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Having a Delta credit card gets you priority boarding every time you fly the airline — here's what you need to know

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 4:36pm

Personal Finance Insider writes about products, strategies, and tips to help you make smart decisions with your money. Business Insider may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

Each of Delta's three main credit cards — the Gold Delta SkyMilesPlatinum Delta SkyMiles, and Delta Reserve cards — offer a few useful travel benefits for cardholders when they fly Delta. One of those benefits is priority boarding for the cardholder and any travel companions on the same reservation.

At a time when seemingly everyone tries to avoid checking bags — even if they can get checked-bag fees waived — overhead bin space for carry-on bags is in hot demand. By boarding early, you can avoid having to compete for space and store your bag close to your seat. Plus, you'll have extra time to settle in for your flight.

Taking advantage of Delta's priority-boarding benefit is easy.

When you apply for a Delta American Express card, you're prompted to enter your Delta SkyMiles number. From that point on, as long as the card is open, the benefits are tied to your SkyMiles account.

After that, every time you check in for a flight, your boarding pass will show boarding zone 1. Zone 1 is after most Delta elite frequent flyers and extra-legroom passengers, but it is usually within the first half of passengers to board. The same will apply for anyone else on the same reservation with you.

The key is making sure that you're on the same reservation. If you book separately, your travel companions won't have access to priority boarding or free checked bags unless they have their own Delta credit card (or hold the elite Medallion status).

Just remember to log in to your Delta account when booking tickets. If you're booking through a third-party portal, such as Expedia, enter your Delta number during the booking process.

If, for some reason, your boarding pass shows a lower zone, just show your card to the check-in agent, who should be able to fix it.

Learn more: 8 lucrative credit-card deals new cardholders can get this month — including up to 75,000 Delta SkyMiles

If you're thinking about getting a Delta AmEx credit card, now is the perfect time. All three cards are offering limited-time welcome bonuses that match the highest-ever publicly offered bonuses.

The Gold Delta SkyMiles card offers 60,000 Delta SkyMiles when you spend $2,000 in the first three months. The Platinum version is offering 75,000 SkyMiles and 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles when you spend $3,000 in the first three months. Delta's premium card, the Delta Reserve, is also offering 75,000 miles and 5,000 Medallion Qualification Miles, although you'll need to spend $5,000 in the first three months.

$95 annual fee: Click here to learn more about the Gold Delta SkyMiles card from Business Insider's partner: The Points Guy. $195 annual fee: Click here to learn more about the Platinum Delta SkyMiles card from Business Insider's partner: The Points Guy. $450 annual fee: Click here to learn more about the Delta Reserve card from Business Insider's partner: The Points Guy.

SEE ALSO: The best credit card rewards, bonuses, and benefits of 2019

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Elon Musk says he owes his success to a 3-step problem-solving trick used by Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 4:35pm

  • It's easy to link Elon Musk's rapid success, ability to solve unsolvable problems, and genius-level creativity to his incredible work ethic.
  • But during a one-on-one interview with TED curator Chris Anderson, Musk attributed to his genius-level creativity and success to a method of reasoning called first principles.
  • First-principles thinking works like this: First, you identify and define your assumptions; then, you break down the problem into its fundamental principles; and, lastly, you create new solutions from scratch.

By the age of 46, Elon Musk has innovated and built three revolutionary multibillion-dollar companies in different fields — Paypal (financial services), Tesla (automotive), and SpaceX (aerospace).

This list doesn't include Solar City (energy), which he helped build and acquired for $2.6 billion.

At first glance, it's easy to link his rapid success, ability to solve unsolvable problems, and genius-level creativity to his incredible work ethic.

Musk himself said that he worked 100 hours a week for over 15 years and recently scaled down to 85 hours. Rumor also has it that he doesn't even take lunch breaks, multitasking between eating, meetings, and responding to emails all at the same time.

No doubt work ethic plays an important role in unlocking your inner creative genius and becoming the best at what you do — but there's more to this — there are extremely hardworking people who still make little progress in life and die before sharing their best work with the world.

What, then, is this missing link for innovative creativity and accelerated success?

Just like Musk, some of the most brilliant minds of all-time — Aristotle, Euclid, Thomas Edison, Feynman, and Nikola Tesla — use this missing link for accelerated learning, solving difficult problems, and creating great work in their lifetime.

This missing link has little to do with how hard they work. It has everything to do with how they think.

Let's talk about how you can use this genius problem solving method.

First-principles thinking

During a one-on-one interview with TED curator Chris Anderson, Musk revealed this missing link, which he attributes to his genius-level creativity and success. It's called reasoning from first principles.

Musk: Well, I do think there's a good framework for thinking. It is physics. You know, the sort of first-principles reasoning. Generally, I think there are — what I mean by that is, boil things down to their fundamental truths and reason up from there, as opposed to reasoning by analogy.

Through most of our life, we get through life by reasoning by analogy, which essentially means copying what other people do with slight variations.

First-principles thinking is basically the practice of actively questioning every assumption you think you know about a given problem or scenario, and then creating new knowledge and solutions from scratch. Almost like a newborn baby.

On the flip side, reasoning by analogy is building knowledge and solving problems based on prior assumptions, beliefs, and widely held "best practices" approved by majority of people.

Essentially, first-principles thinking will help you develop a unique worldview to innovate and solve difficult problems in a way that nobody else can even fathom.

Here's how you can quickly use this in three simple steps recommended by Musk himself.

Step 1: Identify and define your assumptions.

"If I had an hour to solve a problem, I'd spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and 5 minutes thinking about solutions." —Albert Einstein

Here are some examples from everyday life in business, health, and craft.

"Growing my business will cost a lot of money."

"I have to struggle and starve to become a successful artist."

"I just can't find enough time to work out and reach my weight-loss goals."

When next you're faced with a familiar problem or challenge, simply write down your assumptions about them. (You can stop here and write these down now.)

Step 2: Break down the problem into its fundamental principles.

"It is important to view knowledge as sort of semantic tree. Make sure you understand the fundamental principles, i.e., the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to." —Elon Musk

These fundamental principles are basically the most basic truths or elements of anything.

The best way to uncover these truths is to ask powerful questions that uncover these ingenious gems.

Here's a quick example from Musk during an interview with Kevin Rose on how this works:

Somebody could say, "Battery packs are really expensive and that's just the way they will always be. Historically, it has cost $600 per kilowatt hour. It's not going to be much better than that in the future."

With first principles you say, "What are the material constituents of the batteries? What is the stock-market value of the material constituents?" It's got cobalt, nickel, aluminum, carbon, some polymers for separation, and a seal can. Break that down on a material basis and say, "If we bought that on the London Metal Exchange, what would each of those things cost?"

It's like $80 per kilowatt hour. So clearly you just need to think of clever ways to take those materials and combine them into the shape of a battery cell and you can have batteries that are much, much cheaper than anyone realizes.

This is classic first-principles thinking in action.

Instead of following the socially accepted beliefs that battery packs were expensive, Musk challenges these beliefs by asking powerful questions that uncover the basic truths or elements, e.g., carbon, nickel, aluminium. Then he creates ingenious innovative solutions from scratch.

Step 3: Create solutions from scratch.

"The person who says he knows what he thinks but cannot express it usually does not know what he thinks." —Mortimer Adler

Once you've identified and broken down your problems or assumptions into their most basic truths, you can begin to create new insightful solutions from scratch.

Here are three simple everyday examples of how this works (steps one through three).

Assumption: "Growing my business will cost too much money."

First-principles thinking:

What do you need to grow a profitable business? I need to sell products or services to more customers.

Does it have to cost a lot of money to sell to new customers? Not necessarily, but I'll probably need access to these new customers inexpensively.

Who has this access and how you can create a win-win deal? I guess I could partner with other businesses that serve the same customer and split the profits 50-50.

Assumption: "I just can't find enough time to work out and reach my weight-loss goals."

First-principles thinking:

What do you really need to reach your weight-loss goal? I need to exercise more, preferably five days a week for an hour each time.

Could you still lose weight exercising less frequently? If so, how? Possibly, I could try 15-minute workouts, three days a week. These could be quick, high-intensity full-body workouts that will speed up my fat loss in less time.

Assumption: "I have to struggle and starve to become a successful artist."

First-principles thinking:

What do you really need to create great work and make a good living as an artist? I would need a reasonably sized audience that will appreciate and buy my artwork.

What do you need to reach a larger audience? I probably need to do some marketing, but I don't like self-promoting, so I'd rather not do this.

OK, is there any way for you to promote your work without being sleazy? Yes, if the focus of selling my artwork is meaningful with a purpose of serving the audience, then I could make more money to make more art, so I can serve more people.

