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THE ONLINE MORTGAGE LENDING REPORT: How banks are striking back against Quicken Loans and other digital-first lenders in the $9 trillion US mortgage market

Sat, 10/12/2019 - 6:01pm

Despite the mortgage space representing the largest US lending market — with debt sitting at $9.2 trillion — it's been the slowest to digitize, and incumbents have had little incentive to remove friction from the customer application process.

The customer experience has been hampered by a time-consuming process that requires spending hours filling out an application and gathering documents, a lack of transparency about the status of the process, and uncertainty about what outstanding documentation could be requested later. And with no viable challengers to the status quo, incumbent lenders had little reason to overhaul this process.

But Quicken Loans turned the mortgage industry on its head with the introduction of Rocket Mortgage, an online mortgage application that takes less than 10 minutes to complete, in November 2015. Its product simplified the mortgage process by offering a clean and quick online application form, allowing online information verification, and providing conditional preapproval within minutes. And in Q4 2017, Quicken became the largest US residential mortgage originator by volume, surpassing Wells Fargo for the first time.

Rocket Mortgage helped validate the digital mortgage sector and bring a number of other alternative online mortgage lenders to the fore. We've seen players like Lenda (now Reali Loans) move into mortgage purchases around the time Rocket Mortgage was introduced and launch its online mortgage offering early in 2016, for instance.

And while big banks have seen their share of the market shrink since the 2008 financial crisis, they can now unlock the potential of advanced mortgage tech to act against the threat of nonbanks and alt lenders and claw back some of that lost market share.

And some large FIs, including Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America (BofA), SunTrust, and TD Bank, have already unveiled their own digital mortgage lending platforms that help them enhance the customer experience, shave down costs — by cutting labor expenses or reducing the possibility of fraud, for example — and drive a more significant opportunity in residential mortgages.

In this report, Business Insider Intelligence will examine the current state of the mortgage lending landscape and how technology has enabled alt lenders to transform the home loan process from application to closing. We will then explore how legacy banks are responding to the threat of digitally advanced competitors by unveiling their own online mortgage solutions and offer recommendations for FIs looking to enhance their mortgage offerings.

The companies mentioned in this report are: Ally, Bank of America, Chase,, Black Knight, blend, eOriginal, Loan Depot, Quicken Loans, Reali Loans, Roostify, SoFi, SunTrust, TD Bank, US Bank, Wells Fargo

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

  • Technology has enabled digitally advanced nonbanks and alt lenders to disrupt the mortgage process, transforming the application process and, to an extent, digitizing and automating underwriting and closing.
  • Banks are responding to the threat of fintechs by launching their own digital solutions, often in partnership with mortgage software and service providers.
  • Other FIs looking to enhance their mortgage offerings could leverage technology and partner with providers to tap into consumers' growing appetite for digital mortgage solutions and avoid ceding market share to the competition.  

In full, the report:

  • Examines the current state of the mortgage lending landscape.
  • Details how fintechs have transformed the home loan market.
  • Highlights technology's impact across the various stages of the mortgage lending process, including application, underwriting, and closing.
  • Examines how legacy players are responding to the threat of digitally advanced nonbanks and alt lenders.
  • Outlines what banks should do to enhance their mortgage offerings and look for new revenue growth opportunities in the space. 

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  3. Current subscribers can read the report here.

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

Sat, 10/12/2019 - 2:00pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

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

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

In full, the report:

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

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

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Trump said he made the 'biggest deal ever' with China for farmers, but a written resolution to the trade war is still a long way off

Sat, 10/12/2019 - 12:59pm

  • President Donald Trump tweeted on Saturday that an initial trade agreement with China was the "greatest and biggest deal ever," citing wins for US farmers and billions in Boeing plane sales.
  • The US and China reached an agreement Friday in which Trump suspended a new round of tariffs in exchange for trade concessions.
  • The initial deal represents significant progress, but a full resolution to the long-running trade dispute between the world's largest superpowers is still a long ways off. 
  • Read more stories like this on Business Insider.

President Donald Trump on Saturday took to Twitter to tout victory in an initial trade agreement the US and China reached the day before, calling it the "greatest and biggest deal ever made for our Great Patriot Farmers in the history of our Country."

But both sides acknowledge a full resolution to the long-running trade dispute between the world's largest superpowers remains a long ways off. 

The two countries reached an accord Friday that will nix a new round of tariffs Trump had planned to unleash on Tuesday in exchange for trade concessions from China.

Precise details were scant, but the agreement reportedly included China's purchase of as much as $50 billion in US agriculture products — one of the hardest-hit US industries in the trade-war crossfire. 

Trump sought to pump air into the accomplishment of the first-phase agreement Saturday, revealing that the deal also includes billions in Boeing plane sales and saying that farmers "really hit pay dirt!"

....Other aspects of the deal are also great - technology, financial services, 16-20 Billion in Boeing Planes etc., but WOW, the Farmers really hit pay dirt! @ChuckGrassley @joniernst @debfisher @BenSasse Thank you to all Republicans in Congress for your invaluable help!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 12, 2019


"The deal I just made with China is, by far, the greatest and biggest deal ever made for our Great Patriot Farmers in the history of our Country. In fact, there is a question as to whether or not this much product can be produced? Our farmers will figure it out. Thank you China!" Trump wrote. 

The two sides have held on-again, off-again efforts to mitigate the conflict for months with little to show for it until this point beyond increasingly escalating tariff threats. 

It's a significant step, but the deal could still fall through

The agreement reached Friday marks a significant step toward ending the dispute, though both sides acknowledged a long road ahead to ending the tariff war that has been roiling global markets since March of 2018.

A written pact has yet to be signed and is still weeks away, and the deal could still fall through in the meantime. Trump told reporters he didn't believe that would happen. 

"There was a lot of friction between the United States and China, and now it's a lovefest. That's a good thing," Trump said. 

In the Oval Office, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He gave a positive yet more measured review of the agreement.

"We have made substantial progress in many fields. We are happy about it. We'll continue to make efforts," Liu said.

The initial "phase-one deal" could be finalized next month, Trump suggested, when he and Chinese President Xi Jinping attend an economic summit in Santiago, Chile. 

Still, even as Trump suspended a new round of tariffs planned for October — an increase to 30% from 25% on $250 billion in Chinese imports — tariffs on some $360 billion worth of Chinese goods remain in place. 

Trump's plans to hike tariffs in December on clothing and electronics remain in place. 

It's also unclear whether the two countries are substantively nearer to resolving key points of tension, such as intellectual-property rights and currency manipulation. 

If the deal comes to fruition, it would provide a much-needed salve on the wounds of the US agriculture sector, a key Trump constituency that has suffered as China has thrown counter-punches to Trump's tariffs. 

But some experts nonetheless poo-pooed the results of the negotiations and threw cold water on Trump's claims of a major victory for farmers, saying such relief could've been obtained long ago in earlier negotiating rounds. 

"If this turns out to be all there is, we could have achieved these results a year ago or more," Derek Scissors, a trade expert at the American Enterprise Institute who has advised the Trump administration, told The Wall Street Journal.

And despite the progress and Trump's confidence that a formal pact will be hammered out in November, the reality of the countries' turbulent relationship suggests the progress could still be scuttled before the next rendezvous in Chile.

"If they couldn't agree on a text, that must mean they're not done. Wishing an agreement does not one make. This isn't a skinny deal. It's an invisible one," Scott Kennedy, a China trade expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, told Reuters.

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These are the hottest fintech startups and companies in the world

Sat, 10/12/2019 - 12:32pm

It's a fascinating time for fintech.

What was once a disruptive force in the financial world has become standard practice for many industry leaders. 

Fintech industry funding has already reached new highs globally in 2018, with overall funding hitting $32.6 billion at the end of Q3.

Some new regions, including South America and Africa, are emerging on the scene.

And some fintech companies, including a number of insurtechs, have dipped into new markets to escape heightened competition.

Now that fintech has become mainstream, the next focus is on the rising stars in the industry. To that end, Business Insider Intelligence has put together the following list of 10 Up and Coming Fintechs for 2019.


Total raised: £1.9 million ($2.5 million)

What it does: Coconut is a UK-based current account and accounting platform for small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs).

Why it's hot in 2019: Next week, Coconut will launch its first subscription service, dubbed Grow, which will bundle unlimited invoicing and end of year tax reports, for £5 ($6.51) a month. This will make it a very attractive option for SMBs, that conventionally don't have a lot of time on their hands to handle their accounting.


Total raised: $282 million

What it does: Brex is a US-based corporate credit card provider, which initially focused on serving startups.

Why it's hot in 2019: The startup gained unicorn status in 2018, only months after it launched its first product. Now, after receiving debt financing worth $100 million, Brex wants to target larger enterprises with its topic — opening it up to a whole new set of customers and helping bring the company to the next level.


Total raised: $11.8 million

What it does: UK-based TrueLayer provides financial services companies with application programming interfaces (APIs), and helps them make the most of new regulations including Open Banking.

Why it's hot in 2019: TrueLayer recently partnered with Plum to help it make the most of open banking, and expanded its API to Germany, where banks continue to struggle to comply with PSD2.


Total raised: $178 million

What it does: German savings and investment marketplace

Why it's hot in 2019: Raisin became a fintech unicorn after raising $114 million in January, and has since then formed partnerships with Commerzbank and ClearScore. Additionally, the startup partnered with Starling Bank in 2018 to launch bank accounts in the UK


Total raised: £9 million ($11.7 million)

What it does: UK-based insurtech Anorak provides advice on life insurance

Why it's hot in 2019: It graduated from Accenture's fintech innovation lab earlier this year, and is present on Starling's and Yolt's marketplace, where it will likely be able to gain more traction.


Total raised: $2 billion

What it does: US-based online personal money management startup

Why it's hot in 2019: While the company previously focused on loans, including student loans, in 2019 it has made some significant moves into the wealth management space, and launched both free ETFs and an investment product, dubbed SoFi Invest. As it becomes a more rounded financial product, SoFi will be worth watching in the next few years.

Lending Express

Total raised: $2.7 million

What it does: Lending Express is a US-based lending platform, which focuses on SMBs, and helps them gain access to more funding by providing them with advice.

Why it's hot in 2019: SMBs remain underserved globally, and while a number of alt lenders have cropped up that make capital more accessible, there are still plenty of startups that need guidance on what they have to do to be able to get access to funding.

Volt Bank

Total raised: $45 million

What it does: Volt is an Australia-based neobank

Why it's hot in 2019: In January, Volt became Australia's first fully licensed neobank. The challenger bank will first offer a suite of retail banking products, as well as budgeting and account aggregation tools, and plans to enter the SMB banking sector in 2020.


Total raised: $30 million

What it does: Hong Kong-based startup Bowtie provides consumers with life insurance.

Why it's hot in 2019: In December 2018, Bowtie became the first insurtech in Hong Kong to receive an online-only insurance license from Hong Kong's Insurance Authority (IA). Over 80% of customers in Hong Kong willing to use digital channels to interact with insurance providers, making future demand for Bowtie very likely.


Total raised: $158.5 million

What it does: German Wefox connects insurance companies to brokers that manage and consult their customers completely digital.

Why it's hot in 2019: The insurtech raised $125 million in March 2019, partnered with SBI Group earlier this year to launch in Asia. Given that Wefox partly works on a business-to-business model, it is likely that demand will be high from insurers that have to compete with a plethora of emerging insurtechs.

Want to learn more?

There's plenty more to learn about the future of fintech, payments, and the financial services industry. Business Insider Intelligence has outlined the road ahead in a FREE report called The Future of Payments. Click below to receive your copy of the report.

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3 ways regular people use their high-yield savings account to be better with money

Sat, 10/12/2019 - 12:30pm

If you're trying to organize your financial life, you may find that a high-yield savings account (or multiple) is just what you need.

Not only do these savings accounts typically earn 20 times more than your everyday checking account, they're also a great tool for keeping your cash safe and accessible. Most banks allow savers to open several at a time, nickname them, and set up automatic transfers from different accounts. And the best ones don't charge any fees.  

Keep reading for ways to use a high-yield savings account, from people who love theirs. 

