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Author Archives: Sammy Singh

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If you have a Google Pixel 2 or older, it’s officially time to upgrade to the new Pixel 4 (GOOG)

Category : entrepreneur

  • Google’s new Pixel 4 comes with an upgraded camera with two lenses, new motion sensing technology, and a smoother screen.
  • But the upgrade is probably only worth it if you’re upgrading from a Pixel 2 or older.
  • The new features and specs in the Pixel 4 will be much more noticeable if you’re upgrading from an older phone like the Pixel 2, and the Pixel 3 and 3a phones are still just fine, even by comparison. 
  • But Pixel 2 lacks many of the modern camera features found on the Pixel 3 and Pixel 4.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

After a deluge of leaks, Google finally took the wraps off its new Pixel 4 smartphone earlier this week, which starts at $800 and begins shipping on October 24.

During the Pixel 4’s unveil, Google brought out famous portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz to discuss what it was like to use the new device’s camera, hoping to prove that the camera system on its new device is more than capable of handling professional-grade work. It also flaunted the Pixel 4’s new radar-powered motion sensing technology, which can detect your presence and recognize your gestures.

But despite these advancements, you should probably only splurge on the Pixel 4 if you’re upgrading from a Pixel 2 or older. Unless the Pixel 4’s gesture recognition is a must have for you — which allows you to perform tasks like skipping to the next track on your music playlist with just a wave — the differences between the Pixel 3 and Pixel 4 likely don’t warrant an upgrade.

Read more: The most exciting new update in Google’s new Pixel phone is a feature that has flopped in the past

That’s because there are a lot of similarities between the Pixel 3 and 4: both phones have a large, vibrant OLED display that squeeze about the same number of pixels per inch on screen and support HDR. Both have high quality cameras loaded with features powered by the software and hardware, and both include Google’s Titan M security chip, which is said to offer enterprise-grade protection — a feature that the Pixel 2 lacks. 

The biggest difference between the Pixel 3 and 4, other than Motion Sense, is its camera. The Pixel 4 now has two cameras instead of one — the 12.2-megapixel wide-angle lens that Pixel 3 owners should be familiar with and a new 16-megapixel telephoto lens for better zooming. The Pixel 4 also comes with a few new photography features, such as the ability to capture photos of a starry night sky, manually adjust the exposure and shadows when framing shots, and see what photos will look like in HDR Plus mode before pressing the shutter button. 

Other changes coming with the Pixel 4 are designed to make your phone feel a bit faster and more efficient. The new screen now has a 90Hz refresh rate, which should make navigating the device’s user interface and scrolling feel smoother and snappier. The Pixel 4 also has 2GB of additional RAM then the Pixel 3 (6GB vs. 4GB), and runs on a slightly newer processor compared to the Pixel 3.

Taken together, all of these features will probably make Google’s latest phone feel faster.

But the changes will seem much more meaningful if you’re upgrading from an older device like the Pixel 2, which runs on a Qualcomm processor that’s now two generations old and lacks many of Google’s modern camera features.

The Pixel 2 doesn’t support Top Shot, for example, which saves frames before and after the shutter button is pressed and chooses the best one. It doesn’t have Super Res Zoom either, which as its name implies preserves more detail when you pinch-to-zoom in digitally. The Pixel 3, however, has nearly all of the same camera features as the Pixel 4.

Plus, the Pixel 2’s screen is also noticeably smaller than that of the Pixel 4. The Pixel 2 has a 5-inch display, while the 4 has a much roomier 5.7-inch screen. The difference between the Pixel 3’s screen and the Pixel 4’s is much less noticeable — the Pixel 3 has a 5.5-inch screen, only 0.2 inches smaller. The screen on Google’s aging Pixel 2 also doesn’t support HDR, unlike the Pixel 3 and 4.

All told, if you’re investing around $800 in a smartphone, it’s worth holding on to it for at least two years. But if you purchased the Pixel 2 at launch, you’re probably due for an upgrade and will find the Pixel 4 to be far superior. 

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Oracle must decide quickly if Safra Catz really needs an exec to step up as her new co-CEO (ORCL)

Category : entrepreneur

  • Once Oracle and the tech industry finishes mourning the untimely death of Mark Hurd, the database giant has some big decisions to make.
  • For the last several years, Oracle has successfully run under a triumvirate, with CEO Safra Catz running finance, cofounder and CTO Larry Ellison running engineering/product, and CEO Hurd running Oracle’s enormous sales and marketing machine.
  • Catz is more than qualified to run the company by herself. The question is: does she want to?
  • Larry Ellison has previously said that he would provide Oracle’s board with a list of five internal candidates who could step up and take Hurd’s place, and even tossed out some names.
  • But while there are plenty of executives who helped Hurd run pieces of his job, no one person has all the qualifications, an insider tells us.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

While the IT industry is mourning the death of CEO Mark Hurd at age 62, the sad truth is that, as a global company, Oracle must quickly push on. What will it do without Hurd, who was playing a crucial role at the company at a pivotal time?

First things first: Safra Catz has to decide if she wants to continue on as sole CEO.

Now read: Larry Ellison’s email to employees honored the memory of ‘brilliant and beloved’ Oracle CEO Mark Hurd

Catz is only 57, and has been on Oracle’s board of directors since 2001. She’s the financial genius at Oracle — the one who finds a way to profitably execute founder and CTO Larry Ellison’s vision, whether that’s a multi-billion hostile takeover or dozens of pricey new data centers. For that reason, she’s been called “the enforcer.” 

For decades she has historically led finance, M&A, human resources and legal at Oracle, with Hurd in charge of the massive sales and marketing apparatus.