Think differently

Usually, when we're faced with complex problems, we default to thinking like everybody else. First-principles thinking is a powerful way to help you break out of this herd mentality, think outside the box, and innovate brand-new solutions to familiar problems.

By identifying your assumptions, breaking these down into their basic truths, and creating solutions from scratch, you can uncover these ingenious solutions to complex problems and make unique contributions.

Mayo Oshin writes at MayoOshin.com, where he shares practical ideas at the intersection of science, art, and philosophy, for better thinking and decision-making. You can join his free weekly newsletter here.

SEE ALSO: Bill Gates says he's happier at 63 than he was at 25 because he does 4 simple things

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The best credit card rewards, bonuses, and benefits of 2019

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 4:04pm

Personal Finance Insider writes about products, strategies, and tips to help you make smart decisions with your money. Business Insider may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

  • Credit cards with good rewards programs and great new member offers make it easier than ever to rack up a lot of points.
  • The best credit card in 2019 remains the Chase Sapphire Reserve, the reigning champ since its release in 2019, because it has a great sign-up bonus and a travel rewards system that makes it easy to collect points.
  • A close second is the American Express® Gold Card, which has a lower annual fee, lucrative dining and supermarket rewards, and various statement credits to offset its annual fee.
  • Also worth considering: the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, which has a lower annual fee than the beefier Sapphire Reserve, but an even higher sign-up bonus.

Since the 2016 launch of the Sapphire Reserve credit card by J.P. Morgan Chase, rewards credit cards have exploded into a mainstream obsession. 

This was particularly evident among Millennials and Gen X-ers, as they jumped into the once-obscure world of credit card rewards and bonuses, drawn by the lure of high sign-up bonuses, special perks, and the opportunity to use points for free flights, hotel stays, and even first class tickets.

Now, more than two years after the debut of the Sapphire Reserve, what’s the best move for someone seeking to boost their stock of credit card points and frequent flyer miles? Here are some of the top credit cards currently available, based on sign-up bonuses, rewards earned on everyday spending, benefits, and overall value.

But first, a word of warning: Credit cards play a big role in maintaining a healthy credit profile and score. Make sure you’re aware of the impact that opening a new card can have, especially if you’re planning to apply for a mortgage or finance a major purchase anytime soon.

It’s also important to practice financial discipline when targeting credit card rewards — paying your balances off in full each month, making payments on time, and not spending more than you can afford to pay is the best course of action. After all, interest and late charges can cancel out the value you get from your rewards.

Here are the best credit card rewards and sign-up bonuses:

Updated on 03/21/2019 by David Slotnick: Added info on the best credit card rewards.

Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.

SEE ALSO: The best men's wallets you can buy

DON'T MISS: The best women's wallets you can buy

Chase Sapphire Reserve

Why you'll love it: Chase Sapphire Reserve makes it easy to earn rewards for travel and more with a great sign-up bonus.

Sign-up Bonus: 50,000 points (after spending $4,000 in the first three months)

The huge introductory bonus might have made way for a smaller incentive, but the Chase Sapphire Reserve card is still a great card to keep in your wallet. Earning 3x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar spent on dining and any travel, and 1x point per dollar on everything else, the Sapphire Reserve earns points quickly through your everyday spending, and it comes with a slew of perks. 

While there are a few different ways to use Chase points, there are usually two options to get the best value: Points are worth 1.5¢ each towards travel booked through Chase, but can also be transferred to a number of frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs — typically, this gets you the most value for your points.

Benefits include access to airport lounges through the Priority Pass network, trip delay coverage, purchase protection, a Global Entry or TSA PreCheck credit, and car rental primary coverage.

However, while the airport lounge access can be great, most Priority Pass lounges are in international terminals, which isn't helpful when you're flying domestically. If you find lounge access crucial, you should consider the Amex Platinum, which offers superior lounge access within the US.

The Sapphire Reserve's annual fee is a hefty $450, but that’s offset by a $300 travel credit each year, good for things like taxis, subway fare, parking, tolls, and flights.

There aren’t many downsides to this card — besides the up front annual fee. Chase has invested heavily in making the Ultimate Rewards program competitive. Booking flights by transferring points to frequent flyer partners is generally more lucrative — that’s usually how people use points to fly in first and business class — but it can be complicated because you have to decipher award charts, find availability, and work around complicated airline rules. 

However, because the Sapphire Reserve allows you to get 1.5¢ for each point, if you use them to book travel through Chase’s online or phone travel agent, there’s a simpler and still-valuable option. 

Pros: Solid sign-up bonus, easy to earn points, points work with frequent flier and hotel loyalty programs, good airport benefits

Cons: High annual fee, Priority Pass lounges are typically in international terminals 

Click here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve from Insider Picks' partner: The Points Guy. Read more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve:



American Express Gold Card

Why you'll love it: The American Express Gold Card offers generous rewards on dining and groceries.

Welcome offer: 25,000 points (after spending $2,000 in the first three months). If you apply by January 9, 2019: Get up 20% back at US restaurants within the first three months, up to $100 total.

This fall, American Express refreshed its old Premier Rewards Gold Card, rebranding it simply as the American Express Gold Card. It also totally overhauled the rewards and benefits on the new Gold Card, making it one of the most exciting — and valuable — cards of 2018.

The new Gold Card earns a massive 4x points at US restaurants and on up to $25,000 per year at US supermarkets (and 1x point after that), 3x points on flights booked directly through the airline, 2x points on hotels booked and prepaid through AmEx Travel, and 1x point on everything else.

Based on the fact that you can easily redeem Membership Rewards points for more than 1¢ of value each when you transfer them to frequent flyer partners, that makes this one of the highest-earning available cards for everything food-related.

The Gold Card also offers up to $120 of dining credits per year, broken into chunks of $10 each month. Credits are good for purchases through food delivery services Seamless and GrubHub, and at The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Steak House, or participating Shake Shack locations.

Additionally, the card offers a $100 airline fee credit each calendar year, which is good for things like checked bags, on-board food and drinks, seat reservations, seat upgrades, lounge day passes, and more.

The two credits — together worth $220 — are almost enough to offset the card's $250 annual fee even before factoring in the value of the rewards you'll earn.

While it's difficult to assign an exact value to Membership Rewards points, since the value can vary significantly based on how you redeem them, travel website The Points Guy subjectively estimates each point as worth 1.9¢. That makes the welcome bonus worth $575 — $475 for the points, and up to $100 back from restaurants. Keep in mind some people may be targeted for a higher welcome offer.

The new card comes in a chic metal design, and until January 9th, you can request a limited-edition Rose Gold version.

Pros: Fantastic rewards on dining and groceries, statement credits and benefits to offset the annual fee.

Cons: You'll have to pay the $250 annual fee before you get the value back from the credits, smaller sign-up bonus, only 1¢ per point of value unless you transfer points to an airline.

Click here to learn more about the AmEx Gold Card from Insider Picks' partner: The Points Guy. Read more about the AmEx Gold Card:



Chase Sapphire Preferred

Why you'll love it: Chase Sapphire Preferred has a higher sign-up bonus and lower annual fee than the Sapphire Reserve, and it's easy to rack up points.

Sign-up Bonus: 60,000 points (after spending $4,000 in the first three months)

The Reserve’s older sibling, the Sapphire Preferred offers a number of similar features and a higher sign-up bonus for a lower annual fee. The card earns 2x Ultimate Rewards points instead of the Reserve’s 3x points on dining and travel, and 1x point on everything else.

Points are worth a lower 1.25¢ on travel booked through Chase, but can still be transferred to frequent flyer and hotel loyalty programs. There’s no annual travel credit, but there’s still car rental primary coverage, as well as slightly less-generous trip delay coverage and purchase protection. The annual fee is a more manageable $95.

While the Sapphire Preferred was the all-around best card for a long time, the Sapphire Reserve has made it a harder choice. Although the Preferred has a lower annual fee and higher initial bonus, it earns fewer points on bonus spending categories than the Reserve, and the value of the points on travel booked through Chase is less.

The no-hassle travel credit on the Sapphire Reserve makes the annual fee on that card effectively $150 (accounting for the $300 you get back through the credit), so — depending on your spending habits — it can be worth paying more up front for the Sapphire Reserve

Pros: Good sign-up bonus, transferable points, travel perks, lower annual fee than the Sapphire Reserve card (and it's waived the first year)

Cons: Lower point value when purchasing travel through Chase, no annual travel credit, earns points more slowly than the Sapphire Reserve

Click here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred from Insider Picks' partner: The Points Guy. Read more about the Chase Sapphire Preferred:



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

The Payment Industry Ecosystem: The trend towards digital payments and key players moving markets

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 3:08pm

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

The digitization of daily life is making phones and connected devices the preferred payment tools for consumers — preferences that are causing digital payment volume to blossom worldwide.

