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Apple TV+ is 'no substitute' for Netflix and its stockpile of original programming, Bank of America says (AAPL, NFLX)

Wed, 09/11/2019 - 3:52pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Netflix will remain a leader in the streaming wars despite Apple TV+ offering a far lower price, Bank of America analysts said Tuesday.
  • The streaming company has more than 400 original titles and thousands of other offerings compared to Apple's nine launch titles, making the iPhone producer "no substitute" for Netflix, the analysts said.
  • The team added Netflix's years of dominance in the streaming business leave it with a "secure" position ahead of Apple and Disney launching their competing services.
  • Watch Netflix trade live here.

Apple is reportedly spending $6 billion on original programming for its Apple TV+ service, but it can't match Netflix's extensive catalogue, Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts said in a Tuesday note.

The iPhone maker revealed Tuesday it will launch its streaming service November 1 for $4.99 per month. Apple also revealed it will give iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, and Mac customers a free one-year trial of the service. Apple TV+ will launch with nine original titles.

The price falls well under Netflix's offerings, which start at $8.99 per month for a "Basic" plan and hit $15.99 per month for its top-tier service.

However, the streaming company's collection of more than 400 original series titles will keep it from losing too much market share to Apple, the analysts said. The note also cited SNL Kagan data showing nearly 4,000 movies and 1,828 series available on Netflix.

Apple is "likely to be hit-driven in the near term" while Netflix continues to produce series well-known among consumers, the analysts wrote.

"Until Apple's content library gains scale to compare to Netflix or Amazon, it is likely as a nice-to-have for Apple device users/buyers and no substitute for Netflix's large catalog of licensed content and originals," the team led by Nat Schindler said in the note.

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Netflix will remain a leader in the streaming wars as its "incumbency and growth outlook remain secure," the team added. The company's 157 million streaming subscribers give it a healthy lead over looming competition, with Disney's service also not launching until November.

Netflix shares have fallen nearly 18% in the last three months as subscriber growth slowed and its second-quarter earnings disappointed analysts. Bank of America reiterated its "buy" rating Tuesday, and pegged its price objective for the Netflix stock at $450 per share.

The streaming company traded at $290.11 per share as of 1:30 p.m. ET Wednesday, up about 8% year-to-date.

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

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

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Something for funds to take note of...Small African businesses now driving growth in Agriculture by @theafricafeeds

Wed, 09/11/2019 - 12:54pm  |  Timbuktu Chronicles
Isaac Kaledzi writes:
New report finds 64% of food consumed in Africa is handled by millions of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), creating vast opportunities for family and women farmers...[more]

These are the top 15 US banks ranked by the mobile banking features consumers value most

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 7:00pm  |  Clusterstock

This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. This report is exclusively available to enterprise subscribers. To learn more about getting access to this report, email Senior Account Executive Chris Roth at croth@businessinsider.com, or check to see if your company already has access

New data shows that mobile features have become a key factor that customers weigh when choosing a bank. 

In Business Insider Intelligence's second annual Mobile Banking Competitive Edge study, 64% of mobile banking users said that they would research a bank's mobile banking capabilities before opening an account with them. And 61% said that they would switch banks if their bank offered a poor mobile banking experience.

For channel strategists, the challenge in attracting mobile-minded customers is knowing when to bet budgets and political capital on developing emerging features. It's complicated by most flashy features — such as voice assistants, smartwatch banking, and bank-offered mobile wallets — being deemed a "must" by analysts, media, and rival banking executives. 

The Mobile Banking Competitive Edge Report uses data to inform channel investment decisions by highlighting which mobile banking features are most valuable to customers. Our study has data on consumer demand for 33 in-demand mobile capabilities across six key categories. 

Using that consumer data, the study benchmarks the largest 20 banks and credit unions in the US by whether they offer the cutting-edge mobile features that customers say they care about most. What sets our benchmark apart is that it weights every feature according to customer demand data — not subjective analyst opinion.  

Channel strategists within financial institutions use our report to see which innovative features they should prioritize in development pipelines and to find out how they compare with rival banks and credit unions in offering those features.

Business Insider Intelligence fielded the Mobile Banking Competitive Edge Study to members of its proprietary panel in August 2018, reaching over 1,200 US consumers — primarily handpicked digital professionals and early-adopters, making our sample a sensitive indicator of emerging features. 

Here are a few key takeaways from the report:

  • Citi snagged first overall. The bank led the account access section, tied for first in account management, and ranked highly in all the other categories of the study. Wells Fargo took second place, leading in security and control and transfers. USAA came in third, NFCU was fourth, and Bank of America rounded out the top five.
  • Demand for security features is sizzling. Following a year of huge breaches being announced at companies like Facebook and Google, consumers' security concerns jumped to become the most important category. The category included the No. 1 feature overall: the ability to turn a payment card on or off. 
  • Digital money management features are also highly demanded. Chase and Wells Fargo may be onto something with their millennial-focused banking apps, Finn and Greenhouse, as the generation had sky-high demand for the six features in the category. The most popular feature in the category was the ability to separate recurring payments, such as Netflix and gym memberships.

 In full, the report:

  • Shows how 33 mobile features stack up according to how valuable customers say they are.
  • Ranks the top 20 US banks and credit unions on whether they offer each of those features.
  • Analyzes how demographics effect demand for different mobile features.
  • Provides strategies for banks to best attract and retain customers with mobile features.
  • Contains 63 pages and 30 figures.

The full report is available to Business Insider Intelligence enterprise clients. To learn more about this report, email Senior Account Executive Chris Roth (croth@businessinsider.com).  

Business Insider Intelligence's Mobile Banking Competitive Edge study includes: Ally, Bank of America, BB&T, BBVA Compass, BMO Harris, Capital One, Chase, Citibank, Fifth Third, HSBC, KeyBank, Navy Federal Credit Union, PNC, Regions, SunTrust, TD, Union Bank, US Bank, USAA, and Wells Fargo.

SEE ALSO: These are the trends creating new winners and losers in the card-processing ecosystem

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This VC turned down an M&A offer from WeWork, and it shows how Wall Street may have wildly overvalued the coworking giant

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 6:09pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Krishna Gupta, the founder of early stage venture capital firm Romulus Capital, shared on Linkedin that WeWork tried to aggressively acquire one of his portfolio companies several years ago.
  • WeWork CEO Adam Neumann told Gupta that his bankers believed that WeWork could be worth $90 billion in the next two years. 
  • Gupta ultimately turned down the mostly stock deal, as he had concerns about WeWork's sky-high valuation, and still believes it was the right decision. WeWork is reportedly now eyeing a valuation of around $20 billion in its IPO.
  • The following post is published with permission from Gupta. 
  • Read all of Business Insider's WeWork coverage here.

Even in a time of widespread overvaluation and non-tech companies masquerading as tech companies, WeWork has always struck me as a concerning outlier. This concern became much more personal a couple years ago when the We family aggressively tried to acquire one of our portfolio companies.

At the time, WeWork was flying high post-Softbank investment. They had grown to impressive scale with an equally impressive ambition to growth further. They were wisely going around leveraging their overvalued stock to acquire interesting companies. Adam and his team worked hard to sell a vision of unifying the world under the "We" platform as they put down an offer that involved a fair amount of WeWork stock. I was cornered by Adam 1-on-1 for a couple hours; as the lead investor and board member, I was responsible for helping the company make the decision. They gave our company the option of taking cash, but the cash amount wasn't interesting enough to justify selling the business and WeWork didn't have much more cash.

Read more: The CEO of coworking startup Convene is worried bad press around WeWork's model could taint the entire flex-office industry

So the question for all of us was: how much will WeWork stock be worth if/when it goes public? Adam told us Goldman bankers had put together analysis that showed the company would be worth $90B within two years (it sounds like the most recent presentation had Goldman pitching $65B to Softbank management), that the We platform would dominate the world, and so on.

For a while, our company's management team was rather enamored by the idea of working at WeWork's scale and seeing 4X appreciation on the amount of stock being offered. Understandably so! WeWork has created a category and is touching companies large and small around the world. That kind of reach provides enticing synergies for any startup.