As one of Oracle’s long-time execs who helped orchestrate its dominance in the tech world, she is perhaps more intimately knowledgeable of all of Oracle’s moving parts than anyone except Ellison himself. While she’s perfectly capable of running Oracle with Ellison, as they did for years before Hurd arrived, it’s not clear if she wants to.

She’s previously said she loved the three-headed executive setup that’s been in place since Hurd joined the company as co-president in 2010.

For instance, back in 2015, she told reporters at a rare press conference: “As co-CEO, we have so much fun. Whenever I’m away, I miss our crowd, Larry and Mark. I was so excited to see Mark one day, I gave him a big hug.”

Mark Hurd

Oracle CEO Mark Hurd, who passed away at age 62 in October.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Hurd was the operations guy, running sales, customer and technical support, business development, marketing, and —known as a cost-cutter — he kept watch over business unit revenue, a source tells us.

Ellison is the visionary, overseeing engineering and product development and is still the buck-stops-here decision maker.

But Catz has always been fiercely private and has avoided the spotlight. The downside to being sole CEO is the increased visibility it brings. Hurd was the one to appear on the business shows, to do the press interviews, to speak on stage, or to schmooze large gatherings of customers.

And this is a critical time for the company as it makes the leap from traditional IT hardware/software vendor into cloud computing. If it fails, Oracle will find itself a relic at best, or at worst, a goner like EMC or Digital Equipment Corp.

Last month, after Hurd took medical leave, Ellison said that he was sending the board of directors a list of five internal candidates who could be named CEO with her if Hurd could not resume his duties.

It won’t be Ellison

At the time, Ellison said that he himself was not interested in the CEO job again. 

Larry Ellison

Oracle chairman, CTO Larry Ellison
Business Insider/Julie Bort

He named two possibilities for that short list: Steve Miranda, executive vice president of Oracle Applications product development, who’s been with the company since 1992; and Don Johnson, vice president of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure and product development.

Read more: Larry Ellison is giving Oracle’s board 5 internal candidates to be considered as the next CEO

But one person familiar with these executives told Business Insider that their backgrounds are more technical, and that they specialize in R&D and engineering. Hurd’s job was on the sales and marketing side.

Dave Donatelli might have the chops for the role, a former employee tells us. He’s been running Oracle’s all-important cloud business, including product marketing and business development, reporting to Hurd, Prior to that, Donatelli was at HP, a general manager responsible for HP’s enormous enterprise equipment business. But he really spent most of his career at EMC, before going to HP.

Donatelli was, at one time, rumored to be on the short list for CEO of HP after Hurd resigned that job. But he’s never been a CEO, much less of an organization as large and complex as Oracle which makes everything from computer chips to open source software.

A former Oracle employee also points out that Judy Sim, who has been leading Oracle’s marketing and PR for a long time, could also help Catz or another chief exec lighten the load — but her background doesn’t include the more complicated areas of Hurd’s purview, like developing sales compensation plans and incentives.

Happier investors

Whether or not they’re tapped to become CEO, having those executives around means that Catz could very well have the support she needs to go solo, should she be willing to handle the increased visibility.

And if Catz decides to go it alone, Oracle’s investors may be happy about it.

Shareholders have grumbled for years over how much Oracle pays its top heavy executive suite, with a long history of voting “no” on the annual advisory vote on CEO pay. Oracle was also named the No. 2 on the list of companies with the most overpaid CEOs by governance watchdog group As You Sow. 

But one thing’s for certain: Oracle needs to decide and let the world know, or it will face endless questions from employees, investors and customers about its leadership plans.


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I flew on Qantas’ ‘Project Sunrise,’ a nonstop flight from New York to Sydney, Australia, which took almost 20 hours and covered nearly 10,000 miles — here’s what it was like

Category : entrepreneur

  • Qantas just completed the first-ever nonstop flight between New York and Sydney, Australia, designated “Project Sunrise,” and Business Insider was on board.
  • The flight — which lasted 19 hours and 16 minutes and covered almost 10,000 miles — was a research flight, as Qantas staff and scientists studied how to help passengers and crew stay adequately comfortable and rested on an ultra-long-haul flight. 
  • Researchers closely monitored pilots and flight attendants, and tested a new cabin service flow meant to help minimize jetlag.
  • It was a fascinating and enlightening experience, and left me feeling great for a morning in Sydney. Read on to see what it was like to be on board this first test flight.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

I’ve just spent a day in the air.

No, not just a day traveling, heading to airports, dealing with buses and terminals, and making connections. But nearly a full day in a pressured metal tube alternating between roughly 34,000 and 42,000 feet above the Earth — most of that above the Pacific Ocean.

The Australian airline Qantas ran a test flight for its “Project Sunrise” initiative — a program to launch regular commercial service from Sydney to New York and Sydney to London.

The flights, at about 9,900 and 10,500 nautical miles, respectively, represent the farthest — and currently the longest, in terms of time — nonstop flights today. While a nonstop flight from London to Sydney has been achieved once, 30 years ago, it hardly counts — it was flown with a completely empty 747 that had no seats, and it barely had enough fuel to make it. The New York-Sydney route has never been done without a stop in Los Angeles.

When it landed, the flight, designated QF7879, became the longest commercial flight in the world, surpassing Singapore Airlines’ regular commercial service between Singapore and New York, although next month’s test of the London-Sydney flight will surpass this one.

Airplanes and airlines are more technically advanced now than ever before, with better fuel-efficiency, longer ranges, and computer-aided logistical planning. But as some flights get longer, the question is whether passengers and flight crews can tolerate more hours in the air without a layover to break things up.

Qantas used this flight – and plans to do the same for the London route – to conduct research into how pilots, cabin crews, and passengers cope with the long flight time. In particular, data gathered from monitoring of the pilots and flight attendants will be used to help Qantas make a case to Australian aviation regulators that it’s safe to have crew work in shifts for potentially 20 hours or more.