As noncash payment volume accelerates, the power dynamics of the payments industry are shifting further in favor of digital and omnichannel providers, attracting a wide swath of providers to the space and forcing firms to diversify, collaborate, or consolidate in order to capitalize on a growing revenue opportunity.

More and more, consumers want fast and simple payments — that's opening up opportunities for providers. Rising e- and m-commerce, surges in mobile P2P, and increasing willingness among customers in developed countries to try new transaction channels, like mobile in-store payments, voice and chatbot payments, or connected device payments are all increasing transaction touchpoints for providers.

This growing access is helping payments become seamless, in turn allowing firms to boost adoption, build and strengthen relationships, offer more services, and increase usage.

But payment ubiquity and invisibility also comes with challenges. Gains in volume come with increases in per-transaction fee payouts, which is pushing consumer and merchant clients alike to seek out inexpensive solutions — a shift that limits revenue that providers use to fund critical programs and squeezes margins.

Regulatory changes and geopolitical tensions are forcing players to reevaluate their approach to scale. And fraudsters are more aggressively exploiting vulnerabilities, making data breaches feel almost inevitable and pushing providers to improve their defenses and crisis response capabilities alike.

In the latest annual edition of The Payments Ecosystem Report, Business Insider Intelligence unpacks the current digital payments ecosystem, and explores how changes will impact the industry in both the short- and long-term. The report begins by tracing the path of an in-store card payment from processing to settlement to clarify the role of key stakeholders and assess how the landscape has shifted.

It also uses forecasts, case studies, and product developments from the past year to explain how digital transformation is impacting major industry segments and evaluate the pace of change. Finally, it highlights five trends that should shape payments in the year ahead, looking at how regulatory shifts, emerging technologies, and competition could impact the payments ecosystem.

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  • Behind the scenes, payment processes and stakeholders remain similar. But providers are forced to make payments as frictionless as possible as online shopping surges: E-commerce is poised to exceed $1 trillion — nearly a fifth of total US retail — by 2023.
  • The channels and front-end methods that consumers use to make payments are evolving. Mobile in-store payments are huge in developing markets, but approaching an inflection point in developed regions where adoption has been laggy. And the ubiquity of mobile P2P services like Venmo and Square Cash will propel digital P2P to $574 billion by 2023.
  • The competitive landscape will shift as companies pursue joint ventures to grow abroad in response to geopolitical tensions, or consolidate to achieve rapid scale amid digitization.
  • Fees, bans, steering, or regulation could impact the way consumers pay, pushing them toward emerging methods that bypass card rails, and limit key revenue sources that providers use to fund rewards and marketing initiatives.
  • Tokenization will continue to mainstream as a key way providers are preventing and responding to the omnipresent data breach threat.

The companies mentioned in the report are: CCEL, Adyen, Affirm, Afterpay, Amazon, American Express, Ant Financial, Apple, AribaPay, Authorize.Net, Bank of America, Barclays, Beem It, Billtrust, Braintree, Capital One, Cardtronics, Chase Paymentech, Citi, Discover, First Data, Flywire, Fraedom, Gemalto, GM, Google, Green Dot, Huifu, Hyundai, Ingenico, Jaguar, JPMorgan Chase, Klarna, Kroger, LianLian, Lydia, Macy’s, Mastercard, MICROS, MoneyGram, Monzo, NCR, Netflix, P97, PayPal, Paytm, Poynt, QuickBooks, Sainsbury’s, Samsung, Santander, Shell, Square, Starbucks, Stripe, Synchrony Financial, Target, TransferWise, TSYS, UnionPay, Venmo, Verifone, Visa, Vocalink, Walmart, WeChat/Tencent, Weebly, Wells Fargo, Western Union, Worldpay, WorldRemit, Xevo, Zelle, Zesty, and ZipRecruiter, among others

In full, the report:

  • Explains the factors contributing to a swell in global noncash payments
  • Examines shifts in the roles of major industry stakeholders, including issuers, card networks, acquirer-processors, POS terminal vendors, and gateways
  • Presents forecasts and highlights major trends and industry events driving digital payments growth
  • Identifies five trends that will shape the payments ecosystem in the year ahead

SEE ALSO: These are the four transformations payments providers must undergo to survive digitization

Join the conversation about this story »

I spent a day in one of America's richest cities, a town an hour from New York City where hedge fund managers live in multimillion-dollar homes. It was immediately clear why it's a haven for Wall Street types.

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 2:53pm

  • Greenwich is a town on Connecticut's coast, an hour outside of New York City.
  • In its 2019 ranking, Bloomberg ranked Old Greenwich as one of the wealthiest towns in the US.
  • The town is home to several hedge funds and is known for drawing wealthy Wall Street buyers who snap up summer homes or permanent residences.
  • I spent a day in Greenwich, and I could immediately see why the quiet, clean, and charming town is a haven for finance types.

On an unseasonably cold March morning, I got on the Metro North from Grand Central Terminal in New York. My destination: Greenwich, a town on Connecticut's coast about an hour from the city.

Greenwich is consistently ranked as one of the richest towns in America. In 2018, the average household income in its Old Greenwich neighborhood was $336,692, the 12th highest in the nation, according to Bloomberg.

The year before, two Greenwich ZIP codes — 06878 in Riverside and 06831 in Greenwich — ranked among the wealthiest in the US.

It's been known as a wealthy enclave for years.

"For more than a century, Greenwich, Connecticut, has attracted some of the biggest, newest, shiniest fortunes in America," Nina Munk wrote in Vanity Fair in 2006. "Today that money comes from the trillion-dollar hedge-fund business, which occupies a third of the town's office space, and whose managers are behind a decade of over-the-top real-estate deals, teardowns, and mega-mansions."

Greenwich's "hedge fund capital" nickname is well-earned: The city is also home to hedge funds including AQR Capital Management, Viking Global Investors, K7 Investments, and Axiom Investors.

Robin Kencel, a real-estate broker at Compass and one of the founding agents of the Greenwich office, said that about half of her buyers work in finance.

"The others are entrepreneurs, they work for corporations, they're in the entertainment business," Kencel told me. "Finance is still very important to Greenwich, but I think you'll find it's much more diversified in terms of occupations than when people were first coming out in the turn of the century and the trains came out and it was the summer homes for finance folks."

Kencel said she gets about 45% of her sales from Manhattan. Buyers from the city are "always surprised how quick it is to get here," she said.

I took the train out to Greenwich for a day to get a feel for the affluent community. Here's what it was like.

SEE ALSO: Inside the most expensive town in America, where tech moguls live in multimillion-dollar mansions and the average household income is over $450,000

DON'T MISS: See inside the secretive Seattle suburb that's home to Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, where streets are lined with opulent waterfront mansions behind tall gates and security cameras

My day began at Grand Central Terminal in New York City.

I got on a Metro North train toward Stamford, Connecticut, which would stop in Greenwich in under an hour. The train was fairly empty, but I imagined the train from Greenwich to New York City at the same time of day would be full of people commuting into the city.

My peaceful train ride lasted a little less than an hour. I got off the train at the Greenwich station.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Inside the Lyft roadshow in NYC where investors packed the penthouse of a $1,000-a-night hotel (LYFT)

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 2:51pm

  • Lyft executives met with 400 investors at New York's St. Regis hotel on Thursday for its pre-IPO roadshow.
  • The company would not provide a timeline for reaching profitability but stressed that it would not engage in a price war with rival Uber, attendees told Business Insider.
  • The company also said it has no plans to expand into China.
  • The IPO is set to value Lyft at $20 billion and is expected in the coming weeks.

NEW YORK — Nearly 400 money managers and Wall Street bankers crowded into the penthouse ballroom of New York's St. Regis hotel on Thursday to hear the cofounders of the ride-hailing giant Lyft make a sales pitch for what's expected to be the largest initial public offering (IPO) in several years. 

After a brief presentation, Lyft founders John Zimmer and Logan Green, as well as Brian Roberts, the company's chief financial officer, took turns answering questions about the company's business, its mounting losses, and the fierce competition it's facing from Uber. 

Lyft stressed that it would not engage in a price war with Uber by lowering the rates it charges consumers to use its ride-hailing service, several people who attended the meeting told Business Insider. But it said that it could easily lose the market share it has gained in the US over the past two years if Uber decides to "compete hard" on price. 

Lyft plans to raise $2 billion in a highly anticipated stock-market debut in the coming weeks that will value the 7-year-old company at $20 billion. 

