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Monthly Archives: October 2019

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This VC helped make VMware the giant it is today as its CTO. Here’s why he thinks his background helps him score deals and sift through the hype. (VMW)

Category : entrepreneur

  • Steve Herrod thinks he has an advantage over other venture capitalists — he’s got a deep background in technology.
  • Herrod has a PhD in computer science and was the chief technology officer of VMware before joining General Catalyst as a managing director.
  • His experience building the technology department at VMware has helped him offer advice to founders about how to build their tech teams.
  • His knowledge of technology has helped him to evaluate startups, particularly those touting their use of artificial intelligence.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

Steve Herrod, by his own admission, focuses on the “nerdy” stuff.

But even in Silicon Valley, where it’s long been said that nerds rule, Herrod’s found that being able to understand and offer advice on the technical challenges startups face has given him an edge over other venture capitalists. His technical acumen and experience has helped him establish a rapport with the companies’ founders and get into deals, he told Business Insider in a recent interview.

“I think that that’s been something that’s been attractive to a lot of these founders as I’m going in and looking to invest with them,” said Herrod, a managing director at General Catalyst.

Herrod came by his technical expertise honestly. He has bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD degrees in computer science. He worked in software engineering for more than 15 years, spending the last five of them as VMware’s chief technical officer.

But beyond his degrees and titles, he has also plenty of practical experience. At VMware, he learned how to build a large technical team as he helped the company grow its engineering staff from 20 people to 2,000. As its CTO, he learned how to guide VMware’s developers to anticipate problems years in advance and to make sure they assigned particular issues to the engineers and groups that were best suited to tackle them. 

During his time there, the company acquired more than 20 startups — including Nicira, which would go on to form a cornerstone of VMware’s strategy — so he developed a good sense of how to work with nascent companies and integrate them into a larger corporate parent.

“I certainly made plenty of mistakes and learned lots of lessons,” he said. 

Herrod’s tech background has helped him ignore the hype

When he decided to make the switch to being a venture capitalist six years ago, helping establish General Catalyst’s West Coast presence in the process, he figured those lessons would come in handy. Many of the investors behind the startups that he met with as VMware’s CTO didn’t have his level of technical expertise. He thought that he could be a resource to the types of companies he planned to focus on — very early-stage startups that were developing software products that would be sold to corporate technology departments.

At that stage, the companies are “almost always [just] a technical team and a general idea,” he said.

From his experience, he said, he can help them with hiring and building teams and focusing on the right problems.

Herrod’s engineering background has proved helpful in another way in his second career — sussing out the puffery from the reality when it comes to the technologies startups are working on. A few years ago, lots of firms were touting themselves as big data companies, he said. Then a bunch of them claimed to be cloud companies. Now the big thing startups are saying their working on is artificial intelligence.

Much of what people claim to be AI is really just calculating basic statistics or doing elementary data processing, Herrod said. When founders say their company is working in or on AI, it’s often just marketing, he said.

“AI gets a ton of undue hype,” he said. “But also there’s a lot of real stuff going on there. And so being able to separate those two and hope the investment’s a good one has been a big focus.”

He’s having fun

Real AI essentially involves computing systems learning from patterns, experiences, or examples and applying that understanding to future problems, Herrod said. Where AI gets exciting — and what Herrod looks for — is when it has the potential to make a process 10 times better, faster, or less costly.

One company whose technology has that potential is Espressive, he said. The Silicon Valley firm as developed an AI-powered virtual assistant for corporate help desks. The assistant, dubbed Barista, is designed to automatically field help desk calls and inquiries from employees. The system learns from past interactions to improve how it responds to future ones.

Companies are interested in the system not because it has AI, but because it promises to greatly improve their ability to handle help desk cases.

“At the end of the day…AI is a means to an end,” Herrod said. “It’s not why anyone buys any product.”

AI isn’t the only technology he concentrates on. He also looks at companies involved in cybersecurity, networking, and the handling of data. This summer, he led General Catalyst’s investment in Securiti.ai, which uses AI to help companies comply with the growing number of privacy regulations around the world, including Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation and the California Consumer Privacy Act. 

Herrod may no longer be leading an engineering team, but he still enjoys geeking out with the companies and founders he meets with.

“It’s been fun,” he said, continuing, “You just get to see so many cool ideas and interesting people.”

Got a tip about venture capital or startups? Contact this reporter via email at twolverton@businessinsider.com, 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.

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  • A former app economy wunderkind is now aiming to disrupt the venture world with his own investment company, and he’s using Facebook ads as his secret weapon
  • Here’s why the founder of a beloved productivity app is refocusing his startup incubator on health from artificial intelligence
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Officials have confirmed 37 deaths and nearly 1,900 cases of serious lung disease tied to vaping. Here are all the health risks you should know about.

Category : entrepreneur

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration are investigating a spate of lung illnesses tied to vaping, or using e-cigarettes.
  • According to new numbers released on Oct. 29, there have been 1,888 confirmed and probable cases of illness across the US. 37 people have died.
  • Investigators still don’t know the cause, but they’re increasingly narrowing in on cannabis, which was involved in about three quarters of the cases.
  • The mysterious lung disease isn’t the only risk of vaping. Read on to see how vaping affects your health.
  • Still, when compared against smoking, vaping nicotine appears to be healthier.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Since June, 1,888 people in the US have been struck with lung illnesses tied to vaping, or using e-cigarettes. Thirty-seven people have died.

