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A founder of billion-dollar startup Hims publicly proclaimed he's made hundreds of millions and is well on his way to becoming a billionaire by his mid-30s — then deleted it

Fri, 09/13/2019 - 5:05pm

  • Jack Abraham, the 33-year-old founder and managing partner of the venture-capital firm Atomic and a cofounder of the health startup Hims, wrote a response to a Quora question about net worth, saying he's a self-made entrepreneur who's on track to become a billionaire "by my mid to late 30s."
  • The response to the question has since been deleted from Quora. 
  • Abraham said in an emailed statement to Business Insider that he initially wrote the post to help explain the trade-offs that come with wealth.
  • "As a society we are obsessed with wealth as a cure for all ails but in my experience wealth does not drive happiness and in fact can negate it in non-intuitive ways," Abraham said.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A serial entrepreneur who's sold a company to eBay and cofounded a men's healthcare startup says he's on track to be a billionaire.

Jack Abraham, the 33-year-old founder and managing partner of the venture-capital firm Atomic, wrote a response to a Quora question asking users about their net worths. He said he was a millionaire who's made a few hundred million dollars and is on track to be a billionaire "by my mid to late 30s." He has since deleted his post from Quora.

"For my age, in the 'self-made' category I am probably between 1 in 1M or 1 in 10M (top 100- 1,000 globally self made for my age, possibly among even fewer)," Abraham said in the since deleted post. "At the rate of growth of the value of the equity I have there is a good chance that I'll become a billionaire by my mid to late 30s."

The post went on to discuss the pitfalls that can come with financial success and why happiness does not always correlate with a higher net worth. 

Through Atomic, Abraham has backed and cofounded companies including the men's health startup Hims, which has raised $197 million to date, and the coliving company Bungalow. Before his work with Atomic, Abraham sold a startup to eBay for $75 million. Abraham references those investments in the post, saying he's made a few hundred million dollars by his early 30s. 

Read more: You Can Explain eBay's $50 Billion Turnaround With Just This One Crazy Story

Abraham said in an emailed statement to Business Insider that he initially wrote the post to help explain the trade-offs that come with wealth. 

"As a society we are obsessed with wealth as a cure for all ails but in my experience wealth does not drive happiness and in fact can negate it in non-intuitive ways," Abraham said. "I wrote the post to share my experience but it was intended for a small audience and to help anyone who might be considering trade offs of how they choose to live their lives."

Abraham decided to take down the post after it began going viral. 

"I took it down as its reach started growing, as I really prefer to keep a low profile and keep my head down, focused on building companies and solving meaningful problems that impact people's lives," Abraham said. 

Abraham's father was the CEO and cofounder of Comscore, and Abraham started working for him when he was in his teens, Business Insider's Nicholas Carlson previously reported. While studying at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, Abraham started the e-commerce firm Milo, which he later sold to eBay.

He now says he's started 14 companies, according to his profile on LinkedIn.

"For context on my background, my dad immigrated to the US to get his PhD at MIT without a dollar to his name and we grew up poor," Abraham told Business Insider in the email. "We climbed to the middle and upper middle class before my dad became an entrepreneur and 'made it'. I've seen life from all levels of wealth and believe I have a unique perspective on its pros and cons as a result."

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THE AI IN INSURANCE REPORT: How forward-thinking insurers are using AI to slash costs and boost customer satisfaction as disruption looms

Fri, 09/13/2019 - 5:02pm

The insurance sector has fallen behind the curve of financial services innovation — and that's left hundreds of billions in potential cost savings on the table. 

The most valuable area in which insurers can innovate is the use of artificial intelligence (AI): It's estimated that AI can drive cost savings of $390 billion across insurers' front, middle, and back offices by 2030, according to a report by Autonomous NEXT seen by Business Insider Intelligence. The front office is the most lucrative area to target for AI-driven cost savings, with $168 billion up for grabs by 2030.

There are three main aspects of the front office that stand to benefit most from AI. First, Chatbots and automated questionnaires can help insurers make customer service more efficient and improve customer satisfaction. Second, AI can help insurers offer more personalized policies for their customers. Finally, by streamlining the claims management process, insurers can increase their efficiency. 

In the AI in Insurance Report, Business Insider Intelligence will examine AI solutions across key areas of the front office — customer service, personalization, and claims management — to illustrate how the technology can significantly enhance the customer experience and cut costs along the value chain. We will look at companies that have accomplished these goals to illustrate what insurers should focus on when implementing AI, and offer recommendations on how to ensure successful AI adoption.

The companies mentioned in this report are: IBM, Lemonade, Lloyd's of London, Next Insurance, Planck, PolicyPal, Root, Tractable, and Zurich Insurance Group.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

  • The cost savings that insurers can capture from using AI in the front office will allow them to refocus capital and employees on more lucrative objectives, such as underwriting policies.
  • To ensure that AI in the front office is successful, insurers need to have a clear strategy for implementing the tech and use it as a solution for specific problems.
  • Insurers are still at different stages when it comes to implementing AI: a number of them need to find ways to appropriately build their strategies and enable transformation, while the others must identify how to move forward with their existing strategy.
  • Overall, incumbents should focus on a hybrid model between digital and human to ensure they're catering to all consumers.

 In full, the report:

  • Outlines the benefits of using AI in the insurance industry.
  • Explains the three main ways insurers can revamp their front office using the technology.
  • Highlights players that have successfully implemented AI solutions in their front office.
  • Discusses how insurers should move forward with AI and what routes are the most lucrative option for players of different sizes.

Interested in getting the full report? Here are two 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

The choice is yours. But however you decide to acquire this report, you've given yourself a powerful advantage in your understanding of AI in insurance.

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The history of WeWork’s meteoric valuation rise — and fall

Fri, 09/13/2019 - 4:42pm

WeWork's public offering is off to a rocky start, and it hasn't even listed its shares yet.

Concerns around the coworking startup's governance, real estate holdings, succession plan, employee retention, and questionable patent purchases have spooked potential investors. WeWork has amended its SEC filings twice already to address several of those concerns, but it might not be enough.

According to a Reuters report, WeWork will target a $10 billion valuation for its IPO, drastically lower than the $47 billion valuation it last fetched in private markets. A $10 billion public valuation would be only slightly above the total amount of funding WeWork has taken in as a private company: about $8.39 billion since 2011, according to Pitchbook data.

Read More: WeWork's IPO filing will reportedly be revealed as soon as next week, giving us our best look yet at its business

It's a striking turn of events for WeWork, which has experienced a meteoric rise since its founding in 2010 by CEO Adam Neumann, his wife Rebekah Neumann, and Miguel McKelvey. The New York-based startup leases office space to other startups and has expanded to more than 100 cities in 29 countries — a turbo-charged expansion plan that has required WeWork to continually raise capital as it burns through billions of dollars. 

Until now, even the savviest investors, from venture capital firms to mutual funds to Japan's SoftBank, were eager to pump money into WeWork, driving up its stratospheric valuation. But in this case, what goes up appears to be coming down.

Here's the definitive history of WeWork's valuation ahead of its much anticipated public offering:

SEE ALSO: Automation is coming for venture capital, and one young VC firm is betting its homegrown tech gives it an edge over Sand Hill Road's slow-to-adapt legacy investors

October 2011: $1 million seed round, undisclosed valuation

WeWork's $1 million seed round in October 2011 was led by DAG Ventures and came with an undisclosed valuation.



July 2012: $17 million Series A, $97 million valuation

Less than a year after its seed round, WeWork raised its Series A in July 2012. The $17 million round, which valued the startup at $97 million, was led by an undisclosed group of investors.



May 2013: $40 million Series B, $440 million valuation

WeWork also did not publicly disclose investors for its $40 million Series B in May 2013. The round valued the burgeoning startup at $440 million post-money.



February 2014: $150 million Series C, $1.49 billion valuation

The coworking startup officially crossed into unicorn territory in February 2014 with its $150 million Series C. The round valued the company at $1.49 billion and included JP Morgan Chase, Harvard Management, Benchmark Capital, and Mort Zuckerman.



October 2014: $355 million Series D, $5 billion valuation

Within ten months of its Series C, WeWork raised another $355 million in Series D funding from T. Rowe Price, Wellington Management and Goldman Sachs, in addition to follow-on funding from the Series C investors. The round valued WeWork at $5 billion.