The company's IPO is expected to be closely followed by one from Uber, which could be valued at as much as $120 billion. The rich valuations reflect investors' heady expectations for the new breed of transportation companies, which have recently branched out from cars to scooters and bikes.

A standing-room-only crowd packed the $1,000-a-night hotel's 20th floor on Thursday, taking in sweeping views of Central Park and noshing on chicken Caesar salad and salmon. (It's worth noting that the Lyft executives didn't actually stay in the St. Regis. The company is known for its frugality.) In the lobby, the two elevators created a choke point for those waiting to be ferried up, as a throng of attendees in expensive suits merged with white-gloved bell hops.

Green and Zimmer stepped out of a Lyft Chevrolet Suburban about an hour after guests arrived. Thanks to a controversial dual-class share structure, the two cofounders will retain significant voting control after the offering. While the share structure has raised complaints among some shareholder-rights advocates, there were no questions about the topic during the one-hour meeting. 

Some attendees told Business Insider that the founders appeared more approachable than other Silicon Valley founders that have swept through town for the traditional pre-IPO roadshow. Compared with the team at Snap, the social network, which had its IPO in 2017, "it was night and day," one attendee said.

Green, 35, who was dressed in a blue suit with no tie, serves as Lyft's CEO. Zimmer is the company's president. The three banks leading the offering, JPMorgan, Credit Suisse, and Jefferies, mostly stayed in the background during the event, although Credit Suisse's global head of equity syndicate, Anthony Kontoleon, spoke briefly. Packets of pink and white M&M candies, branded with the Jefferies and Lyft logos, touted the bank's role.

One guest told Business Insider that they expect the offering to be "double-digit oversubscribed," but others raised concerns about the offering, given the challenges facing Lyft, which lost roughly $900 million last year. 

Lyft executives would not provide a timeframe for reaching profitability despite repeated questions about it from the audience. The executives also said the company has no plans to expand into China. 

"It's making me nervous because they have to price it. Before they get rich they gotta price it right," another attendee said. 

SEE ALSO: Lyft will be the first ride-hailing company to go public. Here's how its numbers compare to Uber.

Join the conversation about this story »

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I drove a $42,000 VW Golf R to see if the 'performance hatch' is worth the price — here's the verdict

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 2:40pm

  • The VW Golf R is a performance hatchback that adds premium touches and tech to the VW Golf GTI.
  • The Golf R is a bit expensive, but it's a versatile vehicle that's bliss to drive.
  • The best part is that a driver can access all the power the Golf R's 288-horsepower engine puts out. This is an ideal daily commuter for a grownup who still wants to enjoy the occasional track day or just likes to carve up winding roads.

The 2018 Volkswagen Golf R might be the most fun I've had behind the wheel so far this year.

True, I sampled the $41,735 compact four-door in Los Angeles, with access to all my favorite driving roads from the 10 years I spent in the City of Angels — not to mention the kind of traffic that tries men's souls, and provide an excellent test of whether an "enthusiast" car can handle everyday commuting duty.

The VW Golf has been a Golf for many years now in the US, but the nameplate, introduced in 1974, was first encountered by many Americans as a Rabbit. The Golf designation came later. VW has also restored the Rabbit moniker from time to time, and the car is now in its seventh generation.

Gen 7 has been around since 2012 (refreshed in 2014), so an obvious question is, "Has the Golf gotten long in the tooth?"

Maybe, but the design is sort of automotive perfection, the highest expression of premium European hatchback. And when you add the "R" treatment, upping the horsepower and handling, you aren't going to care if Golf could stand an update. (A new Golf is scheduled to arrive sometime next year.)

I had a grand time with the Golf R in SoCal. Read on to find out how it went.

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I picked up my 2018 Golf R at LAX, and the weather was completely spectacular. It would hold up for the two days I was in the City of Angels.

The car was sharp with a "Lapiz Blue Metallic" exterior and a "Titan Black" leather interior. For a sporty car, the Golf R in this tailoring was downright conservative.

I got to test the cargo capacity right away.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

AMD soars to a 5-month high (AMD)

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 2:31pm

  • AMD shares on Thursday spiked to their best level in over five months.
  • They have gained about 20% since Google on Tuesday said it would use the chipmaker's graphics processing units for its new streaming-video-game service. 
  • Watch AMD trade live.

AMD shares on Thursday soared over 8% to their best level in more than five months as traders continued to pile in following Tuesday's announcement that Google would be using the chipmaker's graphics processing units for its streaming-video-game service Stadia.

Shares have gained nearly 20% since Monday's close, but Ihor Dusaniwsky, managing director of predictive analytics at the financial technology and analytics firm S3 Partners, says there's still no signs of short-sellers running for cover. 

"Seeing mixed activity today – lots of shorting and covering," he told Markets Insider in an email. On Tuesday, Dusaniwsky noted the move looked like "a FOMO rally with buyers looking to get in before they miss the early and chunky profits."

Meanwhile Jefferies analyst Mark Lapacis said the presence of Lisa Su at Google's developer's conference was a hint that a stronger bond between the two companies could be on the horizon.

He noted that the "conspicuous absence of Intel from the announcement suggests a close relationship between AMD and Google and the increasing likelihood that Google will ultimately announce that it will use AMD EPYC 2 server MPUs." 

A deal between Google and AMD on servers would be more important than the GPU announcement for gaming because it represents a $25 billion-a-year market, according to Lapacis. He says the consensus only sees AMD grabbing 10% of that market over the next 12 to 24 months.

AMD shares have gained more than 50% this year, including Thursday's advance. 

Join the conversation about this story »

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AMD's CEO was at Google's streaming-video-game unveiling, and it may hint big plans for the future (AMD, GOOG)

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 2:29pm

  • AMD's graphics-processing unit was chosen to run Google's new streaming-video-game platform.
  • The presence of AMD CEO Lisa Su at Tuesday's developer's conference could be a sign the two companies will work more closely in the future.
  • Watch AMD trade live.

AMD was the biggest winner on Tuesday, spiking 12%, after Google unveiled Stadia, its plan to upend the video-game industry.

At its developers' conference on Tuesday, Google formally announced it would use AMD's graphics-processing units for its new cloud-based gaming platform Stadia. The new streaming platform will allow gamers to play anywhere they can access Google's Chrome web browser.

And while Tuesday's announcement that Google would use AMD GPUs for Stadia was already known, Jefferies analyst Mark Lapacis said the formal announcement of the partnership was enough to support the stock.

More importantly, however, he thinks the attendance of AMD CEO Lisa Su at Tuesday's event signals the two companies could work even more closely in the future.

He says the "conspicuous absence of Intel from the announcement suggests a close relationship between AMD and Google and the increasing likelihood that Google will ultimately announce that it will use AMD EPYC 2 server MPUs."

A deal between Google and AMD on servers would be more important than the GPU announcement for gaming because it represents a $25 billion-a-year market, according to Lapacis. He says the consensus only sees AMD grabbing 10% of that market over the next 12 to 24 months.

As for Tuesday's 12% spike, which catapulted shares to their best level since October, Ihor Dusaniwsky, managing director of predictive analytics at the financial technology and analytics firm S3 Partners, says the move looked like "a FOMO rally with buyers looking to get in before they miss the early and chunky profits."

He noted that the sell-off in shares of video-game console makers Nintendo and Sony, which both lost more than 4.5%, suggests that chipmakers, and particularly AMD, "may be one of the big winners in this technology."

AMD was up 41% this year through Tuesday.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The founder and CIO of $12 billion Ariel Investments breaks down how his top-ranked flagship fund has crushed its peers over the past 10 years

I lived in Japan for 20 years and saw business there change in 7 big ways that we'd be remiss to ignore

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 2:28pm

  • Adrian Shepherd is a British productivity consultant who's lived and worked in Japan for the past 24 years.
  • Over that time he's had a front row seat to how business has changed over time — and says other countries should learn from it.
  • For instance, more and more Japanese people are putting their family first — and it’s something companies are still struggling to adapt to.

I first stepped off the plane into Japan back in 1994 into Osaka airport, back when Kansai International Airport was still being built. I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t speak the language and while I’d lived in other Asian countries before, this was the first one I was entering alone. Who knew that a 6-month study abroad program would forever change my life?

After finishing college, I returned to Japan to start my career not knowing where it would take me. All I knew was that I enjoyed teaching English, and Japan was looking for teachers. Now it's 21 years later, and I’m still here. While some things haven’t changed, a lot has and I’ve been witness to it all.

Here are seven ways business in Japan has changed over the past 25 years.

