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RSS agregátor

Share your opinion — become a BI Insider!

Business Insider SAI - 2 hodiny 36 min zpět

As a dedicated Business Insider reader, we’d like to invite you to join our BI Insiders Panel, an exclusive online community of Business Insider readers!

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As a BI Insider, you'll be invited to take online surveys via email a few times a month to provide opinions and insights on a variety of topics and emerging trends, based on your personal and professional experiences. 

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I flew out of the most hated airport in the US — and I was shocked at how much better it became in less than a year

Business Insider SAI - 2 hodiny 44 min zpět

  • New York's LaGuardia Airport has a reputation for being one of the worst airports in the US.
  • I reviewed my experience flying out of Terminal B in December 2017 and found it to be dirty, cramped, and poorly lit.
  • I flew out of the terminal again in November 2018 and noticed improvements.
  • In its current state, LaGuardia is still not equipped to be a transit hub for one of the biggest cities in the world, but recent improvements indicate that it's on the right track.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

New York's LaGuardia Airport has a reputation for being one of the worst airports in the US.

A 2018 study of more than 40,000 travelers by JD Power found that respondents were less satisfied with their experiences at LaGuardia than at any other large or medium airport in North America. That may change in the years to come, as an $8 billion makeover is underway, but for now, LaGuardia still lags behind other major airports.

Read more: Jet Airways is on the brink of collapse. Here are 5 airlines that have gone bust since October.

I reviewed my experience flying out of Terminal B in December 2017 and found it to be dirty, cramped, and poorly lit. I flew out of the terminal again in November 2018 and noticed improvements. Concourse C, where my gate was located, was cleaner and brighter than the year before. Even better was the new pickup area for ride-hailing services, which was a vast improvement over the old system.

In its current state, LaGuardia is still not equipped to be a transit hub for one of the biggest cities in the world, but recent improvements indicate that it's on the right track.

Here's what I saw during my latest trip to LaGuardia.

SEE ALSO: Look inside the new $1.3 billion complex at Singapore's Changi Airport, with a 130-foot indoor waterfall

I arrived at the airport a little before 6 pm on a Tuesday.

I noticed that progress had been made on construction near Terminal B.

Here's what it looked like in December 2017.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

A former student returned to his college and fried $51,000 worth of computers using a simple device you can easily buy online

Business Insider SAI - 2 hodiny 48 min zpět

  • A former student of a college in New York state fried several of the school's computers and hardware using a device called a "USB killer" that can easily be bought online, according to court documents first reported by ZDNet.
  • USB killer devices charge themselves and quickly discharge enough electricity into a computer's USB port to damage the computer's internal parts.
  • The damages totaled more than $58,000, including employee time for repairs.
  • The former student pleaded guilty to multiple charges and is facing $250,000 in fines and up to 10 years in prison. 
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

A graduate of the College of St. Rose in Albany, New York, returned to his alma mater in February 2019 and fried several computers and other hardware using a device called a "USB killer," according to court documents first reported by ZDNet.

The devices that were destroyed, which were intended to be used by students and staff of the school, included 59 Windows computers, seven Apple computers, and "numerous" computer monitors and computer-enhanced podiums at the college, according to the court documents. 

The former student, who had graduated from the college with an MBA in 2017, apparently filmed himself in the act of destroying the college-owned computers and hardware. In the videos, according to court documents, the graduate said "I'm going to kill this guy" while inserting the USB killer device into a college computer, and after the USB killer fried the hardware, the graduate said "it's dead ... it's gone ... boom."

It's not clear why the former student did this.

The damages totaled $58,471, including $51,109 for the damaged devices, and $7,362 "in employee time investigating, repairing, and replacing the computer hardware."

USB killers can easily be purchased online. One listing for a USB killer device with the "Amazon's Choice" badge says the device is designed to "test surge protection" on devices. But later in the product description, the lister said, "Simply put: used on unprotected equipment, the USB killer instantly and permanently disables unprotected hardware."

The devices work by charging themselves, then quickly releasing that charge back through a computer's USB port. The graduate repeated this quick charge and discharge "multiple times per second," resulting in fried internal computer parts, according to court documents. 

USB killer devices can be sold with adapters that fit into several devices, such as smartphones and tablets. Some listings for other USB killers without the "Amazon's Choice" badge include warnings, such as "Please do not use for illegal activities."

USB killer devices are not illegal and can supposedly be used for legal functions. But it should go without saying that destroying computers and hardware that aren't yours without the permission of the owner is thoroughly illegal. 

The graduate, who is from India and in the US on a student visa, has pleaded guilty to multiple charges and faces $250,000 in fines and up to 10 years in prison. 

SEE ALSO: It might still be possible to recover your photos from a broken iPhone, even if Apple isn't able to help

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: How to avoid having your computer hacked

Air New Zealand sells an unusual economy seat that can turn into a couch. Here's why they are a bit disappointing, but still worth it.

