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Google is building parental controls into Android that will let you limit how much time your kids spend on each app (GOOGL, GOOG)

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 3:53pm

  • Google is adding parental control features to Android, the company announced at its I/O developer conference Tuesday.
  • The company previously offered such features as a standalone app called Family Link.
  • Android Q, the next version of the operating system, will ship with the Family Link features built into its settings app.
  • Google will also add a new feature that will allow parents to set limits on their kids' use of particular apps.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.  

Google is building parental controls directly into the next version of its Android operating system.

The company plans to take Family Link, a standalone app it launched two years ago to help parents manage their kids' phone use, and incorporate it into the settings function of Android Q, the next iteration of the operating system, Stephanie Cuthbertson, Google's senior director of Android, said Tuesday. Instead of having to download the app through the Google Play store, users will be able to go into their device's settings and set limits on their kids' phone activity or review apps they want to install.

"For 84% of us parents, technology use by our kids is a top concern," Cuthbertson said as she made the announcement at the company's annual I/O developer conference in Mountain View, California.

Read this: Everything Google announced at its biggest conference of the year

Consumers could previously use the Family Link app on both Android phones and Apple iPhones to set limits for kids using Android devices. Through the app, parents could monitor how much time their children were on their phones, designate a bedtime when they could no longer use their device each day, and approve or block apps they want to install. They'll be able to do those same things in Q, but without having to download a separate app.

But even as it's adding Family Link into Android, Google is adding some new features to it. Parents will be able to set time limits on their kids' use of specific apps, such as Snapchat or Instagram. And they'll be able to tap a button to grant their kids a few minutes of "bonus time," if they've reached their limits.

Both Google and Apple have been increasingly focusing on such well-being features in the wake of criticism from researchers and advocates, including former Google engineer Tristan Harris. Harris in particular has chided tech companies for trying to extract more and more attention from consumers.

Got a tip about Google or another tech company? Contact this reporter via email at, 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: Google is 'absolutely' thinking about foldable phones, the company's Pixel chief says

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Wingstop beats as same-store sales surge (WING)

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 3:44pm

  • Wingstop Restaurants shares were up 2% after the company posted stronger-than-expected first-quarter adjusted earnings and same-store sales growth.
  • Wingstop has focused on a series of cost initiatives to improve results.
  • Watch Wingstop Restaurants trade live.

Chicken wing purveyor Wingstop Restaurants reported earnings after the bell on Tuesday, beating consensus for adjusted earnings and same-store sales growth.

Wingstop's first-quarter adjusted earnings were $0.22, coming in above the $0.19 that analysts surveyed by Bloomberg were expecting. Revenue of $48.1 million topped the $45.8 million that analysts were anticipating and same-store sales growth of 7.1% easily outpaced the 3.7% expectation.

"Our strong performance during the first quarter demonstrates the value that our strategic initiatives, including our national advertising campaigns, increased digital and online ordering capabilities, and systematic rollout of delivery across our domestic markets, bring to our restaurants," said Charlie Morrison, chairman and CEO of Wingstop.

"We are building our business for the long-term, and while we are pleased with the operational and financial performance in the first quarter, we are focused on our vision of becoming a top ten global restaurant brand.

As labor costs continue to rise, Wingstop is also shifting towards ordering kiosks and lockers where customers can pick up orders. "Because our business is 75% carryout, our customers prefer to come in, skip that line, get their food, and get out," Morrison said.

The company operates over 1,200 restaurants globally.

Wingstop was up 18% this year through Tuesday's closing bell.

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Here's what happened on the fiery emergency landing in Russia that killed 41 people

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 1:38am

  • Aeroflot Flight SU1492 made an emergency landing at Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport on Sunday.
  • Of the 78 passengers and crew on board the Sukhoi SuperJet 100, the violent landing and subsequent fire took the lives of 41 people.
  • Dramatic video of the landing quickly spread across the internet showing the plane bouncing violently down the runway, followed by images of flames and thick black smoke billowing from the jet.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Aeroflot Flight SU1492 made an emergency landing at Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport on Sunday. Of the 78 passengers and crew on board the Sukhoi SuperJet 100, the violent landing and subsequent fire took the lives of 41 people.

"Aeroflot extends its deepest condolences to the family and loved ones of those who lost their lives on flight SU1492 Moscow-Murmansk," the airline said in a statement. "The crew did everything in its power to save passenger lives and provide emergency assistance to those involved. Tragically, they were unable to save all of those aboard."

"Our thoughts and hearts are with those who have suffered an unspeakable loss. We mourn with you," Aeroflot added.

The SuperJet is a Russian-made regional jet that first entered service in 2011. According to, Aeroflot has 50 of the planes in its fleet, each with room for 87 passengers. The aircraft used to operate Flight SU1492, registration number RA-89098, was delivered to Russia's national airline in September 2017.

Read more: Harrowing video shows rough landing that may have caused the deadly fire on a Russian airliner.

According to the airline, Flight SU1492, en route from Moscow to the city of Murmansk in northwestern Russia, suffered "malfunctions on board the aircraft" shortly after takeoff. As a result, the crew declared an emergency and returned to the airport. Later, one of the plane's pilots told Russian media that the Sukhoi Superjet 100's communications systems failed due to a lightning strike.

Dramatic video of the landing quickly spread across the internet. The first video to be posted shows the plane coming to a stop on the runway with flames and thick black smoke billowing from the rear of its fuselage. A second video soon emerged showing the plane bouncing violently down the runway when its main landing gear appears to collapse and catches fire.

Here's how Aeroflot Flight SU1492 unfolded:

SEE ALSO: Boeing's CEO is beefing up his legal team as it braces for 737 Max crash lawsuits

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Aeroflot Flight SU1492 is a daily scheduled flight from Moscow to the city of Murmansk inside the Arctic Circle. On Sunday, May 5, the flight was operated by a Sukhoi SuperJet 100, registration number RA-89098.

Aeroflot Flight 1492 took off from Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport on Sunday at 6:03 p.m. local time.

Five minutes into the flight, the SuperJet has turned north toward Murmansk and climbed to an altitude of 10,500 feet. It's unclear when the communications failure caused by lightning occurred. However, it's most likely to have happened before this point.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

'Entering the danger zone': One Wall Street expert lays out a compelling case for a stock-market meltdown in May

Tue, 05/07/2019 - 12:58am

  • The US stock market is currently at all-time highs, but one Wall Street expert argues a sudden sell-off may be in the cards for May — one that would be worse than the February 2018 correction.
  • Vincent Deluard, a macro strategist at INTL FCStone, breaks down four pieces of evidence that support his immediate-term bearish view.
  • Follow all of Business Insider's coverage of the 2019 Milken Conference here.

Stocks are at record highs, and many experts on Wall Street will tell you conditions look ripe for continued strength.

Vincent Deluard is not one of them.

In fact, the INTL FCStone macro strategist — who regularly publishes thoughtful research on a wide range of topics — thinks the bottom may drop out of the market this month.

That may seem like an aggressive forecast give the tight time frame, but Deluard lays out a compelling four-part argument to support his near-term bearish view. If his overall take had to be summarized into a single theme, it's that the drivers supporting stock strength will soon be impediments.

Here are his four arguments:

1) Seasonality

The age-old saying for stock-market pundits is "sell in May, then go away." While Deluard's argument is far less simplistic, it does call upon historically weak equity performance this time of year.

Deluard says that, when viewed in tandem with the other three elements on this list, this is a troubling reality that could send stocks tumbling into a correction.

"To the extent that stock market seasonality does exist, it will stop supporting stock prices at the end of the month," he said in a recent report. "Since 1973, stocks have tended to flat line from mid-May to the end of November."