1. To store an emergency fund

Everyone needs a rainy day fund to fall back on when sudden, or even planned, expenses crop up.

Melanie Lockert, a self-employed writer and entrepreneur, says online savings accounts are the best way for her to keep track of the money she sets aside for taxes, sick days, and emergencies.

"Being clear and specific with my savings goals has transformed my financial life for the better," she writes. "I am more clear, focused, confident, and know exactly how each dollar is used. Not only that, but it has given me peace of mind to know that I have money in the bank and that I'm prepared for a variety of situations."

2. To save for specific goals

Did you ever ration out your change into jars as a kid when you were saving up to buy a toy or go do something fun with your friends? High-yield savings accounts are the adult version of that, but better.

Brynne Conroy, a personal-finance blogger, utilized a high-yield savings account when she was working toward the goal of buying a house. She wanted to grow her money quickly, and most importantly safely.

While Conroy acknowledged the potential downsides of her high-yield savings account — interest is taxed and money takes a few days to transfer to her primary bank — she ultimately found them to be minimal compared to the benefits.

"I don't mind an extra 1099, and being rewarded with a higher APY in exchange for the accessibility of funds in moments of temptation is just too sweet a deal to pass by," she writes.

3. To curb impulse spending

If you're keeping the money you intend to save in your everyday checking account — or even a savings account linked to your checking account — it can be too easy to throw caution and logic to the wind and dip into it when impulse strikes.

Freelance writer Elizabeth Aldrich says six of her 10 bank accounts are high-yield savings accounts, including a "no impulse purchase fund."

"This account is for purchases over $100 that I want to make in the short-run, and I keep the balance at $0. If I want to go out to eat once in a while or need some new clothes, I do, but I'm not allowed to spend over $100," she explains.

"This ensures that I don't overspend on things I don't really want and gives me some time to mull over how much I really want to purchase the item, so I avoid buying things impulsively."

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The 11 richest self-made women in America, ranked

Sat, 10/12/2019 - 12:12pm

The term "self-made" has caused public outcry before.

When Forbes proclaimed Kylie Jenner the youngest self-made billionaire in March, many took to Twitter to grumble that the term did not properly reflect that her moneyed upbringing provided her with the platform for success.

In response, Forbes rolled out a definition for "self-made": "Someone who built a company or established a fortune on her own, rather than inheriting some or all of it." 

Forbes even has a self-made score of 1-10 that showcases someone's role in their wealth creation. A score of one would belong to someone like Alice Walton, the Walmart heiress worth $51.4 billion, who "inherited her fortune but is not working to increase it." A score of 10 would belong to Oprah Winfrey, someone "self-made who not only grew up poor but also overcame significant obstacles."  

Read more: Income inequality in the US has hit a record high. Meet the 15 richest American family 'dynasties,' who have a combined net worth of $618 billion.

Even with the sliding scoring system, the broad definition only applied to 11 women on this year's Forbes 400 list. Jenner, with her estimated net worth of $1 billion, did not qualify for the list's $2.1 billion minimum. She has a self-made score of 7, meaning she "got a head start from wealthy parents and a moneyed background."

Most of the women on this list scored at an 8 ("self-made who came from a middle- or upper-middle-class background") or a 9 ("self-made who came from a largely working-class background; rose from little or nothing").

The members of the Forbes 400 are worth $2.96 trillion. The self-made women club, one of the smallest subsects of the overall list, is worth a collective $37.2 billion.

Here are the 11 richest self-made women in the US. They are ranked in ascending order of wealth and their net worths are estimates as of October 2, 2019.

SEE ALSO: The 15 richest women in America, ranked

DON'T MISS: The richest American 37 years ago wouldn't even make it onto the Forbes billionaires list today

11. Elaine Wynn has a net worth of $2.4 billion.

Net worth: $2.4 billion

Source of wealth: Hotels and casinos

Self-made score: 8

Age: 77

Known as the "Queen of Las Vegas," Elaine Wynn is the largest shareholder of Wynn Resorts. She cofounded the casino and hotel giant with her ex-husband, Steve Wynn.  

10. The universally recognizable Oprah Winfrey is worth $2.6 billion.

Net worth: $2.6 billion

Source of wealth: Television, media

Self-made score: 10

Age: 65

Oprah Winfrey, the media mogul, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, embodies the purest definition of "self-made;" she overcame a difficult childhood to become an Academy Award-nominated actress and the host of a nationally syndicated television show by age 32. She has launched a production company, a magazine, and even a television network. She is the only woman on this list in media.

Read more: In a surprise announcement, Oprah donated $1.15 million to help minority students pay for college

T9. Johnelle Hunt has a net worth of $2.7 billion thanks to a trucking company.

Net worth: $2.7 billion

Source of wealth: Trucking

Self-made score: 7

Age: 87

Johnelle Hunt cofounded the J.B. Hunt Company in the 1960s with her late husband. Since his death in 2006, she has further developed Hunt Ventures, looking beyond the trucking industry and exploring real-estate and development.

T9. Doris Fisher, the founder of Gap, has a net worth of $2.7 billion.

Net worth: $2.7 billion

Source of wealth: Clothing, retail

Self-made score: 7

Age: 88

Doris Fisher and her late husband founded clothing retailer Gap in San Francisco in 1969. She served as Gap's merchandiser from 1969 to 2003 and was an active board member until 2009. As The Wall Street Journal's Mary M. Lane reported in 2015, Fisher has amassed an impressive art collection featuring pieces from iconic artists like Roy Lichtenstein. 

7. Lynda Resnick, the woman behind Pom Wonderful and Fiji Water, is worth $2.8 billion.

Net worth: $2.8 billion

Source of wealth: Agriculture

Self-made score: 8

Age: 76

Lynda Resnick owns the Wonderful Company with her husband. She runs the global marketing and product development for the brands, which include Pom Wonderful, Wonderful Pistachios, and Fiji Water. She has served on the board of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art and has donated millions to climate change research.

Read more: Fiji Water billionaires Stewart and Lynda Resnick just gifted $750 million to Caltech for climate change research

6. Judy Love, of Love's gas stations, has a net worth $2.9 billion.

Net worth: $2.9 billion

Source of wealth: Gas stations, retail

Self-made score: 9

Age: 82

Judy Love founded Love's Travel Stops and County Stores with her husband in Oklahoma in 1964 after leasing just one gas station. Now, the Loves have stores in 41 states. The couple has established an entrepreneurial center at Oklahoma City University as well as a cancer institute at St. Anthony Hospital.

5. Thai Lee, who helms IT provider SHI International, is worth $3 billion.

Net worth: $3 billion

Source of wealth: IT

Self-made score: 9

Age: 60

IT provider SHI International's President and CEO, Thai Lee, was born in Bangkok but studied in the US. She and her then-husband bought the brand in 1989 for $1 million and flipped it into a $10 billion global provider. At 60, she is the youngest woman on this list.

4. Judy Faulkner digitized medical records and is now worth $3.6 billion.

Net worth: $3.6 billion

Source of wealth: Medical software

Self-made score: 8

Age: 76

Judy Faulkner, the CEO of Epic, started the medical-record software provider in 1979 in a basement in Wisconsin. Now, the software is so prevalent that more than 250 million patients have an electronic medical record in the system. Faulkner has signed the Giving Pledge, meaning that she intends to donate the majority of her wealth to charity during her lifetime or in her will. 

Read more: Epic CEO Judy Faulkner Say Would Never Consider Buyout Offer From Apple

3. The Little Caesars Pizza cofounder, Marian Ilitch, has a net worth of $3.7 billion.

Net worth: $3.7 billion

Source of wealth: Food, entertainment

Self-made score: 9

Age: 86

Marian Ilitch, a first-generation American, founded Little Caesars with her late husband in 1959. The pizza chain giant has restaurants in 50 states and its success allowed Ilitch to try her entrepreneurial hand in other industries; she owns the Detroit Red Wings hockey team and Detroit's MotorCity Hotel and Casino

2. Meg Whitman is worth $3.8 billion.

Net worth: $3.8 billion

Source of wealth: Technology

Self-made score: 6

Age: 63

Meg Whitman got her start at P&G before moving on to Hasbro and then becoming the CEO of eBay. When she joined in 1998, eBay had 30 employees and $4 million in revenue. When she left in 2008, it had about 15,000 employees and $8 billion in revenue. Whitman then became the CEO of Hewlett Packard and oversaw its 2015 split into two companies. Now, she is the CEO of Quibi, a streaming video startup created by DreamWorks' cofounder.

Whitman's self-made score of 6 highlights that she is the only woman on this list who is a "hired or hands-off investor who didn't create the business" from which she profits. 

1. Diane Hendricks is worth $7 billion.

Net worth: $7 billion

Source of wealth: Roofing

Self-made score: 9

Age: 72

Diane Hendricks made her fortune by founding wholesale roofing distributor ABC Supply in 1982 with her husband. She has been at the helm of the company since his death in 2007 and used her wealth to revitalize Beloit, Wisconsin, where the company is based.

While she might be the richest self-made woman by a margin of $3.2 billion, she is only the 14th-richest woman in America. The women she trails all inherited their fortunes, showcasing the trend of "dynastic wealth." 

Read more: The gap between the rich and the poor in the US has widened to a record high, and it mirrors the growth of 'dynastic wealth'


12% of millennials have taken the first step toward saving for retirement — and stopped

Sat, 10/12/2019 - 12:09pm

Millennials are the largest generation in the workforce, but too many aren't making the most of their income. 

Insider recently teamed up with Morning Consult to survey 2,096 Americans about their financial health, debt, and earnings for a new series, "The State of Our Money." About 670 respondents were millennials, defined as ages 23 to 38 this year.

According to the survey, more than half of millennials (55%) don't have a retirement savings account, such as a 401(k) or IRA. Not to be overlooked, a full 45% of millennials do have a retirement account. But opening an account is only the first step — 12% are not actively contributing to theirs.

Experts say a 401(k) or other defined-contribution plan through work is the best way to start saving for retirement. The contributions are pulled from your pre-tax salary and put into an investment account where you can choose from a selection of mutual funds, stock funds, bond funds, and even annuities. 

What's more, many employers offer to match employees' contributions up to a specified dollar amount or a percentage of their salary. A match is free money, and not taking advantage of it is a wasted opportunity. Financial planners recommend deferring enough of your salary to score the match, but at the end of the day, no amount is too small — you have to start somewhere.

As expected, many millennials blame low income for their lack of savings, the Morning Consult and Insider survey found. "I don't earn enough money to save for retirement" was cited as a major reason by about 53% of those who don't have a retirement plan. Roughly 45% said being out of the labor force was either a major or minor reason they couldn't save.

But not having access to a 401(k) at work isn't an excuse to not save. Anyone can open up and contribute to a traditional or Roth IRA through a brokerage firm or other financial institution. These tax-advantaged accounts allow savers under age 50 to contribute up to $6,000 a year. Even teenagers can save money in a Roth IRA.

Millennials are in a crucial stage in life for retirement preparation. Despite believing they don't earn enough to save, every single dollar counts when time is on your side.

Check back on "The State of Our Money" throughout the month for more findings and analysis.

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5 ways you can use Chase Ultimate Rewards points from cards like the Sapphire Preferred, including the most valuable option: free travel

Sat, 10/12/2019 - 10:43am

  • Chase Ultimate Rewards points are some of the most flexible rewards points anyone can earn. Not only can you redeem them for gift cards and statement credits, but you can book travel or transfer points 1:1 to popular airline and hotel partners.
  • You can earn Ultimate Rewards points with the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, the Chase Sapphire Reserve, and the Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, among others.
  • Transferring your Chase points to airlines is often the best deal, but don't forget to check on the pricing of sale fares through the Chase portal.
  • Chase hotel partners also provide excellent value, but you should also check pricing on the same hotels through the Chase portal. Sometimes booking through Chase can save you a ton of points you can use later on.
  • Read more personal finance coverage.

Chase Ultimate Rewards is frequently considered one of the top credit card programs available today, and it's easy to see why. This rewards program, which can be accessed with certain Chase credit cards including the Chase Sapphire Reserve and Ink Business Preferred Credit Card, offers some of the most generous and diverse travel redemption options you can find.