The new figures, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Oct. 29, include confirmed and probable lung-illness cases from 49 states, Washington, DC, and the US Virgin Islands. US officials have said they expect the number of deaths tied to vaping to increase.

Vaping is a highly variable hobby, making it difficult for officials to determine exactly what’s causing the illnesses and deaths. 

Officials have said it’s likely that products containing THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, are playing a major role in the outbreak. According to the CDC, 86% of the people who have the lung disease reported using vapes containing THC. Another 11% said they exclusively vaped nicotine.

On Oct. 17, officials said the CDC was doing new lab tests to home in on a cause. The agency is currently testing specimens from sick patients that includes lung biopsies and plans to run chemical tests on lung fluid, blood, and urine. The CDC is also preparing to test e-cigarette vapors and e-liquids.

The agency previously said it had gathered about 120 vaping devices and substances that may be linked to the illnesses.

Read more: Vaping is leading to a spate of lung injuries, comas, and death. Lung experts say oils like vitamin E may be partially to blame.

The CDC advised people to consider not vaping until it can figure out the cause of the illnesses. The agency also warned smokers who vape nicotine to not return to smoking, however.

So far, the available evidence still suggests that when compared to smoking, vaping is a healthier habit. The practice involves inhaling heated vapor, rather than burned material. In general, vapers are believed to be exposed to fewer toxicants and cancer-causing substances than smokers. 

To help prevent young people from vaping, states including Michigan, New York, and Massachusetts have banned at least some e-cigarette products.

There are hundreds of different kinds of vaping devices

There’s an enormous amount of variety when it comes to vaping devices, ingredients, and brands — making it difficult to pinpoint any single cause.

First, there are the all-in-one style devices, where all of the necessary pieces are contained in the device itself. These popular e-cigs are sold under brand names like Juul and Blu (for nicotine), and Pax (for cannabis).

Read more: The precarious path of e-cig startup Juul: From Silicon Valley darling to $38 billion behemoth under criminal investigation

Then there are the modifiable tank-based e-cigs, in which pieces of the device can be bought separately, and users can customize everything from the temperature of the device to the drug ingredients. These modifiable setups have been linked with dangers in the past, including at least twodeaths.

Finally, there are the ingredients that go into the devices, which can range from waxes to liquids to ground plant matter. Some devices allow users to pour in their own liquid or stuff in their own wax or herbs, while other devices simply include disposable pre-filled cartridges.

In some of the cases reported to health agencies, users said they were vaping cannabis when their illness occurred. In Oregon, health officials said they had received reports that the person who died had been vaping cannabis. But because marijuana is still illegal in many states, it’s possible that those cases are under-reported. Other vapers in the reports have been using only nicotine.

In many of the cases, patients said they experienced a gradual start of symptoms like trouble breathing, shortness of breath, and chest pain before they were brought to the hospital. Some people said they also experienced stomach issues including vomiting and diarrhea.

A new practice with several unknowns

Vaping is a relatively new practice, having only became popular within the past decade. Because of its novelty, researchers have warned that there’s a lot we still don’t know about how the practice impacts the brain and body.

“Given their relatively recent introduction, there has been little time for a scientific body of evidence to develop on the health effects of e-cigarettes,” the authors of a large recent report on the overall health effects of vaping wrote.

Recently-discovered health risks range from a heightened exposure to toxic metals to a potentially higher risk of a heart attack.

Last spring, for example, researchers examining the vapors in several popular e-cigarette brands found evidence that they contained some of the same toxic metals normally found in conventional cigarettes, such as lead. They also found evidence suggesting that at least some of those toxins were making their way through vapers’ bodies. Their results were published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

Consistently inhaling high levels of toxic metals has been tied to health problems in the lungs, liver, immune system, heart, and brain, as well as some cancers, according to the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration. 

In a study published last fall in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, scientists found evidence tying daily e-cigarette use to an increased risk of a heart attack. Still, the study could not conclude that vaping caused the heart attacks — only that the two were linked.

When it comes to the spate of recent lung illnesses, health departments are further investigating by testing e-cigarette products and samples they’ve collected from patients.

But vaping seems to have helped hook millions of teens on nicotine 

Separately, vaping appears to have helped hook lots of new young people on nicotine — in some cases, young people who otherwise would not have smoked.

E-cigarettes have been tied to a large recent jump in smoking among middle school and high school students. From 2017 to 2018, the percentage of teens who said they’d used e-cigs jumped 78%, according to the CDC. Preliminary data for this year shows that e-cig use has continued to increase among teens.

Because they contain nicotine, e-cigarettes are especially dangerous for kids and teens whose brains are still developing, experts say. In young people, nicotine appears to blunt emotional control as well as decision-making and impulse-regulation skills. That most likely helped prompt a warning about e-cigs from the US surgeon general in December.

The rise in youth vaping prompted a crackdown on the industry led by the FDA. The agency responded by curbing the sale of flavored e-cigs, which they’ve said are particularly appealing to young people.

“Ultimately, we expect these steps designed to address flavors and protect youth will dramatically limit the ability of kids to access tobacco products we know are both appealing and addicting,” Scott Gottlieb, who was then FDA commissioner, said in a statement at the time.

