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This startup founder requires investors to disclose whether they have a history of sexual harassment before investing, in an act that her investors say is a 'no brainer'

Mon, 01/13/2020 - 8:59pm

  • Startup founder Elizabeth Giorgi is hoping to trigger a chain reaction in startup due diligence by requiring potential investors to disclose all allegations of gender discrimination or sexual harassment in the company's fundraising documents. 
  • The CEO of the Denver-based Soona asked her lawyers draw up the requirement, dubbed the 'candor clause,' after a potential investor sent Giorgi unsolicited nudes. But she hopes other founders will use the open-source legal disclosure to also protect themselves. 
  • In an industry that has drawn scrutiny for longstanding gender discrimination and sexual harassment, Giorgi says that the clause has rapidly accelerated the pace of trust building with investors.
  • Investors in Giorgi's company also supported the clause, with one investor telling Business Insider that including such a provision was a "no brainer." 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Like many tech startups, Elizabeth Giorgi's media production firm recently raised venture capital funding. But before the funding deal closed, investors in Giorgi's startup had to fill out a special document disclosing any allegations of gender discrimination or sexual harassment. 

The so-called "candor clause" is something that Giorgi's startup, Soona, requires of all potential investors. It's similar to the criminal background disclosure that some employers put on job applications. But in the male-dominated world of venture capital, where the investor typically has the bargaining power, the candor clause is a bold step for a startup seeking money.

The effort was born out of need to better vet company investors, Giorgi told Business Insider. Several bad experiences in front of male investors - including one sending her unsolicited naked photos after expressing interest in her company - left the Denver-based CEO feeling the need to come up with a more comprehensive due diligence process. 

"What if we made this effort to do due diligence on investors? That was really how this was born," Giorgi said. After "multiple conversations and iterations" with Soona's lawyers, the candor clause came into being. 

Silicon Valley and the venture capital industry in particular, have drawn a great deal of scrutiny for an entrenched culture of gender discrimination and sexual harassment. And while tech investors are increasingly including #MeToo clauses in deals with startups, as the Financial Times reported back in March 2019, Giorgi says it is more uncommon for founders to ask the same types of diligence questions from its investors. 

"It's not uncommon for investors to be able to ask us a lot of questions, but it's really unusual for a founder to ask about the background of an investor," Giorgi said. "We want to work with these people but we want to ask them to do the same kinds of diligence questions." 

To help founders address the power imbalance between founders and investors, Giorgi's candor clause is available online. And she says that both male and female founders have adopted the clause. At least 45 founders have reached out to say they included similar language in their fundraising documents, Giorgi said. 

Investor response

So far, Soona has secured about $1.5 million in funding from her investors, who have all included the candor clause in their contracts with the company. That was a relief to Giorgi, who said that she was initially very nervous telling investors about the new requirement. 

"I just felt like that this is going to be a scary conversation," Giorgi said. "I really hoped that this isn't gonna be a dealbreaker." 

2048 Ventures, which led a $1.2 million seed round for Soona, said that was very much not the case. Managing Partner Alex Iskold said that when Giorgi first told him about the clause, it immediately seemed like a "no brainer," and compared disclosing allegations of sexual harassment to disclosing a criminal record. 

"I thought it was a great idea, a no-brainer on my part," he said. "It's very clear to me that it makes a lot of sense to have in the document if both parties want that ... Just like you represent you're not a thief or criminal, that kind of disclosure can be really helpful." 

In fact, in an industry that has drawn scrutiny for gender discrimination and sexual harassment, Giorgi says that the clause has reaped advantages beyond just protecting founders.

"I think the candor clause has rapidly accelerated the pace of trust building and collaboration that I've been able to have with my investors," Giorgi said, citing an "ability to have really honest dialogue together," as a key reason. 

SEE ALSO: A private equity firm explains why it's spending $5 billion to acquire Veeam, a cloud software startup last valued at $1 billion

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Verily just presented for the first time at JPMorgan's big health conference. Here's how the CEO of Alphabet's life sciences firm laid out the unusual business to top investors.

Mon, 01/13/2020 - 8:37pm

When Verily CEO Andy Conrad was looking to hire someone to run clinical trials, he turned to Google. 

Typing the question "Who's running the biggest trial" led him to Jessica Mega, now Verily's chief medical officer, who leads the company's 10,000-person Project Baseline study.

Verily is Alphabet's life sciences company, making it a sister firm to Google, and Mega wasn't the only result of Google searching, Conrad told an audience of investors on Monday.

He was speaking in the company's first-ever presentation on the stage at the biggest healthcare conference of the year, the annual J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco. Conrad told the investors he also used a Google search to find its partner Dexcom. Dexcom makes equipment for people with diabetes, and is working with Verily on a continuous glucose monitor.

Verily is involved in efforts such as robotics and addiction treatment

Verily has its hands in projects spanning robotics to blood-sugar-tracking devices to work on addiction treatment. It's struck up relationships with pharmaceutical companies to launch joint ventures such as diabetes-focused Onduo. Often, the work can seem like a collection of random projects. 

"Sometimes if you just read some of the press, it seems like we're doing a bunch of disparate projects, but that's not true," Conrad said. 

Conrad used the presentation as a chance to explain Verily's strategy. He also highlighted a recent hire, former Tesla chief financial officer Deepak Ahuja, who took Tesla public. Ahuja is now Verily's CFO.

He laid out Verily's three businesses: care solutions, like its work managing diabetes via Onduo; research solutions, in which Verily partners with hospitals and pharmaceutical organizations in how they conduct clinical trials; and innovation solutions, which is meant to fill in gaps found through the first two businesses.

Verily is focused on collecting and organizing data, then putting it to use

Through those businesses, Verily works to collect data, organize it, and use that to drive changes in behavior to help make people healthier. 

In the presentation, Conrad outlined data on how Onduo's working that was published in the Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology in December. Verily was able to show that a virtual program incorporating blood sugar readings, taking pictures of food, and lifestyle monitoring, is helping people living with type 2 diabetes. 

Verily spun out of Google's Google X division as part of the creation of Alphabet in 2015.  The company has taken in $1.8 billion in outside investments. In 2019, it raised a $1 billion round from Silver Lake. And in 2017, the company raised $800 million from Singaporean investment firm Temasek. 

Read more: Here's everything we know about the patient search tool Google is building for doctors — and the internal documents that reveal what it's like to use in its early days

"They teach us how to behave like a business, not like a hobby," Conrad said. "They're mean and sometimes kind, but they're certainly thoughtful about an investment at that scale." 

Read more: A top hospital consultant just laid out what Google could do in healthcare over the next 5 years, from creating a medical-records system to helping form a more functional health system

Conrad finished the presentation discussing the company's approach to partnerships. Verily set up its relationships to hit certain milestones, through joint ventures, and by directly monetizing the products that come out of the partnership. 

"We are never doing any work for any of those partners in a fee for service basis," Conrad said. "We're never doing any of it just contractually." 

So far, the company has 32 partnerships, up from three the year it officially spun out. 

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Visa is set to acquire startup Plaid for $5.3 billion, but the payment giant's CEO hinted at the need to address 'concerns' Wall Street has about the buzzy fintech

Mon, 01/13/2020 - 7:57pm

  • Visa is set to pay $5.3 billion for Plaid, the buzzy startup that links fintechs with their customers' bank accounts.
  • On a call announcing the news Monday, Al Kelly, Visa's chairman and CEO, acknowledged some financial firms "would prefer Plaid operate differently in some cases."
  • He went on to say, "We intend to address those concerns."
  • Earlier this month, JPMorgan Chase announced fintechs would need to access customer accounts via tokens as opposed to using their passwords, as first reported by the Financial Times, requiring startups like Yodlee and Plaid to adjust how they operate. 
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

Visa is set to acquire one of the hottest fintechs on Wall Street, but the hardest work might still be ahead of it.

On Monday the payments giant announced it plans to buy Plaid for $5.3 billion. The startup serves as the connective glue between financial apps like Robinhood and Credit Karma and customers' bank accounts. Through the use of application programming interfaces (APIs) the San Francisco-based fintech links the two sides, allowing financial data to flow between them.

Over 11,000 bank and financial services companies and more than 2,600 fintech developers use Plaid. The startup touches one in four people with a US bank account.

However, while speaking on a webcast announcing the deal, Visa chairman and CEO Al Kelly acknowledged the potential for the need to make changes to Plaid as a result of issues raised by some market participants. 

"We know there are financial institutions who would prefer Plaid operate differently in some cases, and we intend to address those concerns while not diminishing the value for developers, leveraging our global experience balancing a two-sided network," Kelly said.

Kelly did not elaborate on where Visa would potentially look to make changes. Visa declined to comment.

"Plaid has worked with thousands of banks to enable that freedom both securely and safely," said Sima Gandhi, head of business development and strategy for Plaid, via email. "Joining Visa will allow us to utilize their long history of working with financial institutions to deliver even stronger bank integrations that connect consumers with the apps they rely on across many more markets."

Earlier this year Plaid was among a group of fintechs that came into the spotlight regarding data security. JPMorgan Chase recently announced limitations around the data fintechs could use when interacting with customers' bank accounts, as first reported by the Financial Times. Instead, the bank would issue tokens, which it felt was more secure. 