But cardholders who sign up for Chase credit cards should know they don't have to redeem rewards for travel if they don't want to. There are plenty of ways to cash in your points whether you're a frequent traveler or someone who rarely leaves your hometown, and practically all of them are good ones.

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.

Read more: The best Chase credit cards

How to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points

The only way to earn rewards in the Chase Ultimate Rewards ecosystem is by signing up for a Chase credit card that operates within this program and using that card. Fortunately, Chase Ultimate Rewards offers some of the best travel credit cards available today, each of which offers a generous sign-up bonus and ongoing rewards based on how much you spend.

Here are the cards that earn Ultimate Rewards points:

  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card When you sign up for this card, you'll earn an initial bonus of 60,000 points when you spend $4,000 within three months of account opening. On top of the bonus, you'll earn an unlimited 2x points on travel and dining and 1x points on everything else you buy. A $95 annual fee applies, but the sign-up bonus alone is worth $750 in travel when you use your points to book through Chase.
  • Chase Sapphire Reserve If you want a travel credit card that offers some serious travel benefits in addition to rewards, you could also consider this card. The Reserve has a $450 annual fee, but you'll get a Priority Pass Select airport lounge membership, a $300 annual travel credit, up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck, and several other perks. You'll also earn an initial 50,000 points when you spend $4,000 on your card within three months, and you'll earn 3x points on travel and dining, and 1x points on all other purchases.
  • Ink Business Preferred Credit Card This is a great option if you have a small business or a side hustle that would qualify you for a business credit card.  It offers a sign-up bonus of 80,000 points after you spend $5,000 in the first three months. It also earns 3x points on the first $150,000 spent on travel and select business categories each account anniversary year and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. There's a $95 annual fee.

Read more: Preferred vs. Reserve — How the Chase Sapphire credit cards stack up

Additionally, some cash-back credit cards like the Chase Freedom and Chase Freedom Unlimited also let you earn Chase Ultimate Rewards points. The same is true of Chase's business cash-back credit cards, the Ink Business Unlimited Credit Card and the Ink Business Cash Credit Card. However, Chase cash-back credit cards with no annual fee do not offer as many redemption options for travel, including transfers to travel partners.

There is a workaround, however. If you pair a travel credit card like the Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve with one of their cash-back credit cards, Chase lets you pool all your points in one place for optimal redemptions.

How Chase lets you redeem your rewards

If you're considering a Chase credit card that earns Chase Ultimate Rewards points but want to make sure you'll be able to utilize your points, it helps to know all your options ahead of time. Here are the main redemption options you can look forward to:

1. Redeem for statement credits or gift cards (1 cent per point)

First off, Chase Ultimate Rewards lets you cash in points for statement credits at a rate of 1 cent per point. This option can be a good one if you don't want to travel or if you want to use your points to cover a splurge purchase of some kind. All you have to do is charge the purchase to your credit card, then redeem your points at a rate of 1 cent each in order to wipe all or part of the charge away.

Gift cards are another redemption option Chase offers, and you'll normally get 1 cent per point if you go this route. Sometimes Chase even offers gift cards with a better value for specific retailers, which can be a good deal. It's not unusual to see gift cards for retailers like Home Depot or Petco for 2,250 points per $25 gift card.

Read more: Chase Sapphire Preferred card review

2. Pay for merchandise (point values vary, not a good deal)

If you prefer to shop directly with your points, you can redeem them for purchases on or with Apple. Generally speaking, you'll get 0.8 cents per point when you use points to shop on Amazon and 1 cent per point when you purchase electronics through Apple.

However, this isn't a good deal. Considering you can redeem points for statement credits to cover any purchase you want at a rate of 1 cent per point, you should go that route instead of you're buying merchandise that comes in at a lower redemption rate than that.

3. Book travel through the Chase portal (up to 1.5 cents per point)

You can also book hotels, airfare, rental condos, activities, and car rentals directly through the Chase portal, which syncs up with and offers the same options as If you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve card, you get 50% more travel for free when you book with points, thus giving your points 1.5 cents each in value.

With the Chase Sapphire Preferred, on the other hand, you get 25% more travel for free when you book through the portal, or 1.25 cents per point in value.

4. Transfer points to airline and hotel partners (up to 2 cents per point or more)

Similar to American Express Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards lets you transfer points to a wide range of airline hotel partners. All Chase transfer partners let you move your points at a 1:1 ratio, which is not only valuable but also easy to understand.

Current Chase transfer partners include:

Aer Lingus
British Airways
Flying Blue / Air France
Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer
Southwest Airlines
United MileagePlus
Virgin Atlantic
IHG Rewards
Marriott Bonvoy
World of Hyatt

5: Redeem points for experiences (point values vary)

As if all those options weren't enough, you can also use Chase Ultimate Rewards points to book special "experiences," including one-of-a-kind events hosted by Chase. It's hard to say what your exact point value will be for these redemptions since Chase often sets the "price."

Some examples include VIP dining experiences, sports games with VIP seating, and Broadway-style shows. Point requirements are all over the place from as low as 30,000 points for a single seat at a Broadway show to several hundred thousand points for a VIP package to attend the Sundance Film Festival.

Some lucrative ways to redeem your rewards

While the "best" way to redeem your points depends on your personal goals, there are plenty of redemptions that can pay off in a big way. Here are some of the best ways to cash in your rewards if your goal is booking epic and unforgettable travel experiences for free:

Score cheap flights through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal

While transferring Chase points to airlines is often the best deal, don't forget that you can also save big by booking flights through the Chase portal. This is especially true when you find a cheap fare online that you can turn around and book through Chase, which partners with Remember that, when you book through the Chase portal, you can book flights with fewer points when prices are low.

Here's a good example of how this works in practice: Earlier this year, I was trying to find award flights for this upcoming October to Milan, Italy for my family of four and my parents. While I almost booked one-ways on American for 30,000 miles each plus airline taxes and fees, I ultimately found cheap one-ways on Air Portugal for $287.80 each. Since you get 50% more travel for free when you book flights through the Chase portal with points from the Chase Sapphire Reserve, I was able to book six one-way flights worth $1,726.80 total through Chase for just 115,120 Chase Ultimate Rewards points.

That's an absolute steal and a much better value than using American AAdvantage miles. With the American AAdvantage program, I would have paid 180,000 American miles plus around $100 per person (or $600 for six of us) in airline taxes and fees.

Transfer points 1:1 to Southwest Airlines

If you're fine with flying economy and mostly travel in the US and to the Caribbean or Mexico, you'll definitely want to consider transferring points 1:1 to Southwest Airlines. This frequent flyer program is fare-based, meaning lower prices mean you can score award flights for fewer points. In fact, you can frequently find one-way flights for as little as 5,000 points during one of Southwest's countless sales.

Southwest also gives each customer two free checked bags, making it a good choice for families who travel with checked luggage. Finally, the airline has a generous cancellation and rebooking policy that means you can usually reschedule your flight — even at the last minute.

Read more: Southwest Airlines flyers can enjoy over a year's worth of free companion plane tickets — here's how to qualify for a pass

Fly cheap economy to Europe with Air France/Flying Blue

Air France/Flying Blue is a truly underutilized Chase Ultimate Rewards partner. This partner lets you fly for cheap to and from Europe from most major cities, and usually for less than you'll pay with other airline programs.

You can frequently find one-way awards to European cities like Amsterdam and Paris for less than 30,000 miles one-way with this program, making them a solid option to check out if you're dreaming of a European getaway. Best of all, awards are generally plentiful and you can usually find 4 or more economy awards on any given flight.

Read more: How to get an ANA first class flight to Japan using credit card points

Transfer to airline partners to fly business class

Using airline miles to fly business class makes a lot of sense, and this is particularly true with airlines that have fixed award charts. Fortunately, Chase has several airline partners that make it easy to book premium cabins for a reasonable number of miles.

For example, you could utilize your Chase points to transfer to any of these airlines for an epic redemption value:

  • Fly business class from the West Coast to Singapore with Singapore Airlines for just 95,000 miles
  • Fly business class from the West Coast to Tahiti on Air France/Flying Blue for just 75,000 miles
  • Book a Delta One flight to Europe on Virgin Atlantic for just 50,000 miles

These are just a few of the options to consider, although there are many, many ways to utilize Chase points for profitable transfers to airline partners. Also note that Chase recently added Emirates as an airline transfer partner, so there are more options than ever when it comes to getting outsized value from your points.

Book hotels through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal

While the Chase Ultimate Rewards program partners with IHG Rewards, Marriott Bonvoy, and World of Hyatt, it's important to "price shop" awards before you transfer Chase points to these programs. For example, you may find that a Marriott stay that costs 50,000 points will only set you back 12,000 Chase points through the portal. In that case, it makes more sense to book your hotel stay with points through Chase than it does to transfer all those extra points over to book the same room.

Here's a good example of the exact same hotel stay on the same dates with the IHG Rewards program. While you can book the Holiday Inn Jamaica Resort for 50,000 IHG points through, the same hotel on the exact same dates will set you back only 14,603 points through Chase Ultimate Rewards with the Chase Sapphire Reserve:

Also note that the Chase portal lets you book hundreds of thousands of off-brand and boutique hotels and resorts, meaning you can use your points to shop around for a good deal.

Book fun excursions you don't want to pay for

Another way to use Chase Ultimate Rewards is for fun day trips and excursions you wouldn't normally want to pay for. Think snorkeling trips in the Caribbean, a sunset booze cruise in Hawaii for your anniversary, or a cooking class in Florence, Italy. You can use Chase points to book these experiences and more, and often for less than you think.

Remember that you'll get 25% more travel for free when you use points from the Chase Sapphire Preferred to book travel through the portal, but that this amount goes up to 50% more travel if you have the Chase Sapphire Reserve.

Personally, I have used Chase points to snorkel with stingrays in Grand Cayman, swim with sharks in Bora Bora, and see some of the world's oldest ruins in destinations like Italy and Greece. I see splurging for excursions as a fun way to treat myself and my family. And they're my points to spend, so why not?

Join the conversation about this story »

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6 key moments in history that made Silicon Valley the tech capital of the world, according to a historian

Sat, 10/12/2019 - 10:26am

People often think of Silicon Valley technology firms as an industry that popped up independently and wants less regulation, but historian Jeannette Estruth, an assistant professor of history at Bard College wants to remind you that Silicon Valley is in many ways a federal and state project.

"Its roots are totally enmeshed with the government," she said, in particular to war efforts of the 20th century. She pointed to federal investment in Bay Area universities during and after World War II, and how closely tied their growth was to war. Research and knowledge production from the war made the explosion of growth possible.

"People don't think about infrastructure," Estruth said, noting how important the housing boom following the war, and later the expansion of the San Jose airport, were to Silicon Valley's story.

Now, with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's congressional hearing and democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren's plan to break up big tech, Estruth thinks that we might be entering a new era of increased accountability and oversight in Silicon Valley.

Check out the six unexpected moments that Estruth says shaped today's Silicon Valley:

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1. Modern Silicon Valley developed as a result of the infrastructure build-up of World War II.



During World War II and the following years, the classic Cold War research university exploded, according to Estruth. Stanford University and UC Berkeley became part of knowledge creation in geography, chemical weapons, surveillance, and computation.

With the US presence in the Pacific theater of the war, the West Coast became an important center of shipbuilding, transportation of troops and material, and food. People, money, and resources were moving through the area and in university spaces, setting the stage for a tech boom.

Men from other parts of the country moved through the Bay Area for jobs or on their way to fight in Asia, and some of them saw a place they wanted to settle in the future. People stayed or moved after the war, and large quantities of housing were built.

2. After the war, Stanford went through a budget crisis. Leland Stanford Jr. had placed all university land around Palo Alto in trust, meaning it couldn't be sold.

The land could be rented, though, and the administration saw an opportunity to make money by renting university land, often to recent graduates starting businesses or labs. This led to the density of technology companies around Stanford today.

3. The expansion of the San Jose airport in the 1980s made modern Silicon Valley possible. Fears that Japan was out-competing the US made building business ties between the areas crucial, setting the connection between Asia and Silicon Valley in motion.

An airport that had formerly been for small, regional planes was now able to accommodate jumbo jets from Asia, leading to greater exchanges of visitors, knowledge, and investment.