This article was published on August 30 and has been updated.


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How to see the passwords you’ve saved on your Samsung Galaxy S10, and delete or copy them

Category : entrepreneur

how to do everything tech banner

  • You can see the passwords that are saved on your Samsung Galaxy S10 by opening the Settings menu in Google Chrome.
  • The Google Chrome browser on your Samsung Galaxy S10 remembers your passwords when you log into websites. You can see this list of passwords at any time.   
  • To see a password, you’ll need to enter your phone’s passcode. Then you can view, copy, or delete the password. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

If you use Google Chrome on your Samsung Galaxy S10, you’ll appreciate the browser’s ability to remember passwords for you. Chrome saves your passwords so it can enter your login information automatically when you return to a site, so you never have to remember your own password.

Chrome also keeps a secure list of all the passwords it saves. It’s easy to see a list of the passwords in your Galaxy S10’s Chrome browser at any time.

Check out the products mentioned in this article:

Samsung Galaxy S10 (From $899.99 at Best Buy)

How to see passwords on a Samsung Galaxy S10

1. Start the Google Chrome app on your Galaxy S10.

2. Tap the three dots at the top-right of the screen. This opens the browser’s menu.

passwords 1

Tap the menu button in Chrome and then select “Settings.”
Dave Johnson/Business Insider

3. Tap “Settings.”

4. On the Settings page, tap “Passwords.” You should now see a list of all your passwords.

passwords 2

The Passwords page lists all the websites for which you have saved passwords.
Dave Johnson/Business Insider

  • To see a specific password, tap the entry and then tap the Preview icon (which looks like an eye). You may need to enter your phone’s passcode to unlock the password. 
  • While you’re on this page, you can copy the password to the clipboard by tapping the Copy button (which looks like two rectangles, to the right of the Preview button). 
  • To delete this password from your phone, tap the Delete button at the top of the screen (shaped like a trash can). Be certain you want to do this, because there’s no way to take it back — it’ll be deleted immediately. 
passwords 3

You can see, copy, and delete passwords from the passwords details page.
Dave Johnson/Business Insider

You can control Chrome’s ability to remember your passwords on the Passwords Settings page as well. 

To turn the browser’s ability to save passwords on or off, tap the “Save passwords” button at the top of the screen to toggle it to your preference. 

Related coverage from How To Do Everything: Tech:

  • ‘Why won’t my Samsung Galaxy S10 charge?’: 7 ways to fix your Galaxy S10 if it isn’t charging properly

  • How to take a screenshot on a Samsung Galaxy S10 in 5 different ways

  • How to set up fingerprint scanning for unlocking a Samsung Galaxy S10, and add additional fingerprint patterns

  • How to ‘soft’ reset a Samsung Galaxy S10, or reset it to its factory settings


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The frenzy around YouTubers Jeffree Star and Shane Dawson’s makeup collection crashed the website, and people are freaking out

Category : entrepreneur

  • YouTube stars Jeffree Star and Shane Dawson recently collaborated on a makeup collection, and it went on sale Friday afternoon.
  • Within minutes, Jeffree Star Cosmetics’ website went down, preventing people from purchasing items and not even loading for other users.
  • On Twitter, Dawson attributed the issues to the website’s e-commerce platform Shopify, which has confirmed it’s experiencing issues on some of its storefronts.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Thousands of fans eagerly awaiting the release of the makeup collaboration between two of YouTube’s biggest stars are in uproar after the website for buying the items crashed just minutes after the products went on sale Friday afternoon.

Shane Dawson and Jeffree Star — who, combined, have nearly 40 million YouTube subscribers — recently revealed that they were working on a “Conspiracy” makeup collection together under Star’s beauty label. The products, ranging in price from $18 to $55, went on sale Friday at 1 p.m. Eastern.

However, it took just minutes before fans eagerly awaiting the release took to Twitter to report problems accessing the website for Jeffree Star Cosmetics. Some users couldn’t even access the website, which displayed an error message like this for many people:

 

jeffree star cosmetics website crash

Jeffree Star Cosmetics

Other users who were able to access the website were able to add items to their virtual shopping cart, but complained of not being able to complete their purchases.

—KEEM 🍿 (@KEEMSTAR) November 1, 2019

—KEEM 🍿 (@KEEMSTAR) November 1, 2019

Dawson and Star responded on Twitter to upset fans. Dawson attributed the issue to Shopify, the e-commerce platform that Jeffree Star Cosmetics uses to handle online transactions.

Shopify confirmed it was experiencing issues with “some storefronts” on its website, but did not respond to a request for comment from Business Insider. It’s not exactly clear what caused Shopify to have issues, but some Twitter users are speculating that Spotify’s network was overloaded by all the consumers flooding to Star’s cosmetics website.

Later on Friday, Star’s website appeared to be back up and working, with fans able to complete their purchases. It remains to be seen how much money the two YouTubers stand to make from the collection, but Star has estimated that it could net them each around $10 million.

Shortly before 4 p.m. Eastern, fans were reporting that the palette was sold out on Star’s cosmetics website. Palettes were also sold on the website and in stores of beauty retailer Morphe, but many items are already sold out on its website in at least the US and Australia.


