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Author Archives: Sammy Singh

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Google device deals for Black Friday include discounts on the Pixel phones, Nest smart home devices, and more — here are the best deals

Category : entrepreneur

Google Pixel 4

The Google Pixel 4 is $200 off for Black Friday when you buy the unlocked version.
Crystal Cox/Business Insider

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  • Whether you’re looking for deals on Google’s best smartphones or its excellent smart home devices, you’ll be in luck this Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
  • A number of retailers have announced impressive discounts on Google devices — including the Pixel 4, Pixel 3a, and Nest smart speakers — for Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2019.
  • Most of the deals haven’t started yet, but a few are available now.
  • You can save $200 on an unlocked Pixel 4 at Best Buy, Amazon, and B&H Photo right now or pick up a Google Home Max at Bed Bath & Beyond for $250 (a savings of $50).
  • For deals that aren’t live yet, keep an eye on this page so you can click “Add to cart” on November 28.
  • You can check out the rest of our Black Friday and Cyber Monday coverage on Insider Picks.

Google makes some of the best smartphones and smart home devices, and luckily, many of them are going on sale for Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2019.

You can save on Google’s latest Pixel 4 and Pixel 3a smartphones as well as the company’s Nest smart speakers, smart thermostats, and security cameras at the Google Store, Target, Best Buy, Walmart, and B&H Photo.

Most of the deals are not live yet, so we recommend you bookmark this page and check back on Black Friday when they go live.

We have also included a few early deals, but you may get better prices if you wait until Black Friday. We’ll keep updating this page as deals are announced.

10 best Google device deals for Black Friday 2019:

  1. Save $50 on the Google Home Max at Bed Bath & Beyond (available now)
  2. Save $200 to $250 on the unlocked Pixel 4 or 4 XL at Best Buy, Amazon, and B&H Photo(available now)
  3. Save $400 on the Pixel 4 or 4 XL at Best Buy when you activate with a carrier (deal runs 11/28 to 12/2)
  4. Save $100 on the Pixel 3a or 3a XL at Best Buy, Amazon, and B&H Photo(deal runs 11/28 to 12/2)
  5. Save $29 on the Google Home Mini at Best Buy and Walmart — get it for $19.99 (deal starts 11/28)
  6. Save $50 on the Nest Hub smart display at Target and Best Buy(deal starts 11/28)
  7. Save $80 on the Nest Hello smart doorbell at Best Buy(deal starts 11/28)
  8. Save $70 on Nest Learning Thermostats at Best Buy(deal starts 11/28)
  9. Save on Nest smart home products at Best Buy(deal starts 11/28)
  10. Save on Google Nest Smart Speakers at Best Buy(deal starts 11/28)
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If you have a Google Pixel 2 or older, it’s officially time to upgrade to the new Pixel 4 — which is on sale for Black Friday (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 in October, which starts at $800 and began 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. And if you are looking to replace your now 2-year-old Pixel 2, Black Friday may be the right time to do so. Best Buy will be offering a discount of $400 on the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL with a qualified activation, as well as $200 off an unlocked Pixel 4 or Pixel 4 XL.  

But if you have a Pixel 3, you may want to hold off on upgrading. 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.

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. The Pixel 4 also features Google’s well-regarded Night Sight, which the company launched on the Pixel 3 in 2018. During my testing, the Pixel 4 outperformed the iPhone 11 Pro’s night mode in most situations when snapping photos in dark environments. 

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’s face unlock feature works faster than the facial recognition on many other phones I’ve used in the past, since the phone’s radar sensors can detect when you’re nearby. The Pixel 4 also has 2 GB of additional RAM then the Pixel 3 (6 GB vs. 4 GB), 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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Android’s Ambient Mode will soon come to ‘select devices’

Category : Mobile

You’ve probably heard murmurs about Google’s forthcoming Ambient Mode for Android . The company first announced this feature, which essentially turns an Android device into a smart display while it’s charging, in September. Now, in a Twitter post, Google confirmed that it will launch soon, starting with a number of select devices that run Android 8.0 or later.

At the time, Google said Ambient Mode was coming to the Lenovo Smart Tab M8 HD and Smart Tab tablets, as well as the Nokia 7.2 and 6.2 phones. According to the Verge, it’ll also come to Sony, Nokia, Transsion and Xiaomi phones, though Google’s own Pixels aren’t on the company’s list yet.