The airline also tested a redesigned cabin service, meant to help passengers minimize the effects of jetlag as they cross 15 time zones, and reduce the magnitude with which an ultra-long-haul flight can exacerbate those symptoms. Cabin lighting, meal services, and food options were tailored to help passengers and crew either feel more awake, or be more attuned to nighttime.

This flight also doubled as a delivery of a new Boeing 787-9, from Boeing’s Seattle plant. There were only 40 passengers and 10 crew, including four on-duty pilots. Passengers included several Qantas frequent flyers participating in the research study, off-duty Qantas employees, researchers, and media, including this reporter.

The flight with a full load of passengers and cargo is not currently possible – the heavier load would reduce the plane’s fuel range.

Two planes in development from Airbus and Boeing would be capable of flying these routes. Qantas has said that it will decide by the end of 2019 which one it will use and that it expects to start commercial service as early as 2023, Alan Joyce, Qantas’ CEO, said. The airline had previously hoped to launch service by 2022.

Due to the low passenger load, each person was allocated a business-class seat that could convert into a bed. Passengers were also encouraged to spend some time in the coach cabin in order to balance the plane.

Although the flight would obviously be a different experience in coach with a full plane, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce discussed several options to make an ultra-long-haul flight in coach more comfortable.

Regardless, the nearly 20-hour trek in business class, with the redesigned cabin service, was a notably different experience compared to other long-haul flights I’ve flown in premium cabins, including first and business class.

Aside from that, it was truly a unique experience. After all, it’s not every flight that you see an airline CEO doing calisthenics in his pajamas.

While it is Business Insider’s policy not to accept free travel, we were not able to pay for the New York-to-Sydney trip because it was classified as a “ferry flight,” for which US Department of Transportation regulations prevent the airline from accepting any money for fares. Business Insider did pay for the return flight with the airline.

From takeoff to landing, plus before and after, read on to see what the 19-hour and 16-minute flight was like.


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JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon dings Facebook’s cryptocurrency Libra, saying it will never happen

Category : entrepreneur

  • JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon dinged Facebook’s cryptocurrency Libra, saying it was a “neat idea” that won’t happen.
  • Facebook announced the currency in June, with the idea that people all over the world could use it to pay for services online.
  • But regulators and prospective partners are suspicious, fearing that the currency could be used for criminal purposes and that it jeopardizes financial stability.
  • Dimon didn’t elaborate, but he’s previously expressed skepticism about digital currencies, once describing bitcoin as a fraud.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Facebook’s uphill struggle with its cryptocurrency Libra just got a little steeper, after the CEO of one of the world’s biggest banks said the currency “will never happen.”

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon dinged the currency at a conference by the Institute of International Finance in Washington, saying: “It was a neat idea that’ll never happen.”

We saw the news of Dimon’s remarks via Bloomberg.

Dimon didn’t elaborate much further, but added: “We already have stablecoins, so they’re not the first to do that.”

A stablecoin is a digital currency pegged to an existing currency, like the dollar. Libra is intended to be pegged to a basket of currencies including the dollar, the euro, and the yen.

Dimon’s remarks come after a rough two weeks for Facebook’s Libra.

Read more:Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency plan just got formalized, but a quarter of its backers have now dropped out

The firm announced Libra in June, along with a coalition of 28 initial backers who would help govern the currency and get it off the ground, expected to be the end of 2020.

Through October, a quarter of those backers dropped out, including Mastercard, Visa, Stripe, and PayPal, leaving Facebook with no major payment partners. The remaining 21 partners, including Spotify, Uber, and Lyft, confirmed their commitment to the currency in mid-October.

But politicians and regulators remain suspicious. The G7 group of wealthy nations said this month that stablecoins shouldn’t be permitted to launch until they properly address all the financial risks. The worry is that new currencies might be funnelled into funding terrorist or criminal activity. And France has said that it will block Libra from operating in Europe.

A Libra executive also recently suggested that the currency won’t be ready to launch by the end of 2020, as originally planned.

Facebook’s Libra chief David Marcus has scrambled both to defend the currency, and to emphasise that it will be overseen by all its partners and not just Facebook.

Dimon has long been a cryptocurrency skeptic. He famously described bitcoin as “a fraud”, though he then said he regretted making those comments. He later said he believes in the technology that underpins bitcoin, the blockchain, and JPMorgan in February became the first US bank to launch its own cryptocurrency.

You can watch Dimon’s remarks in CNBC’s YouTube video of the conference below from 34’32:

 


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Trading in your smartphone could be a ‘ticking time bomb’ for your personal data — here’s how one expert says you can protect yourself

Category : entrepreneur

  • As phones become more expensive, trading in older models is one way for consumers to afford to buy new editions.
  • But trading in old devices can be risky if any data is left behind.
  • Russ Ernst, an executive at data sanitization company Blannco, called this a “ticking time bomb,” and he has advice for avoiding disaster.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Consumers need more awareness about protecting their data.

That’s according to Russ Ernst, executive vice president of products and technology at Blannco, a company that specializes in data sanitization, or cleaning up sensitive information left on devices so that it can’t be accessed by the next user.   

“It’s a ticking time bomb,” Ernst said about the phone trade-in industry in an interview with Business Insider. “I’m surprised we don’t see more write-ups and articles. Eventually, someone’s device will end up in the wrong hands.”

Read more:Colleges and universities are tracking potential applicants when they visit their websites, including how much time they spend on financial aid pages

Smartphones contain texts, emails, bank accounts, and other sensitive information we might not even think about, like GPS data. According to Ernst, performing a factory reset on your phone is only one part of a three-step process you should be doing to protect your data if you trade in a phone, or sell any device.

