The solar-powered cart that can charge 80 cell phones at once


It has received numerous energy innovation awards and grants from the likes of Microsoft.
Solar kiosk franchisee, Jeanne Marie Uhiriwe, on the streets of Kigali, Rwanda
"My vision is to create at least 50,000 to 100,000 micro businesses across Africa," Nyakarundi told CNN.
"It's doable. You're looking at a population that's going to double in the next 25 to 30 years."

The idea

Returning to Rwanda or Burundi for holidays, Nyakarundi noticed that while many people had cell phones they often struggled to charge them.
In Rwanda, industry analysis estimates that roughly 70% of the population have a cell phone, yet only 18% have access to electricity, according to the World Bank.
Sketching the first design on a piece of paper, the entrepreneur devised a solar-powered kiosk that can be towed by bicycle and provides simultaneous charging for up to 80 phones.

Business in a box

His company, African Renewable Energy Distributor (ARED), operates under a micro-franchising system that leases the kiosks to agents.
Micro franchisees earn money from mobile charging and selling add-ons such as mobile credit, government certificates and prepaid electricity.

Women and those with disabilities are the most vulnerable group in Africa, especially in business.

"It's a business in a box," said Nyakarundi, who moved back to Rwanda in 2012 once his prototype was ready. "I was looking to do something that would not only solve a problem but also had a social impact by creating micro businesses for people."
There are currently 25 kiosks operating in Rwanda, many in rural areas where the population is dependent on cell phones to communicate and send money.
But after four years of carefully testing his business model, Nyakarundi said he is now ready to seriously scale up. He plans to have between 600 and 800 kiosks in place by the next two years.

Free opportunity

To run them, Nyakarundi says he looks for people who desperately lack employment opportunities.
The agents make just a $100 down payment followed by $200 in installments to lease their kiosk from ARED. From that, the company says existing vendors are making between 30,000 to 85,000 Rwandan francs ($38-$107) a month -- enough to pay rent and feed a family.
But strikingly, for micro franchisees who are women or have disabilities, the opportunity is absolutely free.
Sembemba Jean Pierre
"They are the most vulnerable group in Africa, especially in business," said Nyakarundi. "Women don't have access to funding the way men do, and people with disabilities have even less opportunity."
Sembemba Jean Pierre suffers from a disability. He had to remove his child from school because he wasn't earning enough as a watch repairman. Thanks to the kiosk, his son is back in education and Pierre dreams of owning a house.
"I could go a whole day without getting someone to repair the watch for," Pierre told CNN by email through a translator. "Now I am at least assured of daily income -- my family don't sleep hungry anymore."
Prospective agents must be at least 25 years of age and have two letters of recommendation from leaders in their community -- paperwork that is enough to deter "the bad apples", according to Nyakarundi.

Henri Nyakarundi never wanted a job.

Born to refugee parents from Rwanda, he grew up in Burundi until civil war again forced the family to move on. Relocating to the US, Nyakarundi studied computer science at Georgia State University and by 19 had founded his first start up.
"I was not a job type of guy," laughed the entrepreneur. "I think it's my personality, I've always liked to make my own decisions."
Yet his product -- a solar-powered mobile kiosk that charges cell phones and connects communities -- aims to create thousands of jobs across Africa.

Crucial role

This system means that choosing the right micro franchisees is vital, because they are the gateway to the company's revenue.
"When we offer a free opportunity, it becomes very important to have strong monitoring and evaluation. If they make money, we make money. So we want to make sure that people are not performing get replaced immediately."
A for-profit business, ARED makes a small amount of commission (roughly 1%) from the micro franchisee's sales while the bulk of its revenue comes from advertising on the side of the kiosks.
But a new prototype set to roll out this autumn will create even more revenue opportunities. ARED has developed a "smart kiosk" that will offer wifi, local intranet and data collection from its users.

Smart kiosk

"We're moving from a basic sort of kiosk to more of a technology company," said Nyakarundi.
"A lot of people don't utilize their smart phone because they can't afford internet. Why not build our own intranet -- our own network of content on the kiosk to serve our community?"
Customers will be able to access the intranet for free, while advertisers will pay to submit surveys or collect data. Wifi will be available at a small charge.
"We can monetize this in so many ways now that we have a digital platform," said Nyakarundi. "The goal was to maximize revenue without having to collect it from the micro franchisee. It can be a win-win situation for all of us."
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You won a gold medal. Now here's your tax bill

Michael Phelps may be untouchable in the water, but even he can't out-swim the Tax Man.

America's Olympic medalists must pay state and federal taxes on the prize money they get for winning. The U.S. Olympic Committee awards $25,000 for gold medals, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze.


That's not all. Olympians also have to pay tax on the value of the medals themselves.

Gold and silver medals are made mostly of silver, while bronze medals are composed of mostly copper. Rio's medals are among the largest and heaviest ever and contain about 500 grams of either silver or copper.

The value of a gold medal is about $564; silver is worth about $305. Bronze is worth a negligible amount so it's not taxed.

Related: How Michael Phelps changed the business of swimming

Taxes are yet another burden for Olympians -- the majority of whom are already struggling to get by.

The U.S. is one of the only countries that doesn't provide government funding to its Olympians.

A handful of lucky athletes land lucrative endorsement deals. But most of them rely on small stipends from the USOC, support from local businesses or supplemental income from a day job.

lympic medal winners may catch a break though.

Proposed federal legislation would make "the value of any medal or prize money" awarded during the Olympics or Paralympics exempt from income taxes.

The bill was passed by the Senate last month and is being considered by the House. It would apply to earnings from January 1, 2016 to January 1, 2021.

California is reviewing a similar proposal.

Dr. Steven Gill, a tax professor at San Diego State University, isn't convinced an exception for Olympians and Paralympians would change anything.

For one thing, the USOC might be tempted to reduce Olympians' prize money, Gill said.

He added that even tax free, American athletes get a fraction of the financial support that athletes in other countries get.

"When I think about why these prizes exist, it's to compete with state-supported athletes from other countries," he said. "Cutting taxes isn't going to fix the fact that these athletes don't get paid enough -- it's a short-term fix."

Gill also noted that other individuals who win prestigious awards are taxed on their winnings. Such is the case with Nobel prize winners although they receive more prize money -- around $1 million.

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Nigeria clamps down on money transfers to the country

(CNN)The Central Bank of Nigeria has suddenly changed its policy toward money transfer operators, effectively blocking many services used by Nigerians to send money to and from the country.

The decision to revoke the licenses of all but three money transfer companies was backed by a warning, issued on Tuesday, that advises Nigerians at home and abroad to "beware of the unwholesome activities of some unlicensed International Money Transfer Operators."
Citing "the greater economic good of Nigeria," the Central Bank stated that it will "not condone any attempt aimed at undermining the country's foreign exchange regime."

'Draconian' rules

The sudden move has created immediate backlash because it affects a large volume of money. Remittances to Nigeria totaled about $20.8 billion in 2015, according to data from Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development.
WorldRemit is an online money transfer service that launched in Nigeria 2011 and one of the companies affected by the edict. It released a statement calling the new rules "draconian" and noted that the new policy would leave only three companies able to function: Western Union, MoneyGram and Ria. Those companies have physical operations on the ground in Nigeria.
"This move is arbitrary, inexplicable and hugely detrimental to the Nigerian diaspora, who rely on hundreds of money transfer companies and banks, providing them with choice, convenience and competitive pricing," said WorldRemit founder and CEO Ismail Ahmed.

No explanation

Ahmed said while Western Union used to control 78% of the transfers to Nigeria, now it controls less than 20%.
Ahmed, whose company says it sends 40,000 money transfers to Nigeria each month, also laments the lack of clarity surrounding the change.
"This is the first time in my 20 years of experience that a regulator is saying if you want to send money to Nigeria, you have to physically come to Nigeria and set up a company," Ahmed said. "On Monday evening, Nigeria simply shut down transfers. The banks told us they couldn't process our transfers. The country was one of the most competitive markets until Monday."
He added, "This is extreme. It's going to be quite explosive among the Nigerian diaspora."
CNN has contacted the Central Bank but has not received a reply.
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Millennials: Avoid these 5 financial mistakes

I'm in my early 20s and want to get a head start on financial success, but I don't want to make mistakes that could prevent me from achieving my goal. What do you suggest? --K.T., North Carolina

My first suggestion is to lighten up a little. It's smart to want to get off on the right foot in your financial life. But your 20s is also a time to have some fun, explore different paths and leave yourself open to serendipity. If you get too hung up about making a wrong move, you could miss out on satisfying and rewarding experiences. Besides, making and then rebounding from mistakes is an important way to learn and grow.


That said, it's also true that some mistakes can inflict far deeper and longer-lasting financial damage than others, even if they don't seem so dangerous at first glance.

Below are five financial faux pas with the capacity to seriously undermine your economic prospects. Avoid these major missteps, and you'll dramatically increase your chances of achieving financial success.

Mistake #1: Getting A Late Start On Saving.

More than any other single error, I'd say this is the one that prevents people from attaining at least a measure of financial security. For example, in a recent survey of retirees by Pentegra Retirement Services 39% of those polled said they regretted not having started saving sooner, and 63% said the most important advice they could offer to people starting out would be to get an early start on saving.

The oldsters know what they're talking about. A 25-year-old earning $30,000 who saves 10% of salary a year would have a nest egg of just over $620,000 at 65, assuming 2% annual raises and a 6% annual return on investments. If that person holds off just five years, the size of the nest egg falls by almost $140,000. Waiting 10 years shrinks it by more than $250,000.

To see for yourself how putting off saving for even a few years (as well as not saving enough) can stunt your financial prospects, check out this Will You Have Enough To Retire? calculator.

Fortunately, this error can be easily sidestepped. If you have a 401(k) where you work, sign up for it and contribute at least enough to take full advantage of any company matching funds.

Related: Are you behind on retirement saving?

If you don't have access to a 401(k), open a Roth IRA or Traditional IRA account at a mutual fund company and fund via automatic monthly transfers from your checking account.

While you're at it, accumulate an emergency fund of at least three months' worth of living expenses in a savings account so you'll have a cushion to fall back on in the event of a job layoff or unexpected expenses.

The main point, though, is to get into the habit of saving regularly and maintain that regimen throughout your working life.

Mistake #2: Taking on unnecessary debt.

Sometimes it makes sense to borrow -- say, to buy a house, purchase a car or finance an education that can increase your earning power. But it's the debt we take on to maintain a lifestyle that exceeds our earning power that gets us in trouble.

And make no mistake, paying down debt can strain your budget. According to NerdWallet's latest annual survey on consumer debt, the average household is shelling out more than $6,650 in interest payments alone per year.

Related: When will I be debt-free?

Before you borrow, ask yourself: Is this something you truly must have? And if the answer is yes, then ask: Could you get by with a less expensive version of it? And finally, consider whether the monthly principal and interest payments you'll make for years might be put to better use going into savings and investment accounts that can grow in value and provide a cushion against economic setbacks.

Mistake #3: Buying into Wall Street's 'investing is complicated' mantra.

The message investors get from many Wall Street firms boils down to this: You need to watch the financial markets constantly, spread your money among all sorts of arcane and complex investments and be ready at a moment's notice to dump what you own for new investments. And, of course, to pull off all this successfully, you need their help, for which you must pay a handsome price.

Nonsense. No one, not even market pros, can consistently outguess the financial markets. And research by University of California at Berkeley finance professor Terrance Odean shows that trying to do so by frequent trading is more likely to hurt than enhance your returns.

You're much better off with a less-is-more approach: build a basic portfolio of broadly diversified stock and bond funds that matches the level of risk you're willing to take -- and then, aside from occasional rebalancing, stick with that portfolio regardless of what the market is doing. This risk tolerance-asset allocation questionnaire can help you arrive at a blend of stocks and bonds that makes sense for you.

Mistake #4: Overpaying for financial help.

Whether it's the annual expenses you pay to a mutual fund manager or the fees you shell out to an adviser to help you choose the right funds and provide other financial advice, the fact is that paying more than you have to drags down the returns you earn and makes it harder for your savings to grow. Which is why it makes sense to hold the line on such costs as much as possible.

When it comes to investments, the easiest way to rein in expenses is to stick as much as possible to low-cost index funds and ETFs. Doing so can easily save you upwards of 1% a year compared with the typical stock mutual fund.

Related: How much are 401(k) fees costing me?

If you feel you need to work with a financial adviser, make sure you know in advance exactly what you'll pay, what specific services you'll get for your dough -- and comparison shop to make sure the fees the adviser you're considering are competitive.

Other options are hiring an adviser on an hourly basis instead of paying a percentage of assets or signing up with a "robo-adviser," an online service that uses algorithms to provide inexpensive investing advice.

Mistake #5: Failing to monitor your progress.

You don't have to (and shouldn't) constantly obsess about money matters. But neither can you just set a course and then assume all will be fine going forward. You need to periodically review your finances -- say, once a year or so -- to ensure you're making headway.

The most comprehensive gauge of whether you're making progress is to track your net worth -- that is, the difference between the value of your assets and liabilities, or what you own vs. what you owe.

Powered by

Net worth: How do I stack up?

If you're saving regularly and investing sensibly, over time your net worth should grow. If it's stagnating, it may be a sign that you're not saving enough, not investing your savings sensibly or taking on too much debt.

You can estimate your net worth using this simple net worth calculator. By doing this calculation every year and comparing the results to those of previous years, you can easily see whether your net worth is growing.

To assess other aspects of your finances -- such as whether your current saving and investing regimen has you on a path to a secure retirement -- check out these five online tools, all of which are free.

Clearly, there are also many positive steps you can take to enhance your prospects, one of the biggest being to nurture your career so that you can earn (and save) more during your working years. But good defense still counts for a lot. And if you avoid making the five mistakes above, you will dramatically improve your odds of achieving the financial success you seek.

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GE Appliances wants to turn your design ideas into new products

In Louisville, Kentucky, just about anyone can walk into GE Appliances' new innovation hub and pitch an idea for what could become the company's next big product.

GE Appliances, once a unit of General Electric (GE) before it was sold to Haier in January, has a 35,000-sq.-ft. microfactory called FirstBuild that serves as a public space where product ideas are crowdsourced. The best suggestions are ultimately developed by its engineers and sold.


Wayne Davis, the commercial leader at FirstBuild who leads its marketing and sales efforts, told CNNMoney the concept was born to kickstart innovation quickly, cheaply and efficiently in the home appliance category.

"The ideas can come from anywhere, the local community, independent inventors, home enthusiasts, students, our own FirstBuild team of employees, even other GE Appliances employees," said Davis.

And if you don't live anywhere near the facility, it's possible to become a free FirstBuild member and submit an idea online.

All ideas are ultimately funneled through the site and voted on by its members. Those that bubble to the top are then built, manufactured (first in small quantities) and sold online.

There's a nice monetary incentive thrown in for inventors, too: You earn between $500 and $2,500 for a winning concept, in addition to a royalty of up to 0.5% of sales. If a product takes off with consumers, it could potentially get added to GE Appliances' larger product portfolio.

Since the initiative launched in July 2014, FirstBuild has grown to 9,700 registered users and has had over 1,000 ideas submitted online. The microfactory itself has seen 20,000 visits by 6,000 - 8,000 people so far.

FirstBuild is similar in some ways to Quirky, a community-led invention platform that crowdsourced ideas for smart home products.

GE Appliances' former parent GE partnered with Quirky in 2013 and opened up its vault of thousands of patents to the Quirky community to help generate new consumer product ideas.

However, the startup eventually went bankrupt in 2015.

When asked about Quirky, Davis responded: "The only similarity we see between the two is the community aspect of the platforms and the voting process to determine which ideas to pursue."

Unlike Quirky, FirstBuild is a subsidiary of GE Appliances. "We fully own it," he added.

In addition, FirstBuild is focused only on innovative home appliances, while Quirky's submissions spanned many product categories.

Firstbuild manufacturing

Anyone can use FirstBuild's microfactory to design and develop an idea.


FirstBuild's 22 employees -- most of whom are engineers -- work on building out the ideas that come through the platform.

But it's doing so on a much smaller scale compared to the other five factories run by GE Appliances, which largely develops refrigerators, air conditioners, dishwashers, cooking products and water heaters. While GE Appliances' employs 12,000 workers worldwide and its average factory is about 800,000-sq-ft in size, FirstBuild's operation is pretty lean in comparison.

To start, manufacturing is nimble. "We can make small batches of a product in a fraction of the time and cost," Davis said.

"Mass manufacturing is about making millions of something," he added. "But on the flip side, how do you make just one to 1,000 units of a breakthrough product without significant investment?"

Related: These high schoolers are manufacturing airplane parts

The microfactory has launched more than 16 products in two years, and five have been permanently added to GE Appliances' portfolio.

