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Here's a scientific explanation for why rich people think they're better than everyone

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 2:28pm

  • It's official: Rich people really do think they're better than everybody else.
  • People born into higher social classes are more overconfident and have "an exaggerated belief" that they will perform better than others, more so than those in lower classes, a new study found.
  • Researchers had thousands of people from diverse social classes take cognitive assessments and trivia tests, then asked them how they thought they fared compared with others.
  • People with more education, higher income, and a higher perceived social class were more overconfident, leading judges to deem them to be more competent, the study found.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Some may have long suspected it, but now science has confirmed it: Rich people really do believe they're better than everybody else.

People born into higher social classes are more overconfident and have "an exaggerated belief" that they will perform better at certain tasks than others, a perception not shared by their lower-class counterparts, a new study published Monday in the prestigious Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found.

These findings help clear up the common misconception that everyone thinks they're better than the average person, according to the study's lead author.

"Our results suggest that this type of thinking might be more prevalent among the middle and upper classes," Peter Belmi, a professor at the University of Virginia and the lead author of the study, said in a press release.

The study included a series of experiments looking at the connection between social class and overconfidence.

In one experiment, researchers looked at more than 150,000 small-business owners in Mexico who were applying for loans and got information about their income, education level, and perceived standing in society. The applicants were asked to take psychological assessments — which included a flashcard memory game — to determine their creditworthiness.

After the assessments, applicants were asked to rate how they thought they did compared with others, on a scale of 1 to 100.

The wealthier, upper-class participants were convinced they would perform better than others

The researchers found that those with more education, higher income, and a higher perceived social class had "an exaggerated belief that they would perform better than others, compared with their lower-class counterparts," the press release said.

Other experiments entailed giving participants a trivia test and then having them come back a week later for a videotaped mock hiring interview. More than 900 judges then watched the videos and rated how competent they found each applicant.

The judges deemed the overconfident upper-class people to be more competent.

"Individuals with relatively high social class were more overconfident, which in turn was associated with being perceived as more competent and ultimately more hirable, even though, on average, they were no better at the trivia test than their lower-class counterparts," Belmi said.

The disparity may come down to how people in different social classes are raised

"In the middle class, people are socialized to differentiate themselves from others, to express what they think and feel and to confidently express their ideas and opinions, even when they lack accurate knowledge," Belmi said.

Working-class people, on the other hand, are taught to embrace humility and the importance of "knowing your place" in the social hierarchy, according to Belmi.

The encouragement of individualism and confidence can lead to greater success for those in the upper class.

"Advantages beget advantages," Belmi said. "Those who are born in upper-class echelons are likely to remain in the upper class, and high-earning entrepreneurs disproportionately originate from highly educated, well-to-do families."

Belmi added: "Our research suggests that social class shapes the attitudes that people hold about their abilities and that, in turn, has important implications for how class hierarchies perpetuate from one generation to the next."

Belmi's isn't the first study to find that wealthy people have skewed perceptions of themselves

In a 2015 study on empathy, the neuroscientist Michael Varnum conducted a brain-imaging study of 58 participants, who were first asked about their social class, including questions about their family income and parents' education, as Drake Baer reported for New York magazine.

The participants then took EEG tests, which track electrical activity in the brain, while being shown images of both neutral faces and faces expressing pain.

"In something of a dark irony, the respondents of higher socioeconomic status rated themselves as more empathic — a 'better-than-average effect' that Varnum followed up on in a separate study — when in reality the opposite was true," Baer wrote. The study actually found that the upper-class participants had lower neural responses to others' pain.

But it's not only the wealthy who can have skewed perceptions of themselves.

As Business Insider's Hillary Hoffower previously reported, a recent survey by INSIDER and Morning Consult found that people's self-designated social class didn't always align with their income. Some Americans who earn less than $50,000 said they felt rich, while others who earn more than $100,000 said they felt poor.

SEE ALSO: More Americans making $100,000 consider themselves working class than rich, and it shows just how expensive the US has become

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New Y Combinator President Geoff Ralston explains why he's so excited about investing in the youngest startups, and his philosophy for helping them to grow (UBER)

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 2:22pm

Y Combinator's new president isn't trying to shake things up, but he's definitely planning on getting a least a little hands-on.

On Monday, the Silicon Valley startup incubator — best known for its early investments in, and mentorship of, companies like Airbnb, Dropbox, and Stripe — named Geoff Ralston to be its new president. 

Ralston will replace Sam Altman, who announced his departure as president in March to dedicate his time to OpenAI, the research organization he co-founded with Elon Musk. With Ralston now at the helm, Altman is also stepping down as chairman, but will remain in an advisory role. 

"Sam and [Y Combinator co-founder] Paul Graham and I and the team here share a vision of YC as this long-term greatest university for startups ever," Ralston told Business Insider. "If there's one thing I'd like to do here, it is make sure YC is on a solid ground for the next 10 to 100 years."

Read More: As Airbnb and Instacart gear up for rumored IPOs, here are the VC firms that have made the most early investments in billion-dollar startups

Ralston is adamant that entrepreneurs coming out of Y Combinator should be a net-positive for the world at large. He points to Uber (not a Y Combinator company, incidentally) as an example, saying even though there are "bumps" — drivers striking over low pay, passenger safety issues, problematic leaders — it would be hard to imagine the world today without the service. The ability to have that kind of impact is what makes him so passionate about early-stage funding.

"[The] exciting thing about early-stage investing is you get to see Uber before it's Uber, when it's just [cofounder] Travis [Kalanick] and a few folks with a crazy idea that seems impossible because there aren't enough black cars," Ralston said. "But with a massive change like that, not everyone wins, but when you make something people want, you make a better world. That's why we do what we do. It's good for employment, standards of living, and a better world. We wouldn't do it otherwise."

Like the Warriors

Over the last several years, Y Combinator has expanded beyond its origins as an early startup incubator program to include later-stage funding, online classes and leadership training, among other new initiatives. In his new role, Ralston will oversee all the separate functions while continuing to play offense.

"I like to use the metaphor of the [Golden State] Warriors when I talk about YC," Ralston said. "Think of having a team of superstars, even if the coach walked away you'd still have the superstars and I'm sure they'd do fine, but you need the coach's guiding hand to make it work. I will be a playing coach but to a limited extent. If I help them be more successful, I've succeeded."

He added: "[Warriors Head Coach] Steve Kerr is not giving Steph Curry advice on how to shoot three pointers. I have a team of incredible athletes and I am going to work hard to hold onto their respect and trust so they will depend on me like I depend on them."

Startups are booming

Ralston has been part of the Y Combinator team since 2011 and has known cofounder Paul Graham for 20 years. The pair met when their startups were acquired by Yahoo! In 1997, Ralston's Rocketmail was one of the first web-based email companies, and later became Yahoo! Mail; Graham's Viaweb allowed users to build and host online stores with little technical know-how.

"More people are trying to do more things," Ralston said. "People believe in the opportunity represented by starting companies. The initial trend [Graham] saw was that early stage investing will make sense in this space and will give value to companies and tech will be the center of that. That's not going to stop."

Ralston and Altman worked together to pitch the transition to Graham, who felt Ralston was the natural successor to lead the increasingly complex business, Ralston said. He wouldn't elaborate on the details of the selection process, but said he is happy Altman is staying on in an advisory role.

"He has been giving me advice since I met him," Ralston said of Altman. "He's a really deep thinker, and I lean on him for advice on many things. His counsel is pretty precious to me"

According to Ralston, the promotion was well received within Y Combinator's internal team of nearly 60 employees during an all-hands meeting on Monday.

"I'm not unknown, but it's still gratifying that people are psyched," Ralston told Business Insider.

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Some Wall Street firms are reevaluating policies for drug testing employees. Here’s where the biggest banks stand on testing workers for marijuana use.

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 2:21pm

  • Sixty-five percent of adults in the US support legalizing marijuana at the federal level, according to recent polls.
  • Amid the rapidly changing social climate, Wall Street banks are reevaluating their policies on testing new hires for marijuana use.
  • Marijuana is becoming a multi-billion industry in the US, and it's clear that banks want a piece of it. 

Attitudes around marijuana use are changing rapidly in the US, and the largest banks are no exception.

A recent CBS News poll shows that 65% of adults in the US support legalizing marijuana at the federal level, including 56% of Republicans. To put that in perspective, only 45% of adults responded that marijuana should be legalized when CBS asked the same question in 2013.

Given the public shift on marijuana, it's natural that some of the country's largest and most prestigious employers are reevaluating their policy on testing job applicants and recent hires for a substance that is now legal for recreational consumption in ten states and Canada. Business Insider previously reported that Citigroup is reevaluating its drug testing policy in light of the changing social climate around marijuana use.  

