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2 Muslim men say their American Airlines flight was cancelled because the crew 'didn't feel comfortable' with them on board (AAL)

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 5:06pm

  • Two Muslim men said their American Airlines flight was cancelled because the crew "didn't feel comfortable" flying with them, according to a Dallas Morning News report.
  • The two men, who knew each other but were traveling separately, said that they waved to each other while boarding, which made a crewmember suspicious.
  • The flight was cancelled, and the two men were interrogated and searched by law-enforcement before being booked on another flight.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Two Muslim men said that their American Airlines flight was cancelled and they were harassed by law-enforcement because the flight's crew "didn't feel comfortable" after they waved hello to each other, the Dallas Morning News reported on Thursday.

The men, Abderraoof Alkhawaldeh, a motivational speaker, and Issam Abdallah, a nonprofit director, said they were boarding a flight from Birmingham, Alabama, to Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, on September 14 when they greeted one another.

The two men were traveling separately to the same event in Birmingham, and were on their way home. They said that they knew each other from their local Muslim community.

After they boarded, the flight was initially delayed, followed by an announcement made that the flight was cancelled. Alkhawaldeh told the Dallas Morning News that he overheard a crew member say it was cancelled for security reasons.

The two men got off the plane, and law-enforcement officers were waiting for them. They were questioned briefly and allowed to leave, but they said that police officers tailed them as they went to a coffee shop.

The men said that after several minutes, another officer approached them, and brought them into a private interrogation area. They said their bags were searched again by the TSA, and they were each told that the flight was cancelled because the crew didn't feel comfortable flying with the two men. Abdallah said he was told that the crew was also suspicious because he flushed the toilet twice while using the lavatory during the initial delay.

Alkhawaldeh and Abdallah said they were rebooked on a later flight, which included many of the same passengers.

See also: Apply here to attend IGNITION: Transportation, an event focused on the future of transportation, in San Francisco on October 22.

The flight, AA 5886, was operated by Mesa Airlines, a regional carrier that operates some flights for American under the brand American Eagle.

In a statement provided to Business Insider, a spokesperson for the airline, LeKesha Brown, said that the flight was cancelled as a result of "concerns raised by a crew member and a passenger."

"American and all of its regional partners have an obligation to take safety and security concerns raised by crew members and passengers seriously. All customers on Flight 5886 were rebooked on the next flight to DFW. We're committed to providing a positive experience to everyone who travels with us. Our team is working with Mesa to review this incident."

"Our team is working with Mesa to review this incident, and we have reached out to Mr. Alkhawaldeh and Mr. Abdallah to better understand their experience," Brown added.

Alkhawaldeh and Abdallah said they had filed a complaint with the Department of Transportation, and said that they wanted to raise awareness of racial and ethnic profiling.

Abdallah also said that he was a frequent traveler on American, even obtaining the top level of frequent flyer status with the airline, AAdvantage Executive Platinum.

This is not the first time that individual employees for the airline have been accused of discrimination. In July, an African-American doctor was forced off of a flight after an American Airlines crew called her outfit "inappropriate."

In April 2018, a passenger alleged that police were called on her "for flying while fat & Black."

In October 2017, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People issued a travel warning to African American passengers flying the airline but lifted it in July 2018.

SEE ALSO: American Airlines made a doctor wrap a blanket around herself because a flight attendant found her summer outfit 'inappropriate'

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Food-delivery startup Postmates is expected to go public very soon, but that didn't stop it from raising $225 million in new funding

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 4:25pm

Postmates just threw a $225 million Hail Mary.

The food delivery startup announced Thursday it had raised $225 million in growth funding from private equity giant GPI Capital, valuing the company at $2.4 billion, according to a source familiar with the round. This round increases the company's valuation from its most recent $1.85 billion valuation, which it achieved in January.

The massive influx of cash comes very shortly before Postmates is expected to reveal its filings to go public. The startup confidentially filed for IPO with the US Securities and Exchanges Commission in February, which would indicate that its IPO could come as soon as October. Assuming that's still the plan, Postmates would have to release those confidential documents to the public in the coming days or weeks. 

Read More: On-demand food delivery app Postmates is set to unveil its IPO filing in September

Although not uncommon, Forbes notes that a large financing round like this could be an indication that Postmates is running low on cash or that it wants to boost its valuation on public markets. However, other major startups that have gone public in 2019 have avoided raising large rounds so close to their public debuts.

A person close to the company told Business Insider that the new funding had nothing to do with the planned IPO. Given the volatile performance of Uber, one of Postmates' chief food-delivery rivals, on the public markets, the company may be in no hurry to go public.

SEE ALSO: Online background check startup Checkr rakes in $160 million to help companies hire more people, faster, in an incredibly competitive labor market

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Tesla's former VP of energy operations is headed to Beyond Meat — here are all the key names who have departed in the past year (TSLA)

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 4:17pm

  • Tesla is known for its high rate of executive turnover, and recent years have been no different.
  • As the electric-car maker has faced production and delivery issues, investigations from the federal government, and questions about its ability to one day generate sustainable profits, departures from senior employees have added yet another challenge.
  • Former senior VP of energy operations Sanjay Shah is headed to Beyond Meat as the fake meat company's new COO, it said Thursday, September 19. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Tesla has seen a lot of senior employees leave in recent years.

As the automaker has faced production and delivery issues, investigations from the federal government, and questions about its ability to one day generate sustainable profits, departures from senior employees have added yet another challenge.

Sanjay Shah, senior vice president of energy operations since May 2018, departed the company to join Beyond Meat as head of operations in September, the plant-based protein startup said. In August, Bloomberg reported that Shah was "relinquishing some oversight."