One recent addition is the Prisma Cold Brew coffeemaker, which cuts coffee's cold brewing time to just 10 minutes from 12 to 24 hours. The product will hit the market in 2017.

firstbuild prisma cold brew

FirstBuild platform developed the Prisma Cold Brew cofee machine.

Another is the Opal Nugget Ice Machine. Nugget ice is the small, pellet-shaped and crunchy ice commonly used by fast food chains like Sonic.

"Nugget ice is very popular in the south," said Davis. "We researched and learned that consumers really wanted a counter-top machine in their homes that could easily make it."

Consumers can buy the product next month on FirstBuild's website.

firstbuild opal nugget

The Opal Nugget ice machine

The FirstBuild community also created an indoor pizza oven called GE Monogram Pizza Oven, which will arrive in stores this fall.

While these products may not be household names yet, FirstBuild is empowering people to speak up about products they want to see developed and ultimately buy.

"FirstBuild is already taking on disruptive ideas for home appliances and matching them to a need in the marketplace," said Davis.

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Walmart buying for $3.3 billion to take on Amazon

Watch out, Amazon.

Walmart (WMT) announced Monday that it has agreed to buy, a much-hyped e-commerce site trying to take on Amazon (AMZN, Tech30) directly, for $3 billion in cash, with another $300 million in stock kicked in for good measure.


The deal may help Walmart reinvigorate growth in its online shopping business, which has slowed in recent quarters. Meanwhile, Amazon's overall sales have rocketed above $100 billion annually.

" will grow faster, the seamless shopping experience we're pursuing will happen quicker, and we'll enable the Jet brand to be even more successful in a shorter period of time," Doug McMillon, president and CEO of Walmart, said in a statement. launched in July 2015 and worked to differentiate itself through bulk buying. Customers are encouraged to add various tagged items to their shopping carts, which can be shipped more cheaply in the same box from a nearby vendor. Those savings are then passed on to the customer.

The startup's CEO, Marc Lore, isn't new to building businesses that get snapped up by bigger rivals: he sold to Amazon in 2010 for more than $500 million.

Walmart intends to maintain the Jet brand to target younger shoppers, while making use of its proprietary technology to help bundle together shopping items bring down logistics costs.

Related: 15 Questions with Marc Lore

Lore raised hundreds of millions in venture funding in a bold push to take on Amazon directly through aggressive marketing and steep discounts.

Lore's bet was that online shopping will be such a large market that even coming in second place to Amazon would prove to be an incredible business opportunity.

He also worked to differentiate Jet from Amazon in a more subtle way: by creating a happier workplace culture where all employees received equity in the company.

Jet says it has "set out to make shopping more transparent, more efficient, and at the same time, a little more fun," according to its website.

It only serves customers in the United States.

"We want to be laser-focused," Lore told CNNMoney in 2015.

The move is the latest bit of deal-making from Walmart.

In June, the retailer said it would buy about 5% of leading Chinese e-commerce company, an investment worth about $1.5 billion. As part of the deal, Walmart is selling its own Chinese e-commerce site, Yihaodian, to JD.

Walmart's CEO telegraphed the need for a change in its ecommerce strategy after the company reported its first quarter earnings, which revealed online sales grew just 7% year-over-year.

"Growth here is too slow," CEO Doug McMillon said at the time.

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Earnings Growth You Can Depend On

When so much seems so wrong to so many, why would any right-thinking soul own stocks? Everyone “knows” they’re too pricey. What would pull them up? A tractor!

Out back on my firm’s Washington State campus they were weed-whacking and uncovered a 1926 Farmall, an International Harvester model that revolutionized row-crop farming. Thanks to tiny, sharp-turning front wheels that meandered through rows nimbly, the Farmall turned a simple idea into big productivity gains, one of many that funneled us from half our labor in agriculture when my grandpa was young to under 1.5% now–while output grew vastly. While 1926 feels primitive, it’s just 24 years pre-my-time. Pretty new!

Technology deployers keep boosting productivity via clever ideas. Moore’s Law, Kryder’s Law, the Shannon-Hartley Theorem, Koomey’s Law and DNA technology all whiz along. Dreamers will fashion Farmall-like twists to spur upward-driving earnings growth. I’ve no clue who develops what or when long term. But it will happen. Bank on it.

If we buy out a good firm at 14 times stable earnings we get 7.1% forever (1/14)–reinvestable into growth at deferrable cap gains rates. Or we can lend lousy firms long-term cash at 5.9% pre-income-tax. What’s better? The buyout, of course. Compounding that spread becomes immense. Buying the global market captures that spread plus all future growth that Farmall-like gains assure.


This is the basic, valid logic for owning stocks long term. Nothing liquid beats it. Better stocks are better still. And you’re obviously better off short-to-intermediate term in an ongoing bull market. Here are five growing stocks I like now for this bull.

Recall January’s fears of China breaking. Yet the country grows, albeit at steadily slower rates, and its enormous size means GDP 5% real growth is about $1 trillion–huge. And that means more Baidu BIDU +3.05%, China’s Google equivalent. Its stock has stunk for 18 months. It stinks about every two years–then shines and should now. I keep saying big tech runs in spurts late in long bull markets. Why now? At 12 times my 2017 earnings estimate it’s been underloved too long and should respond to Chinese acceleration. It’s a great growth firm valued like a slow-growth one.


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How The Best Paid CEOs Turn Corporations Into ATM Machines

What does pay have to do with CEO performance? Very little.

Best paid CEOs don’t perform as well as the worst paid CEOs, according to a recently published MSCI MSCI +% study.

What determines CEO performance, then?

Good luck, according to a study by Texas A&M Professor Markus Fitza. Most of CEO performance has a great deal to do with chance—to factors beyond the control of the CEO–and very little to do with CEO ability.

Published in the Strategic Management Journal, Fitza’s study uses performance data from the 1,500 largest U.S. firms from 1993 to 2012 to estimate the portion of firm performance that can be attributed to CEOs.

“Differences in the performance of a firm during the tenures of different CEOs can be caused by at least two things,” explains Fitza. “There are differences in CEO abilities as well as events that are outside of the CEO’s control – chance events.”

Fitza decided to look deeper into this chance factor. “I wanted to know how big the effect of chance on CEO performance might be.” Chance can have negative or positive effects on a firm’s performance, he notes. “For example, a scandal at a major competitor can help a firm, while an accident at an important supplier can have negative consequences. Over a long enough time period such effects tend to cancel out (a phenomenon called ‘regression to the mean’), thus it is unlikely that a firm is consistently high performing just because of chance events.”

The problem is that in nowadays most CEOs stay in office for about four years—not long enough for good and bad luck to even out. This means that good and bad luck—rather than ability–may have a big impact on CEO performance.

How big? Over 70%, according to Fitza’s findings!

This means that CEOs may take credit for success, which has to do more with good luck and less with ability, and go on to collect a generous compensation, turning corporations into ATM machines.

The trouble is that, unless fed by new revenues, ATM machines are running out of cash. That’s how “best CEO”s end up running broken companies, and shareholder end up holding the bag.


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Navigating Volatile Markets: What Investors Need To Know In 2016

Markets become volatile when investors harbor deep concerns about near-term trends and asset valuations. So far in 2016, concerns abound, including:

  • China’s slowdown and its implication on global growth
  • The depth and pace of the oil collapse
  • U.S. domestic concerns driven by the Fed, a slowdown in manufacturing and apprehension that the recovery cycle is nearing its end
  • Widespread geopolitical unrest, particularly in Europe
  • Hyper-connectivity across markets, amplifying the potential for swings

All of this is posing as a challenge for many investors, leading to uncertainty on how to best proceed and resulting in feelings of apprehension.

CBOEVolatilityIndex_final-updatedCautious Optimism

Despite the uncertainty, investors are cautiously optimistic, with the majority planning on staying the course. In fact 82 percent of global investors surveyed in CBRE’s Global Investors Intentions Survey said they were going to invest the same or more globally in 2016 compared to 2015. Additionally, the report found that more than $1.1 trillion of global capital will target real estate investments in 2016, which represents a significant increase over 2015 investments at $876 billion. Chris Brett, CBRE’s Head of International Investment in the UK, notes, “Despite investor concerns about the global economy, we see increasing amounts of capital moving globally in 2016 and beyond into commercial real estate.” Yet, the trepidation is causing investors to protect themselves, looking towards safe havens such as the U.S. According to research, 65 percent of investors are expecting to buy more assets in the Americas than they bought last year.

Keep Calm, Check Your Assumptions, And Carry On

Regardless of swings in global markets, those willing to maintain a thoughtful, long-term approach coupled with superior execution will be positioned for success. Peter Senst, President of CBRE Capital Markets in Canada affirms this reality, “Protect yourself from volatility. Embrace quality assets with quality rent rolls in quality locations. This is the time to make sure your balance sheet is fortified.”

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New security flaw in credit card chip system revealed

Computer researchers claim to have found yet another flaw in the upgrade to the chip-based credit cards in the United States.

The chip on these credit cards have been praised for making them nearly impossible to counterfeit. While the cards also contain a magnetic strip, that strip is supposed to tell the payment machine to use the chip.


But there's a relatively easy way to knock down that safeguard.

Computer security researchers at the payment technology company NCR demonstrated how credit card thieves can rewrite the magnetic stripe code to make it appear like a chipless card again. This allows them to keep counterfeiting -- just like they did before the nationwide switch to chip cards.

They presented their findings at the Black Hat computer security conference on Wednesday.

This claim of a glaring hole in EMV, the chip-based system, is possible because of the way many retailers are upgrading their payment machines: They're not encrypting the transaction.

"There's a common misperception EMV solves everything. It doesn't," Patrick Watson, one of the researchers, told CNNMoney.

On Thursday, a banking and retail industry group that monitors the EMV system cast doubt on the theory.

"If the data on the magnetic stripe is altered it might fool the terminal," said U.S. Payments Forum director Randy Vanderhoof. But on the back end, the system would "reject the transaction."

But the discovery of this possible flaw bolsters the retail industry's complaints against the upgrade, which was forced upon shops by banks.

The National Retail Federation has long complained about the upgrade, which is estimated to cost American retailers $25 billion.

This latest research shows that retailers could spend millions of dollars upgrading to EMV and still not protect their customers from a massive credit card theft like the Target and Home Depot hacks two years ago.

Adding to the problem, payment terminal makers keep producing machines that don't have the encryption by default.

And vendors who sell and install these machines at shops don't simply flip the switch and turn on encryption. Retailers have to pay extra for basic security.

The major machine makers, Verifone and Ingenico, both asserted they offer point-to-point encryption on retailer's machines -- but it's up to retailers and their partners to turn it on.

Currently, retailers focus on protecting the computer network that support their payment system. But that leaves the actual conversation between your credit card and the machine in plain text, readable to any hacker who breaks into the system.

It's a mistake, said Mike Weber, vice president at the IT auditing firm Coalfire.

"They're assuming the environment is okay," he said. It's not.

During their presentation, the NCR researchers advised shops to "encrypt everything" in a transaction. They also said consumers should pay with special apps on their phones and watches whenever the high tech option is available.

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Uber sells its China business to big local rival

Uber has a new strategy in China: If you can't beat them, join them.

Uber is selling its China operations to rival Didi Chuxing, a landmark deal that ends the ride-hailing company's quest to dominate one of the world's largest markets.


"Didi has been a fierce competitor," Uber CEO Travis Kalanick wrote in a Facebook (FB, Tech30) post. "Sustainably serving China's cities, and the riders and drivers who live in them, is only possible with profitability."

In exchange for its China business, Uber will receive a stake of almost 18% in Didi and become its largest shareholder. Didi will have a minority stake in Uber.

Cheng Wei, the founder of Didi Chuxing, will join the board of Uber. Kalanick, meanwhile, will join Didi's board. News reports put the value of the combined Chinese firm at $35 billion.

The new relationship is potentially complicated by an existing partnership between Didi and Lyft -- Uber's biggest U.S competitor.

In September 2015, Lyft struck up a strategic partnership with Didi, making it easier for foreign users to hail rides. U.S. customers visiting China can use the Lyft app and pay in U.S. dollars. Chinese travelers can do the same in the U.S. using Didi's app. In December 2015, the partnership was expanded to include GrabTaxi in Southeast Asia, and Ola in India, an effort to combine forces to compete against Uber. As part of the deal, Didi invested $100 million into Lyft.

It's unclear whether the acquisition of Uber's China operations will impact Didi's partnership with Lyft.

Lyft sent a statement to CNNMoney on Monday that suggests it could.

"We always believed Didi had a big advantage in China because of the regulatory environment," reads the statement. "The recent policy changes are exactly why we did not invest in the region. Over the next few weeks, we will evaluate our partnership with Didi."

Didi and Uber did not immediately respond to request for comment on this matter.

Uber launched in China in 2013, and its operations have since expanded to roughly 60 cities. The market was a top priority for Kalanick, who made frequent visits to China and poured billions of dollars into the country.

Related: 530,000 steel and coal workers are now driving for Didi Chuxing

But China was a tough market to crack -- especially in the face of stiff opposition from Didi. In February, Kalanick said that Uber was losing $1 billion a year in China.

Both companies burned through investment funds by subsidizing drivers and prices in an effort to capture more of the market. But new regulations announced last week essentially banned the use of subsidies, adding new pressure on the business model.

Didi Chuxing is the product of a merger between two homegrown ride-hailing companies: Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache, which joined forces in 2015 in a move to counter Uber.

The combined firm, which has been renamed Didi Chuxing, raised $7 billion in its most recent fundraising round, including $1 billion from Apple. (AAPL, Tech30) It also has the backing of Chinese tech giants like Alibaba (BABA, Tech30) and Tencent (TCEHY).

Related: Meet the people behind Didi Chuxing

This is the latest in a string of moves by foreign companies to separate their China business units. Yum! Brands, (YUM) which operates popular fast food chains KFC and Pizza Hut, plans to spin off its China unit as a separate, publicly traded company later this year.

McDonald's (MCD) is also reportedly looking to sell its Chinese operations.

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CVS stock up on increased earnings outlook

Drug-store giant CVS Health's second-quarter profit declined, largely due to paying down debt, but Wall Street welcomed the company's increased adjusted earnings forecast.

The company posted net income of $0.9 billion, down 27.3% compared to a year earlier. Profit would have increased without a $542 million payment to extinguish debt.

CVS posted earnings-per-share of 86 cents, below S&P Global Market Intelligence analyst estimates of $1.18, which had not taken into account the effect of the debt payments.

More importantly, the company raised its full-year adjusted earnings-per-share estimate from a previous range of $5.73 to $5.89 to a new range of $5.81 to $5.89.

CVS stock jumped 0.6% to $94.02 in pre-market trading.

"I'm very pleased with our solid second quarter results across the enterprise," CVS CEO Larry Merlo said in a statement.

The nation's largest drug store chain recorded a 17.6% increase in net revenue for the quarter, compared to the same period a year earlier, to $43.7 billion. Pharmacy network claims jumped 22.6%, fueling most of the revenue uptick.

The revenue performance fell short of S&P estimates of $44.3 billion.

CVS opened 20 new drug stores, closed 10 and relocated nine during the quarter. It had 9,652 locations, including pharmacies inside Target stores, as of June 30.


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The Government Refi Program Banks In Texas Don't Want You To Know About

HARP Gives Homeowners a Once In A Lifetime Mortgage Bailout

A forgotten mortgage stimulus program that was passed by Obama to help the middle class has been uncovered. The program is called HARP, which stands for the Home Affordable Refinance Program. The program itself is totally free, and gives homeowners a once in a lifetime mortgage bailout. Like most government benefits this program will expire, but there is still time left for up to 700,000 qualified homeowners to take advantage. It's important that homeowners
don't wait though as the program will expire this year.
Calculate your new house payment and see if you qualify from our lenders »

HARP eliminates mortgage payments, reduces what homeowners owe, lowers interest rates
HARP is a program with no downside. HARP doesn't add any cost to your refi because it's a totally free government program, and it helps qualified homeowners get better, more affordable mortgages. Homeowners have used HARP to eliminate up to 15 years of mortgage payments, cut their interest rates in half, or even to just simply lower their monthly payments and save up to $3,000 a year.
How To Get A HARP Loan

To help homeowners find banks that offer HARP refinances, services such as LowerMyBills are available. LowerMyBills is a completely free service that many homeowners love because it helps them easily compare multiple lenders at once. It only takes about three minutes to use their easy online form, and their network of lenders can help you calculate your new house payment and see if you qualify for HARP

Why isn't everyone using this refi plan? Here's why...

Banks don't want homeowners to know about it because they hate what this program could do to them. HARP helps homeowners refinance at today's historically low rates and switch to 15 year fixed rate mortgages. That helps homeowners save up to $190,000, which means homeowners who use HARP could take as much as $190,000 out of banks pockets and put it back into theirs.