But synergies need to be valued correctly – the deal has to be right and WeWork's stock as a currency was not as strong as they wanted it to be. With the markets speaking truth, it's clear now that the decision not to sell was the right one. WeWork could certainly still be a successful business but at a much reduced scale/growth and certainly a reduced valuation; the path to even a 2X from where they were two years ago will take a very long time if it ever comes to fruition. It could also go to a 0. I feel sorry for the founders who did end up selling their companies for WeWork stock at that valuation; they sold their dreams for depreciating common stock of a company that has a massive preference stack.

Read more: We got a peek at WeWork's top landlords. Here's who is most exposed to the fast-growing, but money-losing, coworking company as it prepares to IPO.

M&A is challenging for any company in any industry. Rarely is it value-accretive. But it can be particularly complex for early-stage companies that have management teams with no experience in the craft. Having investors or advisors who have experience in M&A and the capital markets can be a powerful advantage. We try our best to help our companies be thoughtful and data-driven on the buy-side (rolling up or merging with other startups) and on the sell-side if necessary!

I am intellectually very curious to see where WeWork goes from here. They have a phenomenal team of bankers from my alma mater JPMorgan helping them. My instinct is they should have allocated more cash toward buying true tech companies rather than toward long-term leases; getting out of being a real estate company was their only chance to get the valuation multiples they aspire to.

Krishna Gupta is the founder and managing partner of early stage venture firm Romulus Capital. 

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Peloton plans to raise as much as $1.3 billion in an IPO that would double its valuation to $8 billion

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 5:40pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Peloton set a price range of $26 to $29 a share for its upcoming IPO.
  • The maker of internet connected fitness equipment said it intends to sell 40 million Class A shares in the offering. 
  • The planned offering would value Peloton at up to $8 billion, double the private market valuation that it fetched one year ago. 
  • Peloton said it will raise as much as $1.3 billion in the IPO.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Peloton, the buzzy maker of expensive internet-connected stationary bikes and treadmills, is sprinting towards an IPO that would award it a rich, $8 billion valuation — double what the money-losing company was valued at just one year ago. 

The offering, expected in the coming weeks, would allow Peloton to raise as much as $1.3 billion, according to its latest S-1 document, filed with the SEC on Tuesday.

Peloton's ambitious IPO plans come at a time when another high-profile company — office sharing company WeWork — has faced brutal scrutiny after launching its IPO process and has reportedly had to slash the price it expects its shares to fetch.

The two New York-based companies have a lot of similarities, including controversial capital structures that concentrate the voting control among insiders as well as spiraling losses. Peloton has posted a net loss every year since its founding in 2012, though its $539 million in cumulative red ink is significantly below the nearly $2 billion that WeWork lost in just the last year alone.

Peloton plans to sell 40 million shares of its Class A stock to public investors, priced somewhere between $26 a share and $29 a share. The company said the underwriters of the IPO would have the right to purchase an additional 6 million Class A shares.  

The IPO would value Peloton somewhere between $7 billion and $8 billion, depending on where the shares price. That's a significant step up from Peloton's last valuation in the private markets in 2018, when venture investors pegged its worth at $4 billion

According to Bloomberg, the company and its bankers could kick off the roadshow on Wednesday to pitch the offering to investors.

A big raise for CEO John Foley

Peloton also disclosed that it had entered into a new employment agreement with founder and CEO John Foley on Monday, doubling his annual salary from $500,000 to $1 million. Foley will also be eligible for annual bonus equal to up to 100% of his $1 million salary.

After the IPO, Foley will have 6% voting power at the company, based on his 15 million shares of Class B stock, which have 20 votes per share. Existing Peloton investors Tiger Global Management will control 19.6% of the voting power after the IPO, while True Ventures will have 11.9% voting power.

Public market investors who buy Class A shares in the IPO will be entitled to one vote per share. 

Founded in New York in 2012, Peloton sells $2,000 internet-connected stationary bikes, as well as pricey treadmills. Customers also pay anywhere between $19 and $40  month for access to specially produced live exercise classes. The company describes itself as both a media company and a global technology platform.

Peloton boasts that its "churn rate," the portion of subscribers who cancel service, is extremely low. But according to customer-retention experts that Business Insider has spoken to, Peloton's reported churn metrics are significantly understated.

Peloton, which lost roughly $246 million in fiscal 2019 despite fast growing revenue, plans to trade on the Nasdaq exchange under the "PTON" ticker.

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Retail banking in 2019 overview: industry stats, trends, & market outlook (GS, JPM, C)

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 5:30pm  |  Clusterstock
  • Business Insider Intelligence is launching its brand new Banking coverage in early September.
  • To obtain a free preview of our Banking Briefing, please click here.

When people think about "banking," most of them actually think of retail banking. This subset of the industry includes basic financial services offered to the general public — but the face of the general public is changing.

As millennials and Gen Zers continue aging into the workforce and becoming some of society's biggest earners, banks are being forced to adapt their solutions to match their digital-first preferences, or risk losing them to fintechs and emerging players.

Below we've outlined the state of the retail banking industry, and how banks are staying on top of evolving market trends.

What is retail banking?

Retail banking, also known as personal or consumer banking, refers to the mass-market banking activities that serve the general public. Common retail banking services include checking and savings accounts, debit and credit cards, mortgages and loans, and certificates of deposit.

Retail vs commercial banking

Though retail banking services are often provided by commercial banks, they are specific to individual consumers, whereas commercial banking refers to financial services provided to both the general public and large corporate clients.

Retail banking statistics

As digital and mobile-first features permeate the banking industry, customers are taking their money into their own hands — literally. Here's how important cutting-edge features are for retail customer acquisition and retention:

  • In 2017 alone, retail banks in the US spent $20.2 billion on digital transformation, and that's expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.5% into 2020
  • According to the global retail banking research director at IDC, some of the largest incumbent banks are spending over 40% of their IT budgets on digital transformation
  • Customers are frustrated with their banking relationships with incumbents — and if they're not resolved, the top 10 banks in the US risk losing 11% of their customers, equating to about $344 billion in lost retail deposits and a revenue hit of $16 billion
  • Business Insider Intelligence's second Mobile Banking Competitive Edge Study found 61% of mobile banking users said that they'd research a bank's mobile capabilities before opening an account
  • Four of the top five most in-demand features in the study were pertained to mobile
  • Consumers' most desirable mobile-banking feature is the ability to temporarily turn off a payment card from their phone — ranked "extremely valuable" by 47% of respondents 
Types of retail banking

Within the retail banking industry, there are specialized subdivisions of banks that exist either to offer a smaller more targeted set of products or to serve a specific customer base. Below are three of the most common types of retail banks.

Consumer banks

Consumer banks are banks that are primarily focused on accepting deposits and making loans to individual customers.

Cooperative banks

Cooperative banks are customer-owned and operated for a common purpose — often to provide financial services to particular groups or economic sections of society such as farmers or small business owners. They operate under the cooperative principle of democratic decision-making and open membership, but can lend to members or non-members.

Credit Unions

Credit unions are member-owned not-for-profit institutions that provide financial services to their members. Because they are cooperative, credit unions seek to promote the best interests of their members by offering better savings rates, lower loan rates, and fewer fees rather than earning profits.

Retail banking financial products & services

Retail banking services are typically carried out at local bank branches within communities — though many are increasingly offered online as well. Common retail banking services include:

  • Checking and savings accounts
  • Debit cards
  • Credit cards
  • ATM cards
  • Mortgages 
  • Home equity loans
  • Personal loans
  • Traveler's checks
  • Certificates of deposit
Retail banking trends and outlook

Consumer frustrations with legacy institutions and growing willingness to use digital channels for financial services have accelerated the shift to online, mobile-first, and even digital-only banking. Tech-savvy players are redefining retail banking in major markets around the world — acquiring customers at pace and ramping up pressure on established firms.