New York City Council passed a bill in April that bars employers in the city from forcing job applicants — outside "safety-sensitive" industries like law enforcement and construction — to take drug tests for marijuana use. Many of the largest banks are either headquartered or at least have large presences in New York, meaning that this shift will likely affect them. The law goes into effect in May of next year. 

Eric Ruden, an employment expert at the law firm Duane Morris's New York office, told Business Insider that in his view, many banks will have to update their policies to comply with the new rule.

Read more: Citigroup is reevaluating its policy on testing job applicants for marijuana use as Wall Street banks weigh whether to work with the $75 billion cannabis industry

There is a caveat, however, as Ruden pointed out. The rule only prevents banks from drug testing new job applicants — not existing employees. "[S]o if an employer drug tests for marijuana as a condition of a promotion, the employer is not required to change its policy," said Ruden. 

"With expanded illicit use of marijuana and the possibility of legalization for recreational use in the future, New York City employers should consider whether it makes sense to test for marijuana going forward," said Ruden. 

Legal marijuana is also set to be a gigantic market for investment banks who make lots of money advising on M&A and public offerings, especially as the cannabis industry enters a wave of consolidation as scrappy startups turn into public companies with multi-billion valuations, all jockeying for market share. 

Though momentum for legal marijuana has slowed in New York — Albany failed to pass a bill legalizing the drug this year — many of the biggest investment banks are slowly dipping their toes in the water by advising existing clients on how to find the upside of the marijuana legalization wave. They're getting acquainted with a brand-new industry that some Wall Street analysts say will become a $194 billion global industry by 2030. CBD alone is predicted to be a $16 billion industry by 2025

Still, there are numerous roadblocks to doing business in the cannabis industry, namely that it's still considered an illegal, Schedule I drug by the US federal government.

That's put banks in an awkward position, where they risk getting prosecuted under federal money laundering laws for working with companies that cultivate or distribute THC-containing products in the US. Some smaller banks, however, have pushed in to fill the gap as the largest banks have been unwilling to take the risk.

Business Insider asked six of the largest banks about their policies on testing job applicants and recent hires for marijuana use. If you're on the job hunt, you'll want to read on.

SEE ALSO: Citigroup is reevaluating its policy on testing job applicants for marijuana use as Wall Street banks weigh whether to work with the $75 billion cannabis industry

Goldman Sachs does drug test new hires though marijuana is not part of the test, a spokesperson said.

A spokesperson for Goldman Sachs told Business Insider that while the bank does drug test new hires, the screening process does not include marijuana.

The spokesperson declined to comment further regarding the specifics of the bank's drug testing policy. 

Goldman, for its part, was instrumental in one of the biggest deals in the cannabis industry to date. The bank advised Constellation Brands, an existing client, on the Corona maker's $4 billion purchase of an equity stake in Canadian marijuana cultivator Canopy growth.

Morgan Stanley does not test employees for marijuana use.

A Morgan Stanley spokesperson told Business Insider that the bank does not test employees or job applicants for marijuana use. 

The spokesperson added that the policy has not changed in the last few years, despite the increasing support for marijuana legalization in the US. 

Though a few Morgan Stanley alumni have decamped to the cannabis industry, the bank has not advised on or provided financing on any deals in the sector as of this month. 

Citigroup is reevaluating its policy on testing job applicants for marijuana use, a spokesperson said.

Citigroup is reevaluating its policy on screening job applicants for marijuana use as more Wall Street banks weigh whether to work with the industry, a representative confirmed to Business Insider.

The person pointed to the changing social climate around marijuana legalization as the reason. Thirty-three states now have laws allowing some form of legal access to marijuana.

The Citi representative confirmed to Business Insider that while Citi still tests all job applicants for marijuana use, it had held discussions over whether to change the policy in recent months. 

Citi has also held talks in recent weeks about how closely it should work with cannabis companies or clients in other industries who want a loan to invest in the marijuana market, as Business Insider previously reported.

JP Morgan Chase declined to discuss its drug testing policies with Business Insider. The bank has advised existing clients on cannabis deals, however.

A spokesperson for JP Morgan Chase declined to comment to Business Insider regarding this story. 

A document obtained by Business Insider shows that JP Morgan does urine test all of its supplier's employees, at the supplier's expense at a Substance Abuse Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA) certified site. 

JPMorgan, however, is starting to make inroads into the cannabis industry. The bank provided financing to Altria Group for its purchase of a minority stake in Canadian pot producer Cronos Group last year. 


Wells Fargo doesn't drug test new hires, a spokesperson said.

Wells Fargo doesn't drug test as a condition of getting hired by the bank but has a zero tolerance policy for substances, a spokesperson told Business Insider.

"We have no tolerance for illegal drugs, including marijuana," the spokesperson said. "Our Drug Free Workplace Policy has remained consistent over the past several years in the midst of many state changes regarding legalizing marijuana (medical or recreational) and the company continues to recognize it as an illegal substance under federal law so it is prohibited in the workplace." 

Bank of America does not do pre-employment drug testing

A spokesperson for Bank of America told Business Insider that the bank does not do pre-employment drug testing. The bank hasn't changed its policy recently.

Bank of America recently initiated coverage on a number of Canadian cannabis stocks, including Canopy Growth, Aurora Cannabis, Hexo Corp, and Cronos Group. The bank also provided financing to Constellation on the Corona maker's $4 billion purchase of an equity stake in Canadian marijuana cultivator Canopy growth.



Nothing Elon Musk has done has stopped the bleeding at Tesla — and things look like they're going to get worse (TSLA)

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 1:40pm

  • During the past few months, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has shut down stores, lowered prices, had layoffs, pivoted the business, and raised billions, but none of it seems capable of restoring investor faith in Tesla.
  • The company's stock is down by about a quarter this year.
  • What's more, it doesn't look as if any of Tesla's lines of business will provide the revenue to grow it out of its financial troubles, and more legal trouble may be on the horizon.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Tesla just raised $2.7 billion but still looks desperate as — once again — financial and legal questions surrounding its survival mount.

Perhaps tellingly, the market couldn't seem to care less about this $2.7 billion — or $2.3 billion net of hedging and fees to be precise. Tesla's stock has fallen by about a quarter over the past month as analysts up and down Wall Street chop their stock-price targets and forward-looking estimates at a steady clip. Wedbush Securities called it a "code red." Evercore said Tesla could justify its current valuation only with "supernatural growth."

This is all to say that Tesla should be enjoying a post-capital-raise honeymoon with Wall Street, but it's not. According to the company, this capital raise was merely supposed to shore up Tesla's balance sheet during an "air pocket" in sales. In the first quarter, Tesla delivered only 63,000 cars, a roughly 31% drop from the quarter before. And most devastatingly, Tesla was hit hardest on its most lucrative cars, the luxury Model S and Model X, which saw their sales fall by more than half. As of March 31, its working capital deficit alone was $2.2 billion.

This after the two previous quarters had been the first consecutive profitable ones in Tesla's 16-year history. Those gains would be wiped out by Tesla's first-quarter loss of roughly $900 million.

Spartan diet

Nine hundred million dollars isn't "air pocket" money, and, according to experts, had Tesla tried to raise capital last year instead of going on what CEO Elon Musk called a "Spartan diet," things might now look different.

"Tesla could've more easily gotten money last year when the stock price was high," the former Securities and Exchange Commission economist and current Carnegie Mellon professor Chester Spatt told Business Insider.

It also could've gotten more money without raising as many eyebrows, Spatt said. But asking for more in its weakened state, he said, "would've been an adverse signal."

Yet Tesla's financials are not the only thing ailing the company, which has recently gone through layoffs and seen stores close and prices lowered. Tesla has stopped pushing its $35,000 Model 3 sedan — the margins just don't work.

Reports of changes at Tesla's Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo, New York, also indicate that Tesla is having issues with its solar business. Reuters reported that most of the solar cells produced there would be sold overseas — not used to make Tesla's solar rooftops — and that the factory would be used to make other products for Tesla's cars.

Then there's China. Tesla is building a third Gigafactory in Shanghai to produce and sell Model 3 and Model Y cars to the Chinese market — but it's a market under extreme stress. In April, car sales there fell 17.7% from the same month a year before.

In the past, the Chinese government has come to the rescue when auto sales turned down, but this time any relief is likely to come in the form of a more general tax cut meant to speed up the domestic economy. If that's the case, some analysts fear that relief wouldn't translate to more car sales.

"I don't think buying a car will likely be something that [Chinese consumers] would do with the money," said Tu Le, the founder of the consultancy Sino Auto Insights. "Remember that the average salary is still low when compared to the United States."

On top of all of that, Tesla has had some major technical scares. Over the past few months, there have been multiple reports of Tesla Model S vehicles spontaneously combusting while parked. One incident took place in Shanghai, another in Hong Kong, and yet another in San Francisco. And last week, the National Highway Transportation Safety Agency determined that Tesla's Autopilot function was engaged at the time of a fatal crash in Florida in March involving a Model 3.