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Aetna rethinks Obamacare participation

Aetna is reconsidering its participation in Obamacare, making it the latest large insurer to cast doubts on the future of the individual exchanges.

Aetna (AET) said Tuesday it is canceling plans to expand into more states next year and will reassess its involvement in the 15 states where it currently offers coverage on the individual exchanges. It expects to lose $300 million (pre-tax) on its Obamacare business this year.


" light of updated 2016 projections for our individual products and the significant structural challenges facing the public exchanges, we intend to withdraw all of our 2017 public exchange expansion plans, and are undertaking a complete evaluation of future participation in our current 15-state footprint," said CEO Mark Bertolini in a second-quarter earnings statement.

he performance of Aetna's Obamacare business is deteriorating as policyholders seek more care than expected, the company said. Pharmacy costs are a particular problem.

Aetna had 838,000 exchange customers at the end of June.

The announcement comes two weeks after the Department of Justice blocked Aetna's merger plans with Humana (HUM), as well as Anthem's purchase of Cigna (CI). Anthem (ANTX) last week linked its merger with its Obamacare participation.

"Our acquisition of Cigna will help stabilize pricing in this volatile market, enabling Anthem to continue its commitment to the public exchanges, and provide the opportunity to expand our participation to nine additional states, where neither Anthem nor Cigna currently participate," said Anthem CEO Joseph Swedish in an earnings call.

UnitedHealthcare (UNH), the nation's largest insurer, said in April it plans to exit most Obamacare exchanges in 2017.

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Exxon, Chevron earnings sink as oil tumbles

ExxonMobil and Chevron posted disappointing second-quarter earnings Friday as the American energy sector reels with oil prices mired in a prolonged downturn.

Chevron posted a loss of $1.47 billion for the quarter after turning a $571 million profit in the same period a year earlier, while Exxon's profit declined 59% to $1.7 billion.

Disappointed investors drove shares of Exxon down 1.4% to close at $88.95 Friday. Chevron shares edged 0.7% higher to $102.48.

It's a sharp reversal in fortunes for a sector that practically printed money in oil's heyday just a few years ago. Exxon's revenue plunged 22.2% to $57.7 billion, missing S&P Global Market Intelligence analyst estimates of $64 billion. Chevron revenue fell 24.4% to $27.8 billion, missing estimates of $29.6 billion.

The crushing slide in revenues for Exxon and Chevron illustrates the significance of oil's slide, despite second-quarter gains that snuffed out fears of prices below $30 per barrel that reigned in the first quarter.

“While our financial results reflect a volatile industry environment, ExxonMobil remains focused on business fundamentals, cost discipline and advancing selective new investments across the value chain to extend our competitive advantage,” Exxon CEO Rex Tillerson said in an email.

Similarly, Exxon's earnings-per-share of 41 cents missed S&P Global Market Intelligence estimates of 64 cents. Exxon cut spending on capital investment and energy exploration by 38% for the quarter to $5.2 billion. The company lost its AAA credit rating in the second quarter, illustrating the severity of oil's slide.

Chevron lost 78 cents per share, compared with earnings of 30 cents per share in the same quarter of 2015. The company said it had recorded one-time impairment costs, primarily in its upstream oil business, and other non-cash charges of $2.8 billion.

“The second-quarter results reflected lower oil prices and our ongoing adjustment to a lower oil price world,” Chevron CEO John Watson said in a statement.

Taken together, the underwhelming figures point to further trouble as oil prices have charted a downward path following the United Kingdom's vote to exit the European Union.

Oil prices fell six consecutive days heading into Friday. West Texas Intermediate oil, the U.S. benchmark, traded in the $41 range Friday, just a few weeks after topping $50 per barrel in what looked like a steady recovery.

Investors are reacting to three key factors:


  • Rising production in the U.S., where many exploration-and-production companies had cut output amid falling prices earlier this year. U.S. oil inventories rose by 1.7 million barrels in the week ended July 22, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration's Wednesday report.
  • Signs of an uptick in Libya and Nigeria, where geopolitical disruptions have throttled production.
  • Increased production in Canada following the devastating fire that slashed oil-sands output earlier this year.

"The trend in oil prices so far this year has closely resembled their pattern last year, with prices rising in the first half of the year before retreating in the summer," Capital Economics commodities economist Thomas Pugh said Friday in a research note.


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Yahoo-Verizon deal said to be near

Yahoo's days as an independent company may be nearing an end.

Verizon has agreed to pay about $4.8 billion for Yahoo (YHOO, Tech30), according to multiple published reports. Two people familiar with the matter confirmed to CNNMoney on Sunday that a deal had been struck.


The news is expected to be announced on Monday. It would end a sale process that dragged on for months and drew interest from parties as diverse as Warren Buffett and The Daily Mail.

Verizon (VZ, Tech30) has long been viewed as the frontrunner. Reports by Bloomberg, CNBC and Recode said Verizon had emerged as the top bidder. On Sunday, the Wall Street Journal said the deal had been completed at $4.8 billion.

The sale is said to include Yahoo's Internet properties and real estate holdings.

Yahoo declined to comment on the sale; Verizon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Verizon, AT&T (T, Tech30), and an investing group backed by Buffett and Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert were all said to be serious bidders.

A sale would put an end to Yahoo's 21-year history as an independent company. It would also potentially end the tenure of CEO Marissa Mayer after four years of trying and failing to stage a turnaround.

Related: Is it a mistake for Verizon to buy Yahoo?

Tim Armstrong, the CEO of Verizon-owned AOL, is widely expected to take over Yahoo if it becomes part of Verizon.

Mayer, like Armstrong, previously worked at Google (GOOG) before taking over the top spot at Yahoo in 2012. She invested heavily in improving Yahoo's mobile products, expanding its audience through the acquisition of Tumblr and doubling down on premium media content. But Mayer struggled to slow Yahoo's overall ad sales decline.

On a conference call with shareholders last week after reporting earnings, Mayer made what may have been her final case to investors and the public that she worked to "create a better Yahoo."

"We set forth a plan to return this iconic company to growth over multiple years, one that would create long-term sustainable growth for Yahoo and deliver value to our users, advertisers, employees and shareholders," Mayer said. "As we work to conclude the strategic alternatives process, this groundwork will serve as a solid foundation for Yahoo!'s next chapter."

For Verizon, the deal is about more than just nostalgia. The telecom company has invested in digital content and advertising in recent years, buying AOL and The Huffington Post.

Yahoo, synonymous with the Internet itself in the late '90s, remains a popular destination that attracts more than one billion monthly active users on desktop and mobile.

Soon Yahoo and AOL may be owned by the same company, proving that the dream of the '90s Internet is alive in Verizon.


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The Home Refinance Plan Banks Don't Want You Knowing

When homeowners visit The Easy Loan Site1 official website, they may be surprised to find out they qualify for a plan that offers them shockingly low interest rates.

Still unknown to many, this brilliant government program called the Home Affordable Refinance Plan (HARP)2 could benefit millions of Americans and reduce their monthly payments by as much as $3,500 each year.3

Homeowners have even used HARP to eliminate up to 15 years of mortgage! You could bet the banks aren’t too thrilled about losing all that profit and might secretly hope homeowners don’t find out before time runs out.

So while the banks happily wait for this program to end, the government is making a final push and urging homeowners to take advantage. The program is set to expire in 2016, but the good news though is that once you’re in, you’re in. if lowering your payments, paying off your mortgage faster, and having an extra $200 each month from the HARP savings would help you, it’s vital you act now.

URGENT: Close to a million homeowners could still benefit today, but sadly, many perceive HARP to be too good to be true. Remember, HARP is a free government program and there’s absolutely NO COST to see if you qualify at The Easy Loan Site. See If You Qualify >>

Putting Money Back Into The Middle Class

Did you know if your mortgage is less than $625,000, your chances of qualifying for HARP could be high. The Government wants the banks to cut your rates, which puts more money in your pocket, ultimately boosting the economy.

But the banks are not happy about this. Here’s why:

  1. The program makes it easier to qualify for lower mortgage rates
  2. You have the option to shop lenders other than your current mortgage holder

You think banks like the above? Rest assured, they do not. They'd rather make more money by keeping you at the higher rate you financed at years ago. The middle class seems to miss out on everything, and jumping on this benefit is a no-brainer.

  • The average monthly savings is $250. Could you use an extra $250/month?4
  • On top of the savings, many homeowners could pay off their mortgage faster.
  • Homeowners can even use the savings for home improvements, pay off debt, or pay for their children's education.

Where Do I Start?

With hundreds of mortgage lenders and brokers available, it can take consumers hours to simply contact each one separately and request a quote. The good news is that there are services that could help you save time and money by comparing multiple lenders at once. One such service is The Easy Loan Site,1 which has one of the biggest lender networks in the nation and what’s better is that they work with HARP lenders to provide consumers with a comprehensive set of mortgage options.

There’s no obligation to homeowners, and The Easy Loan Site1 offers easy and fast comparisons. It takes about five minutes, and the service is 100% free.5 You have nothing to lose, except for your money problems!

Source:One Smart Penny. com

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This 14-year-old turned down a $30M buyout offer

Taylor Rosenthal is ready for the big leagues. The 14-year-old is exhibiting his startup idea -- a vending machine that dispenses first aid products -- at TechCrunch Disrupt this week in Brooklyn.

The first-time entrepreneur doesn't sound nervous. He's actually looking forward to the trip from his hometown of Opelika, Alabama.


Still, it's a big deal.

"They told me that I was the youngest person to ever get accepted to the event," said Rosenthal. "It felt awesome."

Rosenthal's startup RecMed, which he launched in 2015, has already been generating buzz. He's raised $100,000 in angel investments and has already rejected a $30 million offer to buy his idea.

Related: This plastic toilet could save lives

RecMed started as an eighth-grade project when Rosenthal was one of 19 students in a Young Entrepreneurs Academy class.

"We had to come up with a business idea," he said. The straight-A student, who's a first baseman and pitcher for his high school baseball team, had one immediately.

"Every time I'd travel for a baseball tournament in Alabama, I'd notice that kids would get hurt and parents couldn't find a band-aid," he said. "I wanted to solve that."

is initial thought was to set up a pop-up shop at the tournaments to sell first-aid kits. He tried it and quickly realized it wasn't the best model.

"We noticed that it would cost too much to pay people minimum wage to sit at tournaments for six hours," he said. Then the vending machine idea struck.

Rosenthal sketched a design and consulted with his parents, both of whom work in the medical industry.

By December, he had a working prototype and had acquired a patent.

taylor rosenthal recmed still

First-aid products stocked in RecMed vendign machines.

Rosenthal incorporated black, red and white -- his high school colors -- into his design.

Users pick from two options: prepackaged first-aid kits for dealing with issues like sun burns, cuts, blisters and bee stings (they run from $5.99 to $15.95). You can also buy individual supplies like band-aids, rubber gloves, hydrocortisone wipes and gauze pads, which cost $6 to $20.

Rosenthal hopes to start deploying the machines this fall. He said they make sense at "high-traffic areas for kids" like amusement parks, beaches and stadiums.

He already has an order from Six Flags for 100 machines.

RecMed will make money by selling the machines, which cost $5,500 apiece, and through restocking fees for the supplies. Rosenthal said he's also open to putting advertising on the machines.

larinda Jones was Rosenthal's teacher in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy class. She's proud of his entrepreneurial chops.

"It has been amazing watching Taylor grow over the past year into this confident and amazing business man," she said. "Even with all of his success, he remains humble and ready to help others. He's just 14. Bill Gates should be worried."

taylor rosenthal clarinda

Taylor with his teacher Clarinda Jones.

Kyle Sandler, founder of Round House, a startup incubator in Opelika, agreed.

Rosenthal is the youngest CEO at Round House, where he has an office and access to mentors in exchange for a 20% stake and a $50,000 investment.

"Taylor spends every minute outside of school working on RecMed," said Sandler. "Last Christmas we had to kick him out on Christmas Eve. It's how focused he is."

Rosenthal said he wants to pursue a future in business, and college will help him.

"I'd like to go to Notre Dame because they have a great business school -- and I'm a fan of their football," he said

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The clean energy megaprojects powering Africa

(CNN)From an Africa-shaped mega solar plant powering Kigali, Rwanda, to a massive geothermal plant harvesting the power of Kenya's hot springs, renewable energy plants are popping up around the continent.

Sub-Saharan Africa is desperately short of power and roughly 620 million Africans live without a reliable source of electricity.
Africa's population is expected to double by 2050 and the demand for clean energy has never been greater, says Caroline Kende-Robb, executive director, Africa Progress Panel.
She believes the continent could soon become a renewables superpower, and that it can leapfrog carbon-centered energy systems and go straight to renewables.
"Because what we see is that Africa has got the advantage of coming in now without the heavy old systems that a lot of other countries and regions have," says Kende-Robb.
"It can proceed with speed and it can use the newest types of technology."

Energy expertise

And soon, other parts of the world will look to Africa for expertise when it comes to renewables and energy, adds Kende-Robb.
"It's just mind blowing," she says. "So many innovations happening all over the place. It's a completely new way of designing cities."
It is also a question of public health. Many Africans rely on cooking with wood and charcoal, making indoor pollution a big issue -- 600,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa die every year from indoor pollution.
Most investment goes to large-scale plants, and to hydropower in particular, but small solar power initiatives are also gaining ground -- an estimated 5 per cent of households in sub-Saharan Africa now use some form of solar lighting, compared with 1 per cent in 2009.

Huge demand for affordable energy

Renewables could help supply cheaper energy to regions where people have to set aside a large chunk of their income to pay for power.
"The demand is there, people will find the money and they will pay for it," says Kende-Robb.
The poorest people who live off grid are already paying much higher prices for their power than the world's rich -- with some paying 60-80 times more per energy unit than people in London or New York.
While innovation in renewables is being seen in other developing countries too -- India being one example -- recent investment in renewables in Africa is extraordinary, Kende-Robb explains. "What is amazing about Africa is that they have these incredible case examples, some of the biggest in the world."
In the gallery above, we take a look at some of the super plants already powering millions of households and businesses across the continent with renewable energy.
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Halliburton signals U.S. oil drilling revival

The long-awaited rebound in U.S. drilling may be near.

At least that's what a key bellwether of the oil industry thinks. Halliburton (HAL) CEO Dave Lesar declared on Wednesday he believes the North American market "has turned" and his oil services giant is preparing for the "upcycle."


Halliburton thinks the 78% plunge in oil rigs from late 2014 levels finally "reached a landing point" in the second quarter. Recently, the closely-watched Baker Hughes rig count has crept higher, rising six of the past seven weeks. Halliburton expects that trend to continue, forecasting a "modest uptick" during the second half of the year.

Why the shift? Lesar points to the return to $50 oil, which he called an "emotional milestone" for oil executives.

"You can't underestimate the positive change in attitude that we are seeing in our North American customers," the Halliburton CEO said during a conference call with analysts.

That psychological shift is encouraging for companies like Halliburton that make money by providing the tools and knowhow required to extract oil from the ground. The oil services industry, dominated by Halliburton, Baker Hughes (BHI)and Schlumberger (SLB), has been rocked by the crash in oil prices that sent drilling activity to 70-year lows.

At Halliburton alone, the oil downturn has wiped out 32,000 jobs since 2014. Halliburton told CNNMoney it cut roughly 5,000 jobs during the second quarter, on top of the 5,000 layoffs the company announced in February.

Halliburton described a "challenging quarter" and "continued pricing pressure around the globe." The company's sales slid by 9% during the second quarter, hurt by trouble around the world. Halliburton said its Latin America revenue dipped by 4% due to 20-year lows in rig activity in Brazil and Mexico as well as "significant political and economic turmoil" in Venezuela.

Halliburton suffered a second-quarter loss of $3.2 billion, but the red ink wasn't triggered by the oil downturn. The company paid out a massive $3.5 billion termination fee as a result of its failed effort to acquire Baker Hughes. That big merger was killed by an antitrust lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Still, Halliburton claims it is "best-positioned" to capitalize on the anticipated recovery. The company pointed to its growth in market share during the downturn.

Halliburton isn't the only one predicting a rebound for the U.S. oil boom. Goldman Sachs recently forecasted U.S. output will continue declining this year (it's down seven straight months), but then resume growing in 2017 and beyond.

"Reacceleration of U.S. oil production may be gradual initially, but the world will still need U.S. shale longer-term," Goldman analysts wrote in a report.

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WhatsApp blocked -- and unblocked -- in Brazil, again

WhatsApp has been blocked -- and quickly unblocked -- in Brazil by a judge for the third time in less than a year.

A court ordered mobile carriers in the country to block the Facebook-owned messaging app, which is used by 100 million people in Brazil -- and perhaps many more as the Olympics kick off in Rio next month.


The ban was suspended hours later by Brazil's Supreme Court, which called to "immediately restore" service.