His third-quarter departure follows that of chief technology officer JB Straubel, who stepped down in July. 

Read more: Tesla needs to redesign the Model S sedan — here are 9 changes I'd like to see

These are the key names who have left Tesla or have announced their departure since the beginning of 2018, as well as when they left and where they went next (according to their LinkedIn profile or company announcements):

  • January 2018 - Jason Mendez, director of manufacturing engineering: LinkedIn profile does not list next position
  • January 2018 - Will McColl, manager of equipment engineering: founded WaveForm Design
  • February 2018 - Jon McNeill, president of global sales and services: became COO of Lyft 
  • March 2018 - Eric Branderiz, chief accounting officer: became CFO of Enphase Energy
  • March 2018 - Susan Repo, corporate treasurer and vice president of finance: became CFO of Topia 
  • April 2018 - Jim Keller, head of Autopilot hardware engineering: became head of silicon engineering at Intel
  • April 2018 - Georg Ell, director of Western Europe operations: became CEO of Smoothwall
  • May 2018 - Matthew Schwall, director of field performance engineering: became heady of field safety at Waymo
  • July 2018 - Ganesh Srivats, vice president overseeing retail, delivery, and marketing: became CEO of Moda Operandi
  • September 2018 - Sarah O'Brien, vice president of communications: became VP of executive communications at Facebook
  • September 2018 - Gabrielle Toledano, chief people officer: became executive in residence at Comcast Ventures
  • September 2018 - Dave Morton, chief accounting officer: became CFO of Anaplan
  • September 2018 - Liam O'Connor, vice president of global supply management: became chief procurement officer and head of bikes and scooters at Lyft
  • September 2018 - Antoin Abou-Haydar, senior director of production and quality: became vice president of global quality for Byton
  • October 2018 - Justin McAnear, vice president of worldwide finance and operations: became CFO of 10X Genomics
  • November 2018 - Phil Rothenberg, vice president in the legal department: became general counsel of Sonder
  • November 2018 - Jeff Jones, head of global security: LinkedIn profile does not list next position
  • November 2018 - Dan Kim, senior director of global sales, marketing, and delivery: became director of Airbnb Plus at Airbnb
  • December 2018 - Aaron Chew, director of investor relations: became vice president of investor relations at Proterra
  • January 2019 — Todd Maron, general counsel: LinkedIn profile does not list next position
  • January 2019 — Charles Mwangi , senior director of engineering: LinkedIn profile says he is working at an unnamed startup
  • February 2019 — Cindy Nicola, vice president of global recruiting: LinkedIn profile does not list next position
  • February 2019 — Dane Butswinkas, general counsel: returning to his trial practice at the firm Williams & Connolly
  • March 2019 — Deepak Ahuja, CFO: retired
  • March 2019 — Praveen Arichandran, director of growth: joining Citizen in April to lead growth.
  • April 2019 — Karl Wagner, senior director of global security: PTSD and suicide-prevention advocacy
  • June 2019 — Dave Arnold, senior director of global communications: LinkedIn profile does not list next position.
  • June 2019 — Felicia Mayo, vice president of human resources and head of diversity: LinkedIn profile does not list next position.
  • June 2019 — Peter Hochholdinger, vice president of production: vice president of manufacturing at Lucid Motors. 
  • June 2019 — Steve MacManus, vice president of interior & exterior engineering: senior director at Apple
  • July 2019 — Jan Oehmicke, vice president of Tesla Europe: LinkedIn profile does not list next position.
  • July 2019 — JB Straubel, chief technology officer: did not announce his next position, but said he will continue to advise Tesla
  • August 2019 — Stuart Bowers, vice president of engineering: "Executive in residence" at the venture capital firm Greylock Partners
  • September 2019 — Sanjay Shah, senior vice president of energy operations: joining Beyond Meat as chief operations officer, the company said on September 2019. 

Have you worked for Tesla? Got a news tip? Get in touch with these reporters at or Secure contact methods are available here and here.

SEE ALSO: 'We cannot have technology and sales take over safety': Tesla is being sued again for a deadly Autopilot crash

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The top executives at Hollywood super-agency Endeavor could rake in a total of $1.5 billion from its upcoming IPO

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 4:11pm

  • Endeavor Group, a Hollywood super-agency, filed for an initial public offering earlier this week aiming to raise as much as $619 million at a $7.6 billion valuation. 
  • Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell — the firm's top two executives — and a small group of other company insiders could take in close to $1.5 billion if the shares are listed at the middle of its estimated range, according to Bloomberg
  • If Endeavor's listing is successful, it would be largest publicly-traded talent agency. 
  • Visit the Markets Insider homepage for more stories.

Endeavor Group, one of the most dominant talent agencies in Hollywood, is getting ready to go public and a small group of company insider could take home more than a billion dollars if the listing is successful. 

Endeavor top two executives, Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell, and other senior management could rake in a combined $1.5 billion if the company's shares lists at the middle of its $30 to $32 target range, according to Bloomberg

The company is looking to raise $619 million at a $7.6 billion valuation. If the IPO is successful, it would make Endeavor the largest publicly-traded talent agency. 

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Emanuel and Whitesell, who built the agency and led it to secure deals to purchase the United Fighting Championship for $4 billion in 2016 and to merge with the William Morris Agency in 2009, are poised to receive millions in salary and bonuses for several years. 