June 2015: $434 million Series E, $10.23 billion valuation

By June 2015, WeWork had already moved on to late-stage private funding with its $433.93 million Series E from Fidelity. The other investors in the round were not publicly disclosed, but the round valued the startup at $10.23 billion.



April 2016: Debt financing, valuation unchanged

WeWork pursued its first round of debt financing in April 2016 with Wells Fargo. The undisclosed amount of financing did not alter the startup's valuation from its most recent venture round in June 2015.



October 2016: $690 million Series F, $16.9 billion valuation

The debt financing in early 2016 bought WeWork time to finalize its $690 million Series F venture round by October 2016. The round valued the company at $16.9 billion and was led by Legend Holdings and Hony Capital. All existing public investors also participated in the round.



August 2017: Insider stock sales to SoftBank, valuation unchanged

An undisclosed group of investors sold $1.3 billion worth of WeWork shares to SoftBank's massive Vision Fund. The transaction did not alter WeWork's valuation.



August 2017: $1.7 billion Series G, $21.2 billion valuation

SoftBank also led WeWork's $1.7 billion Series G funding round that same month. The round valued the now 7-year-old startup at $21.2 billion, and brought on Catalyst Investors, Alpha JWC Ventures, Syren Capital Advisors, Primary Venture Partners and StraightPath Venture Partners as investors.



January 2019: $1 billion insider stock sales to SoftBank, $20 billion valuation

Softbank purchased another $1 billion worth of WeWork shares in January 2019 from undisclosed investors and WeWork employees. At an even $20 billion valuation, the round gave WeWork a lower post-money valuation but a higher pre-money valuation than the Series G funding round 18 months earlier.



January 2019: $5 billion direct investment from SoftBank, $47 billion valuation

SoftBank's purchase of insider shares was completed in connection with a $5 billion primary investment into WeWork that valued the company at $47 billion, more than double its previous valuation, according to Pitchbook. 

The round included $1 billion in convertible debt and a $3 billion warrant agreement, according to Pitchbook data.



May 2019: $110 million debt financing, valuation unchanged

WeWork got $110 million in debt financing from Citizens Bank and Pacific West Bank in May 2019. The financing did not change the startup's previous $47 billion valuation.



August 2019: WeWork files IPO paperwork

WeWork indicated in its S-1 filing that it planned to raise $1 billion in its IPO, though that number was likely a placeholder. The company did not provide details on the numbers of shares it wanted to sell or the price and valuation it was seeking.

 



September 2019: WeWork seeks reduced, $10 billion to $12 billion valuation for IPO

According to a Reuters report on Friday, WeWork is now seeking to IPO at a valuation of between $10 billion and $12 billion — knocking the company's valuation down to where it was in 2015. It is not clear if WeWork hopes to raise a lower amount during its public debut, or if SoftBank will make back the nearly $9 billion it publicly invested in the company.



Stocks close mixed as the Dow gains for the 8th day in a row

Fri, 09/13/2019 - 4:31pm

  • Stocks finished mixed on Friday as the Dow Jones industrial average rose for the eighth day in a row. 
  • The S&P 500 index was relatively flat as gains in materials, financials, and energy stocks were offset by losses in real estate, utilities, and technology. 
  • Goldman Sachs hit Apple with the lowest price target of any major shop on Wall Street, issuing a warning that Apple TV Plus will into iPhone profits. Apple published a statement shortly after refuting the claim. 
  • Visit the Markets Insider homepage for more stories.

Stocks finished mixed on Friday as the Dow Jones industrial average posted gains for the eighth straight day.

The S&P 500 index was down slightly as gains in materials, financials, and energy stocks were offset by losses in real estate, consumer staples, and technology.

Shares of Apple dropped about 2%, dragging technology stocks and the Nasdaq Composite lower. The shares fell after Goldman Sach slapped the company with the lowest price rating of any major firm on Wall Street, citing concerns Apple TV Plus might cut into iPhone profits. 

Positive sentiment around developments in the US-China trade war on Thursday appeared to carry gains in the Dow on Friday.

Both the US and China agreed to either delay or exempt some tariffs set to take effect in the coming months. The exchange was seen as an effort from both sides to ease tensions, which sparked hope a trade resolution could come in the coming weeks. 

Here's a look at the major indexes as of the 4 p.m. close on Friday: 

Shares of Cloudflare skyrocketed 20% after the company raised $525 million in the company's initial public offering. Cloudflare sold 35 million shares at $15 apiece, slightly higher than its advertised range of $12 to $14. 

Markets Insider is looking for a panel of millennial investors. If you're active in the markets, CLICK HERE to sign up.

WeWork announced it plans to list on the Nasdaq composite when it goes public sometime this year. The company also released new corporate governance measures to curb Chief Executive Officer Adam Neumann's power "in response to market feedback." 

Within the S&P 500, these were the largest gainers:

And the largest decliners:

The London Stock Exchange's board unanimously rejected the Hong Stock Exchange's bid on Friday saying its $27 billion purchase of data-provider Refinitiv is "on track." The HKEK announced a $37 billion bid for the London-based exchange earlier this week. 

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WeWork's valuation is under fire. Here's everything we know about its IPO plans, finances, and concerns around CEO Adam Neumann.

Fri, 09/13/2019 - 4:25pm

Here's what we know about what's going on inside WeWork right now:

The latest Financials and real estate Coworking rivals Road to IPO Neumann's leadership SoftBank's role Deals

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MoviePass is shutting down and looking for a buyer

Fri, 09/13/2019 - 4:08pm

  • MoviePass, the embattled movie-ticket-subscription service, is shutting down on Saturday, its parent company, Helios and Matheson Analytics, announced on Friday.
  • Helios and Matheson said its efforts to recapitalize the MoviePass business, which has lost hundreds of millions of dollars since Helios and Matheson took ownership in 2017, had "not been successful."
  • Helios and Matheson said it would explore a sale of MoviePass, along with its other assets Moviefone and MoviePass Films.
  • MoviePass has recently laid off staffers, and Moviefone has suspended its freelancers, sources close to the companies told Business Insider.
  • Read more: The definitive story of how a controversial Florida businessman blew up MoviePass and burned hundreds of millions

MoviePass will shut down on Saturday, its parent company, Helios and Matheson Analytics, announced on Friday.

Helios and Matheson said efforts to recapitalize the embattled movie-ticket subscription service had "not been successful to date" and that it was "unable to predict if or when the MoviePass service will continue."

MoviePass surged in popularity in 2017 after Helios and Matheson bought the service and drastically lowered the price. But it burned through hundreds of millions of dollars and failed to find a business model that didn't lead to massive losses.

During MoviePass' collapse, CEO Mitch Lowe locked some subscribers out of their accounts and used other tactics to try and keep the company running, according to multiple inside sources who Business Insider spoke with during a four-month investigation into the company's practices, which was published in August.

MoviePass, along with Moviefone and MoviePass Films, which are all owned by Helios and Matheson, will be up for sale, the company said on Friday.

Helios and Matheson's "board of directors has formed a strategic review committee, composed entirely of the company's independent directors, to identify, review, and explore all strategic and financial alternatives for the company, including a sale of the company in its entirety," the company said.

This announcement came as Business Insider waited for comment from Helios and Matheson on a story that detailed the company's attempts to sell MoviePass and Moviefone and its continued layoffs.

The Friday before the Labor Day holiday weekend, the Moviefone editor Drew Taylor sent out an email to the site's freelancers informing them that "effective immediately all freelancing is suspended." The email, obtained by Business Insider, went on to say that Moviefone would make sure "everybody gets paid what they're owed as soon as possible," but multiple sources said some freelancers had not been paid for months.

To read Business Insider's inside look at what's been going on recently at MoviePass and Moviefone, read our full story on Business Insider Prime.

SEE ALSO: The definitive story of how a controversial Florida businessman blew up MoviePass and burned hundreds of millions

Join the conversation about this story »

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SoftBank reportedly plans to boost its stake in WeWork by $750 million in the coworking giant's IPO

Fri, 09/13/2019 - 3:55pm

  • SoftBank plans to buy $750 million in WeWork shares in the real-estate company's planned public offering, The Wall Street Journal reported.
  • The purchase would represent about 25% of the shares WeWork is planning on selling.
  • The move would up SoftBank's investment in the company to more than $11 billion, assuming it doesn't sell any shares in the offering.
  • The news comes as WeWork is considering going public with a valuation of as little as $10 billion.
  • Read all of Business Insider's WeWork coverage here.