The legal back and forth is just the latest in a heated standoff between WhatsApp and local authorities who believe it should provide user data to help criminal investigations. WhatsApp has previously said it can't provide the data that courts wants because user messages are encrypted.

Jan Koum, the CEO and cofounder of WhatsApp, called the latest court order "shocking."

"We're working to get WhatsApp back online in Brazil," Koum wrote in a post on his Facebook page. "It's shocking that less than two months after Brazilian people and lawmakers loudly rejected blocks of services like WhatsApp, history is repeating itself."

Related: Facebook and WhatsApp might be the next Apple in encryption fight

In May, a judge ordered a 72-hour ban on the service for failing to hand over data in a police investigation and arrested a Facebook VP. The ban was overturned by a judge less than a day later and the executive was released.

WhatsApp was also banned for 48 hours in December.

The court dispute highlights the growing tension between tech companies and local governments over data and encryption -- with no end in sight. Both WhatsApp and Facebook (FB, Tech30) have doubled down on providing end-to-end encryption for messaging.

As news of the ban spread on Tuesday, many WhatsApp users took to Twitter to complain about losing access to the app they rely on to communicate with friends and family.

"You have to be kidding me that WhatsApp is blocked again," one tweeted, according to a translation.

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Netflix lands global 'Star Trek' TV rights before earnings

In advance of announcing its second-quarter financial performance, Netflix has landed a huge TV property to help propel its global enterprise: Star Trek.

The Net video service on Monday announced an international streaming deal with CBS to run the new Star Trek series, expected to launch in January 2017, and the entire Star Trek TV catalog including the classic 1966-1969 series in 188 countries, excluding the U.S. and Canada.

In the U.S., CBS will debut the first episode in the new Star Trek series with all subsequent episodes playing on CBS All Access, the network's own subscription streaming service ($5.99). In Canada, the first episode will premiere CTV with the remaining episodes on Bell Media’s cable networks, Space (in English) and Z (in French), and then later exclusively on CraveTV, Bell Media’s streaming video-on-demand service.

By the end of 2016, Netflix will make available globally the complete catalog of the original Star Trek series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise.

News of the deal comes as Netflix is set to report second quarter earnings after Monday's market closes. As usual, Wall Street is laser-focused on how many new subscribers the Net TV company has added in the U.S. and globally during the April-June period and its forecast for the current quarter.

Back in April, Netflix shares dropped 10% in aftermarket trading following the company's issuance of a lower-than expected subscriber forecast for the second quarter.

Since then, Netflix (NFLX) shares -- up 1.3% to $99.67 midday Monday -- have risen nearly 6%. However, shares are down 13% for the year.

Here's what to watch for in Netflix's earnings report:

EARNINGS FORECAST: Netflix had forecast earnings of 2 cents, compared to 6 cents the same period a year ago, with net income of $9 million, compared to $26 million in the same period a year ago. That is in line with expectations from analysts polled by S&P Global Market Intelligence, which also expect 2 cents on earnings of $9.7 million -- a bit higher than Netflix’s forecast of $9 million.

REVENUE FORECAST: Analysts expect Netflix total revenue of $2.2 billion, a 31% increase over the same period a year ago. The company’s total streaming revenue forecast targets a 33% increase to $1.96 billion.

SUBSCRIBER GROWTH: Netflix has tempered expectations with its lowest growth forecast in a year of 2.5 million new subscribers expected in the second quarter. That breaks down to 500,000 U.S. and 2 million new international subscribers. Wall Street analysts have differing opinions with many expecting higher numbers of U.S. subscribers than the company forecasted.

Guggenheim Securities Equity Research analyst Michael Morris thinks that Netflix offers domestic and international upsides. Here in the U.S., Netflix will continue to capture viewership from traditional broadcast and cable networks, he says, in part because the streaming service is a better value.

Netflix's global launch, Morris says, is coinciding with slowing economic growth internationally. "My hope is the company has set some reasonable expectations for the near-term trajectory," he said, "but over time they are going to be able to make very good decision in each of those countries and be a compelling proposition globally."

Source:USA Today

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This job pays $263,500 for a few days' work

If you get an invitation to join a corporate board, you'd better accept it. The pay already was good and keeps getting better.

The median total direct compensation for outside directors hit $263,500 last year, an increase of 3% from the prior year, according to an analysis of pay packages from the 500 largest companies by revenue released Tuesday by Willis Towers Watson, a global professional services firm.

Not bad for a job that only requires an average of about eight meetings a year.

Much of that pay comes from stock awards, a median of $150,000 to be exact. But in a new development, directors scored a median of $108,000 last year just in total cash payments. That's the first time the cash payment to directors has exceeded $100,000, and this piece of pay alone was up 6%. That $108,000 cash payment includes a median of $100,000 for a retainer, $2,000 for board meeting fees and other cash for being part of various committees. A fifth of companies increased their annual cash retainers last year.

The increases in pay could be the result of more companies looking to get away from paying per-meeting fees to directors and paying "more for value of contributions," says Robert Mustich, Willis Towers Watson's managing director of executive compensation for the East Coast.

Many companies are making changes to their boards to boost retention of stock and to encourage directors to own stock. More than 90% of the companies studied require board members to own or retain company shares. To control "excessive" director compensation, more companies are putting annual limits on awards. Willis Towers Watson didn't release pay statistics on individual companies.

But investors don't have to look far to find some cases where board members were paid well above the median of large companies. All nine directors at (CRM), a company that provides technology to companies, were paid a total of $580,000 or more in fiscal 2016. Sanford Robertson, founder of technology investment bank Robertson, Stephens, has been a Salesforce board member since October. 2003. Last year, he was paid a total of $634,493 for his role on the company's board.

Despite the large pay packages, companies are still having trouble finding candidates, Mustich says. "Given the growing demands and pressures being placed on directors, attracting and retaining qualified candidates to serve remains a challenge for many companies," he says.


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How one 26-year-old turned $500 into $2 million online

CNN)What started with a compliment turned one young woman's idea into a million dollar business.

When Kelechi Anyadiegwu started her online African clothing store Zuvaa with $500 two years ago, her idea was to share African-inspired designs with consumers around the world. Zuvaa is estimated to make $2 million in sales in 2016.
After receiving a compliment on her outfit, the tech savvy 24-year-old bought a domain name and started social media accounts.
"I didn't really know what I was getting into, I just had a vision and I was excited about where that would take me," New York-based Anyadiegwu told CNN in an interview.
"As a women of Nigerian descent, I grew up with African prints and fabrics. I loved wearing African inspired designs, and whenever I did wear these pieces, people wanted to know how they could also shop African inspired prints."
Instead of just referring these curious customers on to the designers she knew, Anyadiegwu saw a business opportunity.
"I decided to use my skills in social media marketing and online community building, to create a platform that would provide more exposure for the talented African-inspired fashion designers I knew existed around the world," she said.
Her success has already landed her on the Forbes 30 under 30 list.

Passion x expertise = a winning formula

While the path of a tech entrepreneur is not an easy one, Anyadiegwu's education set her up for success.
After studying User Experience Design in the U.S., she combined her passion for representing Africa on the world stage, her keen eye for design and tech expertise.
"I've always been a techie. I'm very interested in how technology and design could be used to change lives.
"Zuvaa brought together everything I was ever interested in. My love for Africa, my interest in fashion and my skills in technology."

The life of a young entrepreneur

Anyadiegwu has been very vocal about the fact that she did not want a traditional 9 to 5 job.
And she's not alone, according to research by Bentley University, 77% of millennials say flexible work hours make them more productive.
"My days are a lot longer than 9-5!" says Anyadiegwu. "From when I wake up to when I go to sleep, I'm working on Zuvaa. If I'm not directly working on Zuvaa, I'm definitely thinking about it."
Anyadiegwu predicts Zuvaa is on track to make $2 million in gross sales this year, she said having a clear vision is key.
"My biggest piece of advice is to trust your vision. Your vision for your life and company are really going to be what makes you stand out.
"No one is going to be able to see this vision, that's what makes it so special, that what will set you apart from others, that's what will make get every morning exciting to work and build your company."
he name 'Zuvaa' comes from 'Zuva' which means sun or sunshine in the language of the Shona people from Zimbabwe. Anyadiegwu's vision for the company is clear;
"We are building a movement of artisans, consumers and people around the world who want to know the stories behind their garments. Where they come from and who made them."
"People are excited that their traditional prints are going global and it's driven by people from their communities. Many are fascinated with the market that exists outside of Africa and how the global interest is trickling down to their local communities," added the young entrepreneur.
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14 Most Dangerous Cities in the World

here is an innate sense of adventure within all of us and it is that instinct that sends us to the internet in order to find a cheap flight somewhere beautiful, far away from home. We live for our vacations and special hotel reservations and we typically can’t wait to see the world. The majority of the planet is beautiful and there is nothing quite as magical as experiencing a foreign culture that appeals to you in an emotional and physical way. However, not all places should be visited by tourists for a variety of different reasons. As it turns out, there are many places in the world that appeal to tourists who don’t realize just how dangerous they are to visit. We decided to pick 14 different cities that should be known for how dangerous they are. Listed below are the 12 most dangerous cities to travel to in the world.

Barquisimeto – Venezuela

We are in South America now to look at the city of Barquisimeto which is located in Venezeulas. As far as cities to travel to in South America you might want to skip the cheap ticket and hotel reservation when it comes to this destination. Barquisimeto was founded in 1552 and for a long time the city grew in such a way that tourism was actually increasing. With over one million citizens and tons of architecture it makes sense for this to become a hot spot for visitors. As the fourth largest city in Venezuela, in terms of population, we were surprised to see that it actually has been in a tail spin in regards to the tourism industry. Daily murders and a high rate of other violent crimes have dimmed what could have been an inspiring tourist destination.

Rio de Janeiro – Brazil

Rio de Janeiro is a thriving city located in Brazil and the city was recently put on full display for the Olympic Games and the World Cup. Still, this is not a city you want to make a point of visiting — not unless you like living life with the threat of danger surrounding you. Rio de Janeiro struggles mightily with crime of all kinds with most of the focus being on drug related activities. The threat of being mugged, attacked, and murdered has actually been escalating since the big media events have taken place. Right now estimates are at 35 murders per 100,000 people which is a number high enough that you would never feel at ease while taking a trip here. Make a hard pass on this destination and opt for somewhere safer, and cleaner.

Sana’a – Yemen

Yemen is located in Western Asia and is located on the the south end of the Arabian Peninsula. Bordered by Saudi Arabia and Oman out to the East, the country has been struggling with political instability for far back as history will take you. The fact that Yemen is considered a developing country isn’t lost on us as the violence located in many of the biggest cities has been off the charts in recent years. Sana’a is a beautiful, old city that is filled with gorgeous architecture and vibrant culture. However there is an inherent danger in visiting the city, especially for tourists. If you do make it to Sana’a then you owe it to yourself to go to the Old City portion of the town to see the beautiful architecture.

Ciudad Juarez – Mexico

Known by locals as Juaritos, Ciudad Jaurez is one of the most violent and corrupt cities in all of Mexico. Located south of El Paso, Texas and right off of the Rio Grande the city of Juaritos houses over 1.3 million people within its borders. Established in the 1650s by Spanish explorers, Ciudad Juarez has grown into one of the largest cities in Mexico. Due to intense drug trafficking and a corrupt government there has been no clear way for Mexico to reclaim one of their largest cities. Ciudad Juarez has, at several points in time, been ranked among the top two or three most violent cities on the planet.

St. Louis – United States

We have to make mention of one of the most divisive cities in the United States of America so we decided to list St. Louis. St. Louis and its surrounding areas were heavily in the news for the Ferguson riots but even before that the city had been heavily suffering from violence and disparate poverty. Despite successful sports franchises and a nice midwestern seat, St. Louis is an easy enough destination to avoid traveling to.

Guatemala City – Guatemala

The nation of Guatemala may have plenty of tourist friendly destinations but Guatemala City is definitely not one of those places. This Central American city is plagued by murder and various drug related crimes. Car jackings, bus jackings, and street robberies are considered the norm here and tourists would be better served opting to go visit a different place in the region.

Acapulco – Mexico

If your first inclination to reading Acapulco on this list was a hearty ‘huh’ then you probably aren’t the only one. Acapulco used to be a trendy tourist spot for those seeking to steal some time in the sun and on the beautiful beaches. The deep blue water, tasty margaritas, and affordable food would be enough to bring anyone in for a weekend getaway. However, Acapulco has been getting more and more dangerous by the year with the violence peaking in requiring the Mexican military to show up and handle things. Tourism is on the downslide here.

Nairobi – Kenya

Much like many of the South American countries on this list, Africa also suffers from violent cities beset in a beautiful location. Nairobi makes our list as a sprawling city that has suffered almost permanently from war and violence. Al Shabaab has left their mark on the city and these violent militants make this an unattractive destination for just about anyone to come visit. Locals are told not to go out after dark and tourists should listen to that suggestion doubly so.

Maceio – Brazil

For such a beautiful continent, South America is really racking up a ton of space on this list. Maceio, located in Brazil, is the next city that all tourists should consider avoiding. Maceio averages 135 murders per 100,000 residents and you’re going to need more than a gorgeous ocean view to make me consider taking a trip there. Maceio is competitive with Rio de Janeiro for the most violent city in the country.

San Salvador – El Salvador

If visiting Honduras isn’t scary enough then you can consider taking a trip to the tiny country of El Salvador. San Salvador isn’t known for much beyond their production of one of the most fierce gangs on Earth: MS 13. MS 13, along with the drug trade and explosive poverty, have led to San Salvador completely going off of the rails. There are safe places to visit in El Salvador, but this definitely isn’t one of them. Avoid the allure of the beautiful climate and opt for somewhere else.

Cape Town – South Africa

While South African can be a beautiful place due to the diverse eco system, wonderful surfing, and brilliant beach towns there is more than enough trouble there than it is worth. Cape Town is one of the more popular tourist destinations in all of South Africa but recent violent numbers show that this might not stay that way. People blame the South African government for not doing anything to stop the burgeoning gang problems and questions of corrupt city officials have only exacerbated these claims. If you are going to South Africa and want to make your way to Cape Town then you should stick to the tourist areas.

San Pedro Sula – Honduras

Honduras is located in the a beautiful spit of land in Central America and it is bordered by Guatemala and Nicaragua while cushioned in by the Pacific Ocean and Caribbean Sea. Honduras is a beautiful coastal country that is covered in a dense and vibrant array of natural formations, replete with diverse ecosystems. Yet, despite all of this beauty there is an innate sense of danger within the developing urban areas. San Pedro Sula in particular should be avoided by travelers at all cost. With a population of just over 1 million people, San Pedro Sula ranks in as one of the most dangerous cities on Earth. In fact it has been called the ‘Murder Capital of the World’ at many points in time. The reason for all of the violence can be laid at the feet of the various street gangs and drug traffickers that are fighting for turf control. In fact, things are so bad here that the city has been cited as one of the major reasons for Alien Minors trying to sneak into the United States.

Medellin – Colombia

Medellin used to be the most violent city on the face of the planet thanks in large part to the illicit work of Pablo Escobar — the former leader of the Medellin Cartel. Since the death of Escobar crime has been gradually falling though it is still not a city that tourists or visitors should take lightly. Right now the murder per capita rate is sitting at 20 deaths per 100,000 people and this is the lowest the rate has been in decades. Though the city is trending in the right direction there is still a ton of work to do.

Durban – South Africa

Though you probably have never heard of it, Durban is the largest city in all of KwaZulu-Natul and the second largest city in all of South Africa, behind only Johannesburg. With such a large population and violence encircling the city it only seemed to be inevitable that the city would come under fire as well. Right now the primary cause of crime in the city is the drug trade which flows through Sub-Saharan Africa and the trade has been growing dramatically over the past two decades. The murder rate in 2015 was sitting at 35 murders per 100,000 people.

Source: CNN

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Now hiring: Women with these degrees

icture a software engineer or video game developer. What do you see?

Chances are it's not a woman.


One reason is that women are still very much in the minority in computer sciences and engineering.

Even though there are many efforts underway to encourage girls from a young age to pursue STEM fields, the pipeline of women coming out of college with degrees in engineering and computer science is still very small relative to men.

That's also why talented women entering the workforce with degrees in those fields are not likely to have much trouble finding a job.

For many, "It's 'Which job will I take?'" said Karen Panetta, a tenured professor of engineering and associate dean of graduate education at Tufts University.

For starters, anyone with a computer science degree is in high demand, regardless of gender. And not just at high-tech firms either, but in many sectors that realize their future is in digital technology and computing, said Jeannette Wing, vice president of Microsoft Research who previously ran Carnegie Mellon's computer science department.