What is it all for?

Autopilot's function will be critical for the destiny of the company. In a private call with investors earlier this month, CEO Elon Musk said robo-taxis were the future of the company. He said that they would turn Tesla into a half-a-trillion-dollar company and that Tesla would have a million of them on the road by spring 2020.

Everything else in Tesla's business, he said — solar roofs, $35,000 Model 3s, the China buildout — takes a back seat to that.

The idea that Tesla's Autopilot technology — or even self-driving technology in general — is ready for wide use has been met with skepticism from almost all of Tesla's competitors. But on the call, Musk claimed that getting regulatory approval for the robo-taxis would be "relatively easy."

That was just on the call, though. None of the public documents Tesla has produced to the SEC or investors mention such a plan. The plan received just a passing mention on Tesla's first-quarter earnings call and some discussion during the company's Autonomy Investor Day in April. Neither of those instances firmly attaches Musk's grand and detailed robo-taxi vision to the $2.7 billion offering.

The underwriters Citigroup and Morgan Stanley declined to comment on the difference between the private call and the offering documents. Tesla's law firm, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, and its auditor PwC declined to comment as well. Goldman Sachs and Tesla did not respond to multiple requests for comment on this matter.

Legal experts have found the investor call's departure from the offering documents strange. As the attorney Tom Gorman, a partner at Dorsey & Whitney LLP who specializes in securities-fraud cases, told Business Insider: "If you go out to people and say you're going to use the money for something and then you use it for something else, that's a big no-no."

That is why, he said, "this deal looks weird."

What Gorman said was even weirder was that a company of Tesla's size and resources would have a discrepancy like this. Investors frequently bring charges against companies that spend money on purposes outside what executives stated, but usually those companies are much smaller than Tesla's $50 billion market cap.

"If it was some microcap company created out of a reverse merger, you'd say 'probably a fraud,' but that doesn't make sense for a company like Tesla," Gorman said. "You're asking to get sued into oblivion."

He added: "There must be some logical reason for this. I can't imagine what that is, but it's just silly."

Musk seemed to further depart from that stated purpose when he told employees in an email that the money the company raised was only enough to get Tesla through 10 months of operations at its first-quarter capital-burn rate.

That contradicted what Musk said on the investor call. There he said Tesla didn't "expect to spend this capital. We expect to fund our activity out of our growing cash flow, but we think it's probably wise to have at least some buffer here, some cash buffer between now and say summer next year (h/t @Paul_M_Huettner)."

To short-sellers, this kind of behavior reeks of desperation, and they think the stench will only become more odorous after Tesla reports its second-quarter numbers in August.

"Tesla is grabbing as much cash as they possibly can before the stock tanks," said Gabe Hoffman of Accipiter Capital, an outspoken short. "They're still projecting 90,000-100,000 deliveries in Q2 and they'll be lucky to get closer to 70,000. Then there's a cliff in Q2 because of the tax credit phasing out and cash will be burned in Q2, Q3, and Q4. This company was almost functionally bankrupt on March 31st and this raise will barely get them through the year."

If that's the way you look at it, the headwinds are coming for Tesla. And there doesn't seem to be a tailwind in sight.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this article included an incorrect estimate of Tesla's April vehicle sales in China.

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Warnings about Tesla are growing louder as Morgan Stanley slashes its worst-case scenario to $10 a share (TSLA)

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 1:32pm

  • Tesla shares fell early Tuesday after Morgan Stanley's auto analysts adjusted their bear case for the stock.
  • The analysts, led by the longtime Tesla watcher Adam Jonas, cut their worst-case-scenario target to $10 from $97.
  • While the firm's price target was held at $230, the extreme downside implies a 95% drop from current levels.
  • Watch Tesla trade live.

A Morgan Stanley analyst once dubbed Tesla's "cheerleader" has drastically lowered his worst-case scenario for the stock to just $10 from $97, citing underlying demand. Shares fell as much as 4.5% Tuesday before recovering losses later in the session.

"The reduction in our bear case to $10 is driven primarily by our concerns around Chinese demand for Tesla products," a team led by Adam Jonas wrote in a note to clients.

"Our revised bear case assumes Tesla misses our current Chinese volume forecast by roughly half to account for the highly volatile trade situation in the region, particularly around areas of technology, which we believe run a high and increasing risk of government/regulatory attention."

While this target represents an extreme situation, and the firm's base-case target remains $230 a share, it reflects Wall Street's rapidly declining confidence in the electric-car maker as demand concerns persist.

Read more: Tesla analyst slashes his target again and says everything you think you know about it is in question

Tesla analysts have scrambled to chop down their earnings outlooks in recent weeks, with Jonas lowering his base-case target four times this year.

From late March to late April, Tesla was among the stocks in Morgan Stanley's broader coverage universe with the most negative month-over-month changes in consensus earnings expectations.

During that time, Tesla analysts lowered their earnings estimates for the next 12 months by 33%, with just three names seeing more severe cuts, according to a Monday report from the firm's quantitative analysts.

It's not only analysts tempering their views of the automaker. T. Rowe Price, once counted as Tesla's largest institutional shareholder, reduced much of its stake in the first quarter, a regulatory filing showed last week.

Read more: The investment giant that was once Tesla's biggest Wall Street backer cut its stake in half last year. Now it's dumped most of what was left.

It has been a particularly volatile time for Tesla's stock.

Shares on Monday sliced below $200 for the first time since late 2016 after the Wedbush analyst Dan Ives lowered his price target in a searing research note. Ives has cut his price target four times this year.

That followed a brutal session Friday, when Tesla shares plunged 7.6% after the National Transportation Safety Board said in a preliminary report that Tesla's Autopilot feature was engaged during a fatal March crash involving a Model 3 sedan.

In his Tuesday note, Jonas also cited an email — reported by CNBC and confirmed by Business Insider's Graham Rapier — that Musk sent to employees last week urging them to curb expenses.

"The departure of key executives, price discounting, and extraordinary cost-cutting efforts add to the narrative of a company facing real potential stress," Jonas wrote.

Tesla shares have fallen 38% this year.

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Tradeweb just hired a former senior technologist at Citadel for a new role that signals fixed income's increasing focus on trade data

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 1:17pm

  • Tradeweb, which runs electronic markets in bonds, derivatives and ETFs, created a new role focused on building technology to help it better manage its trade data.
  • Caius Howcroft, who most recently served as Citadel's head of platform technology, was named head of data and platform architecture at Tradeweb last week.
  • Howcroft's responsibilities will include helping the markets operator improve its use of cloud computing. 

Electronic marketplace Tradeweb just created a new technology role focusing on improving its data business in yet another sign of the increasing importance of market data in fixed income. 

Tradeweb, which operates trading venues in bonds, derivatives and exchange-traded funds, named Caius Howcroft head of data and platform architecture technologies last week, according to a source familiar with the matter. Howcroft's main responsibilities will be around building technology that will help Tradeweb more efficiently tap into and use the trade data that runs through the various markets it operates, according to the source.

Tradeweb declined to comment. Citadel did not return a request to comment in time for publication. 

Read more: Tradeweb just went public at a $7.5 billion valuation. The company's president told us about the IPO process, electronic markets going mainstream, and what it means to be a public company.

Howcroft comes to Tradeweb from Citadel where he most recently served as head of platform technology, according to his LinkedIn. At the Chicago-based hedge fund, Howcroft worked on application and data platforms for Citadel Asset Manager, according to his profile, covering a variety of business lines. A key part of his role included working with various public cloud providers, which will also be part of his new role at Tradeweb, the source said.

As fixed income markets continue to electronify, venues like Tradeweb have the potential to tap into a deep pool of data that's valuable to both them and their customers. In April, average daily volume across Tradeweb reached $665.6 billion, a 34.2% year-over-year increase.

See more: Wall Street banks have seen electronic trading chip away at their control of the corporate bond market. Now they're fighting back.

While Tradeweb already has tech in place to tap into the trade data on its markets, Howcroft's experience will allow it to further improve its architecture, including its usage of cloud computing, according to the source. Banks have shown an increasing willingness to use the public cloud, and as a result others in the space have followed suit to keep pace.  

In Tradeweb's first quarter report, CEO Lee Olesky spoke to the importance the markets operator put on information. In addition to rates, credit, equities and money markets, Tradeweb views data as a growth area. 

"The global fixed income market is digitizing and, along with it, creating greater demand for electronic trading and market data," Olesky said. 