Estruth highlighted this moment as the first time San Jose really took responsibility for the wellbeing of the tech industry, which it would come to be totally tied to.

4. In 1957, the "traitorous eight" men left Shockley Semiconductor lab to form their own company, Fairchild Semiconductor, which became an industry leader and incubator of other companies.

The 8 were, directly and indirectly, involved with a number of important tech companies, like Intel and AMD, which became known as "Fairchildren." Estruth cited this as the moment when a newer, more entrepreneurial generation began taking over Silicon Valley.

5. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's 2018 congressional testimony marked a new era of accountability. He was questioned about Russian interference in the US election, and Cambridge Analytica's access to user data.

Estruth said she was surprised that this hearing took place, and that it might signal a new period of oversight for big tech.

6. Elizabeth Warren's proposals for breaking up big tech could signal a new era for Silicon Valley, with greater oversight and regulation.

Paul Allen's 414-foot superyacht is for sale for $325 million. Take a look at the late Microsoft cofounder's yacht, which has 2 helipads and a glass-bottomed underwater lounge.

Sat, 10/12/2019 - 10:12am

A superyacht that belonged to late Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen has hit the market for 295 million euros, or about $325 million, yacht brokerage Burgess told Business Insider.

The 414-foot yacht, Octopus, has eight decks, an elevator, a cinema, two helipads, and a glass-bottomed underwater observation lounge. Allen reportedly paid about $200 million to have the superyacht built by Lürssen. It was officially launched in 2003.

Allen was known for hosting star-studded parties on his yacht during the Cannes International Film Festival in France. Guests have reportedly included George Lucas, Mick Jagger, Karlie Kloss, and Chloe Sevigny.

The vessel is one of several assets the late billionaire's estate has put up for sale since his death, including a $110 million Beverly Hills property and a MiG-29 fighter jet.

Take a look at Allen's superyacht and the places it's cruised, from Cannes and London to Argentina and Hong Kong.

SEE ALSO: Paul Allen's former Beverly Hills property got a major price cut and is back on the market for $110 million. Take a look at the late Microsoft cofounder's 'Enchanted Hill,' which spans 5 empty lots.

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Paul Allen's superyacht, Octopus, has hit the market for 295 million euros, or about $325 million.

The Microsoft cofounder, who died in October 2018, reportedly paid about $200 million to have the superyacht built by Lürssen.

The 414-foot yacht, which was built in 2003 and refitted in 2019, has some truly lavish amenities spread out over its eight decks.

On its entertainment deck, the yacht has a cinema, gym, spa, and a basketball court. 

It also comes with a glass-bottomed underwater observation lounge and a hyperbaric chamber.

On its dedicated owner's deck, Octopus has a private elevator, a private bar, a hot tub, and an al fresco dining area.

The yacht can sleep up to 26 guests across 13 cabins, as well as 63 crew members in 30 crew cabins.

The superyacht has plenty of room for toys. Octopus comes with two helipads and storage space for seven tenders, two submersibles, and a large SUV.

It comes with a Pagoo, a submarine that can accommodate eight guests and two crew for dives of up to eight hours. 

Octopus is "one of the most well-traveled yachts in the global fleet," according to Burgess.

It's an ideal explorer yacht for those who want to travel to some of the world's most remote locations, according to the yacht brokerage firm. 

The superyacht has been spotted all over the world, from the coast of Turkey ...

... to London, England ...

... to Hong Kong ...

... to southern Argentina.

According to Burgess, the superyacht has also traveled to Antarctica, the Philippines, and traversed the Northwest Passage.

Allen was known for throwing star-studded parties on board Octopus during the Cannes International Film Festival in France.

The exclusive parties had a different elaborate theme each year, from Bollywood to Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream," as Raisa Bruner previously reported for Business Insider.

Guests reportedly included "Rolling Stones" frontman Mick Jagger, model Karlie Kloss, and Hollywood A-listers George Lucas, Mischa Barton, John C. Reilly, and Chloe Sevigny.

At the Bollywood-themed party in 2015, dancers performed musical dance numbers for the guests.

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For the "A Midsummer Night's Dream" party the next year, the yacht was transformed into an enchanted garden.

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Guests were given flower crowns and the vessel was decked out with floral arrangements and illuminated trees.

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While performers were always brought on board, Allen was known to get onstage himself and rock out to some Led Zeppelin.

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Allen's $325 million superyacht is among several sizable assets that have been put up for sale by the late billionaire's estate since his death.

The estate is also selling a $110 million plot of land in Beverly Hills that Allen owned for more than 20 years and his MiG-29 fighter jet.

Wall Street giants Blackstone and Citadel have reportedly held talks about a massive deal to combine their powers

Sat, 10/12/2019 - 10:04am

  • Wall Street giants Blackstone Group and Citadel have reportedly held deal talks. 
  • Blackstone has held discussions to take a stake in the hedge fund itself as well as its securities-trading business, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
  • While a deal isn't certain, it would represent a tie-up of two of the most preeminent names in investing. 

Two of Wall Street's most legendary investment firms have reportedly discussed a deal to combine their powers. 

Private-equity behemoth Blackstone Group has reportedly held talks to take in stake in Citadel, the Chicago-based hedge fund run by billionaire Ken Griffin, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal by Rachael Levy and Liz Hoffman. 

Blackstone, which is helmed by billionaire Steve Schwarzman, has been sizing up an investment in Citadel's flagship fund as well as its separate market-making business, Citadel Securities, according to the report. 

How hefty a price tag Citadel would fetch from Blackstone wasn't immediately clear — Citadel execs reportedly value the hedge fund alone at $5 billion to $7 billion — and the Journal reported that the discussions were "occasionally contentious and not certain to result in a deal."

A Blackstone spokeswoman told WSJ they are not in discussions "at this time," while Citadel spokesman Zia Ahmed said a "number of investors have expressed interest in our management company" over its three-decade long run. 

With $32 billion in assets under management, Citadel is one industry's largest and most successful hedge funds. That's helped Griffin amass a fortune of nearly $13 billion, according to Forbes. 

Blackstone, meanwhile, is the world's largest private-equity firm, with nearly $550 billion in assets under management. Schwarzman's net worth is nearly $17 billion.

Read more at The Wall Street Journal. 

Join the conversation about this story »

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FREE SLIDE DECK: The Future of Fintech

Sat, 10/12/2019 - 10:02am

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

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

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

Join the conversation about this story »

Here's how Tesla's cars stack up against the best of the competition from the world's top automakers (TSLA)

Sat, 10/12/2019 - 9:07am

  • Over the years, I've driven all of Tesla's vehicles: the original Roadster, the Model S, the Model X, and the Model 3.
  • But I've also driven hundreds of other vehicles, many if which represent the best-of-the-best coming from the world's automakers.
  • I thought it would be interesting to see how Tesla's all-electric vehicles stack up against some of the gas-powered competition.
  • Remember, if you want all-electric, you're currently limited to Tesla and just a few other vehicles, most of which don't have luxury or performance credibility.
  • As it turned out, I preferred a BMW 5-Series and a Porsche Cayenne SUV to Tesla's Model S and Model X, but I favored the original Roadster over an Alfa Romeo 4C and the Model 3 over an Audi A4.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. 

In just over 15 years, Tesla has gone from an ambitious idea about electric cars to selling almost 250,000 vehicles a year and challenging the world's top automakers.

That in and of itself is an impressive achievement, but Tesla's vehicles are actually quite good. I've driven them all, and I can vouch for their quality and performance. Sure, they have some quirks, and Tesla has definitely endured some growing pains. But there's no discounting the fact that Tesla is the first successful new American auto brand to emerge in decades.

Still, the traditional auto industry is no slouch — it's game has probably never been better. Over the years, I've driven hundreds of great cars and trucks. So I thought it would be fun to put the Tesla fleet up against some of my favorites from the petrol-burning world.

Here's how it went:

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The Tesla Original Roadster. This was the first Tesla I ever drove, and at the time I was overjoyed. I revisited the car half a decade later and renewed my love for the peppy all-electric spider.

Read my appreciation of the original Roadster.

The original Roadster wasn't an original Tesla design: it was based on a Lotus platform, with Tesla adding the drivetrain, batteries, and software.

The Roadster was instrumental in changing perceptions about EVs, which up to that point had been thought of as glorified golf carts. With range of over 200 miles and a 0-60m ph time of 3.7 seconds, for the more advanced version.

The Roadster is also the first production car to be launched into orbit. Tesla CEO Elon Musk made his personal Roadster, piloted by "Starman," the payload on the 2018 launch of SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket. Production ended in 2012.

The Alfa Romeo 4C. This is the only car that we've driven at Business Insider that really compares with the Tesla Roadster. It's a bonkers little spider, with a snarling mid-mounted engine.

The 4C is practically a race car. In our review, we noted:

The 4C is actually built around a lightweight, high-strength, carbon-fiber cell. In fact, it's the only car with a price tag less than $100,000 to incorporate the pricey technology, which is one of the many attributes of the 4C that make it kind of an oddball. The only other non-supercar to be built around a carbon-fiber tub is the BMW i8 hybrid sports car. The carbon-fiber driver's compartment allowed Alfa Romeo cut off top of the car without compromising its structural rigidity.

According to Alfa, the 2,500-pound 4C is good for a zero-to-60 run in just four seconds and can reach a top speed of 160 mph.

Like the Tesla Roadster, the Alfa 4C has a pretty basic interior. But on balance, our tester was notably more luxurious.

Power for the 4C comes from a 1.7-liter, 237-horsepower, turbocharged inline-four. The tiny motor is incredibly punchy and pairs well with the quick-shifting, six-speed twin-clutch transmission.

The Tesla Model S. The first "clean sheet" design from Fremont was a luxury sedan that captured Motor Trend's Car of the Year award for 2013.

The Model S is now available in Long Range and Performance trims: $80,000 and $100,000, respectively, with 370 or 345 miles of range.

I've driven several different versions of the Model S, ranging from a rear-wheel-drive example to the dual-motor trim, with two types of battery pack: 90 kilowatt hours and 100 kWh.

Read all about one of my Tesla adventures.

The Model S offers well over 200 miles of range, room enough for five passengers, and SUV-like cargo capacity. Of course, being electric, it does require patience when it comes to recharging. But the Performance trim can outrun supercars with a 0-60 mph time that tickles two seconds.

Luckily for Tesla owners, the Model S has access to the electric-car company's extensive Supercharger network. Plug in at one of these stalls and you can be back to a full charge in under an hour.

The BMW 5-Series. The 5-Series dates to the early 1970s; the seventh generation landed in 2017, and I tested the high-performance M5 last year.

"In the grand automotive scheme of things, BMWs aren't supposed to be that cool," I wrote in my review.

"And then you drive something as exquisitely pugnacious and brilliantly assembled as the M5 and you suddenly don't much care about cool anymore."

Like all M cars, the M5 seems glued to the pavement, even when standing still. My tester was $130,000.

Under the hood we find the 4.4-liter, 600-horsepower, twin-turbo V8 making 553 pound-feet of juicy torque. This is a hulking poleaxe of a motor, a masterpiece of menace — a grand mechanism for taking gasoline and transforming it into staggering velocity.

The 0-60 mph dash passes in 2.8 seconds on the way to an electronically limited top speed of 163 mph

The M5's interior combines a hardcore performance vibe with abundant luxury. It's a showcase for getting what you paid for.

The Tesla Model X. We've taken Model Xs on several road trips and have been generally impressed with Tesla's offbeat, feature-packed, road-going sci-fi electric shuttlecraft.

We've tested the highest-spec Model X's available, and we've pegged the price tags at around $150,000. But Tesla is currently selling the vehicle in two trims: Long Range and Performance, for $85,000 and $105,000, respectively.

The Model X offers 325 miles of range in the Long Range trim and 305 miles of range in Performance. For the latter, the 0-60 mph time is a staggering 2.7 seconds.

The Model X was launched in 2015. It's Tesla's most high-tech car. It could be called "Too Tech," as even Musk has admitted they overdid it. The "falcon wing" doors alone threatened to delay the vehicle.