He says that a factory reset removes pointers to files containing this data, but not the data itself.

“Anyone can use free, open-source tools to interrogate devices and find files that no longer have pointers associated with them,” Ernst said.

Not all phones are equally vulnerable, and issues differ depending on manufacturer, operating system, and carrier. 

Pixel 3a

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

How to wipe your phone

Ernst says that wiping the phone should be a three-step process:

1. Erase your data

2. Validate that the data was erased

3. Get a report on the erasure.

According to Ernst, consumers need to interrogate the services they use to trade in their phones. Ernst advises people trading in their phones to ask the company that they’re working with if it’s following that protocol. Consumers should ask “How can I trust that my phone is truly sanitized?” and “Are you validating that there’s no data left?”

He predicts that there will be an influx of people looking to trade in their phones as 5G becomes widely adopted, because phones will be more expensive and people will need to sell their old phones to afford the latest models.

However, Ernst also notes that people are reluctant to trust third-party sellers with their phones, which contain so much personal data. Recognized brands like Apple will likely see an influx of trade-ins because they already have customers who trust them, he said. 


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Peloton’s biggest fans reveal why they’re hooked on the buzzy workout

Category : entrepreneur

  • Peloton launched its high-tech home fitness bike in 2012. The setup enables users to stream live classes, making it possible to get a boutique studio workout from anywhere. It has since rolled out a treadmill and an app with a range of workouts you can do without the high-tech equipment.
  • In a relatively short period of time, the brand has grown to have a cult following of fans who say that the single most important reason Peloton has become so popular — and the reason they are motivated to work out most days — is the community that surrounds it.
  • Peloton customers share life experiences and personal stories in Peloton’s giant Facebook group, which has nearly 200,000 members.
  • Many of these customers say that this community spirit and culture of sharing comes from the instructors who instill a positive attitude in the workouts. 
  • Meet some of Peloton’s biggest fans below.
  • Sign up for Business Insider’s retail newsletter, The Drive-Thru, to get more stories like this in your inbox every Friday.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Stephanie Andreozzi describes herself as an introvert. She doesn’t like making small talk with strangers and shies away from social gatherings, preferring to spend time on her own. Yet, last August she found herself driving to a party at the home of a woman whom she had never met, just to spend time with a group of complete strangers.

She remembers her boyfriend turning to her in the car and saying, “Are you out of your mind? I can’t believe you’re doing this.”

But, she was adamant they’d have a good time.

“These are fun people,” she says she told him.

The party, at a house in central Pennsylvania, was for people who shared a love for what she describes as “the bike that goes nowhere,” or the Peloton. And, thankfully, it lived up to expectations.

Andreozzi said that she’s noticed some big changes in her life since buying the $2,00o bike, and they aren’t only physical.

“It is creating different relationships that I didn’t have in my life before I had the bike,” Andreozzi said in a phone conversation with Business Insider.

She added in an email that since attending that party, she’s invited another rider to lunch, connected with people in her hometown and at the hospital where she works who also have Peloton bikes, and plans to travel with a coworker to the New York studio in November for her 100th ride.

“I’m definitely more outgoing than before Peloton,” she said.

Andreozzi isn’t alone here. Fellow users of Peloton’s high-tech fitness machines — the bike and treadmill, and now its app — say that since joining the “Peloton community,” they’ve struck up relationships they hadn’t expected to, attended parties that they otherwise wouldn’t have, and shared personal stories online with people they hardly know. 

They interact via Peloton’s giant Facebook group, which has nearly 200,000 members and counting, and the countless subgroups — Pelo-Foodies, Peloton Sober Squad, Working Moms of Peloton, and Pelowinos, to name a few — that have splintered off from the central group. Peloton said it has 1.4 million members in total, a number that includes anyone who has a Peloton account

The Official Peloton’s Member Page on Facebook is designed to be a space for users to connect and “stay up to date on Peloton announcements and features,” it writes in the “about” section of the group. But the community spirit runs deeper than this, as members are increasingly using this space to share more intimate details about their life: the death of a family member, the birth of a child, and mental health issues are all recent examples.

Peloton bike owners and app users who spoke to Business Insider said that the open and supportive community that has sprung up around the Peloton brand is one of the main reasons, if not the main reason, why so many of them are motivated to work out every day.

‘The Apple of fitness’

Peloton launched in 2012 with a $2,000 high-tech fitness bike that enabled users to stream live and on-demand classes from anywhere. The bike quickly became one of the buzziest workouts around, as it had solved one of the biggest downsides of working out at home: having to work out alone and not having the encouragement of a group to keep you motivated.

In 2018, Peloton added a new piece of equipment to its offering. The new $4,000 treadmill enabled customers to have the same streaming experience via a giant screen attached to the front. Then it rolled out an app that costs $19.49 a month and grants access to workouts that can be done on standard gym equipment.

The company has grown a fan base in a relatively short period of time and has been referred to as “the Apple of fitness.” It went public last month, raising more than $1 billion and reaching a valuation of around $8.2 billion. In its S-1 filing, the company revealed that it had more than doubled its sales to $719 million in the year ending June 30. However, operating losses spiraled in the same period, which may have spooked investors as its stock dropped 11% on its first day of trading.

Read more:Peloton, the buzzy exercise-bike startup that’s been dubbed the ‘Apple of fitness’ has filed for an IPO. Here’s how it compares to SoulCycle.

The buzz around Peloton is something that even the company’s CEO, John Foley, has said he wasn’t expecting. But even more so, he wasn’t expecting to see this community emerge.

“When I started Peloton with my cofounders, I saw clear as day what it was going to look like and how it was going to work — the technology, the hardware, the software, the business model,” he told Business Insider in an interview at the CES tech industry trade show back in January 2018. “I saw everything except the community. The community has blown me away.”