Tourism leads the way

One of the biggest changes in recent years has been the surge in tourism. Long ago, I remember walking down the arcade in Shinsaibashi in Osaka, and I was the lone blond-haired person in a sea of black. Today, that’s no longer the case. Tourism has exploded in recent years with visitors from China, Korea, India, Australia, American and many more dominating the landscape. So much so that restaurants have started offering menus in different languages to cater to their clientele. The numbers say it all; in 2017, Japan welcomed 28.7 million tourists — up from 10.4 million just three years earlier, blasting through the government’s target of achieving 20 million foreign visitors by 2020.

The official business language

I’ve owned a school for 18 years. When I first started it, the student body consisted of 65% female, 35% male. Today, those numbers are reversed. I attribute this to a change in the policies of many companies which want to make their company more international. Today, to become a manager at many of the top firms, a TOEIC score of over 700 is a prerequisite. Honda, Uniqlo, Lawson’s, Rakuten, Bridgestone and Nissan are among the companies that made the decision to make English their “official language” among management. It’s clearer than ever that Japanese companies are making a push to be more international.

Smoking

Like in many other countries, smoking was once cool. But in Japan, it was more than that. Business would often be discussed over cigarettes and alcohol. Drink parties are still common, but cigarettes have become pretty much a relic of the past. Some companies have even gone so far as to offerholidays as a reward for non-smokers. Just this morning, chain operator Skylark just announced they will impose a smoking ban from September this year.  How times have changed.

Limited editions

Japanese people love “limited edition” anything. Over the years, food has been its biggest recipient. It’s commonplace to see “seasonally limited” plastered on packaging in Kanji for chocolate, potato chips, and candies. Fans go bonkers for them. Haagen-Dazs got into the act a few years ago and has met with great success.

Family first

Someone once told me that the Japanese approach work differently. In the West, family comes first. We love our family so we work. Here it used to be — we work, so we can have a family. That trend has all but disappeared with the current generation. Besides a few holdovers from the old days, today more and more Japanese people are putting their family first and it’s something companies are still struggling to adapt to.

Cool biz

This was introduced back in 2005 as a means to reduce electricity consumption by limiting the use of air conditioning. It was quite controversial when it started as companies in Japan had been all about suits. It started out as the summer dress code for government workers, but has since spread to the private sector. Slowly, more and more companies are introducing casual Fridays.

6 p.m.

Recently, Japan passed a law stating that companies would be limited to 100 hours overtime a month. It’s scary what to think it was before. It was so bad that some companies were designated as “black companies” due to this practice. Thanks to social media, though, things are changing for the better. A client of mine told me he used to come home, on average, at 2 a.m. in the 90s. Today, he often leaves at 6 p.m.. That’s quite a change.

SEE ALSO: 5 powerful productivity tips I learned in Japan transformed my life and my business

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: 12 everyday phrases that you're probably saying incorrectly

The AmEx Gold Card promises lucrative rewards on all food purchases — we break down whether they're as good as AmEx claims

Thu, 03/21/2019 - 1:24pm

Personal Finance Insider writes about products, strategies, and tips to help you make smart decisions with your money. Business Insider may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

  • The American Express® Gold Card, which was reintroduced in fall 2018, offers some of the best credit card rewards on dining at US restaurants, and spending at US supermarkets. 
  • When you combine the credit card's welcome bonus, rewards program, statement credits, and other benefits, it can offer a lot of value.
  • While the credit card has an annual fee of $250, the rewards and benefits may be worth much more than that — depending on your shopping and spending habits.
  • Here's what you need to know to decide if the AmEx Gold should be your next rewards credit card you open in 2019.

While its big brother, the Platinum Card® from American Express, often gets all the hype for premium travel rewards, AmEx recently released the refreshed American Express Gold Card, and it comes with some great new rewards that make this one worth considering.

The brand-new American Express Gold comes in a sleek metallic finish. It offers up to 4x points per dollar on popular categories, a 35,000-point welcome bonus, and an annual $100 airline fee credit. The card does charge a $250 annual fee, but depending on your spending and shopping habits, this card may be well worth the cost.

American Express Gold rewards

The new American Express Gold credit card offers a great rewards program. Depending on your spending habits, it may even be more valuable to you than the ultra-premium American Express Platinum.

The card offers 4x points per dollar spent at US restaurants, 4x points at US supermarkets (up to $25,000 in purchases per year; then 1x), and 3x points on flights booked directly at airlines or AmEx Travel. If food and dining is a major portion of your budget, which is common because everyone has to eat, you can get massive bonus rewards for each burrito lunch, sushi dinner, or cooked at home dinner.

New cardholders also earn 35,000 bonus points after spending $2,000 on purchases in the first three months after opening a new account. That bonus alone is worth enough for a domestic round-trip flight.

Membership Rewards is one of the top two travel rewards programs for credit card holders, only competing with Chase's Ultimate Rewards for the top slot. If you want free travel but don't want to pay the big $550 annual fee for AmEx Platinum, this card is an excellent alternative.

American Express Gold benefits

This card's value doesn't stop at the Membership Rewards points you earn, which are often worth around 2 cents each. The card, like other premium AmEx cards, is loaded with benefits useful for travel and shopping. Some even put a few dollars back in your pocket depending on where you spend.

AmEx Gold comes with two credit opportunities for dining and travel. Get up to $10 per month back in statement credits, worth $120 per year, when dining with GrubHub, Seamless, The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House, and some Shake Shack locations. This ongoing benefit is separate from the 20% (max $100) statement credit for new cardholders.

You also get $100 in statement credits for airline fees and incidentals like baggage fees and in-flight purchases. If you take full advantage of both the $10 dining fee and $100 annual travel fee credit, your annual fee goes down to an effective $50 per year. That's a bargain for what you get in return if you take full advantage.

The card also includes baggage insurance, rental car insurance, roadside assistance (like AAA), a global assistance hotline, and perks at certain hotels when booked through American Express. Surprisingly, this card does not include a full travel insurance or trip interruption benefit.

When shopping, this card offers purchase protection, return protection, and an automatic extended warranty. This is better than what the average card offers and makes big purchases a lot less stressful. You can skip the expensive added protections offered by some retailers when you make the purchase with the Gold card.

Cardholders also get a complimentary membership to ShopRunner. This service gives you free two-day shipping at a wide range of online retailers. It works like Amazon Prime in a lot of ways, but outside of Amazon.

There are some additional benefits for shopping, travel, and entertainment common to AmEx cards. They are not as popular or exciting as some other benefits, but ticket presales and reserved seating for AmEx cardholders at some events comes in handy to some sports fans or cardholders on the way to see a favorite band live.

American Express Gold costs and fees

Now for the less fun part: fees. This card isn't free. It charges a $250 annual fee. But as we already established, between benefits and rewards, it is easy to earn that back and more in value if you use the card regularly.

The card charges up to $38 per occurrence for late and returned payments. Just pay on time and make sure you have enough cash in the bank when paying to avoid these costs.

There is no foreign transaction fee, so you can use the card anywhere in the world that AmEx is accepted without paying the typical 3% extra most cards charge. Keep in mind that American Express is not as widely accepted outside the United States as Visa or Mastercard, so you might need an additional card as a backup when traveling.

The card charges 20.49% variable rate APR when paying over time — since this is a charge card, which you have to pay off in full each month, you'll have to opt in to the Pay Over Time program if you want to carry a balance — and 29.99% penalty APR if you miss a payment. Rates can change at any time with market interest rates. Pay in full by the due date each month to avoid interest charges.

The bottom line: Should you get the American Express Gold card?

The new American Express Gold card is pretty exciting for millennials and empty nesters who enjoy dining out at US restaurants or anyone who regularly dines out or spends big on groceries at US supermarkets. When you combine the welcome bonus, rewards program, statement credits, and other benefits, this card is a clear winner.

If you want even more premium travel benefits, you may prefer the American Express Platinum. If the $250 annual fee is too much for you to handle, consider the $95-a-year Chase Sapphire Preferred as a good alternative.

If you read through this card's benefits and like what it has to offer, you won't go wrong with the new and improved American Express Gold card.

Click here to learn more about the American Express Gold Card from Insider Picks' partner: The Points Guy.

SEE ALSO: AmEx Platinum vs Chase Sapphire Reserve: Which card offers superior airport lounge access, according to a frequent flyer

Join the conversation about this story »

Here's a look inside credit card startup Brex's new member-only San Francisco lounge

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 7:58pm

  • Credit card startup Brex has opened a members-only lounge in San Francisco's South Park district to give cardholders a place to gather — whether that be to work, hold meetings, or socialize. 
  • Dubbed the "Oval Room," the space feels like a homier version of a WeWork, with sectional couches instead of communal work tables. It's also far smaller than a typical co-working space, as it's located above of what used to be a neighborhood cafe. 
  • "It's not about exclusivity," Brex co-founder Henrique Dubugras told Business Insider in a recent interview, touting the benefits of a meeting space that provides support for entrepreneurs. 
  • Below are photos of the Oval Room from its opening night last Thursday. 

