that Amazon has secured a lease in Hudson Yards, Ocasio-Cortez took to Twitter to double down on her previous criticism and call out the Trump administration for defending the previous tax-incentive-based deal.

Won't you look at that: Amazon is coming to NYC anyway - *without* requiring the public to finance shady deals, helipad handouts for Jeff Bezos, & corporate giveaways.

Maybe the Trump admin should focus more on cutting public assistance to billionaires instead of poor families. https://t.co/BbqhXbB9MM

— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 6, 2019

Amazon told Business Insider on Friday that it will not receive any special tax benefits for the new office. But the new office is significantly smaller than what HQ2 was projected to be, and it may even have been a project that had been in the works by Amazon all along.

SEE ALSO: Less than a year after abandoning HQ2 in New York City, Amazon says it's opening a new 1,500-employee office in NYC

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Less than a year after abandoning HQ2 in New York City, Amazon says it's opening a new 1,500-employee office in NYC (AMZN)

Business Insider SAI - 16 hodin 33 min zpět

  • Amazon is opening a new office in New York City that employs over 1,500 people, the company said on Friday.
  • The announcement comes less than a year after Amazon abandoned its plan to open its second headquarters in the city.
  • The new office in New York isn't getting any special tax benefits, the company said.

Amazon announced plans to open a big, new office in New York City on Friday, instantly rekindling the heated arguments that engulfed its failed efforts to build a second headquarters in the city nearly a year ago. 

Amazon has signed a lease for a new 335,000-square-foot office in New York City, the company told Business Insider on Friday, confirming an earlier report in the Wall Street Journal.  Scheduled to open in 2021, the new office will be located in the Hudson Yards area and will employ over 1,500 people, the company said.

It's a different plan than HQ2, the name of the NYC headquarters Amazon abruptly cancelled in February amid huge political backlash over the financial incentives it received from the city. 

Amazon told the WSJ on Friday that is is not receiving any tax breaks or financial inducements for the new office project.

Shortly after the announcement on Friday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the most vocal critics of Amazon's HQ2 plans in New York, tweeted in support of Amazon's decision to move to New York for not taking any financial benefits.

"Won't you look at that: Amazon is coming to NYC anyway - without requiring the public to finance shady deals, helipad handouts for Jeff Bezos, & corporate giveaways," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.

But it appears that Amazon had planned to open the Hudson Bay project all along. 

Amazon currently has over 3,500 employees in the city, and roughly another 5,000 across its warehouses in the area. The HQ2 plans, by contrast, had called for Amazon to add up to 25.000 new jobs in New York City.

"As we shared earlier this year, we plan to continue to hire and grow organically across our 18 Tech Hubs, including New York City," Amazon's spokesperson said in a statement.

Asked whether Amazon was receiving any tax incentives from New York, the spokesperson responded that Amazon was not. 

Still, the company may be able to take advantage of existing benefits for moving into the Hudson Yards area. In March,the New York Times reported that future tenants in the Hudson Yards area are eligible for tax breaks that can be "as much as a 40 percent discount and last about 20 years." 

BlackRock, for example, could get a $25 million state tax credit if it adds 700 jobs at Hudson Yards, while WarnerMedia could be awarded $14 million, according to the report.

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Read the pitch deck that Uber founder Garrett Camp created for the ride-hailing giant back in 2008 – before the company became the $120 billion giant it is today (UBER)

Business Insider SAI - 17 hodin 20 min zpět

It's a big year for Uber.

The first name in ride-hailing had a ton of hype around it for the first half of 2019 thanks to its IPO. And though the $8 billion valuation fell well short of speculations of $100 billion, Uber is still one of the biggest names on the market today.

With such eye-popping numbers, it's difficult to remember a time when the 10-year-old company wasn't the juggernaut it is today. Uber currently has more than 2 million drivers ferrying passengers in more than 63 countries.

But back in August 2008, founder Garrett Camp was laying out his dream of a "next-generation car service" in a slideshow on his computer. Little did he know that dream would grow exponentially into a company that now handles grocery delivery, that has a rapidly growing on-demand food delivery segment in Uber Eats, and is developing a fleet of self-driving taxis.

As part of our coverage of the genesis of today's successful companies, BI Prime took a look at how Camp envisioned Uber (then UberCab) 10 years ago in his original pitch deck:

  • The core concept was largely the same: a fast and efficient on-demand car service that he described as the "NetJets of car services"
  • Uber originally wanted to screen its customers by only picking up members and banning hailing from the street
  • All of Uber's projected use cases, from airport pickup/dropoff to travel to and from restaurants, still hold up today

Some of what Camp laid out in the pitch deck no longer holds up, such as a few of Uber's projected eco-friendly benefits and the makeup of Uber's fleet of cars.