SoftBank plans to up its stake in WeWork in the latter's planned initial public offering, even as the money-losing commercial real-estate giant is struggling to attract other investors, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

The Japanese conglomerate, which oversees the $100 billion Vision Fund, plans to buy at least $750 million worth of WeWork shares in its IPO, The Journal reported. That would represent around a quarter of all the shares the coworking company plans to sell in the offering, in which it is expected to raise at least $3 billion.

With the move, SoftBank would increase its total investment in WeWork by about 7%, assuming it doesn't sell any shares in the offering, pushing it to beyond $11 billion. To date, the conglomerate has invested $10.65 billion in WeWork and its subsidiaries, according to WeWork's public offering document.

SoftBank representatives did not return a call seeking comment. WeWork representatives did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Read this: WeWork and Uber are giving SoftBank a black eye, but that doesn't mean Vision Fund II is in trouble, experts say

Earlier Friday, WeWork announced in updated offering filings that it is revamping its corporate governance, cutting in half the number of votes CEO Adam Neumann will get for his shares from 20 each to 10 each, and committing to having a board in which the majority of directors are independent.

Also, the company is now considering going public with a market capitalization of as little as $10 billion. In January, SoftBank privately valued WeWork at $47 billion, when it made a follow-on investment in the company. Earlier this week, the company was talking about a potential market capitalization at IPO of $15 billion to $20 billion.

The company has reportedly faced pushback from the public investors it is trying to woo, thanks to concerns about its governance, valuation, business model, and potential vulnerability in a recession.

Softbank has reportedly encouraged WeWork to not go forward with its IPO.

Got a tip about SoftBank or WeWork? Contact this reporter via email at twolverton@businessinsider.com, message him on Twitter @troywolv, or send him a secure message through Signal at 415.515.5594. You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.

SEE ALSO: Why WeWork's $47 billion private valuation could be a key stumbling block for its IPO — and might even derail it completely

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MoviePass' parent company is looking to sell it and Moviefone as it continues to cut staff

Fri, 09/13/2019 - 3:50pm

  • Helios and Matheson Analytics is looking to sell MoviePass and Moviefone, multiple sources close to the company told Business Insider.
  • Layoffs have continued at MoviePass, and contract workers at Moviefone have been suspended, sources said.
  • The Moviefone editor Drew Taylor wrote "effective immediately all freelancing is suspended" in a recent email obtained by Business Insider.
  • Some freelance writers for Moviefone had not been paid in months, sources said.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Helios and Matheson Analytics is looking to sell its two key properties, the movie-ticket-subscription app MoviePass and the movie-ticket site Moviefone, multiple sources close to the company told Business Insider.

And in the meantime, the company has been cleaning house. Layoffs have been happening for weeks, the sources said.

Some MoviePass staffers gave their two-week notice this week, and multiple people were laid off and given no severance package, one source said. Business Insider reported last month that MoviePass had laid off about one-third of its staff, including its two-person exhibitor-relations team, which was responsible for building relationships between MoviePass and movie theaters.

MoviePass also laid off the staffer in charge of its social media in June, multiple sources said. The last posts on the company's Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages were on June 30.

CULTIVATED: DCM Ventures makes a bet on cannabis drinks, Wall Street's leading cannabis analyst on her top 3 US picks, and more

Fri, 09/13/2019 - 3:24pm

Introducing Cultivated, our new weekly newsletter where we're bringing you an inside look at the deals, trends, and personalities driving the multibillion-dollar global cannabis boom. Sign up here.

Happy Friday the 13th everyone (spooky):

As with last week, the cannabis sector was dominated by the unfortunate news of vaping-related illnesses. As a refresher, I put together a timeline of what state and federal officials knew about the illnesses and when. You can read that here, and we'll keep updating it as we learn more.

But there was some other news apart from the vape scare that I'd like to highlight. First, Aurora Cannabis, one of the largest cannabis companies, reported earnings. While the company didn't have a bad quarter revenue-wise, it missed on its guidance by around 1% and the stock was hammered as a result.

I spoke with Aurora Chief Corporate Officer Cam Battley yesterday by phone. He said a few interesting things. One, he felt like the market has a "follow-the-leader" approach where, after companies like Canopy Growth and Cronos Group did deals with large alcohol and tobacco companies, investors expected Aurora to do the same.

"There's pressure there," said Battley. "We don't want to give up control and enter partnerships that don't work for us."

Second, Battley reiterated that Aurora is actively looking at US CBD acquisitions, which we have reported on in the past. He also said that Aurora is looking closely at the landmark Canopy Growth-Acreage deal, and may consider pursuing a similar acquisition under that framework. We previously reported that the deal's unique (if vague) structure would provide a pathway for other Canadian cannabis companies to do the same. 

On the policy front, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told the Democratic caucus that a bill to protect banks that serve cannabis companies will get a full House floor vote by the end of the month. The news follows Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo's statement to Politico that his committee will hold a vote on similar legislation.

In other news, I sat down with Bradley Tusk, the CEO of Tusk Ventures and author of "The Fixer" in his Manhattan offices on Wednesday to tape an episode of The Firewall podcast. We had a wide-ranging discussion that went from cannabis tech startups to psychedelic drugs, and Mexico's incipient cannabis legalization — all in a snackable 20 minutes. The episode will drop on Wednesday, and you can listen to it wherever you get your podcasts.

And last, here's a tidbit I thought you all might like. I spoke with Marc Hauser, who leads the law firm Reed Smith LLP's cannabis practice earlier today.

He had a great quote around the regulatory complexity of cannabis and the challenges of putting together deals. "It's both legal and highly regulated at the state level, and highly illegal at the federal level," Hauser told me. "It's like a quantum physics problem."

-Jeremy 

More stories from around the BI newsroom:

Here's the pitch deck that cannabis-beverage startup K-Zen used to raise $5 million from seasoned Silicon Valley VC firm DCM Ventures

The cannabis-infused-beverage startup K-Zen raised $5 million from the venerable Silicon Valley venture firm DCM Ventures in May.

K-Zen co-CEO Judy Yee told Business Insider that the startup tailored its fundraising approach to investors who would be willing to invest in cannabis, as most mainstream venture funds are still reticent about the space.

Yee walked me through K-Zen's pitch deck and talked about the genesis of K-Zen in a recent interview. 

Here are the 3 top pot stocks to bet on in the US and one to avoid, according to Wall Street's leading cannabis analyst

Wall Street's star cannabis-industry analyst Vivien Azer initiated coverage on some of the splashiest US cannabis names — known as multistate operators or MSOs in industry parlance — including CuraleafGreen Thumb IndustriesCresco LabsAcreage Holdings, and MedMen.

Azer's top US cannabis pick: Green Thumb Industries. She also likes Curaleaf and Cresco Labs, particularly as these companies balance wholesale and retail revenues.

She put a harsh price target on MedMen — $1.50. While she said the brand has strong equity in the lucrative California market, the company's constant need for cash and rampant spending will hurt it in the longterm. 

Top investors from a cannabis-focused fund and early Juul investor share their 3 best tips for making a successful pitch

Brother-and-sister-duo Morgan and Emily Paxhia know what turns a pitch into funding for a startup.

As the managing partners of Poseidon Asset Management, a cannabis-focused investment firm, the pair have seen — and sat through — tons of pitches of varying quality. The two shared their best pieces of advice for startup founders looking to make a successful pitch in a recent webinar moderated by Business Insider.