Emanuel, who serves as the chief executive officer of Endeavor, could earn as much as $28 million in additional stock if the company's valuation exceeds $7.53 billion. He's also eligible to earn equity payouts throughout the next decade worth up to $14 million each if the company's market value hits specific targets, according to Bloomberg

Endeavor is expected to list on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker "EDR." 

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Stocks close mixed as the US and China resume deputy-level trade talks

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 4:08pm

Stocks finished mixed on Thursday as the US and China kicked-off deputy level trade negotiations for the first time in close to two months. 

A Chinese delegation of about 30 officials met with members from the Office of the United States Trade Representative in Washington, D.C. on Thursday morning to establish the groundwork for high-level talks set to take place in October. 

The reengagement also comes a few short weeks after both the US and China eased tensions by delaying and alleviating some tariffs.

Traders are keeping a close eye on the talks for any sign that the two countries could come closer to forging a resolution to the year-long trade war. 

The Federal Reserve also moved to inject another $75 billion into capital markets to keep interest rates from moving higher. The instance marks the the third straight day the Fed completed an overnight repurchase agreement, or repo, to keep short-term rates within its target range. 

The move also follows the Fed's decision from Wednesday to cut interest rates for the second time this year. 

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

Shares of US Steel plunged as much as 15% after the company reported a dismal profit forecast. The steel producer said it expects to lose $0.35 per share in the third quarter, compare to $0.06 loss expected by analysts. US Steelfollows domestic producers Nucor and Steel Dynamics in issuing profit outlooks below estimates this week. 

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Microsoft climbed to a record intraday high after announcing a $40 billion share buyback program and boosting its dividend by 11% to $0.51 per share. As of June 30, the company still had $11.4 billion worth of shares to repurchase on another $40 billion buyback program from 2016, according to Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

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

And the largest decliners:

Healthcare and utilities rose more 0.3%, while real estate climbed 0.3%. Those gains were offset by losses in industrials, energy, and financials. 

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Here’s how Visa’s new security features protect your business

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 3:45pm

  • It can take cybercriminals no time at all to break into a system that's unprotected. 
  • Cyber gangs are constantly on the lookout for new vulnerabilities within a business' system. 
  • Visa recently announced a number of measures it's taking to help businesses avoid the threat of cybercriminals.

A bank in the United Kingdom had no idea that unwanted visitors were peeking into its cyber windows and doors. An organized-crime group was prowling around the bank's network, looking for flaws in the way it conducted business, until it found one. These criminals learned that the bank had no rules in place for how it managed its contact lists of depositors.

This oversight allowed the criminals to quickly set up fraudulent accounts. They used a sophisticated scheme whereby they went through the website of an unsuspecting nonprofit in Canada. Within a few hours, the criminals sent out a team of people that used the fraudulent accounts to buy jewelry, electronics, and other goods from 135 merchants in Brazil.

Penny Lane, head of Visa's Payment Fraud Disruption program, says that such errors in business logic have become a significant problem because of the relentless speed and growing cost of cyberattacks. Criminal gangs are looking for vulnerabilities 24/7. And when they find one, they pounce.

"Hackers aren't kids wearing hoodies," she says. "The attack lanes are becoming swifter because of nation states and sophisticated criminal organizations."

At its recent Security Summit, in San Francisco, Visa announced a series of new capabilities designed to address the evolving threat landscape.

Here are four ways Visa is helping businesses avoid the threat of cybercriminals.

Testing your logic.

Visa Payment Threat Labs tests a company's processing, business logic, and configuration to find vulnerabilities like the ones the UK bank had. "Our team of experts will analyze a client's environment, rank the vulnerabilities, and provide a confidential report for the client," Lane says. "After the company addresses the problem, we will retest to make sure there are no further issues."

Watching your behavior.

While criminals are constantly attempting new techniques, they also have established patterns. Visa Vital Signs monitors transactions and alerts a financial institution if something fishy might be going on with its ATMs. The core capability has been around for years, allowing Visa to note if the same account is being used at the same time in three different countries. Now, Visa Vital Signs has been expanded to include behavioral monitoring. It identifies unusual behaviors out of line with how a financial institution typically operates.

Making an educated guess.

Criminal gangs often use enumeration attacks — sophisticated and automated methods of guessing account numbers, security codes, expiration dates, and ZIP codes. Visa Account Attack Intelligence performs deep analysis of the billions of transactions it handles. With this knowledge, Visa can identify financial institutions and merchants that may be the victims of enumeration attacks. As a result, they can take defensive steps before criminals cause significant damage.

Skimming off the top.

Around the world, many ecommerce sites are infected with malicious software that skims payment-card data from visitors after they make a purchase. "This is a ubiquitous problem," Lane says. "A lot of small merchants download free versions of e-commerce software and never update it, leaving them vulnerable to intrusion." Visa eCommerce Threat Disruption proactively scans ecommerce sites for this malware. It allows infected sites to be identified sooner to limit harm.

Unlike some services from other vendors, the new payment-security capabilities are available to Visa clients at no additional cost or sign-up. They join Visa's many existing capabilities to safeguard the people, data, and infrastructure in the financial ecosystem.

Margaret Reid, a senior vice president at Visa, says the Visa Security Summit and the new capabilities are part of the company's mission to maintain trust in every transaction, even as the threats evolve.

"The attack vectors are constantly changing," she adds. "As we move into a digital environment, we're seeing things happen at scale faster, so people have to be more aware and more prepared with knowledge, information, and resources."

Find out more about how Visa's security features can help keep your business safe

This post was created by Insider Studios with Visa.

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A majority of Americans think Trump’s trade war with China is bad for the economy

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 3:30pm

Americans are growing worried about the effects of a trade dispute between the US and China, putting a key reelection argument for President Donald Trump in jeopardy. 