Driven by innovation-friendly regulatory reforms, these companies have especially gained traction in Europe over the last three years, but recent developments suggest these startups are finally poised for the spotlight in the US.

And as a result of flaring competition from neobanks, long-standing incumbents are deploying digital-only retail offerings of their own. Most notably, Goldman Sachs launched Marcus in 2016, an online platform offering highly competitive core products including fixed-rate, fee-free unsecured loans and high-yield savings accounts.

JPMorgan Chase launched its own challenger, Finn, nationwide in 2018, but shuttered the digital bank only a year later, likely because there wasn't significant enough differentiation between Finn and the firm's conventional mobile banking app.

Citi has also stated plans to launch a challenger bank and Wells Fargo is testing its digital offshoot, Greenhouse. So far, incumbent responses to neobanks have been packed with digital features and armed with the resources of their legacy parents, which could give them a considerable advantage over fintechs.

Learn More

With digital and mobile-first features redefining the banking industry as we know it, it's crucial for top decision-makers in financial services to stay ahead of tomorrow's trends. That's why Business Insider Intelligence is launching Banking, our newest research coverage area, to keep you up to date on the biggest industry shifts and shakeups.

This new offering covers digital transformation across the industry, including consumer and business banking, mobile and online banking, digital account opening, and neobanks. 

Click here to obtain an exclusive FREE preview of Banking!

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I held off on opening the Business Platinum card until I discovered Amex Centurion Lounges. This benefit alone is worth the $595 annual fee for me

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 5:25pm  |  Clusterstock

  • I had received offers for the Business Platinum® Card from American Express, but was never tempted to apply until I discovered the Amex Centurion Lounge at San Francisco Airport (SFO).
  • Amex Centurion Lounges offer a comfortable place to relax before a flight, with complimentary gourmet food and drinks.
  • Only holders of the Business Platinum Amex, the Platinum Card® from American Express, or the Centurion cards can access these lounges. 
  • I applied for the Business Platinum to get lounge access, and haven't regretted it a bit.
  • Now is a great time to apply for the Business Platinum, as you can earn up to 100,000 points as a welcome bonus: 50,000 points after you spend $10,000 and an extra 50,000 points after you spend an additional $15,000 all in the first three months.

Recently, before a five-hour flight from San Francisco International Airport to JFK, my family ran into a bit of bad luck: Our flight was delayed. It wasn't just delayed a few minutes; it was delayed by about three hours. After a night of tossing and turning before heading to the airport, we were in no mood to sit there at the gate for eons, or to eat at one of the overpriced fast-food stalls.

Out of the corner of our eyes, we spotted the American Express Centurion Lounge. That was just what we needed — a place to rest and relax, with food and drinks. 

How to access Amex Centurion Lounges

Since I have an American Express Platinum card, I figured we could just waltz right in. Sadly, the card in my possession was American Express's Optima Platinum card — not the right Amex Platinum to get entry.

I learned the hard way that Centurion Lounges are exclusively available for holders of the regular Platinum Card from American Express, the Business Platinum Card from American Express, and the Centurion (black) cards, which are invite-only.

Why I finally applied for the Amex Business Platinum

Beyond the front counter, I could spy couples laughing, I could smell the aroma of freshly brewed coffee, and I was envious of the plate of fresh food a man walked by with. We left crestfallen. We returned to our crowded gate and squeezed into whatever seats we could find while picking on overpriced premade sandwiches and drinking water that cost $4.50 a bottle. I decided right then and there: I needed to upgrade my credit card situation.

I'd been receiving Amex Business Platinum offers in the mail for the business I inherited from my father (it's a vinyl record store called Grooves, so if you're ever in San Francisco, stop on by!). I would routinely tear the offers into little pieces and toss them away, but after seeing the Centurion Lounge at SFO, I was ready to take the plunge. While all the card's perks were tempting, the lounge access really was what sealed the deal.

The Business Platinum card allows me, as well as two guests, to hang out in the Centurion Lounge free of charge as long as our flight is departing that same day. You're only allowed access to the Centurion Lounge three hours before your flight, so you won't be able to go there eons earlier and camp out. You card allows two guests to accompany you; if you have more than two, you can purchase a day pass for them at $50 per person.

Read more: Amex's Business Platinum is one of the best cards for small business owners

Business Platinum card details

In addition to the Centurion Lounge, the card allows entry into the International American Express Lounges, Escape Lounge US, Delta Sky Club (when you're flying Delta), Airspace, Lufthansa Lounges, and a variety of lounges via Priority Pass.The Business Platinum Amex costs $595 a year. My family of three flies quite a bit throughout the year, and we usually about $50 on food and beverages before each leg of our trip. By going to the lounge instead, the card would pay for itself after six trips.

The card is currently offering an elevated welcome bonus, so if you're interested, it's a great time to apply. Instead of the usual 75,000-point bonus, you can earn up to 100,000 Amex points: 50,000 after you spend $10,000 and an extra 50,000 after you spend an additional $15,000 all on qualifying purchases in the first three months. This offer is available until December 4.

That's a high minimum spending requirement, but this is a business card, and for some businesses it could be easy to earn.

Click here to learn more about the Business Platinum card from American Express from our partner The Points Guy. The Centurion Lounge at SFO

At SFO, the Centurion lounge is in Terminal 3, which is the hub for United flights. Unfortunately, if you happen to be flying out of Terminal 1 or 2, you'll have to go through security twice, since the terminals aren't connected. So, if you do make the trek to the lounge, make sure to keep an eye on the clock and allow enough time to get to your gate. The lounge does have a screen with the estimated times of departure, so you can easily keep track if your flight changes.

There are spaces for kicking back and relaxing, tables to hang with fellow travelers, and desks with outlets if you need to get work done. The space is accented with rustic suitcases and vintage photographs of counterculture icons of the 60s like Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone.

Besides being a comfortable place to wait, one of the main draws is the food. You can see the chefs behind the buffet whipping up fresh (and healthy) fare. The menu changes frequently. When I was there, they had bountiful platters of asparagus and chicory salad, a vegetarian curry, perfectly cooked chicken breasts, and a delicious gemelli pasta with broccolini, fennel, peas, and lemon among many other options. There were also bowls of fresh fruit for the taking.



The other popular place in the lounge is the bar, a destination for many to ease those preflight jitters. Along with a wide array of domestic, imported, and craft beers, they host a full roster of top-shelf liquors such as Maker's Mark Bourbon, and Don Julio Tequila. If you ate too much of the food, there's also Fernet to ease your tummy. For those who like vino, there's a self-serve area with wine dispensers featuring California wines from vintners such as Buehler, Justin Hope, Oberon, and Dutton Goldfield. All of these drink selections are free of charge with a card that gets you access to a Centurion lounge. It's like being at a fantastic hosted party.

There are TV screens in various spots and, most importantly, high-speed Wi-Fi. There's also bathrooms stocked with L'Occitane products and a shower suite if you need to really clean up. If you have little ones with you, there's a large family room with cartoons on the big screen and a few communal toys.

Other Centurion Lounge locations

Currently, the American Express Centurion Lounge has locations Dallas, Miami, Seattle, Philadelphia, LGA – New York, Hong Kong, Houston, Las Vegas, and San Francisco with locations coming soon to Denver, New York's JFK, Los Angeles, London Heathrow, Charlotte, and Phoenix.

Access to the lounges is just one of the many perks that come with the Business Platinum Amex card, and so far, the one we've appreciated the most. Now, we actually look forward to hanging out at the airport!

Click here to learn more about the Business Platinum card from American Express from our partner The Points Guy.

SEE ALSO: All our credit card reviews — from cash-back to travel rewards to business cards — in one place

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4 credit cards that can get you the highest level of hotel elite status

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 5:08pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Hotel elite status can get you perks like free breakfast, room upgrades, and bonus points on your stays.
  • While you can earn hotel status by racking up elite-qualifying nights with a hotel chain, some credit cards offer automatic elite status to cardholders.
  • The Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express is the only card to offer top-tier hotel elite status to cardholders just for having the card: You get Hilton Diamond status which comes with perks like a 100% points bonus.
  • Other cards, like the World of Hyatt Credit Card and the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant™ American Express® Card, offer middle-tier elite status automatically, with the option to earn top-tier status when you meet spending requirements.