Companies are also clamoring for engineers. A firm called Shift, an online site that buys and sells used cars, will pay a $20,000 referral fee to anyone who recommends a good engineer who ends up being hired, said cofounder and COO Minnie Ingersoll.

The business case for hiring women

On top of the high demand, there is a pressure on employers to increase gender diversity in their workforce.

"All the top companies are absolutely committed to increasing diversity and inclusion. But we have a ways to go," Wing said.

Some, of course, may just be spurred by optics. "Companies know they need women because [otherwise] they will be shamed by the press and outspoken advocates," said Ingersoll, who previously led efforts to create Google Fiber.

The smart ones, however, also realize it can be a huge asset to their bottom line.

Take gaming. Women make up only 22% of game developers yet represent 50% of people who play video games, said Elizabeth Brown, the chief people officer of Unity Technologies, which provides products and services for game developers.

So it makes good business sense to want to hire more women developers because the people who create the games should represent an industry's customer base, Brown said.

Brown advises recruiters for Unity to provide hiring managers with an equal number of qualified male and female applicants. From there, the managers then must hire based on someone's skills, experience and cultural fit, since the goal is always to hire the best talent.

Beware the culture and pay gaps

Once hired, female engineering and computer science grads are likely to find themselves very much in the minority.

Hope Bovenzi, a system applications engineer at Texas Instruments, says she's the only female on her team of 20.

To be heard in that environment, Bovenzi said, she has to be more vocal -- and at times more "pushy" as she put it -- than she is by nature.

A long-term engineering career can be very lucrative, but a predominantly male culture has meant that companies have had a hard time retaining women long-term, said Panetta, who also works with the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

It can be particularly problematic when they're working for male managers from other countries, where women are not seen as equals, she added.

"Some corporations now realize they can hire mountains of women fresh out of college but lose them three to five years out because of work culture," Panetta said.

And there's still a pay gap problem.

Panetta noted that some female engineering grads find out that a company may have offered them $5,000 to $7,000 less in starting salary than their fellow male students. But she advises them to go back and ask for more.

Or in cases where a company lowballs them relative to competitors' offers, women engineering grads who ask for more are likely to get it.

"Companies are ready to negotiate," Panetta said.

But women have to ask for what they want and know what their skills are worth.

"Be bold," Bovenzi advised.


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Retirement Planning

Will You Have Enough Savings at Retirement?

Retirement is probably the most expensive thing you’ll ever pay for. Because of that, it may be difficult to put the amount you may need to save into perspective.

How Much Would You Be Able to Withdraw Each Year?

For simplicity, let’s assume:

  • You’re ready to retire today and plan to have your retirement savings last 25 years.
  • You’ve moved your savings into more conservative investments that you believe are appropriate for retirement. The investments will provide a constant 6% annual return.
  • You’ll withdraw the same amount at the end of each year.

    If you saved this amount… …here’s how much you could withdraw annually for 25 years
    $100,000 $7,823
    $200,000 $14,645
    $300,000 $23,468
    $400,000 $31,291
    $500,000 $39,113
    $600,000 $46,936
    $700,000 $54,759
    $800,000 $62,581
    $900,000 $70,404
    $1,000,000 $78,227

    These hypothetical examples are for illustrative purposes only and do not portray actual investment results.

Keep in mind that these examples don’t include factors such as inflation and volatility that can have a big impact on your purchasing power and account value. For example, if inflation were 4% a year, a withdrawal of $31,291 25 years from now would only be worth $11,738 in today’s dollars. Investment losses would decrease your account’s growth potential in subsequent years. To account for these factors, you might need to save even more.

Many experts estimate that you’ll need 80% or more of your final annual salary each year in retirement. Social Security may only provide around 40% of what you need. And don’t forget that retirees typically have different types of expenses compared to people still in the workforce, such as increased health care and travel costs. Use our retirement planning calculator to estimate how much you’ll need.

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This Silicon Valley bigshot investor has a shocking idea for startups: profits matter

In the most recent tech boom, the conventional Silicon Valley wisdom has been to ignore profits when starting a venture-backed company.

All that matters is growth — if you have product-market fit, you'll get users. Initially, investors are looking for a usage curve that goes steeply up and to the right. Eventually, you'll figure out how to earn revenue from those users, either by charging them or through a third-party who wants access to those users (like an advertiser or another company who will pay referral), so the revenue curve will follow the user curve.

And at some point after that, you'll reach a magic point where your costs are spread across enough users that you'll start to turn a profit.

This has led to all kinds of weird accounting. Privately held startups almost never talk about real, GAAP profitability. They talk about positive unit economics. (That's nice — they're not losing money on each sale!) They talk about being cash-flow positive. (That's better — they're taking in more money from operations than they're spending!) They talk about being profitable if you ignore that pesky stock-based compensation. (Which means they really might be on to something!)

This is how companies like Twitter, Box, and Square are able to go public at valuations worth billions without ever having turned an annual profit in their history. All of those companies are over five years old. Twitter is ten years old.

But one Silicon Valley VC, Chamath Palihapitiya, thinks this conventional wisdom is all wrong. 

Palihapitiya was an early Facebook executive, and he saw how that company was able to become profitable in "six years," and was able to go public a couple years later.

As he told Business Insider's Biz Carson in an interview:

"I feel like a lot of entrepreneurs hear all this talk about profitability and realize they need to lower their burn. So, they just start chopping off perks and people. If you’re trying to get to profitability by lowering costs as a startup then you are in a very precarious and difficult position.

"You need to grow through profitability. Startups should be, if you graph their financial performance, it should be what’s called a J curve. You start out at zero, you’re not making any money, you’re not losing any money.

"As you start the company, you start spending spending spending ahead of revenue. But then you come out of it and very quickly you should become a company that spends less than it makes. And what I mean by very quickly, is that window of time should be in that 6 to 8 year time frame, 5 to 8 years. And the reason is because if you build your business model correctly it’s almost unavoidable."

To get there, startups should dispense with the other momentum metrics and report profitability:

"Why should I not report on GAAP? Like the young entrepreneur right now that is starting a company, she should be telling herself “alright you know what f--- all the nonsense, I’m reporting GAAP from day one.” Immediately clarifying. You can’t hide the cheese. And then you have to set a goal, I’m going to spend less than I make.

"I swear to God if you say that people will scratch their heads. Now, you don’t have to do that day one, but you have to have a goal of getting there, right?"

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This hoodie is so insanely popular you have to wait months to get it

The insane popularity of a single sweatshirt has forced its maker to expand into four new factories within the last year just to meet the soaring demand.

The zip-up hoodie, made by San Francisco startup American Giant, costs $89. It had been on the market for 10 months when a December 2012 Slate article declared it "the greatest hoodie ever made" and suddenly sales exploded.

The pace of growth was so rapid that back-order waits grew to as long as four months. But people continued placing orders regardless of the wait. 

At the time, American Giant had only one factory in Brisbane, California. The company has since expanded into a factory in Los Angeles and three more in rural North Carolina, just outside Raleigh. 

"We've been chasing demand the entire year," American Giant CEO Bayard Winthrop said in an interview with Business Insider. "In September, we were finally back in stock — and then the rate of buying went up by four times."

With its expansion into new factories, the company has begun selling T-shirts, sweatpants, and a women's line. In the meantime, demand for the sweatshirts hasn't slowed. The hoodie is currently sold out of most sizes and colors.

“We are absolutely throttled down on manufacturing,” Winthrop said. “We are maxing out all of our capacity at all of our factories. As much as they can give us, we are taking.”

So what's so great about this hoodie, anyway?

For starters, it appears to weigh more than two pounds. The fabric, which is 100% cotton, feels about three times thicker than most sweatshirts. And ribbed paneling along the shoulders and sides help create a tailored look, eliminating the boxy silhouette of most hoodies. Bayard said he spent about eight months designing it with the help of former Apple engineer Philipe Manoux and world-renowned pattern designer Steve Mootoo.

Customers appear to love the quality and fit, calling it “shockingly well made” and “absolutely fantastic” in dozens of reviews on American Giant’s website.

“This sweatshirt is seriously worth the wait, and awesome for the price, too. I'm considering ordering more to stock up for the rest of my life, but I'm not sure this one is ever going to wear out,” one reviewer wrote.

Another said: “The hype around this hoodie seems absurd. But once you try it on, the quality really does take you by surprise. It's unlike any hoodie — or any other piece of clothing — I've ever owned. A must-have.”

An equal — if not even bigger — draw to American Giant’s apparel over the fit and quality is that it’s all made in the US.

The company advertises that it’s “bringing back American manufacturing” and pledges to never outsource jobs overseas. It can afford the higher labor costs in the US because it is a direct-to-consumer business and therefore avoids expensive overhead associated with brick-and-mortar stores.

To keep costs down, Winthrop said he doesn’t plan to open any pop-up shops, like many e-retailers have done. He also hasn’t made any investments in major marketing campaigns. He said the sweatshirts have all been selling by word-of-mouth. The company offers $15 for referrals to help that process.

“One of the great unspoken, dirty secrets about the apparel industry is that brands for the last 40 years have been investing a tiny amount in the product to sustain huge marketing and huge distribution costs,” Winthrop said. “In American Giant’s case, we do almost the exact opposite of that.”

Looking ahead, Winthrop said he plans on sticking to the basics: T-shirts, jackets, hoodies, and sweatpants.

“When we think about next year, just being in stock — not expanding the product mix — but just being in stock will be a huge lever up for us,” he said.

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Google's search for non-white male employees shows few results

Google has mapped the world, indexed millions of books and launched giant balloons that beam Internet to remote regions.

But hiring more employees who aren't white men? Apparently that's tough.


Google acknowledged on Thursday that it failed to make any progress increasing the percentage of black, Hispanic and multiracial employees in its workplace in 2015 despite a very public commitment and millions of dollars in resources to improve its diversity.

Just 2% of Google's overall workforce was black and 3% was Hispanic as of the end of 2015, unchanged from the year before when Google first released its internal numbers. The vast majority of Google employees (59%) are white, down a slim 1% from 2014. Another 32% of employees are classified as Asian.

The only silver lining in the report: the percentage of women in leadership roles at Google hit 24% in 2015, up from 22% a year earlier.

"We saw encouraging signs of progress in 2015, but we're still far from where we need to be," said Nancy Lee, VP of people operations at Google.

Apple (AAPL, Tech30), Facebook (FB, Tech30), Microsoft (MSFT, Tech30) and many other technology companies have committed to releasing annual transparency reports amid criticisms that the workforces of these increasingly influential businesses remain dominated by white men. Like Google, however, these companies have made limited progress.

Last year, Google (GOOGL, Tech30) pledged to spend $150 million on diversity programs internally and for the tech industry more broadly. The company offers unconscious bias training workshops, reviews its promotion processes and recruiting from historically black colleges and universities.

This week, Google launched a space in its New York office for Black Girls Code, a non-profit organization, and appointed its first black board member in a nod to improving diversity.

Part of the problem is simply Google's sprawling size. The company has more than 60,000 employees worldwide, according to its most recent earnings report. It would take hundreds of new diverse hires just to make a dent.

In an article this week about decades of failed corporate diversity programs, Harvard Business Review framed Google's efforts as a grand experiment.

"Leading companies like Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Facebook, and Google have placed big bets on accountability in the past couple of years," the publication wrote. "They're now posting complete diversity numbers for all to see. We should know in a few years if that moves the needle for them."

Source: CNN

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Jay Z: From drug dealer to wheeler dealer

The world changed for Jay Z on June 25, 1996.

That's the day his debut album "Reasonable Doubt" was released, dropping the needle on the start of what has been one of the most epic careers in the music industry.

But he didn't stop there.

In the past 20 years the man who was born Shawn Corey Carter and who grew up in Brooklyn's Marcy Projects at a time when they were plagued by crime and drugs has gone from slinging drugs to taking over corporations. In May, Forbes estimated his net worth at $610 million, placing him at number three behind Sean"Diddy" Combs ($750 million) and Andre "Dr. Dre" Young ($710 million) on the list of Hip Hop's Wealthiest Artists 2016. And now there are reports that Apple is in talks to buy his streaming service Tidal.

He's a hustler, baby, we just want you to know.

Here are just some of the many hats the man who once famously rapped "I'm not a businessman, I'm a business... man" has worn, all the while building on what he learned in the hood.

Drug dealer

The Jigga man has been very open about his past as an illegal pharmaceutical entrepreneur, both rapping about it and discussing it in interviews.

"I know about budgets. I was a drug dealer," he told Vanity Fair in 2013. "To be in a drug deal, you need to know what you can spend, what you need to re-up. Or if you want to start some sort of barbershop or car wash—those were the businesses back then. Things you can get in easily to get out of [that] life."

It helped prepare him for the cutthroat music industry, he has said. Though if you think it's tough out here on the charts, it's nothing compared to what Jay saw on the streets.

"At some point, you have to have an exit strategy, because your window is very small," he said about drug dealing. "You're going to get locked up or you're going to die."


Start a debate about the best rap artists in history and three names will always appear on the list: Tupac Shakur, the Notorious B.I.G. and Jay Z. (Sorry, Nas.)

Jay has sold millions upon millions of records and was one of the pioneers who helped to define urban music in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

He's won multiple awards including 21 Grammys and a Sports Emmy for outstanding music composition/direction/lyrics in recognition of his Super Bowl XLIV opener of his song "Run This Town" featuring singer Rihanna.

In 2013 he broke a Spotify record whern his "Magna Carta Holy Grail" album was streamed 14 million times.

This from a man who once famously "retired" from rap.

Music executive

Every successful dealer knows the key is controlling your product.

In 1996 Jay Z formed Roc-A-Fella Records with friends Damon "Dame" Dash and Kareem "Biggs" Burke specifically to market the rapper's music.

Over the years their artist roster grew to include such names as Kanye West, Memphis Bleek and Beanie Sigel.

Jay Z and his partners sold Roc-A-Fella to Island Def Jam and he was appointed to a new role as president and CEO of Def Jam Recordings in 2004.

In 2008 the rapper founded an entertainment company, Roc Nation, which includes a record label that is home to artists like Drake, and Rihanna.

A strong crew is everything in the game.


Before there was ever any talk of a potential deal between Apple and Tidal, Jay was all about streaming music.

In 2013 he strategically partnered with Samsung to make his "Magna Carta Holy Grail" album available first via download on specific Samsung phones over the July 4th weekend.

It was consistent with other high profile partnerships he's made throughout his career: His Roc Nation label came about in part thanks to a $150 million profit sharing deal with entertainment giant Live Nation.

In 2015 Roc Nation announced it would be teaming with Philymack, the management firm that oversees pop stars Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato.

"We sat down and dreamt about what the future could hold if we partnered," the rapper said at the time. "Our views aligned on nurturing, growth and allowing creatives to stay true to their voice. That dream we are living today and it's been amazing for all parties. We look forward to what tomorrow brings."


Who could ever forget that the rapper once owned a small part of the New Jersey Nets, and helped make them the Brooklyn Nets?

He is credited with -- or blamed for -- the creation of last year's "Jay Z rule" which said teams can only have 25 or fewer individual owners with each owning at least a one percent stake. According to Grantland, Jay Z only owned 0.15 percent of the team before he sold his stake to Jason Kidd and an unidentified investor in 2013.

That same year Jay Z formed Roc Nation Sports, which manages professional athletes.

He's also been savvy enough to get pieces of various businesses over the years including the 40/40 Club sports-bar chain. And he's an investor in several other restaurants, starting with New York hotspot The Spotted Pig.


"I made the Yankee hat more famous than a Yankee can" he rapped in his 2009 hit "Empire State of Mind" -- and he's not wrong.

His early understanding that the street style of hip hop was one fans wanted to emulate led him and Dash to establish the urban apparel line Rocawear early on. He cashed in on it when he reportedly sold the rights to Iconix Brand Group in 2007 for $204 million.


What is success if you don't have anyone to share it with?

Jay Z blessed us all with his lessons learned and reflections in his 2010 memoir "Decoded."

Of course, since it's Jay, the biography debuted in the top five of the New York Times bestseller list.


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The Secret to Resolving Credit Card Debt

he Secret

Here’s what credit card companies don’t want you to know. Through programs offered by companies like Freedom Debt Relief1, consumers who owe more than $10,000 in debt and are experiencing a financial hardship could resolve their debts in as little as 24-48 months* while also reducing the debt they owe.

The Debt Trap

We all know just how easy it is to accumulate credit card debt. Life circumstances intervene, often leaving people no option but credit card debt to stay solvent. Unfortunately, the easy availability of this debt also has a cost. Interest rates of as much as 30%, coupled with economic and life hardships, make it difficult for consumers to pay off their credit cards.

Credit card debt is causing suffering among thousands of ordinary Americans. As of September 2014, the average U.S. indebted household owes $15,191 in credit card debt.2

The Solution

Companies such as Freedom Debt Relief offer a way out. Freedom Debt Relief helps customers reduce the total debt they owe. To date, Freedom Debt Relief has resolved over $3 billion dollars in consumer debt and helped thousands of ordinary Americans regain control of their debt. To find out if you qualify, you simply have to answer a few questions about your debt and financial circumstances.