‘It’s the community that makes you go back every day’

Amanda Segal said she has lost 65 pounds since she bought her Peloton bike in April 2018, and she is approaching her 300th ride.

50-year-old Segal, a mother of three, said she has spent most of her adult life struggling with her weight but was never fully able to fully commit to a workout routine before she bought the bike. 

“I am obsessed with this whole organization,” she told Business Insider.

When she bought the bike, her husband was highly skeptical.

“It’s just another piece of gym equipment that we’ll never use, we’re going to use it as a clothes rack, and it’s going to be a waste of money,” he told her.

Peloton

Segal shares her dramatic body transformation on Facebook.
Courtesy of Amanda Segal

But the reason Peloton has become a big and possibly permanent fixture in her life, and not another fitness fad, is because of the community, she said.

“The last thing I wanted to do was get on the bike in the morning,” she told Business Insider in a phone conversation, explaining that she’d been up late watching a baseball game the night before so wasn’t feeling motivated for a workout. But the thrill of knowing that her Peloton friends would be online at the same time kept her going.

“There is this constant feeling that you’re being supported by others,” she said.

And it’s the same on Peloton’s social media channels.

When she shared a photo on the Facebook group documenting her dramatic six-month weight loss, she received nearly 6,000 likes.

When she had a Peloton-themed cake made for her 50th birthday, 5,000 people liked the photo. One person asked if they could copy her idea and have it made for their wedding day.

“That, to me, was inspiring. I was like, ‘I’ve got to keep doing this,'” she said.

Peloton

Segal had a special Peloton cake made for her 50th birthday.
Courtesy of Amanda Segal

53-year-old Scottsdale, Arizona, resident Sue Dunne has had a similar experience.

She describes the bike as the vehicle and the community as what drives the spirit behind the whole company.

“It’s what makes you go back every day,” she told Business Insider.

‘I quit seeing my therapist because I was getting whatever I needed through my bike’

This September, Dunne traveled to Portland, Oregon, to be with her mother, who had had a stroke and was in the hospital. 

She called Peloton in Portland and explained that she’d spent the whole day in the hospital and asked where she could ride a Peloton bike in a local gym (Peloton’s commercial bikes can be ridden in certain hotels and fitness centers) so that she could keep up with a 60-day biking challenge that she was doing with a friend.

“They said: ‘just come back to our showroom.’ They were so amazing … they let me ride every day for a week,” she said. “It helped me get through a super stressful time.”

She believes that the company culture trickles down to the community; other riders experience it in the classes with their instructors, she said.

Peloton

Sue Dunne at the Peloton showroom in Portland.
Courtesy of Sue Dunne

“It starts with them,” 41-year-old Libby Smith, a mother of two, told Business Insider, referring to the instructors.”There is a sense of gratitude I feel from all of them and I feel like they instill that in the community as well.”

Smith remembers the trainer in a recent class saying: “Feel good, look good, be good to each other,” and encouraging riders to virtually high-five a neighbor through what’s called the Peloton Leaderboard, which tracks riders’ performance.

“That’s why people are so hooked to their bike because they get that daily dose on every single workout. I feel like I’m in the room with them, and I feel good after I have pressed play,” she said.

Segal said she’s even quit seeing her therapist since she got the bike because it’s had such a positive impact on her mental health.

“I was getting whatever I need through my bike, through the instructors, through the support. I am not a religious person, but they give you that sense of being a believer,” she said.

Convenience is king

It’s been just over six weeks since Johanna Humphrey signed up for Peloton, and she’s worked out every day since.

Rather than shelling out $2,000 for the bike or $4,000 for the treadmill, she’s found a cheaper way to get in on the action by buying a non-Peloton bike and working out using the brand’s app, which costs under $20 a month.

Read more:Here’s what it’s like to exercise with Peloton’s app, which has everything from at-home strength workouts to guided office meditations

She views the bike as an unnecessary expense.

“It’s 100% about the classes,” she said in a phone conversation with Business Insider.

The main downside is that because the bike isn’t paired to the class, she’s unable to log her resistance or compare her performance against other riders’. But, she feels that that’s balanced against the money she saves.

Humphrey isn’t turned on by the community side of Peloton quite like her co-riders. For her, it’s all about the standard of the instructors and the convenience of having access to studio-level classes from your living room.

“I like it because I am slightly overweight and I never liked going to spin classes because I always felt like I was surrounded by a bunch of super skinny, in-shape people.

“There’s something nice to the online privacy aspect of it; I am just doing it in my basement so it doesn’t matter if I am sweating to death and I look like hell, I don’t have to perform for anybody,” she said.

The convenience of the workout is what industry experts say puts boutique fitness concepts in such a vulnerable position, especially when combined with the community element.

“It’s a hassle to get into classes, it’s expensive, you have to find parking, you have to drive to the studio, you don’t know if you were going to get a bike,” Segal said of indoor cycling studio SoulCycle, a favorite workout of her adult daughter. “That is exactly why this concept is so ingenious because you can avoid all of those things.”

Still, when she does want to get her boutique studio fix, she makes the four-hour trip to New York from Maryland to ride with Peloton instructors in the studio.

She’s making plans to do just that in November as she celebrates her major 300-ride milestone.

If you’re a Peloton user with a story to share please contact this reporter at mhanbury@businessinsider.com.