At the time, Yodlee, a competitor of Plaid, agreed to use the tokens for all transactions with Chase. Plaid had also come to an agreement with the bank. 

Gordon Smith, co-president of JPMorgan Chase and CEO of consumer and community banking, was quoted supporting Visa's acquisition of Plaid in the release announcing the news Monday, while again stressing the importance of data security. 

"We believe Visa's acquisition of Plaid is an important development in giving consumers more security and control over how their financial data is used," Smith said. "Protecting customer data and helping them share that information safely has long been a top priority for Chase. We look forward to partnering with Visa to continue building a great experience for our shared customers."

Kelly's comments highlight the challenges that sometimes arise when looking to integrate a startup into an established player — particularly in the fast-changing and increasingly overlapping world of payments and e-commerce. 

In November, PayPal announced plans to buy rewards platform Honey for $4 billion, making it the largest acquisition in the company's history. 

But a month later Amazon, which does not directly accept PayPal for purchases, began issuing warnings on its site to customers to deactivate the browser extension, labeling it a "security risk" that collects and analyzed customer data. A Honey spokeswoman told Wired that Honey has never been a security risk. 

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SoftBank and Zume had letter of intent in December for a funding deal that never happened, leaving the pizza tech startup no choice but to cut hundreds of jobs and give up on robots

Mon, 01/13/2020 - 5:56pm

A SoftBank deal to invest a new round of funding in troubled robotics pizza startup Zume was scuttled in December, the latest example of the Japanese tech conglomerate's changing appetite for ambitious but money-losing Silicon Valley tech startups.

Zume and SoftBank had a letter of intent for equity financing when the deal was scrapped last month, according to an internal memo reviewed by Business Insider.

The memo does not specify why the deal fell through, or the financial terms of the deal. But the memo describes the loss of the deal as having precipitated the cost-cutting measures — which includes hundreds of layoffs — and the sharp strategy shift Zume announced last week. In its new strategy, Zume is abandoning its robotics efforts to focus entirely on the sustainable packaging business. 

The cancelled deal with Zume is the latest in a series of nixed funding deals by SoftBank and its $100 billion VisionFund in the wake of the implosion of WeWork, one of SoftBank's biggest bets. According to an Axios report from Dan Primack earlier this month, SoftBank has recently walked away from several other investments in startups that it had submitted term sheets to — including Honor, Seismic, and Creator — throwing its ambitious Vision Fund and its wide range of cash-burning portfolio companies into uncertain territory.

Zume was reported in November to be in talks with SoftBank for a funding round that would have valued the startup at $4 billion, a significant step up from the $1 billion valuation it fetched a year earlier, according to a report in Recode at the time.

SoftBank previously backed Zume to the tune of $375 million in funding in 2018. The memo reviewed by Business Insider stated that without the additional funding from SoftBank, Zume had about $150 million on hand from its 2018 funding. 

Representatives from Zume and SoftBank declined to comment. 

Zume is pivoting its entire business to a product it acquired seven months ago

Zume announced on Wednesday that 360 employees would be laid off across its San Francisco, Seattle, and Mountain View offices due to a shifting business strategy. That strategy change included shutting down Zume Pizza, the robotics division, in favor of growing the packaging business. Several sources attributed the abrupt change and layoffs to the lack of funding and subsequently high burn rate over the past year. One source said that the burn rate was cut in half after the layoffs, but declined to specify the exact amount.

Another source with knowledge of the original SoftBank deal told Business Insider that the Japanese fund pushed hard for Zume to pursue "global domination," far beyond cofounder and CEO Alex Garden's ambition to unseat traditional pizza chains like Domino's. The added pressure pushed Zume to adopt aggressive business strategies that are uncommon for young startups. 

One of those strategies included pursuing high-profile acquisitions of other startups, something the source said was unusual for a venture-backed startup. Zume's renewed focus on sustainable packaging, for instance, is the result of its acquisition of Pivot Packaging for an undisclosed amount in June. Zume partnered with Pivot Packaging to develop its "pizza pod" that is currently being used in a pilot program at a Pizza Hut location in Arizona before acquiring the company.

Multiple sources told Business Insider that Garden convened remaining employees on Friday to discuss the future of the company at an all-hands meeting streamed from its Mountain View headquarters. There, he reemphasized the focus on packaging as the company's best chance for profitability. 

He did not address previous goals that Zume would replace upwards of 1 billion styrofoam and plastic containers by 2020. 

Do you work at Zume or another SoftBank-backed startup and want to share your story? Contact this reporter via encrypted messaging app Signal at +1 (331) 625-2555 using a nonwork phone, email at, or Twitter DM at @megan_hernbroth.

SEE ALSO: Inside a chaotic week at Zume: Surprise layoffs, mishandled all-hands meetings, and an eerily quiet CEO

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Visa set to buy Plaid, the fintech that powers apps like Betterment and Venmo, for $5.3 billion

Mon, 01/13/2020 - 5:23pm

  • Visa announced on Monday it has agreed to buy fintech startup Plaid for $5.3 billion.
  • Plaid raised $250 million in a Series C in December 2018, which Visa participated in, at a reported valuation of $2.65 billion.
  • Visa CEO and chairman Al Kelly said in a statement that the deal "will position Visa to deliver even more value for developers, financial institutions and consumers."

Payments giant Visa announced on Monday it has agreed to buy fintech startup Plaid for $5.3 billion. 

Plaid serves as the link between financial apps such as Betterment and Venmo and customers' bank accounts. The company uses application programming interfaces (APIs) to share data between both two sides. 

In December 2018 the buzzy startup raised $250 million in a Series C that Visa participated in and valued it at $2.65 billion, according to TechCrunch

In January 2019, Plaid acquired competitor Quovo for an undisclosed amount. 

"We are extremely excited about our acquisition of Plaid and how it enhances the growth trajectory of our business," said Al Kelly, CEO and chairman of Visa, in a statement. "Plaid is a leader in the fast growing fintech world with best-in-class capabilities and talent. The acquisition, combined with our many fintech efforts already underway, will position Visa to deliver even more value for developers, financial institutions and consumers."

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Grocery giant Albertsons is reportedly preparing to go public after failing multiple times in the past

Mon, 01/13/2020 - 4:46pm

  • Albertsons is preparing to go public again, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. The company will decide in coming weeks whether or not it will proceed.
  • An IPO could value the grocer around $19 billion, The Journal reported. It would also provide private-equity investor Cerberus Capital Management with an exit strategy. 
  • The grocery chain attempted to IPO in 2015, but pulled the offering amid a lackluster market for retail stocks. It also tried to go public through a deal with Rite Aid in 2018. The deal was abandoned due to investor pushback. 
  • Read more on Business Insider.

Albertsons, the grocery giant that also owns Safeway and Jewel-Osco, is preparing to go public again, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday citing people familiar with the matter. 

The company has been updating initial-public-offering documents that have been confidentially filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and will decide in coming weeks whether or not it will proceed with an IPO that could value it around $19 billion, The Journal reported. 

An IPO would help private-equity investor Cerberus Capital Management LP exit its 15-year-long investment in Albertsons, The Journal reported. The firm is rethinking an IPO given the grocery chain's improved performance as well as a strong market and positive economic indicators, the Journal reported. 

Albertsons has attempted to go public numerous times, according to The Journal. In 2018, the grocer struck a deal to go public by acquiring much of the drugstore chain Rite Aid in a $24 billion merger, according to The Journal. The deal didn't go through because of investor pushback, The Journal reported.

In 2015, Cerberus tried to take the company public through an IPO looking to raise as much as $1.6 billion, The Journal reported, but eventually the offering was pulled amid a lackluster market for retail stocks in late 2015. 

Since 2015, Albertsons has substantially reduced its debt, according to The Journal. At the end of November the company had about $8.34 billion in net debt excluding operating leases, down from $10.52 billion the year prior, The Journal reported.

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Amazon had its worst stock performance in 3 years and lagged other tech giants in 2019 — here's what Wall Street thinks is ahead for the company this year (AMZN)

Mon, 01/13/2020 - 4:36pm

  • 2020 is shaping up to be a big year for Amazon.
  • From cloud computing to same-day shipping, expectations and competition for Amazon are heating up.
  • Here are some of the key aspects of the business to watch this year.
  • Click here to read more stories on BI Prime

Amazon had a relatively tough year in 2019.

Investors grew concerned about Amazon's massive investments in faster delivery and its AWS cloud unit. The increasingly hostile regulatory environment and growing competition also dampened investor sentiment.

As a result, Amazon's stock went up just 23% in 2019 — its worst performance in three years and below the S&P 500's returns for the first time since 2014, according to the S&P Global Market Intelligence. Other tech giants, like Apple, Facebook, Alphabet, and Microsoft, all saw their shares do better than Amazon during the year.

We asked Wall Street analysts what's ahead for Amazon in 2020.

While most of them remain bullish, they said this is the year investors are hoping to see more concrete results from all the investments Amazon has been making, across shipping, cloud computing, and hardware devices. They're also keeping a close eye on how Amazon's competitive landscape will change in the cloud space, and whether its newer businesses, like advertising, will continue to show strong growth.