While your 🔋 charges, Ambient Mode comes to life. Hear how it delivers a proactive Google Assistant experience to your #Android phone. pic.twitter.com/67rrgTTxqO

— Android (@Android) November 25, 2019

“The ultimate goal for proactive Assistant is to help you get things done faster, anticipate your needs and accomplish your tasks as quickly and as easily as possible,” said Google Assistant product manager Arvind Chandrababu in the announcement. “It’s fundamentally about moving from an app-based way of doing things to an intent-based way of doing things. Right now, users can do most things with their smartphones, but it requires quite a bit of mental bandwidth to figure out, hey, I need to accomplish this task, so let me backtrack and figure out all the steps that I need to do in order to get there.”

Those are pretty lofty goals. In practice, what this means, for now, is that you will be able to set an alarm with just a few taps from the ambient screen, see your upcoming appointments, turn off your connected lights and see a slideshow of your images in the background. I don’t think that any of those tasks really consumed a lot of mental bandwidth in the first place, but Google says it has more proactive experiences planned for the future.


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Instagram founders join $30M raise for Loom work video messenger

Category : Mobile

Why are we all trapped in enterprise chat apps if we talk 6X faster than we type, and our brain processes visual info 60,000X faster than text? Thanks to Instagram, we’re not as camera-shy anymore. And everyone’s trying to remain in flow instead of being distracted by multi-tasking.

That’s why now is the time for Loom. It’s an enterprise collaboration video messaging service that lets you send quick clips of yourself so you can get your point across and get back to work. Talk through a problem, explain your solution, or narrate a screenshare. Some engineering hocus pocus sees videos start uploading before you finish recording so you can share instantly viewable links as soon as you’re done.

Loom video messaging on mobile

“What we felt was that more visual communication could be translated into the workplace and deliver disproportionate value” co-founder and CEO Joe Thomas tells me. He actually conducted our whole interview over Loom, responding to emailed questions with video clips.

Launched in 2016, Loom is finally hitting its growth spurt. It’s up from 1.1 million users and 18,000 companies in February to 1.8 million people at 50,000 businesses sharing 15 million minutes of Loom videos per month. Remote workers are especially keen on Loom since it gives them face-to-face time with colleagues without the annoyance of scheduling synchronous video calls. “80% of our professional power users had primarily said that they were communicating with people that they didn’t share office space with” Thomas notes.

A smart product, swift traction, and a shot at riding the consumerization of enterprise trend has secured Loom a $30 million Series B. The round that’s being announced later today was led by prestigious SAAS investor Sequoia and joined by Kleiner Perkins, Figma CEO Dylan Field, Front CEO Mathilde Collin, and Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger.

“At Instagram, one of the biggest things we did was focus on extreme performance and extreme ease of use and that meant optimizing every screen, doing really creative things about when we started uploading, optimizing everything from video codec to networking” Krieger says. “Since then I feel like some products have managed to try to capture some of that but few as much as Loom did. When I first used Loom I turned to Kevin who was my Instagram co-founder and said, ‘oh my god, how did they do that? This feels impossibly fast.’”

Systrom concurs about the similarities, saying “I’m most excited because I see how they’re tackling the problem of visual communication in the same way that we tried to tackle that at Instagram.” Loom is looking to double-down there, potentially adding the ability to Like and follow videos from your favorite productivity gurus or sharpest co-workers.

Loom is also prepping some of its most requested features. The startup is launching an iOS app next month with Android coming the first half of 2020, improving its video editor with blurring for hiding your bad hair day and stitching to connect multiple takes. New branding options will help external sales pitches and presentations look right. What I’m most excited for is transcription, which is also slated for the first half of next year through a partnership with another provider, so you can skim or search a Loom. Sometimes even watching at 2X speed is too slow.

But the point of raising a massive $30 million Series B just a year after Loom’s $11 million Kleiner-led Series A is to nail the enterprise product and sales process. To date, Loom has focused on a bottom-up distribution strategy similar to Dropbox. It tries to get so many individual employees to use Loom that it becomes a team’s default collaboration software. Now it needs to grow up so it can offer the security and permissions features IT managers demand. Loom for teams is rolling out in beta access this year before officially launching in early 2020.