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The world’s top-earning YouTube star is an 8-year-old boy who made $22 million in a single year reviewing toys

Category : entrepreneur

  • The 8-year-old Ryan Kaji of YouTube’s Ryan ToysReview generated $22 million in revenue in a single year from his YouTube fame, according to Forbes in its most recent report on YouTuber earnings.
  • The internet star is profiting in a big way off his digital brand and has a massive following of 22 million subscribers on YouTube.
  • With the help of kids-entertainment company Pocket.Watch, Ryan’s brand is a multimillion-dollar franchise, with his face on the shelves of Walmart, on toothbrushes, and on TV.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The highest-earning YouTube star in the world is an 8-year-old kid who makes millions reviewing toys online. 

Ryan Kaji, of YouTube’s Ryan ToysReview, generated $22 million in revenue in a single year from his YouTube fame, according to Forbes in its latest report on YouTuber earnings.

A family-run YouTube channel, Ryan ToysReview generated about $22 million in pretax income from June 1, 2017, through June 1, 2018, according to Forbes, up from $11 million the year prior. The raw estimate of $22 million put Ryan ToysReview just ahead of controversial star Jake Paul (who banked $21.5 million that year).

Ryan ToysReview started from occasional five-minute toy-unboxing videos posted to YouTube, with Ryan as the host in 2015. 

As the channel began to grow in views and subscribers, Michael Bienstock, chief executive of the influencer-focused wealth-management company Semaphore, reached out to Ryan ToysReview, and had a conversation with Ryan’s dad about how complicated things would get financially if the channel continued to grow at this pace, Bienstock told Business Insider in a previous interview. 

Bienstock helped the Kaji family turn what Ryan’s parents were doing at home into something bigger. 

Today, Ryan ToysReview is more than a YouTube channel.

From toothbrushes to a television show, the Ryan ToysReview brand, Ryan’s World, is a lucrative empire, built with the help of kids-entertainment company Pocket.Watch. 

The company brought the Ryan’s World brand to Colgate, Nickelodeon, Bonkers Toys, Roku, and Walmart, expanding Ryan from YouTube. 

Bonkers Toys_Ryan's World Giant Mystery Egg

Bonkers Toys

Ryan’s World merchandise can be found at Target, Walmart, and Amazon, like “Ryan’s World Giant Mystery Egg,” which includes many toys and was produced by Bonkers.

For more on the business of Ryan ToysReview, read these interviews on Business Insider Prime:

  • Meet the company that turned YouTube’s Ryan ToysReview into a business empire making tens of millions per year: Kerry Tucker, the chief marketing officer at Pocket.Watch, spoke with Business Insider about how the kids-entertainment company takes YouTube stars like Ryan ToysReview and turns their online brands into lucrative empires. 
  • Inside the toy business of YouTube star Ryan ToysReview, the 8-year-old boy who makes $22 million per year: We spoke with Deborah Stallings Stumm, the senior vice president of sales and marketing at the toy-manufacturing company Bonkers Toys, on what makes a successful partnership between a toy company and an influencer. 
  • The financial adviser to the world’s top-earning YouTube star shares the tips he gives clients to kick-start their businesses: Michael Bienstock, Semaphore’s chief executive, talked about assisting clients like Ryan of Ryan ToysReview (and his parents), in growing their careers.

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The creators of HBO’s ‘Silicon Valley’ say the tech industry’s lack of self-awareness is what makes it a good punchline — and explain why there’s no WeWork episode

Category : entrepreneur

  • The sixth and final season of HBO’s tech satire “Silicon Valley” premieres on October 27. We attending a screening of the first episode of the season at an event with the show’s creators and several cast members in San Francisco on Wednesday.
  • Mike Judge and Alec Berg, the show’s creators, told Business Insider that they’re really satirizing the tech industry’s lack of self-awareness — which is why things keep happening in real life that seem like they could have come from an episode of “Silicon Valley,” and vice versa. 
  • Judge pointed to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s controversial retreat in Myanmar, which eerily mirrored a subplot in the show where antagonist Gavin Belson loses himself on a meditation retreat. “Everyone was like, ‘How did you get Jack Dorsey to become Gavin Belson?'” Judge said.
  • Berg and Judge both said they regretted wrapping up the creative process for this season before the WeWork saga began to unfold. Judge quipped that CEO Adam Neumann, sometimes spotted walking around in New York City barefoot, “could’ve walked right into our show.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

In Silicon Valley, sometimes the satire writes itself.

And no, that’s not a pithy reference to an artificially intelligent joke bot, although that wouldn’t be out of place in HBO’s satire comedy “Silicon Valley.” The show’s creators, Alec Berg and Mike Judge, have had ample inspiration to pull from as the real life Silicon Valley continues to outdo itself in sheer over-the-top antics. 

“God, it’s all so outrageous,” Judge told Business Insider.

Read More: The flopping of the IPOs: Tech’s biggest investors came to San Francisco for a major startup conference, and one topic stole the show

The sixth and final season of “Silicon Valley” premieres on October 27. We attended a screening in San Francisco on Wednesday with the show’s creators and several cast members on Wednesday ahead of the premiere — and it’s right back to ripping storylines from the headlines: The new season tackles tech execs testifying in front of Congress, the scooter craze, and the backlash to invasive social media data collection. 

Berg says that despite the rapid pace of change in the real-life Silicon Valley, the show has always prided itself on poking fun at the tech industry — which has, in some ways, only gotten easier since it premiered in 2014. 

“I think it went from season 1, the tech industry felt like it was a bunch of very wealthy, very smug people who were walking around congratulating themselves for having solved the world’s issues, so I don’t know that our relationship with them has changed, but their relationship to reality has changed,” Berg said.

Indeed, the showrunners say, it’s that lack of self-awareness that provides them with the ammunition they need to write the most biting satire. Judge specifically cited the time that Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s went on a silent meditation retreat in Myanmar, where social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook may have helped fuel a mass genocide. 

‘How did you get Jack Dorsey to become Gavin Belson?’