If you've seen the movie Up in the Air, you might have felt a pang of jealousy when the main character, Ryan Bingham, bypassed the lines at hotel check-in desks and stayed in beautiful hotel suites courtesy of his elite status. He was on the road constantly, racking up elite-qualifying nights to get those status perks. But you don't have to spend dozens of nights in hotels to get top-tier status.

Below is a round-up of hotel credit cards that get you top-tier status — either just for being a cardholder, or for meeting certain spending requirements in a year.

Read more: The best hotel credit cards to open now

Hilton Honors Aspire Card from American Express

The Hilton Honors Aspire is the only credit card that offers top-tier elite status right out of the gate. Cardholders get Diamond elite status just for being a cardholder, and it takes effect almost immediately —  in my case, I noticed the upgrade a day after I was approved for the card.

Hilton Diamond members get free breakfast, club lounge access, accelerated earnings on paid Hilton stays (100% point bonus) and complimentary suite upgrades based on availability. These are all incredibly valuable perks that can save you money on future Hilton stays while accelerating the number of points you can earn.

In addition, the Hilton Aspire Card earns 7 points per dollar spent on direct flight bookings, car rentals and dining at US restaurants. Charging Hilton stays to this card boosts your already-high earning rate with 14 points per dollar spent. As an added spending incentive, you'll receive a free weekend night after spending $60,000 on your card. That's in addition to an annual free weekend night that is issued just for renewing the card every year.

The only downside to this card? The annual fee is a bit steep at $450. I personally keep this card in my wallet because of the tremendous value I get out of the Hilton Diamond membership alone.

Click here to learn more about the Hilton Honors Aspire card from our partner The Points Guy. Hilton Honors American Express Surpass® Card

If you're not quite willing to pay the $450 annual fee on the Hilton Aspire Card, you may want to opt for the Hilton Honors Surpass Card instead. The card has a $95 annual fee and comes with mid-tier Hilton Gold elite status, which offers some pretty substantial benefits, including free breakfast and an 80% point bonus on paid stays.

If Gold elite status isn't sufficient, you can upgrade to Diamond status by charging $40,000 in eligible purchases to your card every calendar year. Considering the average American household has $40,814 worth of non-housing expenditures every year, hitting that threshold may be more attainable than you might think.

In addition to elite status benefits, Hilton Surpass cardholders earn 12 points per dollar spent at Hilton hotels and 6 points at restaurants, supermarkets, and gas stations in the US. Those are very common spending categories for most people, so there's potential to further maximizing household spending with this card.

Click here to learn more about the Hilton Honors Surpass card from our partner The Points Guy. World of Hyatt Credit Card

The World of Hyatt Credit Card comes with instant Discoverist status, which includes perks like a 10% bonus points on all eligible spending, premium internet access, late checkout, and room upgrades based on availability.

If those benefits don't sound quite as exciting as those offered to top-tier elites, you can spend your way to higher status. World of Hyatt card holders can 5 elite-qualifying nights every year, plus 2 additional nights for every $5,000 spent. Earning top-tier Globalist status would require $140,000 worth of credit card spending the first year and then $125,000 every year to re-qualify. For big spenders who prefer this over completing 55 to 60 nights at Hyatt, it's a solid option.

Click here to learn more about the World of Hyatt card from our partner The Points Guy. Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card

If you're looking to earn Marriott Bonvoy elite status, the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant American Express Card is a great option. The card offers Gold elite status, plus the ability to upgrade to Platinum status after spending $75,000 in a calendar year. While Marriott Platinum isn't quite top-tier status, it does come with premium perks like enhanced room upgrades (based on availability), club lounge access, free breakfast and a 50% bonus points on paid stays, among other benefits

Click here to learn more about the Marriott Bonvoy Brilliant card from our partner The Points Guy.

Top-tier hotel elite status can be incredibly useful when it comes to saving on travel expenses like breakfast and earning more points. Being able to get these perks from a credit card is ideal because it frees you up to stay at hotels that offer you the best rates rather than forcing you to pick one chain repeatedly to earn status.

SEE ALSO: All our credit card reviews — from cash-back to travel rewards to business cards — in one place

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NOW WATCH: Mexico has just one store where you can legally buy a gun and it's located on a heavily-guarded military base

Cannabis has gone from a criminalized drug to a multibillion-dollar global boom in just a few years. Here's everything you need to know about the emerging legal cannabis industry.

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 4:39pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Legal cannabis is one of the world's newest and most dynamic industries. Since Colorado legalized the drug in 2012, the previously illegal plant has birthed multibillion-dollar public companies, minted billionaires, and brewed social change not seen since the end of Prohibition.
  • As cannabis companies scale up, they're seeing interest from institutional investors, major consumer corporations, and Group of Seven governments. 
  • Business Insider reports regularly on the latest developments of the cannabis industry. You can read our stories by subscribing to BI Prime.

Here's what we know about what's going on inside the world of the fascinating legal cannabis industry right now, from the largest publicly traded companies, to venture-backed startups, to the rapidly shifting federal policies around the drug. 

The CBD boom Startups, venture capital and private equity Marijuana M&A Weed on Wall Street Policy Marketing Profiles and interviews with industry leaders Lists 

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

These photos of abandoned malls and golf courses reveal a new era for the American suburb

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 4:38pm  |  Clusterstock

In March 2017, Business Insider reported a series of stories on "The Death of Suburbia," declaring the end of the suburbs as we once knew them.

By examining the plummeting value of McMansions, the increasingly blurry line between city and suburb, and the shuttered shopping malls across the nation, we saw that the once-flourishing suburbs were no longer what they used to be.

Read more: Millennials are following in baby boomers' footsteps and heading for the suburbs — but there's a key difference in how they're doing it

Ahead, see a collection of photos from Seph Lawless and Business Insider reporters, showing the relics of America's suburban past. Some of these structures are now abandoned while millennials move forward with alternative ways of living.

SEE ALSO: The suburban mansion may be losing its spot as part of the American Dream, and it highlights just how different millennials' and baby boomers' worlds are

DON'T MISS: The 50 best suburbs in America, ranked

It's been a rough couple of years for the retail industry, and malls are shutting down across the country. Chicago's Lincoln Mall, pictured here, shut its doors in January 2015.

Source: Business Insider



It had originally opened in 1973.

Source: Chicago Tribune



The 700,000-square-foot mall had the capacity to host four anchor stores and 100 smaller shops.

Source: Chicago Tribune



Closer to its final months, the mall had just 40 storefronts in business.

Source: Chicago Tribune



In 2013, the mall's owner told The Chicago Tribune that the property was losing $2 million a year.

Source: Chicago Tribune



The closure of the mall's Sears was a major blow to its business.

Source: Chicago Tribune



The same year, a court-ordered receiver was appointed to force the location to pay taxes and fines as well as make necessary repairs.

Source: Chicago Tribune



The mall's tenants did not generate enough in rent to pay for the improvements or repairs, according to an attorney for the owner.

Source: Chicago Tribune



The mall reportedly failed to make these changes, which included creating new exits to comply with fire codes and replacing electrical and air conditioning systems.

Source: Chicago Tribune



In November 2014, a Cook County judge ordered the closure of the mall following the holiday shopping season.

Source: Chicago Tribune



For nearly two years, the mall sat empty.

Source: Chicago Tribune



Its shops' signage stayed intact, however.

Source: Seph Lawless



Some banners also remained hanging.

Source: Seph Lawless



Demolition began on the property in May 2017.

Source: Chicago Tribune



The Rolling Acres Mall in Akron, Ohio, had a similar fate.

Source: Ohio.com



This mall originally opened in 1975.

Source: Cleveland.com



With JC Penney as one of its anchor stores, this mall's parking lot was packed with visitors in the early 1980s.

Source: Ohio.com



It officially closed in 2008.