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2 dead in second floatplane crash in Alaska one week after 6 were killed in a midair crash

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 2:15am

  • A pilot and a passenger are dead after a Taquan Air Beaver floatplane crashed in southeast Alaska near Ketchikan on Monday afternoon, according to a press release from Ketchikan Gateway Borough.
  • The circumstances that led to the crash — the second in seven days — are not yet public, and names of the victims have not yet been released.
  • One week ago, on May 13, two sightseeing planes collided midair near Ketchikan — a popular desitation for tourists and cruise ships — killing six people.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A pilot and a passenger are dead after a Taquan Air Beaver floatplane crashed in southeast Alaska near Ketchikan on Monday afternoon, according to a press release from Ketchikan Gateway Borough. There were no others on board the plane.

The circumstances that led to the crash — the second in seven days — were not yet known, and names of the victims have not yet been released.

This crash happened in Metlatkatla Harbor at around 4 p.m. local time, and 15 members of the volunteer fire department responded.

One week ago, on May 13, two sightseeing planes collided midair near Ketchikan — a popular desitation for tourists and cruise ships — killing six people.

One of the two planes, an Otter, was operated by Taquan Air. The other, a Beaver, was operated by Mountain Air. Everyone on board the Beaver plane was killed, and one passenger from the Otter was killed, CNN reported.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are looking into the cause of the midair crash.

In a Monday night tweet, the NTSB responded to the most recent incident.

"NTSB dispatched investigators from Anchorage Regional Office to investigate May 20, 2019, crash of Taquan Air Havilland DHC-2," the agency tweeted. "While owned by same operator involved in May 13, 2019, mid-air collision, plane was not on sightseeing flight, was a commuter flight."

SEE ALSO: 'By whatever means necessary': Tesla leaves some customers in the lurch as it rushes to deliver cars by the end of the quarter

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Prepaid card transactions will hit $396 billion by 2022 — and new players like Apple, Amazon, and Venmo are trying to gain share

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 2:02am

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

The US prepaid card ecosystem is huge, with 10.7 billion prepaid card transactions made in 2016 reaching $290 billion. And it’s shifting focus from low-income, un- and underbanked consumers toward millennials and higher-income adults.

But as the market evolves, legacy prepaid issuers, like Green Dot, are under threat. The market is becoming more competitive as tech companies like Apple, Square, and Venmo develop their own prepaid offerings, likely as part of a push to drive customers to engage with their core peer-to-peer (P2P) transfer or digital wallet apps. These players’ robust digital offerings and ability to offer prepaid services for lower, or no fees are undercutting legacy businesses. And on top of crowding, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is implementing regulations next year that could impact some issuers’ monetization strategies.

As a result, the US prepaid card market is becoming an increasingly complicated space for issuers to navigate, so prepaid issuers need to rethink their strategies to best attract consumers. Companies can attract a bigger user base if they target younger users from both low-income and high-income segments. They should also provide convenient offerings, that integrate digital features to make account information accessible, to cater to young consumers’ preferences.

Business Insider Intelligence has put together a detailed report that explores the evolving prepaid card industry, identifies how issuers can maintain profitability in a market that’s being challenged by new players and impending government regulations, and evaluates various paths to success.

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  • There were 10.7 billion prepaid card transactions worth $290 billion in 2016, according to The Federal Reserve. Business Insider Intelligence expects that to grow to $396 billion by 2022. 
  • The prepaid space has historically been filled with incumbents like Green Dot. But new players, like Apple, Amazon, and Venmo, are trying to gain share, which is pushing large prepaid firms to merge or acquire one another to grow.
  • Issuers can adapt to the change in the space, and grow their share of the market, by providing convenient, multichannel access, and doing so in a way that facilitates profitability. Targeting younger consumers, both from the underbanked and high-income segments, as well as accessing users from physical as well as digital channels, can help facilitate this growth.

In full, the report:

  • Sizes the US prepaid card market and estimates its future trajectory.
  • Identifies industry leaders and the newcomers to prepaid that are threatening their market share.
  • Evaluates growth factors and inhibitors that are increasing competition in the space.
  • Issues recommendations and strategies that issuers can implement to stay ahead in such a rapidly shifting space.
Subscribe to an All-Access pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to: This report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports Access to all future reports and daily newsletters Forecasts of new and emerging technologies in your industry And more! Learn More

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AI IN BANKING AND PAYMENTS: How artificial intelligence can cut costs, build loyalty, and enhance security across financial services

Tue, 05/21/2019 - 1:01am

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

Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the most commonly referenced terms by financial institutions (FIs) and payments firms when describing their vision for the future of financial services. 

AI can be applied in almost every area of financial services, but the combination of its potential and complexity has made AI a buzzword, and led to its inclusion in many descriptions of new software, solutions, and systems.

This report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, cuts through the hype to offer an overview of different types of AI, and where they have potential applications within banking and payments. It also emphasizes which applications are most mature, provides recommendations of how FIs should approach using the technology, and offers examples of where FIs and payments firms are already leveraging AI. The report draws on executive interviews Business Insider Intelligence conducted with leading financial services providers, such as Bank of America, Capital One, and Mastercard, as well as top AI vendors like Feedzai, Expert System, and Kasisto.

Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • AI, or technologies that simulate human intelligence, is a trending topic in banking and payments circles. It comes in many different forms, and is lauded by many CEOs, CTOs, and strategy teams as their saving grace in a rapidly changing financial ecosystem.
  • Banks are using AI on the front end to secure customer identities, mimic bank employees, deepen digital interactions, and engage customers across channels.
  • Banks are also using AI on the back end to aid employees, automate processes, and preempt problems.
  • In payments, AI is being used in fraud prevention and detection, anti-money laundering (AML), and to grow conversational payments volume.

 In full, the report:

  • Offers an overview of different types of AI and their applications in payments and banking. 
  • Highlights which of these applications are most mature.
  • Offers examples where FIs and payments firms are already using the technology. 
  • Provides descriptions of vendors of different AI-based solutions that FIs may want to consider using.
  • Gives recommendations of how FIs and payments firms should approach using the technology.
Subscribe to an All-Access membership to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to: This report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports Access to all future reports and daily newsletters Forecasts of new and emerging technologies in your industry And more! Learn More

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Soon nearly a third of US consumers will regularly make payments with their voice

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 11:04pm

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

A revolution in payments and banking is beginning as virtual assistants like Siri and Alexa gain the abilities of cashiers, personal shoppers, and bank tellers.

Already, Siri can help users make peer-to-peer (P2P) transfers with Venmo, Alexa can pay off Capital One credit card bills, and Google Assistant can let users shop with their voice from nearby stores. 

This is just the beginning. Today, 18 million US consumers have made a voice payment, and Business Insider Intelligence projects that figure will quadruple over the next five years. 

In a new report, Business Insider Intelligence explores how and why financial services providers such as PayPal and Bank of America are positioning for voice interfaces to take off. The report includes actionable recommendations that draw on interviews with executives spearheading voice initiatives, as well as exclusive survey data from our proprietary research panel. 

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

  • Voice payments are catching on — 8% of US respondents to a 2017 Business Insider Intelligence survey said they used voice commands to buy something, send money to a friend, or pay a bill.
  • Adoption is set to grow from 8% to 31% of US adults by 2022. Three factors will fuel this growth: an explosion of voice-enabled devices, generational gains in AI, and a strong consumer value proposition for voice payments.
  • Payments providers are moving in: Amazon, Apple, Google, and PayPal are part of the growing list of companies making these next-generation payments possible.
  • Banks are betting on AI, too. Bank of America, Capital One, USAA, and more are rolling out conversational interfaces to their customers.
  • Next-generation voice assistants will blow the current generation away. Voice payments will evolve from clunky and poorly scripted sessions to interactions as natural as one might have with a personal shopper or bank employee.
  • Getting to the next generation will not be easy, but the payoff will be large. Grounded in realistic expectations of adoption in the years ahead, providers of voice payments and banking experiences stand to accumulate early advantages by moving in early.

 In full, the report:

  • Shares current and projected adoption of voice payments.
  • Outlines voice payments and banking integrations on the market.
  • Examines growth drivers and barriers to consumers' voice payments adoption.
  • Provides strategies for successfully deploying voice interfaces.
Get The Voice Payments Report

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VC investor explains how he finds surprising startups by focusing on the founders' opinions instead of their initial product idea

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 7:21pm

  • Reilly Brennan thinks it's a mistake for early-stage tech investors to focus too much on the initial ideas entrepreneurs have for their startups.
  • Brennan is a general partner with Trucks Venture Capital, which invests in seed-stage and pre-seed companies that are working on transportation technologies.
  • Other factors, such as the startup's team or the approach it's taking to the market, tend to be more important to its long-term success than its initial concept, he said.
  • Brennan and Trucks try to focus on founders rather than ideas, he said.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Reilly Brennan's venture-capital firm has a relatively narrow focus. When it comes to new investments, though, he tries to be as broad-minded as possible.