Get Help Today

Don’t wait to end your struggles with debt. Every minute you spend in credit card debt costs you more money.


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Shark Tank Star Urges Homeowners: "Take Advantage of the Cheap Money!"

Star of the hit TV show Shark Tank, real estate expert Barbara Corcoran shares 3 crucial rules on how homeowners could save thousands of dollars and pay off their mortgage faster -- just by taking advantage of today’s “ridiculously low interest rate.”1

1. "Not shopping the like giving money away"

Did you know 70% of homeowners get all their mortgage information from their current lender? Big mistake. If you don’t shop around, you won’t know if you’re getting the best rate — and you won’t know if you qualify for a brilliant government program called the Home Affordable Refinance Plan (HARP).2

Even though 3.38 million mortgages have been refinanced through HARP, hundreds of thousands of homeowners are still eligible for this free government program, which could help you save as much as $3,500 in the first year alone.3

URGENT: HARP is set to expire this year, and sadly, many still perceive this program to be too good to be true. Remember, there is NO cost to see if you qualify for this amazing government program.
See if you qualify >>


2. “If you don’t take advantage of the market now, when will you?”

Even though The Fed raised rates in late 2015, rates are just as low if not lower than they were one year ago.4 What does this mean for people like you? According to Corcoran, it means that now is the time for homeowners to “take advantage of today's cheap money.”

3. “The sooner is always the better”

These rates are still at near historic lows for now, but no one knows when the rates will rise - or by how much. So while it’s estimated that millions of homeowners can still save by refinancing, they should act fast. HARP is due to expire this year, so you can’t afford to wait. If you want to get the “ridiculous low interest rate” that Corcoran talks about, you have to act now.

How to Get Started

To cut through the clutter, Barbara Corcoran suggests that a great place to start is online, at The Easy Loan Site.5

Its network of lenders is one of the largest in the nation, and includes many HARP lenders. Plus, it enables you to save time and money by letting you compare multiple lenders at once. It’s a risk-free way to find out how much you could save, and the service is 100% free.*


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Lifestyle: 5 things every woman should absolutely deny a man

There are things that no woman should do to please a man. These are the things that compromise her character and kill her personality. If a man asks you to do any of these five things, avoid him at all costs – whether he’s an acquaintance, friend or even a stranger.

Accept everything he says

He has the right to his opinion and you have the right to yours. You don’t have to accept everything someone else says in order to be a friend. In fact, a man and woman connect the most when they share their different ideas and beliefs. If he doesn’t care about what you have to say, he doesn’t care about you. And if he argues with all of your opinions, he is a control freak. You should be equal partners. You both have a place in the relationship, and that space must be respected. Obviously in a good relationship you both make sacrifices, but this doesn’t mean he has the right to control you.

Send compromising photos

“Nude” seems to be normal in relationships nowadays. Many girls send compromising photos for men they don’t know and have never seen in person, and there is also a high risk that someone unwanted will see them as well. Respect yourself and your privacy; never send these types of photos! In the future, you’ll regret it.

Change your appearance It’s natural to want to feel beautiful and desired. You can accentuate your natural beauty with make-up and look extra stunning by dressing up and doing your hair, but it’s a problem when a woman’s confidence only comes from pleasing her man. If he is more focused on how you curl your hair, how many calories you eat, how you do your makeup or the clothes you wear, don’t waste your time with him. He only likes you for how you look. Find someone who appreciates you for who you are.

Give up your dreams

Every woman has hopes and dreams for the future. Don’t give up or forget your dreams just because you met someone and started a relationship. Your relationship and dreams can come together. You can achieve anything you want – even in a relationship.

Avoid family and friends

Your family and friends are part of your life and any man in your life needs to know this. If a man forces you to push your family and friends aside, he doesn’t respect you. If he really liked you, he would never cause you the pain of choosing between him and others. If he likes you, he will try to be nice to those you love the most.


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Cocoa purchases to increase by 50,000 metric tonnes this year

Accra, June 02, GNA- Cocoa purchases by the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) for the 2016/2017 crop season is to increase by 50,000 metric tonnes over the 850,000 metric tonnes purchased last year.

This increase, which brings the expected total purchases for this year to 900,000 metric tonnes, would be made possible with the approval by Parliament, on Wednesday, of a GHC2 billion loan facility to be sourced from a consortium of financial institutions.

The institutions include Deutsche Bank, Natixis of France, Nedbank Limited of South Africa, Standard Chartered Bank, Societe General, The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishe UFJ Limited, with the DZ Bank AG of Germany as Co-Arranger.

The facility would also enable COCOBOD to make payments to some stakeholders.

COCOBOD is expecting to purchase the cocoa beans at an average price of 3,100 dollars per metric tonne. The loan would be used to collateralise about 645,162 metric tonnes of cocoa.

It is also expecting an estimated revenue of 2.79billion dollars, out of which about 72% represents the two billion-dollar facility.

Part of the funding would be invested to boost cocoa roads that lead to cocoa-growing areas and to shore up other activities relating to the transportation of the raw material from the farms to various destinations.

A Deputy Finance Minister, Mr Cassiel Ato Forson, in a debate in the House, approved the facility, commended cocoa farmers in Ghana for adopting better agricultural practices that had led to increased cocoa yields, which would enable the COCOBOD to purchase more beans this season.

He expressed confidence that the COCOBOD had the capacity to repay the loans owing to the availability of the beans during the season.

He explained that Agency was confident in achieving its target in the 216/2017 crop season.

The COCOBOD last year borrowed USD1.8 billion for the 2015/2016 crop season to purchase an estimated 850,000 metric tonnes of cocoa.


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Ghana Alternative Market to benefit SMEs

Accra, June 2, GNA – The Ghana Alternative Market (GAX) would provide credible and efficient market for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and a parallel market that offer opportunities to investors for investment.

Ms Magdalene Apenteng, Director of the Public Investment Division of the Ministry of Finance said listing an SME on the GAX increases visibility, provides liquidity for shareholders, facilitates innovation and growth and also comes with tax benefits.

The GAX is the alternative stock market administered by the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) targeting small businesses “with potential for growth”.

She said in complementing government’s efforts, the Ministry of Finance is playing its traditional coordination role to support the GSE and to ensure that more SMEs get listed on the GAX, which serves as the alternative avenue for SMEs to raise the much needed long term capital for expansion.

Mrs Apenteng made the remarks at the launch of the Capital SME, an initiative by the British High Commission aimed at growing SMEs and boosting capital market activity in Ghana.

The primary objective of the project is to encourage more SMEs to list on the GAX.

Further stages of the project include increased engagement with government ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) and financial institutions to support capital market development; and hosting informative conferences and related networking events.

Capital SME’s current target is to support a minimum of five SMEs in listing on the GAX within one year of implementation.

Mrs Apenteng noted that SMEs would continue to remain the backbone of the economy due to the important role of stimulating domestic demand through job creation, innovation and competition.

“There is no doubt that SMEs have the potential to mobilise domestic resources and boost international trade and demand,” she said.

“Prioritising SME development is therefore critical for promoting inclusive economic growth globally,” she added.

Mrs Apenteng said it is unfortunate that SME’s are still vastly challenged by numerous factors and so they are not able to play the desired role with a lot of untapped potentials.

“The main challenge of lack of access to sustainable finance remains a key constraint that has to be addressed to enable the SMEs deal head-on with issues of financing innovative business projects that are to enhance job creation and help expand the economy’s output,” she stated.

“For these reasons, we welcome Capital SME to partner the many initiatives currently being implemented in providing SMEs with access to critical business infrastructure,” she added.

Mrs Apenteng said some of the important market deficiencies and imperfections that Capital SME seeks to address are to provide a platform for information sharing, creating a networking avenue to take advantage of business opportunities, bringing more clarity to the operations of GAX and sharing experiences of other listed SMEs on the GAX.

She affirmed government’s commitment in supporting the rapid growth of the SMEs sector to position it to play the desired role in Ghana’s pursuit for efficient, vibrant and liquid capital market.

Mr Jon Benjamin, the British High Commissioner, said an economic growth that brings job creation is the best way of helping developing countries to eradicate poverty.

He said what Ghana and other developing countries need is to create jobs.

He said due to population growth, creating jobs for today and tomorrow’s youth is extremely important.

Dr Adu Anane Antwi, the Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission said the 2013 Banking Survey Report estimated that about 90 per cent of companies registered in Ghana were SMEs and that the sector contributed about 49 per cent of Ghana’s gross domestic product in 2012.

Source: Ghana Web

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African leaders urged to fight for economic independence

Accra, May 29, GNA - Nii Okwei Kinka Dowuona VI, the Paramount Chief of Osu Traditional Area, has called on African leaders to come together and ignite a passion for economic independence of the continent.

He said to be able to achieve this, there was the need to bring on board the traditional leaders, politicians and the clergy to fashion out policies that would be in the ultimate interest of the people.
Nii Kinka Dowuona, also the President of the Osu Traditional Council, made the call in an interview with the Ghana News Agency as part of the Council’s activities to round-off the African Union (AU) Day celebrations.
He said the eagerness with which the forefathers of Africa fought for independence should be reflected in the way “our current leaders are fighting for economic emancipation of the continent”.
He said during the fight for independence the leaders spoke with one voice and worked tirelessly for its achievement which also culminated in the creation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) in 1963 now AU born in 2002.
“Both organisations have the same objectives which include harmonization of the political, diplomatic, economic, educational, cultural, health, and the welfare of   members to achieve a better life for the people,” he said.
“What do we see today, everybody has become individualistic which is crippling our economies and I wonder how the continent would look like in the next 10 years,” Nii Kinka Dowuona said.
He said African leaders had enacted policies that were in favour of foreign countries turning the continent into a dumping ground for European and Asian goods to the detriment of African products.
“We have lost touch of everything and we are following the wind. We cannot even produce or appreciate our own needs,” he said.
Using Ghana as the stand-point, he said the first president, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, visualised that by gaining independence “we will be bosses and managers of our resources.
“The first president built industries and made Ghanaians proud of producing locally manufactured goods, but now almost all the factories have collapsed because of our displaced priorities,” the Osu Mantse said.
He said the country had all the natural resources at its disposal yet the citizenry fought over finished products from outside which put monies into the coffers of  foreign nations.
Nii Kinka Dowuona said it was time the fire that burnt during the fight for  independence was re-ignited for the economic independence of Africa.

Source: Ghana News .com

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Peter Thiel, Tech Billionaire, Reveals Secret War With Gawker

A billionaire Silicon Valley entrepreneur was outed as being gay by a media organization. His friends suffered at the hands of the same gossip site. Nearly a decade later, the entrepreneur secretly financed a lawsuit to try to put the media company out of business.

That is the back story to a legal case that had already grabbed headlines: The wrestler Hulk Hogan sued Gawker Media for invasion of privacy after it published a sex tape, and a Florida jury recently awarded the wrestler, whose real name is Terry Gene Bollea, $140 million.

What the jury — and the public — did not know was that Mr. Bollea had a secret benefactor paying about $10 million for the lawsuit: Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal and one of the earliest investors in Facebook.

A 2007 article published by Gawker’s Valleywag blog was headlined, “Peter Thiel is totally gay, people.” That and a series of articles about his friends and others that he said “ruined people’s lives for no reason” drove Mr. Thiel to mount a clandestine war against Gawker. He funded a team of lawyers to find and help “victims” of the company’s coverage mount cases against Gawker.

“It’s less about revenge and more about specific deterrence,” he said on Wednesday in his first interview since his identity was revealed. “I saw Gawker pioneer a unique and incredibly damaging way of getting attention by bullying people even when there was no connection with the public interest.”

Mr. Thiel said that Gawker published articles that were “very painful and paralyzing for people who were targeted.” He said, “I thought it was worth fighting back.”

Mr. Thiel added: “I can defend myself. Most of the people they attack are not people in my category. They usually attack less prominent, far less wealthy people that simply can’t defend themselves.” He said that “even someone like Terry Bollea who is a millionaire and famous and a successful person didn’t quite have the resources to do this alone.”

Mr. Thiel said that he had decided several years ago to set his plan in motion. “I didn’t really want to do anything,” he said. “I thought it would do more harm to me than good. One of my friends convinced me that if I didn’t do something, nobody would.”

Mr. Thiel has donated money to the Committee to Protect Journalists and has often talked about protecting freedom of speech. He said he did not believe his actions were contradictory. “I refuse to believe that journalism means massive privacy violations,” he said. “I think much more highly of journalists than that. It’s precisely because I respect journalists that I do not believe they are endangered by fighting back against Gawker.”

He continued, “It’s not like it is some sort of speaking truth to power or something going on here. The way I’ve thought about this is that Gawker has been a singularly terrible bully. In a way, if I didn’t think Gawker was unique, I wouldn’t have done any of this. If the entire media was more or less like this, this would be like trying to boil the ocean.” Mr. Thiel said he had not targeted any other media companies.

But the revelation this week that Mr. Thiel was covertly backing Mr. Bollea’s case as well as others has raised a series of new questions about the First Amendment as well as about the role of big money in the court system — specifically the emerging field of litigation finance, in which third parties like hedge funds and investment firms pay for other people’s lawsuits.

Roy D. Simon, a professor emeritus of legal ethics at Hofstra University School of Law, suggested that the practice has helped “level the playing field” by providing resources for people to mount cases against big institutions that would be impossible otherwise.

But he said there was a risk when a lawsuit was funded by a single person with a potential agenda. “I am troubled by Thiel,” Professor Simon said. “I guess that one guy is much more likely to have an agenda driven by revenge or personal dislike or wanting to prove a point.”

But other legal experts said that the mere fact of Mr. Thiel’s involvement did not change the case. And while there is no legal requirement that underwriters like Mr. Thiel reveal their involvement to the opposing side or the jury, it is considered fair game for lawyers to ask questions about financial backing — something that Gawker Media did on Wednesday in court as part of its efforts to overturn the Hogan judgment.

“If you really do have concerns about the merits of this case, finding out who bankrolled it doesn’t really help you at all,” said Mary Anne Franks, a professor at the University of Miami School of Law. Absent any indication that there is something unlawful about how the funding took place, she said, “you would still need to show that there’s something substantively wrong with the ruling.”

In a statement, Nick Denton, the founder of Gawker Media, who was also personally named in the Hogan suit, said: “Just because Peter Thiel is a Silicon Valley billionaire, his opinion does not trump our millions of readers who know us for routinely driving big news stories including Hillary Clinton’s secret email account, Bill Cosby’s history with women, the mayor of Toronto as a crack smoker, Tom Cruise’s role within Scientology, the N.F.L. cover-up of domestic abuse by players and just this month the hidden power of Facebook to determine the news you see.”

Mr. Thiel is known as a brilliant entrepreneur. Born in West Germany and raised in California, he became a chess prodigy, an academic star and a promising lawyer before settling down in the Bay Area to found companies.

He achieved demigod status among Silicon Valley business leaders, thanks largely to his role at PayPal, where he became the de facto don of the early employee group known as the PayPal mafia. That group went on to become power players at such Silicon Valley institutions as Tesla, YouTube, LinkedIn and Yelp.

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It's fascinating to read so many comments from people who judge Thiel's actions negatively because he supports Trump. It ought to go without...


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Shed not one tear for Peter Theil.He is an aggressive libertarian, and yet another Silicon Valley charlatan who conveniently ignore that...


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There seems to be a lot of mis-understanding of that "Libertarians" don't believe in rule of law. QUITE the contrary. Libertarians believe...

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Mr. Thiel is also known for his lucrative investment in Facebook, where he is a board member, and his three venture firms, Founders Fund, Mithril and Valar. (His defunct hedge fund, Clarium Capital, has been long forgotten.) He also co-founded the secretive data-crunching start-up Palantir and bankrolled Breakout Labs, which only funds what Mr. Thiel calls “hard tech” start-ups that tackle things like new energy, transportation and biotech companies. “We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters,” is the Founders Fund tag line.

But unlike most Silicon Valley billionaires, Mr. Thiel openly supports a wide array of eccentric philanthropic and social efforts aimed at radically altering life as we know it. His Thiel fellowship gives high school and college-age students money to drop out of school and start companies. He has donated to organizations that seek to extend the human life span, such as the Methuselah Foundation. And he co-founded the Seasteading Institute, which aims to create cities that float at sea, beyond the reach of governments and their laws.

A libertarian, Mr. Thiel is a pledged delegate for Donald J. Trump for the 2016 Republican National Convention.