  • 0

The frenzy around YouTubers Jeffree Star and Shane Dawson’s makeup collection has crashed the website, and people are freaking out

Category : entrepreneur

  • YouTube stars Jeffree Star and Shane Dawson recently collaborated on a makeup collection, and it went on sale Friday afternoon.
  • Within minutes, Jeffree Star Cosmetics’ website went down, preventing people from purchasing items and not even loading for other users.
  • On Twitter, Dawson attributed the issues to the website’s e-commerce platform Shopify, which has confirmed it’s experiencing issues on some of its storefronts.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Thousands of fans eagerly awaiting the release of the makeup collaboration between two of YouTube’s biggest stars are in uproar after the website for buying the items crashed just minutes after the products went on sale Friday afternoon.

Shane Dawson and Jeffree Star — who, combined, have nearly 40 million YouTube subscribers — recently revealed that they were working on a “Conspiracy” makeup collection together under Star’s beauty label. The products, ranging in price from $18 to $55, went on sale Friday at 1 p.m. Eastern.

However, it took just minutes before fans eagerly awaiting the release took to Twitter to report problems accessing the website for Jeffree Star Cosmetics. Some users couldn’t even access the website, which displayed an error message like this for many people:

 

jeffree star cosmetics website crash

Jeffree Star Cosmetics

Other users who were able to access the website were able to add items to their virtual shopping cart, but complained of not being able to complete their purchases.

—KEEM 🍿 (@KEEMSTAR) November 1, 2019

—KEEM 🍿 (@KEEMSTAR) November 1, 2019

Dawson and Star responded on Twitter to upset fans. Dawson attributed the issue to Shopify, the e-commerce platform that Jeffree Star Cosmetics uses to handle online transactions.

Shopify confirmed it was experiencing issues with “some storefronts” on its website, but did not respond to a request for comment from Business Insider. It’s not exactly clear what caused Shopify to have issues, but some Twitter users are speculating that Spotify’s network was overloaded by all the consumers flooding to Star’s cosmetics website.

Later on Friday, Star’s website appeared to be back up and working, with fans able to complete their purchases. It remains to be seen how much money the two YouTubers stand to make from the collection, but Star has estimated that it could net them each around $10 million.

Shortly before 4 p.m. Eastern, fans were reporting that the palette was sold out on Star’s cosmetics website. Palettes were also sold on the website and in stores of beauty retailer Morphe, but many items are already sold out on its website in at least the US and Australia.


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One of the world’s largest industrial giants is gearing up for life after diesel, and electric vehicles are not included (CNHI, DE)

Category : entrepreneur

  • CNH Industrial, in the midst of an aggressive turnaround plan, is making big bets on liquefied natural gas and hydrogen fuel-cell electricity. 
  • CEO Hubertus Mülhäuser discussed the company’s approach to innovation in an interview with Business Insider, drawing a line in the sand against its larger competitor John Deere. 
  • It’s a fight not unlike the Android versus Apple wars, as technology moves from Silicon Valley to fields across Europe and the American heartland. 
  • But with agriculture hit hard by President Donald Trump’s trade war, neither company has tailwinds in its favor. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Hubertus Mülhäuser has a plan.

The former automotive executive was recruited by CNH Industrial, the conglomerate behind many well-known agriculture and heavy machinery brands, in August. When he arrived, his work was already cut out for him.

The Chicago-based, Netherlands-registered company behind names like Case and New Holland, is in the midst of a three-pronged turnaround. In 2018, it posted its first revenue and earnings growth in more than four years, as it targets aggressive growth from a depressed agricultural sector, weighed down by Presidential Donald Trump’s trade war.

“In all honesty, it can’t really get worse for ag,” Mühlhäuser said, referring to agriculture in an interview with Business Insider, and adding that the category’s slump has added a useful hedge against much more downside.

“We are already at a low point and moving sideways for the last years,” he said. “We don’t see the ag industry falling off a cliff because there is a solid end demand. The world’s population is growing. People want to have fresh food and you need to have a machine to harvest it.”

But with an increasingly tight labor market — and the necessity to wean a carbon-dependent industry off of fossil fuels — the agriculture of the future won’t look like past centuries.

“We’re moving away from diesel faster in the off-highway world,” Mülhäuser said, referring to the segment of vehicles for industrial uses in farms, mines, and more. “We’re already disrupting the market in Europe around liquefied natural gas engines and trucks, and we’re positioning ourselves for the hydrogen economy.”

Electric vehicles — while gaining steam for highways and families — aren’t part of the $13 billion CNH is earmarking for innovation.

“We are in a heavy duty environment,” Mülhäuser said. “Our thinking is that, will there be electrification with batteries? Yes. For applications where you don’t need a high degree of autonomy, in urban environments where you only have to go a couple hundred miles a day, and where you don’t have to carry 30 or 40 tons.”

For heavy vehicles, the battery technology just isn’t there yet.

“If we think heavy construction machinery,” he said, “we still believe that electrification is the right thing, but the power source is not going to be a battery, It’s going to be fuel cell.

In September, CNH invested $100 million for a 25% stake in the fuel-cell maker Nikola, with plans to use the company’s hydrogen technology in trucks throughout North America and Europe. The move highlights CNH’s strategy of investing in small stakes of many companies, in hopes that one is a breakout star. CNH, by way of its investment, then has exclusive rights to sell that product.