Check out their three best tips here

Capital raises, M&A activity, partnerships, and launches Executive moves
  • Canopy Rivers, the VC arm of Canopy Growth, formed a new strategic advisory board. The board includes John Ruffolo, formerly the founder of OMERS Ventures, Meg Lovell, formerly M&A head at Imperial Brands PLC, and Philip Donne, formerly the CEO of Kellogg Canada.
  • Brad Kotansky, a former banker and entrepreneur, joins 4Front as CFO.
  • 48North Cannabis names Alison Gordon as the sole CEO. The company accepted the resignation of Gordon's co-chief executive, Jeannette VanderMarel this week. VanderMarel will stay on as board director.
  • Green Flower Media adds Gil Christie as EVP of Enterprise Solutions & Investor Education. Christie previously founded Fitch Learning. 
  • California cannabis chain Caliva adds Jeffry Allen to its board. The company also adds Joseph Sequenzia as chief marketing officer, Leann Taylor as chief strategy officer, and Drew Kornreich as chief M&A officer.  
Chart of the week

Here's a list of the cannabis companies that are hiring the most this year, from the job recruiting site Indeed. As a reminder, we published a recruiter's guide to landing a job in the cannabis industry last week:

Stories from around the web

Did I miss anything? Have a tip? Just want to chat? Send me a note at jberke@businessinsider.com or find me on twitter @jfberke

Join the conversation about this story »

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WeWork just removed cofounder Rebekah Paltrow Neumann from succession planning and banned her from the board. Meet the former actress, who is CEO Adam Neumann's 'strategic thought partner'

Fri, 09/13/2019 - 3:10pm

  • Rebekah Paltrow Neumann cofounded WeWork in 2010 alongside her husband, Adam Neumann, and Miguel McKelvey.
  • Investor pushback has led WeWork to strip back her influence over the company, including removing her from succession planning in the event of the death of her husband, CEO Adam Neumann, and banning her and members of the Neumann family from serving on the board, a document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission September 13 shows.
  • Paltrow Neumann is the CEO of WeGrow, a private primary school run by the coworking-space company, according to the school's website.
  • The couple has a net worth of at least $4.1 billion, according to Forbes.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Rebekah Paltrow Neumann once wanted to be an actress, she told Fast Company. Later, she became a certified yoga instructor.

She went on to become the chief brand and impact officer of The We Company, which filed to go public in August. However, investor pushback has led WeWork to strip back her influence over the company, including removing her from succession planning in the event of the death of her husband, CEO Adam Neumann, and banning her and members of her family from serving on the board, a document filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission September 13 shows.

Paltrow Neumann cofounded the company — originally known by its most famous business, WeWork — alongside her husband, Adam Neumann, and Miguel McKelvey in 2010. She was also an early employee at the first coworking company Adam Neumann and McKelvey founded, Greendesk, according to Fast Company.

Read more: Before he was a billionaire, WeWork CEO Adam Neumann was broke. Here's the NYC building where he and his wife lived in a tiny apartment before he built a $47 billion company

Ahead of The We Company's initial public offering, Paltrow Neumann has turned her attention to WeGrow, the private primary school run by the company.

Neumann declined to comment through a WeWork representative.

Keep reading for a look at the life of Rebekah Paltrow Neumann.

SEE ALSO: WeWork is about to publicly file its IPO paperwork — here’s how its CEO, Adam Neumann, spends his billions

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MORE ANALYSIS: These are the drastic leadership challenges CEOs like WeWork's Adam Neumann can expect after taking their companies public

Rebekah Paltrow Neumann is described in The We Company's S-1 filing as one of the cofounders and CEO Adam Neumann's "strategic thought partner."

"Rebekah has been a strategic thought partner to Adam since our founding and has actively shaped the mission and strategy of The We Company and its global impact agenda, as well as being the primary voice and leading advocate for the We brand," the filing says.

"Rebekah has never been paid a salary from us," it says.



Paltrow Neumann, 41, is a graduate of Cornell University.

She's a native of Bedford, New York, according to New York magazine.

She majored in business and earned a minor in Buddhism, according to her profile on WeGrow's website.

Paltrow Neumann worked as a trader at the investment bank Salomon Smith Barney before coming to WeWork, Fast Company reported.

She has also dabbled in acting, appearing in several films.



Paltrow Neumann has long had spiritual pursuits — she reportedly once attended the Dalai Lama's birthday party.

Paltrow Neumann has a certification in Jivamukti yoga and has traveled around the world to practice yoga, her profile on WeGrow's website says.

She even once attended a birthday party for the Dalai Lama, according to Fast Company.



Paltrow Neumann is married to the WeWork cofounder Adam Neumann, but they don't try to separate work from their relationship.

"We don't have a line at all between work and life," Paltrow Neumann told Fast Company. "It's not even a blurred line. There is no line."

The couple met in 2009, Business Insider previously reported.

"And he walked in, and I saw that he was my soul mate," she told Fast Company about their first meeting. "It's the truth."



Paltrow Neumann also tries to incorporate the couple's five children in their workplace.

Making her kids feel welcome at WeWork helps Paltrow Neumann balance her career and motherhood, she told Coveteur.

"Kids shouldn't feel like work is something they're not allowed to peek into," she said. "So, for me, the biggest challenge was being able to bring those two worlds together."

Paltrow Neumann also keeps a basket of toys for her kids in her office, according to Coveteur.



Paltrow Neumann has made some controversial comments about her relationship with her husband.

"A big part of being a woman is to help men [like Adam] manifest their calling in life," Paltrow Neumann said at WeWork Summer Camp in 2018, according to Property Week.

WeWork faced backlash on Twitter for Paltrow Neumann's statements, but it declined to comment to CNBC, though it provided more of her remarks from the event for context.

"The reality that I see today is that there is nothing bigger that women can do, in my opinion, than empower their partners," Paltrow Neumann said, WeWork told CNBC, "and that can be a man, a woman, a friend, it doesn't matter, but empower others."

Paltrow Neumann helped her husband quit smoking and drinking soda, tossing his soda and cigarettes down the trash chute of her apartment, they told Fast Company.



After the pair was married, they shared a tiny studio apartment in the East Village.

Adam Neumann discussed his life in the building in an interview with Business Insider's Alyson Shontell and Rich Feloni in May.

A studio apartment in the East Village building was most recently listed for $3,098 a month, and the median monthly rent in the neighborhood was $3,150.

The Neumanns' family office, 166 2nd Financial Services, is named after the building's address, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Read more: Before he was a billionaire, WeWork CEO Adam Neumann was broke. Here's the NYC building where he and his wife lived in a tiny apartment before he built a $47 billion company



The couple now owns several homes in New York.

The Neumanns own a six-bedroom townhouse in New York City's Greenwich Village that has a dedicated "stroller parking garage," according to New York magazine.

They also reportedly own a 60-acre estate in New York's Westchester County. It has a farm where Paltrow Neumann has brought students from WeGrow, according to Fast Company.

The couple's Hamptons home was purchased for $1.7 million, according to New York magazine.

The Neumanns spend most of their time in New York, but in 2018 they purchased a $21 million house in San Francisco that features a room shaped like a guitar.

They also own some of the commercial properties that house WeWork locations, bringing the estimated value of their entire real-estate portfolio to more than $80 million, per The Wall Street Journal.

Read more: WeWork CEO Adam Neumann dropped $21 million on a San Francisco house with a guitar-shaped room in 2018, and that's just part of his sprawling real-estate portfolio



Paltrow Neumann is responsible for WeWork's focus on wellness, according to Fast Company.

"Rebekah said, 'Stop. No more talking about money,' " Adam Neumann told Fast Company in 2016. "We're going to talk about wellness, happiness, fulfillment, and if the money is supposed to follow, it will. And if it doesn't, it doesn't matter, because we will be happy and fulfilled."

The We Company represents one of the most anticipated IPOs of the year, Business Insider reported. The company encompasses the co-living development WeLive, Paltrow Neumann's WeGrow, the gym Rise by We, and the original WeWork coworking business.

In January, the company was privately valued at $47 billion. As of September 13, however, reports indicate WeWork may be seeking a valuation between $10 and $12 billion in its IPO.



The business of wellness runs in Paltrow Neumann's family: She is related to the actress and wellness icon Gwyneth Paltrow.

Gwyneth Paltrow is Paltrow Neumann's cousin, Business Insider previously reported.

The two once even sat down for an interview for Paltrow's lifestyle blog, Goop, to discuss WeGrow.



Paltrow Neumann is now the CEO of WeGrow, a primary school run by WeWork.

She got the idea to add a school to the WeWork network of businesses after being unable to find a school liked her own daughter, she told Goop.

"We had a clear vision of the type of school we wanted her to attend — a place that would not only nurture growth in her mind but also her spirit, a place that had a real culture of kindness, where she would have a real connection to nature, and where her individual gifts, talents, and passions would be recognized and supported," she said.