2) The melt-up in stocks is already complete

A great deal of recent stock-market punditry has focused on a so-called melt-up. While such an occurrence does push equities higher, it's usually viewed as a late-cycle indicator — a last-gasp effort for traders to ride the momentum wave higher.

For those who think the melt-up can continue indefinitely, Deluard points to the S&P 500's four-month Sharpe ratio. The measure has been a historically reliable way to assess risk-adjusted excess return.

As you can see in the chart below, the only time the metric has been higher was in late 2017 and early 2018 — the period immediately preceding a vicious stock-market correction.

"Needless to say, this did not end well," Deluard wrote.

3) Multiples are "entering the danger zone"

Stretched valuations have been a frequent target for stock bears throughout the more than 10-year bull market. And so far, those pessimists have been proven wrong.

But that hasn't dissuading Deluard from making a similar argument. He notes that, at 17 times earnings, the S&P 500's multiple is already two points higher than its average since 2009.

Once again, the point of comparison is January 2018, ahead of the February meltdown. Deluard highlights the fact that conditions might be even more ripe for a correction this time around because there's less earnings growth expected for US corporations.

"January 2018 was the only time stocks got this expensive in this cycle, but earnings were expected to grow by 30% in the next 12 months, versus 12% today," he said. "Note that even very strong earnings growth did not prevent a 10%+ correction in the first quarter of 2018."

He continued: "The combination of elevated valuations and poorer earnings growth prospects could trigger a larger correction this time. The stock market will be especially vulnerable to a correction as multiples are entering the danger zone."

4) The shorts have vanished

Upon first glance, the lack of shorts in the US equity market may seem like a bullish signal. But it's actually the opposite.

A healthy stock market generally has an underlying short component of people simply protecting their downside. Those shorts, in turn, can serve as valuable dry powder when investors get more bullish and want to get long.

On the flipside, a low level of short interest — like we're seeing right now — can actually signal that market pessimists have turned bullish. That's exactly the type of overexuberant behavior that portends sell-offs.

According to Deluard's findings, short interest on the six largest US equity exchange-traded funds currently sits at 7.4%, one of the lowest readings on record.

This rally may be 'the most hated bull market in history,' but the market is filled with 'fully-invested bears,'" Deluard said.

SEE ALSO: The world's greatest investors and economists spent much of Milken dispelling 3 key misconceptions. Here's what they said to set the record straight.

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Boeing reportedly let some of its mechanics inspect their own work, and it's causing problems for the manufacturer at the worst possible time

Mon, 05/06/2019 - 7:28pm

  • Boeing is under scrutiny over reports of recurring errors on the assembly line for the 787 Dreamliner plane. The errors are believed to have stemmed from a manufacturing process that allows mechanics to self-inspect their work, The Post and Courier reported, citing Boeing workers.
  • Some of the errors found on the production line included debris in airspeed sensors, rags and bolts in planes, and loose cabin seats, The Post and Courier reported. Tires with cuts in them, untested gears, and malfunctioning hydraulics systems were also spotted by workers, according to the report.
  • Workers told The Post and Courier that 90% of the aircraft's production was part of the self-inspect program. Most of the mistakes were caught before the plane's delivery to an airline, according to the report.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Boeing is under scrutiny over reports of recurring errors on the assembly line for the 787 Dreamliner plane. The errors are believed to have stemmed from a manufacturing process that allows mechanics to self-inspect their work, according to The Post and Courier.

Errors on the production line included debris in airspeed sensors, rags and bolts in planes, and loose cabin seats, The Post and Courier reported. Tires with cuts in them, untested gears, and malfunctioning hydraulics systems were also spotted by workers, the newspaper said.

Workers told The Post and Courier that 90% of the aircraft's production was part of the self-inspect program. Most of the mistakes were caught before the plane's delivery to an airline, according to The Post and Courier report.

"I'm always finding cases where jobs are signed off and the parts aren't installed," a Boeing employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity told the newspaper. "It happens a lot."

"It's an everyday thing — every single day," another Boeing employee said, according to The Post and Courier.

Employees said that while allowing workers to inspect their own work was quicker for production, it also compromised passenger safety.

The duration of the final assembly process has been slashed by several days, but the drawback is that workers spent more time fixing problems with the 787s before their first test flights.

"Boeing has strict methods which ensure our final products comply with design and regulatory requirements," Boeing spokesman Peter Pedraza told Business Insider in an emailed statement on Monday.

"We are strengthening our approach to quality and putting resources in place to bolster our focus on preventing defects throughout our production system," Pedraza said.

Ernesto Gonzalez-Beltran, Boeing's vice president of quality control, told The Post and Courier, "Where there are consistently stable processes, we believe there is no value added for a second set of eyes."

Gonzalez-Beltran, who has worked as an executive for Toyota and Ford Motor Co., had no experience in the aviation-manufacturing industry before arriving at Boeing and has expanded the self-inspect program, according to The Post and Courier.

Pedraza echoed those sentiments in his statement to Business Insider:

A small fraction of our evolution includes streamlining secondary inspections for processes which are proven to be stable. At the same time we are improving upon the traditional inspection approach with new process controls, new technologies and improved designs that make our work less susceptible to errors. Mechanics performing the actual job will always verify and ensure the work meets certification standards.

Boeing has been under pressure after two deadly crashes on the company's 737 Max planes. Two 737s crashed within a five-month period, killing 346 people. An investigation into the crashes is ongoing.

The company has also faced questions over its business practices, including its pilot-training process and the its close ties to the industry's regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration.

SEE ALSO: An off-duty pilot reportedly prevented a Boeing 737 Max 8 crash one day before the same plane crashed and killed 189 passengers and crew

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Trump's top trade negotiator confirms the China tariffs will increase on Friday, accuses Beijing of walking back on trade deal

Mon, 05/06/2019 - 5:52pm

  • US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer confirmed US tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods would increase on Friday at 12:01 a.m. ET.
  • The confirmation comes after President Donald Trump tweeted a threat to escalate the trade war.
  • Lighthizer and US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told reporters the increase was in response to China's sudden reversal on previously made trade-deal commitments.
  • The US and China have been locked in a trade war for about a year, and the two sides have been engaged in trade talks to end the economic conflict since December 2018.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The chief trade negotiator for the Trump administration confirmed President Donald Trump's Sunday tweet, telling reporters that tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods would increase on Friday at 12:01 a.m. ET.

According to US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, the 10% tariff rate will rise to 25%, as Trump threatened. Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the increase was triggered by China's sudden reversal on key agreements in trade talks.

"Over the course of the last week or so, we have seen an erosion in commitments by China, I would say retreating from specific commitments that had already been made," Lighthizer said, adding the reversal is "unacceptable."

The move marks a sudden reescalation of the yearlong trade war between the US and China.

According to Lighthizer, the Chinese reneged on key promises made earlier in talks that hoped to craft a deal to end the trade war. Both sides previously seemed confident that a deal was close.

Trump took investors and trade experts by surprise on Sunday when he threatened to increase the tariff rate on $200 billion worth of Chinese good and apply new tariffs to the remaining $325 billion of Chinese goods that have so far not been tied up in the trade war.

Read more: Trump threatens seismic shift in trade war with China, suggesting new tariffs on $325 billion worth of Chinese goods

The threat led to a substantial sell-off in global markets, though the major US indexes recovered through Monday's trading.

The threat also comes as a Chinese delegation is set to travel to Washington to discuss a trade deal on Thursday and Friday. There was initially uncertainty over whether the envoy from Beijing would attend after Trump's threat, and it is still unclear if Vice Premier Liu He, the country's top economic official, will join the delegation.

Lighthizer told reporters that attempts to craft a deal were not over and the US is "not breaking off talks at this point."

As it stands, the US has tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods, and China has placed tariffs on $110 billion worth of American goods. The current round of trade talks kicked off in December when Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping reached a trade truce during the G20 summit in Argentina.