Business Insider SAI - 2 hodiny 49 min zpět

  • We tried out Air New Zealand's Skycouch on a recent vacation to New Zealand.
  • The Skycouch allows passengers to convert a row of three economy class seats into a flat platform.
  • According to the airline "Skycouch is a great option for families, couples and those just wanting a bit of extra personal space."
  • We thought it would be a cost-effective way to get more space on a long flight.
  • It's not nearly as roomy and comfortable as business class, but it's still a worthy upgrade. 
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

My wife and I just got back from a two-week trip to New Zealand.

It's a really beautiful country to visit, and I'd definitely recommend going.

The biggest problem? It's hard to get there.

From New York, it'll take you about 20 hours to get to Auckland, New Zealand's biggest city. If you want to explore the glaciers and mountains of the country's south island, add another few hours of travel.

When we were planning our trip, we knew the flights would be a bit tough. Business-class tickets definitely weren't in our budget, and even premium economy seats turned out to be too much of a stretch as they can cost several times as much as a coach seat on long flights.

Air New Zealand, the country's national airline, offers a fun upgrade to make flying in economy class more palatable. It's called the Skycouch. Essentially, you get a row of three economy seats with special leg rests that flip up to make a flat surface on which you can lie down.

Read more: Jet Airways is on the brink of collapse. Here are 5 airlines that have gone bust since October.

This is how Air New Zealand describes the seats on its website: "Create a flat, flexible space for you to enjoy however you like. Skycouch is a great option for families, couples and those just wanting a bit of extra personal space."

The Skycouch is available as an upgrade on top of your standard economy class ticket. The cost of the upgrade varies widely, depending on factors like how long your flight is and whether you've already bought 1 or 2 seats on the flight. For our flights, the total cost for the Skycouch was $400 for the trip from Los Angeles to Auckland and about $450 for Auckland to Houston, Texas. 

The airline first demoed the seats in 2010. But I'd never heard of them until we started planning our trip, and I noticed them on Air New Zealand's website.

When I started looking into whether the upgrade was worth it, I came across some positive reviews.

"You don't have to pay for a business-class seat to enjoy business-class comfort," was how Emily McNutt of The Points Guy, a popular credit-card and travel blog, put it. She tested the special seats as a solo traveler — but she also warned that they might be a tight fit for a couple (more on that later).

After doing the research, we decided it'd be worth spending a few hundred dollars for a chance at some sleep on our overnight flight.

Read on to find out why I still think that was the right choice, even though the special seats were a lot less comfortable than we expected.

SEE ALSO: Jet Airways is on the brink of collapse. Here are 5 airlines that have gone bust since October.

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I first heard about Air New Zealand's Skycouch while researching my trip. The seats look pretty great on the airline's website.

They are available on board the airline's fleet of Boeing 777 and 787 Dreamliners.

The upgrade cost us $400 for our flight from Los Angeles to Auckland, and about $450 for the return trip from Auckland to Houston. That's a lot cheaper than even premium economy seats.

The cost of the upgrade varies depending on factors like the length of your trip and whether you've already bought one or two seats on the flight.

If you're traveling alone, the upgrade can be a lot more expensive, because you've only purchased one seat on the flight. McNutt said her upgrade cost $1,399, on top of a $1,200 ticket.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

The Western Digital WD Blue SN500 SSD Review: Moving The Mainstream To NVMe

AnandTech - 2 hodiny 57 min zpět

Western Digital's latest generation of WD Blue SSDs jumps from SATA to NVMe, making some sacrifices in the process but still meeting the everyday needs of the typical consumer.

Here's why current smart home device owners are appealing to tech companies

Business Insider SAI - 3 hodiny 25 min zpět

This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here.

Not that long ago, many home-appliance and consumer-electronics makers were gearing up for what they thought would soon be a rapidly growing market for smart home devices.

The instant popularity of the Nest thermostat, introduced in 2011, seemed to confirm their hopes. But those expectations were dashed in the coming years as the market for connected home devices later stagnated. 

Even with these challenges, many of the biggest consumer technology companies are now moving into the smart home market. For example, Apple, which recently released its self-installed smart home ecosystem, called the Apple Home, traditionally doesn't move into a market until it's very mature and only when it can release a perfected product. Further, Google this fall launched the Google Home and its companion ecosystem, hoping to jump into the voice-activated smart home speaker market, which Amazon currently dominates with its Echo product line. 

In a new report, Business Insider Intelligence examines the demographics of the average smart home device owner and discuss why current smart home device owners are appealing to tech companies. The report also examines the plans of various tech giants in the smart home market and discuss their monetization strategies, and makes suggestions for how these companies can position themselves to make their products and devices more appealing to the mass market.

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  • Tech companies primarily enter the market to enhance a core revenue stream or service, while device makers desire to collect data to improve their products and prevent costly recalls.
  • We forecast there will be $4.8 trillion in aggregate IoT investment between 2016 and 2021.
  • These companies are also seeking to create an early-mover advantage for themselves, where they gain an advantage by this head start on adoption.
  • Major barriers to mass market adoption that still must overcome include technological fragmentation and persistently high device prices.