Here's what analysts think is ahead for Amazon in 2020:

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Last year's underperformance comes after years of dramatic growth for Amazon. Almost all of the analysts who cover Amazon still recommend buying its stock.

The biggest drag on Amazon's stock last year was the huge investments in one-day shipping and AWS cloud, analysts say. Investors tend to have general skepticism until they see any payoff from the spending.

Still, Wall Street analysts remain more bullish than ever about Amazon. In fact, 47 of the 49 analysts that track Amazon's stock recommend buying it, according to Factset. That's more endorsements than any other S&P 500 company.

UBS's Eric Sheridan told Business Insider that there's been a lot of questions about Amazon's rate of investment over the past year. But he thinks those fears are "overdone" now, and that Amazon's stock is actually undervalued at the current price given its upside potential.

"We think the risk reward sets up very well," said Sheridan, who has a "buy" rating and a price target of $2,100 for Amazon.

Not all analysts are convinced by Amazon's investments yet. Andrew Murphy, an analyst for Loup Ventures, said Amazon's stock is "fairly valued" at its current levels, as there's still a lot of investor concern around its spending.

"Amazon is tightening its death-grip on retail, but the associated costs and the impact on margins may weigh on the stock in 2020," Murphy told Business Insider.

Amazon's one-day shipping initiative and its financial impact will continue to draw investor scrutiny this year. But most analysts believe it's the right investment that will lead to long-term growth.

Amazon spent roughly $3 billion in shortening its delivery time last year to make one-day shipping the default for all Prime members. Some investors were caught off guard by the size of the investment, which cut into Amazon's bottom line. 

But most analysts say the investment is the right move for Amazon's long-term success. For example, Amazon disclosed in its most recent earnings that people bought more products on its site after rolling out one-day shipping. It also said in late December that it had record holiday sales, driving its stock up by almost 5%.

Hari Srinivasan, an analyst at Neuberger Berman, told Business Insider that the investment in shipping was a big hit to Amazon's profitability and was the main reason for the stock's underperformance. But he believes it's the right move and the investments are already starting to pay off in increased sales.

"In the short-term, the profits are going to be depressed," Srinivasan said. "But the payback over the long-term is going to be very attractive."

Another area of concern is the AWS cloud unit's slowing growth. Some analysts believe it is due to the increased competition from Microsoft and Google.

Amazon's AWS cloud unit remains its biggest profit driver and one of its fastest growing segments. But the cloud unit's growth slowdown has been noticeable lately, as it dropped below the 40% rate for the first time last year.

Some analysts believe the deceleration is due to intensifying competition from Microsoft and Google. Dan Ives at Wedbush Securities told Business Insider that the two companies are "clearly narrowing the gap" with AWS, and that 2020 will be an "inflection year" for Amazon to defend its turf in the cloud.

Some analysts, however, argue it's simply a law of large numbers. AWS is generating over $35 billion in annual revenue, and at that scale, it's only natural to see its growth drop below the 40% threshold, said Neuberger Berman's Srinivasan.

"I think the growth rate will stabilize in the 30% to 35% range in 2020, and once it does that, people will become much more positive," he said.

The regulatory environment will remain a risk factor, but most analysts believe it won't have a material impact on Amazon this year.

Amazon, along with other tech giants, has faced unprecedented regulatory scrutiny in recent years. Everyone from presidential candidates to European lawmakers are scrutinizing Amazon's market power and business practices. President Trump has long been Amazon's biggest critic.

But the political pressure hasn't really damaged Amazon's business in any meaningful way yet. Amazon's sales continue to grow, and it still remains the market leader in both e-commerce and cloud computing. 

In a note published last month, Colin Sebastian, an analyst at Baird Equity Research, downplayed the regulatory risk, saying the bigger risk is "management distraction and/or slowing innovation" that could come as a result of the increased scrutiny. 

UBS's Sheridan said Amazon is less exposed to regulatory issues than other tech giants, and that the regulatory risk is no longer considered a top of mind issue for many investors compared to a year ago.

"I would say that it has receded a little bit as a fear or risk," Sheridan said.

Expect Amazon to open more physical stores as it looks to expand its grocery business.

It's no secret Amazon wants to grow its physical store footprint. In addition to the Whole Foods stores, Amazon now runs a variety of physical store formats, including bookstores, cashierless Go stores, and 4-star stores that only showcase highly-rated products. It's also planning to launch a new type of grocery chain that is separate from Whole Foods.

That expansion is likely going to accelerate this year, analysts say.

Murphy at Loup Ventures pointed out that Amazon doubled the number of physical retail stores, excluding Whole Foods, from 27 in 2018 to 54 by the end of 2019, while nearly tripling the number of its cashierless Amazon Go stores to 24 in total. He predicts Amazon to open 30 more Go stores in 2020, and to potentially launch a larger format store that runs on its cashierless technology.

RBC Capital's Mark Mahaney wrote in a recent note that he also sees a faster rollout of Amazon Go stores in 2020 as it could help drive more sales, especially for grocery products.

"In the long-term, we see the potential for a nation-wide distribution of grocery stores somewhat akin to its fulfillment center network," Mahaney wrote in the note.

Investors are starting to wonder how Amazon wants to monetize its massive Alexa voice assistant ecosystem.

Amazon has poured a lot of resources into its hardware business, especially following the success of its Echo and Alexa voice-assistant products. 

That's helped Amazon become the leader in the smart speaker market. But it now has to prove how it plans to make money off of its growing device ecosystem, says Loup Ventures's Murphy.

Murphy said investors will start looking for more evidence of the financial benefits of Amazon's hardware business, as the company doesn't disclose any meaningful sales figures for the segment. The bigger challenge, he said, is the fact that Amazon still doesn't have any presence in the broader smartphone space, making it more difficult to compete with Apple or Google.

"Amazon needs to prove how it will monetize the device ecosystem it has established with Ring, eero, and the slew of Alexa devices," Murphy said.

Newer segments, like advertising and shipping, will continue to grow.

While Amazon makes most of its money from its retail and cloud businesses, investors are equally interested in its newer businesses, like advertising and in-house shipping.

Baird's Sebastian wrote in his note that Amazon has "significant growth opportunities" in newer segments like shipping, advertising, and international marketplaces. He said those businesses could be bigger growth drivers for the company, as they are "widening the scope of operations and expanding market opportunities" for Amazon.

Advertising, in particular, continues to draw significant interest from investors, RBC's Mark Mahaney wrote in a note last month. He forecasts Amazon's advertising business to reach $30 billion in revenue by 2020, as it still has a lot of untapped opportunities within search and other platforms like Fire TV.

History suggests Amazon will bounce back this year.

If you believe in past data, Amazon will probably outperform the broader market this year. 

That's because Amazon's stock has never underperformed the market for two consecutive years in nearly two decades, according to Suntrust's analyst Youssef Squali. 

The only time it underperformed the market for two straight years was in 2000 and 2001, during the dotcom crash, he wrote in a note last week. 

"While past price performance is no guarantee of future results, we believe the stock's underperformance in 2019 creates a compelling set up for 2020," Squali wrote.

Squali also noted that, based on past results, Amazon's one-day shipping could reaccelerate its sales growth this year. When Amazon launched free two-day shipping in 2005, it saw strong revival in revenue, going from 22% year-over-year growth to a 32% compound annual growth rate over the next five years — and could have grown even faster had the 2008 recession hadn't happened, he wrote.

Most importantly, Wall Street seems to trust Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his leadership team to make the right long-term investment, given the company's track record.

Amazon's biggest strength may be the fact that Wall Street puts a lot of trust in its leadership team, including CEO Jeff Bezos, to make the right call when it comes to making long-term bets. It's why Amazon has been able to keep up its stock price even though it's run on thin profits for the most part.

Neuberger Berman's Srinivasan said the current investment cycle makes more sense because Amazon is not spending on some obscure moonshot project. They're more operational investments that have clear customer benefits, and the results are already starting to show, he said.

"Jeff Bezos is the most forward looking tech entrepreneur that's out there in the market," Srinivasan said.

The richest people in Singapore, ranked

Mon, 01/13/2020 - 4:22pm

Singapore, one of the most expensive cities in the world, is home to an estimated 44 billionaires.

These ultra-wealthy individuals range from real-estate magnates and private investors to hot pot billionaires and even the cofounder of Facebook.

Singapore's richest person is Zhang Yong, a 50-year-old restaurateur who's worth $16.4 billion and chairs the popular Sichuan hot pot chain Haidilao, which has locations in China, the US, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore, according to Forbes' Real-Time Billionaires list. His wife, Shu Ping, the director of the company, is also on Singapore's billionaires list, with a net worth of $3.3 billion.

Here are Singapore's richest people, who are worth a combined $95.7 billion.