Read more: Trump's trade war could cost every middle-class American family $453 and could eliminate 292,000 US jobs

The 10% tariff on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods was originally supposed to increase on January 1, but that was delayed to March 1. After the two sides made progress on the talks, the increase was suspended indefinitely just before the March 1 deadline.

Economists have warned an escalation of the trade war is the biggest threat to the US economy, and multiple studies have shown that a predominate amount of the burden from Trump's tariffs has been borne by American companies and consumers.

SEE ALSO: 'Fasten your seatbelt and don't hold your breath': Wall Street scrambles to figure out what's next for stocks after Trump sends shockwaves through markets

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Uber and Lyft drivers are planning to strike this week, and it highlights the challenge the 2 ride-hailing giants face as public companies (UBER, LYFT)

Mon, 05/06/2019 - 5:25pm

  • Drivers for Uber, Lyft and other companies are planning a nationwide strike on Wednesday.  Many drivers, classified as contractors and not employees, are unhappy with declining pay. 
  • "Wall Street investors are telling Uber and Lyft to cut down on driver income, stop incentives, and go faster to Driverless Cars," Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, said.
  • As Uber and Lyft fight for market share in the United States, a calculation known as a take rate has become front and center.  Both companies have to try and please drivers, riders, and investors, putting the companies in a difficult position. 
  • Read more stories on the Business Insider homepage.

Drivers for ride-hailing companies including Uber, Lyft and others are planning coordinated strikes in at least 10 cities this week to call attention to low pay and other issues, according to the 10 groups organizing the demonstrations.

It's far from the first time drivers have raised issue with how how little they are paid, or their status as independent contractors as opposed to full-fledged employees with benefits like paid time off or sick leave.

However, this strike seems to be attracting more attention than others thanks to its proximity to Lyft's first ever earnings report as a publicly traded company on Tuesday, and before Uber's debut on the New York Stock exchange on Friday.

Uber says it can't pay its drivers more money, but rewarded its CEO with nearly $50 million last year. People who work for multibillion-dollar companies should not have to work 70 or 80 hours a week to get by. I stand with the Uber and Lyft drivers going on strike on May 8.

— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) May 3, 2019

Read more: More Uber and Lyft drivers are using the app to fit their schedules, but those who make it a full-time job are barely earning a livable wage

It all comes down to take rates

Paying drivers is one of the biggest expenses for ride-hailing companies. The fraction of total fares that Uber or Lyft skims from trips (and deliveries, in the case of Uber), is known as the take rate. 

Setting these rates is a delicate dance as the two companies — basically the only competitors in most of the country — fight to win over both drivers and riders. The higher the take rate, the more money Uber or Lyft can add to their coffers, and the better the numbers look to Wall Street investors.

The lower the rate, the more more money is kept by drivers. 

"We note that drivers are hired as independent contractors vs. full employees, meaning they are responsible for their own vehicle expenses (maintenance, gas, insurance, etc.) and it is difficult for them to increase the amount of earnings per hour beyond a certain level given the current dynamics of the industry with take rates the hot button issue," Daniel Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, said in a note to clients on Monday.

Uber's take rate increased to 21.7% in 2018 from 20.5% the prior year, the company disclosed in IPO filings. Lyft's, by comparison, was 26% in 2018 (though the two companies calculate this number slightly differently, with Uber including tolls and surcharges in the calculation.)

Ives says he's expecting a "minor increase in 2019 to 22.3% but overall expect limited upside to take rates," at Uber. Any increase in that take rate, while beneficial for Uber's bottom line, could be risky, Ives said. 

"We do see added risk from Uber aiming to take greater share of the fare from drivers and expect that the more Uber pushes here, the more drivers will fight back and protest, increasing the likelihood of regulations (particularly at the state level in the U.S. and in Europe) of minimum wage guarantees," he writes.

"Drivers classified as employees would be a challenge to Uber's operations in those markets where they are classified as such," Ives continued.

Both Uber and Lyft have fought hard for years to ensure that drivers remain classified as contractors and not employees. In their prospectus filings for IPOs, both companies mentioned the employment status of drivers as a risk factor. Classifying workers as contractors can cut costs for platforms by 20 to 30%, industry experts estimate, hence why companies have fought so hard to keep the status unchanged.

"We continue to maintain that drivers on our platform are independent contractors in such legal and administrative proceedings, but our arguments may ultimately be unsuccessful," Lyft said in its S-1. "A determination in, or settlement of, any legal proceeding, whether we are party to such legal proceeding or not, that classifies a driver of a ridesharing platform as an employee, could harm our business, financial condition and results of operations."

Uber's warning used much of the same language:

"If, as a result of legislation or judicial decisions, we are required to classify Drivers as employees, we would incur significant additional expenses for compensating Drivers, potentially including expenses associated with the application of wage and hour laws (including minimum wage, overtime, and meal and rest period requirements), employee benefits, social security contributions, taxes, and penalties," the company's S-1 reads.

Self-driving cars could theoretically mitigate some of the money that Uber must pay to drivers, the company also said in its IPO filings. However, researching autonomy is an expensive bet, with Uber's advanced technologies group comprising more than 1,000 employees at three offices in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Toronto.

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

So what do striking drivers want?

According to the groups organizing Wednesday's strikes, drivers are demanding job security, livable incomes, and more regulations to help drivers stay afloat.

"Wall Street investors are telling Uber and Lyft to cut down on driver income, stop incentives, and go faster to Driverless Cars," Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, said in a press release. "Uber and Lyft wrote in their S1 filings that they think they pay drivers too much already. With the IPO, Uber's corporate owners are set to make billions, all while drivers are left in poverty and go bankrupt. That's why NYTWA members are joining the international strike to stand up to Uber greed." 

Notably, New York is the nation's largest ride-hailing market, and also one of the first cities worldwide to establish a minimum wage law for app-based drivers. Lyft and Juno sued the city to overturn the law, arguing that a key calculation for how drivers are paid unfairly favors Uber thanks to its larger size. A state judge last week rejected Lyft's arguments and said that the law can stay in place as written.

Ahead of the demonstrations, both companies acknowledged that drivers are the most important element of their businesses. Here's Uber's statement:

"Drivers are at the heart of our service─we can't succeed without them─and thousands of people come into work at Uber every day focused on how to make their experience better, on and off the road. Whether it's more consistent earnings, stronger insurance protections or fully-funded four-year degrees for drivers or their families, we'll continue working to improve the experience for and with drivers."

And Lyft:

"Lyft drivers' hourly earnings have increased over the last two years, and they have earned more than $10B on the Lyft platform. Over 75 percent drive less than 10 hours a week to supplement their existing jobs. On average, Lyft drivers earn over $20 per hour. We know that access to flexible, extra income makes a big difference for millions of people, and we're constantly working to improve how we can best serve our driver community."

The pressure is getting to Uber.

They rely on how difficult it is to organize drivers, that's enabled them to pay drivers poverty wages & no benefits.

Now that we're organizing, they're upping rates on Wednesday morning to try get drivers not to join in.

Don't be fooled.

— Gig Workers Rising (@GigWorkersRise) May 6, 2019


More Uber and Lyft news:

SEE ALSO: Uber's IPO is reportedly sold-out just three days into its investor road show

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Meghan Markle just gave birth to a baby boy — from a $200,000 baby shower to a $500,000 maternity wardrobe, here's how much her pregnancy has cost

Mon, 05/06/2019 - 5:20pm

Meghan Markle has given birth to a baby boy.

The Duchess of Sussex and Prince Harry welcomed their first child, who weighed in at 7 pounds and 3 ounces, on Monday morning at 5:26 a.m., according to the couple's Instagram account. He does not yet have a name.