Source: Cleveland.com



Demolition of the mall began in 2016.

Source: Ohio.com



The Metro North Shopping Center in Kansas City, Missouri, has also shuttered.

Source: KansasCity.com



This mall opened in 1976.

Source: KansasCity.com



The mall was massive. Sitting at 1.2 million square feet, it once housed more than 150 retailers.

Source: KansasCity.com



The mall officially closed in 2014.

Source: KansasCity.com



Originally, a $200 million makeover was in the works, but the developers ditched the plan in 2015, citing difficulties attracting tenants.

Source: KansasCity.com



Even some malls that are still open for business look like ghost towns. Here's the Regency Square Mall in Richmond, Virginia, in March 2017, for example.

Source: Business Insider



Empty storefronts lined the halls.

Source: Business Insider



Similarly, Valley View Mall in Dallas, Texas — which opened in 1973 — was mostly empty of both people and stores when Business Insider visited on December 23, 2016.

Source: Dallas News, Business Insider



The mall flourished in the 1970s and through the 1980s.

Source: Labelscar.com



However, as early as the 1990s, after one of its anchor stores, Bloomingdale's, closed, it began experiencing financial trouble.

Source: Business Insider



Some of Valley View's original shops had been taken over by what looked more like a neighborhood garage sale than a store.

Source: Business Insider



It also seemed that many of the shops had been repurposed.

Source: Business Insider



Valley View Mall officially closed in July 2017.

Source: Dallas News



Demolition of the mall began in May 2019. The site will be replaced with mixed-use high-rise buildings that will include office space, retail space, entertainment space, and residential units.

Source: WFAA



Many retailers have struggled to adapt to changing consumer behaviors. As for the anchor stores that are still open in malls, such as this Sears store in Glen Allen, Virginia, the lack of products can be alarming.

Source: Business Insider



In July 2017, Business Insider correspondent Hayley Peterson visited the Glen Allen Sears and found empty shelves in the shoe department.

Source: Business Insider



A broken display shelf was found in the appliances department.

Source: Business Insider



A corner of the store featuring travel items had the same products hanging on multiple hooks in a likely attempt to fill space.

Source: Business Insider 



A department devoted to curtains also appeared to be missing some inventory.

Source: Business Insider



This section was better stocked than other departments, but it also lacked wall signage.

Source: Business Insider



Ripped carpet lined the walls below empty shelves.

Source: Business Insider



The men's department was also very empty.

Source: Business Insider



This Sears location in Woodbridge, New Jersey, which we visited in February 2017, didn't look much better.

Source: Business Insider



This Richmond, Virginia location was also lacking merchandise.

Source: Business Insider



In November 2018, Sears announced that 40 Sears and Kmart stores would close their doors. This news came at a time when 142 stores were already set to close by the end of the year.

Source: Business Insider



The number of store closures announced in 2018 brought Sears' total store count down to around 500 — a major decrease from 2,000 stores in 2013.

Source: Business Insider



In July 2016, we visited the flagship Macy's store in Manhattan, only to find messy shelves and lots of sales. Macy's closed 68 locations in 2017.

Source: Business Insider



The apparel department was also a mess.

Source: Business Insider



It's not just the malls' anchor stores. Crocs closed 158 locations in 2017.

Source: Yahoo.com



In 2017, nearly everything was on sale at RadioShack as they prepared to close 1,430 stores nationwide.

Source: Business Insider



In 2017, Wet Seal announced the closing of all 171 locations.

Source: Business Insider



In 2018, Mattress Firm announced that it would close up to 700 stores across the United States.

Source: Business Insider



Malls and shopping aren't the only things that have changed in suburbs across America. Once a community staple in many American suburbs, the golf course is also now a slowly dying breed.

Source: Business Insider



More than 800 golf courses have shuttered across the US in the past decade, and data from the Sports & Fitness Industry Association has shown that millennials between the age of 18 to 30 have a lack of interest in playing the game.

Source: Business Insider



The Apple Ridge Country Club, located in Mahwah, New Jersey, opened in 1966.

Source: Business Insider



Complete with an event space, 18-hole golf course, swimming pool, and tennis courts, Apple Ridge was a place the whole community could enjoy.

Source: Business Insider



Since it officially closed in late 2015, the country club has seemingly remained uncared for.

Source: Business Insider



This is how it looked when we paid a visit in February 2017.

Source: Business Insider



Today, millennials are doing everything they can to live in cities rather than traditional neighborhood homes.

Source: Business Insider



In lieu of traditional housing, some millennials are turning basements, boats, and vans into homes.

Source: Business Insider



Young homebuyers with different attitudes towards conspicuous consumption are also killing off the McMansion, a sprawling, often architecturally mismatched home boasting several thousand square feet of space.

Source: Business Insider



Stocks close mixed as tech shares fall for the third day in a row

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 4:37pm  |  Clusterstock

Stocks were mixed on Tuesday as investors continued to dump tech shares for the third day in a row.

The SPDR Technology Select Sector ETF — which tracks a basket of technology companies including Microsoft and Apple — fell 0.5%. Some of tech's loses were offset by modest gains in energy and materials stocks. 

Shares of Netflix, Disney, and Roku sank on Tuesday after Apple announced its streaming service would be priced at $4.99 per month. The figure is lower than Netflix's monthly offer, and what Disney plans to charge for its upcoming streaming service. 

Oil prices fell sharply after President Trump announced National Security Adviser John Bolton would be leaving his position in the White House, allaying fears the US might use military action as a diplomatic as tensions continue to rise in Asia and the Middle East. 

Investors have also been awaiting a meaningful sign on both trade negotiations between the US and China and the potential path of interest rates among central banks around the world.

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

Shares of Wendy's tanked 13% on Tuesday after the company slashed its profit outlook due to new investments to expand its breakfast offerings across the US. The fast-food restaurant said it now expects adjusted earnings per share to drop by 3.5% to 6.5%, compared to its previous expectations of growth between 3.5% and 7.5%. 

Ford's stock dropped as much as 5.2% after Moody's downgraded the carmaker's credit rating to junk status. The credit rating agency said Ford's performance has declined due to a massive restructuring of its business that expected to cost more than $11 billion. 

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

And the largest decliners:

Real estate also took a hit on Tuesday, falling about 1.4%. Consumer staples fell more than 0.6%, while energy and industrials posted gains exceeding 1%.

Markets Insider is looking for a panel of millennial investors. If you're active in the markets, CLICK HERE to sign up.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The Navy has its own Area 51 and it's right in the middle of the Bahamas

PITCH-DECK LIBRARY: The pitch decks that helped hot startups raise millions

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 4:36pm  |  Clusterstock

  • Billions of dollars are invested in startups every year.
  • Whether a startup seeks to raise money from angel investors, venture-capital firms, or other backers, the presentation — or "pitch" — about the business is critical.
  • The most effective pitch decks deftly weave data, imagination, and storytelling in a captivating slide presentation.
  • Business Insider regularly interviews startups about fundraising strategies and collects the pitch decks that helped them raise funding. You can read them all by subscribing to BI Prime.

Following is a list of some recent startup pitch decks published by Business Insider, organized by the funding round that each deck was used for:

Seed Series A Series B Series C Series D Series E

SEE ALSO: The first-time founder's ultimate guide to pitching a VC

Join the conversation about this story »

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Land Rover just unveiled its long-awaited new Defender SUV. Take a closer look at this redesigned legend

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 4:10pm  |  Clusterstock

  • At the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show, Land Rover unveiled its all-new Defender SUV.
  • The Land Rover Defender has a rich legacy, dating back over 70 years. But it was discontinued in 2016 — and hadn't been legal for the US since the late 1990s. The new version is a revival that after many absent years will bring the Defender back to the US market.
  • The long-wheelbase Defender 110 will arrive in spring 2020, priced at just under $50,000 with a four-cylinder engine. The most expensive Defender will be $81,000. A short wheelbase SUV arrives in late 2020.
  • The new Defender was tested in a wide range of challenging environments to live up to its off-road legacy, but the vehicle is more stylish and high-tech than Defenders of the past.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Few SUVs have as much pure off-road credibility as the legendary Land Rover Defender. The Ultimate Expedition Machine dates back seven decades and has done it all, from crossing mountains to fording rivers and everything imaginable in between.