"Ultimately, we could not find such a place, so we decided to start WeGrow."

Read more: WeWork is just one of the businesses owned by a $47 billion company that could reveal its IPO paperwork any day now — check out the full list



In The We Company's S-1 filing, the Neumanns pledged to give $1 billion to charitable causes.

The S-1 says the first contribution of that sort would be for "the conservation of over 20 million acres of intact tropical forest," the same featured on the final page of the document, pictured here.



WeWork slashed Paltrow Neumann's influence over the company in response to concern from potential investors.

Paltrow Neumann will no longer be involved in succession planning in the event of Adam's death as originally planned, the We Company said in a September 13 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. All members of Adam Neumann's family, including Paltrow Neumann, were also forbidden from serving on WeWork's board. The decisions were made in "in response to market feedback," according to the filing.

The company also reduced Adam Neumann's voting power from 20 times that of an average shareholder to 10 times that of an average shareholder, the filing shows.

WeWork declined to comment to Business Insider on Paltrow Neumann's role in WeWork's succession plan.



Latest fintech industry trends, technologies and research from our ecosystem report

Fri, 09/13/2019 - 3:02pm

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.

In recent years, we've seen a ballooning of activity in fintech — an expansive term applied to technology-driven disruptions in financial services. And 2018 has been no different, with fintechs' staggering influence on the market evidenced by record funding levels for the industry — by Q3 2018, overall funding was already up 82% from 2017’s total figure, according to CB Insights.

Additionally, this year marked a watershed moment for the industry, with the once clear distinction between fintechs and financial services proper now blurred significantly. Virtually every incumbent financial institution (FI) is now looking inward and engaging in an innovation drive, spurred on by competition from fintechs. As such, incumbents are now actively investing in, acquiring, and collaborating with their fintech rivals.

In this report, Business Insider Intelligence details recent developments in fintech funding and regulation that are defining the environment these startups operate in. We also examine the business model changes being employed among different categories of fintechs as they strive to embed themselves further in mainstream finance and prove sustainability. Finally, we consider which elements of the fintech industry are rapidly rubbing off on incumbent financial services providers, and what the future of fintech will look like.

The companies mentioned in this report are: Funding Circle, GreenSky, Transferwise, Ant Financial, Nubank, Cellulant, Oscar Health, Stripe, One97, UiPath, LianLian Pay, Wacai.com, Gusto, Toast, PingPong, Flywire, Deposit Solutions, Root, Robinhood, Atom, N26, Revolut, OneConnect, PolicyBazaar, WeCash, Zurich, OneDegree, Dinghy, Vouch Insurance, Laka, Cleo, Ernit, Monzo, Moneybox, Bud, Tandem, Starling, Varo Money, Square, ING, Chase, AmEx, Amazon, Monese, Betterment, Tiller Investments, West Hill Capital, Square, Ameritrade, JPMorgan, eToro, Lendy, OnDeck, Ripple, Quorom, Chain, Coinbase, Fidelity, Samsung Pay, Google Pay, Apple Pay, Bank of America, TransferGo, Klarna, Western Union, Veriff, Royal Bank of Scotland, Royal Bank of Canada, Facebook, ThreatMetrix, Relx, Entersekt, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank, Gemalto, Lloyd's of London, Kingdom Trust, Aviva, Symbility LINK, eTrade, Allianz, AXA, Broadridge, TD Bank, First Republic Bank, BBVA Compass, Capital One, Silicon Valley Bank, Credit Suisse, Ally, Goldman Sachs.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

  • Fintech funding has already reached new highs globally in 2018, with overall funding hitting $32.6 billion at the end of Q3.
  • Some new regions, including South America and Africa, are emerging on the fintech scene.
  • We've seen considerable scaling in older corners of the fintech ecosystem, including among neobanks and alt lenders.
  • Some fintechs, including a number of insurtechs, have dipped into new markets to escape heightened competition.
  • Emergent areas like blockchain and distributed ledger technology (DLT), as well as digital identity, are gaining traction.
  • Many incumbents are undertaking business transformations that aim to reimagine everything from products and services to front-end systems and back-end processes.

 In full, the report:

  • Details the funding and regulatory landscape in the US, Europe, and Asia.
  • Gives an overview into a number of fintech segments and how they've changed over the past year.
  • Discusses how incumbents are reacting to fintechs in order to stay relevant in the changing financial services sector.
  • Evaluates what the future of fintech will look like and what trends to look out for in the coming year.
Subscribe to a Premium pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to: This report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports Access to all future reports and daily newsletters Forecasts of new and emerging technologies in your industry And more! Learn More

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SEE ALSO: How the largest US financial institutions rank on offering the mobile banking features customers value most

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An analyst that loves Beyond Meat's business still thinks the stock is wildly overpriced — and he's urging traders to sell (BYND)

Fri, 09/13/2019 - 2:52pm

  • Brian Holland, the latest analyst to initiate coverage of Beyond Meat, likes the company but thinks it's overvalued at currently. He's only the second analyst to recommend selling the stock. 
  • He thinks Beyond is overshooting its forecasts for how much market share it can capture from traditional meat. 
  • Still, he likes the potential in plant-based meat and says Beyond Meat has a distinct first mover advantage. 
  • Watch Beyond Meat trade live on Markets Insider.

The latest Wall Street analyst to weigh in on Beyond Meat thinks highly of the company and plant-based meat, but still thinks that at the current price it's a good time to sell. 

Holland initiated coverage in September with an underweight rating a price target of $130, a 15% discount from where Beyond currently trades. Holland says he believes in plant-based meat, just not Beyond's more than $9 billion valuation.

His price target is based off a five-year sales outlook plus a 50% premium to growth staples because of the long runway for plant-based meat. 

"I think it's going to be a tremendous category is going to be one of the fastest growing categories in food," Brian Holland, a senior analyst at D.A. Davidson, told Markets Insider in an interview. "But I think there are limiting factors" to Beyond Meat's growth, he said. 

Wall Street has been very hesitant on Beyond Meat during the short time its traded publicly — the company IPOed in May. Of the 10 analysts that cover the shares, seven have neutral ratings on the company. Only one analyst — Ken Goldman of JPMorgan— has a buy rating on shares. When Holland initiated coverage, he became the second "sell" rating. 

In a recent investor presentation, Beyond Meat spelled out plans to capture 13% of the US market share of traditional meat, about $35 billion of the $270 billion industry in the US. The company arrived at this number by calculating how much of the dairy milk market has been captured by plant-based milk.  

Read more: These are Beyond Meat's 13 highest-profile partnerships in the food industry

But Holland is skeptical that Beyond can woo enough repeat consumers to grow that much. 

"At the end of the day when you sell a food product, you only have the attention span of the consumer for as long as they have your package in their refrigerator or eating your sandwich at a restaurant," Holland said.

After that, its can be difficult to keep consumers engaged. He argues that plant-based milk has been able to do this because there's a solid share of lactose intolerant people in the US, a need for an alternative that Beyond doesn't have. 

There's also healthy competition in the plant-based meat space, and because of that Beyond's valuation "demands higher barriers to entry than do exist here," he said. A number of other companies have recently gotten in the plant-based meat game, including larger food companies such as Tyson Foods, Hormel Foods, and Kellogg.

That said, Holland thinks Beyond Meat has a distinct first-mover advantage in plant-based meat. A majority of the plant-based milk category is controlled by two top players, Holland said, who were early movers — Danone, which owns Silk, and Blue Diamond, which owns Almond Breeze.

Going forward, Holland said that he's open to reevaluating his rating. "I don't think any stock is permanently a buy or sell," he said. If the numbers were revised higher, "we would look at what the math said," Holland said.

He also acknowledged that a deal with McDonald's would change things for Beyond — analysts have said it could boost the stock price as much as 30% and would represent a huge win for the company, which has a lot of partnerships with restaurants.

Beyond Meat's shares are up 516% year to date. 