In full, the report:

  • Details the market strategy of prominent tech companies and device makers, and analyzes why which ones are best poised to succeed once adoption ticks up.
  • Offers insight into current ownership through an exclusive survey from Business Insider Intelligence and analyzes what demographics will drive adoption moving forward.
  • Explains in detail which companies are poised to succeed in the market in the coming years as adoption increases and mass market consumers begin to purchase smart home devices.
Get The Self-Installed Smart Home Report

 

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Watch Apple debut its own no-fee credit card

An Oxford philosopher who's inspired Elon Musk thinks mass surveillance might be the only way to save humanity from doom

Business Insider SAI - 3 hodiny 27 min zpět

  • Philosopher Nick Bostrom has argued that humans could be living in a Matrix-style simulation.
  • At the TED 2019 conference in Vancouver, Canada, Bostrom posited another idea: that humanity could destroy itself with a technology of our own creation.
  • Bostrom said one of the only ways to save ourselves from this doomsday scenario would be to institute global mass surveillance.
  • The idea is especially controversial given the conference's focus on privacy in the digital era. 
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

Philosopher Nick Bostrom is known for making scary predictions about humanity.

Over 15 years ago, he made the case that we are all living in a Matrix-like simulation run by another civilization. The idea, though difficult to swallow, is well-regarded by some philosophers, and has even been sanctioned by Elon Musk

Many years later, Bostrom isn't done outlining frightening scenarios.

On Wednesday, he took the stage at the TED 2019 conference in Vancouver, Canada, to discuss another radical  theory. While speaking to head of the conference, Chris Anderson, Bostrom argued that mass surveillance could be one of the only ways to save humanity from ultimate doom.  

Read more: We asked a physicist if we live in 'The Matrix' — and he said the odds look good

His theory starts with a metaphor of humans standing in front of a giant urn filled with balls that represent ideas. There are white balls (beneficial ideas), grey balls (moderately harmful ideas), and black balls (ideas that destroy civilization). The creation of the atomic bomb, for instance, was akin to a grey ball — a dangerous idea that didn't result in our demise. 

Bostrom posits that there many be only one black ball in the urn, but, once it is selected, it cannot be put back. (Humanity would be annihilated, after all.)

According to Bostrom, the only reason that we haven't selected a black ball yet is because we've been "lucky." Even global warming, he said, "could have been a lot worse than it is."

Bostrom thinks the ball that could destroy civilization will be a technology of our own creation. So naturally, he said, we should prevent the technology from existing by surveilling ourselves. 

Under Bostrom's vision of mass surveillance, humans would be monitored at all times via artificial intelligence, which would send information to "freedom centers" that work to save us from doom. To make this possible, he said, all humans would have to wear necklaces, or "freedom tags," with multi-directional cameras. 

The idea is controversial under any circumstance, but especially at TED, which has focused this year on strategies to ensure privacy in the digital era.

Even Bostrom recognizes that the scenario could go horribly wrong.

"Obviously there are huge downsides and indeed massive risks to mass surveillance and global governance," he told the crowd. But he still thinks the ends might justify the means. 

"On an individual level, we seem to be kind of doomed anyway," he said.

SEE ALSO: China is building a vast civilian surveillance network — here are 10 ways it could be feeding its creepy 'social credit system'

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: A dietitian explains which non-dairy milk is best for you

Uber has raised $1 billion for its self-driving unit, which is now valued at more than $7 billion (UBER)

Business Insider SAI - 3 hodiny 39 min zpět

Uber has raised $1 billion in fresh capital for its Advanced Technologies Group (ATG), which is developing self-driving cars, the company said Thursday.

A third of the money is coming from Softbank's Venture Fund, Uber said, confirming earlier reports that the Japanese investor was interested in a stake, with the other two-thirds coming from Toyota and DENSO Corporation. The round leaves ATG at a post-money valuation of $7.25 billion, Uber said, and is expected to close in the third quarter of 2019. 

"This investment and our strong partnership with the Toyota Group are a testament to the incredible work of our ATG team to date, and the exciting future ahead for this important project, alongside great partners," CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said in a press release.

"The development of automated driving technology will transform transportation as we know it, making our streets safer and our cities more livable. Today's announcement, along with our ongoing OEM and supplier relationships, will help maintain Uber's position at the forefront of that transformation."

Excited to announce Toyota, Denso and the SoftBank Vision Fund are making a $1B investment in @UberATG, as we work together towards the future of mobility. pic.twitter.com/JdqhLkV7uU

— dara khosrowshahi (@dkhos) April 19, 2019

Self-driving is notoriously expense to develop, as most companies working on the technology have found, and Uber is no exception. However, autonomy is also key to Uber's pitch to investors as it begins the roadshow of its initial public offering this month. In initial filings this month, the company revealed that paying drivers was among its top expenses — removing them from the equation could help Uber reach profitability.