The previous generation Defender traces back to the early 1980s (updated in the 1990s), but it fell short of US regulations in the late '90s and hasn't been available in the American market since. The vehicle was also discontinued in 2016, with the expectation that an updated, redesigned SUV would follow.

After a wait, it's arrived. Land Rover pulled the cover off at the Frankfurt Motor Show. 

Here's a closer look at the new Defender, in all its glory:

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

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The all-new Land Rover Defender debuted at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany.

The Defender has set a formidable ruggedness standard for over seven decades. The outgoing model dated to the early 1980s, but had been put out to pasture in 2016.

A typical Defender adventure included some partially submerged time.

While the outgoing Defender, with its boxy styling, proclaimed a utilitarian mission, the redesigned Defender arguably projects a slightly less no-nonsense demeanor.

"The new Defender is respectful of its past but is not harnessed by it," Gerry McGovern, Land Rover's head designer, said in a statement.

"This is a new Defender for a New Age. Its unique personality is accentuated by its distinctive silhouette and optimum proportions, which make it both highly desirable and seriously capable – a visually compelling 4x4 that wears its design and engineering integrity with uncompromised commitment."



The Defender will ultimately be available in both two- and four-door configurations: the 110 is the long wheelbase version, while the 90 is shorter.

According to Land Rover, six trim designations will be offered: Defender, Defender S, Defender SE, Defender HSE, Defender X, and Defender First Edition.



The new Defender might lose some cred with the purists because it won't be a made-in-England machine. Manufacturing will be handled in the Slovak Republic.

Fears should be put to rest by JLR's extensive torture-testing of the new Defender.

The SUV has negotiated everything from rocky, roadless terrain ...

... To Germany's famed Nurburgring race track.

A Defender isn't a Defender if it isn't up to the challenge of adventures in rough country.

The SUBV needs to be able to rock-crawl with its four-wheel-drive system ...

... Manage extreme inclines ...

... ford rivers ...

... and get down and dirty and wet and muddy. The Defender can deal with water almost three feet deep, and it can tow more than 8,000 pounds. Its Terrain Response 2 tech can be customized by the driver, depending on conditions.

"Raised air intakes are a vital addition in dusty locations, protecting the engine by delivering cleaner air from their elevated position, and the Defender is available with a close-fitting semi-integrated design that fits neatly onto the side-mounted engine air intake in the front fender, to preserve performance in dusty environments," Jaguar Land Rover said in a statement.

Bring on the deserts!



That said, the Defender has also been designed for less demanding duty.

In a statement, Jaguar Land Rover outlined several add-on "packs" that owners can use to accessorize their Defender for different obligations.

The Explorer Pack provides an expedition roof rack, exterior side-mounted gear carrier, wheel arch protection and a spare wheel cover. "A matte black hood decal, featuring '90' or '110' cut-out detailing, completes the Explorer Pack's head-turning appearance," Jaguar Land Rover said.

The Adventure Pack offers a portable rinse system with a 1.7 gallon-pressurized water reservoir, trunk-mounted integrated air compressor, and an exterior side-mounted gear carrier.

The Country Pack adds wheel arch protection, a rear scuff plate, the aforementioned rinse system and a cargo partition.

The Urban Pack has the rear scuff plate and the spare wheel cover, as well as a front undershield.



Two powertrains will be offered to US buyers. The P300 turbocharged four-cylinder engine makes 296 horsepower and promises a 0-60 mph time of just under eight seconds, while the P400 is a mild hybrid six-cylinder making 395 hp, with a sub-six-second 0-60mph time. Both engines are yoked to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

While on-road, drivers and passengers will benefit from "emergency braking, lane-keep assist, traffic-sign recognition, cruise control and speed-limiter functions, driver condition monitor, and front and rear parking aids," the company said. Safety first!

Unlike some of the hardtail SUVs of old, the Defender's D7x engineering, as explained by Jaguar Land Rover, makes use of a lightweight, stiff aluminum monocoque assembly and four-wheel independent suspension, versus a body-on-frame steel construction with rear leaf-springs.

The interiors combine versatility and durability with premium appointments for the upscale trims, including leather upholstery and wood details. A non-leather premium wool upholstery treatment is also an option.

The Defender will be a connected expedition vehicle. An available Online Pack provides "unlimited data for music streaming, weather updates and calendar information via the infotainment screen," the automaker said. Wi-Fi will also be an option, via subscription.

A top-range Meridian audio system will have a 14-speaker, 700-watt setup available.



The Defender 110 starts at $49,900 and goes on sales next spring. The Defender 90 follows later in 2019. The most expensive configuration of the 110 is the X edition with the inline six engine, priced at about $81,000.

The world has been waiting three years for its new Defender, and Land Rover has delivered with style and purpose.

Jamie Dimon reveals JPMorgan is already preparing for the possibility of zero-percent interest rates in the US (JPM)

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 4:03pm  |  Clusterstock

  • JPMorgan Chase is preparing for the risk of zero-percent interest rates in the US, CEO Jamie Dimon said at a New York conference Tuesday.
  • The executive noted certain businesses are more affected by neutral or negative rates than others, saying banks can cut costs and boost fees to address tightening margins.
  • Dimon admitted the recent drop in US interest rates surprised him. He predicted in 2018 that rates would rise. 
  • Watch JPMorgan Chase trade live here.

JPMorgan Chase is preparing for the risk of zero-percent interest rates in the US, according to Jamie Dimon, despite his doubt of rates ever falling so low.

The bank's CEO said at a New York conference Tuesday that the recent spell of falling rates surprised him.

"I don't think we'll have zero rates in the US, but we're thinking about how to be prepared for it, just in the normal course of risk management," Dimon said. "Obviously, you've got to worry about the long term effect of those interest rates."

Dimon added banks can cut costs, boost efficiencies, and charge customers more in fees to account for slowing margin growth. Falling rates led several banks to bring in lower-than-expected interest income over recent months, according to several banks' quarterly filings.

"There are businesses it doesn't affect at all. And there are businesses where it just sucks into your margin and there's very little you can do about it," the CEO said.

Markets Insider is looking for a panel of millennial investors. If you're active in the markets, CLICK HERE to sign up.

Dimon told investors in May 2018 they should prepare for possible 4% yields in 10-year Treasury bonds, as well as higher market volatility. Though the former prediction never game to be, markets saw wild swings through the summer as the US-China trade war raged on and key recession indicators flashed their first warnings in decades.

The JPMorgan executive isn't the only one keeping negative rates in the realm of possibilities. Former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan said in August he wouldn't be surprised to see Treasury yields reach negative rates, adding that such a move wouldn't be very significant anyway.

"There is no barrier for US Treasury yields going below zero," Greenspan said. "Zero has no meaning, besides being a certain level."

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

CITI: Gold could shatter $2,000, reach all-time high if recession risks continue

Wall Street's biggest Boeing bull breaks down why the 737 Max fiasco has created a great buying opportunity

The heads of recruiting at Salesforce and Facebook have both told us that 'best day' questions are frequently asked in interviews. Here's how to answer them.

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

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 4:03pm  |  Clusterstock

For cannabis startups, particularly ones that deal with THC directly, raising money from mainstream investors can be a challenge.

While cannabis legalization is increasingly sweeping the US, THC is still considered an illegal drug by the federal government. That means that most mainstream venture funds are reluctant to invest in companies that directly sell or cultivate THC-containing products, despite the attractive growth prospects.

For K-Zen, a San Francisco-based cannabis-beverage startup, that wasn't an issue. K-Zen closed a $5 million seed round in May, led by the early-stage fund DCM Ventures.

DCM, for its part, has been one of the few prestigious venture funds willing to invest in cannabis. The firm, which manages more than $4 billion, also invested in the cannabis-delivery startup Eaze's $65 million Series C round in November.