A New York Times survey out Thursday showed 63% of Americans said this month that the president's trade policies were bad for the economy in the short-term. Meanwhile, 58% of respondents said conflict between the US and China was bad for the country.

Hundreds of companies have testified over the past year that tariffs between the largest economies could disrupt supply chains through higher costs and uncertainty, while farmers have suffered from retaliatory actions. Congressional Republicans have issued similar warnings to the Trump administration, with some proposing legislation to curb presidential tariff powers. 

But the Times poll was the latest sign of trade-dispute backlash among American consumers whose confidence and spending has fueled one of the brightest spots in the US economy.

Because Trump has generally polled better on the economy than on his general performance in office, that could pose real challenges for his reelection bid. A separate poll out this month showed a majority of households were worried that tariffs could raise prices and said they would at least partly blame Trump in the event of a recession. 

The US and China have restarted talks but hopes for a deal have dimmed since May, when the two sides escalated tensions just as they were seen as on the brink of a deal. On Thursday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said it wasn't clear what China sought in negotiations and that its concessions on agriculture would not be enough for an agreement. 

"What we need is to correct the big imbalances, not just the current trade deficit," he said in an interview with Fox Business Network. "It's more complicated than just buying a few more soybeans." 

The White House did not respond to an email requesting comment, but Trump has repeatedly disputed the veracity of mainstream polls that he does not agree with. The Times survey of 2,740 adults was conducted from September 2 to September 8, with a modeled error estimate of plus or minus three percentage points. 

Read more: The Fed cuts rates for 2nd time since financial crisis — but defies Trump's calls for 'big' stimulus

SEE ALSO: Global growth is set to hit a 10-year low as Trump's trade war drags down the economy

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Netflix tumbles after a Bernstein analyst says the stock could fall 21% before hitting a 'theoretical floor' (NFLX)

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 3:21pm

  • Netflix shares fell as much as 2.8% on Thursday after a Bernstein analyst pegged the company's trading floor at $230 per share, which is roughly 20% lower than its current level.
  • The streaming company has fallen more than 21% over the last three months after announcing lower-than-expected earnings.
  • Netflix dropped again in early September after Apple announced its TV+ service will underbid cost $4.99 per month, lower than Netflix's entry-level plan.
  • Investors are mostly worried about Netflix's price, subscriber growth, and loss of content, analyst Todd Juenger said in the Thursday note.
  • However, pricing is "the only one that causes us any concern," he added.
  • Watch Netflix trade live here.

Netflix shares dropped as much as 2.8% Thursday after a Bernstein analyst said the streaming company could fall 21% before hitting a floor for its valuation.

The streaming company has fallen about 22% over the last three months after its latest earnings report missed analyst expectations and the company posted its first loss in US subscribers since 2011. Netflix shares fell again at the start of September after Apple announced its new TV+ streaming service will start at $4.99 per month. Netflix's most affordable plan costs $8.99 per month.

The second-quarter disappointment and looming introduction of new services into the streaming wars has several investors asking how low Netflix might fall, Bernstein analyst Todd Juenger said in client note. A 2017 valuation method found shares could fall as low as $230 from current prices before hitting a "theoretical 'floor,'" the analyst wrote.

Netflix closed at $286.60 per share on Thursday, and are up about 7% year-to-date.

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Despite implying a possible 20% downside if Netflix continued to fall, Juenger maintains his positive outlook for the streaming empire. Netflix stock maintains an "outperform" rating from Bernstein, with a 12-month target price of $450 per share.

The forecast implies a 54% potential upside in the long term, and Juenger noted shares could even return to nearly $400 before the end of 2019.

"In the nearer term, at a minimum, we would suggest a strong 2H Netflix business performance should at least return the stock back to where it traded before the Q2 miss," the analyst wrote.

The analyst noted pricing, subscriber growth, and the loss of content were the three biggest worries for investors eyeing Netflix. However, the media company's international growth, original programming, and loyalty among consumers should eliminate two of the three issues over time, Juenger said, with pricing serving as "the only one that causes us any concern."

Netflix has 31 "buy" ratings, nine "hold" ratings, and four "sell" ratings, with a consensus price target of $386.51 per share, according to Bloomberg data.

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

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How to find and replace high-fee funds and ETFs using Personal Capital, which saved me $300 in my first year

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 3:16pm

  • Fees for high-cost mutual funds and ETFs can easily take thousands of dollars out of your portfolio between now and retirement. 
  • Personal Capital's analysis tools helped me save $300 per year in fees when I first signed up in 2012, and those savings keep on compounding every month as my portfolio chugs along toward retirement.
  • Moving investments into lower-cost funds may have transaction fees today, but the long-term savings could be much bigger. Never invest without first understanding any account and investment fees, as they can silently cost you years of retirement savings.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

One percent doesn't sound like much, but over the years paying one percent of your investments as fees can be quite costly. Without realizing it, many people spend tens of thousands of dollars in investment fees over their career, if not more, while not realizing so much of their hard-earned investment dollars are going down the drain.

Whatever you do, don't ignore your portfolio fees. You could be spending a fortune and not even know it.

Personal Capital is a free online financial management app that will look at all of your investments and tell you exactly what you are paying. Even if you have access to this information at your current brokerage account, Personal Capital does a great job of laying out all of your costs by account or across all accounts at once.

Some actively managed funds can easily charge 0.50% or more. If you are paying more than 0.10% in fees on any investment, it might be time to make a change.