Loom’s bid to become essential to the enterprise, though, is its team video library. This will let employees organize their Looms into folders of a knowledge base so they can explain something once on camera, and everyone else can watch whenever they need to learn that skill. No more redundant one-off messages begging for a team’s best employees to stop and re-teach something. The Loom dashboard offers analytics on who’s actually watching your videos. And integration directly into popular enterprise software suites will let recipients watch without stopping what they’re doing.

To build out these features Loom has already grown to a headcount of 45, though co-founder Shahed Khan is stepping back from company. For new leadership, it’s hired away former head of web growth at Dropbox Nicole Obst, head of design for Slack Joshua Goldenberg, and VP of commercial product strategy for Intercom Matt Hodges.

Still, the elephants in the room remain Slack and Microsoft Teams. Right now, they’re mainly focused on text messaging with some additional screensharing and video chat integrations. They’re not building Loom-style asynchronous video messaging…yet. “We want to be clear about the fact that we don’t think we’re in competition with Slack or Microsoft Teams at all.We are a complementary tool to chat” Thomas insists. But given the similar productivity and communication ethos, those incumbents could certainly opt to compete. Slack already has 12 million daily users it could provide with video tools.

Loom co-founder and CEO Joe Thomas

Hodges, Loom’s head of marketing, tells me “I agree Slack and Microsoft could choose to get into this territory, but what’s the opportunity cost for them in doing so? It’s the classic build vs. buy vs. integrate argument.” Slack bought screensharing tool Screenhero, but partners with Zoom and Google for video chat. Loom will focus on being easily integratable so it can plug into would-be competitors. And Hodges notes that “Delivering asynchronous video recording and sharing at scale is non-trivial. Loom holds a patent on its streaming, transcoding, and storage technology, which has proven to provide a competitive advantage to this day.”

The tea leaves point to video invading more and more of our communication, so I expect rival startups and features to Loom will crop up. Vidyard and Wistia’s Soapbox are already pushing into the space. As long as it has the head start, Loom needs to move as fast as it can. “It’s really hard to maintain focus to deliver on the core product experience that we set out to deliver versus spreading ourselves too thin. And this is absolutely critical” Thomas tells me.

One thing that could set Loom apart? A commitment to financial fundamentals. “When you grow really fast, you can sometimes lose sight of what is the core reason for a business entity to exist, which is to become profitable. . . Even in a really bold market where cash can be cheap, we’re trying to keep profitability at the top of our minds.”


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The CEO of VMware says that Microsoft’s $10 billion JEDI cloud win is ‘just a piece’ of the opportunities that the company has in working with the government (VMW)

Category : entrepreneur

  • VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger said he’s monitoring the legal appeals related to the Pentagon’s JEDI deal. But he said the $10 billion cloud project is just one of many government opportunities for the tech giant.
  • Microsoft won the Defense Department contract but rival Amazon has mounted a legal challenge. Other tech companies are expected to play a role in the major public cloud project.
  • VMware is a key partner of the three major cloud giants, Microsoft, Amazon and Google, and is expected to also play some role in the completion of the JEDI contract.
  • “Given our very high market share in the government, our hybrid cloud is uniquely valuable to government customers,” Gelsinger added. “We’ve seen extremely high interest from CIOs and the government, as they see huge value for this ability to migrate to the cloud.”
  • VMware shares were up fractionally after the company posted better-than-expected quarterly results.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger said he’s following the appeals process related to the Pentagon’s JEDI deal, but stressed that the $10 billion cloud project is just one of many government opportunities for the tech giant.

The Defense Department awarded the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) project to Microsoft last month, but rival Amazon, which had been considered the favorite to win the deal, has filed a legal challenge to the decision.

Gelsinger was asked about his thoughts on the JEDI project Tuesday after VMware reported quarterly results. While the deal only names one cloud computing platform as the winner — Microsoft, as it turned out — the Pentagon is expected to use tech from other vendors, including VMware, to help operate its cloud infrastructure.

“Are you optimistic that VMware could play a role in that contract or in other government projects, since you’re the critical hybrid partner for all three of the major public cloud platforms?” an analyst asked. VMware holds the rare position of having notable cloud partnerships with Microsoft, Amazon, and Google.

“We’ll just say overall we’re following the JEDI event closely,” Gelsinger said. “We’re looking forward to getting to the eventual outcome of the appeals process, but also point out that the JEDI contract itself is one of many, and this represents just a piece of a much, much broader set of cloud opportunities in the government.”