K-Zen co-CEO Judy Yee told Business Insider in an interview that she and her co-founder, Soon Yu, did "lots of homework" to figure out which investors to pitch.

Yee said her team looked primarily at investors like DCM that have previously worked on deals in the cannabis space or had signaled they were open to the right opportunity.

Read more: The CEO of cannabis-tech startup Headset told us why having a concise mission statement is crucial to successfully pitching investors

"I think by targeting those types of investors, we haven't had to run into a lot of folks saying, 'no, that isn't part of my investment thesis,'" Yee said. "We did that homework up front."

Most mainstream venture firms are locked out of investing in cannabis because their investors, known as limited partners, often don't want to invest in the substance.

K-Zen was also helped by the network of Yu, Yee said. Yu attended Stanford's business school with DCM cofounder and general partner David Chao in the early 1990s, and Chao, through DCM, had previously invested in a few startups Yu founded. 

When Yu — who previously held senior positions at Earthbound Farms, Safeway, and Crystal Geyser before taking time off to raise a family — and Yee were discussing how to build a cannabis brand in K-Zen's very early days, Yu set up a meeting with DCM's Chao to figure out a strategy.

"So that's how everything got started," Yee said. She added that DCM was aligned with her view that beverages were going to be the "form factor" or consumption method that pushed cannabis into the mainstream. 

K-Zen recently released a line of THC and CBD-infused "shots" that can be mixed in with beverages. The startup's near-term goals are to "round out" its portfolio with new products, look at new state markets, and ramp up its direct-to-consumer sales, Yee said.

Right now, K-Zen sells products only in California, where cannabis is legal.

"We're looking at this not just as launching one big brand, but really creating a category," Yee said. 

K-Zen is also gearing up to raise a new round of funding.

Yee said the company has started to gauge investor interest and estimated she's had conversations with around seven or eight investors outside DCM.

"We're taking our time," Yee said. "We're getting a sense of the market and where people are at."  

Check out the pitch deck that helped K-Zen raise $5 million here, exclusive to Business Insider: 





Wall Street analysts are bullish on consumer cannabis beverages. Some say the market will near $2 billion in a few short years.







Yee said K-Zen's leadership team brings together experienced people that have led businesses and know to how to fundraise.







"We took a real good look at the marketplace," Yee said. "We looked at what's working, what's not, where are the opportunities, how can we catapult from what's out there today."

"It's all about execution," Yee said. Consumers have questions about cannabis — and Yee wants K-Zen to help answer, "Does it feel like drinking a glass of wine? How long is it gonna last?"



Eventually, Yee said K-Zen wants to build a "house of brands" under one roof.





These 17 retailers have filed for bankruptcy or liquidation in 2019

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 3:41pm  |  Clusterstock

  • We're more than halfway through 2019, and the number of national retailers that have filed for bankruptcy since the beginning of the year only continues to grow. 
  • Not all of these companies will cease to exist — some are just looking to restructure.
  • Check out which retailers have already filed for bankruptcy this year.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

We're now more than halfway through 2019, and the number of major retailers filing for bankruptcy continues to grow. 

In August, both Marie Callender's and Barneys New York announced they were filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, coming on the heels of several other retailers that already filed earlier this year, including Gymboree and Diesel. Some of these bankruptcies will allow companies to restructure and reenter the fray. Others, like Payless and Charlotte Russe, will shut down entirely.

Read more: Yelp is using its data to evaluate the American economy — and it says these businesses are in a slump

Unfortunately, this means that thousands of stores will shutter and thousands of employees will lose their jobs. And, given that there are still more than three months left in the year, it's possible there will be even more bankruptcies to come in 2019.

Here's a list of the retail companies that have filed for bankruptcy so far:

SEE ALSO: 6 companies that have filed for bankruptcy but you can still shop or eat at

Beauty Brands

Beauty Brands filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on January 4.



Innovative Mattress Solutions

The Kentucky-based mattress company, which owns Mattress Warehouse, Mattress King, and Sleep Outfitters, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on January 14.



Shopko

This Wisconsin-based retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on January 16. On March 19, CBS reported that Shopko's 363 stores would close after the company failed to find a buyer.



Gymboree

Gymboree, a clothing company that also runs Janie & Jack and Crazy 8 stores, filed for bankruptcy on January 17. It is closing all of its more than 800 Gymboree and Crazy 8 stores.



FullBeauty Brands

FullBeauty Brands is a clothing retailer that filed for bankruptcy on February 4. The company exited bankruptcy within 24 hours.



Charlotte Russe

This women's clothing retailer filed for bankruptcy on February 4 and announced that it would closing all of its stores on March 6.



Things Remembered

This personalized keepsake retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on February 6.



Payless ShoeSource

Payless filed for bankruptcy on February 18. The shoe store will close all its remaining locations, aside from franchise stores.



Diesel

Jeans company Diesel USA filed for bankruptcy on March 5.



Z Gallerie

The Los Angeles-based home furnishing retailer filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on March 11. It said it would seek to close 17 stores.



Roberto Cavalli

All US-based Roberto Cavalli stores have closed, and the retailer has filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, according to Retail Dive. The fashion company operates in North America as Art Fashion Corp. 



Kona Grill

Sushi-and-cocktails chain Kona Grill filed for bankruptcy on April 30, Restaurant Business reported. The restaurant shut down 15 of its locations.

The closures come amid Kona Grill's legal battle against its former CEO, who is counter-suing the restaurant for unpaid severance.

The chain is being bought by another former CEO, Marcus Jundt, Nation's Restaurant News reported.



Perkins & Marie Callender's

Perkins & Marie Callender's filed for bankruptcy on August 5, a day after closing 29 locations — 10 Perkins and 19 Marie Callender's restaurants — in an attempt to restructure. The move will ultimately impact an estimated 1,190 employees, USA Today reported. 



Barneys New York

Barneys New York filed for bankruptcy on August 6 and put itself up for sale as it attempts to refinance amid skyrocketing rents and dwindling foot traffic. The retailer has secured financing from Hilco Global and Gordon Brothers Group to stay afloat as it figures out its next move. 



A'gaci

Fashion retailer A'gaci released a statement announcing the impending closure of its 54 locations in the US as part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

"A'gaci shoppers will be surprised at the selection of highly desirable product in all 54 stores," a spokesperson said in the statement.



Fred's

Market Watch reported that Memphis-based retail chain Fred's filed for Chapter 11 on September 9. The 72-year old company will shutter its remaining stores.



Sugarfina

The Wall Street Journal reported that boozy candy store chain Sugarfina filed for Chapter 11 on September 6. The company is reportedly looking to sell its businesses and shut down at least six of its stores.

Got a tip? Email acain@businessinsider.com.



WeWork's shrinking IPO will erase billions from CEO Adam Neumann's payday, but he'll still likely come out a multibillionaire

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 3:35pm  |  Clusterstock

  • If WeWork's valuation gets compressed in its IPO, there's one person who stands to lose a lot of money: founder and CEO Adam Neumann.
  • We don't know how much he could lose because the company hasn't disclosed enough information about his ownership.
  • However, we do know some information about the number of shares he controls.
  • And we know some information about how much SoftBank paid for some shares when it invested at a $47 billion valuation.
  • Based on those tidbits, we calculate that Neumann could lose billions immediately and perhaps millions of dollars more if he fails to earn certain equity tranches that were contingent on soaring valuations.
  • Read all of Business Insider's WeWork coverage here.

Word on the street is that investors are so cool toward WeWork's initial public offering that the company may have to list at one-third of its $47 billion private-company valuation: as low as $15 billion to $18 billion, sources told Reuters.

And there's one person who stands to lose the most money if that happens: WeWork founder and CEO Adam Neumann, the company's single largest individual shareholder.

It's impossible to know just how much money Neumann could lose because WeWork hasn't revealed exactly how much of the company he owns. 