The rest of the deck outlines some key points such as:

  • Plans for surge pricing
  • The company's project valuation
  • Potential outcomes for the company, including a best-case scenario
  • Future optimizations
  • Marketing ideas
  • And more

BI Prime is publishing dozens of stories like this each and every day, chock full of exclusive content and industry analysis. Want to get started by reading the full pitch deck?

>> Download it now FREE

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Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz is reportedly looking at a direct listing for his $1.5 billion startup Asana to go public next year (AMZN)

Business Insider SAI - 17 hodin 22 min zpět

The $1.5 billion productively software startup Asana, is looking at a direct listing as it plans to go public next year, the Financial Times' Miles Kruppa reported on Friday.

Asana, which was co-founded by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz, announced earlier this year that it has crossed $100 million in annual recurring revenue, growing over 90% in revenue last year. It was valued at $1.5 billion after raising a $50 million round last December.

Asana has hired Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase to advise on its listing and could execute a private share sale to raise money without an IPO, but it may still pursue the traditional IPO route, the Financial Times reported

Both Slack and Spotify used a direct listing when they went public, which allowed them to make shares available on the public market without fundraising. Since it's a more streamlined process than an IPO, it typically means lower fees for the banks involved. Airbnb is also looking at a direct listing when it goes public next year.

As direct listings become more popular in Silicon Valley, Bank of America has become a proponent of them.

Asana declined comment on this.

While Asana initially started as a hit among small startups, Moskovitz said that his company has been focusing on growing its international presence as well as building products for specific sectors and for large businesses. Just August, Asana launched Workload, which allows teams to track and redistribute work and aims to reduce worker burnout.

Got a tip? Contact this reporter via email at rmchan@businessinsider.com, Signal at 646.376.6106, Telegram at @rosaliechan, or Twitter DM at @rosaliechan17. (PR pitches by email only, please.) Other types of secure messaging available upon request. You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.

SEE ALSO: Amazon cloud CEO Andy Jassy says the company feels strongly that Microsoft's $10 billion JEDI cloud win 'was not adjudicated fairly' because of political interference

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Okta's CEO explains why cloud computing has opened the door for smaller, specialized firms to challenge giants like Microsoft and Google (OKTA)

Business Insider SAI - 17 hodin 24 min zpět

  • Okta beat Wall Street's expectations when it reported third-quarter results on Thursday and its CEO Todd McKinnon told Business Insider that he thinks Okta has just scratched the surface of its long term potential.
  • Okta reported revenue of $153 million, a 45 percent increase from a year prior, and a loss per share of $0.07 for the quarter. Its results showed a wider loss than a year prior, but ultimately beat analyst expectations for the quarter. 
  • McKinnon thinks the identity management market is set to grow and create even more opportunity for Okta. 
  • The company saw success in its enterprise business this past quarter, which is an area it will continue to focus on McKinnon said. Okta now has 1,325 customers who pay over $100,000 annually for its product, which is 41 percent more than it had last year. 
  • "I think we're very early in the potential market penetration for what we do ... people were spending billions and billions of dollars on identity management and the problems are getting worse every day," McKinnon told Business Insider. 
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

Okta reported earnings that beat Wall Street's expectations on Thursday and its CEO thinks the identity management company has just scratched the surface of how far it can go. 

"I think we're very early in the potential market penetration for what we do...people were spending billions and billions of dollars on identity management and the problems are getting worse every day," Okta CEO Todd McKinnon told Business Insider. "We have a lot of markets to capture and we're working hard to make sure that we continue to grow and build new products and offerings to capture that market." 

Okta reported revenue of $153 million, a 45 percent increase from a year prior, and a loss per share of $0.07 for the quarter. Its results showed a wider loss than a year prior, but ultimately beat analyst expectations for the quarter. 

Two important metrics for growth showed strong results for the quarter as well. Subscription revenue rose 48% to $144.5 million, beating estimates of $135.3 million and billings grew 42% to $175.6 million, beating estimates of $165.8 million.

Despite the beats, the growth was not as rapid as quarters past and the stock fell over 3 percent in after market trading on Thursday before rebounding to make up some of the lost ground.

McKinnon acknowledged that growing a company at such a rapid pace is more challenging than most realize. 