"While we believe that autonomous vehicles present substantial opportunities, the development of such technology is expensive and time-consuming and may not be successful," Uber said in its S-1 filing.

"Several other companies ... are also developing autonomous vehicle technologies, either alone or through collaborations with car manufacturers, and we expect that they will use such technology to further compete with us in the personal mobility, meal delivery, or logistics industries. We expect certain competitors to commercialize autonomous vehicle technologies at scale before we do."

Read more: Uber warns that it could seriously damage its business if drivers were considered employees instead of contractors

ATG is also part of Uber's vision to help people reduce their reliance on cars, the group's chief scientist said at an event this month.

"The hope is that people will not own the vehicles, you will share the vehicles, the rides," Raquel Urtasun said. "We should think of the future as public transit together with self-driving vehicles to empower people to go from point A to point B – cheap and in a timely fashion."

Friday's investment will help the group continue its development until full self-driving technology is ready to launch. Urtasun warned that could be more than a decade away.

"What is clear is that in a 10-year timeframe there will be a mix of both [self-driving and human-controlled cars]," she said.

SEE ALSO: Uber has filed to go public in what could be the biggest IPO in years

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Watch how old tires are retreaded so they can be used again

Blend, a start-up that's building a 'one-tap' mortgage application tool, is now jumping into the auto-loan market

Business Insider SAI - 3 hodiny 56 min zpět

  • Start-up Blend has been working toward an ambitious goal: reducing the mortgage-application process to a single tap on a smartphone.
  • The company, which creates digital tools to streamline home lending, is actively working on a solution with a couple clients, and it could be deployed in the next year or two, the company told Business Insider.
  • The company is also branching out, developing similar tools to streamline auto loans and personal loans.
  • Founder and CEO Nima Ghamsari is featured on Business Insider's list of the 100 people transforming business.
  • See the full list of the 100 people transforming business here.

For the past seven years, the start-up Blend has been moving toward an ambitious goal: simplify the mortgage-application process to the point that prospective buyers can find out whether they qualify for a home loan, and how much they can borrow, nearly instantaneously. 

The San Francisco-based start-up, founded in 2012 by a cadre of Palantir alums, provides software to help banks, credit unions, and other lenders offer a smoother, simpler home-loan process to their customers. Using Blend tools fortified by data, automation, and the cloud, lenders can digitize the mortgage-origination process, saving time, cutting costs, reducing human error, and creating a more transparent mobile experience for applicants.

"Because our system is intelligent and we help eliminate a lot of the types of documents that were historically needed by using data instead, the process is lower friction, lower cost as well for the lender," founder and CEO Nima Ghamsari told Business Insider.

"Eventually, if we're able to get this to be a truly data-driven process, the process of getting approved for a mortgage should be and will be one tap for a consumer," Ghamsari, who is featured on Business Insider's list of 100 people transforming the world of business, added. 

How might this work? With the help of machine learning, Blend automatically imports consumer data into the platform at the outset — such as credit reports and bank records that verify assets, employment, and income. Once a customer hits apply, the data is instantly connected with the lender's systems and an answer is nearly immediately available as to what and how much the borrower is approved for. 

See also: Americans stopped buying homes in 2018, mortgage lenders are getting crushed, and an economic storm could be brewing

They're getting closer to making the single-tap experience a reality. The company told Business Insider that it's actively developing a one-tap solution with a couple clients, and a rollout could be deployed in the next year or two. 

Blend has built a business that they say now comprises more than 130 lenders that account for 25% of the more than $1 trillion US mortgage market, including giants like Wells Fargo and US Bank.

But they're also expanding their product offerings, as mortgages aren't the only consumer-credit product mired in slow, paper-heavy red tape, and a one-tap solution for home loans could be used across financial products, given the similarity in required data.

The company announced last year it was rolling out a mortgage-insurance offering with MetLife, and in February it said it was getting into home-equity loans as well. The firm this month announced it was offering deposit-account opening technology that works in conjunction with its home-lending products. 

Blend is in the process of building products for auto loans and unsecured personal loans, as well, the company confirmed. 

See also: JPMorgan Chase shared a slide with investors that explains why mortgage lenders are getting smoked

Part of the larger vision at Blend is that by deploying products that facilitate lending via smartphone, it will expand credit access to borrowers who may not have had the time, knowledge, confidence, or resources to participate previously.

"There are parts of the population banking hasn't been able to serve as well because it has been so centered on in-person interaction," Ghamsari said. "Giving people at least the transparency and ability to understand what they can afford in very short order on their mobile device, it creates the ability for us to expand who's even trying to get credit." 

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Elon Musk sent a $100K Tesla Roadster to space a year ago. It has now traveled farther than any other car in history.

The Carolina Panthers made an awesome mash-up of 16 classic video games to reveal their regular season schedule. Here's every game they referenced.