Join the conversation about this story »

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Jeffrey Epstein reportedly used a murky nonprofit account with Deutsche Bank to reap tax benefits

Fri, 09/13/2019 - 2:28pm

  • Jeffrey Epstein's Gratitude America foundation reported a number of charitable donations since its founding in 2012, but several listed recipients never received the funds, the Wall Street Journal reported.
  • The discrepancy places a greater focus on Deutsche Bank's activities, as it handled Gratitude America's finances. The foundation reported more than $1.8 million in charitable contributions between 2016 and 2017.
  • Banks often watch wealthy clients and their foundations with increased scrutiny, as falsified charitable donations can yield massive tax benefits.
  • Epstein had long been a Deutsche Bank client, and had access to its exclusive Key Client Partners group, according to the WSJ.
  • Visit the Markets Insider homepage for more stories.

Jeffrey Epstein established his Gratitude America foundation in 2012, and a Wall Street Journal report on Thursday detailed how the nonprofit was possibly used to generate tax benefits through suspicious donations.

Gratitude America reportedly made more than $1.8 million in charitable contributions between 2016 and 2017, yet several listed recipients said they never received the funds. The foundation banked with Deutsche Bank, where Epstein had been a customer in its exclusive Key Client Partners group.

Banks tend to monitor wealthy customers' charities with greater scrutiny, as charitable donations can lend massive tax breaks.

The foundation's purpose was to "support the expression of gratitude for the ideals of America," according to its incorporation records. The disgraced financier was listed as the nonprofit's president in its foundation and for several years after, WSJ reported.

Epstein reportedly tried to use the foundation to make a charitable donation to a nonprofit in the US Virgin Islands, where he owns two islands. The payment was made in hopes of resolving a fine from the islands' government, according to the WSJ, citing people familiar with the matter.

Instead of paying the fine, Gratitude America and another Epstein foundation each wrote $160,000 checks out to the St. Thomas Historical Trust, a non-profit based in the islands. Representatives of the St. Thomas Historical Trust told WSJ they never received the checks.

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The Gratitude America check came from a Deutsche Bank account, and both checks were signed by one of Epstein's lawyers. The attorney also served on the foundation's board, and eventually signed a check from the other Epstein foundation to pay the government's fine.

"The representatives of Mr. Epstein would have liked the settlements to include the payments as charitable donations," Virgin Islands planning department spokesman, Jamal Nielsen, told the WSJ. "However, the department rejected the offer. The settlement had to be paid to the department."

Gratitude America listed several other organizations as recipients of charitable donations, but many of them said they never received money from the nonprofit. The foundation's 2017 tax return lists a $15,000 donation to an Elton John charity with the same address as the Elton John AIDS Foundation, yet the charity said it has no record of a contribution from Gratitude America or Epstein.

Epstein's nonprofit also said it made a $75,000 donation to the Cancer Research Wellness Institute in California. Yet a representative with the institute said it never received the money, the WSJ found.

Gratitude America listed 27 charitable donations across its 2016 and 2017 tax returns, WSJ reported. Some listed recipients, such as the Icahn School of Medicine, noted they received contributions from Epstein himself, and not Gratitude America.

Gratitude America was cut off from the bank's services in recent months, according to the WSJ, citing sources familiar with the subject.

Epstein committed suicide in his Manhattan jail cell August 10 while facing charges for federal sex-trafficking. Since then, the investor's finances and relationship with Deutsche Bank have fallen under the purview of an ongoing federal investigation. 

Now read more markets coverage from Markets Insider and Business Insider:

Goldman Sachs slaps Apple with the lowest price target of any major research firm as analysts predict TV+ will eat iPhone profits

Brooklyn Nets guard Spencer Dinwiddie is planning to release a digital token for others to invest in his contract

Goldman Sachs is offering buyouts to encourage partners to leave as CEO David Solomon works to shrink one of the most elite clubs on Wall Street

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NOW WATCH: Stewart Butterfield, co-founder of Slack and Flickr, says 2 beliefs have brought him the greatest success in life

The electricity provider that caused the California wildfires has reached an $11 billion settlement

Fri, 09/13/2019 - 2:16pm

  • PG&E has reached an agreement to pay $11 billion to settle insurance claims over its role in the California wildfires. 
  • The utility company's power lines were blamed for wildfires that ravaged Northern California in 2017 and 2018 and resulted in more than 100 deaths. 
  • Mounting legal claims over the last two years forced PG&E to filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January. 
  • Shares of PG&E rose as much as 10% on the news.

PG&E has reached another major settlement regarding its role in the deadly California wildfires. 

The utility company has agreed to pay $11 billion to settle insurance claims after its power lines were blamed for starting many of the wildfires that ravaged Northern California in 2017 and 2018. Shares of PG&E rose as much as 10% on the news. 

"Today's settlement is another step in doing what's right for the communities, businesses, and individuals affected by the devastating wildfires," Bill Johnson, PG&E's chief executive officer, said in a statement on Friday

Earlier this week the company released a major reorganization plan that allocated $17.9 billion to settle wildfire-related claims. The plan included $8.4 billion for wildfire victims, $8.5 billion to reimburse insurers, and $1 billion for local governments.  

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The settlement announced on Thursday is with about 85% of the insurance companies seeking payouts from PG&E, and the $11 billion total exceeds the $8.4 billion cap the company proposed in its restructuring plan. 

The announcement represents a critical milestone for PG&E as mounting legal claims stemming from the wildfires forced the company to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this year. The new settlement still has to be approved by the bankruptcy court. 

PG&E also paid out a $1 billion settlement in June with 18 towns and local governments regarding fires in 2015, 2017, and 2018.

PG&E's stock price has fallen more than 54% year-to-date. 

Join the conversation about this story »

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REGTECH REVISITED: How the regtech landscape is evolving to address FIs' ever growing compliance needs

Fri, 09/13/2019 - 2:02am

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.

Regtech solutions seemed to offer the solution to financial institutions' (FIs) compliance woes when they first came to prominence around 24 months ago, gaining support from regulators and investors alike. 

However, many of the companies offering these solutions haven't scaled as might have been expected from the initial hype, and have failed to follow the trajectory of firms in other segments of fintech.

This unexpected inertia in the regtech industry is likely to resolve over the next 12-18 months as other factors come into play that shift FIs' approach to regtech solutions, and as the companies offering them evolve. External factors driving this change include regulatory support of regtech solutions, and consultancies offering more help to FIs wanting to sift through solutions. Startups offering regtech solutions will also play a part by partnering with each other, forming industry organizations, and taking advantage of new opportunities.

This report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, provides a brief overview of the current global financial regulatory compliance landscape, and the regtech industry's position within it. It then details the major drivers that will shift the dial on FIs' adoption of regtech over the next 12-18 months, as well as those that will propel startups offering regtech solutions to new heights. Finally, it outlines what impact these drivers will have, and gives insight into what the global regtech industry will look like by 2020.

Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • Regulatory compliance is still a significant issue faced by global FIs. In 2018 alone, EU regulations MiFID II and PSD2 have come into effect, bringing with them huge handbooks and gigantic reporting requirements. 
  • Regtech startups boast solutions that can ease FIs' compliance burden — but they are struggling to scale. 
  • Some changes expected to drive greater adoption of these solutions in the next 12 to 18 months are: the ongoing evolution of startups' business models, increasing numbers of partnerships, regulators' promotion of regtech, changing attitudes to the segment among FIs, and consultancies helping to facilitate adoption.
  • FIs will actively be using solutions from regtech startups by 2020, and startups will be collaborating in an organized fashion with each other and with FIs. Global regulators will have adopted regtech themselves, while continuing to act as advocates for the industry.

In full, the report:

  • Reviews the major changes expected to hit the regtech segment in the next 12 to 18 months.
  • Examines the drivers behind these changes, and how the proliferation of regtech will improve compliance for FIs.
  • Provides our view on what the future of the regtech industry looks like through 2020. Get The Regtech Revisited Report

     

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Airbus is introducing a feature on its new planes to track everything you do, including how often you use the bathroom

Fri, 09/13/2019 - 1:12am

  • Airbus is trialing a new Internet of Things platform on its A350-900 test plane, which connects elements of the plane, including the seats, overhead bins, meal trolleys, and lavatories, to passengers and crews aboard the plane. 
  • The company says data collected from the new Airbus Connected Experience system will be uploaded to its "Skywise" cloud service and could provide aviation companies with a trove of customer data, including meal preferences, in-flight purchases, and even bathroom habits. 
  • The company says the digital connectivity of their new system will create a more personalized experience for passengers and will allow for more efficient communication with flight crews. 
  • The company hopes to roll out of technology not only on its test aircraft, but also on its fleet of A321 planes in 2021, and its larger A350 series in 2023, according to Bloomberg
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Airbus aircraft are about to get a whole lot smarter. 