VMware offers virtualization software which lets businesses tap disparate computer systems in private data centers or in the cloud as one network leading to lower IT costs. It has become a critical player in the cloud, which lets businesses set up their networks on web-based platforms, allowing them to scale down or abandon private data centers.

Gelsinger said VMware is “well-positioned” with its partnerships with the major cloud providers. “And we do expect that through those partnerships that we will have a thriving government business,” he said.

VMware is also seen benefiting from two newer trends. One is the hybrid cloud in which businesses set up networks in the cloud while keeping huge chunks of their data and applications in private data centers. The other is the multi-cloud in which businesses set up networks on different cloud platforms and private centers.

“Given our very high market share in the government, our hybrid cloud is uniquely valuable to government customers,” Gelsinger added. “We’ve seen extremely high interest from CIOs and the government, as they see huge value for this ability to migrate to the cloud. We really see that we have great opportunity from the government and with our hybrid cloud offerings in the government space in the future.”

VMware shares were up fractionally in late trades after the company reported better-than-expected results.

VMWare reported a fiscal third-quarter profit of $621 million, or $1.50 a share, compared with a profit of $334 million, or 81 cents a share, for the year-ago quarter. Revenue rose 12% to $2.46 billion. Adjusted income was $1.49 a share.

Analysts were expecting a profit of $1.43 a share on revenue of $2.41 billion.

Got a tip about VMware or another tech company? Contact this reporter via email at bpimentel@businessinsider.com, message him on Twitter @benpimentelor send him a secure message through Signal at (510) 731-8429. You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.


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WeWork offered about 1,000 people a surprisingly good deal to move to a contractor then sent some of them a letter with another deal

Category : entrepreneur

  • In addition to cutting 2,400 jobs last week, WeWork is also moving roughly 1,000 people on its janitorial and facilities staff off its payrolls by sending them to contract companies.
  • Business Insider has learned the details of the job offers that cleaning staff received.
  • The offer retains their current salary, seniority, includes benefits. But workers are still concerned about job security.
  • Then, on Friday, WeWork sent a letter to some of these employees that work at select buildings and offered them a different deal: stay on the payroll until the end of February without coming into work.
  • For more stories about WeWork, click here. 

In addition to cutting 2,400 jobs last week, WeWork is also moving roughly 1,000 people on its janitorial and facilities staff off its payrolls by sending them to contract companies like JLL, Unity, and ABM, sources tell Business Insider.

Business Insider has learned more details about this offer, including who got it, who didn’t, and the reasonably good terms these contractor companies offered WeWork employees.

We’ve also learned about a last minute letter WeWork sent to some of these employees telling them they could skip the new job offer and instead take a layoff package that would keep them on the payroll, without coming into work, until late February.

Not a perfect deal — but offer letters matched salaries and seniority

Multiple sources said that the new offer letters matched employees’ WeWork salaries and kept their seniority intact. After questions from CNN about how WeWork would treat its year-end 401K match — it required employment at year’s end — the company also committed to issue a lump sum equivalent to the 401K match. It did not give that same offer to the 2,400 people it laid off in November, sources say.

The contract worker deal wasn’t perfect. They were not guaranteed that they would be working at the same building locations or shifts, or informed if they would be moved to supporting companies other than WeWork, sources said.

Workers are also worried about job security, people familiar with the deal said. Once they transferred, workers worried that their new company could lay them off and replace them with lower-wage workers.

Even so, this was a better deal than other employees in similar situations had faced. Back in 2015, when Hewlett Packard was in the process of massive, multi-year layoffs, it shifted some employees to a contract company and employees were offered less money, fewer benefits and lost their seniority, employees told us at the time, and, like the WeWork offer, employees were told if they turned down the new job, they wouldn’t qualify for severance.

WeWork employees who took the new job will begin December 9. 

Some workers in New York also got an Option B

Then, on Friday at about 6 p.m., after work hours, some employees who worked at 16 of WeWork’s 65 buildings in New York got another letter.

The letter was posted by employee activist group WeWorkers Coalition, a group of about 200 WeWork employees  representing employees’ interests. 

The letter told people who work at these buildings that they could refuse the new job offer and instead take a similar deal to what laid-off employees were getting.

Under the New York WARN act, that covers how companies can conduct large-scale layoffs, employees must be given 90-days notice. So employees who refused the new job offer would stay on payroll through February, 20, 2020, but “shall not report to work” for 90 days the letter said, unless their manager specifically asked them to.