On top of this, WeWork's parent company has adopted a complicated structure known as an Up-C, a collection of LLCs. Much of Neumann's stake involves something called "profits interests," or shares in those various LLCs, which obscures his ownership stake even more.

However, there are some things we do know, and with that information and some educated estimating, we can deduce that Neumann could lose billions of dollars if the IPO falls so short.

So, just for the heck of it, let's try to estimate what he stands to lose if Wall Street stays cool on his company.

Over 104 million shares

WeWork says Neumann owns 2.43 million shares of class A stock and roughly 944,000 shares of class C stock, and that he controls 112.5 million shares of class B stock. The company's S-1 filing indicates that of that class B stock, some 11.72 million shares are actually owned by others, even though Neumann controls their voting rights.

So, from a financial standpoint, Neumann appears to own a total of about 104.16 million shares of WeWork, according to the disclosures as they stand now. 

The S-1 also said that in April, employees were able to sell class A and class B shares at a price of $54 per share. This sale was part of its investment deal with SoftBank. The S-1 also said the price was "above the fair market value of the shares." 

So we can infer that in April, four months after SoftBank's investment deal valued WeWork at $47 billion, its stock was worth not quite but somewhere around $54 a share.

If we use $54 a share, Neumann's 104.16 million shares are worth about $5.63 billion. This could be high. Forbes estimates Neumann is worth $4.1 billion.

Nevertheless, if the company's valuation drops to $18 billion, down 61%, and the value of his stock falls in line with that, then a stake that was worth $5.63 billion would be worth about $2.2 billion, a loss of $3.43 billion.

That's a lot of ifs, of course. Since we don't know how much of the company Neumann currently owns, or how much the shares are really worth, or what his stake will be after the IPO, we have no way of knowing exactly how much money he could actually lose.

Another 21.3 million shares at risk

However, we do know that Neumann faces potentially more losses than the value of his current stake.

Just before filing the IPO paperwork, the company also gave him an enormous grant of 42.5 million shares and some of those are tied to WeWork achieving soaring valuations.

As we previously reported, a chunk of this grant will vest simply if Neumann stays with the company, even if the company doesn't go public.

Plus, he's slated to get 7.1 million shares over three years if the company hits a market cap of $50 billion, another 7.1 million shares over three years if it hits $72 billion, and another 7.1 million shares over three years if it hits $90 billion.

The way it's looking, WeWork would have to produce some Herculean growth in the next three years to achieve those goals and unlock those tranches. 

So in theory, there are another 21.3 million shares in equity grants at risk. We can't even make an educated guess what that would be worth, but it would presumably be many millions.

Then again, Rosanna Landis Weaver, a compensation expert with the nonprofit shareholder-advocacy group As You Sow, previously told us such compensation agreements with CEOs were typically nonbinding.

The board, which is controlled by Neumann and will remain so after the IPO, can change its mind and the conditions of these stock awards. If WeWork doesn't hit those lofty valuation numbers, it may find another reason to reward its founder.

And, even if the company's IPO values WeWork at $18 billion, Neumann's stake will probably still be worth billions. Plus this doesn't account for the $700 million he is said to have already pulled out of the company via selling his shares to investors and borrowing against them.

SEE ALSO: WeWork replaced 43 million of CEO Adam Neumann's stock options with special 'profits interests,' and a compensation expert calls it 'unsettling'

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Netflix, Disney, and Roku tumble after Apple announces its streaming service will be cheaper than rivals (DIS, NFLX, ROKU, AAPL)

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 3:24pm  |  Clusterstock

Apple's new streaming service is shaping up to cost less than its competitors. 

Shares of Disney, Netflix, and Roku slid on Tuesday after Apple announced its TV subscription offering would carry a modest price tag of $4.99 per month.

Rivals cost at least a few dollars more: Disney Plus costs $7 a month, and Amazon Prime Video is at least $9 a month. Hulu costs $6 a month for its basic plan, while Netflix and HBO each offer their services for more than $10 a month.

Disney is also going to offer a bundled service that includes Disney Plus, ESPN Plus, and ad-supported Hulu for $13.

Here's how much each company was trading down after the announcement on Tuesday, as of 3:22 p.m. ET: 

Apple also said customers who buy a Mac, iPhone, or Apple TV would receive a free year of Apple TV Plus. The company's streaming service has been widely viewed as one of its efforts to diversify its services business. 

Roku sells smart TVs and streaming players that allow people to access a variety of streaming platforms, including Netflix and Hulu. It also offers its own ad-supported TV and movie service called the Roku Channel. 

Apple's announcement comes as the streaming space is bracing for the launch of several new platforms. AT&T is expected to roll out a streaming service called HBO Max, while Comcast is planning to introduce its own ad-supported platform.

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Uber has fired more than 400 product and engineering employees in its second major round of layoffs this year (UBER)

Tue, 09/10/2019 - 3:06pm  |  Clusterstock

Uber fired 435 employees from its product and engineering teams on Tuesday in its second major round of layoffs this year.

Some 170 people have departed the company's product team, with another 265 engineers leaving as well, an Uber representative confirmed to Business Insider. TechCrunch first reported the news.

In a statement, an Uber representative said the latest layoffs were another bid to find efficiencies in a now decade-old company and remain agile in a competitive field. 

"Our hope with these changes is to reset and improve how we work day to day—ruthlessly prioritizing, and always holding ourselves accountable to a high bar of performance and agility," the representative said. 

"While certainly painful in the moment, especially for those directly affected, we believe that this will result in a much stronger technical organization, which going forward will continue to hire some of the very best talent around the world."

Tuesday's layoffs follow a hiring freeze in some departments in the United States as Uber seeks to cut costs and become profitable to appease anxious investors. That hiring freeze has since been lifted, the representative confirmed. 

Most of the layoffs were in the United States, TechCrunch reported, with another 15% in Asia and Europe. The California employment development department told Business Insider there was no WARN notice, a form that large companies generally have to file for large layoff events, filed by Uber this week, potentially signalling that many layoffs occurred outside of the state in other offices. 

Read more: Uber marketing employees describe a 'bloodbath' when the company laid off 400 workers

Earlier in August, nervous engineers told Business Insider they feared they could be next. Other cost-cutting measures have included nixing the traditional balloons that employees receive on their work anniversaries and asking employees to be conscious about their travel expenses. 

Among the cost-cutting efforts, however, are new investments that will expand Uber's presence well beyond its Silicon Valley roots. The company this week announced a $200 million investment in a new Chicago office to house a growing freight team, as well as a new office in Dallas to house sales and human resources employees. 

Shares of Uber rose some 3.3% in trading Tuesday but remain more than 20% below initial trading prices following the company's massive IPO earlier this year. 

Are you an affected Uber employee? We want to hear from you. Get in touch with this reporter at grapier@businessinsider.com. Secure contact methods are available here. We can keep you anonymous. 

Here's Uber's full statement regarding Tuesday's layoffs: 

Our CEO has asked everyone on our management team a simple but important question: if we started from scratch, would we design our organizations as they stand today? After careful consideration, our Engineering and Product leaders concluded the answer to this question in many respects was no. Previously, to meet the demands of a hyper-growth startup, we hired rapidly and in a decentralized way.

While this worked for Uber in the past, now that we have over 27,000 full-time employees in cities around the world, we need to shift how we design our organizations: lean, exceptionally high-performing teams, with clear mandates and the ability to execute faster than our competitors.

Today, we're making some changes to get us back on track, which include reducing the size of some teams to ensure we are staffed appropriately against our top priorities. These were incredibly difficult calls as it means some of our employees no longer have a role, specifically around 170 people in our Product group and 265 people in Engineering, which is roughly 8 percent of those two orgs.

Our hope with these changes is to reset and improve how we work day to day—ruthlessly prioritizing, and always holding ourselves accountable to a high bar of performance and agility. While certainly painful in the moment, especially for those directly affected, we believe that this will result in a much stronger technical organization, which going forward will continue to hire some of the very best talent around the world.

More Uber news: 

SEE ALSO: Uber is opening massive new offices in Chicago and Dallas despite recent cost-cutting efforts

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