Brennan is a general partner at Trucks Venture Capital. As its name suggest, the firm, which was founded in 2015, focuses on startups that are working on transportation-related technologies. But Brennan and his partners define their mission broadly; Trucks has invested in companies doing everything from developing self-driving trucks to pioneering a system that heats washer fluid and uses it to clear windshields, headlamps, and sensors of dirt and ice.

He and his partners also try not to have preset ideas about what technologies they want to invest in, Brennan told Business Insider in a recent interview. They try not to go out looking for a company with lidar technology, for example, just because they may not have one in their portfolio, he said.

"There's a bit of a danger when you look for an idea first," Brennan said.

Trucks tries to focus on founders, not founding ideas

Part of the problem with such an approach is that it would bias him and his partners toward particular ideas and encourage them to ignore other factors that are important to startups' long-term success, he said. If they were single-mindedly focused on investing in, say, a strawberry-picking robot, they would be inclined to invest in the first entrepreneur who walked through their door that was designing one, he said.

But "it might not be the right team," Brennan said. "It might not be the right approach."

Read more: This VC fund is betting $105 million on Texas tech startups as more talent leaves Silicon Valley for the Lone Star State

Trucks invests in nascent companies, typically ones that are in the seed-capital or even pre-seed stage. When a company is that early in its life cycle, the idea it starts with can morph, sometimes quite dramatically, Brennan said. If he and his partners were fixated just on the original idea, they might resist the startup's efforts to evolve or change it — or be left wondering why they're still involved in the company after the idea changes.

Instead of focusing too much on founders' initial concepts, Brennan and his partners try to focus on the entrepreneurs and their teams. Trucks wants to know how they view the world and how they think it will change.

"If you back founders" rather than ideas, "it's a much different relationship," Brennan said.

SEE ALSO: This pitch deck helped raise $43 million for a startup with a new twist on the biggest trend in software development

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NOW WATCH: I tried the $1,980 Samsung Galaxy Fold and it's impressive for a first-generation foldable phone, though far from perfect

Slack just changed its stock ticker weeks before it's expected to go public. Instead of 'SK' Slack wants to be 'WORK'

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 6:50pm

  • Slack updated its direct listing paperwork on Monday with a new ticker symbol.
  • The company will go public on the New York Stock Exchange with the ticker "WORK." It previously filed to list shares under the ticker "SK."
  • Slack is expected to go public in a direct listing in the upcoming weeks.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Slack is not a public company yet, but it's already gotten tired of its stock ticker. 

In an updated version of its direct listing paperwork filed on Monday, Slack revealed that it has dumped the proposed "SK" stock ticker it had settled upon a few weeks ago. Instead, in a dramatic pivot, the workplace collaboration company will makes its public market debut with the more descriptive ticker symbol "WORK."

Slack is expected to go public through a direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange in the coming weeks.

It's not clear why Slack swapped stock tickers. Representatives for the company could not immediately be reached for comment.

With this update however, Slack will join a cohort of public enterprise tech companies whose tickers reveal more about the company than just their name. Salesforce trades under the ticker "CRM," which stands for content relationship management. CRM is the type of software Salesforce started out selling, though it has since expanded to other areas.

Another is Atlassian, which trades under the ticker symbol "TEAM." Slack and Atlassian are partners, and Atlassian holds a stake in Slack. Together, they are TEAM WORK.

While Slack may be associated with WORK by the many people who use the office messaging platform to communicate with colleagues, the platform has proven to be useful for social communications as well.

Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield shares a relationship Slack channel with his girlfriend, Away cofounder Jen Rubio. It was on that Slack channel that Rubio condemned Butterfield's fake Twitter proposal.

SEE ALSO: Cofounders Jen Rubio and Steph Korey built online luggage retailer Away into a $1.4 billion company in just 3 years. Next up, it wants to be a 'travel brand.'

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NOW WATCH: This startup turns 100 non-recyclable plastic bags into a high-end Bluetooth speaker

MORGAN STANLEY: 3 trends will dictate the fate of global markets for the rest of the year. Here's how to profit from each one.

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 6:00pm

  • "Defensive but not bearish" is how Morgan Stanley's cross-asset strategists are approaching the stock market for the rest of the year.
  • Their US cycle indicator of macro, credit, and corporate conditions has slumped into "downturn" mode for the first time since 2007, warranting this cautious approach.
  • Morgan Stanley lays out three trends that will affect how markets trade for the rest of 2019, how they expect each one to play out, and how to invest for each predicted scenario.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Morgan Stanley's cross-asset strategists are convinced it's time to be defensive, but not yet flat-out bearish, on the stock market.

For investors who buy into their outlook, this posture is intended to profit from whatever gains remain in this bull market and still be adequately prepared for the next downturn.

They are specifically cautious about US stocks, and recommend that investors take risks more aggressively in other markets. The basis of this call is that their US cycle indicator of macro, corporate, and credit conditions is in "downturn" mode for the first time since 2007.

"'Downturn' historically sees worse-than-average returns for risk assets, but not necessarily immediate losses, at least for equities," Andrew Sheets, Morgan Stanley's chief cross-asset strategist, said in a recent note to clients.

Sheets laid out the three "gaps" that matter most for how markets will perform in the second half of the year, when this downturn could start materializing. He included investing recommendations for Morgan Stanley's views on how these trends will play out. All quotes below are attributed to Sheets.

1. The output gap narrows.

The difference between the US economy's current output and its potential capacity — otherwise known as the output gap — is still wide enough that inflation is not a big headache for markets.

Instead, traders have priced in a so-called Goldilocks scenario in which the Federal Reserve keeps interest rates steady and probably cuts them sometime during the next 12 months.

Morgan Stanley says the opposite scenario is more likely: They expect output to rise even closer to its potential, putting pressure on the Fed to make policy decisions that won't be palatable to stock-market investors.

"With US stocks expensive but US Treasuries offering higher real yields than other DM markets, we are underweight US equities, underweight US credit and overweight high-quality US bonds (Treasuries, agency mortgages)."

2. The gap between the US economy and the rest of the world reverses.

Morgan Stanley expects Europe and China to benefit from easier fiscal stimulus, putting their growth ahead of the US's. They prefer taking risk outside the US for this reason.

"Valuations on stocks outside the US look better, especially in Japan, where we think markets unappreciated the corporate reform story. We lower EM equities to 'equal-weight', and make Japan our most-preferred equity region."

3. The price-versus-fundamentals gap collapses.

Many stock markets have rallied this year even though analysts have lowered their earnings estimates, Morgan Stanley said. The rallies have also happened at the expense of value stocks.

"Look for relative value in pricing disconnects: We like owning European value vs. growth and India and Brazil equities over Taiwan and Korea. We like China and Mexico rates."

SEE ALSO: Here's how bitcoin’s latest surge could be indirectly signaling that recession fears are hitting a fever pitch

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Here are the 15 best-performing stocks in the S&P 500 this year

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 5:59pm

  • The beauty-care company Coty Inc. is the top performing S&P 500 stock this year, with a return of over 100%.
  • The S&P 500 has gained 14% in 2019.
  • Visit for more stories.

After a volatile fourth quarter in 2018, the stock market has surged in the opening months of 2019, with the S&P 500 up 14%. The market has achieved these returns despite the volatility caused by the trade tensions with China.

While there is an expectation that the trade talks between the US and China will be resolved favorably, a recent ban of equipment sales to Huawei by the Trump administration could signal even further market volatility ahead.

Despite these risks, a Bank of America Merrill Lynch report says now is the time for stock pickers. According to Savita Subramanian, the bank's head of US equity and quantitative strategy, stocks are more differentiated now than they have been at any point since the financial crisis. Those idiosyncrasies, in turn, create price dislocations that can be readily exploited by traders.

"By simply limiting the universe of stocks to companies with above average 'idiosyncratic,' or company-specific risk, we found that these attributes were rewarded by a much wider margin," she wrote.

Not everyone is so sanguine about the markets prospects however. UBS chief equity strategist Francois Trahan sees trouble ahead.

"There is a perception among some investors that the Fed's tightening cycle is already priced into US equities," he said in a recent note to clients. "This notion could prove to be a major surprise this year, a disappointing surprise that is."