SEE ALSO: What it's like living as a billionaire in Singapore, the most expensive city in the world, where wealthy residents are worth a combined $1 trillion and limited land makes owning a house the ultimate 'status symbol'

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T15. Zhao Tao

Net worth: $2.0 billion

Age: 55

Source of wealth: pharmaceuticals

T15. Sam Goi

Net worth: $2.0 billion

Age: 72

Source of wealth: frozen foods

T15. Asok Kumar Hiranandani

Net worth: $2.0 billion

Age: 66

Source of wealth: real estate

14. Peter Lim

Net worth: $2.1 billion

Age: 67

Source of wealth: investments

T12. Kuok Khoon Hong

Net worth: $2.9 billion

Age: 71

Source of wealth: palm oil

T12. Richard Chandler

Net worth: $2.9 billion

Age: 61

Source of wealth: investments

11. Raj Kumar and Kishin RK

Net worth: $3.1 billion

Age: 66

Source of wealth: real estate

T9. Choo Chong Ngen

Net worth: $3.3 billion

Age: 67

Source of wealth: hotels

T9. Shu Ping

Net worth: $3.3 billion

Age: unknown

Source of wealth: restaurants

8. Jason Chang

Net worth: $3.4 billion

Age: 76

Source of wealth: electronics

7. Kwek Leng Beng

Net worth: $3.7 billion

Age: 80

Source of wealth: real estate

6. Kwee brothers

Net worth: $6.5 billion

Age: unknown

Source of wealth: real estate

5. Wee Cho Yaw

Net worth: $7.1 billion

Age: 91

Source of wealth: banking

4. Goh Cheng Liang

Net worth: $10.5 billion

Age: 93

Source of wealth: paints

3. Robert and Philip Ng

Net worth: $12.2 billion

Age: unknown

Source of wealth: real estate

2. Eduardo Saverin

Net worth: $12.3 billion

Age: 38

Source of wealth: Facebook

1. Zhang Yong

Net worth: $16.4 billion

Age: 50

Source of wealth: restaurants

Jeffrey Epstein set Elon Musk's brother up with a girlfriend in effort to get close to the Tesla founder, sources say

Mon, 01/13/2020 - 4:10pm

  • Jeffrey Epstein, the multimillionaire sex criminal, introduced Kimbal Musk, Elon Musk's brother, to a woman in his entourage, two sources told Business Insider.
  • The woman, who had previously dated Epstein and lived in an apartment building where he was known to house models, dated Kimbal Musk from 2011 to 2012.
  • Though the relationship was by all accounts genuine, the sources said Epstein hoped it would open doors to Elon Musk and his companies.
  • Epstein and his entourage were granted a private tour of Elon Musk's SpaceX facility in Hawthorne, California, in 2012.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

When word got out last year that disgraced multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein had been known to fraternize with Silicon Valley moguls, Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk was quick to release a statement minimizing their relationship: He had attended a dinner organized by LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman where Epstein was present, he said, and "was at his house in Manhattan for about 30 minutes in the middle of the afternoon" at the urging of his then-wife, Talulah Riley, who wanted to meet him "for a novel she was writing." He was "obviously a creep," Musk told Vanity Fair.

But the social connection between Epstein and Musk may be more complicated than that, Business Insider has learned. Jeffrey Epstein was in regular contact with Elon's brother Kimbal Musk, the tech millionaire turned restaurateur who serves on the boards of his older brother's companies Tesla and SpaceX, according to two people familiar with their relationship. 

It's unclear how Epstein and Kimbal Musk met initially, but they saw each other occasionally because Kimbal was dating a woman in Epstein's entourage at the time, the people said. The woman had previously dated Epstein and lived in an apartment building that Epstein's brother owned, which Epstein had used to house people close to him, including models from Eastern Europe.

Do you have a story to share about Epstein or Musk? Contact Business Insider's tip line via encrypted messaging app Signal at (646) 768-4744 using a nonwork phone, or email at or Twitter DM at @beckpeterson.

The couple, who dated from 2011 to 2012, were set up by Epstein, the sources said. Their relationship brought Epstein into contact with the Musk family and its businesses, and it highlights how the convicted sex offender may have used the women in his inner circle to develop strategic relationships with prominent people in the world of tech and business.

"It almost seemed a little more transactional. The rumor has always been that Epstein facilitated introductions to beautiful women, looking for deal flow or access to capital," one source familiar with the couple said.

"And the provenance of it was right down the path of that," the source added, referring to Kimbal Musk's relationship to the woman.

By all appearances, Kimbal Musk's relationship with the woman was genuine despite her continued financial ties to Epstein and his role in their introduction. The woman was going through an emotional rough patch before she met Kimbal, one of the people said, and the pair had shared interests.

Kimbal Musk made his millions in the dot-com boom alongside his brother by selling their online-city-guide company, Zip2, to Compaq for $300 million in 1999. He served as CEO of the adtech company OneRiot until 2010, when he broke his neck in a snow-tubing accident and resigned to focus on the food industry.

By 2011, he was a full-time restaurateur and the head of what would eventually become Big Green, a nonprofit that teaches students about healthy eating and gardening. 

Representatives for Kimbal Musk did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The woman, an American, was in one of the three couples that sources said Epstein directed to enter into same-sex marriages as part of a scheme to keep some of Epstein's foreign-born girlfriends inside the country, Business Insider reported in August. She was also named as a beneficiary of an irrevocable trust created by Epstein that at one point totaled $50 million, Business Insider reported in December.

The woman has not come forward publicly, and because she may be a sex-trafficking victim, Business Insider is not naming her. She could not be reached for comment for this story. 

Epstein was found dead in a Manhattan jail cell last year while awaiting trial on sex-trafficking charges. His death was ruled a suicide. Epstein's lawyers could not be reached for comment.

At least one other Epstein ex-girlfriend ended up in a relationship with a powerful man that Epstein was interested in financially: Eva Andersson, who was once Miss Sweden and dated Epstein in the 1980s, married Glenn Dubin, a hedge-fund billionaire who Epstein invested with, in 1994. Epstein told associates that he introduced the couple, a claim that Dubin's attorney calls "demonstrably false" (the Wall Street Journal reported last year that Dubin and Andersson were already together when Dubin met Epstein.) Epstein also told associates that he had considered marrying their daughter Celina Dubin, so that she could inherit his fortune, Business Insider reported in December. Celina Dubin was also briefly named as a beneficiary of the same trust as the woman who dated Kimbal Musk. (Celina Dubin was unaware of the trust's existence, according to a spokesperson, and she never received any payments from it. There is no indication that Epstein and Celina Dubin had a romantic relationship.)"

A birthday party with a banker's daughter

The relationship gave Epstein an opportunity to get close to both Kimbal Musk and his more successful brother. Epstein was invited to attend Kimbal's 40th birthday party in New York City in September 2012, according to one of the sources familiar with the relationship. Epstein ultimately did not attend that party, though members of his entourage did.

It was the day after the birthday party that Elon Musk and his then-wife, Riley, visited Epstein at his home in New York City, the person said.

According to emails reviewed by Business Insider, one of the people who was invited to the party at Epstein's request was Alexa Staley, the daughter of Barclays CEO James E. "Jes" Staley. She was 23 at the time and working on her Ph.D. in physics at Columbia University.

Her father was a longtime business associate of Epstein. When Jes Staley worked in the personal-banking division of JPMorgan, according to The New York Times, Epstein referred dozens of wealthy clients to him. After Epstein pleaded guilty in Florida to soliciting a minor in 2008, Jes Staley visited the Palm Beach, Florida, office where Epstein spent his days while out on work release.

The Staleys, through a spokesperson for Barclays, declined to comment.

Epstein took an exclusive tour of SpaceX

A few days before the birthday party, the source said, Kimbal Musk had arranged for Epstein and members of his entourage to receive a private tour of the Hawthorne, California, factory for SpaceX, the rocket company founded by Elon Musk.

It's unclear whether Elon or Kimbal Musk were present for the tour.

The week of the tour, Epstein was in Los Angeles to attend the WWW conference, a onetime event organized by Richard Saul Wurman, the founder of the TED conference and symposium franchise. 

The WWW conference featured music from cellist Yo-Yo Ma and several speakers who have been previously linked to Epstein, including "Simpsons" creator Matt Groening, scientists Steven Pinker and Lisa Randall, and MIT Media Lab founder Nicholas Negroponte, who faced criticism for urging his successor Joi Ito to take funding from Epstein. 

Epstein was listed as a sponsor for the conference, which took place from September 18 to 20, 2012, alongside General Electric and William Hearst III, according to the captions on YouTube videos of talks from the event. The captions were edited to remove Epstein's name after Business Insider reached out to RadicalMedia, which produced the videos under contract for WWW, for comment.

Epstein's involvement with the WWW conference has not been previously reported.

Elon Musk denies that Epstein advised Tesla

It's unclear whether Epstein had any business with Tesla or SpaceX or invested in the companies. Epstein told the New York Times reporter James B. Stewart, who met with him in 2018 to discuss a rumor that Epstein was creating a list of possible new board members for Tesla, that he had advised Elon Musk but couldn't discuss it publicly because his reputation was "radioactive." 

A spokesman for Elon Musk told The Times that it was "incorrect to say that Epstein ever advised Elon on anything." 

The men have dined together at least twice: In addition to the dinner organized by Hoffman that Musk and Epstein both attended, BuzzFeed uncovered photos from a 2011 dinner in Long Beach, California, as part of Edge, an exclusive dinner club for intellectuals founded by literary agent John Brockman. 