The aviation company announced on Wednesday that it has begun in-flight trials of its newest cabin technology, which connects passengers and crew to elements of the plane including the seats, cargo, and even the lavatories. 

Airbus first unveiled plans for its Connected Experience at the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) Expo last year. The Internet of Things (IoT) platform links real-time information from cabin components, including the meal trolleys and overhead bins, to crews and passengers aboard the flight in order to create a more personalized — and digitally traceable — experience. 

According to a company press release, the data consolidated from the platform will be uploaded to the "Skywise" cloud service, an open data platform developed by Airbus for the aviation industry.

According to Airbus, the platform provides significant benefits for flight crews, which will allow them to access information like meal and seat preferences in one place, and could facilitate remote communication with those on board. For passengers, the system allows for a more personalized travel experience, while airlines would be able to utilize aggregated cabin equipment trends (say, for example, which lavatory is most frequently used during a flight) to perform "predictive maintenance" on cabin elements. 

Read more: This futuristic Airbus smart seat prototype may make the future of economy flying a bit less miserable

Overhead bins, the company says, could be linked to sensors which indicate to passengers which spaces are free.

The company has begun trialing the smart system and connected cabin components on its A350-900 Flight Lab aircraft based at its Hamburg facility, claiming it is the first aircraft manufacturer to carry out such testing.

These include an iSeat by Recaro, which comes outfitted with sensors in the armrest, backrest and tray table, a connected galley area, and a remote wireless cabin management system.

Airbus A320 Smart Cabin Reconfiguration "Flex Seat" demo at @recaro_de's #AIX17 booth. Up for a Crystal Cabin Award tmrw night @aix_expo! pic.twitter.com/Qpb86vK57x

— APEX (@theAPEXassoc) April 3, 2017

 

According to APEX, the company is also testing smart cameras outside the lavatories to measure passenger wait times.

Ingo Wuggetzer, Airbus's vice president of cabin marketing, said Tuesday at the aviation trade show in Los Angeles that the technology could help flight attendants measure when someone inside the lavatory may need assistance, Bloomberg reported. 

According to Bloomberg, each seat will signal green when the seatbelt is fastened, and red when unbuckled. The goal of the system, it says, is to make boarding and in-flight security checks more efficient. The company hopes to roll out the technology not only on its test aircraft, but also on its fleet of A321 planes in 2021, and its larger A350 series in 2023.

"It's not a concept, it's not a dream: It's reality," Wuggetzer said. 

SEE ALSO: Airbus says it has the technology to fly planes with no pilots, but the challenge will be convincing people to get on them

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Officials just confirmed 6 deaths and 380 cases of serious lung disease tied to vaping. Here are all the health risks you should know about.

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 6:34pm

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration are investigating a spate of lung illnesses tied to vaping, or using e-cigarettes.
  • According to new numbers released on Thursday, there have been 380 confirmed and probable cases of illness across the US since June. Six people have died.
  • Investigators don't know the cause. They haven't identified a single common brand, product, or drug across all of the cases.
  • The mysterious lung disease isn't the only risk of vaping. Read on to see how vaping affects your health.
  • Still, when compared against smoking, vaping nicotine appears to be healthier.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Since June, 380 Americans have been struck down with lung illnesses tied to vaping, or using e-cigarettes. Six people have died.

The new figures, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday, reflect a slightly lower figure than the previous estimates. They now reflect only confirmed and probable cases, rather than possible cases.

Vaping is a highly variable hobby, however, making it difficult for officials to determine exactly what's causing the illnesses and deaths.

Investigators have not yet identified a single common brand, device type, or drug across the cases. That could mean that all of the illnesses were triggered by the same issue, or that some of the cases are different diseases with some similar symptoms.

The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration are working together to figure out the potential causes.

The agencies have said they've gathered about 120 vaping devices and substances that may be linked to the illnesses, and are currently studying them. 

"It is too early to pinpoint a single product or substance common to all cases," CDC said in a statement last Friday. CDC said that some patients used devices containing nicotine, while others vaped THC, and some vaped both substances.

Some reports have suggested that vitamin E acetate, which has been found in some of the products, may play a role in the illnesses. 

Read more: Vaping is leading to a spate of lung injuries, comas, and death. Lung experts say oils like vitamin E may be partially to blame.

The CDC advised people to consider not vaping until it can figure out the cause of the illnesses. The agency also warned smokers who vape to not return to smoking, however.

So far, the available evidence still suggests that when compared to smoking, vaping is a healthier habit. The practice involves inhaling heated vapor, rather than burned material. In general, vapers are believed to be exposed to fewer toxicants and cancer-causing substances than smokers. 

To help prevent young people from vaping, Michigan said last week that it would ban flavored vaping products, making it the first state to do so.

There are hundreds of different kinds of vaping devices

There's an enormous amount of variety when it comes to vaping devices, ingredients, and brands — making it difficult to pinpoint any single cause.

First, there are the all-in-one style devices, where all of the necessary pieces are contained in the device itself. These popular e-cigs are sold under brand names like Juul and Blu (for nicotine), and Pax (for cannabis).

Then there are the modifiable tank-based e-cigs, in which pieces of the device can be bought separately, and users can customize everything from the temperature of the device to the drug ingredients. These modifiable setups have been linked with dangers in the past, including at least two deaths.

Finally, there are the ingredients that go into the devices, which can range from waxes to liquids to ground plant matter. Some devices allow users to pour in their own liquid or stuff in their own wax or herbs, while other devices simply include disposable pre-filled cartridges.

In some of the cases reported to health agencies, users said they were vaping cannabis when their illness occurred. In Oregon, health officials said they had received reports that the person who died had been vaping cannabis. But because marijuana is still illegal in many states, it's possible that those cases are under-reported. Other vapers in the reports have been using only nicotine.

In many of the cases, patients said they experienced a gradual start of symptoms like trouble breathing, shortness of breath, and chest pain before they were brought to the hospital. Some people said they also experienced stomach issues including vomiting and diarrhea.

A new practice with several unknowns

Vaping is a relatively new practice, having only became popular within the past decade. Because of its novelty, researchers have warned that there's a lot we still don't know about how the practice impacts the brain and body.

"Given their relatively recent introduction, there has been little time for a scientific body of evidence to develop on the health effects of e-cigarettes," the authors of a large recent report on the overall health effects of vaping wrote.

Recently-discovered health risks range from a heightened exposure to toxic metals to a potentially higher risk of a heart attack.

Last spring, for example, researchers examining the vapors in several popular e-cigarette brands found evidence that they contained some of the same toxic metals normally found in conventional cigarettes, such as lead. They also found evidence suggesting that at least some of those toxins were making their way through vapers' bodies. Their results were published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Consistently inhaling high levels of toxic metals has been tied to health problems in the lungs, liver, immune system, heart, and brain, as well as some cancers, according to the US Department of Labor's Occupational Health and Safety Administration. 

In a study published last fall in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, scientists found evidence tying daily e-cigarette use to an increased risk of a heart attack. Still, the study could not conclude that vaping caused the heart attacks — only that the two were linked.

When it comes to the spate of recent lung illnesses, health departments are further investigating by testing e-cigarette products and samples they've collected from patients.

But vaping seems to have helped hook millions of teens on nicotine 

Separately, vaping appears to have helped hook lots of new young people on nicotine — in some cases, young people who otherwise would not have smoked.

E-cigarettes have been tied to a large recent jump in smoking among middle school and high school students. From 2017 to 2018, the percentage of teens who said they'd used e-cigs jumped 78%, according to the CDC.

Because they contain nicotine, e-cigarettes are especially dangerous for kids and teens whose brains are still developing, experts say. In young people, nicotine appears to blunt emotional control as well as decision-making and impulse-regulation skills. That most likely helped prompt a warning about e-cigs from the US surgeon general in December.

The rise in youth vaping prompted a crackdown on the industry led by the FDA. The agency responded by curbing the sale of flavored e-cigs, which they've said are particularly appealing to young people.

"Ultimately, we expect these steps designed to address flavors and protect youth will dramatically limit the ability of kids to access tobacco products we know are both appealing and addicting," Scott Gottlieb, who was then FDA commissioner, said in a statement at the time.