Here are the 15 best-performing S&P 500 stocks in 2019:

Global Payments

Ticker: GPN

Market cap: $23.4 billion

Year-to-date return: +43.5% 

Description: Financial-payments technology services 

FleetCor Technologies

Ticker: FLT

Market cap: $23.3 billion

Year-to-date return: +44.4%

Description: Provides fuel cards and workforce-payment products and services


Ticker: XRAY

Market cap: $12.8 billion

Year-to-date return: +45.7% 

Description: Dental-equipment maker and dental-consumables producer


Ticker: AMD

Market cap: $29.2 billion

Year-to-date return: +46.4% 

Description: Semiconductor company and microchip manufacturer


Ticker: CELG

Market cap: $67 billion

Year-to-date return: +48%

Description: Biotechnology company


Ticker: SYF

Market cap: $24.2 billion

Year-to-date return: +48.9% 

Description: Consumer financial-services company


Ticker: MSCI

Market cap: $18.9 billion

Year-to-date return: +50.9% 

Description: Provider of market indexes and multi-asset portfolio-analysis tools

Align Technology

Ticker: ALGN

Market cap: $25.8 billion

Year-to-date return: +51.6% 

Description: Orthodontics company, maker of invisalign teeth aligners

Cadence Design Systems

Ticker: CDNS

Market cap: $18.4 billion

Year-to-date return: +53.4% 

Description: Electronic design-automation software and engineering services

Tyson Foods

Ticker: TSN

Market cap: $24.3 billion

Year-to-date return: +54.9% 

Description: World's second-largest processor and marketer of chicken, beef, and pork


Ticker: XRX

Market cap: $7.2 billion

Year-to-date return: +62.0% 

Description: Sells print- and digital-document and services

Hess Corporation

Ticker: HES

Market cap: $19.8 billion

Year-to-date return: +62.1% 

Description: Energy exploration and production 

Anadarko Petroleum

Ticker: APC

Market cap: $36.5 billion

Year-to-date return: +65.7% 

Description: Hydrocarbon exploration

Chipotle Mexican Grill

Ticker: CMG

Market cap: $20.1 billion

Year-to-date return: +67.5% 

Description: Fast-casual burrito chain

Coty Inc

Ticker: COTY

Market cap: $10.2 billion

Year-to-date return: +104.7% 

Description: Manufactures, markets, and distributes fragrances, cosmetics and hair-care products


The 10 countries with the biggest piles of gold

These are the areas around the world where Google's breakup with Huawei will likely be felt the most

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 5:53pm

  • Huawei is the second-largest smartphone maker in the world, despite the fact that its products have not been popular in the United States.
  • Huawei accounts for a notable portion of the smartphone market in Greater China, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
  • But the company's future in the smartphone space remains unclear as Google has said it will no longer work with Huawei on future smartphones, although Huawei just caught a break after the US Commerce Department temporarily loosened its restrictions on the company to allow it to continue to provide updates to its existing US customers until August 19.
  • After August 19th, these are the markets where customers will feel any changes from Huawei the most.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Google has significantly scaled back its business with Huawei in a move that would prevent the Chinese tech behemoth from bringing Google's suite of popular services — including apps like the Play Store and Gmail — to its future smartphones. The decision also means that Google will no longer work with Huawei to provide Android system updates available to its smartphones, as Reuters first reported.

On Monday, however, Huawei caught a break when the US Commerce Department decided to allow the company to continue maintaining and providing updates to its existing US handsets until August 19. But whether Huawei will be able to maintain its position as a leader in the global smartphone market after that temporary license expires remains to be seen.

Although Huawei smartphones are difficult to find in the US, the company is the second-largest smartphone vendor in the world, coming in second only to Samsung. Huawei's biggest audience is in the Greater China region, where it represented 32.95% of smartphone shipments as of the first quarter of 2019, according to data that market research firm Canalys provided to Business Insider.

But it also has a sizable chunk of the smartphone market in Europe, the Middle  East, and Africa, as Huawei was responsible for 23.34% of smartphone shipments in the EMEA region during that same time period.

Google's move comes after the US government placed Huawei on a trade blacklist that would require US companies to obtain government approval in order to work with the Chinese tech firm. Current Huawei smartphones will remain unaffected for now and will still have access to Google services like the Play Store, but Google will not collaborate with the company on future handsets.

Google will also not be able to issue software updates for any Huawei products after August 19, including the company's current smartphones, which means any future technical support for its phones will have to come from Huawei, not Google. 

Huawei previously said that it has developed its own smartphone operating system to be used in place of Android, but the company has not divulged details on it just yet.  

SEE ALSO: A smartphone company you've never heard of rose to fame by being the opposite of Apple and Samsung. Now it looks like that might be starting to change.

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A travel photographer who spends half her life on the road shares her 2 favorite travel credit cards, and how they make traveling the world easier every day

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 4:46pm

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.

  • Credit-card points and travel benefits can help anyone afford to travel more — or more comfortably. The trick is to use your credit card is if it was a debit card, and only spend what you can afford to.
  • Travel photographer and blogger Erin Sullivan — also known as @erinoutdoors — uses rewards and perks to help run her business, and make the most of all of her trips.
  • In an interview with Business Insider, she explained how she's always looking out for a new sign-up bonuses, and shared her two everyday go-to cards: the Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, and the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

The world of credit card rewards can open a ton of doors — as long as you use them responsibly. By only spending what you can afford to pay off right away — therefore avoiding credit card debt and interest fees — you can earn rewards for free travel or upgrades, and benefits that can help you travel more comfortably, or even save you money with built-in protections and insurance.

That's something that travel photographer and blogger Erin Sullivan began to realize soon into her career. Shortly after graduating college, while employed as a guide for an adventure tour company, she opened her first credit card in order to start building her credit score.

After she opened that first card — a Capital One VentureOne Rewards Credit Card — she began to realize what an opportunity points — and credit card travel benefits — presented.

Using points to pay for travel — or to make it more comfortable

A post shared by Erin Sullivan (@erinoutdoors) on Mar 16, 2019 at 10:45pm PDT


"I knew that I wanted travel to be a part of my life, and I had heard about credit card points and wanted to get into that," Sullivan told Business Insider. "Once I figured that out, it became this new idea: If you know how to use the system, it's free money that you can use on travel."

Initially, she said, she used points to offset any travel expenses. However, she didn't have a ton of opportunities to either earn or use points, since most expenses were incurred on the job. "I would try to use points if I could, but I didn't have a ton of expenses so it wasn't a huge game-changer."

Today, Sullivan — who has nearly 67,000 followers as @erinoutdoors on Instagram and serves as a brand ambassador for Sony — has more opportunity, and has made her credit card and airline rewards strategy a key component of running her photography business.

"Now that I'm a business owner and travel much more frequently, I try to be strategic about when and where to use my points."

In addition to using points to buy flights when they aren't covered by a client for a particular assignment, points have helped her make traveling — especially for work — better.

"I like to use them to upgrade or to get a nice hotel after the end of a long work trip. It takes the pressure off and it allows me to have a more relaxing time and treat myself."

A post shared by Erin Sullivan (@erinoutdoors) on Jan 7, 2019 at 3:20pm PST


For example, one of her favorite points redemptions was a relaxing stay in a five-star hotel in Madrid at the start of a big trip.

"I went on a work trip to Morocco for a few weeks and built in some time in Madrid beforehand, and I had a ton of points. I was like 'oh, five-star hotel in Madrid, no problem.' I don't think I would spend my money on that, but somehow having the points makes it more accessible."

As a professional traveler, in essence, who describes herself as less comfortable splurging on herself with non-rewards money, this is particularly useful. 

"Having points makes it more, I don't know, it makes me feel like I can do that," she said. "If you know what you're doing within the system of whatever credit cards you have, it becomes very attainable."

Even when it isn't a splurge, though, being able to offset the cost of a trip for a personal project — or even just a vacation — is a fantastic benefit, one that's open to just about anyone.

"Any time I can get a long-haul flight for free is pretty great."

Earning points through massive bonuses and normal expenses

Sullivan's key is to take advantage of opportunities to earn bonus points when she has a big work or personal expense coming up.

Many rewards credit cards offer large new membership bonuses when you open a new card and meet a certain minimum spending requirement. For example, the popular Chase Sapphire Preferred Card offers 60,000 points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months of having it — that can be worth anywhere from $750 or more when used for travel booked through Chase.

As a photographer, Sullivan's work expenses can add up. New cameras, lenses, lighting equipment, printing, and more can reach into the thousands of dollars. When she knows that she has a big purchase coming up, she'll look at what cards and bonus offers are available, apply for the best option, and use that purchase to easily meet the spending requirement.

"If I know that I have an expense coming up, that's a good opportunity for me to get a new card because otherwise I'm just going to put it on an existing card. So why not take advantage of an intro offer?"

If she isn't eligible for a compelling sign-up bonus at a given time, or when she isn't anticipating any unusually large expenses, she uses two credit cards within Chase's rewards ecosystem as her daily drivers:

"For business, it's the Ink Business Preferred and then for personal, it's the Chase Sapphire Reserve."

The Chase Ink Business Preferred Credit Card is arguably one of the most rewarding small business credit cards available — and it's available to anyone with a small business, whether you're a sole proprietor like Sullivan, someone who freelances or has a small side-gig, or even someone who resells things on eBay.

A post shared by Erin Sullivan (@erinoutdoors) on Nov 27, 2018 at 6:15pm PST

The card has the highest sign-up bonus currently available from Chase: 80,000 points when you spend $5,000 in the first three months. When you use them for travel, they can be worth anywhere from $1,000 or more. It earns 3x points per dollar spent on the first $150,000 spent each year on travel, shipping, telecom services, and online advertising. It earns 1x points on everything else.