Personal Capital helped me save $300 per year in fees when I first signed up in 2012, and those savings keep on compounding every month as my portfolio chugs along toward retirement. Depending on your portfolio, your savings might be even more.

If you don't know what you're paying, or know you are paying high fees and want to make a change, follow these steps to keep more of your investments in your investment account, not Wall Street fund managers' pockets.

How to find and replace high-fee funds and ETFs using Personal Capital

1. Plug your accounts into Personal Capital's fee analyzers

The money management software at Personal Capital is free, though it does offer a paid investment management service if you want that, too. But even if you want to keep your investments where they are today, an extra analysis by Personal Capital is free and very helpful in improving your investment strategy.

2. Review your accounts for outsized costs

Personal Capital will give you investment costs in two different places in your account. First, head to the retirement fee analyzer. This tool is built with just one focus in mind — fees — and does a good job at putting them front and center for you to better understand.

According to Personal Capital, you should aim to keep your average fees below 0.50%. I think this was a good goal a decade ago, but in the current era of low-fee ETFs, 0.10% is an even better target. If you do have any funds that charge over 0.50%, you'll want to take action on those funds first and work your way down the list to see if you can squeeze a bit more out with lower fees all around.

Once you are done there, head to the Investment Checkup for even more views of your money. The investment analysis homepage will give you a similar look at fees across all accounts, not just ones in retirement accounts.

3. Find comparable investments to replace expensive ones

If you have a traditional IRA, Roth IRA, rollover IRA, or any other self-directed retirement account, you can choose virtually any investment. 401(k) plans tend to be limited to just the funds picked by your employer and the investment management company.

Charles Schwab, Fidelity, and Vanguard are all leaders in low-cost index funds. You might be attracted to fancy, actively managed funds. However, these charge higher fees and historically underperform compared to major index benchmarks. Don't pay more for worse performance!

When looking to replace funds in your account, look for funds with a similar category. For example, don't replace a small cap stock fund with a bond fund. Look for a similar small cap stock fund with lower fees. Morningstar and are both useful resources, in addition to search tools from your brokerage.

As you update your portfolio, you should refresh your account data in Personal Capital so you can track your average expense ratio as it falls. With a balanced portfolio of low-fee index funds, you may be able to get your average cost well under 0.10%.

Learn more about Personal Capital »

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Inside the Peloton roadshow stop in New York where investors snapped selfies with star instructors and took turns riding the $2,000 bike

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 2:56pm

  • Buzzy exercise-bike startup Peloton pitched to hundreds of investors in New York on Thursday in a presentation at the Lotte New York Palace hotel.
  • Star Peloton instructors including Robin Azron made appearances at the event and were quickly mobbed by money managers who are personal fans of the brand's $2,000 bikes. 
  • Investors said they're still excited about Peloton's IPO, despite the struggles of other high-flying names like WeWork to list. 
  • The IPO could value Peloton at $8 billion and is set to start trading next week. 
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories

A line of suit-wearing money managers snaked outside the ballroom of the Lotte Palace Hotel in midtown Manhattan on Thursday, where buzzy exercise company Peloton was set to give its IPO pitch. But many weren't there to press Peloton CEO John Foley or CFO Jill Woodworth on financials.

Rather, they were much more interested in a selfie with Peloton star fitness instructor and vice president of programming Robin Arzon. Clad in a below-the knee pink tutu, Arzon posed for photos with fans whose only interaction with her previously was live-streaming her classes onto their $2,000 bikes. Other instructors also stood by a mini-gym setup outside the Villard ballroom, ready for pictures in front of a bike, $4,000 treadmill, and yoga mat with two hand weights.

"When I was walking in I see these two big lines, and I thought it was for registration, and it turns out it was for taking selfies with the instructor folk," one attendee said. "That's insane. People are obsessed."

See more: The CEO of exercise-bike startup Peloton says the company 'sells happiness' in his big pitch to investors

Another roadshow attendee told Business Insider he knew going into the meeting that he won't invest in the company – he was just there because he's a loyal customer. A half dozen attendees said they use the bikes, and many mentioned spouses who do, too.

"I kind of felt weird about eating dessert in a crowd like this, I mean everyone is so fit and attractive," one attendee told Business Insider. Dessert for the lunch was an apple tart, many of which were untouched after the event. 

Money-losing Peloton is set to price its highly anticipated IPO mid-next week in an offering that could value the company at around $8 billion.

But it's been a rough road this year for richly valued, high-profile startups to list on the public markets. Ride-sharing companies Uber and Lyft are trading below their IPO prices, while coworking startup WeWork has delayed its public offering after a chilly reception from investors. 

Last week, Peloton management made stops in Frankfurt and London, before hitting New York and Boston. Next week they're set to meet with investors in San Francisco, and potentially the Midwest, before the IPO prices on Wednesday, according to a copy of the roadshow schedule seen by Business Insider.

While Peloton describes itself as both a media company and a global technology platform, one money manager told Business Insider he's comparing it to companies like Roku and Netflix. Another attendee said he was struggling with comparisons, calling the business model "good, not great."

Peloton executives Foley and Woodworth and president William Lynch all spoke at the event. While executives highlighted that the average Peloton user who owns the equipment does 24 workouts per month, a pair of attendees debated that statistic after the presentation, comparing their own schedules to understand if that could be true. 

See more: Peloton says only 0.65% of its subscribers cancel each month. Here's why customer-retention experts think that number 'doesn't pass the smell test.'

Another said company executives stressed its penetration beyond upper-class households – Peloton says its biggest-growing market is people making under $75,000 a year. Compared to other subscription platforms like Hulu and Netflix, the company said its subscriber and user churn is much lower.