“We don’t have the arrogance to say we know best which startup is going to make it and then invest a lot of money,” Mülhäuser said. “There are companies that invest a quarter of a billion into one artificial-intelligence company and say ‘this is going to change the world.'”

Three key areas of focus for these investments fall into three basic categories: fleet, field, and farm. On fleets of tractors, for instance, the company hopes to have sensors flag parts that may be soon in need of replacement. While in the field, the autonomous advances that farming already has on highway driving still have room for improvement. Elsewhere on the farm, CNH wants to integrate soil moisture sensors with others that can monitor grain storage, market prices and more to help farmers increase average yields per acre.

Of course, CNH isn’t the only company betting on an agribusiness rebound. John Deere, the legendary brand with more than ten times CNH’s sales last year, is also rebounding from a 2016 revenue trough. Like CNH, Deere has teams working on data-intensive projects like artificial intelligence, automation, and other tech to increase output under increasingly fewer human workers.

Mülhäuser isn’t afraid to directly address the green elephant in the room.

His pitch comes down to a divide not uncommon in tech: walled-gardens versus open platforms. But we’re not dealing with Apple versus Android phones — it’s about a farmer’s ability to have products from any manufacturer talk to each other.

“We need to have an open platform, with an open-source approach,” he said. “If you go closed-circle, it will not be okay. John Deere has taken their decision to go with a closed system, a closed platform, like Apple. They decide with whom you can connect.

“We have chosen an Android approach.”


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Greta Thunberg is stuck on the wrong continent after the year’s most important UN climate-change summit got moved from Chile to Spain

Category : entrepreneur

 

Greta climate strike 16 August

Thunberg aboard the zero-emissions vessel, the Malizia II, on August 16, 2019.
Courtesy of Malizia II media

  • Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old activist, has emerged as the face of a global youth movement demanding action to curb climate change.
  • Thunberg refuses to fly in airplanes because of their carbon footprint, so she used a zero-emissions sailboat to cross the Atlantic to attend climate summits in New York City in September.
  • Thunberg planned to stay in the Americas to attend the United Nations COP25 climate summit in Santiago, Chile in December, but the event was just moved to Madrid, Spain. 
  • On Friday, Thunberg tweeted asking for help crossing the Atlantic: “It turns out I’ve traveled half around the world, the wrong way,” she said. “If anyone could help me find transport I would be so grateful.” 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The world’s most famous youth climate activist doesn’t fly.

Because of air travel’s large carbon footprint, Greta Thunberg relies on trains and boats for transportation instead. But that’s put the Swedish 16-year-old in a bit of a bind.

Thunberg traveled from the UK to New York City on the Malizia II, a sailboat that runs on solar power (and wind, of course), in order to speak at the United Nations Climate Action Summit. Her plan was to stay in the Americas until the UN COP25 climate summit in early December. 

But on Friday, that event got moved to Madrid, Spain, because the Chilean capital is the throes of riots and protests.

Now, Thunberg is looking for a low-emissions way to travel back across the Atlantic Ocean before COP25 commences on December 2.

“It turns out I’ve traveled half around the world, the wrong way,” she tweeted on Friday, adding, “if anyone could help me find transport I would be so grateful.”

Could Thunberg travel home the same way she came?

To reach the US, Thunberg sailed with the crew of the Malizia II, a zero-emissions sailboat. Her father and a documentary filmmaker were onboard, too. The boat’s captain, Boris Herrmann, and fellow sailor Pierre Casiraghi volunteered to help them cross the Atlantic at no cost.

Only a handful of zero-emissions vessels like the Malizia II exist, Casiraghi told the New York Times.

The 3,000-mile journey from Plymouth, England to New York took 13 days, after which the crew of the Malizia II returned to Europe. Thunberg never planned to sail back on the Malizia II; her travel arrangements back to Sweden had always been up in the air.

Greta Thunberg

Climate change activist Greta Thunberg grimaces as she addresses the media during a press conference in Plymouth, UK on August 14, 2019.
Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

Even if Herrmann and Casiraghi did want to ferry Thunberg back across the Atlantic on the Malizia II, that might not be possible: The ship its captain are currently in the mid-Atlantic, racing in the 114th Transat Jacques Vabre transatlantic sailboat race from Brazil to France.

To make matters more complicated, Thunberg is currently in Los Angeles, so it would take her at least three days to get back to the Atlantic’s shores by train.

Air travel’s heavy carbon footprint

Thunberg’s refusal to fly reflects a growing global awareness about airplanes’ heavy carbon footprint.

A single round-trip flight between New York and California generates roughly 20% of the greenhouse gases your car emits in a year. Overall, the aviation sector accounts for 2% of annual global greenhouse-gas emissions. A 747 aircraft emits more than 21 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere per mile traveled.

Since arriving in North America, Thunberg has relied mostly on trains and buses to get to meetings and events.

She testified before the US Congress in September, chatted with Barack Obama, and gave a fiery, tearful speech to world leaders at the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York.

Most recently, Thunberg has been traversing Canada, where she met with Canadian president Justin Trudeau and joined climate strikes in Montréal and Vancouver before returning to the US.

But since Chilean president Sebastian Pinera withdrew Santiago as the UN summit host, Thunberg no longer plans to travel farther south.