Among the guests at that dinner were Elon Musk and Epstein, as well as Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Google cofounder Sergey Brin, who were all in town for the TED conference, according to the report. It's unclear whether Wurman, who is listed as a member on, was present at that dinner. Wurman did not respond to a request for comment.

Elon Musk, Tesla, and SpaceX did not respond to requests for comment.

This post has been updated to include a comment from Glenn Dubin's attorney denying that Epstein introduced Dubin to his wife, Eva Andersson-Dubin.

SEE ALSO: 'Uncle Jeff': Jeffrey Epstein's relationship with the 24-year-old daughter of billionaire hedge-fund founder Glenn Dubin is more complex than previously known

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: People are still debating the pink or grey sneaker, 2 years after it went viral. Here's the real color explained.

Former top US Army official's staff said they were running 'personal' errands for him at CVS, report says

Mon, 01/13/2020 - 4:02pm

  • The US military's former top enlisted official had a pattern of using his soldiers "to perform services for his personal convenience," according to a report by the US Army's inspector general, which said these staffers "felt obliged" to help him with these personal favors.
  • Documents obtained by the military-news website Task & Purpose revealed details of the ethics violations of former Sgt. Maj. John Troxell, who retired in December.
  • The investigation said the 19-year military veteran instructed staffers to purchase goods for him at CVS.
  • He was also accused of endorsing fitness products on his social-media accounts, including in an exercise video posted on his official Facebook page in which he appeared to endorse the training-equipment company TRX.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The US military's former top enlisted official had a pattern of using his soldiers "to perform services for his personal convenience," according to a previous report by the US Army's inspector general. Documents recently obtained by the military news website Task & Purpose said Sgt. Maj. John Troxell violated ethics rules through these favors and an apparent endorsement of fitness equipment on his official Facebook account. 

"These unofficial duties included the subordinates going to CVS for him, driving after hours during [temporary duty] to unofficial events, dining with them, and provided unnecessary support to him and his wife," the documents said, according to Task & Purpose.

According to the investigation, the 19-year military veteran instructed staffers to purchase goods for him at CVS.

"No, dude, you are not an indentured servant," Troxell said in response a staffer who attempted to give him $10 back in change, according to the investigation.

While Troxell did not "encourage" his staff to perform unofficial duties, the inspector general's report said they "felt obliged to provide him unofficial support."

"They recognized they were working for the highest ranking NCO in the DOD, they respected him, and they wanted to do their best to help CSM Troxell succeed," the investigation said, Task & Purpose reported.

Troxell, who was the senior enlisted adviser to chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford at the time, was temporarily suspended last year amid the investigation into the allegations of misconduct.

The allegations also included reports that he endorsed fitness products on his social-media accounts. In a video posted on his official military Facebook page, Troxell appeared to endorse the training-equipment company TRX by wearing a shirt and shorts with a TRX logo while exercising on its equipment. Troxell said he was wearing the company-branded clothing because he did not have other clean clothes at the time.

While Troxell did not mention the company's name explicitly in the videos, investigators still said "the unmistakable presence of TRX material in the video, the apparel worn by ... Troxell, the signage, and the equipment used present an unmistakable focus on the TRX brand" and had "implied an endorsement."

Troxell was allowed back on duty in March after the military found he "received no personal or monetary gain from these endorsements."

"But I will tell you, what I've learned is, you know, self-reflection is important, especially as a senior enlisted leader," Troxell said at his retirement ceremony in December, according to the Military Times.

"Be cognizant of your environment at all times," he added. "When you serve as the senior enlisted adviser to the [chairman] and your job is to gain the pulse of the force ... that suggests that you're out with the troops. You can get so focused on the operational environment and providing that pulse that you forget about being back here at the Pentagon and what your role is back here."

Other Pentagon officials were accused of using their staffers to perform personal errands. In July, the Defense Department's inspector general said Dana White, a former Pentagon spokeswoman, had instructed her subordinates to acquire food, schedule her personal trips, and pick up her dry cleaning. White abruptly resigned in January 2019.

According to the inspector general's report, White's attorney denied the findings and said the allegations had "no basis in fact or law."

SEE ALSO: Fake text messages about a military draft are being sent to Americans, the US Army warns

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: We can thank the US military for the smelliest weapon in the world

Biopharma firm Adaptimmune spikes 330% after posting positive results for 4 tumor indicators

Mon, 01/13/2020 - 3:57pm

  • Biopharma company Adaptimmune spiked as much as 338% in Monday trading after announcing "partial responses" (PRs) in four tumor indicators.
  • The company's SPEAR T-cell platform delivered two confirmed PRs in patients with liver cancer and melanoma, according to a Monday statement.
  • The platform also boasted two unconfirmed PRs in patients with gastro-esophageal junction cancer and head and neck cancer.
  • The responses show the platform "is clearly active and can overcome the challenges of treating a range of solid tumors," CEO Adrian Rawcliffe said.
  • Watch Adaptimmune trade live here.

Biopharmaceutical company Adaptimmune rocketed as much as 338% in Monday trading after announcing "partial responses" (PRs) for four tumor indicators.

The company's SPEAR T-cell platform delivered two confirmed PRs in patients with liver cancer and melanoma, according to a Monday statement. The platform also boasted two unconfirmed PRs in patients with gastro-esophageal junction cancer and head and neck cancer. A partial response is defined as a 30% or greater reduction in tumor size. 

"These responses demonstrate that our proprietary SPEAR T-cell platform is clearly active and can overcome the challenges of treating a range of solid tumors with a T-cell therapy product," CEO Adrian Rawcliffe, said in the statement. 

The confirmed PR in the liver cancer patient involved a 100% decrease in targeted lesions, the company said, while the confirmed PR in the melanoma patient involved a 42% decrease in lesions. The unconfirmed PRs included a 42% reduction in target legions in the gastro-esophageal junction cancer patient and a 36% decrease in the target legions in the head-and-neck cancer patient.

The most adverse effects for those utilizing the T-cell platform are "consistent with those typically experienced by cancer patients under cytotoxic chemotherapy or other cancer immunotherapies," Adaptimmune said. Additional trials and durability information is required to confirm which therapies are best suited for further development, the company added.

Both Roth Capital Partners and Cowen initiated coverage on Adaptimmune on Monday, issuing buy and outperform ratings, respectively. 

Adaptimmune stock traded at $4.40 per share as of 2:55 p.m. ET Monday, up roughly 288% year-to-date.

The company has three "buy" ratings, four "hold" ratings, and no "sell" ratings from analysts, with a consensus price target of $5.25, according to Bloomberg data.

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

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NOW WATCH: A big-money investor in juggernauts like Facebook and Netflix breaks down the '3rd wave' firms that are leading the next round of tech disruption

The 6 most surprising and unusual takeaways from Casper's IPO filing

Mon, 01/13/2020 - 3:54pm

  • Mattress startup Casper filed to go public last week.
  • Its IPO paperwork contained a few surprising takeaways about how Casper views its business and the sleep market in general.
  • For example, the company hinted that it may invest in other categories like medical devices or pajamas. 
  • It also lists social media influencers as a risk factor to its business. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Buzzy online mattress startup Casper has officially filed to go public — but its IPO filing contains a few surprises. 

Last week, the company publicly filed its S-1 paperwork with the US Securities and Exchange Commission ahead of a planned listing on the New York Stock Exchange. As is customary, the filing included a variety of information, including the health of Casper's business and factors it perceives as being a risk to the company. 

But the filing contained some eccentric and unusual nuggets of information, like the fact that Casper lists Instagram influencers as a risk factor or that the company could develop its own sleep apnea machine. 

Here are some of the most surprising takeaways from Casper's IPO paperwork. 

SEE ALSO: Jeff Bezos just turned 56. Here's how he built Amazon into a nearly $1 trillion company and became the world's richest man.

Casper warned that influencers could cause its business to take a hit.

Casper listed a number of risk factors in its S-1 filing, but perhaps most unusual was the one that involved influencers.

The startup relies on the influencer economy in part to market its products — Casper can pay or offer up free products to social media stars to advertise on Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat. If any of these influencers says or does something that "reflects poorly" on the brand, it could damage the company's reputation and IPO price. Alternatively, if an influencer shares a bad review, the company said, that could affect the business as well.

"Influencers with whom we maintain relationships could also engage in behavior or use their platforms to communicate directly with our customers in a manner that reflects poorly on our brand and may be attributed to us or otherwise adversely affect us," Casper wrote in the filing. "It is not possible to prevent such behavior, and the precautions we take to detect this activity may not be effective in all cases."

Casper views itself as a major player in the "sleep economy," not just the mattress market.

Casper's company ethos isn't defined by being a mattress company — it describes itself as being part of the "sleep economy," which encompasses everything that happens before, during, and after sleep. Casper calls this the "sleep arc" in its IPO paperwork.

But the company isn't just focused on the sleep of human adults: it wrote in its filing that it wants to understand and serve the sleep economy "in a holistic way" for babies and dogs, too.

It expects the global sleep market will grow at twice the rate of the global economy.

In one of the slides in Casper's filing, it valued the global sleep market at $432 billion, and projects that market will grow at an annual rate of 6.3% over the next five years, which is nearly twice as fast as the global economy grew in 2019.