The whole incident was almost identical to a long-running subplot in the “Silicon Valley” show, centered on Gavin Belson, the CEO of fictional tech giant Hooli and the series antagonist. Belson relies on a grifter, his “spiritual healer,” for business advice, and spends much of the most recent season in exile from the company, meditating at a monastery. 

“Everyone was like, ‘How did you get Jack Dorsey to become Gavin Belson?'” Judge said.

Berg added that the lack of self-awareness that Dorsey showed in not only taking the retreat, but promoting tourism to Myanmar afterwards, is exactly what makes the tech industry so ripe for comedy in the first place.

“He was in a country where they are in desperate need of a non-censored social media platform that could somehow allow them to communicate beyond the prying eyes of the government. If only someone could invent something like that,” Berg said. “Yeah, stuff like that, that’s been our bread and butter from the beginning, is like: there’s a lack of self awareness, a lack of humility that has always been red meat for satire.” 

No WeWork episode

One might think that the WeWork saga would be similarly meaty enough for “Silicon Valley” to skewer. Unfortunately for those keen on schadenfreude, WeWork cofounder Adam Neumann and his entourage will be absent from the show’s final season.

They had just wrapped the last episode, Judge said, when the drama around its IPO began — much to the chagrin of everybody working on the show. If there were to be a seventh season, it could easily include a character based on Neumann, known for his distinctive long hair and predilection for walking around barefoot, Berg said.

“The CEO just looks like he could walk right into our show,” Judge said.

Even with endless rewrites, sometimes right up until shooting, both creators said there was no way they could get every piece of real-life news into the final season of “Silicon Valley.”

At the same time, after six seasons of tearing apart the tech industry, they said it was about time the tech industry tore itself apart.

“I don’t know if they’ve quite owned the reality of everything that’s happened yet but it does feel like there’s starting to be this reckoning, and I’ve heard stories of people who would brag about what company they worked at now being afraid to tell their friends that they work in the tech business, because of the repercussions,” Berg said. “And that is the polar opposite of what it was when we started.”


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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

Category : entrepreneur

  • John Meyer’s upstart venture company is trying to upturn what he sees as a hidebound industry.
  • With Starship Capital, Meyer aims to invest very early on in technologies and companies that have “exponential” potential.
  • His strategy is to serve as an advisor before investing, helping companies with hiring and, more importantly, figuring out if there’s a market for their products.
  • Meyer, a serial entrepreneur who was early to the app revolution, has developed a way of using Facebook ads to figure out demand and customer-acquisition costs before startups even launch their products.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

The venture capital industry prides itself on finding and funding startups that can disrupt big markets. But if you ask John Meyer, it’s the venture industry itself and its traditional way of launching new companies that’s ripe for disruption.

Meyer, a serial entrepreneur who cashed in early on the smartphone app revolution by making some of the first simple apps in the iPhone App Store, set up his own early-stage venture firm called Starship Capital last year to test his theory.

The tech industry and broader society are on the cusp of seeing massive changes thanks to new technologies such as artificial intelligence, Meyer told Business Insider in a recent interview. The startups that help spearhead those changes are often going to need more help — financially and otherwise — earlier in their life cycles than young tech companies have typically required in the past, he said.

“The goal of Starship is to track down what these sort of exponential leap-forward technologies are, and, at sort of the earliest moment possible, be able to assist” the companies developing them, he said.

In this new era, it’s going to be important for venture firms — especially those that are looking at really nascent technologies and companies — to be flexible, Meyer said. Instead of specializing in enterprise software, say, they’re going to need to be able to invest in a range of different of different sectors.

Perhaps more importantly, they will need to have the flexibility to supersize very early investments to help new companies get off the ground, he said. Instead of needing just $500,000 or $1 million in seed funding, the next-generation startups may need as much as $5 million up front, he said.

Starship is designed to be nimble

Meyer structured Starship so that it can nimbly respond to such opportunities and needs. It’s not restricted to investing in a particular sector. And the firm’s design allows it to scale up investments as needed.

Instead of raising a discrete venture fund that makes a certain number of investments of around the same size size, Meyer secured some $25 million in what he calls “soft commitments” from investors. Whenever he finds a startup he wants to invest in, he can go to his backers, present the opportunity, and discuss with them the appropriate amount to invest, which may well be much more than what he could do with a standard fund. 

That model “allows us to be quite nimble with the deals we have access to,” Meyer said.

Thus far, Starship has backed four startups. Of those, he only named one — BuildX, which aims to automate much of the commercial construction process. Another company Starship has backed, which Meyer declined to name, is developing an automated legal service that uses machine learning to help provide legal advice to those who can’t afford a lawyer.

With each company Starship has funded, it started in an advisory capacity before making an investment, a strategy that Meyer plans to continue.

Indeed, that’s another area where he thinks Starship will be different from more traditional venture firms. His aim is to work with founders and entrepreneurs who are less than six months into developing their business idea or startup.

“These companies are quite early stage and often times run by first-time founders that could use some additional expertise,” he said.

Meyer’s goal is to de-risk startups before they even launch products

When his firm takes an advisory role, he or his partner steps in and acts almost like an executive at the startup, helping out with hiring and fundraising. More importantly, they also try to help the founding team prove where there’s a real market for their concept or, if not, help them quickly pivot to an idea for which there is a market.

“I’ve seen too many cases of startup founders [who] raise money for a company, get it off the ground, and then they realize they don’t even really have much demand for that product to begin with,” Meyer said. Starship’s goal, he continued, is to “dramatically de-risk extremely early stage companies and assist them in getting to that phase where they can go and raise money from one of the tier-one or tier-two seed-stage funds.