The Chase Sapphire Reserve, meanwhile, is a true powerhouse card. Although it has a high $450 annual fee, an annual $300 travel credit brings that effectively down to $150, and rewards and benefits more than make up for the rest.

The Sapphire Reserve offers 50,000 points when you spend $4,000 in the first three months, worth at least $750 towards travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. It earns unlimited 3x points per dollar on all travel and dining — both categories are broadly defined — and 1x point per dollar on everything else.

Aside from rewards, Sullivan uses credit card benefits to save money on travel, and make trips more convenient and comfortable

Rewards aren't the only reason to hold travel credit cards. Some also offer incredibly valuable benefits.

For someone who spends a lot of time in airports — like Sullivan, who estimates she spends about half her time on the road — lounge access is an essential perk.

"Lounge access is huge," she said. "I use lounges every time I travel."

Airport lounges are exclusive areas in airport terminals where you can relax before your flight. Each lounge — and type of lounge — is different, but in general, they all feature comfortable seating, fast Wi-Fi, food and drinks, and other amenities — all usually complimentary. Access is often exclusive for first and business class passengers or travelers who purchase access, but several premium credit cards — including the Chase Sapphire Reserve — offer access to select lounges.

The Sapphire Reserve offers a complimentary membership in Priority Pass, a network of around 1,200 lounges around the world. The network includes lounges in the US, but Priority Pass is particularly useful abroad. 

If you're looking for extensive lounge access within the US, the best option — and the next credit card Sullivan said she plans to apply for — is the Platinum Card® from American Express. In addition to Priority Pass lounges, it offers access to Delta Sky Clubs whenever you fly with the airline, and AmEx's own Centurion Lounges.

"It just makes such a difference when you fly all the time," she said. "It's just nice to have a place to go that's quiet, and has good Wi-Fi, and food, and where you can just chill out a little bit before your flight."

A post shared by Erin Sullivan (@erinoutdoors) on Oct 13, 2018 at 6:56pm PDT

Another major benefit: the insurance several credit cards offer.

Both the Ink Preferred and the Sapphire Reserve offer complimentary primary rental car insurance, as long as you pay for the rental with the card. By declining the rental company's collision damage waiver, you can end up saving a lot on a rental.

Both cards also offer trip cancellation and interruption insurance, allowing you to recoup non-refundable travel expenses if your trip is cancelled or cut short for any of a handful of covered reasons, such as illness and severe weather. The Sapphire Reserve also offers trip delay insurance, covering up to $500 in expenses if a flight is delayed overnight or for more than six hours.

Other benefits Sullivan takes advantage of from various credit cards include free checked bags and priority boarding on flights, perks that come with most mainstream airline co-branded credit cards.

The best credit cards

Ultimately, you don't have to be a full-time professional traveler to take advantage of credit card rewards and benefits. Anyone can earn sign-up and introductory bonuses — as long as they meet the minimum spending requirements — and anyone can use them to subsidize travel, whether they're looking to to splurge on first class, cover more international trips in coach, or stay in a five-star hotel they wouldn't otherwise pay for.

Even though credit cards and reward programs can seem complicated, anyone can figure them out by doing a little research as they go.

"I just hope this helps people not feel intimidated," said Sullivan. "It's not like I'm the 'queen of points;' it's just another tool that you can use to make your life easier. Even if you don't travel all the time, you can still benefit from a lot of what these cards offer."

If you're interested in learning more about earning or using credit card rewards and benefits, be sure to follow Business Insider's coverage of the topic.

In addition to the Chase Sapphire Reserve and the Chase Ink Business Preferred, there are plenty of cards that can offer compelling rewards, including from other issuers like American Express and Citi. Check out our frequently updated guide to the best credit card rewards, bonuses, and benefits for more, as well as our monthly round-ups of the best limited-time offers.

Or, click the below links to learn more about those cards from Business Insider's partner, The Points Guy.

Keep in mind that we're focusing on the rewards and perks that make these credit 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.

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

DON'T MISS: 7 of the best credit card offers this May — including an excellent Southwest Airlines offer

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Tesla closes at a 2 1/2-year low after analyst who cut his price target for the 4th time this year warns it's facing a 'code red situation' (TSLA)

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 4:38pm

  • Tesla shares on Monday closed at a 2 1/2-year low after an analyst cut his price target on the stock in a report that followed a session of heavy selling on Friday.
  • The Wedbush analyst pointed to a host of concerns around the electric-car maker, including an email CEO Elon Musk sent to employees last week detailing cost-cutting measures.
  • Investors dumped the stock last week after the National Transportation Safety Board said Tesla's Autopilot feature was engaged during a fatal crash involving a Model 3 in March.
  • Watch Tesla trade live.

Tesla shares fell on Monday after an analyst cut his price target in a searing report, drawing on a host of issues the electric-car maker is facing. 

"We continue to have major concerns around the trajectory of Tesla's growth prospects and underlying demand on Model 3 in the US over the coming quarters," the Wedbush analyst Dan Ives said in a note to clients on Sunday.

He added that with a "code red situation at Tesla, Musk & Co. are expanding into insurance, robo-taxis, and other sci-fi projects/endeavors when the company instead should be laser focused on shoring up core demand for Model 3 and simplifying its business model and expense structure."

Tesla shares closed at $205.36 a share, down 2.7% — its lowest close since December 2016. At the stock's session low, it was down 7.5%, at $195 a share.

Ives cut his target to $230 from $275 a share, meaning he's still betting on a 17% rally from here. Less than a month ago, he had a $365 price target, making him one of the most bullish analysts on Wall Street. 

He and a cadre of other Wall Street analysts have drastically tempered their view of the stock in recent months as growth, profitability, and demand concerns have weighed heavily on Tesla.

Read more: Tesla analyst slashes his target again, and says everything you think you know about it is in question

Although Ives saw Tesla's announced capital raise earlier this month as a "smart strategic step forward," he's increasingly concerned over the company's "cash crunch" while building out its Shanghai factory and attempting to ramp up Model 3 production.

And the revelation that Musk is urging employees to be cost-conscious with their company expenses — according to an internal email leaked to the news media and confirmed by Business Insider — does not exactly inspire confidence, Ives said.

Read more: Elon Musk says in email to employees that new cost-cutting measures are the 'only way for Tesla to become financially sustainable' 

He added the firm has "continued concerns around Tesla's ability to balance this 'perfect storm' of softer demand and profitability concerns which will weigh on shares until Musk & Co. prove otherwise in terms of delivering solid results over the coming quarters." 

The report followed a session of heavy selling on Friday.

Tesla shares closed the day down 7.6% after the National Transportation Safety Board said in a preliminary report that Tesla's Autopilot feature was engaged during a fatal crash involving a Model 3 in March.

Monday's decline brought the stock's 2019 losses to 40%.

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Apple's China problem isn't going away, HSBC says in its latest warning (AAPL)

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 4:30pm

  • Apple shares fell to a two-month low Monday after HSBC issued its latest warning about China-related concerns.
  • "China, one of the reasons for our Dec 2018 downgrade, remains an issue and we don't see it going away anytime soon," they said.
  • The firm cut its price target for the fourth time since December. 
  • Watch Apple trade live.

One of the world's largest companies is grappling with continuing headwinds in the world's second-largest economy, and that's caused HSBC analysts to issue a fresh warning to investors.

Apple's macroeconomic and competitive issues in China aren't going away anytime soon, particularly as trade tensions between the US and China hit a boiling point, analysts at the firm said in a report out Sunday. The report sent Apple shares tumbling 3%, to a two-month low. The stock saw its lowest close since mid-March.

The analysts, led by Erwan Rambourg, trimmed their price target to $174 from $180 — their fourth price cut since December, when they released an in-depth report downgrading their once-bullish rating. 

"China, one of the reasons for our Dec 2018 downgrade, remains an issue and we don't see it going away anytime soon," the team wrote, pointing out that shares are down 10% since the company's second-quarter earnings report was released on April 30. 

"We believe an escalation/elongation of the trade tension will likely have an impact on how Chinese consumers perceive US branded products, chiefly iPhone and given that China plays a big role in terms of products and services revenue for Apple, this remains a key risk," they added.

Trade tensions between the two countries have escalated in recent weeks, with China retaliating against the Trump administration's new round of tariffs.

Washington's subsequent ban on the Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei sparked concerns that US multinational technology companies like Apple could suffer in the event Beijing retaliates further. And Google's newly announced decision to sever ties with the company only exacerbates the tension between the two nations. 

Read more: This is a crippling blow: What Google's decision to cut ties with Huawei means for the Chinese tech firm

Still, China remains a critical market for the iPhone giant. The region accounts for between 17% and 18% of Apple's sales, according to HSBC. 