“I’m so sorry I’ll not be able to visit South and Central America this time, I was so looking forward to this. But this is of course not about me, my experiences or where I wish to travel. We’re in a climate and ecological emergency. I send my support to the people in Chile,” Thunberg tweeted on Friday.


  • 0

Elon Musk is feuding with a popular car TV show after it posted a video of a Porsche Taycan beating a Tesla Model S in a drag race (TSLA)

Category : entrepreneur

  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk took issue with the TV show “Top Gear” over a video it posted on YouTube that showed the high-end trim of Porsche’s Taycan electric sports car beating the high-end trim of Tesla’s Model S sedan in a drag race.
  • Another YouTube video, made by the drag-racing website DragTimes, speculated that “Top Gear” had not turned on the Model S’s “Ludicrous Plus” feature, which allows it to achieve its fastest acceleration.
  • Top Gear responded to criticism of the segment on Thursday, saying it had turned on Ludicrous Plus for the Model S and that the Taycan beat the Model S in all five of the drag races it ran.
  • Musk tweeted on Thursday that he sided with DragTimes.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has taken issue with the TV show “Top Gear” over a video it posted on YouTube showing the high-end trim of Porsche’s Taycan electric sports car beating the high-end trim of Tesla’s Model S sedan in a drag race.

Another YouTube video, made by the drag-racing website DragTimes, speculated that “Top Gear” had not turned on the Model S’s “Ludicrous Plus” feature, which allows it to achieve its fastest acceleration. The website also said the 0 to 60 mph, 0 to 100 mph, and quarter-mile times for the Model S displayed by “Top Gear” in an on-screen graphic matched those from a prior race, and that it has received reports of faster quarter-mile times for the Model S than the time shown in the “Top Gear” video.

“Top Gear” responded to criticism of the segment on Thursday, saying it had turned on Ludicrous Plus for the Model S and that the Taycan beat the Model S in all five of the drag races it ran. While the 0 to 60 mph, 0 to 100 mph, and quarter-mile times displayed for the Model S were from a prior race, they were faster than any of the times achieved during the five most recent races, the show added.

Musk tweeted on Thursday that he sided with DragTimes. On Friday, he criticized “Top Gear,” appearing to disagree with its statement that the Model S was in Ludicrous Plus mode.

“Show should be called ‘Low Gear’!” Musk said.

According to Tesla, the Model S’s performance trim can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 2.4 seconds and has a top speed of 163 mph, while Porsche says the Taycan’s performance trim can go from 0 to 60 mph in 2.6 seconds and has a top speed of 161 mph.

Are you a current or former Tesla employee? Do you have an opinion about what it’s like to work there? Contact this reporter at mmatousek@businessinsider.com. You can ask for more secure methods of communication, like Signal or ProtonMail, by email or Twitter direct message.

  • Read more:
  • Two of Tesla’s boldest bets are paying off, Model 3 customers say
  • Elon Musk’s plan to fix Tesla’s troubled service operation isn’t working, according to nearly 5,000 Model 3 owners — but there’s one big exception
  • Elon Musk said he wishes Tesla’s Model 3 were cheaper, even though customers weren’t that interested in its least expensive version
  • The future of Elon Musk’s empire was in peril in 2016, and new documents reveal more about the desperate plan to save it

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Digital Asset, a blockchain startup that nabbed millions from the likes of JPMorgan, Goldman, and Citi, has lost at least 25% of its staff since April

Category : entrepreneur

  • Digital Asset, a blockchain startup that raised $115 million from big banks like Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, and Citi, has seen at least 25% of its staff depart since April.
  • Business Insider spoke to five former employees of the once-buzzy startup about the exodus of employees, which stemmed largely from a pivot away from the distributed-ledger platform it originally built its brand around.
  • It’s not the only upheaval the fintech has faced over the past 12 months — its high-profile CEO Blythe Masters stepped down in December, much to the surprise of many of those inside the company. 
  • A Digital Asset spokesperson told Business Insider in a statement that over the past year the firm “concentrated its effort on the parts of our business where we can deliver the most value to our customers and the market at large, which is DAML smart contracts.”
  • The change in increased focus on DAML, its programming language for smart contracts, “is the result of years of planning, engineering work, and careful evaluation of the market opportunity rather than a reaction to perceived failures,” the spokesperson said. 
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories. 

A once-buzzy startup deemed a key player in Wall Street’s adoption of distributed-ledger technology has seen significant employee departures, signaling the difficulty of building a business in the once-sexy tech. 

Digital Asset was founded in 2014 in the midst of the finance industry’s growing obsession with blockchain and raised over $115 million in funding from the likes of Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, and Citi.

Departures have been a combination of people leaving on their own accord as well as staff reductions, former employees said. Since April, at least a quarter of its workforce across varying levels of seniority and divisions has left the startup, according to an analysis on LinkedIn.

Business Insider spoke to five former Digital Asset employees, all of whom had left the company within the last year but declined to speak on the record due to non-disclosure agreements or fear of retribution, about their time at the startup. The common theme was one of a company struggling to sell the distributed-ledger technology platform it had originally built its brand on, leading to a shift in its business approach over the past year as it looked to find a more viable business route.

At its core, one of Digital Asset’s biggest missteps came from pitching a product many of its competitors were willing to offer for free. As the company realigned to find a viable business model, it was forced to shed a significant amount of its workforce. 