Business Insider SAI - 4 hodiny 27 min zpět

  • In a video released on Wednesday, the NFL's Carolina Panthers used 16 different video games to show off their regular season matchups.
  • Most of the games are retro titles from the 90s, but there are some references to modern games, like "Pokémon Go."
  • The NFL season kicks off on September 5, and tickets for the Panthers are available now.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

The Carolina Panthers chose an unusual method to reveal their 2019 schedule to fans: a 90-second mashup video showcasing each of their upcoming matchups as if it were a matchup in a video game.

Most of the games referenced are 90s classics — including "Mortal Kombat" and "Tony Hawk Pro Skater" — but there are some newer games in the video too, like "Pokémon Go" and "Words with Friends."

I'm pretty sure I managed to name all 16 games in the video, but feel free to check the video for yourself to see how many you recognize before reading the full list below.

SEE ALSO: This samurai slasher for Nintendo Switch and PC lets players turn every stage into a bloody highlight reel

Week 1: "California Games" versus the Los Angeles Rams

Week 2: "Pitfall" versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Week 3: "Daytona USA" versus the Arizona Cardinals

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

An inside look at the new headquarters of a Wall Street disrupter that just moved to a swanky office in glamorous Hudson Yards

Business Insider SAI - 4 hodiny 27 min zpět

  • MarketAxess, which runs the largest electronic marketplace for US corporate bonds, relocated its headquarters to 55 Hudson Yards in January.
  • The space is 83,000 square-feet across three floors and can hold roughly 450 employees.
  • MarketAxess spent $25.1 million to build out its new home, according to its annual report. 

The evolution of fixed income has become one of the hottest topics on Wall Street recently. From Tradeweb's IPO to big banks shutting down trading desks in favor of algos, the space continues to evolve, and at a rapid pace.

So it's only fitting one of the rising players in the bond market just moved to the fastest growing neighborhood in New York.

In January, MarketAxess relocated its headquarters to Hudson Yards, the $25 billion neighborhood that's the most expensive real-estate development in US history. 

It's a fitting place for MarketAxess, which has been doing some growing of its own. The company operates the largest electronic marketplace for US corporate bonds and is a key figure in the rapidly evolving fixed-income space

Read more: MarketAxess just released a key tool for improving how fixed-income ETFs are built, and it could lead to further automation in the market

The news offices are 83,000 square-feet and span across three color-coordinated floors. MarketAxess spent $25.1 million to built out its new home, according to its annual report. 

Business Insider recently got a chance to take a peak inside the company's new digs. 

Here are the photos:

MarketAxess is located in the fast-developing Hudson Yards on Manhattan's West Side.

Hudson Yards is the most expensive real-estate development in US history, but a large portion of it still remains under construction.

MarketAxess signed the lease for the space in August 2016 after the decision was made to leave its Midtown offices, which it had outgrown.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

How the Internet of Things will transform consumerism, enterprises, and governments over the next five years

Business Insider SAI - 5 hodin 26 min zpět
  • The Internet of Things is fueling the data-based economy and bridging the divide between physical and digital worlds.
  • Consumers, companies, and governments will install more than 40 billion IoT devices worldwide through 2023.
  • The next five years will mark a pivotal transformation in how companies and jurisdictions operate, and how consumers live.

Being successful in the digital age doesn’t just require knowing the latest buzzwords; it means identifying the transformational trends – and where they’re heading – before they ever heat up.

Take the Internet of Things (IoT), for example, which now receives not only daily tech news coverage with each new device launch, but also hefty investments from global organizations ushering in worldwide adoption. By 2023, consumers, companies, and governments will install more than 40 billion IoT devices globally. And it’s not just the ones you hear about all the time, like smart speakers and connected cars.

To successfully navigate this changing landscape, individuals and organizations must understand the full extent and functionality of the “Things” included in this network, the key drivers of each market segment, and how it all relates to the work they do every day.

Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has forecasted the start of the IoT’s global proliferation in The IoT Forecast Book 2018 — and the next five years will be transformational for consumers, enterprises, and governments.

  • Consumer IoT: In the US alone, the number of smart home devices is estimated to surpass 1 billion by 2023, with consumers dishing out about $725 per household — a total of over $90 billion in spending on IoT solutions.
  • Enterprise IoT: Comprising the most mature segment of the IoT, companies will continue pouring billions of dollars into connected devices and automation. By 2023, the total industrial robotic system installed base will approach 6 million worldwide, while annual spending on manufacturing IoT solutions will reach about $450 billion.
  • Government IoT: Governments globally are ushering in IoT devices to spur the development of smart cities, which would be equipped with innovations like connected cameras, smart street lights, and connected meters to provide a real-time view of traffic, utilities usage, crime, and environmental factors. Annual investment in this area is expected to reach nearly $900 billion by 2023.