Competition in China remains a concern as well, the analysts said. Apple's position in China's smartphone market has shrunk in recent years, amid increased competition from cheaper alternatives like Huawei and Xiaomi. 

The many China-centric issues facing Apple, its share price's 22% decline from its peak, and analysts' subsequent notes of caution mark a stark departure from Wall Street's once overwhelmingly positive view of the stock. 

In its report, HSBC applauded Apple's management for attempting to shift investors' attention away from waning iPhone sales to its growing services business.

Still, the analysts added that cheering "a quarter in which iPhone sales were down 17% at a time when the stock was trading at a 3-year high in terms of forward PE valuation we think is very counterintuitive." 

Read more coverage from Markets Insider and Business Insider:

Tesla plunges to 2.5-year low after analyst who cut his price target for the 4th time this year warns it's facing a 'code red situation'

JPMorgan's quant guru breaks down the market's ace in the hole for fighting Trump's trade war — and explains why stocks could surge 12%

WATCH: The legendary economist who predicted the housing crisis says the US will win the trade war

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People in wheelchairs wait twice as long for Uber and Lyft rides, a new study found (UBER, LYFT)

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 3:40pm

  • Uber and Lyft could be at risk of not complying with new rules for wheelchair-accessible rides in New York City when they take effect on June 1.
  • A new report from the New York Lawyers for the Public Interest group found that wait times were often significantly higher for accessible rides versus inaccessible rides.
  • The group compared wheelchair-accessible rides to those without access on 224 trips at major transportation destinations and hospitals throughout the city for its new report, published last week.

Requesting a wheelchair-accessible Uber or Lyft in New York City is often times more expensive and slower than rides without access, a new report has found.

The New York Lawyers for the Public Interest made that declaration last week after comparing quotes, fares, and wait times for 224 ride requests (448 total) to and from major destinations in the five boroughs.

These included major hospital complexes as well as transportation hubs like Penn Station and JFK Airport.

Uber, which is by far the leader in the US's largest ride-hailing market, had estimated wait times for wheelchair-accessible rides more than double that of rides without access, the report, published May 16, found.

Lyft, meanwhile, could not match researchers with a wheelchair-accessible vehicle on 38% of their requests.

"While the multibillion-dollar for-hire vehicle industry pursues ever greater capital and profits through Wall Street IPOs, it continues to leave New Yorkers with disabilities far behind, without giving them fair and equal transportation options," Justin Wood, NYLPI's director of organizing and strategic research, said in a press release.

The shortfalls could land the companies in hot water later this year when a new law will take effect in New York City mandating that ride-hailing companies fulfill 60% of accessible requests within 15 minutes.

Currently, NYLPI found that the average is about six times as high.

A Lyft spokesperson said the company has been working to increase its wheelchair-accessible service and plans to be in compliance with the law when it takes effect in 11 days.

"We've been actively increasing our wheelchair-accessible vehicle service in New York City over the last several months in preparation for the TLC's rules coming into effect," the spokesperson said.

"We are looking forward to being in compliance and are always exploring ways to expand our offerings and partnerships to ensure increased access to transportation."

An Uber spokesperson echoed Lyft's sentiment:

"We believe that ridesharing can improve mobility for people with disabilities, and we're encouraged that as we've increased the availability of WAV vehicles and improved reliability, more and more customers have started to use the service," the Uber spokesperson said. "Thousands of NYC Uber riders take advantage of WAV service every week, but we recognize that we're still at the beginning, not the end, of this journey."

Nonemergency medical transport, a major pain point in the US's healthcare system, has been a focus of both companies for some years. In February, Lyft announced new tools for Medicare Advantage patients and facilities to book rides in its "concierge" booking product.

"Hospitals are also interested in improving the workflow or efficiency of their bed management," Megan Callahan, Lyft's VP of healthcare, told Business Insider last week.

"Patients often can't leave the hospital because they won't have a ride once discharged. Lyft helps hospitals in both those scenarios. There's also interest in using Lyft to move caregivers around and even hospital employees around."

SEE ALSO: Evidence is mounting that Uber and Lyft increase traffic congestion. But one startup thinks it has found a way to help — and it's already turning a profit.

Join the conversation about this story »

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VCs are just starting to invest in companies that move medical care into homes and out of hospitals. We talked to 3 top investors about what's holding them back.

Mon, 05/20/2019 - 3:36pm

  • Investors are gearing up to make bets in the multi-billion-dollar businesses that surround caring for the elderly and people with chronic conditions at home rather than in the hospital. 
  • But some, like GV, haven't invested yet, in part because it's not clear if it makes sense for hospitals to build up those skills themselves. 
  • Others, like General Catalyst are waiting to see early companies prove out the business model in the over-arching elder-care model before investing.  
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

When it comes to getting medical care, more and more can be done outside the four walls of the hospital.

Chronic conditions can increasingly be managed at home, with the help of visits from medical professionals or occasional checkups in a doctor's office. Getting care without much travel is particularly beneficial for the sick and elderly, who may have more difficulty traveling.

It's a big market for venture investors to explore, especially as Americans age. As a whole, the elder-care market is worth an estimated $350 billion according to one VC, and home health, hospice and personal care are all multibillion-dollar businesses. The field is pretty fragmented: There are an estimated 2.5 million home-care workers out there, and about 12,400 home-health agencies managing them all.

Investing in senior care as a VC is easier said than done. Caring for elderly and chronically sick patients at home can be labor intensive, and already venture-backed companies looking to care for patients outside the hospital have run into roadblocks. 

Read more: A VC spoke to 30 founders and investors about the $350 billion elder-care market and found 3 reasons why starting a company in the market is a challenge

Moving care from the hospital to the home

GV general partner Krishna Yeshwant has been looking at companies attempting to move more of the medical care traditionally done within a hospital into the home. So far, GV, which is the venture arm of Google parent company Alphabet, hasn't made any investments in the space. GV manages more than $4.5 billion.

"We've come away pretty convinced that it's possible to do this," Yeshwant said.

There's a big caveat, though: He hasn't determined whether it's something hospitals will independently have to build themselves, rather than having a venture-backed startup come in and build out nationally. 

"It may make the most sense for a hospital to just do it themselves," he said.

Should hospitals and health systems not build up businesses that let them take care of sicker and elderly patients at home, they could lose out on those patients to competitors. 

Health systems, for their part, are thinking about the transition. 

"The future is the home, and the home of the future is going to be not just a place called a home. It's also going to be a medical site," Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard Tyson told Business Insider in 2018. For instance, Kaiser sends patients who have gotten hip replacements home with care from nurses and physical therapists after a short hospital stay.

Read more: The CEO of a company often called the future of healthcare reveals why medical care is moving into homes and out of hospitals

Holding off on early investments 

Addie Lerner, a principal at General Catalyst, has been looking into the elder care market for about a year, with an interest in finding companies that are coming up with creative ways to reach elderly Americans.

Lerner's found that the entrepreneurs she's meeting with and companies she's hearing about are still too early for her to make investments.

"This industry is still so early and nascent," Lerner said.

For now, she'd rather wait until companies have hit a series A or beyond stage of fundraising and have more clearly proven out a business model. Even so, she said she's encouraged by the number of companies flooding into the area.

A labor-intensive home care model

It can be particularly difficult for tech-focused investors to fund home-care companies, because the businesses rely on the labor of lots of individuals.

"It's a bit of a challenging use case for private tech companies just because of how service intensive home care is," Lerner said. "That's why I think we've seen so many home care agencies struggle or change course."

For instance, in February 2017 Homehero, a startup with $20 million in funding, shut down its home care business and pivoted to a healthcare venture. Honor, which has raised $115 million, started by competing with established senior-care agencies. But in 2017, Honor started working with the agencies instead.

When it comes to new companies taking care of patients outside the home, Andreessen Horowitz general partner Jorge Conde, whose firm invested in Honor, said he's spent time focusing on companies that are using technology to make connections within the fractured home care and home health business, and also helping connect those companies and workers back into the broader healthcare system. 

"Technologies and companies are looking to be the connective tissue to allow the systems to better integrate home health for the care paradigm," Conde told Business Insider.

Still, Conde he's seeing a lot of companies tackling bits and piece of the home health and home care market, and it's hard to tell which ones will catch on.

Lerner said that for a new entrant to be successful in the home-care market, it'll have to bring a new technology or service that isn't currently offered. That could be something like educational services or companionship, she said.

"Perhaps that specialization can change the cost structure a bit and mean that you're providing really good medical care from your home aid, while you're supplementing content and companionship through other services."

For now, Lerner said, her hope is that smaller companies become really good at one specialty, like content. Then, maybe later, all of those services could become one company offering packages of different services that makes it stand out from today's home care competitors. 

Join the conversation about this story »

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