He said that he hired a legal team several years ago to look for cases that he could help financially support. “Without going into all the details, we would get in touch with the plaintiffs who otherwise would have accepted a pittance for a settlement, and they were obviously quite happy to have this sort of support,” he said. “In a way very similar to how a plaintiff’s lawyer on contingency would do it.” Mr. Thiel declined to disclose what other cases he had supported but there are at least two current cases against Gawker.

Without revealing an exact figure, he said that estimates of $10 million in expenses so far were “roughly in the ballpark.” He added: “I would underscore that I don’t expect to make any money from this. This is not a business venture.”

He would not say whether he had compensated any of the people, including Mr. Bollea, which could raise questions in an appeal. He insisted “there was no gray area” in what he had done.

Mr. Thiel was not the only boldface name in Silicon Valley who was outed as gay by Gawker Media — Timothy D. Cook, the chief executive of Apple, is another example.

Owen Thomas, the former editor of Valleywag who wrote the article about Mr. Thiel, offered his side of the story in a telephone interview on Wednesday. “As I’ve said before, I did not ‘out’ Peter Thiel,” said Mr. Thomas, now business editor at The San Francisco Chronicle. “I did discuss his sexuality, but it was known to a wide circle who felt that it was not fit for discussion beyond that circle. I thought that attitude was retrograde and homophobic, and that informed my reporting. I believe that he was out and not in the closet.”

Mr. Thiel said he considered his financial backing of the cases against Gawker to be “one of my greater philanthropic things that I’ve done. I think of it in those terms.”

He refused to divulge exactly what other cases he has funded but said, “It’s safe to say this is not the only one.”

Speculation that a secret benefactor was backing Mr. Bollea’s case was whispered during the trial but largely dismissed as a conspiracy theory. It gained currency in large part as a result of an unusual decision Mr. Bollea’s legal team made: It purposely excluded a claim that would have allowed Gawker’s insurance company to help pay for its defense as well as damages. The move struck observers as odd because most plaintiffs seeking damages usually hope to settle the case by leveraging the deep pockets of an insurer.

Mr. Thiel said, “I figured it would eventually come out,” adding that he was happy his role might spur a conversation about it being “extremely hard for the most common victims to get justice.”

He added: “It’s not for me to decide what happens to Gawker. If America rallies around Gawker and decides we want more people to be outed and more sex tapes to be posted without consent, then they will find a way to save Gawker, and I can’t stop it.”

Source: NY Times

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Swiss Open Criminal Proceedings Against BSI Over Malaysia Fund Allegations

GENEVA — The authorities in Switzerland said on Tuesday that they had begun criminal proceedings against one of the country’s oldest banks, BSI, after allegations that it had laundered huge sums for “politically exposed” individuals linked to a scandal-plagued Malaysian state investment fund.

The Swiss attorney general’s office said in a statement that it suspected “deficiencies in the internal organization of the BSI S.A. bank” and believed “that due to these deficiencies, the bank was unable to prevent the commission of offenses currently under investigation in the criminal proceedings relating to” the investment fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad.

The prosecution arose from an investigation that Switzerland started last year into suspected misappropriation of billions of dollars from the Malaysian fund, also known as 1MDB, and that it has pursued in cooperation with the authorities in Luxembourg, Singapore and the United States.

The investigation has strained relations with Malaysia and embarrassed its prime minister, Najib Razak, who is fighting a scandal that has roiled Malaysian politics involving allegations that $681 million was paid into his bank accounts.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore announced separately on Tuesday that it was withdrawing the license of BSI’s Singapore branch “for serious breaches of anti-money laundering requirements, poor management oversight of the bank’s operations, and gross misconduct by some of the bank’s staff.”

The authority said it had considerable evidence of “gross dereliction” of duty by BSI management and had sent prosecutors the names of six senior managers to investigate whether they had committed criminal offenses.

The Swiss attorney general’s office said that it had started proceedings against BSI, the oldest bank in the Swiss canton of Ticino, as a result of its own investigations into transactions linked to 1MDB and on the basis of an investigation by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority.

In a separate statement on Tuesday, the financial market authority said that “through business relationships and transactions linked to the corruption scandals surrounding the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB,” BSI had “committed serious breaches of money laundering regulations.”

The authority said that it had ordered BSI to hand over to the Swiss government profits amounting to 95 million Swiss francs, or about $96 million, and had started legal proceedings against two of the bank’s former top managers.

On Tuesday, it also approved the takeover of BSI by a Zurich-based private bank, EFG International, under an agreement reached in February between EFG and BSI’s Brazilian owner, BTG Pactual. The authority said it had approved the deal on the conditions that BSI be completely integrated into EFG and dissolved within 12 months and that none of BSI’s top management associated with its misconduct take leadership positions in EFG.

EFG said in a statement that it believed Tuesday’s developments would “draw a line” ending regulatory uncertainty in Switzerland and Singapore for clients, employees, investors and other stakeholders.

The financial market authority said it had investigated 20 other Swiss banks and had started legal proceedings against six of them over transactions linked to either 1MDB or the Brazilian state oil company Petrobras, which has also been a subject of investigation by the Swiss authorities. BSI’s misconduct in its dealings with 1MDB “was particularly serious,” it said.

The Swiss attorney general’s office said in January that it suspected $4 billion earmarked for development projects in Malaysia had been misappropriated from 1MDB, citing cases involving companies in Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, and a United Arab Emirates sovereign wealth fund, “each involving a systematic course of action carried out by means of complex financial structures.”

In its business with 1MDB, the Swiss financial market authority said, BSI handled transactions for several foreign sovereign wealth funds amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars without adequately clarifying the money’s origins and helped to set up intermediate structures for handling the funds intended to increase the confidentiality of the transactions.

The sovereign wealth funds had constituted BSI’s most profitable group of clients, the financial market authority said, and generated fees that were above market rates. BSI’s senior management “did not question why the sovereign wealth funds should use a private bank to provide institutional services and pay excessive out-of-market fees for doing so,” the authority said.

It said the Swiss bank had also failed to apply adequate risk management procedures to business relationships “with politically exposed persons, the origin of whose assets was not sufficiently clarified and whose dubious transactions involving hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars were not satisfactorily scrutinized.”

BSI had “happily accepted” the explanation that one deposit of $20 million was a “gift,” the market authority said, and in another instance it allowed $98 million to be paid into an account with no attempt to identify the commercial basis for the transaction.

“In many cases, there were clear indications of pass-through transactions,” the authority said, citing a case in which a payment of $20 million was shifted through several accounts on the same day before being transferred to another bank. Such transactions were often a clear indication of money laundering, but the bank failed to carry out any checks, the authority said.

The authority’s statement added that, despite its warnings to BSI about the risks in its dealings with clients linked to 1MDB, the bank’s board of directors and executive board had determined to continue these client relationships.

Source: NY Times

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Salesforce to Use Amazon’s Cloud to Expand in Canada and Australia

Amazon Web Services, the biggest of the cloud-computing providers, has a new line of work: Taking other cloud-computing giants into other countries.

On Wednesday, announced it would use A.W.S. to expand in Canada and Australia, in a deal valued at about $400 million. If successful, the value of the transaction will most likely get much bigger.

“For sure, we’re talking of billions of dollars in services over the next several years,” said Marc Benioff, the co-founder and chief executive of Salesforce.

Salesforce already uses A.W.S. for some of its businesses, but this is the first time its key applications will be on someone else’s computers.

Mr. Benioff said Salesforce had evaluated similar deals with Microsoft and Google, the other two giants in selling cloud-computing to corporations. So far, A.W.S. is still ahead on its range of offerings and low prices, he said. Salesforce will review the contract in one year, he added.

Cloud computing uses a massive density of computer servers and sophisticated software to rent data storage, computing and applications to companies. Besides those capabilities, the deal with A.W.S. enables Salesforce to get into new markets faster, since Salesforce doesn’t have to find facilities and recruit talent.

Amazon has also established itself in countries like China that have strict requirements about what data can be sent offshore. Meeting those regulations is difficult and time-consuming, and companies like Salesforce put a premium on getting into markets quickly.

While the deal could be a sign of larger trends in corporate computing, as businesses evaluate whether to keep their own computers or work with the big public clouds, for now it also has limits.

That spending will probably be limited to new countries where Salesforce expands, Mr. Benioff said. That may change, he added, as the three giants bring down prices and increase the services they offer.

“We have our own infrastructure in the U.S., Japan, the U.K., France and Germany,” Mr. Benioff said. “If you have critical mass, your own infrastructure is still cheaper.”

Mr. Benioff said that, down the line, A.W.S. may also become competitive purely on price, as their scale and engineering enables them to run big computing systems at a lower cost. “If Amazon, Microsoft and Google are smart, the price difference will change,” he said.

Adam Selipsky, vice president of marketing and sales for A.W.S., said the company was intent on getting its prices down enough to replace existing servers in established markets.

“Our prices relative to what they can build themselves – we’re already at a stage where it’s competitive,” he said. “We’re just at the starting point of enterprise adoption.”

Source: NY Times

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Volkswagen Challenges U.S. Jurisdiction in Emissions Scandal

Volkswagen is challenging allegations made by the Justice Department over its diesel emissions scandal, questioning the American authorities’ jurisdiction and contending that the accusations against it do not justify penalties.

The Justice Department sued Volkswagen in January, saying that the company had installed illegal devices in nearly 600,000 vehicles sold in the United States that impaired emissions controls, increasing harmful air pollution. Volkswagen admitted in September that it had installed software to cheat on emissions tests in 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide.

But in a response to the Justice Department, filed Tuesday in San Francisco, the German automaker appeared to back away from its mea culpa, saying that the facts of the case remained unclear and that it was still conducting an internal investigation.

It also challenged the court’s jurisdiction over Volkswagen, and over its subsidiary Audi, saying that cars in the United States were sold through local businesses and not the parent companies. It said that the statute of limitations voided any conduct at Volkswagen before 2010.

Over all, the Justice Department “fails to allege facts sufficient” for any penalties, Volkswagen lawyers said. But the carmaker described the filing as part of the legal process, and said it “has no bearing on Volkswagen’s commitment to resolving the U.S. government’s claims.”

The German automaker’s stance contrasts with that taken by General Motors over its failure to disclose a deadly ignition-switch defect. The Justice Department levied a smaller-than-expected $900 million penalty a year and a half after the defect was revealed, citing the automaker’s cooperation, and held off from bringing criminal charges.

Prosecutors have also stopped short of criminal charges against Volkswagen, though the Justice Department has said that the civil suit did not preclude future action, including against specific executives. Prosecutors have said Volkswagen “impeded and obstructed” regulators’ inquiries and provided “misleading information.”

Justice Department officials declined to immediately comment on Volkswagen’s response.

On Tuesday, the federal district judge overseeing the case, Charles Breyer, said that the automaker had made “substantial progress” toward reaching a settlement next month with car owners and the government.

Judge Breyer also repeated that the settlement would include substantial compensation for owners of Volkswagen and Audi cars in the United States. Volkswagen has said it has set aside 7 billion euros, or about $8 billion, for legal costs worldwide, even though they could be higher.

Source: NY Times

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Staples, Office Depot stocks plummet after $6.3B merger's demise

Shares of Staples and Office Depot nosedived Wednesday after their $6.3 billion merger deal collapsed.

Investors flocked away from both retailers after the office supply giants scrapped their deal in the wake of a federal judge's decision to issue a temporary injunction blocking the accord. The judge ruled on objections raised by the Federal Trade Commission.

Office Depot shares (ODP) plummeted 38.18% to $3.77 in afternoon trading, while Staples shares (SPLS) fell 16.55% to $8.65.

The merger deal's demise casts a cloud of uncertainty over the next steps for each retailer. The Obama administration had challenged the deal on anti-competitive grounds.

It was the second time in 19 years that the companies called off a merger after federal regulators raised antitrust concerns.

Debbie Feinstein, director of the FTC's competition bureau, characterized the ruling as "great news for business customers in the office supply market."

"This deal would eliminate head-to-head competition between Staples and Office Depot and likely lead to higher prices and lower quality service for large businesses that buy office supplies," said Feinstein.

In a statement, Office Depot CEO Roland Smith expressed dismay and said the merger deal would formally end May 16.

“While we are respectful of the Court’s decision to grant the FTC’s request for a preliminary injunction to prevent our merger with Staples, we are disappointed by this outcome and strongly believe that a merger would have benefited all of our customers in the long term," said Smith. "We do not intend to appeal the Court’s decision and the two companies plan to terminate the merger agreement."

Staples CEO Ronald Sargent said the judge approved the FTC's request "despite the fact that it failed to define the relevant market correctly, and fell woefully short of proving its case.”

Staples said under the terms of the merger agreement, it will pay a $250 million break-up fee to Office Depot. Staples also says it no longer will sell more than $550 million in its large corporate contract business to another office products company, Essendant, as part of the Office Depot merger agreement.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan's ruling said the FTC "met their burden of showing that there is a reasonable probability that the proposed merger will substantially impair competition in the sale and distribution of consumable office supplies to large Business-to-Business customers."

The FTC also provided sufficient evidence to show a preliminary injunction halting the ruling was "in the public interest."

Emmet's ruling said he plans to give give attorneys for the companies a sealed memorandum on Wednesday that details the legal rationale underlying his decision. The judge wrote he would seal the document initially because it contains "competitively sensitive information."

Emmet instructed attorneys for the companies to meet and propose redactions to the legal memorandum by Monday. The judge wrote that he plans to consider the proposed deletions, and then issue a public version of the memorandum

Source: USA Today

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Credit checker Experian's full-year profit flat

LONDON (Reuters) - Experian Plc , the world's biggest credit data company, reported an unchanged full-year pretax profit against a backdrop of adverse foreign exchange movements.

The FTSE-100 company, which is best known for running consumer credit checks for banks, landlords and retailers, said profit before tax was $1 billion for the year-ended 2015, the same as a year earlier.

The company said in January that if current rates prevail, it expects a hit on earnings before interest and tax from exchange rate movements of about 11 percent for the year ending March 31, and a further hit of about 3 percent next year.


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EMV Technology may not be able to completely protect against credit card fraud

A new technology with the name EMV is said make it tougher for thieves to steal data. The EMV chip will be embedded in credit cards. It is said that with the adoption of the EMV technology, a decline will come in credit card fraud rates. But as per a new study by NerdWallet, there are more chances of opposite to take place as criminals will look out for other ways to commit card fraud.

EMV (Europay, MasterCard, and Visa) chip is the small silver or gold chip set in front of the card. There is a difference between EMV chip card and a standard card. In the magnetic stripe cards, static payment data can be transferred from one card to another. But such is not the case with the EMV chip card.

“EMV chips creates a unique payment code with every use, so if a fraudster was able to steal those payment credentials, they’d be worthless for any other purchase”, said Sean McQuay, NerdWallet’s credit card expert.

But as per the research, EMV would not solve the entire problem. From October, the onus of credit card fraud will switch from issuers to the party, which can be issuer or merchant, who do not use EMV technology, and the change is known as liability shift.

McQuay said that EMV technology is powerful, but only when both consumers and merchant adopt it. If just one of the parties has upgraded for EMV then upgrade is nothing but a waste. Also, the technology is restricted for in-person transactions.

There are chances that fraud may take place to transactions where the physical card is not needed like purchases through phones or online. But there are ways by which you can protect yourself from fraud like use card’s chip to keep data safe and try purchasing only from brick-and-mortar merchants that have EMV technology. To avoid fraud online, avoid shopping on unfamiliar or unsecure websites.

Source: NY

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Creator of online money Liberty Reserve gets 20 years in prison

Before the virtual currency Bitcoin there was Liberty Reserve -- and its founder just got sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Arthur Budovsky, 42, ran an online digital money business out of Costa Rica called Liberty Reserve. The U.S. government contended that the whole thing was just a massive, $6 billion money laundering operation.


On Friday, U.S. District Judge Denise L. Cote sentenced him to two decades in federal prison. She said Budovsky did not show "genuine remorse," according to the Department of Justice.

For seven years starting in 2006, anyone could use Liberty Reserve's website to transfer money with little oversight. All the site required was someone's name, e-mail address, and birthday. Normally, banks have stricter standards to avoid funneling criminal funds.

But that's exactly what Liberty Reserve turned into, according to federal agents. It became a favorite for stashing cash by credit card traffickers and identity thieves.

At its height, according to a federal indictment, Liberty Reserve had more than 1 million customers worldwide, including 200,000 in the United States. It handled 12 million financial transactions a year.

Liberty Reserve fell into the U.S. government's sights, because it ran such a huge operation without oversight. In the post-9/11 world, law enforcement was keen to keep track of every dollar to avoid it ending up funding terrorists.

That's why the U.S. government used the Patriot Act to go after this payment processor. The U.S. Treasury Department labeled it a money laundering organization, and cut it off from the American financial system.

In 2013, American investigators took over the website and shut it down. In 2014, Budovsky and several coworkers were arrested in Spain. Then Budovsky was extradited to the United States to face trial for money laundering and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business.