Ahead of the luncheon, one attendee said he wanted to understand Peloton's potential liability stemming from a pending music copyright lawsuit. 

The roadshow swag bag was emblazoned with the Peloton logo and contained a branded hat and water bottle. At least one attendee seemed sold on the company personally and professionally. 

"For $40 a month, you get so much," he said, referring to the cost of Peloton's streaming service. "I love the bike. It's a great business." When asked if he'd buy into the IPO, he said, "totally."

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3 signs you should change your health insurance coverage, according to a financial planner

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 2:47pm

  • Health insurance isn't the type of financial decision that you set and forget.
  • Having a baby, starting a new job, getting married or divorced, changes in your health, and shifting financial priorities are good reasons to review your health coverage.
  • The government-run Health Insurance Marketplace begins its open enrollment period for 2020 healthcare coverage on November 1, 2019, though certain events may qualify you for a special enrollment period throughout the year.
  • Workers covered by an employer's group healthcare plan will typically have a different open enrollment period.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Having health insurance is critical when you live in America. As we age our health needs evolve, so coverage is usually not the type of financial decision you can set and forget.

"In general, anytime you experience a significant lifestyle change, it's a good idea to take a moment to review your health insurance coverage and compare what you currently have to other options that might better suit your new circumstances," says Eric Roberge, a certified financial planner and the founder of Beyond Your Hammock.

Some 158 million Americans get their health coverage through their employer or a spouse's employer, according to the Commonwealth Fund. Others can utilize the government-run Health Insurance Marketplace to shop for private coverage.

Established by the Affordable Care Act, the Marketplace is available to most US citizens and can help narrow down private health insurance coverage options, and find out whether tax breaks are available. Open enrollment for 2020 coverage runs from November 1, 2019 to December 15, 2019, but certain life events may qualify you for a special enrollment period.

Below, Roberge shares a few signs that it may be time to review and change your health insurance, whether you are insured through your employer or the Marketplace.

1. You've made a significant life change

You may qualify for a special enrollment period throughout the year when major events take place that would change your coverage, including having or adopting a baby, getting married or divorced, or losing other health coverage.

"Other changes, like buying a house or having your spouse start a business, probably don't qualify you to make a change outside of open enrollment but they can still affect your financial situation enough where changing up your insurance coverage makes sense," Roberge says.

2. You can save money on coverage

The cost of health insurance is skyrocketing in the US. Whether you're insured through your employer or the Marketplace, annual enrollment periods are an opportunity to review how healthcare fits into your larger financial picture.

"Even if nothing major changed in your life over the past year, you still want to take a look at your health insurance options and compare costs," Roberge says. "You might want to switch to a new policy if it offers some cost savings, or provides more value for your needs than your old plan."

He adds: "You'll want to compare various items, including premium costs, deductibles, and what the plan covers and doesn't cover — and how any upcoming changes might influence your decision." If you're planning to start a family in the next year, for example, it could be worthwhile to consider new coverage options now. 

3. Your health needs have changed

Our health is ever-evolving and the coverage options that satisfied our needs in the past won't always match the future.

"Perhaps in the past, you had a reason for scheduling more doctor's visits and you needed a plan with low co-pays and deductibles because you frequently needed to use healthcare services," he says. "But maybe now your health has improved and it might make more sense to take a plan with a higher deductible but lower monthly premium to help you save money."

If ramping up your retirement savings has become your top priority, he says, perhaps it's time to find a high deductible health plan that offers a health savings account, which you can use to invest savings to pay for future medical expenses. 

Ultimately, Roberge says, "the right health insurance coverage for you is highly dependent on your specific situation — both health-wise and financially speaking." 

More personal finance coverage

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Stripe just scored a $35 billion valuation, up $15 billion in just one year. But its president says it’s still a ‘toddler,’ so don’t call it a ‘late-stage startup’

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 1:51pm

  • Stripe has raised another $250 million in a new round of funding that includes Silicon Valley heavy hitters like Andreessen Horowitz, General Catalyst, and Sequoia.
  • The round values Stripe at $35 billion — up from its $20 billion valuation about a year ago — making it more valuable on paper than companies like SpaceX or Airbnb. 
  • All told, Stripe has now raised over $1 billion in venture capital funding, from investors that also include Visa, Kleiner Perkins, and CapitalG (formerly Google Capital).
  • Still, Stripe President John Collison tells Business Insider that he takes "deep umbrage" at the idea that it's a "late-stage startup" — he says that there's so much opportunity for Stripe, they'll still be building it up a decade from now. 
  • He says that the lofty valuation is based on the strength of Stripe's business, which now processes "hundreds of billions of dollars" in payments each year. As long as they can keep executing on their mission of helping internet businesses and startups grow, he says, the sky's the limit. 
  • However, Collison says not to expect an IPO any time soon. 
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

Stripe, the San Francisco-based payments startup, has raised $250 million in a monster funding round that now values the company at $35 billion. That's up significantly from the $20 billion at which it was valuedwhen it raised funding late last year. 

Founded and led by brothers and Irish immigrants Patrick and John Collison, Stripe has become one of Silicon Valley's highest-profile startups since it was founded in 2010. The new funding round includes venture capital heavy hitters like Andreessen Horowitz, General Catalyst, and Sequoia — all of whom had previously invested in the company. 

This round brings Stripe's funding to date to over $1 billion, thanks in part to previous investors including Visa, Kleiner Perkins, and CapitalG (formerly Google Capital). The $35 billion valuation propels it ahead of contemporaries like SpaceX, valued at about $33 billion, and Airbnb, last valued at $31 billion.