Like other laid off employees, who would also remain on the payroll for 90 days, should these workers find a new job in that time, then they would stop being paid by WeWork.

Employees had until November 25, Monday, to take this other deal, the letter implied, so essentially, one business day.

But the letter did not give them instructions as to how take the layoff offer, and it only went to people who worked in select buildings, sources confirmed.  One person said that this was tied to the WARN act, which only applies to workers in locations with more than 50 employees.

So workers at buildings with fewer employees did not get the letter.

Likewise, not every janitorial and facilities employee got a contract job offer at all. Multiple sources tell us that the contract offer was primarily directed at workers while managers were laid off, including long-term employees. Business Insider confirmed that at least one manager who had worked at the company for over seven years was let go.

As odd as this, last-minute, late-night offer was, overall the sources we talked said that the janitorial staff ” are getting a fair shake” and many “are happy they still have a job.”

It was, however, a reversal of a 2015 decision by then COO and current co-CEO Artie Minson to bring cleaning staff in-house, after staff protested low pay and benefits and started talking with a union.

Are you an insider with insight to share? Contact Julie Bort on encrypted chat app Signal at (970) 430-6112 using a non-work phone (no PR inquiries, please), or email at jbort@businessinsider.com. Open DMs on Twitter, too, @Julie188.  

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New smartphone figures highlight continued struggles to grow market

Category : Mobile

In some corners, the smartphone market is showing its first signs of life in some time.

Recent figures from Canalys indicate a small but notable uptick in the European market as shipments grew 3%, year-over-year in Q3.

The analyst firm put global growth at 1% globally in another recent report. Generally, such numbers wouldn’t warrant much celebration, but the way the market has been going, most manufacturers will take what they can get.

New numbers out this morning from Gartner paint a less rosy picture, with sales numbers declining 0.4%. It’s not a huge discrepancy between shipping and sales figures, but it’s the difference between being in the red and being in the black for the quarter.


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Why the hit ‘Frozen II’ song ‘Into the Unknown’ wasn’t originally in the movie, and how the music evolved

Category : entrepreneur

  • Oscar-winning songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez talked to Business Insider about how they created the songs for “Frozen II.”
  • Known for making the hit song “Let It Got” from the first movie, they broke down how the equally catchy “Into the Unknown” came to life for the sequel.
  • They also explained how, at first, another song was to be in its place, and why it was replaced with “Into the Unknown.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

 

Though it’s been six years between “Frozen” movies, songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez haven’t really taken a break from Elsa and Anna.

The duo were brought on at the tail end of production on the first “Frozen” movie, and helped directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck recalibrate the story and power it with nine songs, including the huge global hit and Oscar winner, “Let It Go.” After the first “Frozen,” the pair quickly jumped over to the Broadway musical version of the movie. For that, they wrote 12 original songs (oh, and they also found time to write another Oscar-winning song, “Remember Me,” for Pixar’s 2017 release “Coco”).

“We have not stopped working since 2012,” Anderson-Lopez told Business Insider.

Despite all that time in Arendelle, the husband-and-wife team didn’t hesitate to dive into work on “Frozen II” (in theaters) when Walt Disney Animation came calling in 2015. But they said the last thing they were thinking about was how to duplicate the success of “Let It Got.”

Kristen Anderson Lopez and Robert Lopez AP

Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez.
AP

“Thinking like that would have completely —,” Anderson-Lopez paused.

“Shut us down,” Lopez chimed in.

“Yeah, we would have gone off and been farmers,” Anderson-Lopez said.

In fact, they kept their song books and instruments packed away for the first two years of working on the sequel.

This time around, the duo was invited to not just write the songs for the movie, but also be voices in the creation of its story (both have “story by” credits). It led to daily video conference calls with Lee, Buck, and the other creatives at Disney, as well as trips to Iceland and Norway.

“You gather feelings in your mind and save the thoughts later when you will be writing,” Lopez said of the process.

Once there was a story foundation, the pair then found the moments when songs would be vital in moving the story forward. In early story meetings, songs like “All Is Found” and “The Next Right Thing” were locked in. But getting a song for a major Elsa moment in the movie was a little more challenging. They needed a “Let It Go” song for it to work.