In January, Budovsky pleaded guilty to money laundering and admitted to secretly moving at least $122 million.

In a prepared statement, Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell said: "The significant sentence handed down today shows that money laundering through the use of virtual currencies is still money laundering, and that online crime is still crime."

Budovsky's attorney did not immediately respond to CNNMoney's request for comment.

Budovsky and an associate, Vladimir Kats of Brooklyn, had previously been arrested for a similar digital currency exchange called GoldAge. After their arrests, they both moved to Costa Rica to avoid American law enforcement, according to the U.S. government. Budovsky even renounced his citizenship.

"Despite all his efforts to evade prosecution, including taking his operations offshore and renouncing his citizenship, Budovsky has now been held to account for his brazen violations of U.S. criminal laws," Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.


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Apple stock slumps to near 2-year low

Things keep getting worse for America's favorite stock.

Apple (AAPL, Tech30) stock on Friday slipped below $92, the level it briefly crashed to when financial markets went haywire last August.


But in August, investors were freaking out about all stocks. These days, it's Apple they're freaking out over. The stock is down 12% this year and closed out the week at its lowest level since June 2014.

It's the latest blow to Apple, which is easily the most popular stock held by individual investors.

Apple's problems really gathered steam last week after the iconic company revealed its first sales decline since 2003. Apple's rare sales shrinkage was fueled by a drop in iPhone sales, a reflection of how the iPhone 6S has failed to generate the kind of enthusiasm previous versions of the phone have.

Apple stock 2 year low


Related: Why I'm not selling my Apple stock

Just days later Carl Icahn, arguably Apple's biggest cheerleader in recent years, told the world he had dumped his entire stake in Apple. The billionaire investor pointed to the risks involved with Apple's efforts to navigate the treacherous Chinese market, the company's second-biggest source of sales behind the U.S.

Even though Icahn insists Apple is still a "great company," he told CNBC he's worried how the Chinese government can "make it very difficult for Apple to sell there."

That risk was on full display last month when Apple's iBooks and iTunes Movies services went dark in China, reportedly at the order of a Chinese censorship regulator.

Against that backdrop, Apple CEO Tim Cook plans to visit Beijing later this month to meet high-level government officials, Reuters reported. It wouldn't be the first time Cook has visited China.

China concerns have helped make Apple the second-worst Dow stock this year behind only Intel (INTC, Tech30). But while Icahn and others are down on Apple, many Main Street investors remain undeterred. Most retail investors CNNMoney recently surveyed informally say they have not sold any Apple shares in the past year, nor do they plan to.

Apple fans -- on and off Wall Street -- point to the fact that the stock is pretty cheap, especially compared with lofty valuations in the rest of the market. Apple shares are currently trading at just 11 times projected 2016 earnings. By comparison, the S&P 500 is trading at more than 17 times this year's estimated profits.

Apple is also sitting on a ton of cash -- just over $230 billion. Some investors hope it will deploy those resources on a major acquisition and continue to return lots of it to shareholders through dividends and buybacks.

But the real key to restoring Apple's growth trajectory is likely in its ability to come up with a game-changing new product, or at least a new iPhone that excites consumers and investors alike.

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Why Transferring Credit Card Balances Is Brilliant

Credit card issuers are in such fierce competition these days to attract new customers that most have started offering sweetheart deals to win you over, like ultra-long 0% introductory APR interest periods. By transferring your balance onto one of these cards, you immediately stop all interest charges during the introductory period.

For example, the Chase Slate offers 15 months at 0% APR, so during that entire 15 month intro period, you pay nothing in interest on any balance transfered. That could literally result in thousands of dollars in savings, and is simply a no brainer. With these offers out there, it just makes absolutely no sense to continue to pay credit card interest on your current balances.

Well, without further ado, here are the cards offering great balance transfer specials...

The No Transfer-Fee Card

Chase Slate®

15 Months of 0% Intro APR. No balance transfer fee. No annual fee.

The Chase Slate® is tied as our highest-rated balance transfer card, and for good reason. It charges no fee for transferring your balance to it in the first two months, no annual fee, and no interest on balances transferred for a full 15-month 0% intro APR period. This makes it a phenomenal tool to gain control of your credit card debt, as you can make a costless balance transfer, then use the 15-month interest grace period to pay down your balance.

The Verdict: If you don't need the entire 18 months offered by the BankAmericard, this can be efficient since it doesn't have a balance transfer fee. No transfer fee and no annual fee, combined with the 0% intro APR means that this is really free money for the 15 month term, no catches.

Most Appropriate For: Those who want a no-fee way to stop paying interest, and possibly pay off the cards during that breather. Those with good rather than excellent credit.

Least Appropriate For: Those who pay off their balances every month would be better served getting a card paying high rewards.

Recommended credit:  Just Good. The Chase card has the most lenient credit requirements of our top balance transfer cards.

More Details >

The No Interest Until 2017 Balance-Transfer Card

The BankAmericard® Credit Card is tied as our highest rated balance transfer card, featuring an unbelievable 18 billing cycles (months) 0% APR intro period. This means that if you were to roll your balance over onto the card today, you wouldn't have to pay interest until well into 2018. The card does charge a 3% balance transfer fee*, but if you’re looking to avoid paying any interest on your credit card balances for as long as possible, the BankAmericard could be your card.

The Verdict: Getting a loan this cheaply for this long is pretty amazing. If you're carrying a balance, and realistically you know you will have to carry that balance for a while, this card becomes a no-brainer. As an example, assume you have a $10,000 balance on your current cards at a 18% rate. Over the 18 billing cycle (month) term, you would have paid $3,098 in interest.* Switching to this card would cost $300 in fees, but then nothing the rest of the way, for a net savings of $2,798. Not bad, you could do a lot with that extra cash.

Most Appropriate For: Those who have large balances and want as much interest-free time as possible to pay the principle down.

Least Appropriate For: Those who pay off their balances every month or every few months.

Credit Required: Good to Excellent

More Details >

The Cards Which Not Only Don't Charge, But Actually PAY you.

Pros: Chase's new Freedom Unlimited card is essentially an improved version of the old Freedom. They bumped the base cash back rate all the way up to an industry leading 1.5%, and pay that full 1.5% on all spend, with no limit or spend category restrictions. Unlike most other high paying cash back cards, you don't have to worry about categories or have to activate anything. You'll receive the full 1.5% back as you make your spend, on all spend, automatically. In addition, Chase  is temporarily offering a cash bonus to new card-members. If you charge $500 on it in the first 3 months, you'll earn a $150 cash bonus. Finally, Chase is also offering new card-members 15 months of 0% interest for the first 15 months of using the card to make new purchases. So during that period, you can use the card without paying any interest on balances you tally, while still earning cash back. The card requires good, not excellent credit, making it easier to get in.

Cons: Charges a 5% balance transfer fee. This is on the high side, so we recommend looking at the Slate or BankAmericard if your goal is to transfer a balance. The Freedom Unlimited should be viewed as a cash back card.

The Verdict: One of the strongest cards available to those with good (but not perfect) credit. The card combines industry leading cash back rates (1.5% on everything) with a strong 15 months of 0% interest on new purchases combined with a $150 cash bonus when you use the card to make $500 in spend in the first 3 months.

Most Appropriate For: Those with good credit seeking a daily-use card offering great cash back rewards and 0% intro APR. Best for new charges.

Least Appropriate For: Balance transfers, as it charges the 5% fee while offering no more free term than the Slate (which has no transfer fee).

Credit Required: Good to Excellent

More Details >

Pros: Capital One's Quicksilver card makes things simple: you earn 1.5% cash back on all your purchases, with no limit and no category restrictions or games. We included the card in our balance transfer list because it offers 0% intro APRuntil February 2017 on all balances transferred.

Cons: Does charge a 3% balance transfer fee. Requires good credit to get in.

The Verdict: If you're looking to transfer a balance and make some purchases, you can use this card to avoid paying interest during the intro period AND earn cash rewards.

Most Appropriate For: Anyone who might make some large purchases in the near future, or regularly charges a lot on their cards. Making the charges on the Quicksilver  would earn cash back but not require any interest during the intro period.

Credit Required: Good to Excellent


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Fiat Chrysler to recall 1.1m vehicles worldwide

Fiat Chrysler is to recall 1.1 million vehicles worldwide over fears they may roll away after drivers get out.

There have been as many as 41 injuries because drivers mistakenly believed they had put the automatic cars in "park".

The recall covers cars and SUVs whose gearshifts could be confusing to drivers.

More than 850,000 vehicles in North America are affected, along with just over 250,000 elsewhere.

The affected models include 2012 to 2014 Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 sedans and 2014/15 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUVs.

Fiat Chrysler said it would update the vehicles to automatically prevent them from moving, even if the driver fails to put the vehicle in park. The company did not say when the fix would become available to owners.

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in February it had reports of 314 complaints, including 121 crashes after vehicles rolled away. Some hit buildings, drivers or other cars and many incidents occurred soon after the vehicles were bought.

Chrysler 300

The Chrysler 300

Injury reports included three complaints of a fractured pelvis, and four others requiring some form of hospitalisation.

An NHTSA spokesman said the agency would monitor the recall to ensure it took place as quickly as possible.

Fiat Chrysler said it began equipping the Charger and 300 with a new gearshift design for the 2015 model, while the Grand Cherokee was updated for the following year.

Source :BBC

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Donald Trump Assails ‘Rigged’ Delegate System, Saying He Chooses Not to Exploit It

Insisting that the delegate selection process is “corrupt and crooked,” Donald J. Trump offered a vivid example on Sunday to prove his point.

Imagine being wooed by Mr. Trump.

“Look, nobody has better toys than I do,” he told reporters at a hotel on Staten Island, where he pressed his case that the system was rigged against him. “I can put them in the best planes and bring them to the best resorts anywhere in the world.”

But Mr. Trump said that was unseemly.

“You’re basically buying these people,” he added. “You’re basically saying, ‘Delegate, listen, we’re going to send you to Mar-a-Lago on a Boeing 757, you’re going to use the spa, you’re going to this, you’re going to that, we want your vote.’ That’s a corrupt system.”

Mr. Trump’s comments were the latest salvo in an escalating war against the Republican National Committee over how delegates were being selected in the presidential race.

Two days before New York’s primaries, Mr. Trump was the only Republican presidential candidate to campaign in the state, where polls showed him with a wide lead.

During his visit to Staten Island, a stronghold of his support, he accepted an award from the New York Veteran Police Association and spoke at a party brunch. At a rally later in Poughkeepsie, he berated party officials once again.

Still, speaking to reporters on Staten Island, Mr. Trump said he hoped that the July convention “doesn’t involve violence.”

“And I don’t think it will,” he said. “But I will say this: It’s a rigged system. It’s a crooked system. It’s 100 percent crooked.”



Supporters awaited Senator Bernie Sanders in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, on Sunday, two days before the New York primaries. His campaign said the rally drew 28,000 people, the largest crowd of his presidential bid. Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times

On the Democratic side, where the primary is expected to be closer, Hillary Clinton and Senator Bernie Sanders spent the day rallying supporters.

Polls have shown Mrs. Clinton with an edge over Mr. Sanders, but Mr. Sanders is hoping for an unexpectedly strong performance that would embarrass Mrs. Clinton on her adopted turf.

Both candidates were knocked off balance on Sunday when questioned about an issue with particular relevance in New York: a bill that would allow foreign governments to be held responsible in American courts for having a role in terrorist attacks, such as the Sept. 11 attacks.

The New York Times reported on Friday that Saudi Arabia had told the Obama administration and members of Congress that it would sell off hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of American assets held by the kingdom if Congress passed the bill. The Obama administration has lobbied Congress to block the bill’s passage, The Times reported.

In television interviews, Mr. Sanders and Mrs. Clinton said they needed more information before they could say where they stood on the bill.

But after Mrs. Clinton’s TV appearance, her campaign quickly released a statement breaking with the Obama administration over the issue. The statement said Mrs. Clinton supported efforts “to secure the ability of 9/11 families and other victims of terrorist acts to hold accountable those responsible.”

Later in the day, Mr. Sanders’s campaign also issued a statement in support of the legislation.

In Mount Vernon on Sunday, Mrs. Clinton spoke at a Baptist church, saying she was the candidate most willing to take stands in favor of gun control. In Upper Manhattan, she danced at a block party in Washington Heights.

At a block party in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, Mayor Bill de Blasio urged New Yorkers to help turn out votes for her. Mrs. Clinton greeted him with a hug and a kiss on the cheek.


2016 Delegate Count and Primary Results

The 2016 primaries and caucuses have begun. See results and upcoming primary dates.

“Anybody see the debate?” she asked, addressing the crowd from the bed of a Ford pickup truck and referring to the Democratic debate in Brooklyn on Thursday. “We talked about the greed and recklessness of Wall Street. I take a back seat to no one in taking them on.”

After hosting packed rallies around New York State, Mr. Sanders turned his attention to courting black voters in New York City on Sunday, visiting a predominantly black church in Harlem and a Brownsville housing project.

Mr. Sanders also had a rally in Prospect Park in Brooklyn, which his campaign said drew 28,000 people, the largest crowd of his presidential bid.

In Brownsville, Mr. Sanders took a tour of the Howard Houses along with some local elected officials, and his campaign released a plan for affordable housing.

“This is the wealthiest country in the history of the world,” Mr. Sanders said. “People should not be forced to live in dilapidated housing.”

As Mr. Sanders walked across the complex, several residents happily shouted at him. But others pointedly criticized him for using the apartments for what they viewed as a photo opportunity.

Anthony Portis, a 34-year-old construction worker, called the senator’s visit “a political stunt to gain all the black votes in the neighborhood.”

“This area always feels like we are left out,” he said.

Mr. Sanders said that he understood that some would be apprehensive about his visit but that he wanted to call attention to the issues faced by people in housing projects.

“Believe me, I can understand the cynicism,” he said. “But my understanding is that not too many presidential candidates have come to Brownsville housing projects.”

Source: New York Times

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17% of startups are gunning for an IPO

Founders are wearing rose-colored glasses and eying Wall Street.

17% of entrepreneurs said their long-term goal is to IPO, according to Silicon Valley Bank's Startup Outlook report released Thursday.

The report surveyed more than 900 tech and life science startup execs. It's the first time that Silicon Valley Bank has asked about plans to go public in its annual report.

The majority of the startups surveyed (56%) said they expected to be acquired; 19% said "stay private," and 8% said they didn't know.

"If [more had] said their goal was to IPO, I would say they are even more blindly optimistic than I thought," said Greg Becker, Silicon Valley Bank's CEO and president.

It's important to note that the survey was conducted in December 2015.

January saw complete silence on the IPO front, a first since September 2011.

"They say timing is everything, and in the past several weeks it has become apparent that entrepreneurs' perceptions at the end of 2015 had already shifted by mid-January," Becker wrote in a letter announcing the results.

He added that many are predicting "doom and gloom," including the death of some unicorns -- the term for private companies worth $1 billion or more. But he's more optimistic, noting that a "healthy recalibration" would be a good for the ecosystem.

"[Entrepreneurs] are anticipating a more balanced funding environment," he wrote in the letter. "They are considering M&A an even more viable exit strategy."

We're witnessing a slow motion tech wreck

2015 was the biggest year on record for technology mergers and acquisitions, according to Dealogic. Many of those surveyed said they expect the acquisition market to be even greater in 2016. Tech IPOs in the U.S., on the other hand, were at the lowest level since 2009.

Analysts and investors say the IPO question is a tricky one. Entrepreneurs don't want to appear to lack ambition about how far they can take their company. An IPO can signal that they're dreaming big because the public market is the only means of outsized rewards.

Anand Sanwal, cofounder and CEO of CB Insights, said "entrepreneurs are inherently optimistic," adding that most companies don't "choose" their exit. A very small minority -- likely less than 1% -- will go public.

"You're building the company to be standalone," Maha Ibrahim, general partner at Canaan Partners, told CNNMoney, adding that she tries to discuss exit possibilities with founders early. "The hope is that you're bought, not sold."

The silence in the IPO market is deafening

Becker says many startups have started decreasing their burn rates and focusing more on profitability, "which extends their decision making for going public or being sold."

Sanwal predicts that the last two quarters of this year will be telling. By that time, many unicorn companies will need to have raised capital before their current supply of funding runs out. If they're able to raise -- and at what valuation -- will be telling.

Of those surveyed, 42% plan to rely on venture capital money as their next source of funding.

But they know that money could be hard to come by: 82% said the fundraising environment is challenging.

And funding isn't the only thing that's scarce these days. 95% of those surveyed said finding the right talent -- specifically engineers -- is difficult. That's up 8% since 2013.

The execs said it's the biggest issue facing startups, ahead of cybersecurity and healthcare costs.

Source: CNN

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