Again, owners of the Model X can use the Supercharger network, but they have to be patient. My kids banned me from anymore Tesla road trips after we took a 700-mile round-trip in the Model X.

Read about my Model X road trip.

The Porsche Cayenne. The Cayenne Turbo I tested a few months ago was all-new and tipped the price scales at $136,000. That's a lot. But can you put a price on perfection?

In my review, I wrote:

The Cayenne is simply good, good, and more good, and the top-level Turbo trim is especially delightful, capable of orchestrating a brutal symphony of horsepower from that magnificent 541-horsepower, twin-turbo V8. But that's just one dimension of performance bliss.

You also have the bracing handling, delivered through an intricate orchestration of mega-tech features, ranging from a rooftop spoiler than can adapt to increased speed to rear-axle steering and electro-hydraulic roll stabilization.

It's my policy to avoid getting too deep in this gearheady stuff (my driving is 90% emotion and 10% engineering). But with the Cayenne Turbo, it definitely adds up to an SUV that drives, as it always has, like a Porsche — but with the vehicle's upgrades, now more like a Porsche than ever.

Porsche has added character lines and a higher overall level of surface flash to the Cayenne, now in its third-generation. The latest Cayenne is about as sleek as it's possible to make the vehicle without sloping the roof so much that the second row becomes uninhabitable.

The 4.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V8 makes 541 horsepower with 568 pound-feet of torque. This Porsche can tow nearly 8,000 pounds, which is staggering. Fuel economy isn't: 15 mpg city/19 highway/17 combined, and that's on premium gas.

The eight-speed automatic pipes the power to the Cayenne Turbo's all-wheel-drive system. There isn't a whiff of turbo lag with this machine, and the transmission can switch to manual if you want to shift gears yourself.

When the gaping maw of the rear liftgate opens, you have about 27 cubic feet of cargo space to work with and roughly double that when the second row of seats is folded down. That's really quite good.

The Tesla Model 3. The Tesla for the people finally arrived in 2017, and I sampled three versions of it through 2018. I eventually spent a week with a Model 3 that was then priced at $57,500.

In my review, I wrote: 

There is no better vehicle of this type at this price that I believe I could currently buy. I literally craved looking at and driving the Model 3. But beyond that, I now count it among the small cadre of vehicles I've driven in my life that I have felt fit me absolutely perfectly and satisfied my every desire.

Basically, I think the Model 3 has more ideas in it than any car on the road. What's impressive is that it's advanced how we think about automobiles.

By the way, Tesla is now selling three versions of the Model 3: the Standard Range Plus single-motor trim at $39,000; the Long Range dual-motor at $48,000; and the Performance dual-motor trim at $56,000.

Range options are 240 or 310 miles, and the shortest 0-60 mph sprint is 3.2 seconds (for the Performance trim).

Arguably, the most striking feature of the Model 3 is its ultra-minimalist interior, with almost all vehicle functions and displays found in the central touchscreen.

Like the Model S, the Model 3 can handle a lot of cargo. The trunk is 15 cubic feet, but there's also a smaller front "frunk."

Yep, Supercharging is available for the Model 3.

The Audi A4. We tested the A4 in 2017 and were blown away. It's Audi's perfect sedan. A brand new A4 sedan starts at a competitive $34,900, while our option-laden test car came with a price tag of $54,275.

Styling-wise, the new A4 is elegantly understated. It's the latest evolution of the modern design language that has come to define the brand in recent years. Audi is now into the fifth generation of the vehicle.

The A4's cabin is a no-holds-barred high-tech masterpiece. The Audi Virtual Cockpit infotainment system is a two-time winner of our Infotainment System of the Year award.

In our review, we also noted the Audi's luxuriousness:

The A4's cabin is as quiet, refined, and plush as one has come to expect from a top-line Audi product. The black leather seats in our test car felt soft to the touch and offered more-than-adequate bolstering for both leisurely jaunts down the highway and dynamic drives on twisty country roads.

Under the hood is a 2.0-liter, 252-horsepower, turbocharged, inline-four-cylinder engine that's shared with the A6, the Q5, and the Porsche Macan. The gutsy motor is truly impressive. It's paired with Audi's 7-speed S-tronic twin-clutch transmission and Audi's legendary Quattro all-wheel-drive system.

According to Audi, the Quattro-equipped A4 is capable of sprinting to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds and can reach an electronically limited top speed of 130 mph.

Now for the verdicts! Tesla Roadster vs. Alfa Romeo 4C: It's the Roadster!

The Alfa 4C might have go-kart handling and the personality of a Jack Russell terrier that's consumed a case of Red Bull, and it might in many ways be a budget Ferrari, but I just love the dang Tesla Roadster. It started a revolution, after all.

Tesla Model S vs. BMW 5-Series: It's the BMW 5-Series!

The Model S is important in that it proved Tesla could go it alone and create a fantastic car. The Model S has also been the platform that's introduced everything from Ludicrous Mode acceleration to Autopilot semi-self-driving. At full song, the Performance S can outrun supercars.

But the M5 is a never-subtle reminder that the Germans know how to build a hell of sport sedan. It continues to command respect.

Tesla Model X vs. Porsche Cayenne: It's the Porsche Cayenne!

Let's keep it simple: the Porsche Cayenne is still the best SUV built by human hands on planet Earth.

Tesla Model 3 vs. Audi A4: It's the Model 3!

The A4 might be the best car Audi has ever built, but as I wrote of the Model 3 after my week-long test:

The Model 3 impresses on all fronts.

It can blast to 60 mph in five seconds, it can drive itself under some conditions, and it has a five-star safety rating from the government. What's more, it's a California-made, all-electric car from the first new American car company in decades.

But the truly astounding thing is that Tesla, in only about five years of seriously manufacturing automobiles, could build a car this good. That's a staggering achievement.

Wait, did I say good? I meant great.

Hold on, did I say great? Sorry, I meant greatest.

Say hello to the best car that money can currently buy.

Baby boomers are the most prosperous generation in history. Here are 10 stocks millennials can buy to get in on the action, according to Bank of America.

Sat, 10/12/2019 - 8:05am

  • Bank of America published an updated list of thematic stock picks. One of the themes is companies with high exposure to baby boomers. 
  • The report breaks down companies by their exposure to young consumers through sub-sectors ranging from residential aged care to wealth management.
  • Here are the top stocks per sector that Bank of America recommends for exposure to older consumers. 
  • Read more on Business Insider.

For investors looking to cash in on the "silver wave," Bank of America Merrill Lynch has a comprehensive list of stocks with high exposure to baby boomers. 

The bank recently published an updated list of picks for companies exposed to boomers, as a part of a quarterly update to BAML's "Primer Picks" list, which saw it add 63 companies in total.

Baby boomers are currently the largest living adult generation in the US, with millennials closely behind, according to Pew Research. And, even if millennials do edge out boomers in size, they're unlikely to edge them out in spending power — Boomers' wealth is 12 times greater than millennials

That's a compelling reason to get behind companies with high exposure to boomers, and the report breaks down companies by their exposure level in different sub-sectors. The sub-sectors range from wealth and asset management to senior living and healthcare.

The goal is to illuminate "a diverse range of verticals for investors wishing to access the theme," Haim Israel, an equity strategist at BAML, wrote of the list.  

Read more: Nobel laureate Robert Shiller forewarned investors about the dot-com and housing bubbles. Now he tells us which irrational market behaviors have him most worried.

In order to be highly exposed to the boomer theme, the company must have boomer-related products, technologies, services, and solutions that are core to the business model, strategy, and research and development of the company, according to the report. In addition, the products must move material sales, drive growth, or be a pure play. 

There are also a number of stocks that are "Primer Picks." To be included as a Bank of America Primer Pick, the stock must have a high or medium exposure to the relevant theme. It must also be covered by a Bank of America Global Research fundamental analysts and have a "buy" rating when the quarterly update is published.

Here are the top boomer-exposed stocks in each of the 10 sub-sectors tracked by BAML:

Chemed (Residential Aged Care)

Ticker: CHE

Boomer Sub-sector: Residential Aged Care

Market Capitalization: $7.28 billion 

Primer Pick: Yes

Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Welltower (Healthcare REITs)

Ticker: WELL

Boomer Sub-sector: Healthcare REITs

Market Capitalization: $36.2 billion 

Primer Pick: No

Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Brookdale (Senior Living)

Ticker: BKD

Boomer Sub-sector: Senior Living 

Market Capitalization: $1.4 billion

Primer Pick: No

Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Acadia Pharmaceuticals (Biotechnology)

Ticker: ACAD

Boomer Sub-sector: Biotechnology 

Market Capitalization: $4.49 billion 

Primer Pick: Yes

Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch

United Health Group (Managed Care)

Ticker: UNH

Boomer Sub-sector: Managed Care

Market Capitalization: $225 billion 

Primer Pick: Yes

Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Cerner (Health Tech)

Ticker: CERN

Boomer Sub-sector: Health Tech

Market Capitalization: $23.5 billion

Primer Pick: Yes

Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Service Corp. (Consumer — Death Care)

Ticker: SCI

Boomer Sub-sector: Consumer - Death Care

Market Capitalization: $8.8 billion 

Primer Pick: Yes

Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Royal Caribbean (Consumer — Travel)

Ticker: RCL

Boomer Sub-sector: Consumer - Travel 

Market Capitalization: $23.4 billion 

Primer Pick: No

Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch

UBS (Wealth Management)

Ticker: UBS

Boomer Sub-sector: Wealth Management 

Market Capitalization: $42.4 billion 

Primer Pick: Yes 

Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Principal Financial (Insurance)

Ticker: PFG

Boomer Sub-sector: Insurance 

Market Capitalization: $16.7 billion 

Primer Pick: No

Source: Bank of America Merrill Lynch

Contactless tap-and-go cards are finally rolling out in the US. Mastercard, Amex, and Visa execs told us why it took so long.

Sat, 10/12/2019 - 8:00am

  • The US has consistently lagged other markets in adopting new credit card tech.
  • We reached out to execs at Visa, Mastercard, and American Express to understand what's behind the US lag, and whether it was possible for the US to skip full contactless card adoption and go all-in on digital wallets. 
  • "You're going to have a certain swath of the industry that's going to adopt mobile, but it's not for everybody," said Dan Sanford, global head of contactless payments at Visa.
  • The US contactless environment will likely feature both tap-to-pay cards and digital wallets in the coming years.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

Will the US leapfrog contactless card adoption and go straight to digital wallets?

That's a question that was raised by moderator William Hernandez, a fintech reporter for American Banker, on a recent panel discussion at the FinovateFall 2019 conference in New York.

It seems a fair question. The US has consistently lagged other markets like Europe and Australia in adopting new card tech. For instance, the UK fully adopted EMV chip technology in 2006, and advanced to contactless tap tech by 2014, when the London Underground started accepting contactless fare payments in turnstiles. 

The US was still using magnetic stripe  ("magstripe," in industry lingo) cards back in 2014, but high-profile breaches at retailers and pressures from card networks finally drove adoption of EMV chips in 2015 — meaning consumers had to become accustomed to inserting cards into chip readers, instead of swiping. 

Now, the UK and other markets like Australia and Canada have mature contactless tap environments.

But in the US, contactless cards still haven't really caught on. And 80% of the first million taps of the New York MTA's contactless subway fare pilot were done with mobile wallets, not cards.

That's why some are wondering if it's possible card issuers in the US will focus on digital wallets as their contactless strategy, and prioritize that over the entire process of (and costs related to) issuing contactless cards, influencing merchants to enable point-of-sale card readers, and shifting consumer behavior toward tap-to-pay.

We spoke with execs at Mastercard, American Express, and Visa to understand what we can expect for contactless tap, and get a better idea of why it's taken so long for the US to catch up to other markets. The US contactless environment will likely feature both tap-to-pay cards and digital wallets in the coming years.

Read more: We went to Mastercard's tech showcase, which featured biometric sensors and shrimp-tracking blockchain. It's part of a push to embrace a future without cards.

Switch to chip

European markets transitioned from magstripe to EMV chips starting in the early 2000s. It was more or less a cost-driven decision, given the high telecommunication costs associated with the magstripe payment authentications that have to happen online.