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'We're an anomaly': Complex Networks ignored the digital media playbook, and now it's set to have another profitable year with at least $200 million in revenue

Business Insider SAI - 5 hodin 27 min zpět

  • Sneaker culture-focused media company Complex Networks is an exception to the gloom and doom surrounding digital media.
  • CEO Rich Antoniello has avoided a lot of the playbook that's driven digital media in the past several years.
  • Complex has diversified its business and now gets half its revenue from non-advertising sources.
  • It's been profitable since 2010 and looks to be in the black again this year, with revenue projected to grow close to 20%.
  • This year it'll drive growth from video licensing, events, and commerce, and it's even exploring a membership program.

It's a gloomy time for digital media, but not for Rich Antoniello.

While headlines scream about other digital media companies trying to cut their way to profitability, hanging for-sale signs, and selling at fire-sale prices, Complex Networks, a 17-year-old, digital video-driven media company focused on sneakers and youth culture, looks like an anomaly.

Complex has been profitable since 2010 and is on track to be in the black again this year, with revenue projected to grow close to 20%, according to Antoniello. Complex has diversified its revenue mix and now gets half its revenue from outside advertising.

"We're an anomaly here," Antoniello told Business Insider.

It did this by avoiding a lot of the playbook that's driven digital media in the past several years.

Read more: Digital media companies Group Nine Media and Refinery29 are said to be in talks to merge

  • It didn't take a ton of venture funding that can accelerate a media company's rise but also set unrealistic growth expectations. Complex Networks raised just $40 million in its first 12 years, in contrast with other digital media darlings like Vice Media, which raised $1.4 billion; and BuzzFeed, $500 million.
  • Without the growth pressure tied to VC funding, it didn't staff up like crazy or chase Facebook audience as other companies did, only to see that audience vanish when Facebook deprioritized publisher content in the news feed and ran their videos but didn't deliver meaningful revenue in return. Complex's social followers are divided roughly evenly between Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram, according to Tubular Labs. Typical of a VC-backed digital media company, BuzzFeed gets two-thirds of its followers from Facebook, per Tubular.
  • It avoided going deep into hard news, which is expensive to do and scares off certain advertisers that don't want their ads to appear next to anything that sniffs of controversy.

Instead, Complex focused on building high-quality, longform video series that would keep viewers coming back and whose regularity in subject matter made it well-suited to advertising integrations.

Complex's video series helped drive other revenue streams

Those shows beget other revenue sources. ComplexCon, an annual festival of street culture in Long Beach, California, attracted 65,000 people and contributed around 8% of Complex Networks' revenue in 2018, across ticket sales that start at $55 each, $10 million worth of hoodies, skateboards and other merchandise sales specially designed by the artist Takashi Murikami, space rentals, and ad sponsorships. Its food vertical, First We Feast, spawned lines of hot sauce that did an estimated $7 million in sales in 2018.

Complex sold in 2016 to a joint venture of Hearst and Verizon, which enabled it to get funding and keep operating independently. That led it to avoid integration into a larger company, a process that has ended badly for other acquired media outlets like Yahoo and AOL.

It keeps costs down. Complex has only 300 employees, which, assuming annual revenue of $200 million, per three sources close to the situation, enables it to stay in the black. Its two biggest shows, "Sneaker Shopping," where stars like Wiz Khalifa buy shoes; and "Hot Ones," where celebrities like Scarlett Johansson eat wings with progressively hotter sauce, are hosted, respectively, by homegrown talent Joe La Puma and Sean Evans.

Contrast that with a one-time digital media darling, VC-funded Vox Media. By the end of 2018, Vox Media was about the same size in revenue as Complex Networks but with about three times as many employees.

Antoniello is the anti-digital media CEO

At the center of Complex Networks is an unlikely digital media CEO. Raised in the blue-collar Canarsie section of Brooklyn, he keeps a low profile (except for Twitter, where his tweets are known for all-caps rants on everything that drives him crazy about the media business).

While other media CEOs use PR to carefully cultivate their images and rarely talk publicly about their competition, Antoniello regularly takes profanity-laced shots at them, which doesn't endear him to everyone.

  • On media companies' dependence on Facebook, he said: "I wasn't worried about getting to a billion Facebook views like Group Nine was because that did a lot for their business."
  • On the pivot to video: "Add up Vox, Vice, Group Nine, whatever. I think in total they have three or four shows together on Netflix, whereas we have six."
  • On owning youth culture: "Even when we were a magazine, the topics we covered and tone, we never f*cking changed. We let everyone come to us. We are the originators of that, and everyone else are vultures who couldn't come up with a goddamn original idea if your f*cking life depended on it."
Print influenced Antoniello's thinking 

Complex Networks' evolution into a modern media company started, of all things, with a glossy print magazine.

It was created in 2002 by the streetwear designer Marc Ecko, who saw the connection between culture and media.  Antoniello, a former salesman for National Geographic Adventure, has been at the head of Complex since 2003. Antoniello said his experience selling print heavily influenced him.