Read more: The president of $20 billion Stripe explains the 3-pronged master plan as it opens a new service for small business loans

Despite all of this, John Collison, president of Stripe (his brother Patrick is CEO), says that the company is still "a toddler in our life cycle." He says that he and his brother take "deep umbrage" at any description of Stripe is a "late-stage startup." In their view, it's only getting started, and the Collisons expect to be at this for at least another decade, if not more. 

He says that there's no trickery or "artificial" inflation to Stripe's rich new valuation: It's Stripe's view that it's an accurate reflection of the strength of the business and the opportunity in front of the company — and Collison says he wouldn't have it any other way. 

"You want the valuation and the business to be in sync," Collison says. "Bad things can happen when you don't." 

The funding itself will go towards continuing on with Stripe's existing master plan, says Collison. While Stripe is a "capital-efficient" business, he says, it's "useful" to raise outside capital to help it keep pace with its ambitions. That said, Collison says that the company has no immediate plans to go public.

A growing business

Stripe started as a simple way for developers to add the ability to take credit card payments into their apps, but has since expanded its vision into helping make it easier for entrepreneurs, all over the world, to run internet-based businesses. It counts Airbnb, Amazon, and Target as customers, and Collison says that Stripe now processes "hundreds of billions of dollars of transactions" per year. 

In general, Collison says, there's still a lot for Stripe to do before it can consider its mission accomplished.

"Life is still more difficult for startups and internet businesses than it needs to be," says Collison. 

Even as Stripe's core payments business continues to grow, the company has expanded into new product lines and markets, amid a larger international expansion. 

Earlier this month, for example, the company introduced Stripe Capital, a new business unit to provide small business loans to internet companies. Not long after, it launched Stripe Corporate Card — which, as the name implies, provides its own twist on the company credit card. 

The funding will also go towards generally reinforcing its infrastructure, as it brings new merchants and stores into its platform. Collison says that the Stripe payments API — the tool for connecting an app to Stripe's payments system — is used more than 250 million times per day, peaking at 13,000 times per second, and the company works hard to stay ahead of the curve. 

If it can succeed on all these fronts, Collison says, it won't have any problems living up to the lofty expectations that come with a high valuation. 

"Of course, that depends on our execution," says Collison — and that while today might involve a "brief moment of celebration," he says, "then it is back to work." 

SEE ALSO: The founders of Lunchclub, a startup for making better professional connections, used this pitchdeck to raise $4 million in funding

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We got an exclusive look at the pitch deck that California cannabis company Canndescent used to raise $27.5 million as it muscles into new markets

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 1:49pm

  • California cannabis company Canndescent closed a $27.5 million Series C, led by Green Acre Capital. 
  • The funding round valued Canndescent at between $200-300 million, CEO Adrian Sedlin said. 
  • Sedlin discussed the challenges of raising growth-stage capital in the cannabis industry in an interview with Business Insider.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

Hot off of a $27.5 million funding round, Canndescent CEO Adrian Sedlin knows a thing or two about raising money in challenging environments.

California-based Canndescent bills itself as a cannabis "CPG" or consumer packaged goods company. It has two marijuana brands it sells in California: Canndescent and the cheaper goodbrands.

While there's lots of capital available for early-stage cannabis companies, later-stage startups often have trouble finding investors willing to write them large enough checks — without tapping into the public markets. 

"The capital markets for cannabis are totally broken. Period, full stop," Sedlin said in a recent interview with Business Insider. "There is very little true venture investing in our space." 

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

The company also plans to expand into a series of vape products, including pens and cartridges and is looking to enter the Canadian market once vapes and beverages are allowed to be sold in dispensaries. 

Canndescent's latest funding round, a Series C, was led by cannabis-focused venture fund Green Acre Capital and included Altitude Investment Management, JW Asset Management, as well as an Asian beer company whose name wasn't disclosed. The round brings Canndescent's valuation to between $200 million and $300 million, Sedlin said. 

Sedlin, a Harvard MBA who has built and sold five companies over his near-30-year career, said it took about seven months to close Canndescent's Series C. That's slower than the pace of funding when Sedlin was raising money from investors for his previous, non-cannabis startups. Back then, he could close a round in a few months. 

Sedlin says there are not many venture funds capable of writing the big checks necessary for growth-stage companies because of the risks involved with investing in a product that's illegal under US federal law. 

"There's a lot of interest in series A and seed rounds," says Sedlin. "But growth capital — that traditional later stage, B, C, D series capital — where the check sizes are anywhere from $25 to $150 million bucks? Good luck in cannabis. That doesn't exist."

On top of that, Sedlin said that traditional, institutional venture funds usually reserve a pool of capital for what's known as "follow-on" investments into their portfolio companies. Because most large venture funds don't invest in cannabis, says Sedlin, a number of smaller funds have "crept up" to invest solely in cannabis companies.

Instead of investing in follow-on deals, these venture funds end up "competing in certain ways" against their portfolio companies. For example, some cannabis funds are investing in and even operating dispensary licenses themselves — which could put them in direct competition with their portfolio companies, says Sedlin. 

"The people who deploy capital in this space are also acting in principals in other deals," says Sedlin. "So that creates an awkward dynamic in certain cases."

Read more: We got an exclusive look at the pitch deck buzzy marijuana-tech startup Headset used to raise $12 million and ink deals with Nielsen and Deloitte

Without traditional institutional capital, there's a mismatch between the capital needs of cannabis companies and the actual pool of capital that's available, he said.