Casper wrote that it expects the global sleep market to be worth $585 billion by 2024. 

Casper is diving into other product categories, including potentially building its own sleep apnea machine.

"Our approach is to offer products and services across the entirety of the Sleep Arc under one brand," Casper wrote in its filing.

Beyond mattresses, the company's product lineup currently includes pillows, bedding, bed frames, weighted blankets, lamps, and more. But it plans to extend its wares significantly, mentioning these products in the filing: 

  • White noise machines
  • Room diffusers
  • Humidifiers
  • Sleep trackers
  • Bedside clocks
  • Sleep apps
  • Meditation apps
  • Counseling apps
  • Supplements

Casper also hinted that it could get into the medical devices market. In a chart in the filing, the company lists the market for continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, devices as being worth $25 billion. The machines help people who have sleep apnea breath more easily. 

Casper may want to disrupt the pajamas market.

In the same graphic in its filing, Casper noted the "$32 billion" pajama market as being part of the global sleep economy. 

It's a hint that the company may be considering its own line of pajamas in the future, which isn't much of a surprise: Casper already provides pajamas for American Airlines passengers to wear on long international flights.

And at its Dreamery space in Manhattan — where guests can enjoy a 45-minute nap on a Casper mattress inside a nap pod — the company supplies pajamas to wear during your visit. But when Business Insider visited in 2018, the provided set were made by pajama company Sleepy Jones and cost $178. 

It's eyeing the $5 billion pet market, too.

Casper noted that there are opportunities in the $5 billion pet market as well. It lists mattresses, furniture, over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and supplements for cats and dogs as part of the $432 billion global sleep economy. 

Casper already dabbles in the pet market: it's been selling a memory-foam dog bed that comes in three sizes since 2018.

The best and worst states to retire in the US

Mon, 01/13/2020 - 3:34pm

  • When deciding the best place to retire, it's important to consider affordability, quality of life, and health care.
  • Minnesota is the best for quality of life and health care but has low affordability for retirees.
  • Florida is the best state for retirees, not surprising considering it has the second-most senior citizens and high scores for affordability and quality of life.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

On a global scale, the United States is 24th on the list of the best countries for retirement.

However, the US is very large and experiences can vary drastically within the country.

If you decide to stay in America when you are done working, you might want to know which state is best for retirement. WalletHub recently released its 2020 retirement rankings. Using 47 metrics in three broad categories, they were able to rank every state to find the best and worst places to retire.

The three main categories used were affordability, quality of life, and health care. WalletHub weighted the affordability section 40% and the other two areas were given equal weight of 30%.

Florida tends to be the first state that comes to mind when retirement communities are brought up, and for good reason. Florida came in first in the overall ranking. The Sunshine State also has the second-highest percentage of residents 65 years and older, WalletHub says, topped only by Maine. 

Where you decide to live during retirement depends on what you value. Residents of Hawaii have the highest life expectancy, while the lowest is found in Mississippi. On the other hand, the cost of living is totally flipped with Mississippi coming in first and Hawaii ranked last.

If you are looking to be entertained in retirement, New York might be a good option. Despite the state's lackluster overall rating for retirement, WalletHub's analysis found that the Empire State has the most museums and theaters per capita.

Check out how your home state ranks overall, as well as for each of the three categories: affordability, quality of life, and health care. 

Matthew Michaels contributed to a previous version of this article.

SEE ALSO: The cheapest states to get gas, ranked

50. Kentucky

Affordability rank: 32

Quality of life rank: 46

Health care rank: 48

49. New Mexico

Affordability rank: 37

Quality of life rank: 45

Health care rank: 38

48. Rhode Island

Affordability rank: 47

Quality of life rank: 38

Health care rank: 25

47. New Jersey

Affordability rank: 48

Quality of life rank: 31

Health care rank: 23

46. West Virginia

Affordability rank: 19

Quality of life rank: 40

Health care rank: 50

45. Tennessee

Affordability rank: 14

Quality of life rank: 48

Health care rank: 46

44. Arkansas

Affordability rank: 9

Quality of life rank: 50

Health care rank: 45

43. Mississippi

Affordability rank: 5

Quality of life rank: 49

Health care rank: 47

42. New York

Affordability rank: 37

Quality of life rank: 45

Health care rank: 38

41. Louisiana

Affordability rank: 10

Quality of life rank: 44

Health care rank: 43

40. Maryland

Affordability rank: 43

Quality of life rank: 29

Health care rank: 20

39. Alabama

Affordability rank: 1

Quality of life rank: 47

Health care rank: 49

38. Oregon

Affordability rank: 41

Quality of life rank: 24

Health care rank: 21

37. Oklahoma

Affordability rank: 6

Quality of life rank: 43

Health care rank: 44

36. Vermont

Affordability rank: 49

Quality of life rank: 6

Health care rank: 9

35. Nevada

Affordability rank: 8

Quality of life rank: 42

Health care rank: 42

34. Indiana

Affordability rank: 23

Quality of life rank: 33

Health care rank: 41

33. Connecticut

Affordability rank: 44

Quality of life rank: 23

Health care rank: 5

32. California

Affordability rank: 38

Quality of life rank: 25

Health care rank: 19

31. Alaska

Affordability rank: 36

Quality of life rank: 34

Health care rank: 11

30. Georgia

Affordability rank: 12

Quality of life rank: 41

Health care rank: 40

29. Hawaii

Affordability rank: 45

Quality of life rank: 32

Health care rank: 2

28. Maine

Affordability rank: 42

Quality of life rank: 10

Health care rank: 15

27. Washington

Affordability rank: 34

Quality of life rank: 14

Health care rank: 32

26. North Carolina

Affordability rank: 21

Quality of life rank: 30

Health care rank: 39

25. Nebraska

Affordability rank: 39

Quality of life rank: 20

Health care rank: 10

24. Kansas

Affordability rank: 25

Quality of life rank: 26

Health care rank: 35

23. Illinois

Affordability rank: 35

Quality of life rank: 21

Health care rank: 16

22. Arizona

Affordability rank: 30

Quality of life rank: 36

Health care rank: 12

21. Michigan

Affordability rank: 28

Quality of life rank: 16

Health care rank: 31

20. Missouri

Affordability rank: 22

Quality of life rank: 28

Health care rank: 29

19. North Dakota

Affordability rank: 33

Quality of life rank: 22

Health care rank: 8

18. South Carolina

Affordability rank: 37

Quality of life rank: 45

Health care rank: 38

17. Texas

Affordability rank: 3

Quality of life rank: 37

Health care rank: 37

16. Minnesota

Affordability rank: 46

Quality of life rank: 1

Health care rank: 1

15. Ohio

Affordability rank: 16

Quality of life rank: 17

Health care rank: 34

14. Massachusetts

Affordability rank: 40

Quality of life rank: 2

Health care rank: 3

13. Pennsylvania

Affordability rank: 29

Quality of life rank: 3

Health care rank: 27

12. Montana

Affordability rank: 20

Quality of life rank: 15

Health care rank: 28

11. South Dakota

Affordability rank: 26

Quality of life rank: 27

Health care rank: 7

10. Iowa

Affordability rank: 31

Quality of life rank: 7

Health care rank: 13

9. Idaho

Affordability rank: 13

Quality of life rank: 19

Health care rank: 30

8. Wisconsin

Affordability rank: 24

Quality of life rank: 8

Health care rank: 22

7. Virginia

Affordability rank: 18

Quality of life rank: 13

Health care rank: 24

6. Delaware

Affordability rank: 7

Quality of life rank: 35

Health care rank: 18

5. Wyoming

Affordability rank: 11

Quality of life rank: 12

Health care rank: 33

4. Utah

Affordability rank: 15

Quality of life rank: 18

Health care rank: 17

3. New Hampshire

Affordability rank: 27

Quality of life rank: 4

Health care rank: 6

2. Colorado

Affordability rank: 17

Quality of life rank: 11

Health care rank: 4

1. Florida

Affordability rank: 2

Quality of life rank: 5

Health care rank: 26

Financial Services: 6 Key Attributes to Attract Gen Z

Mon, 01/13/2020 - 1:01am

Now the largest generation worldwide, Gen Z accounts for nearly 68 million people in the US alone. As Gen Zers age, financial services providers will be increasingly pressed to shift focus to the burgeoning demographic.

As digital natives, Gen Zers are more receptive to influence from friends and family than traditional advertising. For marketers, strategists, and developers, understanding Gen Z's unique needs — and creating and marketing products accordingly — will be critical to reaping their value.

In Financial Services: 6 Key Attributes to Attract Gen Z, Business Insider Intelligence provides a six-point framework that highlights core traits of the demographic, which banks and payments firms can use to attract, engage, and retain Gen Zers.

This exclusive report can be yours for FREE today.

As an added bonus, you'll receive a free preview of our Banking Pro Briefing.

Join the conversation about this story »

My smart idea to make $400 a month as a landlord ending up costing me instead. Here's what I wish I'd known before I rented out my house.