This article was published on August 30 and has been updated.

SEE ALSO: 11 key findings from one of the most comprehensive reports ever on the health effects of vaping

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The companies disrupting the payments industry in major markets through digital

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 6:00pm

This is a preview of the Global Payments Landscape report from Business Insider Intelligence. Current subscribers can read the report  here.

  • Noncash payments are on the rise worldwide.
  • As new players emerge to capitalize on consumer appetite for digital payment methods, three mature markets — the UK, Australia, and Sweden — have become standouts for what a more cashless society could look like.
  • The UK, Australia, and Sweden are transitioning to digital particularly well, and can serve as a roadmap for other mature markets seeking to overcome the legacy channel of cash.

Noncash payments have been gaining popularity around the world for the last decade. And though cash isn’t anywhere near dead, its global growth is slowing as consumers turn to emerging cashless alternatives.

But there are a few key markets - Australia, Sweden, and the UK - where annual noncash payments have already surpassed traditional cash transactions altogether — and they’re stong early indicators of what a truly cashless society could look like.

Why are digital payments on the rise?

The growing adoption of noncash payments is a direct result of the rise of e-commerce, but that’s not the only factor. Consumers today are adaptable to disruptive technologies and are generally open to trying new types of digital payment methods.

This consumer appetite is compounded by their access to infrastructure, as well as the emergence of government-backed initiatives, such as real-time transfers and the backing of electronic currencies, that make digital payments more enticing to both consumers and merchants.

How are Australia, Sweden, and the UK driving the world towards cashless payments?

Australia, Sweden, and the UK are emblematic of opportunities for payments players to lead the world away from cash. The Global Payments Landscape from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, provides a snapshot of the payments industry in each of these three markets.

The report shows that several leading payments players have already emerged or are dominant within each of these regions — and they’re finding success in different ways. For other mature markets seeking to overcome the legacy channel of cash, the digital transformations of Australia, Sweden, and the UK can serve as a roadmap.

Here are the strategies these regions are implementing in the race to become the world’s first cashless society:

  • Australia is launching government initiatives and instating new regulations. The Australian government has banned purchases over AU$10,000 ($7,500) from being made in cash, as well as launched the New Payments Platform (NPP) to allow real-time funds transfer as a means of replacing transactions typically made in cash, such as paying back a friend.
  • In Sweden, consumers are rapidly abandoning cash in favor of cards. In fact, only 2% of the total value of transactions in Sweden consist of cash — a figure that’s expected to decline to less than half a percent by 2020.
  • Contactless payments are leading the shift away from cash in the UK. Nearly the entire population has a debit card, and debit card transactions surpassed cash payments for the first time at the end of 2017. This milestone was largely fueled by the surge in contactless cards, which grew 97% annually last year to hit 5.6 billion transactions.

Want to Learn More?

The Global Payments Landscape from Business Insider Intelligence compiles various payments snapshots, together illustrating how digital payment methods are supplementing or replacing cash in each market.

Each snapshot provides an overview of the payments industry in a particular country, and details the evolution of its development. They also highlight notable payments players in each region and discuss the opportunities and challenges that players are facing in their respective markets.

Get The Global Payments Landscape

 

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WeWork is debating whether to take power away from Adam and Rebekah Neumann, its husband and wife cofounders, to get its IPO back on track

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 5:43pm

WeWork is considering curtailing the power of CEO Adam Neumann and his wife, Rebekah Neumann, in an effort to get its initial public offering back on track, The Financial Times reported Thursday.

Neumann dominates the company, thanks in part to holding special stock that gives him 20 votes per share. The company's investors, advisors, and executives are deliberating whether to reduce his voting power, among other possible corporate governance reforms, according to The Financial Times.

Under WeWork's corporate bylaws, Rebekah Neumann is one of three people who would decide on her husband's successor if he should die or become incapacitated within 10 years of the company's IPO. One of the other changes the real estate giant is debating is whether to remove her from that role, The Financial Times reported.

Company representatives did not immediately respond to an email from Business Insider seeking comment.

WeWork has been struggling to line up potential investors for its planned public offering. Neumann's control over the company and a series of transactions involving him or his relatives have raised eyebrows. Investors and analysts have also raised concerns about the company valuation and financial stability.

Read this: Here's how WeWork answered the 5 biggest questions about its business — and why analysts are still worried about its upcoming IPO

In its last private funding round in January, WeWork was valued at $47 billion. But it's now considering going public with a market capitalization of as little as $15 billion, according to The Financial Times.

Got a tip about WeWork or another company? Contact this reporter via email at twolverton@businessinsider.com, message him on Twitter @troywolv, or send him a secure message through Signal at 415.515.5594. You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.

SEE ALSO: WeWork reportedly hired the parents of a high-ranking exec as real estate brokers for a Miami lease, among other potential conflicts of interest

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How banking-as-a-service (BaaS) works and industry outlook

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 5:32pm
  • Business Insider Intelligence is launching its brand new Banking coverage in early September.
  • To obtain a free preview of our Banking Briefing, please click here.

Across industries, digital transformation is democratizing data to enable greater transparency. New technologies are opening up legacy systems to emerging startups and third parties and, in some cases, putting data directly in the hands of consumers.

In financial services, Banking-as-a-Service (BaaS) platforms have surfaced as a key component of open banking, in which banks provide more financial transparency options for account holders by opening their application programming interfaces (APIs) for third parties to develop new services.

Fintechs have been encroaching on incumbent institutions in the banking game — but by moving into the BaaS space, tech-savvy legacy banks can turn this looming threat into an opportunity.

What is banking-as-a-service?

BaaS is an end-to-end process that allows fintechs and other third parties to connect with banks' systems directly via APIs so they can build banking offerings on top of the providers' regulated infrastructure, as well as unlock the open banking opportunity reshaping the global financial services landscape.

Techy-savvy legacy banks can fend off the encroaching threat of fintechs by moving into the BaaS space to share their data and infrastructure. In a matter of years, access to this level of information will become table stakes for digitally native customers — so banks that begin now will be ahead of the curve, and likely rewarded with high demand.

How does banking-as-a-service work?

The BaaS process begins with a fintech or other third-party provider (TPP) paying a fee to access the BaaS platform. The financial institution opens its APIs to the TPP, thereby granting access to the systems and information necessary to build new banking products or offer white label banking services. 

In addition to getting ahead in open banking, legacy institutions that launch their own BaaS platforms are also opening up new revenue streams. The two main monetization strategies for BaaS include charging clients a monthly fee for access to the BaaS platform or charging a la carte for each service used.

Top banking-as-a-service companies

Here are the top BaaS platform providers broken out into purely BaaS-focused fintech players and retail banks that have launched their own BaaS platforms:

Pure BaaS providers:

  • solarisBank
  • Bankable
  • Treezor
  • 11:FS Foundry
  • Cambr
  • ClearBank

BaaS providers with B2C operations:

  • Starling Bank
  • Fidor Bank
  • BBVA
Banking-as-a-service industry outlook

A number of countries have already begun introducing open banking regulations, indicating that the financial services industry is moving toward an era where shared data and infrastructure will become consumers' new expectations.

Tech-savvy legacy banks that create their own BaaS platforms now will not only get ahead of the open banking opportunity before their competitors, but also unlock a new stream of revenue by monetizing their platforms. 

In the UK, the new revenue potential generated through open banking-enabled small- and medium-sized business and retail customer propositions was £500 million ($700 million) in 2018, per PwC — and Business Insider Intelligence expects that to grow at a 25% compound annual growth rate to reach £1.9 billion ($2 billion) by 2024.

Beyond adding a new revenue stream, developing a BaaS solution also allows legacy banks to establish relationships and forge partnerships with emerging fintechs — thereby keeping themselves ahead of the trends that will inevitably follow once BaaS and open banking become mainstream.

To stay on top of today's (and tomorrow's) digital trends, Business Insider Intelligence is launching Banking, our newest research coverage area tailored for decision-makers in the financial services industry. 

This new offering is designed to keep you up to date on the biggest industry shifts and shakeups, with coverage including BaaS and open banking, consumer and business banking, mobile and online banking, digital account opening, and neobanks.

Click here to obtain an exclusive FREE preview of Banking!

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