"It all comes back to brand, being the creator of the conversation," he said. "Print experience informed that thinking 1,000%. Being a salesperson, of not just the audience, the pink sheets and Simmons data, but selling what it really means. That informed a lot of who I am today."

By 2007, the magazine was profitable. But people were starting to get their news and information online through portals like Yahoo and AOL that rode the tech bubble. Venture capitalists poured money into media companies, putting pressure on everyone to scale an online audience fast. That led to ad networks like Glam Media, which rolled up women's blogs to become the seventh biggest online media property at one point.

Complex also created a network to augment its own sites with independent ones around sneakers plus adjacent topics like music and food. But it has always maintained that it was more choosy than others about who it partnered with, to keep quality high. Later, Complex would buy sites, shifting the network to an owned-and-operated model.

That brand-focused thinking also informed Complex Networks' first big push into video in 2013, when it raised $25 million from Iconix Brand Group, the owner of Rocawear, Ecko Unlimited, Umbro and other brands.

Unusual for a text-rooted media company, Complex started making digital video in the form of longform series. The massive media industry "pivot to video" has since become ridiculed for its association with short, viral videos that did little for companies' businesses. Instead, Antoniello focused on making cable network-worthy, high-quality video series that could be adapted to many platforms and spawn other revenue lines.

"Everyone was in love with a three-second view," he said. "We ran the other way. We went hardcore."

Complex Networks initially ignored YouTube

The execution wasn't flawless. Now Antoniello gets credit for success on YouTube, but for months, he eschewed the platform, wanting to keep all the views on his own site.

"It's kind of my biggest mistake," he said. "I was like, 'We're so big we don't need YouTube.' Um, biggest mistake I ever made, hands down. YouTube, it already had done too good a job establishing themselves into the lower end of the 25-and-under, where if you wanted to be massively impactful on longer-form, premium video, you had to be on YouTube. Once we did YouTube, it was like throwing kerosene on it."

The bet paid off.

"Very few people invested in YouTube early on the way Complex did," said Eddie Kim, CEO of Memo, a startup that sells metrics on article readership to brands. "By the time most folks realized the Facebook video bait-and-switch, it was already too late to build up a YouTube presence because the barriers only get higher and higher. Whether it's media or commerce, the challenge today is, do you truly own an audience. In media, it means you can create a branded video and hit your numbers without buying much traffic. Brand equity takes time to build. This creates a natural tension with the growth expectations tied to VC funding. Complex is a brand 20 years in the making." 

A big video accelerant came in 2016 when Complex Networks sold to Hearst and Verizon in a 50-50 deal valued at more than $250 million. The new owners saw in Complex a way to quickly increase their digital reach with millennial males. Verizon had just launched Go90, a free mobile video service where young people could watch video from providers like HuffPost, Vice, and AwesomenessTV, on their phones. Verizon paid Complex Networks roughly $150 million to produce shows that would appear on Go90, according to two sources close to the situation.

For Complex Networks, the Go90 money enabled it to go from 12 to 33 video series but also move further upscale. It worked with "Friday Night Lights" director Peter Berg on a docu-series "QB1"; and made "Thanksgiving," created by Dan Powell and Bethany Hall and starring Chris Elliott and Amy Sedaris.

"We were making the bet of linear cable without having the linear cable distribution deals," Antoniello recalled. "And when they bought into that, and were willing to pay what they paid for the company, it created a tremendous opportunity for us because we can continue to run as an independent asset, because it was a 50-50 JV. So we didn't have the pressure of integrating into either large-scale company."

Then, in June 2018, Verizon shut down Go90 after less than three years. The move was the demise of Awesomeness, whose fortunes were tied to Go90 and which sold to Viacom for $50 million after having an implied value of $650 million.

Hearst and Verizon wouldn't comment for this story.

Post-Go90, Complex had to reset its goals

The Go90 demise has reset Complex's goals.

Complex Networks shrunk its staff from around 400 in 2017 to 300 by the end of 2018, mainly by cutting people who worked for now-defunct RatedRed.com and Seriously.TV, two digital media properties that Hearst and Verizon created for millennials and which had been absorbed by Complex.

Complex Networks has to return profits to its owners instead of having full freedom to reinvest it. And while Verizon is increasing its video output at Yahoo Finance, questions swirl around Verizon's commitment to media now that it's closed Go90 and written down its media arm that contains AOL and Yahoo. Complex, though, is in a different boat from that arm given that it operates independently.

But Antoniello is seeing the payoff of his earlier bet on high-quality series and says he likes his independence. Complex was able to keep the shows it created for Go90, and he's licensed 16 of those 33 shows to Netflix and Hulu, and he's not done doing deals.  

"There is no question, Verizon is not as interested in media as it was theoretically. We were disappointed. Obviously we would have loved to have continued to be a strategic partner," he said. "It would have been a tremendous play for us long term to have this funding resource and audience discovery platform for younger consumers from a mobile perspective. We had to be beholden to ourselves faster than we had originally planned. Trying to replace a great deal of capital is hard because we're going to have to do it from multiple outlets."