That dynamic led many cannabis companies to tap into the Canadian capital markets, where cannabis is legal, by pursuing reverse mergers on the Canadian Securities Exchange in the last quarter of 2018.

Many of those companies weren't ready to be public companies, and most were overvalued and have seen since their share prices crater over the past year, says Sedlin. Most of the investors in those deals lost money, says Sedlin, and have since stayed on the sidelines in cannabis.

"There's a huge number of companies out on the road looking to raise right now and they're not meeting with a lot of success," says Sedlin. "There is some money out there, but you know, it's slim pickings with the overhang of the performance of a lot of the publicly traded stocks."

Sedlin, for his part, doesn't feel pressure to take Canndescent public anytime soon.

"It's not the 'Shark Tank' answer, but if you're serious about building a real company that has operating cash flow, the exit will present," says Sedlin. "I believe over time, you build a great team, a great brand, a great IP stack of proprietary stuff that creates value in the marketplace, the exit will take care of itself."

Check out Canndescent's Series C deck below: 

Mark Zuckerberg's summer involved paddleboarding at his $59 million Lake Tahoe compound and selfies with his wife in Paris. Here's how the CEO spent his time.

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 1:36pm

Facebook is constantly making headlines.

With so much going on, did the company's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, possibly manage to take any time off this summer? It looks like the answer is yes.

Read more: Jeff Bezos had a wild summer of yacht-hopping and jetting off to Wimbledon with his girlfriend. Here's how the world's wealthiest person spent his time.

Zuckerberg, the eighth-richest person in the world, spent his downtime bouncing between the waterfronts of his multiple private residences and taking a few Instagrammable selfies with his wife.

Here's a look at what he has been up to this summer, including his surfing lesson from a professional.  

A company spokesman declined to comment on Zuckerberg's summer when reached by Business Insider.

SEE ALSO: Mark Zuckerberg's net worth increased by over $1 billion after Facebook's FTC fine — see the houses, cars, and travels where he spends his billions

DON'T MISS: Jeff Bezos had a wild summer of yacht-hopping and jetting off to Wimbledon with his girlfriend. Here's how the world's wealthiest person spent his time.

Zuckerberg started off the summer by heading to Europe on business to meet with the president of France and other European lawmakers.

In the wake of privacy scandals, Zuckerberg went to Paris in early May to discuss stronger tech regulation with French President Emmanuel Macron. He also met with European lawmakers in Brussels to explain Facebook's recent scandals, including privacy problems and its role in election interference.

He took the opportunity to explore Europe with his wife, Priscilla Chan, who accompanied him on the trip.

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On May 12, he posted a photo in front of the Louvre in Paris.

From France, they made their way to Greece to celebrate their seventh anniversary at the Parthenon.

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After seven years of marriage, they have two young daughters that they mainly raise in their 5,000-square-foot home in Palo Alto, California.

Upon Zuckerberg's return to the US in June, Facebook announced its new cryptocurrency, Libra.

Facebook announced its cryptocurrency Libra on June 18, promising a 2020 release date. Among public concern of deep fakes, the cryptocurrency announcement created more negative buzz for Zuckerberg. Many expressed doubts, saying Facebook has become a "shadow bank."

Zuckerberg also made an appearance at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado on June 26.

Zuckerberg and his family then spent the Fourth of July at their new $59 million compound in Lake Tahoe.

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In early May, the Wall Street Journal reported that Zuckerberg spent about $59 million on two adjacent properties in Lake Tahoe. The purchase was made secretly last December. According to the May report, he was reportedly in talks to buy a third adjacent property to increase the compound's privacy.

However, a Facebook spokesperson confirmed to Business Insider in September that Zuckerberg does not have plans to purchase a third adjacent property.

The compound boasts 600 feet of private waterfront.

The two properties that make up the compound are on Lake Tahoe's west shore outside of Tahoe City. The prestigious area also serves as a popular vacation spot for the families of late Hewlett-Packard founder Bill Hewlett and late publishing icon Charles McClatchy. 

While there, he participated in leisure activities like paddleboarding.

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TMZ reported that he was learning how to steer a boat on the lake at the end of August, too.

Zuckerberg then left his luxurious camp-like Tahoe compound for a different kind of camp: "Summer camp for billionaires" in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Every July, Allen & Co. hosts a weeklong conference at the Sun Valley Resort in Idaho for some of the world's leading minds in business, media, finance, and technology.

With Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook, and some of the world's most powerful businesspeople in attendance, it's no wonder the invite-only getaway is referred to as "summer camp for billionaires."

He was spotted smiling and lathering on sunscreen at the conference the same day news broke that the FTC had approved a $5 billion settlement against Facebook.

While at the conference, news broke that the FTC would require Facebook to pay a record-breaking $5 billion penalty for its privacy issues. Zuckerberg was free to continue enjoying Sun Valley because Facebook generates $5 billion every 49 days.

In August, Zuckerberg spent some time on Kaua'i Island in Hawaii, where he owns multiple properties.

As Business Insider previously reported, he paid $100 million for 750 acres of property on the North Shore, which includes a former sugarcane plantation and a white-sand beach. He also purchased additional land on the island in 2017 for $45 million. This land was actually approved for 80 homes, but Zuckerberg plans on just one, giving the family extreme privacy.

Professional surfer Kai Lenny taught him how to tow-in surf off the incredibly private beach on the North Shore.

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Zuckerberg even got to put his own film skills to the test. An afternoon learning a new water sport from a pro was an adventurous yet casual way to wrap up the billionaire's summer.

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