A big part of how Starship helps companies — particularly those developing consumer-targeted products — prove that there’s a market for their ideas is by taking advantage of Facebook’s advertising platform. Even before its startup partners have launched product, Starship helps them create a brand and build a website. Then, it helps the startup advertise its potential product on the social media giant or on its Instagram subsidiary. Starship uses Facebook’s tools to target ads at what are likely to be the most receptive consumers and then uses a cookie on the startups website to track the response to the ads.

With a budget of less than $1,000, Starship and the startup can get a very good idea of how much demand there is for the company’s prospective product and its likely customer-acquisition costs. Because the process isn’t very time consuming or costly, Starship and the startup can tweak the wording of the ads and the potential cost of the product to see how such changes affect demand.

“Literally within a week, [we can] get to a point where we can then decide whether or not to invest in this consumer startup in a way that is a much more confident decision and I think data-backed decision than most other early stage funds,” Meyer said. 

Meyer’s entrepreneurial experience informed Starship’s strategy

Much of Meyer’s ideas for Starship came from his own experiences as a entrepreneur. He started writing smartphone apps as a freshman in high school, right after Apple opened up its App Store, and soon had a thriving business creating relatively simple flashlight and photography apps. He then used his proceeds to found Fresco News, dropping out of college to build a company around the news-sharing app.

Read this: This 19-Year-Old Developer Is So Successful, He Turned Down Apple

Since then, he has been a founder-in-resident at Atomic, a startup incubator, and a Thiel Fellow, the name given to those who secure a fellowship from venture capitalist Peter Thiel’s personal foundation — which carries the requirement that the recipient drop out of college or otherwise not attend. Last year, he cofounded Homebound, a company that uses digital technology to help speed up and reduce the cost of the homebuilding process.

Through his experience at Atomic, he got some ideas about how to help out really early-stage companies. And through his Thiel fellowship, he’s made connections to other young entrepreneurs who are exploring cutting-edge ideas.

But the time he spent building apps was probably the most crucial, he’s said. From that experience, he learned the importance of rapidly prototyping and iterating on products. He also during that period developed his ideas of using Facebook to glean demand. As the app market became more competitive, he needed to find a way to figure out if there was demand before investing a bunch of money in a new project; he discovered he could do that through Facebook.

“That was sort of the genesis of the strategy within Starship now,” he said.

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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  • An Austin startup used this pitch deck to raise $14 million to help real estate agents, plumbers, and other small businesses operators better market themselves online
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  • This VC’s firm backed Fitbit and Ring. He says one of the keys to its success is focusing on founders’ emotional intelligence, not just their IQ.

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MediaLab acquires messaging app Kik, expanding its app portfolio

Category : Mobile

Popular messaging app Kik is, indeed, “here to stay” following an acquisition by the Los Angeles-based multimedia holding company, MediaLab.

It echoes the same message from Kik’s chief executive Tim Livingston last week when he rebuffed earlier reports that the company would shut down amid an ongoing battle with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Livingston had tweeted that Kik had signed a letter-of-intent with a “great company,” but that it was “not a done deal.”

Now we know the the company: MediaLab. In a post on Kik’s blog on Friday the MediaLab said that it has “finalized an agreement” to acquire Kik Messenger.

Kik is one of those amazing places that brings us back to those early aspirations,” the blog post read. “Whether it be a passion for an obscure manga or your favorite football team, Kik has shown an incredible ability to provide a platform for new friendships to be forged through your mobile phone.”

MediaLab is a holding company that owns several other mobile properties, including anonymous social network Whisper and mixtape app DatPiff. In acquiring Kik, the holding company is expanding its mobile app portfolio.

MediaLab said it has “some ideas” for developing Kik going forwards, including making the app faster and reducing the amount of unwanted messages and spam bots. The company said it will introduce ads “over the coming weeks” in order to “cover our expenses” of running the platform.

Buying the Kik messaging platform adds another social media weapon to the arsenal for MediaLab and its chief executive, Michael Heyward .

Heyward was an early star of the budding Los Angeles startup community with the launch of the anonymous messaging service, Whisper nearly 8 years ago. At the time, the company was one of a clutch of anonymous apps — including Secret and YikYak — that raised tens of millions of dollars to offer online iterations of the confessional journal, the burn book, and the bathroom wall (respectively).

In 2017, TechCrunch reported that Whisper underwent significant layoffs to stave off collapse and put the company on a path to profitability.

At the time Whisper had roughly 20 million monthly active users across its app and website, which the company was looking to monetize through programmatic advertising, rather than brand-sponsored campaigns that had provided some of the company’s revenue in the past. Through widgets, the company had an additional 10 million viewers of its content per-month using various widgets and a reach of around 250 million through Facebook and other social networks on which it published posts.

People familiar with the company said at the time that it was seeing gross revenues of roughly $1 million and was going to hit $12.5 million in revenue for that calendar year. By 2018 that revenue was expected to top $30 million, according to sources at the time.

The flagship Whisper app let people post short bits of anonymous text and images that other folks could like or comment about. Heyward intended it to be a way for people to share more personal and intimate details — to be a social network for confessions and support rather than harassment.

The idea caught on with investors and Whisper managed to raise $61 million from investors including Sequoia, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and Shasta Ventures . Whisper’s last round was a $36 million Series C back in 2014.

Fast forward to 2018 when Secret had been shut down for three years while YikYak also went bust — selling off its engineering team to Square for around $1 million. Whisper, meanwhile, seemingly set up MediaLab as a holding company for its app and additional assets that Heyward would look to roll up. The company filed registration documents in California in June 2018.

According to the filings, Susan Stone, a partner with the investment firm Sierra Wasatch Capital, is listed as a director for the company.

Heyward did not respond to a request for comment.

Zack Whittaker contributed reporting for this article.