Further complicating the switch was the change in leadership Digital Asset faced following its high-profile CEO, Blythe Masters, stepping down in December 2018 to the shock of many, including those at the company. 

The changes at Digital Asset represents the difficulties in building out a business in the distributed-ledger space. The technology, once viewed as the future of how Wall Street conducted business, has yet to move beyond pilots and initiatives amongst most financial firms, who still seem unsure, or unwilling, to completely implement the tech in day-to-day operations. 

A Digital Asset spokesperson told Business Insider in a statement over the past year the firm “concentrated its effort on the parts of our business where we can deliver the most value to our customers and the market at large, which is DAML smart contracts.”

“The execution of our strategy is the result of years of planning, engineering work and careful evaluation of the market opportunity rather than a reaction to external pressures or perceived failures,” the spokesperson said. 

Digital Asset struggled to sell its DLT platform to big companies

In many ways, Digital Asset served as an initial benchmark for Wall Street’s interest in the potential of the blockchain. In 2016, it nabbed $60 million in funding from 15 of the largest financial and technology firms, including Goldman, JPMorgan, Citi, and IBM, on the belief its technology could disrupt how the world’s financial markets operate.

However in the three years since, adoption of the startup’s distributed-ledger technology platform was limited. The Australian Stock Exchange, which announced in late 2017 it was working with Digital Asset to replace CHESS, its equities clearing and settlement system, is the only established Wall Street firm to take significant steps towards moving beyond a proof-of-concept or pilot stage with Digital Asset’s original DLT platform.

By 2018, Digital Asset found itself burning cash on long, expensive pitches to financial firms that weren’t leading to business, according to one former employee. The source said the issue the startup constantly came up against during pitches was the fact competitors were offering similar blockchain platforms for free via open source. 

A second former employee said the company originally maintained a mindset of wanting to own its proprietary technology and not collaborating with others, an ideology that didn’t work with how most of those in the DLT space approached things. 

“We were at a huge competitive disadvantage because most of the other people were giving this shit away for free and saying, ‘Yea, you can maintain it yourself,'” the first former employee said.

“That became a real expensive proposition for us. … Competition in these multi-month, if not multi-year, RFP processes is expensive, especially when you are losing every one of them,” the source added. 

Leadership changes 

The company faced another significant change in the past 12 months. Masters, a former JPMorgan executive credited with creating credit-default swaps, announced her resignation as CEO of Digital Asset, sending shockwaves through the company, and the wider industry. 

The departure of Masters, who joined Digital Asset in 2015 and had grown to be the face of the nascent technology, was viewed by many as another sign of Wall Street’s apathy for the tech. Masters remained on the company’s board of directors, a position she still holds.

Blythe Masters

Blythe Masters, former CEO of Digital Asset
YouTube/Columbia Business School

Internally, Masters leaving also came as a surprise, according to former employees, who said many had come to Digital Asset because of her and her vision of disrupting Wall Street. No further explanation was given internally about why she had left beyond what had already been said publicly — she was stepping down due to “personal reasons.” 

“Blythe Masters is a superstar,” a third former employee said. “In terms of pure charisma and magnetism she’s — in my opinion — irreplaceable.”

However, in April, when speaking to Business Insider, Shaul Kfir, co-founder and chief technology officer at Digital Asset, downplayed her departure and any significance it had around the company’s future.  

“Blythe is one person in a company of 180,” Kfir said. “The company wasn’t just Blythe, and her departure didn’t really change anything in these plans.” 

Masters’ replacement 

Masters’ immediate replacement came in the form of AG Gangadhar, a former engineering executive at Amazon, Google, and Uber who had joined Digital Asset’s board of directors in April 2018.

The decision to name Gangadhar acting CEO and chairman raised some eyebrows within the rank-and-file at the company, according to a fourth former employee. While Gangadhar had an impressive resume from his time at some of the biggest, most innovative tech companies in the world, he also came with his own set of baggage. At Uber, he ran an engineering department that was plagued by controversy over how it handled sexual harassment complaints.

Gangadhar headed up the Uber engineering department that included Susan Fowler, the engineer who penned a blog post outlining her experiences facing sexism and sexual harassment at the ridesharing startup that eventually led to widespread changes, including the eventual resignation of cofounder and then-CEO Travis Kalanick. 

Gangadhar had come to Digital Asset after a short stint as CTO at Cruise, GM’s self-driving car division. Following his appointment in November 2017, Cruise faced public criticism, including some from Fowler herself. By March 2018, only six months after he had joined, Gangadhar and Cruise agreed to part ways. 

His time at the top of Digital Asset would also be short lived and, according to the fourth former employee, uninspiring. Under Gangadhar’s purview, uncertainty remained around the direction of the company with employees unsure of what their day-to-day responsibilities were, the source added. 

In April, Digital Asset began focusing solely on DAML

In March, Yuval Rooz, a Digital Asset cofounder who had served as COO and CFO, was appointed CEO with Gangadhar remaining on as executive chairman.

Plans Digital Asset had around another portion of its business went into hyperdrive with a slew of public announcements.

The following month, DAML, a programming language for developing so-called “smart contracts,” was open sourced. A week later, a partnership with software company VMware and its blockchain project was unveiled as part of a new initiative for DAML to work with a variety of blockchains as opposed to only Digital Asset’s. Integration with DAML onto blockchain projects run by Hyperledger, R3 and Amazon would follow in June. 