"I'm very excited to announce that Meghan and myself had a baby boy this morning, a very healthy baby boy," Harry said in the statement from Windsor cited by ITV. "It's been the most amazing experience I could ever have possibly imagined. How any woman does what they do is beyond comprehension. But we're both absolutely thrilled. We're both absolutely thrilled and so grateful for all the love and support from everybody out there, it's been amazing, so we just wanted to share this with everybody."

Buckingham Palace tweeted confirmation that Markle went into labor early Monday following an announcement of the couple's plans to keep the details surrounding the birth secret until they had time "to celebrate privately as a new family."

Raising a royal child isn't a cheap endeavor — one estimate put the cost of raising Prince George to adulthood at $1 million.

While many details surrounding the birth of the latest royal baby haven't been revealed yet (except that he wasn't born in the Lindo Wing of St. Mary's Hospital in London, per royal tradition, according to CBS), here's how much the royal baby has cost so far.

SEE ALSO: Meghan Markle has given birth to a baby boy

DON'T MISS: Kate Middleton's delivery of her third baby probably cost less than a typical birth in the US

Meghan had a baby shower in Manhattan worth $200,000, according to a Vanity Fair estimate.

Serena Williams, a friend of Meghan's, paid for the party, which included a flower-arranging lesson and dessert tasting with a Michelin-star chef, Katie Nicholl for Vanity Fair reported.

Along with her friends, Meghan spent her time in the city dining in exclusive restaurants, according to Catriona Harvey-Jenner for Cosmopolitan.

Williams paid $75,000 to host the shower in a penthouse suite at The Mark, a hotel on the Upper East Side.

The suite includes two floors, five bedrooms, four fireplaces, six bathrooms, two powder rooms, and Central Park views, according to Nicholl.

Meghan arrived at the shower in style — she reportedly flew from London to New York via private jet for an estimated $100,000.

According to Nicholl, one of Meghan's friends owns the jet and covered the cost as a gift.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

We compared the Chase Sapphire Reserve and AmEx Gold to determine the ultimate dining rewards card

Mon, 05/06/2019 - 4:22pm

Business Insider may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network if you apply for a credit card, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

  • The Chase Sapphire Reserve offers generous rewards on dining, but a slate of newcomers have been trying to take its place as the best card for dining.
  • Last fall, the American Express® Gold Card was refreshed with new benefits, including an even better rewards earning rate at US restaurants.
  • There are a lot of similarities between the two cards, but also some important differences. Here's what you need to know to decide which is right for you.

When it launched in 2016, the Chase Sapphire Reserve was the king of dining rewards. With 3x points for every dollar spent on dining — which was defined broadly enough to include everything from restaurants to cafés and bars — it was the obvious go-to to maximize points anytime you ate out.

Nearly three years later, the rewards landscape has become more crowded than ever, and the Sapphire Reserve, or "CSR," has some heavy-hitting competition. Last year, American Express refreshed its Premier Rewards Gold card, rebranding it the American Express Gold Card.

The two cards bear a lot of similarities: They have hefty annual fees but a handful of benefits and credits to offset it, they earn bonus points on dining, and they both have a handful of valuable ways to redeem points. But there are also a handful of differences, some of which are pretty significant. There's also the Citi Prestige card, which offers an incredible 5x points on dining, but Citi's rewards program is trickier to navigate to get top value.

With that in mind, which card — the Sapphire Reserve or AmEx Gold — is best for you? Read on to find out.

Keep in mind that we're focusing on the rewards and perks that make these cards great options, not things like interest rates and late fees, which can far outweigh the value of any rewards.

When you're working to earn credit card rewards, it's important to practice financial discipline, like paying your balances off in full each month, making payments on time, and not spending more than you can afford to pay back. Basically, treat your credit card like a debit card.

Click here to learn more about the Chase Sapphire Reserve from Business Insider's partner: The Points Guy. Click here to learn more about the American Express Gold Card from Business Insider's partner: The Points Guy.

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

The annual fees — and the credits that offset them

Both the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the AmEx Gold have hefty annual fees — the Sapphire Reserve is $450, and the AmEx Gold is $250.

However, both cards offer a few annual statement credits on purchases that — if you would have made those purchases anyway — significantly offset the fees.

The Sapphire Reserve comes with a straightforward and easy-to-use $300 travel credit. The first $300 you spend on travel-related purchases every cardmember year is credited back to your account. The "travel" category is expansive, including everything from subways, taxis, parking, and tolls to airfare and hotels.

When you subtract that credit from the annual fee, the Sapphire Reserve only costs $150 per year.

The AmEx Gold has two different statement credits.

The first is up to $120 each year in dining credits, broken into monthly $10 portions. These credits only apply to a few participating chain restaurants — specifically Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House, and some Shake Shack locations — but they also apply to popular food ordering services GrubHub and Seamless. The credits apply automatically to any qualifying purchase.

The AmEx Gold also offers up to $100 in airline fee credits each calendar year. Every January, you pick one airline for that credit to apply toward. While the credit doesn't cover tickets, it covers incidental fees like checked bags, seat assignments on basic economy tickets, change fees, and more. Sometimes you can even be reimbursed for airline gift cards that you can apply toward tickets, even though this is an unpublished benefit — do some Googling to see whether that works on your airline of choice.

Assuming you take full advantage of both credits, the effective annual fee for the AmEx Gold is just $30.

Rewards: The earning on both cards is substantial

The Chase Sapphire Reserve earns 3x points per dollar spent on every dining or travel purchase (except for the first $300 of travel each year that is covered by the travel credit).

Both categories are broadly defined: Dining includes things like bars, cafes, restaurants, food trucks and booths, pubs, and in many cases, bakeries or ice cream shops. Travel, meanwhile includes everything from subways, taxis and Ubers, parking, and tolls, to flights, hotels, cruises, and more.

Travel website (and Business Insider e-commerce partner) The Points Guy subjectively values Chase Ultimate Rewards points at 2¢ each (more on that later), meaning you'd earn about 6% of value back on every dollar you spend.

The AmEx Gold Card offers a higher 4x points per dollar spent at US restaurants, as well as 4x points back at US supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per year — 1x point per dollar for anything beyond that) and 3x points per dollar on flights booked directly with the airline or with AmEx travel.

The AmEx card's restaurant category is similarly broad as the Sapphire Reserve's — I've gotten the category bonus at restaurants, bars, pubs, and cafes. The supermarket category excludes big box stores where you might buy groceries, like Target or Walmart, but includes most dedicated US supermarkets.

The Points Guy also subjectively values AmEx Membership Rewards points at 2¢ each, so going by that metric, you get a huge 8% of value back from the Gold Card — beating the Sapphire Reserve.

The travel category is much more restrictive. If your spending is more split between travel and dining, you may be better off with the Reserve. There may also be room in your wallet for both, especially considering that the AmEx Gold's effective annual fee is so low.

There's one other important difference to note: Even though the AmEx Gold earns higher rewards on dining, that's only applicable in the US. At restaurants when you're abroad, you'll only get 1x point per dollar spent. The Sapphire Reserve still earns its category bonuses when you use your card overseas.

Welcome bonuses: Earn a lot of points right away.

When you sign up for the Chase Sapphire Reserve you can get 50,000 bonus points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months — assuming you haven't opened a Sapphire-branded card in the past four years.

That bonus is worth $500 as cash back, $750 when used to purchase travel through Chase's booking portal, or potentially more when you transfer it to airline partners to book flights — more on all of that in a moment. Using The Points Guy's general valuation, which is a subjective aggregate of the realistic potential values you can get from points, it would be worth about $1,000.

The AmEx Gold Card offers 35,000 points when you spend $2,000 in your first three months with your new card.

The Gold has a lower bonus, but also a lower spending requirement to earn it. The higher earning rates on US restaurants, plus the rates at supermarkets, might make up for that.