"Just growing at the level of we're growing is a lot of work. You gotta think ahead to what you're going to look like 18 months when you're twice the size," McKinnon said. "People underestimate how much work that is sometimes. So we're focusing a lot on that."

But that growth is attainable, he said, and current industry trends are in Okta's favor. One of the things that will help, is Okta's strength in its enterprise business. Okta now has 1,325 customers who pay over $100,000 annually for its product, which is 41 percent more than it had last year. 

Opportunity in Enterprise

Analysts at William Blair think Okta has been able to get these new large customers by making its products very flexible and easily applicable to many scenarios, which these companies may have been searching for. This includes making the products easy to customize and continue to do more functions. 

"We believe Okta has driven the increase by improving products and also expanding the number of use-cases they can address. The average top-25 deal this quarter compared with last year grew nearly 50% in contract size, suggesting the company is seeing much larger opportunities than in the past," writes Jonathan Ho, an analyst at William Blair. 

McKinnon said that part of Okta's strategy is to make sure that as cloud becomes more widely used in enterprise, Okta can take over the identity management for those large companies. 

That trend of cloud adoption also feeds into Okta's future prospects, he said. He thinks companies are increasingly abandoning the model of using one large technology vendor to serve all their IT needs, and are now looking for the best vendor for each service. 

It's a trend seen in cloud based startups like Slack and Zoom which compete with large tech companies like Microsoft, Google and others who provide bundles of applications that do communication, productivity, etc. 

Expanding market opportunity for identity management 

McKinnon said this trend is just starting to materialize. "I think that best of breed is here to stay and there's going to be even variety and more choice," he said. 

This helps Okta because it actually creates a bigger need for identity management. There's so many different applications a company's employees can use that having a single sign on experience that's verified easily makes the IT more secure. 

"Okta is benefiting from the rise of SaaS usage which is likely still in the early innings. As organizations continue to decentralize their compute needs, Okta's ability to securely create connections between users and applications becomes more applicable," writes Jonathan B. Reykjav, an analyst at Baird Equity Research in a note published Friday. 

McKinnon said many small and medium size companies don't have an identity manager right now and have never needed it. 

"So they don't really have to manage things like you do when you really have a globally distributed heterogeneous technology environment like every company's moving to. So I think that the big thing for us is that that is driving expanding the market for identity management," McKinnon said.

The key is, once that market is expanded, Okta has to provide a better option than the identity management options offered by large technology vendors like Microsoft, Salesforce, Google, and Amazon, he said. 

Still, McKinnon reiterates that this means there's a huge market opportunity ahead for Okta. "Just the fact that this industry dynamic is making a much bigger market for identity management is powerful," he said.

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Jurors from the Elon Musk defamation trial reportedly deliberated for less than a half hour before ruling in his favor: 'It was very clear'

Business Insider SAI - 17 hodin 29 min zpět


  • The jury presiding over Elon Musk's defamation trial reportedly took about 20 minutes to rule that the Tesla and SpaceX CEO was not guilty. 
  • The British cave explorer Vernon Unsworth sued Musk in 2018 after Musk called him a "pedo guy" on Twitter.
  • Unsworth's lawyers argued that the term "pedo guy" was widely interpreted as Musk suggesting the diver was a pedophile, but reports from the jury suggest their case wasn't sufficient enough to prove the tweet was damaging.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

It did not take the Los Angeles jury presiding over Elon Musk's trial long to deliberate before ruling that the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX was not guilty of defamation. 

"It took us like 20 minutes," the jury foreman told The Telegraph's Olivia Rudgard

The British diver Vernon Unsworth filed a lawsuit against Elon Musk last year after the outspoken CEO and chronic tweeter referred to him as "pedo guy." The tweet came after a high-pressure cave-diving rescue mission in Thailand. Musk initially doubled down on his claim, replying to a follower that he would bet it was true but later apologized and deleted the tweet. 

At the trial, Unsworth's lawyers argued that the term "pedo guy" suggested Musk was saying the diver was a pedophile, but reports from the jury suggest their case wasn't thorough enough to prove the tweet damaging. 

The jury foreman told CNBC's Jane Wells that Unsworth failed to meet all of the jury's five criteria to prove that Musk's "pedo guy" tweet was defamatory. Wells tweeted that the foreman said the jury's criteria included whether Musk had used the same insult on others, whether it was true or false, whether a reasonable person would think he was calling the diver a pedophile, and whether Musk tried to determine that it was true. 