When Brex co-founders Pedro Franceschi and Henrique Dubugras were fundraising for their idea of creating a corporate credit card specifically for startups, they had no office. Instead, they met with venture capitalists at coffee shops and nearby, San Francisco city parks. 

"You don't know exactly who's there. It could be anyone that's around," Dubugras told Business Insider in a recent interview, describing the duo's experience of fundraising from local coffee shops. "We really wanted a more private space." 

Dubugras said that many other founders they met through Y Combinator — the renowned startup accelerator, which Brex participated in during the winter of 2017 — faced a similar dilemma of having important meetings with nowhere to host them. 

Read more:  It took only a year and a half for these 22-year-olds to build a billion-dollar company. Here's how they did it.

Almost two years and a $1.1 billion valuation later, the credit card startup has opened a lounge space in San Francisco's South Park district to give Brex cardholders a place to gather — whether that be to work, hold meetings, or socialize. 

"Brex is about empowering entrepreneurship," Dubugras said. "For us, this is just a manifestation of that. It's hard to be an entrepreneur. [The lounge] is a place where you can go and meet other people who are going through the same struggle as you are. Like, 'Hey, I also don't have a place to take meetings." 

Dubbed the "Oval Room" — named after both the Oval Office (where big decisions are made) and the shape of the nearby park (South Park) — the space feels like a homier version of a WeWork, with sectional couches instead of communal work tables. It's also far smaller than a typical co-working space — the lounge is perched above what used to be a neighborhood cafe. 

The members-only space will be open from 9am to 5pm Tuesday-Friday, not including after hour community events. The board meeting room and a private lounge room are also be available for cardholders to book for free throughout the week. 

Already, one startup founder we spoke to, Deon Nicholas, is excited to start using the space for networking. He also says the lounge would have come in handy for candidate interviews before his company —Forethought— moved into its new office. 

"We had a candidate come by our co-working space, who in the end, we didn't get," Nicholas said. "We asked what were some things we could have done better and he said, 'You know, having an actual space would have been great.'" 

Even with the potential upsides for startups, as Fyre Festival documentaries linger in the popular zeitgeist, comparison's between Brex's Oval Room and Billy McFarland's Magnises Townhouse in New York City are hard to ignore. Dubugras stressed the difference. 

"It's not about exclusivity," Dubugras said. "But rather its the ability to deliver on the promise of combining a meeting space with the services and support entrepreneurs actually need to run their business." 

Today, only startup founders and their employees can hold a Brex credit card. In February, the also company allowed e-commerce business owners to join. 

Here's a look at Brex's San Francisco lounge on its opening night: 

SEE ALSO: Credit card startup joins unicorn club months after launching

The Oval Room is located right across the street from South Park, a hub of San Francisco's VC and startup scene.

It's on the second floor of what used to be the South Park Cafe.

The address is 110 South Park Street, up a narrow set of stairs.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Hot AI software startup Skymind used this pitch deck to raise $11.5 million

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 7:29pm

  • Skymind just closed an $11.5 million Series A funding round.
  • The San Francisco-based company offers a set of software that helps companies build artificial intelligence systems.
  • It plans to use the new funds to build out its sales team.
  • The pitch deck it used to raise the new money is below.

Artificial intelligence is probably the most important new development in the tech industry, but many companies are struggling to embrace it.

Chris Nicholson thinks his startup can help.

One of the things that's holding companies back from AI is that the programs that house their data and the software tools for analyzing the data are written in two different coding languages that don't easily talk to each other. That's where Skymind, the San Francisco startup where Nicholson is CEO, comes in.

Dubbed Skymind Intelligence Layer, or SKIL,  the product allows companies' nascent AI systems to build models that tie the disparate pieces together and which can be easily incorporated into their own products. SKIL is built around a set of open-source applications that Skymind has packaged for enterprises. The startup offers it in classic fashion, charging corporate clients seeking support for the software.

"You can can think of us as a Red Hat for AI," Nicholson said, referring to the company that built a business around distributing the Linux operating systems to corporations.

Founded in 2014, Skymind already has some notable customers, including SoftBank, ServiceNow, and French wireless company Orange. It could soon have a lot more.

On Wednesday, the company announced that it has closed on a $11.5 million Series A funding round led by TransLink Capital, bringing the total amount it's raised to $17.9 million. In addition to using the new funds to beef up its engineering staff, the company plans to use the money to build out a sales team to help market its software.

"We didn't have a single salesperson until this round," Nicholson said.

Here's the pitch deck Nicholson and his team used to solicit its Series A funds:

SEE ALSO: AI experts are studying the way that kids' brains develop, and it could be a game-changer for the technology







See the rest of the story at Business Insider

The FBI is reportedly joining the government's investigation into Boeing's 737 Max plane (BA)

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 5:11pm

  • Federal investigators are looking into how Boeing's 737 Max plane was certified to fly. 
  • The FBI is also joining the Department of Transportation's inquiry, The Seattle Times reported. 

The FBI is joining the Department of Transportation's investigation into the Boeing 737 Max plane, The Seattle Times reported on Wednesday.

People familiar with the matter told reporter Steve Miletich that the investigation is focused on how the plane, which has crashed twice in the past five months, was certified to fly. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao formally requested an audit of the Federal Aviation Administration's certification for the process in a letter sent to the agency on Tuesday.

The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Separately, the Pentagon's inspector general said on Wednesday that it will investigate a watchdog group's allegations that acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan has used his office to promote his former employer, Boeing.

Read the full Seattle Times report here.

More on the investigations into Boeing and its 737 Max plane:

SEE ALSO: The Boeing 737 Max is likely to be the last version of the best-selling airliner of all time

Join the conversation about this story »

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I got an inside look at the brand new, 7-story 'vertical shopping experience' in Hudson Yards, which the developers insist is not a mall — here's what I saw on opening day

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 4:49pm

  • The Shops and Restaurants at Hudson Yards, a seven-story luxury shopping center, opened to the public on March 15.
  • The one-million-square-foot shopping center includes more than 100 shops and 25 cafés and eateries, including Louis Vuitton, Kate Spade, Cartier, and the city's first Neiman Marcus department store.
  • The developers are reluctant to call the shopping center a mall, instead dubbing it a "vertical shopping experience" and an "urban retail center."
  • I walked through the shopping center on its opening day, and despite the developers' insistence that it's not a mall, it pretty much felt like a mall. 

 

The Shops and Restaurants at Hudson Yards, a seven-story shopping center with more than 100 stores including Louis Vuitton, Kate Spade, Fendi, and the city's first Neiman Marcus, is officially open to the public.

Hudson Yards is New York City's new $25 billion neighborhood, which includes office buildings, luxurious residential towers, and a seven-story luxury shopping center with stores like Louis Vuitton and Dior.

In addition to retail stores, the shopping center includes restaurants from Shake Shack to Thomas Keller's TAK Room, a co-working space, and an interactive art exhibition.

Jeff Blau, the CEO of Related Companies, the developer behind Hudson Yards, said on Bloomberg TV that the shopping center is "not a mall," but is instead an "urban retail center." The developers have also dubbed it a "vertical shopping experience."

The Shops & Restaurants at Hudson Yards is not called a mall because it's designed differently than a traditional mall, and it has a more curated mix of tenants, Kathleen Corless, Related's director of corporate communications, told me on the phone following my visit. And on top of that, she said, Related Companies is not a traditional mall developer.

"We are urban planners and we build cities and mixed-use developments, so we think about the retail center as part of the whole neighborhood," Corless said. "It's about the Shed, it's about the 14 acres of open space, several commercial office buildings, 40,000 people a day are going to work there, 4,000 residences ... It's all about thinking about, who really lives here?"

I took a tour of the shopping center on its opening day. Here's what it looks like.

SEE ALSO: I climbed Vessel, the $200 million, 2,500-step sculpture in Hudson Yards — and the view from the inside blew me away

DON'T MISS: Inside the star-studded opening of the Shops at Hudson Yards, where A-listers including Anne Hathaway and Whoopi Goldberg came to see NYC's new $25 billion neighborhood

The Shops and Restaurants at Hudson Yards, the $25 billion megadevelopment's seven-story shopping center, opened to the public on March 15.