EMV chip transactions create unique codes that are validated at the point of sale, instead of having to confirm each transaction online.

The US, by comparison, wasn't facing the same telecom costs. Given the size of the market and sheer number of magstripe cards and readers, there was little incentive for card issuers to upgrade to EMV chip. 

"The U.S. is a complex and layered payments market, and large-scale adoption of any new technology takes time and participation across the industry," Liz Karl, vice president of payments consulting at American Express, told Business Insider in emailed comments. 

A transition from magstripe to EMV chip cards would require costly hardware updates at merchant checkouts. For payers, a behavior change from swiping to inserting a chip would complicate checkouts. 

"We were behind on all of it partly because we could never get a business case on chip cards," said Zachary Aron, US banking & capital markets payments leader at Deloitte Consulting. "It was a solution looking for a problem, and no one found the problem." 

That is, until Target and Home Depot had high-profile data breaches in 2013 and 2014, respectively. In both instances, hackers obtained customers' static data stored on magstripe cards. 

"When [the US] was moving to EMV, it was driven by a lot of the data compromises," said Dan Sanford, global head of contactless payments at Visa. "We were getting a lot of inquiries from policymakers in D.C.," Sanford said. So in 2014, chip cards entered the US market

It wasn't until 2015 that the EMV chips really caught on. Following the high-profile data breaches and subsequent pressure from regulators, the EMV card networks rolled out a liability shift policy in the US that went into effect October 2015. EMV - which stands for "Europay, Mastercard, Visa" - is a standards body that counts several major US credit card networks as members.

The policy basically said that in a chip-enabled market, any fraud traced to the point-of-sale would be a liability to the least secure party. For example, if a merchant did not have an EMV chip enabled reader but the customer did actually have a chip card that was swiped, any fraud on the transaction would be the merchant's responsibility.

"The liability shift created a natural motivation for each of the players to make a move," said Linda Kirkpatrick, EVP of US merchants and acceptance at Mastercard. Both merchants and card issuers were now incentivized to upgrade points-of-sale and issue EMV chip cards to their customers.

However, issuers did not send out dual-interface (meaning both chip and contactless-enabled) cards to customers at that point.

"There has to be some motivation for issuers to take on the incremental cost," said Kirkpatrick. At the time, there simply wasn't any consumer demand for contactless tap in the US.

"I think they wanted to wait and see if there was a consumer imperative, and now there is," she said.

There was something else happening in 2014 — that's when Apple Pay launched. Given the hype over mobile payments and the prohibitive costs of issuing a dual-interface card, mobile payments became the card issuers' contactless strategy, said Sanford.

Same challenges 

"Mobile really hasn't taken off in the US, and we've created the same challenges in the US point-of-sale environment around introducing friction with EMV," said Visa's Sanford.

So the likelihood of all US consumers adopting mobile wallets as their primary way to pay is low.

"We realized that to really move the market in the US, we needed to migrate toward contactless cards, that it couldn't be a contact chip and mobile-only strategy, because you're going to have a certain swath of the industry that's going to adopt mobile, but it's not for everybody," Sanford said.

As of July 2019, all new American Express consumer and small business cards being issued were contactless-enabled (and new corporate cards were contactless as of October 2019). Existing cards will be upgraded in natural cycles, unless specifically requested by customers.

"Whether by card or digital wallet, we believe contactless as a payment option is quick, convenient, and secure," said Karl. 

Read more: Apple Pay adoption is lagging in the US — but Apple Card could change this

Commuters and their coffee

Similar to London, public transit is a strong consumer use case that may be the driver behind contactless tap adoption in the US.

"There really isn't any other use case, other than maybe heavy caffeine users, where consumers are using their Visa cards one or two or even three or four times in a given day like they are in places in New York with the MTA," said Sanford.

In May of this year, New York City's MTA launched its public pilot of OMNY (One Metro New York) on the 4/5/6 subway line. OMNY is a contactless fare payment system, accepting both mobile digital wallets and contactless-enabled cards.

In the first few months of the OMNY launch, the MTA reported 80% of taps came from digital wallets, as opposed to contactless cards. 

"If you're comparing the two right now, mobile adoption is further along because it's more mature than where we are in terms of card issuance," Sanford said, in regards to these results.

"Nine million commuters every day are now experiencing the incredible user interface at the turnstile, where they can simply tap a card and go through," said Mastercard's Kirkpatrick. "That's created a ton of buzz in the industry, and really created the imperative for consumers to want a card that has contactless capability."

Read more: New York City's contactless transit payment system hit 1 million transactions in its first 10 weeks

Visa expects to see 100 million contactless-enabled cards by the end of 2019, and 300 million in circulation by the end of 2020. Sanford thinks that in a few years, the US will look a lot like other markets ahead of the US. 

"Much of that is going to happen across different demographics. Certain consumers will select and be heavy mobile users, and the other will be more comfortable using their card," Sanford said.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Violent video games are played all over the world, but mass shootings are a uniquely American problem

Silicon Valley's founder-led startups have lost their shine with IPO investors. But the obsession with direct listings won't fix the bigger problem.

Sat, 10/12/2019 - 8:00am

With his long hair, proclivity for walking around barefoot and reputation for partying, WeWork founder Adam Neumann could have been straight out of central casting for a fictional "tech CEO" in a movie. 

That over-the-top persona is also what made Neumann a liability for WeWork in the eyes of straight-laced, conservative IPO investors. Neumann never had the chance to meet, or spook, investors in a pre-IPO roadshow for WeWork— he was ousted from the CEO job the week the roadshow was supposed to kick off, and the IPO was subsequently shelved.

WeWork's cancelled IPO is now at the center of a broader Silicon Valley reckoning, as venture capital investors and others obsess over an IPO alternative called a "direct listing." The direct listing has been framed as a way for tech startups to list their shares without being beholden to an outdated process created by Wall Street bankers and designed to benefit their clients. 

But direct listings are still a new, relatively untested concept that may not provide the all-around salvation some expect. And while venture capital investors bash an IPO system they say is broken, their sudden zeal for direct listings is, in at least one major sense, the result of a problem they created themselves.

The "founder friendly" movement in which VC investors deferred to startup founders, no matter how quirky or extravagant, has produced a crop of richly-valued companies with unconventional executives in the top job. And as many of these companies now look to go public, they're finding that an offbeat founder CEO is not always a selling point during a roadshow.

A direct listing provides a convenient way to skip that conversation.

"When you do a direct listing, you don't have to put them up there," said one VC firm founder about inexperienced or unpolished management teams. "There's a negative side that the VCs see, but they can hide it behind the direct listings," he said.

In a direct listing, a company simply lists its shares on a public exchange and the stock begins trading. There's no banks underwriting the offering, setting a price and selling it to institutional shareholders, as happens in an IPO. And while insiders, like VC investors and early employees, can sell shares right away in a direct listing, the company itself does not raise any capital.

Lise Buyer, the founder of IPO advisory firm Class V Group, describes direct listings as an interesting alternative to IPOs that will work for certain companies but that's currently wrapped in a lot of hype: "It's the new shiny object that is aggressively and brilliantly marketed."

"Ride the positive narrative" and avoid the hedge fund questions

For now, direct listings exist more in the realm of theoretical and wishful thinking than reality. To date, only two companies — Spotify and Slack — have opted to go public this way. 

But according to a recent Bloomberg report, Airbnb, the home-sharing service valued at $31 billion, is leaning towards a direct listing instead of an IPO when it goes public in 2020.

That could help the company avoid uncomfortable questions about its management team's qualifications. Brian Chesky, the cofounder of Airbnb who serves as CEO, has a background in industrial design and has never held a high-level role at any other company. Although Chesky has grown Airbnb into a juggernaut, his public company experience, and lack of the traditional engineering or business background, would likely get a hard look during an IPO roadshow, the founder of the investing firm speculated. 

"You could make a case for companies to just ride the positive narrative and just go out there with a direct listing because you don't want to answer all these extremely scrutinizing questions from some hedge fund guys," said Synovus Trust Company portfolio manager Dan Morgan about startups with novice or quirky CEOs.

In years past, a seasoned executive might have been brought on to take the reins as the startup neared its IPO. But with founders now revered, and in some cases calling the shots thank to special supervoting shares, many of the most valuable startups are helmed by founders who may or may not have the chops to run a public company.

"A CEO/Founder with a quirky personality would be fine to do a direct listing and avoid all the scrutiny of a road show," Morgan said.

Still, he stressed, everything changes after company's first earnings call as a publicly traded organization. And in the case of WeWork, he believes that even a direct listing wouldn't have saved it from a brutal reception in the public markets: "The model was not sound as there appeared to be no roadmap to profitability."

The times have changed and IPO "needs innovation"

Of course, plenty of unorthodox founders have made it through the roadshow process and gone on to lead successful publicly-traded companies. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg famously caused a stir by wearing a hoodie to the pre-IPO investor roadshow. Seven years later, the stock is up 374% and Facebook is worth $514 billion.

And the two companies that have recently gone public through direct listings were not trying to hide unpolished or inexperienced CEOs from criticism. Slack founder and CEO Stewart Butterfield is one of the tech industry's most respected, serial entrepreneurs, with a track record that includes creating photo sharing site Flickr and selling it to Yahoo for $20 million in 2005.

Slack had an optimal business model and enough brand recognition to pull off a direct listing in June, said Jyoti Bansal, a startup founder and tech investor who is a big believer in the potential of direct listings.

Bansal attended a special, invite-only summit earlier this month devoted to the merits of direct listings. The event took place in San Francisco and was organized by several VC firms in the wake of the disappointing Uber and Peloton IPOs, and the WeWork implosion.

"The way the IPO is done today is almost like a 25-year-old concept. It just needs innovation" said Bansal, who is the cofounder and CEO of enterprise startup Harness and cofounder of venture firm Unusual Ventures.

"Twenty-five years ago the primary purpose of IPO was that people didn't have access to growth capital, so you had to go to public markets to get growth capital. Now, everyone has it," he said.

Class V's Buyer says the notion that direct listings are a cheaper and more democratic process than traditional IPOs is partially true. Since the company isn't raising funds, it doesn't need to work with a traditional underwriter and thus does not need to pay the associated fees. Still, she noted that a company must pay some banker fees, register with regulatory bodies like the SEC, and participate in an audit, all of which are costly undertakings.

Spotify paid $32 million in fees for its 2018 direct listing, according to Inc, compared to the $102 million that Uber paid in its traditional IPO.

No lock-up is a big benefit — for some

Clearing the path to a liquidity event is critical for VCs who have sunk tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars into startups.

Buyer also noted that direct listings — which allow employees to sell all their vested shares right away, without the traditional several month "lock up" period of an IPO — could incentivize valuable employees to cash out and jump ship.

"I don't think it helps with [employee] retention. It actually is perhaps the opposite," Buyer said of direct listings.

And for recently-hired employees with unvested stock, a direct listing can leave them at a disadvantage if the stock sinks.

In the case of both Slack and Spotify, the companies achieved peak share prices in the first weeks or months of trading, and have only lost value since. That means early investors were able to cash out at near-peak pricing while employees with unvested stock and retail investors were left holding shares that were only becoming less valuable.

"Those who sold on Day One at Slack got a better price than those that sell today," said Buyer.

SEE ALSO: This is going to be a record year for $100 million-plus startup investment deals — and it has the unexpected side effect of forcing startups to grow up way faster

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: This company turns shredded plastic and clothing into new bottles for Pepsi, Evian, and Coca-Cola

Inside WeWork's troubled Lord & Taylor building, Meet the rising stars of Wall Street

Sat, 10/12/2019 - 7:26am


Hi readers,

One of my favorite stories from the team this week was this tale by Dakin Campbell and Meghan Morris about the Lord & Taylor building in midtown Manhattan which has become a massive, $850 million headache for WeWork.

While the property was supposed to be the site of WeWork's new global headquarters when it was purchased in 2017, it's instead become a symbol of the coworking company's grand ambitions gone unchecked.

The landmark property is still under construction, but as WeWork slashes thousands of jobs — eliminating the need for a new headquarters — and faces a difficult financial future after shelving its IPO, the building's fate is in doubt.