Other members of the jury appeared less willing to talk, according to BuzzFeed's Ryan Mac.

Aside from one juror, who said that "it was very clear" what the verdict would be, others seemed to steer clear from commenting on the case, Mac reported.

SEE ALSO: Elon Musk wins in defamation trial over his 'pedo guy' tweet

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WeWork's CTO, who previously worked at Spotify and Google, is leaving the office company

Business Insider SAI - 17 hodin 58 min zpět

  • WeWork's chief technology officer is leaving the company, executives said on Friday in emails obtained by Business Insider.
  • Shiva Rajaraman joined the company in August 2017 after a short stint at Apple. He previously worked at Spotify and Google.
  • Co-CEO Sebastian Gunningham will take over central technology, while the new chief product and experience officer will manage technology products.
  • WeWork's IT needs a major upgrade that could cost tens of millions of dollars, insiders told Business Insider earlier this fall.
  • For more WeWork stories, click here.

WeWork's chief technology officer is stepping down, according to Friday emails obtained by Business Insider.

Shiva Rajaraman joined the company in August 2017 with a lengthy tech résumé. Before WeWork, he spent a short stint at Apple. He previously was a vice president of product at Spotify and spent eight years at Google before that.

A representative for WeWork declined to comment.

Co-CEOs Artie Minson and Sebastian Gunningham informed the full company about his departure in a Friday email. 

"During his time at WeWork, Shiva built a world-class Technology team and helped deliver digital products and services that create an amazing experience for our members," they wrote. 

Gunningham will manage WeWork's central technology systems. Ralf Wenzel, who joined the company as chief product and experience officer two weeks ago from SoftBank, will manage the technology products. 

Rajaraman isn't leaving immediately — the co-CEOs wrote that he would stay on for a three-month transition period. 

In an email to the technology team, he said he was moving on to "pursue new opportunities." 

"While these past few months haven't been easy on anyone, I'm continuously in awe of how this team approached each challenge with a problem-solving mindset and the determination to build things right that can scale to our ambition," Rajaraman wrote.

Last month, current and former WeWorkers said the company's technology infrastructure is due for an expensive overhaul. At WeWork's start, IT was led by a 16-year-old who dropped out of high school to join the company. WeWork later sued him, alleging fraudulent misrepresentation and other claims in a case the parties ultimately agreed to dismiss.

Redoing what some current and former WeWork IT staff said was outdated and substandard infrastructure could cost tens of millions of dollars — just as the company is looking to drastically cut costs.  

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Elon Musk wins in defamation trial over his 'pedo guy' tweet

Business Insider SAI - So, 2019-12-07 00:43

A jury ruled on Friday that Elon Musk is not guilty of defaming Vernon Unsworth, a British cave explorer who took part in the 2018 rescue operation that freed 12 boys on a soccer team and their coach after they became trapped inside a cave in Thailand.

"My faith in humanity is restored," Musk said after the verdict was announced, BuzzFeed's Ryan Mac reported.

Mac described Unsworth's expression as "stone faced."

Unsworth sued Musk in 2018, accusing him of defamation after the Tesla and SpaceX CEO called him a "pedo guy" on Twitter. (Musk later apologized to Unsworth and deleted the tweet.)

Musk had delivered his insult to Unsworth when the diver criticized him days after the successful rescue operation ended. Unsworth called Musk's "minisub" that he had sent to the rescue operation a "PR stunt" and said Musk "can stick his submarine where it hurts."

Lawyers for Unsworth argued that the term "pedo guy" was widely interpreted as Musk suggesting the diver was a pedophile. Musk denied that assertion, saying the phrase is a common expression in South Africa, where he was born.

The case put front and center the potential consequences of public musings from an outsize figure like Musk and the effects those statements can have on a private citizen who happened to cross him.

For a CEO, Musk is unusually outspoken on Twitter. Musk's account on the social-media platform is a powerful marketing tool for his companies, but his tweets have attracted regulatory scrutiny, including a 2018 lawsuit from the Securities and Exchange Commission that forced him to step down as the chairman of Tesla's board of directors for three years and pay a $20 million fine.

Are you a current or former Tesla employee? Do you have an opinion about what it's like to work there? Contact this reporter at mmatousek@businessinsider.com. You can ask for more secure methods of communication, like Signal or ProtonMail, by email or Twitter direct message.

SEE ALSO: The Tesla Cybertruck is the first stainless-steel vehicle since the ill-fated DeLorean — here's a closer look at both

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