The value AmEx offers when you use points for cash back is poor, although you can get around $350 towards flights if you book through AmEx travel, but potentially more by transferring to airline partners. Based on The Points Guy's valuation, that's about $700 in value.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Stocks battle back from early plunge sparked by Trump's trade-war escalation — still close in the red

Mon, 05/06/2019 - 4:02pm

  • US equity markets staged an impressive comeback on Monday.
  • President Donald Trump threatened new tariffs on Chinese goods, initially sending stocks and global markets reeling.
  • The S&P 500, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and the Nasdaq Composite all fell by nearly 2% in early trading before recouping most of their losses.
  • Visit Markets Insider's homepage for more stories.

Stocks in the US staged an impressive comeback on Monday, but couldn't manage to finish the session in positive territory.

President Donald Trump's weekend tweets threatening new tariffs on Chinese goods sent global markets into what one firm called a "risk-off frenzy," mere days after the US stock market rose to a record high.

The S&P 500, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and the Nasdaq Composite closed out the day down as much as 0.5% after plunging by as much as 2% early in the session. The Dow ended down 66.47 points after shedding more than 400 points at the open as traders worried the US-China trade war could drag on without a resolution. 

Meanwhile, the Russell 2000 managed to close modestly higher after beginning the day deep in the red.

On Sunday, Trump tweeted that, starting Friday, the US would increase tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25% from 10% and slap fresh 25% tariffs on an additional $325 billion worth of Chinese goods.

"The United States has been losing, for many years, 600 to 800 Billion Dollars a year on Trade," the president added Monday morning. "With China we lose 500 Billion Dollars. Sorry, we're not going to be doing that anymore!"

UBS economists said Trump's tweets signaled the opposite of his statements just last Friday, when he said talks between Washington and Beijing to end their trade war were going "very well."

The violent reaction in US equity markets has interrupted their impressive comeback from the historic sell-off that took place during the fourth quarter of last year.

Investors appeared not to have priced in the chance that US-China trade negotiations could falter, seeing as both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite rose to records last week.

Read more: 11 mind-blowing facts about China's economy

This year's rally has been fueled in part by the Federal Reserve's dovish posture, signs the domestic economy is on solid footing, and optimism that the US and China could reach a trade deal. The rally comes, too, despite what some market strategists see as a corporate earnings recession this year. The S&P 500 is still up 17% this year.

Some of the more trade-sensitive corners of the market fell under intense pressure early Monday, notably emerging-market equities, semiconductors, and US companies with particularly large exposure to China.

The trade-sensitive names Boeing and 3M both fell more than 1%, paring their losses throughout the day, while the chipmakers Advanced Micro Devices, Micron, and Nvidia all lost between 2% and 3%.

The China-heavy iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ETF shed 2% after the Shanghai Composite plunged nearly 6% overnight.

"Our base case is that the US and China tariffs have stabilized, the sides will reach a deal that removes tariffs in stages, but long term non-tariff commerce barriers will continue to rise," Morgan Stanley equity strategists wrote in a note to clients Monday morning.

They added: "But comments from the US threatening more tariffs introduce fresh uncertainty about the near term trajectory: a real possibility that another round of tariff escalation is part of the endgame."

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

Trump threatens seismic shift in trade war with China, suggesting new tariffs on $325 billion worth of Chinese goods

Warren Buffett says he doesn't think men and women invest differently because his sisters have 'loaded up on Berkshire Hathaway too'

'Entering the danger zone': One Wall Street expert lays out a compelling case for a stock-market meltdown in May

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Carta, the startup building a stock exchange for startups, says its own valuation increased nearly $1 billion in 5 months

Mon, 05/06/2019 - 3:52pm

Carta, a service for buying and selling shares in private companies, has built its business around the surging valuations of startups.

On Monday, Carta provided a firsthand example of the trend when it announced that its own valuation jumped by nearly $1 billion in the span of just five months.

The company announced it has closed $300 million in series E funding tied to a $1.7 billion valuation. Andreessen Horowitz led the round, and Marc Andreessen will join the company's board to help Carta move beyond business-to-business asset management.

Carta most recently raised $80 million in series D funds in December that valued the company at $800 million. With Monday's announcement, the company has raised a total of $447.8 million.

"We are building, growing quickly and growth is expensive," Carta founder and CEO Henry Ward told Business Insider. "We're building a new financial infrastructure, and that is expensive."

Carta helps employees and investors sell stake in privately held companies through their online equity-management platform, formerly known as eShares.

Ward said the new funds would help the company build out CartaX, which is essentially a stock market for private assets, like shares in a private company. He said the company wanted to bring on investors with experience in capital markets to help build the company's New York presence. Lightspeed Venture Partners, Goldman Sachs Principal Strategic Investments, Tiger Global, and Thrive Capital joined Monday's round as their first investment in the company.

"Since the railroads, there's been no liquidity in the private world," Ward said. "A lot of people are trying to solve that problem and we might be the first company that gets to crack the code."

'My mom can't even invest in my company'

Ward sees Carta's growth coming predominantly from CartaX as more companies stay private longer and fewer Americans have equitable access to investment assets.

"My mom can't even invest in my company," Ward said. "Our goal is to create a private stock market where we will build democratized access to investments and private assets."

Read more: This founder hung out at truck stops talking to drivers about their problems. Now his startup is worth more than $1 billion

Carta began by offering a fund-administration tool for investors in 2018, which Ward said is projected to comprise 20% of Carta's overall revenue by the end of 2019 as the company's fastest-growing product line. According to Carta, fund administration counts over $9 billion in assets under management with a $5 million annual run rate.

According to Ward, Carta serves about 25% of the venture market and adds 10 to 15 firms to its fund-management tool a month. He said part of the appeal for venture-backed companies is Carta's ability to help them prepare to go public.

"When you look ahead, the IPOs in 2023 are the series B companies on Carta today," Ward said. "The lines between private and public [markets] will blur over the next few years, and we are building the structure to allow those lines to blur."

SEE ALSO: Meet the 7 VC investors getting rich off of this year’s parade of 'unicorn' IPOs

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Apple just released a free iPhone game based on Warren Buffett called 'Warren Buffett's Paper Wizard' — and it's a charming copy of the classic game 'Paperboy' (AAPL)

Mon, 05/06/2019 - 3:06pm

Before legendary investor Warren Buffett was an iconic billionaire, he was a 13-year-old boy slinging newspapers. 

Nowadays, of course, he's the CEO of Berkshire Hathaway — one of the world's most powerful conglomerates, and a 5% stakeholder in Apple.

As an homage to those humble beginnings and Buffett's tight connection with Apple, the iPhone maker created a new game wherein you deliver newspapers in both Omaha, Nebraska and Cupertino, California. 

Here's the deal:

SEE ALSO: 6 daily success habits borrowed from Warren Buffett, Tim Cook, and other highly accomplished people

The game is named "Warren Buffett's Paper Wizard":

The game was developed by Apple and a company named Wildlife Design, an Apple spokesperson told Business Insider.

It's a completely free iPhone game — no microtransactions or other in-app purchases required. Completely free.

The game is basically "Paperboy," the Atari classic that dates back to the 1980s.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Wells Fargo reportedly approached the co-CEO of the world's largest hedge fund about becoming its CEO (WFC)

Mon, 05/06/2019 - 3:02pm

  • Representatives from Wells Fargo have reached out to Bridgewater Associates co-CEO Eileen Murray to discuss the possibility of her joining the bank as CEO, The Wall Street Journal reported.
  • Murray has indicated she is exploring opportunities outside of the hedge fund.
  • Watch Wells Fargo trade live.

Wells Fargo has reached out to Eileen Murray, co-CEO of hedge fund Bridgewater Associates, to discuss the possibility of her taking on the CEO position at the beleagured bank, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.