I was one of the first to go inside the one-million-square-foot shopping center on opening day.

The shopping center opened at noon, and as I made my way inside shortly after that time, it was already starting to get crowded.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Lyft's first Wall Street analyst to launch coverage of the stock gave it a buy rating. Here's why he says the company could be worth $25 billion (LYFT)

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 4:01pm

  • Lyft is racing towards an initial public offering (IPO) that could launch as soon as next week. 
  • Ahead of the IPO, the company nabbed its first buy rating from a Wall Street analyst. 
  • Tom White of D.A. Davidson gave the company a $75 price target, which translates to a valuation of more than $25 billion  — its highest target yet. 

More than a week before shares are set to trade on the Nasdaq stock exchange, Lyft has already nabbed its first buy rating from a Wall Street analyst.

Tom White, an internet analyst at Montana-based D.A. Davidson, launched coverage of the ride-hailing name on Tuesday, giving shares a roughly 15% premium to the $62-$68 range set out by the company ahead of its trading debut.

"Our BUY rating reflects LYFT’s impressive recent U.S. market share gains and momentum, the continued growth/expansion of the broader Ridesharing market, and the stock’s reasonable EV/Sales multiple," White said in a note to clients.

Read more: Lyft's $23 billion IPO is already oversubscribed

According to White, Lyft has boosted its market share in the US from 22% to 39% in the past two years. That's at least in part thanks to Uber's disastrous 2017, when the #deleteUber campaign helped Lyft nab some users from the competitor. It even acknowledged those gains in its public filing earlier in March.

Lyft's branding has helped too

The company has branded itself as a more socially conscious alternative to Uber, with initiatives like going carbon neutral, free rides, a commitment to public transit, and more.

"Differentiating its brand in this way has provided good "PR" for LYFT, but it’s also been good for business (specifically in terms of customer acquisition efficiency)," White said.

But there are risks

Profitability is still a key question for ride-hailing investors. Both Uber and Lyft remain deeply in the red, and there doesn't appear to be much light at the end of the tunnel.

"It remains unclear whether Lyft can be profitable as the #2 player in U.S. ridesharing, while still paying its drivers," White said. Lyft did some damage to its driver-friendly reputation by suing New York City over a new minimum wage law for drivers. The company maintained that its beef with regulators was how the pay was calculated, and not with paying a fair wage.

A spokesperson said this week that the new rules caused average fares to increase 24% while driver earnings fell 15%.

"Lyft’s ability to reduce incentives for drivers and riders (critical tools for creating balance in its ridesharing marketplace) will be a key lever to its near-term profitability outlook," said White.

Perhaps more interesting than White's analysis of Lyft's financials are the other companies in his coverage universe.

Investors are having a tough time deciding which companies to compare Lyft to. While internet-based, the company has little similarity to other digital stocks, like Amazon or Google, but there's also not any public ride-hailing companies to compare it to. Other analysts, like Santosh Rao of Manhattan Venture Partners, has compared it to other platform companies like Alibaba or Etsy.

Other stocks under White's coverage include Zillow, Expedia, TripAdvisor, and Yext. The comparisons will be top of mind as the company prepares for its IPO next week and other Wall Street analysts launch coverage.

"We believe the transportation market is in the midst of a global societal shift towards a model that features less personal car ownership over time in favor of Transportation-as-a-Service 'or TaaS' solutions," White said.

"Lyft is at the leading edge of this evolution today."

SEE ALSO: A 'warrior's warrior': Why insiders say the first-time CFO running Lyft's $20 billion IPO is the perfect fit

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Everything you need to know about Tesla's new Roadster

5 ways to decide if your boss is incompetent, according to a personality-science expert

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 3:18pm

  • Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic is a psychologist who uses science and tech to help organizations predict human performance.
  • He says that many people these days seem disenchanted with the idea of traditional employment, mostly because it may require putting up with a bad boss.
  • You can tell if you have a bad boss by asking yourself five simple questions, including whether or not he or she knows you well and has an accurate picture of your potential, and your strengths and weaknesses.

We tend to see leadership as a glamorous and desirable career destination, but the crude reality is that most leaders have pretty dismal effects on their teams and organizations. Consider that 70% of employees are not engaged at work, but it’s their boss’ main task to engage and inspire them, helping them leave aside their selfish interests to work as a collective unit with others. Instead, managers are the number one reason why people quit jobs. As the old saying goes, people join companies but quit their bosses.

As I highlight in my latest book, passive job-seeking, self-employment, and entrepreneurship rates have been on the rise even in places where macroeconomic conditions are strong and there is no shortage of career opportunities for people. For instance, in the US, there are now 6 million job seekers for 7 million job openings, but people appear to be disenchanted with the idea of traditional employment, mostly because it may require putting up with a bad boss.

To be sure, there are many competent leaders out there, but academic estimates suggest that the baseline for incompetent leadership is at least 65% (note this figure is based on analyzing mostly public or large companies), and, even more shockingly, there appears to be a strong negative correlation between the money we spend or waste on leadership-development interventions and the confidence people have in their leaders.

An obvious question this sad state of affairs evokes is how one can work if his or her boss is incompetent. Clearly, it is always tempting to blame our manager for our unfavorable work experiences, but it may also be the case that the problem is us rather than them, with recent research indicating that all aspects of job satisfaction are influenced as much by employees’ own personalities and values as by the actual (objective) working circumstances they are in.

The way we experience our boss is no exception. Here’s a quick five-point checklist to work out what your manager’s probable level of competence might be.


1. He or she is generally liked, or at least well-regarded, by his or her direct reports

This would be consistent with the mainstream scientific view that upward feedback (feedback from those who work for the manager) is the best single measure of a manager’s performance. Conversely, how managers are seen by their own managers is mostly a measure of politics, likability, or managing “up.” If the answer is no, the probability that your boss is incompetent increases dramatically.

2. His or her team tends to achieve strong results compared with similar/competing teams (internally and externally)

Note this may happen even if the answer to question one is no, though generally speaking, both points are positively intertwined: People perform better when they like their bosses, and they like their bosses more when they perform better. Thus, if the answer is no, then your boss is probably not that competent.

Read more: Ex-Googlers, Stanford professors, and startup CEOs share their best advice on making a career change

3. He or she frequently provides you with constructive and critical developmental feedback to improve your performance

And does he or she do it for others in your team, too? If the answer is no, then chances are your boss is less than competent, as one of the fundamental tasks of any manager is to improve their team members’ performance by providing accurate and helpful feedback on their potential and performance.

4. He or she knows you well and has an accurate picture of your potential, including your strengths and weaknesses

No bosses can do their jobs well unless they are fully aware of what their team members can and can’t do, which is a necessary precondition to assigning each employee to tasks and roles in which their skills and personality are best deployed. After all, talent is by and large personality in the right place. If you think your boss doesn’t know you, then he or she is less likely to be competent.

5. He or she seems truly coachable and continues to improve to the point of getting better on the job all the time

Just like your employability depends on your own ability (and willingness) to continue to develop key career skills and learn things that broaden your career potential, your boss should also be finding ways to get better. This means not just displaying the necessary humility and curiosity to learn — including from his or her own employees and customers — but also finding ways to keep their dark side or undesirable tendencies in check. In short, does your boss show self-awareness and the drive to get better, irrespective of whether that actually advances his or her own career? If the answer is no, then your boss has limited potential.

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic is an international authority in psychological profiling, talent management, leadership development, and people analytics. He is the chief talent scientist at Manpower Group, cofounder of Deeper Signals and Metaprofiling, and professor of business psychology at both University College London and Columbia University. He has previously held academic positions at New York University and the London School of Economics and lectured at Harvard Business School, Stanford Business School, London Business School, Johns Hopkins, IMD, and INSEAD. He was also the CEO at Hogan Assessment Systems. Tomas has published nine books and over 130 scientific papers (h index 58), making him one of the most prolific social scientists of his generation.

SEE ALSO: 10 harmless mind tricks that make people like you more

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5 major tech companies, from Amazon to Apple, are trying to make the 'Netflix of gaming' — here’s how the competition stacks up

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 3:02pm

  • Every major tech company, from Apple to Amazon to Google, is trying to create a "Netflix of gaming" service.
  • The idea is simple: Stream high-quality games to any device, regardless of how much processing power that device has.
  • Thus far, Sony is the only company that has actually launched a service. Apple is the latest company rumored to be working on a competitor.

 

The future of gaming may not involve a high-powered, expensive box sitting underneath your TV.

Instead, it could be as simple as Netflix.

Just as Netflix allows you to watch movies and TV shows from any device, a streaming gaming service would let you play high-end, blockbuster video games anytime, anyplace and on any device — your phone, or tablet, or laptop, or TV. No game console required.