In “Frozen II,” Elsa travels to an enchanted forest in search of a mysterious sound that only she can hear. Anna, Olaf, and Kristoff (with Sven) tag along leading to self-discovery for all through comedy and songs. Toward the end of the movie, Elsa finally finds the mystery sound and has a duet with it titled “Into the Unknown.” Like “Let It Go” in the first “Frozen,” the song has an addictive hook and shows off the incredible vocal range of Idina Menzel (who voices Elsa).

But the Lopezes said that wasn’t the first song to be placed in that scene.

“We had written a whole other song for that same moment,” Lopez revealed.

In that scene, a song titled “I Seek the Truth” was placed in. At the time of story development, Lopez said that the mysterious sound Elsa is in search of was not in the story yet.

“We wrote a bit of a generic song,” he admitted, looking back. “You can hear why it’s less exciting.”

Here’s what “I Seek the Truth” sounded like:

 

But once the plot revolved around Elsa seeking out a mysterious sound, they got another crack at the scene, and wrote “Into the Unknown.”

“Some of the songs are inspired by story innovations, and we got this idea with the team that there was a voice from the past singing out that only Elsa could hear, and once we had that thought, a duet song came into sharp focus,” Lopez said. “We realized that first the voice is going to be calling out to Elsa and she wants it to go away, and by the middle of the song, she’s admitting maybe part of her is curious about what’s out there, and by the end of the song, she’s going for it. She’s singing back to the voice: ‘How do I follow you into The Unknown?'”

But like “Let It Go,” it wasn’t until Menzel got her hands on the song that everyone was excited by it.

“She ended up doing it in the key we wrote it in, but I think part of the other thing is she can do these amazing intervals,” Anderson-Lopez said of Menzel singing the song’s chorus. “When she first sings the words ‘into the unknown,’ it’s an octave and then she says it again and it goes up one step outside of your boundaries, but you come home. And then a third time she just takes it to an 11. You have gone way out of your boundaries. And it mirrors the story. And I think Idina just nailed that feeling of howling at the moon because you need to find your purpose.”

Idina Menzel AP

Idina Menzel is the voice of Elsa in the “Frozen” franchise.
AP

The song is a surefire best song Oscar contender, as “Let It Go” was in the first movie. But the duo said they never know when a song they write will be a hit. They are more focused on if it serves the story.

“You look for the most emotional moments where a human is feeling something strongly and goes from one emotion to another emotion,” Anderson-Lopez said. “In this case, we knew we needed Elsa to sing about wanting to find the truth about herself and why she has these powers, but it wasn’t until it was in a duet with an otherworldly call that we got that kind of strong emotion.”

“It’s impossible to state how much emotion the animations bring to each sequence,” Lopez added. “That’s when I really felt that the song worked, to be honest. It was exciting and thrilling.”

Listen to “Into the Unknown” here:

 


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Apple’s entire MacBook lineup is on sale for Black Friday — you can get a MacBook Air for just $799

Category : entrepreneur

Insider Picks Black Friday DEALS 2019 Banner

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Macbook Pro

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

  • Black Friday is a great time to shop for all sorts of electronics, particularly laptops from Apple that are otherwise rare to find at discounts quite this steep.
  • The MacBook Air and the 13-, 15.4-, and 16-inch MacBook Pro models are all on sale for Black Friday 2019.
  • You can get the 2019 MacBook Air on sale for $799 (a savings of $300), which is the same affordable price that made the original MacBook Air one of the most prolific laptops ever made.
  • Additionally, the now-discontinued, 2019 15.4-inch MacBook Pro deals are also epic — you can get one for $1,999, which amounts to a discount of $400.
  • Shopping for more deals? Check out the rest of our Black Friday and Cyber Monday coverage on Insider Picks.

Black Friday is in full season, and it’s undoubtedly the best time of year to pick up a new MacBook on a sweet discount.

Whether it’s the brand-new MacBook Air or one of the many different MacBook Pro laptops you’re looking to save some cash on, there are discounts aplenty.

In terms of brand-new products, we’re surprisingly seeing the biggest price cuts on 2019 MacBook Air models. With sale prices starting at $799, you can get the new Air for the same reasonable price as the original model. The historically low price arguably made the original Air among the most iconic laptops in history, so this a great deal to snap up while you can.