Wells Fargo is actively looking for new leadership since the resignation of former CEO Tim Sloan in April. Bridgewater is the world's largest hedge fund, with approximately $160 billion of assets under management.

Murray is co-CEO of Bridgewater, alongside David McCormick, while Ray Dalio, who founded Bridgewater in 1957, is now co-chief investment officer and co-chairman. Murray has focused on accounting and operations at the firm's Westport, Connecticut, headquarters while McCormick often travels to meet clients, the Journal says.

Recently, Dalio has been busy promoting his writing and philosophy. He recently released a free app based on his new book, "Principles," which has sold over 2 million copies.

While Bridgewater's strict non-compete makes it hard to leave for another investment fund, Murray has had discussions with several firms about senior roles, including Uber and MetLife, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Bridgewater is known for its unique culture which emphasizes "radical truth and transparency." All meetings are taped and employees are encouraged to point out each other's faults, minor or major. "It's not for everyone," Murray said in January at the Context Summits conference in Miami, Florida. 

For all its controversy, the strategy appears to be working. Bridgewater was one of the most successful funds in 2018, posting a return of nearly 15% in a year during which most hedge funds lost money. On the back of that performance, Dalio reportedly earned $2 billion in 2018 alone.

Wells Fargo shares are up 5% this year.

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The 7 most crucial money lessons to learn before age 30, according to a Harvard grad who was raised in poverty and now runs a personal finance site

Mon, 05/06/2019 - 2:54pm

  • Camilo Maldonado was born in Colombia and as a child came to the US, where he was raised in poverty by his widowed mother.
  • After graduating from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, he got an MBA from Harvard Business School. His career then took him to Wall Street and start-ups before he launched a personal finance site with his twin brother.
  • Here are seven money lessons that have a larger impact to your financial stability than you realize, and that he believes everyone should learn before they hit age 30.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

I recently turned 30 years old, which is a scary time financially. You're old enough to feel like you should have made more progress financially, but young enough that realistically you are still battling the challenges of a modern young adult, like paying back student loans and an increasing cost of living.

According to the 2014 Census figures published in August of 2018, the median net worth of single-person households under the age of 35 is $4,166. If you exclude equity from a primary home and the related mortgage, the figure drops to $3,310.

They say that 30 is the new 20 — and from a financial standpoint, it certainly looks that way. It used to be common to work your way through college and graduate at 22, debt-free, and immediately start saving for a down payment on your home. It's virtually impossible to do that now, since the cost of tuition has increased nearly 8x faster than wages have over the past 30 years.

Read more: Warren Buffett on the best choice he made for his career — and 7 tips for how we can all emulate his good decision-making

Today's new graduates are saddled with tens of thousands of student loans. Upon graduation, you're not even thinking about saving for a down payment on a home because for the next few years, you're working to repay the student loan companies.

It can be scary to turn 30 and feel like you face an uphill battle from the very beginning, but there are a few lessons that you must learn if you are determined to build a solid financial foundation for your future.


SEE ALSO: It takes a $300,000 salary to be middle class in cities like San Francisco and NYC, and a financial expert gives the 'sad' breakdown of why

1. Harness the power of retirement accounts

Looking at the most recent census data, the median value of retirement accounts was $10,000.

That figure is powerful, because it's 140% or 2.4x larger than the overall median net worth for single-person households under the age of 35. Only home equity represents a larger share of wealth for this group.

This means that retirement accounts are one of the most reliable ways for young people to build wealth. Interestingly, the share of net worth is split roughly equally between 401(k) and IRA accounts.

Unfortunately, the data shows that many young people are not contributing to a 401(k) or IRA account since the median net worth is so much lower than the median value of those types of accounts. Both types of accounts use tax-savings to incentivize people to save for retirement, but the 401(k) has the added benefit that employers can make matching contributions into those accounts.

2. Leverage the stock market and learn how to invest

If they are able to save money, many people keep their money in a bank account because they are intimidated by the stock market or are afraid of losing money. Contrary to those fears, the second largest contributor to net worth for young people aside from their home is stocks and mutual fund shares.

If you are not investing because you don't know how to do so, you are likely not familiar with low-cost index funds. These investments are simple, highly effective and extremely affordable. This is also the way I was taught to invest my money by my finance professors at both Harvard Business School and the Wharton School of Business. As one professor would say, "Picking individual stocks is for dummies."

By investing in index funds like Fidelity's FZROX or Vanguard's VTSAX, you are essentially investing in the entire stock market, giving you broad exposure to many different companies while lowering the chance of picking the wrong company or sector to invest in. They also charge virtually no fees, which means that more of your money is staying in your account. No investment is guaranteed, but this is the way the world's top money managers recommend individual investors to invest their money.

3. Realize that you can't buy happiness sooner rather than later

Evolutionarily, we are all coded to want more than we already have. It's what has allowed humankind to advance to heights that would have barely been imaginable even as recently as a few hundred years ago.

One negative side-effect of this drive is that it's easy to want to keep up with the proverbial 'Joneses.' Learning that money can't buy you happiness is a lesson that everyone will eventually learn. Books like "Tuesdays With Morrie" or Randy Pausch's famous "Last Lecture" highlight the fact that at life's end, the most important things are hardly related to a desire for more physical objects or purchases.

Learning this lesson will allow you to avoid making costly mistakes like not saving for retirement in lieu of spending hundreds of dollars on fitness classes. There's a balance to everything.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Aeroflot has offered victims of the fatal emergency landing up to $76,584 in compensation

Mon, 05/06/2019 - 2:51pm

  • Aeroflot announced on Monday that it will offer victims who died during the emergency landing and subsequent fire on Flight SU1492 up to $76,584 in compensation.
  • The Russian airline issued a statement in which it also announced that passengers who were not injured will receive $15,317, while those who required hospitalization will get $30,634.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Aeroflot announced on Monday that it will offer victims of Flight SU1492 up to $76,584 in compensation. Flight SU1492 burst into flames during an emergency landing at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport on Sunday killing 41 of the 78 passengers and crew on board.

"Passengers of flight SU1492 who did not require hospitalization will receive RUB 1 million ($15,317)." Russia's national airline said in a statement. "Those who sought medical assistance following the incident on 5 May 2019 will receive RUB 2 million ($30,634)."

Finally, the relatives of those who perished will receive RUB 5 million, or $76,584, for each family member lost. 

Read more: Harrowing video shows rough landing that may have caused the deadly Russia airline to explode.

According to the airline, the compensation figures announced will be paid by Aeroflot on top of the insurance payments provided under Russian law. 

"Applications for compensation can be made at Aeroflot's offices in Murmansk and Moscow," Aeroflot said.

According to the airline, Flight SU1492, en route from Moscow to the city of Murmansk in northwestern Russia, suffered "malfunctions on board the aircraft" shortly after takeoff. As a result, the crew declared an emergency and returned to the airport. Later, one of the plane's pilots told Russian media that the Sukhoi Superjet 100's communications systems failed due to a lightning strike. 

Video of the emergency suggests that the plane may not have caught fire until the aircraft bounced violently during the landing attempt, and seemingly caused the main landing gear to collapse. 

A commission chaired by Russian Transport Minister Evgeny Dietrich has launched an investigation into the incident. 

SEE ALSO: Hero flight attendant says she kicked the plane door open and pushed passengers down the emergency slide to prevent further casualties in the Aeroflot inferno

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Customer complaints show $600 million health startup uBiome has been surprising patients and insurers with bills for years

Mon, 05/06/2019 - 2:42pm

  • uBiome has faced complaints over surprise bills and billing mistakes for several years.
  • The Federal Trade Commission received 28 complaints about uBiome between July 2017 and March 2019, according to records obtained by Business Insider.
  • The complaints detail instances of surprise bills as high as $3,000 and of bills sent to insurers for tests that weren't delivered.
  • uBiome sells tests that sequence the microbiome, which is the assortment of bacteria and other microbes that live in our bodies. The company has raised $105 million from investors.
  • The company's offices were raided by the FBI on April 26, and its cofounders and co-CEOs, Jessica Richman and Zac Apte, have been placed on administrative leave, the company said on Wednesday.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The FBI last month raided the headquarters of the $600 million Silicon Valley healthcare startup uBiome, reportedly as part of an investigation into questionable billing practices.