Amazon had reportedly been in talks to take over part of WeWork's lease, but those discussions now appear to be on ice.

As one source told the New York Post, the Lord & Taylor building has "become the real bloodsucker at WeWork." Considering all the troubles going on at the co-working company right now, that's saying a lot. It will be interesting to continue to watch the impact of WeWork on the New York real estate market. In NYC and London, WeWork is the largest private sector office tenant. What would it mean for the city's commercial real estate market if WeWork were to go away? 

Readers, would love to hear your thoughts! 

Have a great weekend! 


We talked to 24 people about the hedge-fund wunderkind at Elliott who wants to shake up AT&T. Here's why management should be terrified.

The latest campaign for the Wall Street hedge fund Elliott Management is a big one, taking on the well-known American staple AT&T.

The man in charge of pushing the massive company to make the changes the $38 billion fund sees fit is 39-year-old Jesse Cohn, the billionaire Paul Singer's right-hand man. 

Other than Singer himself, Cohn is the person most responsible for the transformation of Elliott from a distressed-situations specialist to the sprawling institutional behemoth it is today, with a separate private-equity arm and billions ready to be deployed for a new activist campaign.

Cohn's tactics have included shrewdness and aggression in the 100-plus campaigns the Long Island, New York, native has run for Singer. Business Insider talked to more than two dozen of his colleagues, competitors, detractors, and friends, who said Elliott's rise mimicked Cohn's own personal rise in the firm and in corporate America.


BlueMountain is shuttering its flagship hedge fund, and cofounder Stephen Siderow is leaving. The struggling firm will be almost entirely out of the hedge-fund game.

BlueMountain is winding down its 16-year-old flagship fund, the $2.5 billion BlueMountain Credit Alternatives Fund, to focus on its collateralized-loan-obligations business for its new corporate owner, Assured Guaranty. 

BlueMountain cofounder Stephen Siderow will also leave the firm at the end of the year, the firm said in a statement. 

The manager, which just a year ago was running several different hedge-fund strategies, has pulled back from the space in just 10 months.


JPMorgan has a complex relationship with WeWork. Here's a sneak peak at what Wall Street analysts will be asking when it reports earnings.

Earnings season for big banks kicks off next Tuesday, with JPMorgan among the firms turning in third-quarter results.  

JPMorgan has worked with WeWork and its co-founder Adam Neumann in several capacities, including would-be lead underwriter on a recently failed IPO. 

No analysts we talked to called out specific expectations for JPMorgan writedowns on WeWork. Some said questions about the IPO are expected given its high profile. 

WeWork-related topics that could draw attention include JPMorgan's lending situation with the company, and how it's valuing WeWork investments. Other issues like rate cuts and net interest income are also in the spotlight. . 


Meet 2019's Rising Stars of Wall Street shaking up investing, trading, and dealmaking

Meet the 2019 class of Wall Street's rising stars. From starting a hedge fund before age 30 to running their own alternative-data shops and helping lead $27 billion investments, this group of young finance leaders is in a league of its own. 

We've included people with a variety of roles and experiences from companies including Apollo Global Management, Blackstone, Goldman Sachs, BlackRock, and the New York Stock Exchange. Here's our list of the next crop of Wall Street leaders.


We're starting to get a sense of the damage WeWork has wrought on Wall Street, and it could cost Goldman Sachs $264 million

Morgan Stanley analysts said in a recent note they are now 'baking in' Goldman Sachs taking a $264 million writedown on its WeWork investment in its third-quarter earnings.

Jefferies said in September that it wrote down $146 million related to its WeWork stake, citing uncertainty around timing and pricing of the co-working company's IPO. 

"We think it is possible that some of the banks we cover may also take similar writedowns," Morgan Stanley analyst Betsy Graseck said in a note to clients.


In markets:

In tech news:

Other good stories from around the newsroom:

Join the conversation about this story »

The WeWork fiasco is making employees wonder if their shares have been set on fire. We talked to experts who said most tech startup workers are in the dark about how much their equity is worth.

Sat, 10/12/2019 - 7:00am

  • WeWork has indefinitely postponed its IPO, and according to media reports may run out of cash by next month.
  • If the company still eventually goes public, but at a lower valuation than previously expected, it will pay back its preferred shareholders first, leaving close to nothing for employees.
  • In the event of a bankruptcy and liquidation, employees also get paid last.
  • Employees at other tech startups may be starting to question their decisions.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

"It's great to be part of a high-flying company. Until it's not."

That's according to venture capitalist Greg Robinson. As managing director at 4490 Ventures in Wisconsin, Robinson has seen too many ambitious professionals join fledgling tech startups, dazzled by the prospect of making it big when the company eventually goes public or gets acquired at a billion-dollar-plus valuation.

Many startup employees, especially early hires, are given equity grants to compensate for relatively low salaries. In a liquidation event (like an IPO or an acquisition), those employees have the chance to exercise their options, snagging a piece of that billion-dollar price.

Read more: The first-time founder's ultimate guide to understanding stock options

Unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way.

Even startups that promise — and seem well-positioned — to become the next Google or Amazon may find their potential was overhyped, after all. And rank-and-file employees, who may have spent years building the business from scratch when they could have been raking it in at a more established organization, can be left in the dust.

WeWork is a prime example of this scenario.

To give a brief rundown of the company's financial situation: In August 2019, WeWork publicly filed paperwork detailing its intent to go public. The company had raised $12.8 billion and was valued at $47 billion by Softbank, its largest shareholder.

But in September, Softbank pushed the company to table the IPO, and WeWork was considering going public at a mere $10 billion valuation, according to media reports. By mid-September, media reports said it had delayed its IPO until at least October.

Meanwhile, cofounder and CEO Adam Neumann was ousted, replaced by two co-CEOs, who began selling off some of WeWork's assets and shelved the IPO indefinitely. By October, Bloomberg reported that WeWork was discussing a $5 billion credit line with lenders led by JPMorgan. Otherwise, the company could run out of cash by November.

For WeWork employees who hold equity in the company, the situation is looking increasingly dire. Business Insider reached out to We for comment and did not hear back by Friday evening.

Preferred shareholders get their money out first — and there may not be anything left for employees

Say WeWork does eventually IPO at a valuation of $10 billion. That's less than the amount of capital that the company has raised, and the first thing WeWork would have to do is pay back its preferred shareholders.

"Preferred shares" is a broad term that simply means shareholders have a different set of rights than common shareholders, which typically include founders and other employees. The vast majority of venture deals involve preferred shares.

Read more: The first-time founder's ultimate guide to navigating a term sheet and avoiding common pitfalls — with a sample from a major VC

Late-stage investors (like investors in a Series D or E round) often request preferred shares as a form of protection in a downside scenario. For example, if the company goes public at a lower valuation than expected, preferred investors will get their money out first.

One common way investors protect themselves in a downside scenario is by using a ratchet mechanism. If the company goes public at a valuation lower than the agreed-upon valuation, the company must issue their preferred shareholders additional shares so those investors don't lose money.

Ratchet mechanisms have become increasingly common in venture deals. According to the law firm Fenwick and West LLP, the rate of technology IPOs that triggered ratchet mechanisms increased from 4% in 2014 to 50% in 2015. (The sample size was 14 companies in 2015 and 27 companies in 2014.)

This increase is likely a result of companies waiting longer to go public, and raising huge amounts of capital in the meantime, Robinson said. It's a way for those companies to "sweeten the deal" for investors, he added. In order to hit a unicorn (or billion-dollar) valuation, which is often viewed as a proxy for a company's success, the company agrees to let investors get their money out first.

Ratcheting is especially common among companies with an unproven business model that are burning through cash quickly, said Steve Sutter, chief financial officer at the software company Egnyte.

According to WeWork's S-1 filing, WeWork's parent company, We, posted a loss of $690 million on $1.5 billion in revenue in the first six months of 2019.

WeWork had a partial ratchet mechanism in its deal with Softbank, its S-1 shows (on page F-115). In fact, in a blog post, the IPO research firm Renaissance Capital projected that if WeWork went public at a market cap of less than $14.5 billion after an IPO, that could result in the world's largest IPO ratchet. Softbank shareholders would be issued more than $400 million worth of additional shares.

In the event of a bankruptcy and liquidation, employees with equity would get paid last

In the event of bankruptcy and liquidation (meaning the business cannot be reorganized and must sell its assets to pay back creditors), employee equity gets paid last.

According to Adam Augusiak-Boro, a senior research associate at secondary-market platform EquityZen, bankruptcy professionals like lawyers, bankers, and consultants typically get paid first. Creditors get paid next, followed by preferred equity holders, and then common.

"In a true liquidation," Augusiak-Boro wrote in an email to Business Insider, "I would imagine the equity gets $0, as all of the creditors will likely eat up all the value of the business." That said, he added, there are many ways to restructure a business that don't involve bankruptcy or liquidation.

Read more: Founders and investors whose startups died reveal the traps that killed their companies — and what you can do to avoid them

For example, Augusiak-Boro said, "WeWork can sell off assets that are non-performing or may not make sense for WeWork's business, and then use those proceeds to pay down debt or fund growth." The result might be a glimmer of hope for employees.

Augusiak-Boro added, "If the asset sales are successful — meaning unproductive assets are converted into cash for either delivering the balance sheet or funding growth of WeWork — the equity value may increase."

Even savvy employees might not know what to ask about their equity grants

The real problem with preferred shares, according to Robinson, is that "these deals are not always communicated perfectly" to everyone in the company — namely, employees.

Generally speaking, Sutter said, investors have more access to financial information about the company than its employees do. And while most employees at tech startups aren't naive, Sutter said, "people get caught up in the emotion of an exciting new technology or business and don't necessarily ask the right questions."

Read more: The first-time founder's ultimate guide to hiring top talent, from a Greylock partner, a former Googler, and a consultant to Spotify and JPMorgan

Robinson agreed. Private money can be hard for rank-and-file employees — even savvy employees — to understand, he said. Specifically, they might not know the order in which money is paid in a downside scenario.

When employees hear that the business is now worth half of its previous valuation, for example, they might be "distraught," Robinson said, because they assume that the value of their equity is cut in half, too. What employees might not know is that all of the money the company raised goes back to preferred investors — potentially leaving employees with nothing. "That fuels a notion of, 'I got screwed,'" Robinson said.

Still, employees at WeWork — or at any other high-profile tech startup — may get some money if the company goes public at a relatively low valuation.

According to Augusiak-Boro, the earliest hires have the lowest strike price (the price at which they can exercise their options), so their shares may still be worth something. And after the company goes public, employees may choose to hold onto their shares, in the event that the stock price increases.

Founders should be able to prove to job candidates that their business model is sustainable

In the wake of WeWork's downward spiral (plus other recent tech IPO disappointments including Peloton, Uber, Lyft, and Slack), Robinson anticipates that current employees at tech startups are going to think more carefully about where they're working.

These people are going to start wondering, Robinson said: What's similar between my company and WeWork? What does it mean to raise a lot of money and have a high valuation? Does it reflect the company's potential?

For aspiring tech startup employees, the takeaway is simple.

"Buyer beware," Sutter said. Too often, Sutter added, employees think the company founders and management are smarter than they are.

But if they can't prove to you that their business model is sustainable — specifically, that this company is going to make money — it could be a red flag. "If they can't break the business model into some pretty simple axioms," Sutter said, "you potentially have a problem. It shouldn't be that complicated."

SEE ALSO: Investors and founders reveal how to know if venture capital is the best way to fund your startup, and what paths to take if it clearly isn't

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Phil Libin is refocusing his startup incubator from AI to health tech because there's no need to 'shove' artificial intelligence into everything

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 5:40pm

  • All Turtles, an incubator launched and run by Evernote cofounder Phil Libin, has shifted its focus.
  • Libin launched it with the idea that it would foster applications and products based on artificial intelligence.
  • Now, All Turtles' focus is on developing products that help improve the health of individuals or workplaces.
  • Libin still thinks AI will be important for most of the products the company develops — just not all of them.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

It's well known that startups quite often have to make a pivot — tweaking their business models or even completely revamping their whole market theses.

It turns out that startup incubators sometimes have to shift their focus also.