The vision is often referred to by the shorthand, "The Netflix of gaming."

In 2019, nearly every major tech company is working on a version of such a service, each hoping to establish itself as the de facto standard in video game streaming services.

Here's everything we know about the increasingly competitive field of video game streaming services:

SEE ALSO: Microsoft is creating the ‘Netflix for games’: Here’s everything we know so far

DON'T MISS: Google just unveiled Stadia, its ambitious attempt to upend the video-game industry and take on Xbox and PlayStation. Here's everything we know.

1. Amazon

Amazon's already a major video game retailer, and it operates the largest video game livestreaming service in the world with Twitch.

The company's next move into gaming, though, is even more ambitious: Amazon is working on a Netflix-like service for playing games, according to a report from The Information.

The new service from Amazon will reportedly allow players to stream games rather than having to buy and download individual titles. The company is said to be discussing potential games for the new service with game publishers, but it sounds like plans are still early; the streaming service isn't expected to arrive until 2020 "at the earliest."

Amazon has yet to officially announce such a service, and a representative didn't return a request for comment.

But even without official confirmation or an announcement, multiple jobs listings originally spotted by The Verge point to Amazon building just such a service. One such listing even explicitly says, "This is a rare opportunity to take a technical leadership role to shape the foundation of an unannounced AAA games business."

So, why Amazon?

It's one of the few tech companies with a cloud computing infrastructure already in place, worldwide, to pull off such a challenging technological issue. It's called "Amazon Web Services" (AWS for short), and it's the type of infrastructure required to pull off video game streaming on a mainstream consumer scale.



2. Verizon

Verizon? Like the company that you pay for smartphone service? Yes, that Verizon is reportedly working on a service that's thrillingly named, "Verizon Gaming."

Early testers were sent an Nvidia Shield set-top box, a wireless Xbox One gamepad, and software that gave them access to the Verizon Gaming service.

Images of the service show a surprisingly large library of games that are otherwise only available on game consoles, such as the PlayStation 4's 2018 blockbuster "God of War." Verizon has yet to officially announce such a service, nor is there a release date. 



3. Apple

Like Verizon, Apple has yet to officially announce its video game streaming service.

Also like Verizon, news of the service leaked regardless — Cheddar reports that the service from Apple could, like Netflix, be subscription-based. The report also notes that the project is "in the early stages," and could very well get canned like other internal Apple projects that never launched.

Given that Apple already has a set-top box in households all over the world with the Apple TV — to say nothing of iPhones and iPads — such a service doesn't seem like a stretch. 

The big question is content: It might be tough for Apple to convince people to subscribe to the service if it only offers games from the App Store, so Apple will likely have to work with established game publishers to bring in more games.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Stocks whip around in volatile trade after the Fed dims its outlook on the economy

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 2:58pm

  • Stocks finished the day mixed after the Federal Reserve said it was unlikely to raise interest rates this year.
  • That was a reversal from the initial move higher following the release of the Fed's statement.
  • The benchmark S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average both closed in negative territory after surrendering those gains while the Nasdaq Composite managed to eke out a gain. 
  • Follow the stock market's moves in real-time.

Stocks finished mixed on Wednesday after the Federal Reserve said it was unlikely to raise interest rates this year and that it expected to end its balance-sheet runoff in late September.

The S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average, and Nasdaq Composite all initially jumped to session highs in response to the announcement before the S&P and Dow gave up those gains.

"The Federal Reserve has unsurprisingly erred on the side of patience and caution, echoing the latest string of dovish rhetoric," said Candice Bangsund, a vice president and portfolio manager at Fiera Capital, in an email. 

"We expect this neutral stance to prevail in the near-term or at least until the macroeconomic backdrop stabilizes and the 'crosscurrents' that have been stifling sentiment recede somewhat."

The central bank also dimmed its economic outlook, contending the labor market "remains strong," but economic growth has slowed from its "solid" rate in the fourth-quarter.

"While the downgrading of the economy and sharp shift downward in the Dots were not necessarily surprising news, they certainly have helped contribute to the rally that we have seen this afternoon when combined with the balance sheet announcement," Scott Buchta, the head of fixed-income strategy at Brean Capital, said in an email as stocks rose.

Read more: The Federal Reserve just dimmed its outlook for the economy

Equities had come under pressure prior to the central bank's statement after President Donald Trump told reporters he was "talking" about leaving tariffs on Chinese goods for a prolonged period of time, even if the US reached a trade deal with China.

In response to reporters' questions shouted as the president was set to leave the White House for an event in Ohio, Trump said the US might keep tariffs on Chinese goods even if a trade deal were reached.

"We're not talking about removing them — we're talking about leaving them for a substantial period of time because we have to make sure that if we do the deal with China, that China lives by the deal," Trump said.

His comments sent stocks sharply lower just before 1 p.m. ET. 

White House officials taking part in the negotiations with Beijing have been pushing for a mechanism that would allow the US to reimpose trade restrictions on the Chinese in the event that a trade deal, which is not yet finalized, is violated.

"Not what we wanted to hear," said Peter Boockvar, the chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group, in a note to clients referring to Trump's comments.

The US and China have been engaged in a trade war for roughly a year. The US has imposed tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods, while China has slapped $110 billion worth of US goods with new tariffs.

The back-and-forth tariff conflict has caused economic damage for both economies and emerged as one of investors' largest concerns.

Read more markets coverage from Markets Insider and Business Insider:

 

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Ian Schrager, the cofounder of Studio 54, says the legendary NYC nightclub could be recreated today — but it would be different in 3 key ways

Wed, 03/20/2019 - 2:55pm

  • Ian Schrager, the cofounder of legendary nightclub Studio 54, says the club could be recreated today with a few adjustments. 
  • Studio 54 was a New York City club known for its wild parties in the early 1970s and '80s and for attracting high-profile guests like David Bowie and Andy Warhol.
  • Schrager told Business Insider the club would need to take advantage of new technology with more sophisticated visual effects and virtual reality, and that the club probably couldn't be in the same location.
  • "I think it would be much, much more immersive than it was back then," Schrager said. 

Studio 54, the legendary nightclub known for its wild parties and high-profile guests like David Bowie and Andy Warhol, was the pinnacle of New York City nightlife in the 1970s and early '80s.

For some, Studio 54 was a phenomenon that could never again exist. Writer Mick Joest described it as "one of those unique places that came around at the right place and right time, and nothing like it will ever happen again."

But for Ian Schrager, who cofounded Studio 54 with Steve Rubell, that's not necessarily the case. 

"I'm not one of those that think that a place like Studio 54 couldn't be recreated today, even though it's 40 years later and it's in a different time," Schrager told Business Insider.

But there would need to be a few key adjustments, he said, primarily to take advantage of new technology.

"It would be much, much more sophisticated with the visual effects and virtual reality and the LED lights," Schrager said. "I think it would be much, much more immersive than it was back then. But it would still do the same thing. It would still try and make people very excited and enhance their dancing and all of that."

Read more: 22 photos that show the grit and the glamour of Studio 54, New York City's most infamous club

Schrager pointed to today's concerts as an example.

"Look at the rock concerts today compared to the rock concerts 40 years ago," he said. "They're more sophisticated, there's more technology, there are more special effects. But essentially, you get the same DNA."

The main issue with recreating a club today in the style of Studio 54 would be finding the right location, Schrager said. The original Studio 54 was in Manhattan's theater district, just a few blocks from Times Square. 

In those days, someone could have opened a nightclub anywhere, but finding a location today would be trickier, Schrager said.

"It would have to be a neighborhood with not a lot of neighbors," he said. "Because it seems like in a city like New York, the neighbors don't have a lot of patience for the kinds of thing that come with a great nightclub. So that's changed."

Another major difference would be the cost of opening a similar club today. 

"Now, it's very difficult and the regulations have changed," Schrager said. "I did my first nightclub with $27,000. Studio 54 cost $400,000."

Today, with new rules and safety regulations, you can count on spending "at least a million or so dollars before you put the first coat of paint on," he said.

Despite new technologies and other changes in the nightlife and hospitality industries over the years, the basic human desires that Studio 54 aimed to fulfill have stayed the same, Schrager says.

"We have all of these things with technology that have changed, but I don't think the human condition changes," Schrager said. "I don't think the urge to socialize and meet people and interact with people, I don't think that has changed over thousands of years. I still think appealing to those human conditions and human urges is still the formula for success."

SEE ALSO: I partied at the Brooklyn club named the 2nd best thing to do in the world. It was a wild night of dance parties, gravity-defying performances, and crazy costumes.

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