Even before the FBI raid, customers had been experiencing billing problems at the startup for more than a year, according to a review of complaints by Business Insider. The complaints, obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request, hadn't been previously reported.

uBiome began as a citizen science project and sought to create a large public database on the microbiome, the rich assortment of bacteria that thrive in our bodies and appear to influence everything from our moods to our risks of certain diseases.

In recent years, however, the company had been significantly enhancing its profile, raising $105 million from investors, collecting thousands of samples, publishing scientific research, and signing research partnerships with major brands such as L'Oréal.

In April, the FBI raided uBiome's headquarters. On the heels of the raid, the company placed cofounders and co-CEOs Jessica Richman and Zachary Apte on administrative leave. John Rakow, the company's general counsel, is acting as the interim CEO.

Complaints reviewed by Business Insider show that uBiome customers were experiencing billing problems for more than a year before the FBI raid. The Federal Trade Commission received 28 complaints about the startup between July 2017 and March 2019, according to records obtained by Business Insider.

Read more: Microbiome-testing company uBiome has placed its founders on leave following an FBI raid

Of the 28 complaints sent to the FTC, 22 were related to billing, either cases in which patients got an unexpected bill or instances in which insurers were billed for tests that weren't delivered. Others mention instances in which users didn't get their test results after sending in their samples.

Customers faced unexpected bills of as much as $3,000

Many of the complaints point to instances in which users were told their insurance was approved. Some had signed up under uBiome's pilot program, which told potential test takers in big letters "no cost to you." If the health insurers didn't pay, the people thought they wouldn't be on the hook for the costs. But instead, the people say in the complaints that they were left facing bills of as much as $3,000.

"I ordered a kit and was not disclosed the cost of using the service. Company only stated they will process it through insurance," one complaint says. "My insurance company only covered some of the bill and it left me to pay over $2,000 for testing."

The FTC removed the names and other identifying information of the people who made the complaints before providing them to Business Insider. The agency said it couldn't verify the claims and that it couldn't confirm or deny whether it's investigating uBiome.

A representative of uBiome declined to comment on the FTC complaints. The representative deferred to a previous statement in which uBiome said it would conduct an independent investigation of its billing practices and cooperate with government authorities and health insurers.

One complaint, from April 2018, said that the patient's spouse had mistakenly been billed for the test the patient had taken. In the course of sorting out the mistake, uBiome billed both the patient and the spouse, charging an additional $2,970 for a test that wasn't taken.

One patient complained that his or her insurer had been billed for a test for which the patient never got the result. Another was notified in April 2018 by their insurer that the insurer had overpaid uBiome for a test. The insurer then wanted a refund of more than $600. Others had funds taken directly out of special savings accounts that they had set up to pay for medical services.

uBiome stopped selling 2 of its tests

On Monday, uBiome halted sales of SmartGut and SmartJane, which were tests that had to be ordered by a doctor. The company will still sell its "Explorer" test, which doesn't require a prescription.

The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the FBI raid, reported that the FBI is investigating uBiome's billing practices.

CNBC reported in May that people who used uBiome's testing kits said they were encouraged by the company to take more than one test — sometimes as many as six. In some cases, they were sent multiple tests, CNBC said; in others, the company sent emails encouraging them to order another test.

The idea is that by taking several tests over time, you can get a better picture of how your microbiome is changing.

On its website, uBiome says that the tests are "insurance-reimbursed" and that "uBiome clinical tests are fully or partially covered by most health insurance companies under 'out-of-network' healthcare benefits."

Some health insurers don't cover the tests

Some large insurers don't cover the tests.

In its medical policy, Anthem considers uBiome's tests "investigational and not medically necessary," and Aetna considers the tests "experimental and investigational because their role in clinical management has not been established."

Insurers including Aetna and Cambia Health Solutions' Regence BlueCross BlueShield are looking into the company's billing practices, according to people familiar with the matter.

Want to tell us about your experience with uBiome? Email the authors at and

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Hedge fund Marcato will fight against Acreage's sale to Canopy Growth, and says the landmark deal is 'lopsided' in Canopy's favor

Mon, 05/06/2019 - 2:34pm

  • The activist hedge fund Marcato Capital Management said it would vote against the marijuana retailer Acreage Holdings' landmark sale to Canopy Growth.
  • Canopy Growth paid $300 million in April for the right to buy Acreage Holdings pending the federal legalization of marijuana in the US. 
  • The shareholder vote is expected to happen in June.

An activist hedge fund that owns a significant number of shares in the US marijuana retailer Acreage Holdings is opposing the company's landmark sale to the Canadian marijuana retailer Canopy Growth.

The San Francisco-based Marcato Capital Management, which owns 2.7% of Acreage's shares, said in a Monday letter it would fight against the deal, calling it "lopsided" in Canopy's favor. The letter was signed by Mick Mcguire, Marcato's founder and managing partner. 

"The structure and consideration offered in this proposed transaction simply does not create value for Acreage shareholders," the letter said. 

Read more: The lawyer who led Canopy Growth's groundbreaking $3.4 billion purchase of the US marijuana cultivator Acreage Holdings says the sale will 'untap the market' for companies hunting similar deals

Marcato said it would vote against the deal in June and preferred Acreage to remain independent. If Acreage's board insists on selling the company or pursuing a strategic tie-up with a major cannabis, alcohol, tobacco, or other consumer company, Marcato said it would prefer to hire an investment bank to run a formal auction.

Specifically, Marcato said the transaction value of $3.4 billion is "substantially lower" than the fair value of Acreage, saying that Acreage's shares have slipped 6% since the day before the deal was announced and Canopy's have increased 15% over the same period. 

"Shareholders of both companies appear to share Marcato's view that this is a great deal for Canopy and a terrible deal for Acreage," the letter said. "Canopy stock for Acreage stock is simply a bad deal for Acreage shareholders."

Marcato also called out the investment bank Canaccord Genuity's fairness opinion on the transaction. Canaccord analysts valued Acreage's stock at $27.48 four months after initiating coverage of the company at $35 per share.

The Acreage spokesperson Howard Schacter told Business Insider that the company is "very confident" this deal will get done. 

Marcato's opposition to the deal is "one shareholder's opinion," Schacter said. "It's inconsistent with the opinions of the majority of shareholders we've spoken to since the deal was announced."

Read more: Top cannabis CEOs say Canopy Growth's $3.4 billion purchase of pot cultivator Acreage 'shakes the foundation of what has been true' and will spur a cannabis M&A boom

Canopy announced in April it had entered into an agreement to purchase Acreage for $3.4 billion conditional on the US federal legalization of marijuana. Acreage shareholders will receive an immediate $300 million payment in cash, pending a shareholder vote in June, with the rest of the balance coming if, or when, marijuana is legalized in the US.

The deal will be terminated in seven years if a federally legal pathway doesn't emerge. It's not clear what would happen to the $300 million that Canopy Growth paid up front if the deal doesn't go through.

The deal's complex structure is because of the shifting regulations around marijuana in the US. While marijuana is legal for adults in some form in 33 states, it remains federally illegal. Acreage CEO Kevin Murphy wrote a letter to shareholders earlier this month in an attempt to clear up what some say is the deal's confusing structure, The Globe and Mail reported.

Acreage plans to release a takeover circular in the next two to three weeks to reveal fresh details of the negotiations between the two companies. 