There are also some incredible deals on the 13-inch MacBook Pro and the now-discontinued 15.4-inch MacBook Pro, which was just replaced by the brand-new 16-inch model with its much-improved keyboard. Luckily, the new 16-inch laptop is also getting small discounts.

Regardless of which type of MacBook you’re looking for, now is the time to save big on your next Apple laptop, and honestly, one of the only times of the year we see any MacBook deals at all.

Best MacBook deals for Black Friday 2019:

  1. Apple MacBook Air 2019 (Intel Core i5, 8GB, 128GB) $799 with free no-rush shipping (originally $1,099) [You save $300]
  2. 13-inch Apple MacBook Pro 2019 (Intel Core i5, 8GB, 128GB) $1,099 (originally $1,299) [You save $200]
  3. 16-inch Apple MacBook Pro 2019 (Intel Core i7, 16GB, 512GB $2,249 Silver only (originally $2,399) [You save $150]
  4. 15.4-inch Apple MacBook Pro 2019 (Intel Core i7, 16GB, 256GB) $1,999 with Prime (originally $2,399) [You save $400]

Many of these MacBook deals, particularly from Best Buy, also come with one year of the Apple TV Plus streaming service for free.

Apple is also running a shopping event on Black Friday, during which you’ll get up to a $200 gift card when you buy select products — we don’t know yet if the MacBook lineup is included in that promotion.

Keep this article bookmarked throughout the Black Friday shopping season, as we’ll be updating it regularly with the latest MacBook deals and keep scrolling to read more about why the best deals are worth your time and money.


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Inside Juul’s layoffs, IgnitionOne’s shutdown, and theSkimm sale talk

Category : entrepreneur

Hello! Welcome to our weekly Advertising and Media Insider. If you’re new to this newsletter, sign up for your own here.

Before you head out to gorge yourself on turkey, make sure to read Tanya Dua’s insider reporting on Juul’s implosion, where 650 people, or 16%, were laid off amid mounting regulations and federal investigations. Some key takeaways from former employees:

  • Some thought the cuts reflected problems of unchecked explosive growth, lack of proper business processes, and mismanagement.
  • Some said they lost faith in the company’s leadership as they saw the executive ranks packed with people from tobacco and alcohol companies.

Juul just laid off 650 workers after federal investigations rocked the company. Workers who were affected describe how it was handled and what they saw leading up to it.

Funding for adtech companies may be drying up, leading to consolidation, but it’s still notable when an established and heavily funded one goes under. Lauren Johnson’s been following the story of one of adtech’s first firms, IgnitionOne, that raised $85.2 million and just shut down, with backers losing their stakes. Key points:

  • IgnitionOne was billed as a “one-stop shop” to help marketers with their digital-ad spending. It pitched advertisers on its expertise of Google, Facebook, and programmatic advertising early on.
  • But agencies have been cutting the number of adtech companies they use, putting pressure on adtech companies to differentiate what are similar-looking offerings.

IgnitionOne is shutting down. Read the letter its CEO sent to shareholders about what happened to one of adtech’s oldest companies.

Finally, I was curious about what’s happening with theSkimm, which has raised more than $28 million on its ability to connect with millennial women with its breezy, speed-read daily news digest.

TheSkimm is mostly ad-driven, but given how hard it is for independent media companies to compete for ad dollars, the path forward for companies like it is to pivot hard to subscriptions and other revenue streams or get sold. That seems to be where theSkimm finds itself now.

Industry insiders say buzzy millennial media company TheSkimm has been looking for an investor or buyer as user growth slows

Here are other great stories from media, marketing, and advertising. (You can read most of the articles here by subscribing to BI Prime; use promo code AD2PRIME2018 for a free month.) And send me tips at lmoses@businessinsider.com.

Amazon is shutting down a controversial advertising program that lets brands slip samples into delivery boxes

Spotify lays off about 30 in ad sales after missing internal revenue goals

Mobile ad company Kargo is trying to prepare for privacy laws with its first chief revenue officer and a new ad format

Direct-to-consumer brands’ average sales revenue is expected to soar 85% by 2020, spelling more doom for legacy brands struggling to catch up

An ad-industry-salary spreadsheet is going viral, and its entries range from an assistant account exec making $40,000 to a chief strategy officer earning $500,000

The biggest direct-to-consumer spender, SmileDirectClub, explains why it keeps pouring money into its own ad agency

How advertisers can overcome the obstacles to ads on smart speakers and capitalize on their rise