Sun, 01/12/2020 - 3:30pm

  • When we became landlords, we expected to make $400 a month above our mortgage payment, but we ended up losing money. Our tenants were frequently late on their rent, which meant we couldn't pay our mortgage and got hit with fees.
  • Looking back, I wish I'd done a few things differently — including hiring a property-management company and doing a background check on my tenants.
  • I learned being a landlord can bring in extra money, but it isn't necessarily a smart move if you need the money.
  • Read more personal finance coverage.

Renting out your home can be an effective way to make some extra money — but if you're not aware of the risks and potential costs involved with being a landlord, your efforts to bulk up your bank account might be counterproductive.

I learned this the hard way.

When my husband and I had our first baby in 2014, I decided to quit my job and stay home. This last-minute decision tightened up our budget, and it also made paying our $1,200 mortgage difficult.

We decided to move out of our house and into a smaller, cheaper apartment — our rent was $1,090 — to save money. Renting out our house seemed like a smart idea: It was in a popular neighborhood where rentals were in demand, and we would live close by to take care of any issues that came up.

We planned to charge $1,600 for the three-bedroom, one-bathroom house in Minnesota, which should have left us with an extra $400 per month after the mortgage payment. Unfortunately, our "smart idea" ended up costing us money in the long run.

Looking back, there are a few things I would tell myself before jumping into becoming a landlord.

Do a thorough background check

When we moved out of our house, we really couldn't afford to pay our mortgage and our new rent — so rather than waiting for the best, most reliable renters, we settled on the first applicants, a young couple who seemed nice enough.

Of course, we interviewed them in person and had them fill out an application. We even called their references. What we didn't do, though, was check out their finances, including their credit scores.

While the renters seemed like kind people, they paid late every other month, which compromised our ability to pay the mortgage. We were late on our house payment probably five times over the course of the year, which added up to hundreds of dollars in fees (plus a dent in our credit scores).

Make sure you're not relying on the income

Renting out a home can be a bit of a catch-22. Being a landlord can bring in extra money, but it isn't necessarily a smart move if you need the money.

Because we couldn't pay our mortgage without our tenants' rental check deposited in our account, it would have been far wiser to build up some savings to fall back on before taking that financial risk.

Be prepared for awkward conversations

This may seem obvious, but not everyone is cut out to be a landlord. On top of the physical labor that comes with repair and maintenance issues, there's also the emotional labor of having hard conversations about late payments and, if the situation escalates, potentially kicking your tenants out.

I learned the hard way that if you're not direct and confrontational, or you would rather avoid awkward situations involving finances and your personal assets, being a landlord isn't the best idea.

My husband and I both lean toward over-accommodating, which made confronting our tenants about their consistently late payments really overwhelming.

Don't rent out your place if you plan to sell anytime soon

Our tenants still lived in the house when the time came to sell, and to say the place was a pigsty during showings is an understatement.

We bought our house at the height of a buyer's market, and while we sold at the height of a seller's market, we didn't make a dime on the sale.

There were a number of other issues in the process, but one important thing I learned is that no matter who your tenants are (and even how clean they are), trying to coordinate showings and make sure the state of the house is up to par at all times can get complicated with someone else living in it.

Go over your lease with an attorney

I'm embarrassed to say it, but we used a boilerplate lease template we found online when we rented out our home.

To prevent the issues we dealt with, it would have been smart for us to go over our lease terms with a lawyer before having our tenants sign. That way, we not only would have had more protection against financial losses, but we would have also had a buffer to fall back on in difficult conversations with the tenants.

Involve a rental-management company

Looking back, my husband and I simply weren't prepared for the financial responsibility of being landlords (or, honestly, buying a house in the first place).

We should have consulted with a rental-management company to facilitate the lease and payments, but we were more concerned about making the maximum amount of money.

Since selling the house, we have mutually decided renting out a place isn't exactly up our alley — and, luckily, we've also worked our way to a much better financial position.

Join the conversation about this story »

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I'm young, single, and healthy, but I just bought $300,000 of life insurance and it was a no-brainer

Sun, 01/12/2020 - 3:23pm

When you're young, single and healthy, life insurance is probably the furthest thing from your mind. After all, you're in the prime of your life and have other expenses to think about. You're saving for retirement, a home, or investing for your future. Putting funds towards an event that is statistically unlikely to happen in the immediate future sounds like a waste of money.

At least that's what I thought. The importance of having life insurance didn't hit home until I lost two younger family members within the same year.

Both passings were unexpected and a complete shock. These were two perfectly healthy young men in their early 20s. Friends and family pitched in to cover funeral expenses, which provided the families one less thing to worry about during difficult times. Nothing makes up for the loss of a loved one, but the removal of that financial stress allows grieving families some reprieve.

Their deaths made me realize life insurance is a no-brainer

These events got me thinking about how absurd my invincibility complex really was. Here I was at 31 years old — no longer a spring chicken, as my mother liked to say. If something happened to me, which felt more real than ever, I didn't want my family to have the added burden of dealing with financial matters.

Funeral expenses aside, what about outstanding debts? Luckily, I only have a car loan, but life is unpredictable. I write for a living and as the 2008 financial crisis reminded us, even good jobs can go down the drain faster than the stock market. I might be financially stable now, but that could change at any moment. And when that moment coincides with my untimely demise, it could create a huge financial burden for my loved ones. Viewing life insurance through this reality-based lens made buying it a no-brainer.

Life is unpredictable and to not plan ahead is irresponsible. That's why I ultimately got life insurance. I won't be young, single and childless forever. Things could change on a dime and remembering to get life insurance may not be top of mind when they do. We're all leaving someone behind, and saddling them with our financial problems is not the way most of us want to go. 

I chose term life insurance, which is much cheaper

If you're concerned about the cost of life insurance, a term-life policy is a more affordable alternative. Especially if you're still young and healthy — oddly enough, the age at which most of us don't think about life insurance is also the age at which it's most affordable.

With a term policy, coverage is only valid for a set period of time, usually 10 to 40 years (although it's possible to get coverage for as few as two) and payments can be split into affordable monthly installments. If you pass away during that coverage period, the policy is paid out to your beneficiaries. If you make it through the policy period, you are no longer covered.

In my case, I opted for term life insurance because it was significantly cheaper. For example, I was quoted $234 per month for a $300,000 whole life policy. Meanwhile, a 40-year term policy was just $30 per month. The total policy cost during 40 years would be $14,400 as opposed to $112,320 for a whole life policy during the same period. 

When that term life policy expires in 40 years, re-upping would be more expensive since life insurance cost goes up with age. That's something to think about when you're determining your own coverage needs.

I got enough coverage to cover my debts and make life easier for my beneficiaries

When it comes to choosing a life insurance policy, it's important to consider not only your personal and financial situation now, but how it might change in the future. I'm young, single and childless. Most of those factors aren't going to change in the foreseeable future. So when I bought my policy, I wanted to make sure that at the very least, my funeral expenses and outstanding debts would be covered. 

I also wanted to leave something behind for my beneficiaries — enough to pay off a mortgage or maybe cover education expenses. That's why I settled for a $300,000 policy. It's more than enough to take care of my debts and make life easier for my beneficiaries. We all want to leave this world in a better state and I felt this number was sufficient in that regard, in addition to being affordable. For less than what it costs me to insure my car, my family is now taken care of in case the inevitable happens.

Some people go beyond a million dollars, but you know what? Most people can't handle large sums of money anyway. A huge windfall wasn't something I wanted to be on the hook for financially, in the hopes that my beneficiaries wouldn't squander it. Even taking inflation into consideration, I did the math and determined $300,000 to be a sufficient amount of money to leave behind. 

I also recognized that at some point, I'll return to the workforce and likely receive life insurance benefits from an employer for significantly less. So if something happens before I hit retirement age, there's a good chance I'll have another policy in place.

Bottom line: Age, health, and marital status are ultimately irrelevant when it comes to buying life insurance. Almost everyone needs it, because none of us are invincible or psychic. Life insurance is about protecting what's important and taking care of those we leave behind. Without a clue as to when that might happen, it's important to be fully prepared. 

Policygenius can help you compare options to find the right life insurance coverage for you, at the right price »

Join the conversation about this story »

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FREE SLIDE DECK: The Future of Fintech

Sun, 01/12/2020 - 1:01pm

Digital disruption is affecting every aspect of the fintech industry. Over the past five years, fintech has established itself as a fundamental part of the global financial services ecosystem.

Fintech startups have raised, and continue to raise, billions of dollars annually. At the same time, incumbent financial institutions are getting in on the act, and using fintech to remain competitive in a rapidly evolving financial services landscape. So what's next?

Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has the answer in our brand new exclusive slide deck The Future of Fintech. In this deck, we explore what's next for fintech, how it will reach new heights, and the developments that will help it get there.

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'1917' dethrones 'Rise of Skywalker' at the box office with an impressive $36.5 million weekend (CMCSA)

Sun, 01/12/2020 - 12:00pm

  • "1917" won the domestic box office this weekend with an estimated $36.5 million take.
  • The World War I drama dethroned "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," which had been number one for the last three weeks.
  • Interest in "1917" increased after the movie had a surprise best drama win at the Golden Globes last weekend.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

We like to make fun of the Golden Globes. With awards given out by a voting body of around 90 people, it's easy to take shots when it comes to its relevancy during award season. But one thing we can't dispute is the award show can be a huge marketing tool, and that was evident this weekend with "1917."