In the case of All Turtles, its pivot has been somewhat subtle, but still significant. Phil Libin, the company's CEO and founder, has shifted the focus of the incubator from fostering artificial intelligence applications and products to developing apps that improve people's health.

"We were always focused on solving what we thought were worthwhile problems, and the more we started looking at things, the more we realized that there's this common thread running through a lot of the problems in the world," he said. "The way that we live is maladapted," he continued. "It's not how we evolved to live."

All Turtles isn't abandoning artificial intelligence, by any means. One of the first applications to come out of its studio — Spot — is an AI-based chatbot that designed to make it easier for those who have experienced workplace harassment or discrimination to report what happened to them.

Read this: How an academic specialist in human memory created a chat app that's helping companies fight harassment and discrimination

Similarly, it's backed and is working with a startup called Tellus that's developing a device that's designed to monitor the vital signs and activities of elderly people using precision radar. Tellus' service relies on AI to make sense of the data coming from its radar-based sensor and to highlight notable changes.

All Turtles ditched a planned AI editor for its Sift app

But Libin is also open to having All Turtles work on projects that don't include any kind of AI at all. Last fall, for example, the company launched Sift, an app designed to provide users a deeper understanding of issues in the news without making them feel stressed or overwhelmed. The app covers topics including immigration, gun rights, and healthcare and offers a nonpartisan perspective with historical background and data to help explain the policy debate over such issues.

Originally, All Turtle planned to use AI to serve as a kind of editor for Sift. It would determine which topics were the most contentious, do some initial research on them, and even assign reporters to follow up and put together modules about them. But Libin and his team quickly realized that the AI was unnecessary.

"Humans are perfectly capable of knowing what people are yelling at each other about," he said. "It just felt better as a hand-crafted thing."

Libin insists the thesis he had when he launched All Turtles hasn't really changed. That assumption was that there are real problems in the world that haven't been solvable in the past that can now be solved because something is fundamentally different. Previously, his assumption was that the thing that was fundamentally different was going to be artificial intelligence or technology more broadly.

He still thinks that's going to be true most of the time. But he's open to the idea that some problems may now be solvable for reasons other than technology.

"Our goal is not to shove AI into things. Our goal is to make make products that make people healthier," he said. "I think a lot of them will benefit significantly from AI, but if they don't, they don't."

Changes other than just technological ones offer opportunities

Sift, for instance, is trying to address the problem of people feeling anxious and outraged and stressed out by the news. What's changed — what's created an opportunity for Sift —is the concern being raised by people such as former Google engineer Tristan Harris about how Internet services are stoking that outrage and how harmful that constant agitation can be to a democratic society that depends on informed citizens who can engage in reasoned, rational discussion, Libin said.

Similarly, while Spot depends on AI, it's also benefitted from the spotlight that's been placed on sexual harassment in the workplace by the MeToo movement and the massive employee walkout at Google last year.

"If you were doing something to combat workplace harassment and discrimination a few years ago, I think most companies would have said, 'We don't have that problem.' Now no one says that," Libin said.

"So, it's a combination of the technology getting better, but also the problem becoming much more obvious and acknowledged."

Even if All Turtles focus has shifted a bit, it's strategy hasn't. Libin is building out a global incubator; the company already has offices in Paris and Tokyo. It plans to open an office in Mexico City and other places around the world, although it's pushed back further expansion from this year until next.

Libin still believes in All Turtles' model

Libin also still believes in and is building All Turtles around another part of his thesis — that the way that technology and innovation is being fostered is fundamentally broken. Instead of focusing exclusively on using startups as the sole vehicles to develop technologies, All Turtles has taken a more eclectic approach.

In some cases it does back startups or develops technologies that will be spun off as separate companies. In other cases, it partners with existing companies to work on new products together. In still other cases, it develops technologies in-house that it plans to keep and offer as its own products.

"This idea that you can only innovate in startups is just a dumb idea," Libin said.

His only frustration with that thesis and All Turtles' model is that he keeps having to explain them to potential funders.

"Anytime you're explaining the model, you're not talking about the right thing," Libin said. "I am anxious to be at the point," he continued, "where no one cares about that anymore."

Got a tip about venture capital or startups? Contact this reporter via email at, message him on Twitter @troywolv, or send him a secure message through Signal at 415.515.5594. You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.

SEE ALSO: This tech VC is based in Singapore, not Silicon Valley. And the startups she's seeing are solving problems Silicon Valley isn't even aware of.

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Mukesh Ambani is India's richest man for the 12th year in a row. Meet the Ambanis, Asia's wealthiest family, who live in a $1 billion skyscraper and mingle with royals and Bollywood stars.

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 5:34pm

The richest family in Asia is an Indian family that made headlines in 2018 for throwing one of the most lavish wedding celebrations in recent memory, which included a private Beyoncé concert and celebrity guests including Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas, Hillary Clinton, and Arianna Huffington.

The Ambani family is behind the oil-to-telecom conglomerate Reliance Industries. The company's chairman and largest shareholder is Mukesh Ambani, the richest man in Asia, who is worth an estimated $51.4 billion, according to Forbes.

That makes him the 15th-richest person in the world.

Mukesh's daughter, 27-year-old Isha Ambani, married Anand Piramal, 33, heir to a real-estate and pharmaceutical business, in December 2018 at the Ambani family home in Mumbai, a 27-story skyscraper that cost an estimated $1 billion to build.

Here's a look at the Ambani family's fortune, relationships, friends, and lavish lifestyles.

SEE ALSO: French billionaire Bernard Arnault just made $5 billion in less than 48 hours. Here's how the world's third-richest person makes and spends his $99 billion fortune.

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The Ambani family in India tops the Forbes list of Asia's Richest Families. The family patriarch, Mukesh Ambani, has an estimated net worth of $51.4 billion.

Source: Forbes

The Indian family's massive wealth began with Dhirubhai Ambani, who founded Reliance Industries to manufacture fabrics and textiles.

Source: BloombergFortune

It's now a Fortune 500 company worth $100 billion, and one of the most valuable companies in India.

Source: BloombergFortune

Dhirubhai died in 2002 at age 69 without a will ...

Source: Bloomberg

... leaving his company to be run by both of his sons: Mukesh and his younger brother, Anil.

Source: Bloomberg

A bitter succession battle between the two brothers followed their father's death and resulted in a rivalrous relationship between Mukesh and Anil. Ultimately, Mukesh was left in charge of the majority of Reliance.

Source: Bloomberg

In 2005, the brothers split the company in a deal negotiated by their mother, and Mukesh was left with control of the oil, gas, petrochemicals, and refining operations of the business. Anil took over construction, telecommunications, asset management, entertainment and power generation businesses.

Source: Bloomberg

Today, 62-year-old Mukesh Ambani is worth an estimated $51.4 billion as the chairman and largest shareholder of Reliance Industries Limited.

Source: Forbes

Mukesh surpassed Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma in July 2018 to become the richest man in Asia after a thriving year for his company.

Source: Bloomberg

Anil Ambani, 60, chairman of Reliance Group, is worth an estimated $1.7 billion — more than $49 billion less than his older brother. Bloomberg reported that 2018 saw his businesses suffer from "legal and liquidity challenges."

Source: Forbes, Bloomberg

Indian media reported in September 2018 that Anil's "cash-strapped" Reliance Communications will quit the telecom business and turn to real estate.

Source: Times of India

Anil is married to Tina Ambani, a former Bollywood actress ...

Source: The National

... and they have two sons. Anmol Ambani, 27, works within his father's company and was named a director to the Board of Reliance Capital in 2016.

Source: Reliance Capital

Anil's younger son, Anshul, will also join the family business as an executive director on the board of Reliance Infrastructure.

Source: Business Standard

Mukesh Ambani is married to Nita Ambani, who Forbes called "The First Lady Of Indian Business" in 2016.

Source: Forbes

Nita is the chair of Reliance Foundation, the company's charity organization. She's also involved with the company's sports ventures as well as marketing and branding strategy for Reliance Jio Infocomm, Reliance's mobile network operator.

Source: Forbes

Nita and Mukesh have three children, the youngest being 24-year-old Anant Ambani, who has started taking part in some of his father's company's events and meetings.

Source: Bloomberg

Rumors have swirled about a possible engagement between Anant and Radhika Merchant, but a Reliance spokesperson said in May that "Anant Ambani is not engaged yet." A recent article called Anant "India’s most eligible bachelor."

Source: Yahoo India, South China Morning Post

Then there are 27-year-old twins Isha and Akash Ambani.

Akash is a board member at Reliance Jio. Both he and his twin sister studied at Ivy League universities in the US, Akash at Brown University ...


... and Isha at Yale and Stanford.

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Source: Business Insider

Akash is married to his high school sweetheart, Shloka Mehta, the daughter of a well-known diamond merchant. Mehta reportedly studied at Princeton University and the London School of Economics.

Source: Forbes, South China Morning Post

They were married in Mumbai in March 2019. Google CEO Sundar Pichai, former British prime minister Tony Blair, and actress Priyanka Chopra were reportedly among the guests.

Source: Forbes, India Today, Straits Times

Akash's twin sister, Isha, is on the board of directors for India's largest retailer, Reliance Retail, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries, and serves as a co-director for the telecom arm, Jio.

Source: Business Insider

She previously spent a stint working at management consulting firm McKinsey in New York.

Source: India Times

Isha married Anand Piramal, 33, heir to a real estate and pharmaceutical business, in December 2018, following several lavish pre-wedding events.

Source: Business Insider

The engagement party took place at the luxury Villa D'Este hotel on Italy's Lake Como, where singer John Legend gave a private performance.

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Source: Business Insider

Other pre-wedding festivities were held in the western Indian city of Udaipur.

Source: Business Insider

These celebrations included a private concert by Beyoncé, who reportedly sang "Crazy in Love," "Naughty Girl," and "Perfect" at the Oberoi Udaivilas hotel in Udaipur.

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Source: Business Insider

The wedding ceremony itself was held at the Ambani family home in Mumbai.

Source: Business Insider

An estimated 600 guests attended the extravagant wedding, which cost an estimated $100 million by some reports. A Reliance spokesman, however, said it cost no more than $15 million.

Source: Forbes

Vintage cars carried guests during the wedding procession.

Brothers Akash and Anant rode in on horseback.

The celebration included dance performances and sightings of many high-profile guests ...

... including former Secretary of State and presidential candidate Hillary Clinton with her longtime aide, Huma Abedin ...

... actor Priyanka Chopra and her husband, Nick Jonas ...

... and Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan.

The wedding venue was the Ambani family home in Mumbai: a 27-story luxury skyscraper that cost an estimated $1 billion to build. It's called Antilia after a mythical Atlantic island.

Source: Business Insider

Antilia includes swimming pools, ballrooms, a garden that spans three floors, six floors of parking, three helipads, and it can withstand a magnitude 8 earthquake. A staff of 600 people runs the home.

SourceBusiness Insider

It's estimated to be one of the world's most expensive properties, second to Buckingham Palace. In this photo, trees surrounding the skyscraper are decorated for Isha's wedding.

SourceBusiness Insider

Isha will reportedly be moving out of the family home following her wedding.

Source: Reuters

She and her new husband reportedly move into a bungalow in Mumbai called Gulita.

Source: Reuters

The Ambani family has long mingled with high-profile global figures, including Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall ...

... former British Prime Minister David Cameron ...

... Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi ...

... former US president Barack Obama ...

... and former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton. The Clintons and the Ambanis have reportedly known each other for nearly 20 years.

Source: The Guardian

The wealth of the Ambani family seems poised to continue growing.

Source: Bloomberg

Although more than half of India's 100 richest people lost money over the past year, Ambani's fortune grew by $4.1 billion.

Source: Forbes

Ambani's telecom company, Jio, has grown to become one of India's biggest mobile carriers, with 340 million subscribers.

Source: Forbes

"Jio is the biggest driver behind the surge in Reliance shares," Deven Choksey, managing director at K.R. Choksey Shares and Securities Pvt., told Bloomberg in 2018.

Source: Bloomberg

Mukesh Ambani's three children are involved in the family business in some capacity, but Ambani's succession plan for the company is "unclear," according to Bloomberg. Only time will tell who will take over the $100 billion company.

Source: Bloomberg

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