While DAML had always been a part of Digital Asset’s plan, with an announcement back in August 2016 to eventually open source it, a fifth former employee said the decision to allow it to be used on other blockchains was a big one. 

“The time was right to accelerate the execution of our strategy, which involved open-sourcing our smart contract language (DAML) and integrating it with other ledgers,” the Digital Asset spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, building out Digital Asset’s own distributed ledger platform for large companies was no longer the priority. 

A combination of resignations and staffing cuts would soon follow the announcements, sources said, as the company focused all of its efforts and resources on DAML and building out the developer community around it and away from the blockchain platform it had failed to gain traction with. 

As for ASX, in August the exchange signed a three-party memorandum of understanding with Digital Asset and VMware to join forces for projects including overhauling CHESS and supporting DAML.

People who had been brought on to develop and sell platforms to large businesses now had completely new mandates, sources said.

While some employees were forced out as part of layoffs in the spring and summer, others left on their own accord.

“With the strategic re-shift, it’s just like alright, we are playing in a different space now. Now we are in the selling to developers game. Now we are in the selling a language game and building a community game,” the second former employee said. “This wasn’t interesting to them, this new strategy. Also, I think the new strategy wasn’t really conducive to a big workforce.” 

As of Friday, Digital Asset has six job postings for its New York office on its website, along with seven other openings across its London, Zurich, Budapest, and Sydney office.  

The second former employee said the desire to raise additional investments for Digital Asset this year was partial motivation for the company to focus on DAML. 

“The initial feedback from investors was, ‘Look, you guys are just doing too much without a product in the market,'” the second former employee said.

Following its initial $60 million venture round, Digital Asset had raised $7.2 million from ASX and then a $40 million in a Series B round led by Jefferson River Capital, the family office of Blackstone’s executive vice chairman Tony James, in October 2017. Since then, however, there has been no announced fundraising. 

Over the same time, there was no shortage of money being invested into fintechs. Venture capital firms were forking over a record amount of cash to those looking to disrupt Wall Street in 2018 and 2019.

To be sure, all the former employees agreed a change in approach was required for Digital Asset. The initial approach it had taken wasn’t panning out, they said, and a switch was needed. 

Since the announcements around DAML in April, Broadridge, an investor in Digital Asset, publicly explained its plans to use the programming language as part of a DLT-based repo platform it was building out. Swiss bank UBS also discussed an initiative using DAML for some structured products in Asia. 

That being said, the new business model isn’t a sure thing, sources said. The fifth former employee with knowledge of the DAML strategy said the change in focus put Digital Asset on pace to be “much more useful, valuable,” however, an open-source strategy made it difficult to assess profitability. 

Got a tip? Contact this reporter via email at ddefrancesco@businessinsider.com, Signal (646-768-1650) or direct message on Twitter @dandefrancesco.


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Microsoft’s $10 billion Pentagon contract win changes everything in the cloud wars with Amazon. Here’s what you need to know. (MSFT, AMZN)

Category : entrepreneur

Last week, the Pentagon sent a shockwave through the cloud computing world with the surprise announcement that Microsoft had won the $10 billion Joint Defense Enterprise Infrastructure (JEDI) contract in a huge upset over Amazon Web Services. 

This came as a shock to basically everybody: Amazon Web Services was long the favorite to win, mainly for the very good reasons that it’s bigger than everybody else, has a higher security clearance than anybody else, and already had a $600 million deal with the CIA. Going in, everyone thought that Microsoft winning this deal would be like if the Washington Nationals won the World Series (hey, wait). 

The shadow of politics looms large over the JEDI contract award, too, thanks in large part to President Donald Trump and his beef with Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s CEO and owner of the Washington Post. Trump reportedly wanted the deal “scuttled,” and is said to have ordered former Defense Secretary James Mattis to “screw Amazon” out of the contract.

Now, the deal is done, but the saga of JEDI is not yet over. There are two questions on everybody’s mind: How did this happen? And: What happens next? 

Here’s a roundup of Business Insider’s reporting on the aftermath of JEDI, the complicated political circumstances around it, and what could come next:

  • Trump’s reported attempts to personally intervene in the JEDI award process could give Amazon all the ammunition it needs to fight back against Microsoft. 
  • At the same time, experts tell Business Insider that the Trump factor may have been overrated in the JEDI conversation, and there’s every reason to believe that Microsoft won the deal on its own merit. 
  • That’s a “wake-up call” for Amazon, experts say, because it means that it has to acknowledge for the first time that Microsoft is playing at its level in cloud computing. 
  • And for Microsoft, it’s a reassuring sign that it’s on the right track, but it might still has a lot of work to do before it can actually fulfill the terms of the JEDI contract.
  • A surprise winner in all of this? Oracle, which failed at its attempt to derail the JEDI process with a series of protests and legal challenges against Amazon, but which succeeded in slowing things down enough for Microsoft to get its act together and win. And because Microsoft and Oracle are now cloud partners, it can still benefit.

As of the time of writing, Amazon hasn’t taken any action in the wake of the JEDI decision — last we heard, it was keeping its options open. But Business Insider is keeping its eyes and ears open. And if you want us to know anything about the JEDI deal and the aftermath, here’s how to send us a tip.