Universal's World War I drama from director Sam Mendes ("Skyfall"), that is told in stle that resembles the look of having continuous shot (in reality there were multiple shots), won the Globes' top prize, best motion picture — drama, last Sunday and that catapulted it to must-see-status this weekend.

The result: "1917" dethroned "Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker" from the number one spot at the domestic box office with its estimated $36.5 million take.

Mendes' movie had been in limited release since Christmas (to date, "1917" has brought in $60.39 million, worldwide), building awareness as well as award season buzz, but this weekend was its coming out party. Clearly moviegoers wanted to catch a glimpse of the movie that beat out the likes of "The Irishman" and "Joker" at the Golden Globes (Mendes also won the best director Globe). They also wanted to see for themselves how in the world Mendes and the movie's cinematographer, Roger Deakins, pulled off the one-shot look of the movie

We'll find out Monday morning how "1917" will be received by Academy voters, as Oscar nominations are announced then. But for now, you have to tip your hat to Universal for how it has released its latest original title.  

That's the other element of this box office win. Universal has cracked the code when it comes to getting top dollar out of its non IP/sequel titles. In 2019 it did better than any other studio by having three original titles top the box office their opening weekends ("Us," "Good Boys," and "Abominable"), and it's continuing that in the new year.

There are only so many weekend slots on the calendar that are not gobbled up by big tentpole titles, but recently Universal has been the king of finding those spots where its original titles can shine. And in the case of "1917," with its big Golden Globes night, that just amplified things. Its $36.5 million take tops its early projections of $20 million to $25 million, and updated projection of $32 million.    

Disney's "Rise of Skywalker" came in second place with $15.1 million. The movie's global cume to date is just under $1 billion, $989.6 million. But Disney also had to deal with a dud this weekend, too, with its release of Fox's "Underwater." The thriller starring Kristen Stewart only took in $7 million on over 2,700 screens.

Box-office highlights:
  • Warner Bros.' "Just Mercy," starring Michael B. Jordan and Jamie Foxx, had an impressive first weekend in wide release taking in $10 million.
  • While $10 million is a soft opening for Paramount's R-rated comedy "Like A Boss" (budgeted at $29 million).

SEE ALSO: 2019 broke the record for biggest global box office year of all time with $42.5 billion

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TaxSlayer's $0 plan is for anyone with simple taxes and includes free federal and state returns

Sun, 01/12/2020 - 11:36am

  • TaxSlayer is a tax preparation company that offers four plans: Simply Free, Classic, Premium, and Self-Employed. It's a solid option for Tax Day 2020.
  • TaxSlayer's Simply Free plan is just that — free. You can file simple federal and state returns for $0.
  • It can be difficult to skip around on the website and to access certain customer service features, making TaxSlayer a good option for people who are already comfortable with the e-filing process.
  • Use TaxSlayer to file your simple state and federal returns for free »

Filing your taxes can be a bit like your first trip to the gym — you don't want to spend the money, you aren't sure how everything works, and you keep putting it off. But if you use the right equipment, the process isn't as terrible as you expected.

TaxSlayer is a tax preparation company for people filing their taxes online from home. But does it include the right equipment for your tax needs?

The basics of TaxSlayer

TaxSlayer was founded in 1965 and runs out of Augusta, Georgia.

It's easy to set up an account with TaxSlayer. Visit the website, choose from TaxSlayer's four plans based on your life circumstances, set a username and password, and you're good to go. 

You don't enter your payment information until the end of the process. This means that if you realize halfway through filing that you don't want to use TaxSlayer, you can quit with pretty much zero hassle.

TaxSlayer pricing

Which of the four TaxSlayer plans is right for you? It depends on your employment situation, life circumstances, and customer support preferences. Active service members can file federal returns for free with any of the plans below. 

Here are your options:

Simply Free: $0 for federal returns, $0 for state returns. The Simply Free plan is for simple returns, including returns for single people, married couples, and students.

Classic: $17 for federal returns, $29 for state returns. TaxSlayer says this is its most popular plan because it can be used for almost any tax situation.

Premium: $37 for federal returns, $29 for state returns. With a Premium plan, you have access to advanced customer support features. This is great for people with complicated situations who need a little help along the way.

Self-Employed: $47 for federal returns, $29 for state returns. If you're self-employed, you know that your tax situation is unique. The Self-Employed plan includes features suited to your tax needs and provides education for how to claim deductions and credits.

TaxSlayer's free version is truly free

Some tax software companies advertise a free version, but in reality, only the federal return is free — you still pay for state returns. Even FreeTaxUSA, software with the word "free" in the name, charges for state returns at every level. However, TaxSlayer's simple plan is free at both levels.

In years past, many other big-name companies have offered free federal returns and state returns at a price. For 2020, however, companies including H&R Block, TurboTax, and TaxAct have all introduced truly free plans like the Simply Free option from TaxSlayer.

Keep in mind that TaxSlayer offers one free state return with its Simply Free plan. If you need to file more than one, it's $29 per additional return. 

TaxSlayer's Simply Free plan includes features that competing software doesn't. For example, Simply Free grants you access to prior years' tax returns, even if you used to file with a different company. TurboTax also offers this option with its Free plan, but with H&R Block and TaxAct, you have to upgrade to access previous returns.

TaxSlayer recently added a new feature to its Simply Free plan: It now covers education credits and student loan deductions. H&R Block's Free version provides these benefits, too, but you'll have to upgrade with TurboTax and TaxAct.

One downside of TaxSlayer's Simply Free plan is that you can't import your W-2 digitally. You'll have to either enter the information manually or upgrade to the Classic plan, even though you can upload a PDF with most competitors' free versions. This isn't necessarily a huge problem, but it is one example of how TaxSlayer can be less convenient than other software.

You'll come across little inconveniences

TaxSlayer does allow you to skip around in the e-filing process. Most competitors allow you to do this, but some smaller companies do not.

However, it's not as easy to skip around with TaxSlayer than with some other software. For example, if you're filling out the Basic Information section, you can't go to the Federal section by clicking on the menu icon. Instead, TaxSlayer requires you to click the "back," "skip," or "continue" buttons on the page. As a result, TaxSlayer isn't quite as easy to use as TaxAct or TurboTax.

TaxSlayer customer support is somewhat limited. Yes, you can access customer service through email or phone with the Simply Free and Classic plans. But to receive live chat support, priority support, or Ask a Pro support, you'll have to upgrade to the Premium or Self-Employed plans.

If you know what you're doing, don't need much assistance, and have all your information ready to go, TaxSlayer is a strong budget option. Otherwise, you'll have to deal with small inconveniences.

Use TaxSlayer to file your simple federal and state returns for free »

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3 mistakes not to make with your retirement savings, from people who have already retired

Sun, 01/12/2020 - 11:30am

Saving for retirement isn't always smooth sailing. 

In Business Insider's Real Retirement series, retirees share their best advice on retirement, what worked for them, and sometimes, what didn't work for them.

From keeping their portfolios invested too heavily in the stock market, to simply starting too late, these three retirees share the mistakes they've made and seen that could have affected their retirement. 

1. Don't keep too much risk in your portfolio

Dirk Cotton, a former AOL employee, retired between the dot-com bubble burst and the start of the Great Recession. 

Keeping a portfolio that's entirely invested in the stock market runs the risk of losing significant amounts of money, which can be a problem if you don't have the time to recoup those losses. Cotton says he saw a great deal of people facing trouble with this when the stock market tanked in 2008. 

"A lot of people had 100% percent equities when they were saving for retirement, and lost over 50% in a very short period of time," he said. 

He advises that people work with a financial planner to figure out the right balance for their portfolio. "Find a good financial planner or retirement planner," he said, "and begin to taper off your equity allocation, aiming towards 40% or 50% when you retire."

2. Don't put off saving

David Fisher, who retired at 65,  didn't think much about retirement when he was younger. "I got a late start. From 33 to 43, those quarterly statements I got from a TIAA, I threw them away," Fisher told Business Insider. 

Luckily, his employer was putting money into his retirement account the whole time. "After a year or so, you were vested, and they put in 6.2% of your gross pay into your 403b retirement plan with TIAA, whether or not you put in a nickle."

When he was in his mid-40s, he opened one of the statements. "I said, 'Oh my goodness, I've got $30,000 to $35,000 in there. That's my money,'" he said. 

It's worth noting that not everyone's so lucky: Most employers only contribute to your retirement plan when you do, and even then, only up to a certain amount (if they do at all). If your employer offers a match, most experts recommend contributing at least as much as you need to get the full match.  

3. Don't overlook the power of passive income

Corky and Patty Ewing never made more than a middle-class income for where they live in southern California, but passive income has made retirement not only possible, but comfortable. They own four properties: three rentals and one where they live. 

But they wish they'd bought more. If they could turn back time, they say, they would have bought more properties and set up even more passive income streams to fund their retirement.

"We didn't ever make big money," Corkey told Business Insider. "But, through the power of compound interest and appreciation in stocks and rentals, we found ourselves in a pretty good position now. It's amazing to both of us."

SmartAsset's free tool can find a financial adviser to help you avoid making retirement mistakes »

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