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Despite proposed fines for anti-vaxxers in Germany and New York, vaccine exemption bills may be on the rise

Sun, 05/05/2019 - 6:01pm

  • Bills that fine people who fail to get life-saving vaccinations are gaining attention.
  • On Sunday, Germany's health minister proposed fining parents of school-age children who haven't received a measles inoculation up to $2,790.
  • The proposal came on the heels of recent order in New York that requires measles vaccinations and fines people who don't comply up to $1,000.
  • But policies that allow people to forgo key vaccinations may actually be on the rise instead, reports suggest. 
  • Read more stories like this on Business Insider's homepage.

Bills that fine people who fail to vaccinate are gaining attention, but policies that allow people to forgo vaccinations may actually be on the rise.

On Sunday, Germany's health minister proposed fining parents of school-age children who haven't received a measles inoculation up to $2,790. The suggestion comes amid concerns that the virus could make a comeback in that country, as it has recently in 22 states in the US. On the heels of a historic outbreak of measles in New York City last month, officials ordered people in four affected zip codes to get vaccines, with anyone failing to do so facing fines of up to $1,000. 

But while these bills gain a foothold in the press, policies that allow people to avoid vaccines may actually be on the rise in the US, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently told CNN

"The volume of legislative activity is greater than in past years," the organization said, noting that 20 states have introduced bills this year that make it easier for people to avoid inoculations.

Read more: What you need to know about the US measles outbreak — the largest since the disease was eradicated

As Business Insider has previously reported, measles is highly contagious and can be fatal, killing one or two of every 1,000 children who contract it, according to the CDC. Measles can also cause permanent hearing loss or intellectual disabilities. Unvaccinated young children are most at risk.

In most cases, the vaccine exemption bills — introduced in states like Washington, Arizona, Texas, and Maine — broaden the reasons why parents can opt out of vaccinating their kids against diseases like measles. In other cases, they simply require that doctors give more information about the potential risks of vaccines, which are generally confined to mild redness and swelling at the site of the injection.

Last year, a study published in the journal PLOS One suggested that the rate of Americans failing to vaccinate for non-medical reasons has steadily risen since 2009. 

And since 2013, the number of vaccine exemption bills has risen every year, with seven bills introduced in 2013 and 19 bills introduced in 2017, according to CNN and the American Journal of Public Health.

Still, not all of those bills become laws. It remains to be seen how many of the 20 such bills introduced this year will turn into policies. 

SEE ALSO: Facebook plans to tackle anti-vaccine misinformation by rejecting false ads and de-ranking harmful pages

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Trump threatens seismic shift in trade war with China, suggesting new tariffs on $325 billion worth of Chinese goods

Sun, 05/05/2019 - 1:20pm

  • President Donald Trump threatened to dramatically escalate the trade war with China.
  • Trump said that on Friday tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods will increase from 10% to 25% and the US will slap an additional $325 billion worth of Chinese goods with a 25% tariff.
  • The move comes as the US and China are currently engaged in talks to end the year-long trade war.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump on Sunday threatened to dramatically ramp up the trade war with China unless a breakthrough on trade talks is reached by the end of the week.

The president said current tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods will be increased from 10% to 25% and the US will place 25% tariffs on an additional $325 billion worth of Chinese goods that are currently untaxed on Friday. Trump said the slow pace of trade deal negotiations was the cause for the new restrictions.

"For 10 months, China has been paying Tariffs to the USA of 25% on 50 Billion Dollars of High Tech, and 10% on 200 Billion Dollars of other goods," Trump tweeted. "These payments are partially responsible for our great economic results. The 10% will go up to 25% on Friday. 325 Billions Dollars of additional goods sent to us by China remain untaxed, but will be shortly, at a rate of 25%. The Tariffs paid to the USA have had little impact on product cost, mostly borne by China. The Trade Deal with China continues, but too slowly, as they attempt to renegotiate. No!"

Read more: Trump says the Treasury is taking in 'MANY billions of dollars' from the tariffs on China. The only problem is that US companies are paying the price.

Trade talks between the US and China have been ongoing since Trump and Chinese president Xi Jinping reached a temporary trade truce at the end of November, but major sticking points on how to enforce the deal and what to do with current tariffs have caused problems in the discussions.

Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, the country's top economic official, is scheduled to travel to Washington, DC, for another round of talks this week. While a deal is close, reports suggest that the US has backed down on a handful of demands designed to force China to make fundamental changes to its economy.

As it stands the US has placed tariffs on $250 billion worth of goods coming from China, while Beijing has responded with tariffs on $110 billion of American goods.

The trade war kicked off in March 2018 when the Trump administration released a report detailing the economic damage caused by the theft of US intellectual property by Chinese companies. This led to two rounds of back-and-forth tariff raising.

While US negotiators have been focused on forcing China to crack down on IP theft and open its market to American companies, Trump has also placed a large amount of attention on decreasing the US-China trade deficit — despite economists' consensus that the bilateral trade balance means little about the comparative health of the US economy. 

Economists have warned that a dramatic escalation of the trade war could cause US consumers to pay more for goods coming from the country and potentially cause serious negative consequences for the American economy.

Additionally, contrary to what the president insisted in his tweet on Sunday, multiple studies have shown that overwhelming majority of the tariffs' costs have been borne by American consumers and businesses.

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'Avengers: Endgame' continues to break box office records in its second weekend as it crosses $2 billion worldwide (DIS)

Sun, 05/05/2019 - 12:15pm

  • "Avengers: Endgame" has crossed $2 billion globally to become the second highest-grossing movie of all time.
  • It accomplished the feat in only 11 days in theaters.
  • Domestically, the movie took in $145.8 million to have the second-best second weekend in theaters ever.
  • "Endgame" has a domestic cume of $619.7 million, the ninth-highest all-time.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

In its second weekend "Avengers: Endgame" easily pushed away new releases "Long Shot," "The Intruder," and "UglyDolls," to win the domestic box office for a second consecutive week.

Disney's huge moneymaker brought in an estimated $145.8 million, knocking off "Avengers: Infinity War" ($114.7 million) to become the second best performance for a movie in its second weekend in theaters ("Star Wars: The Force Awakens" is still king of second weekend with $149.2 million). The movie's domestic total is now at $619.7 million, making it the ninth-highest grossing all-time in North America.

Globally, the movie has now crossed the $2 billion mark with $2.188 billion, the fastest movie ever to accomplish the feat. Its international cume is at an astounding $1.6 million. "Endgame" has accomplished all of this in just 11 days in theaters worldwide (it took "Avatar" 47 days to become the fastest to $2 billion).

The movie is now the second highest-grossing movie of all time globally.

Read more: Joe Berlinger has now made 2 movies about Ted Bundy for Netflix, but thinks the public's "insatiable appetite for true crime" has been overstated

Friday, "Endgame" had another $100 million globally, taking in $40.6 million domestically and $88.2 million internationally for a $128.8 global day. On Saturday, domestically the movie took in $61.4 million. And on the 3D front, tomorrow the movie will be the third in history to generate over $1 billion worldwide in just 3D ticket sales ("Force Awakens" and "Avatar"). 45% of "Endgame" ticket sales are from 3D.

The movie's sights are now set on taking down the all-time box office leaders: domestically it's "The Force Awakens" with $936.6 million and worldwide it's "Avatar" with $2.8 billion (not counting inflation for either).

Meanwhile, Sony's "The Intruder" took in $11 million to land a distance second place at the domestic box office. In third was Lionsgate's Seth Rogen/Charlize Theron comedy "Long Shot" with $10 million, and STX's animated "UglyDolls" came in fourth with $8.5 million.

SEE ALSO: YouTube will let you watch "Cobra Kai" for free, and it shows a big shift in strategy

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