Earlier, Complex insisted on licensing rather than selling outright its video series to distributors as Vox Media and BuzzFeed have done. It also insisted on limiting distributors' exclusive windows to short time periods like five days rather than the more typical 12 months. Licensing is harder to do with a behemoth like Netflix, which increasingly wants to own the shows it airs, but this approach has enabled Complex to keep generating income from those shows with other distributors.

Antoniello said distributors initially pushed back, but he argued his shows had big followings of young men that are hard for advertisers to reach, and that using social media to promote shows would help maximize the viewership before audiences get bored and move on to the next thing.

"How many series are going to last that are young person-oriented?" Antoniello asked. "They run out of steam. So you have smaller windows in general to take advantage of these things. So we had a lot of discussions on distribution with all these premium platforms. But we have the discipline to say no."

Complex Networks isn't insulated from the reality all media companies face, as most of the digital ad dollars are going to Google and Facebook and there's pressure to stay current with young audiences.

"There is a gluttony of digital choices for advertisers looking to target Gen Z," said Doug Rozen, chief media officer at the agency 360i. "Publishers like Complex and others need to be aggressive to stand out – to a buyer and to a user."

Antoniello likes his chances, though. This year, Complex sees revenue growing almost 20%, Antoniello said, with three knowledgeable sources saying revenue will be at least $200 million, with at least $30 million in profits.

The growth this year is coming from video licensing; a second ComplexCon, in Chicago in July; and a membership program it's aiming to launch by the end of the year that would give superfans benefits tied to various Complex brands, like early access to ComplexCon, exclusive merchandise, and a first look at Complex's video shows.

"It's a great time to be an anomaly of anomalies — a fast-growing, differentiated brand business in media that is profitable," he said.

SEE ALSO: HuffPost is asking readers to voluntarily pay to support its journalism, even as its parent Verizon made $16 billion in profits last year

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Consulting firms are encroaching on the advertising business. Here's why Burger King's top marketing exec doesn't buy into the consulting firm hype.

Business Insider SAI - 5 hodin 27 min zpět

  • Fernando Machado, the global chief marketing officer of Burger King, doesn't think consulting firms have much creative prowess, at least not yet. 
  • "I don't see the value [in working with them]," Machado told Business Insider in a recent interview.
  • He said Burger King's roster of ad agencies have helped it use creativity to its advantage, he said.
  • Some of the fast-food chain's most iconic campaigns would never have come to life if it weren't for its agencies, said Machado.
  • See the full list of the 100 people transforming business here.

If the writing wasn't already on the wall, Accenture Interactive's recent acquisition of creative agency Droga5 confirms that consulting firms want a bigger piece of the advertising business. 

Read More: Accenture Interactive's acquisition of Droga5 will fill an obvious hole in its lineup as the company tries to change the way products are marketed

But Fernando Machado, the global chief marketing officer of Burger King, doesn't see the fast-food chain using consulting firms for their creative work.

"I don't see the value [in working with them]," Machado told Business Insider in a recent interview. "I have not seen any groundbreaking creativity coming from there, and I have not seen creative people dying to go to work for a consulting firm, either."

Burger King still employs them for larger business problems, like entering a new market or fixing the supply chain — tasks they're traditionally known for, he said.

But Machado said agencies have helped Burger King develop creativity into a competitive advantage. In that way, Burger King is bucking the in-housing trend, and is not among the 78% of brands part of the Association of National Advertisers that reported having an in-house agency function in 2018

"Burger King is not a brand with the largest budget," he said. "I need ideas that will be so powerful that they act like  dollar multipliers, and those creative ideas come from our agencies."

Burger King has made a name for itself with award-winning, funny and self-deprecating campaigns. Some of its best-known recent campaigns — like "Subservient Chicken," "Google Home for the Whopper," "Whopper Detour," and "#EatLikeAndy" — would never have come to life if it weren't for its agency partners, said Machado.

"Whopper Detour," for example, which trolled rival McDonald's by using geo-fencing to send customers to its restaurants to collect discounts on Burger King's Whopper burgers, was developed by FCB New York. "#EatLikeAndy," which marked Burger King's return to the Super Bowl after years, showing real-life documentary footage of Andy Warhol eating a Whopper, was developed by agency David Miami.

Some of Burger King's key agency partners are WPP's David, MullenLowe Boston, FCB New York, LOLA MullenLowe, Grabarz & Partners, and La Despensa in Spain. Their work for the fast-food chain spans platforms, PR, digital, and, of course, TV.

Fernando said he believes creatives produce their best work when they work on multiple brands and projects at the same time.

"I don't think I can put the best creative people in a cage and force them to work just for my brand; I want them to work for several brands," he said. "I want them to have diverse experiences, and work across different markets, different scenarios, different consumers, and different product categories."

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