Month: June 2017

Fyre Festival organizer arrested, charged with wire fraud

billy mcfarland ja rule fyre

Federal agents have arrested Fyre Festival pitchman Billy McFarland on suspicion of wire fraud on Friday, nearly three months after the failed music and lifestyle festival left hundreds of participants stranded in the Bahamas.

Prosecutors said McFarland is accused of misleading investors who poured more than $1 million into Fyre Media, based on misrepresentations of the company’s revenue.

A statement from Acting Manhattan US Attorney Joon Kim released Friday said McFarland told investors that Fyre Media earned millions of dollars from thousands of artist bookings in 2016 and 2017, but in reality had brought in less than $60,000 from about 60 artist bookings.

McFarland is also accused of providing an altered brokerage statement to an investor that claimed he owned shares of a stock worth about $2.5 million. The shares in question are worth less than $1,500, prosecutors said.

If convicted on the wire fraud charge, McFarland could face up to 20 years in prison.

The Fyre Festival was pitched as a premium luxury music and arts event where participants would be treated to private air travel and beachside accommodations. Tickets started at $1,200 with some reportedly paying close to or more than $100,000 for the weekend.

Billed as something similar to the Coachella Music and Arts Festival, Fyre was supposed to take place over two weekends in April and May. Participants in April quickly found themselves stranded on the island with little food or water, and, at times, no electricity.

McFarland and his co-organizer, rapper Ja Rule reportedly borrowed millions of dollars as they scrambled to get the festival up and running. Both are now facing several lawsuits over the failed event.

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Amazon’s unlocked Samsung Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Plus deal is over 25% off

The unlocked Samsung Galaxy S8 or Galaxy S8 Plus is the best version of the top rated smartphone without carrier restrictions and now Amazon has it as a great price.

It costs between $660 and $672 for the Galaxy S8, depending on the color. The same goes for the new Amazon list price of the Galaxy S8 Plus now between $739 to $765.

In our eyes, the Samsung Galaxy S8 is a great phone, with some of the best design elements of an Android phone to date, great performance, and a killer camera in keeping with Samsung’s past flagship phones. 

Samsung currently offers the unlocked Galaxy S8 with 64GB on its own website for $724, so Amazon’s deal beats even Samsung’s in-house price. 

The same story applies to the Samsung Galaxy S8+, which is like a bigger, better Samsung Galaxy S8 without being too large thanks to Samsung’s minimal bezels. Samsung lists the 64GB Unlocked Galaxy S8+ at $829, and once again Amazon’s deal beats that by a substantial margin.

With the Galaxy S8 and S8+ plus, Samsung introduced what it calls the “Infinity Screen,” a curved display going to the far left and right edges of the phone and occupying the almost the entire front of the phone. There’s only a slim bezel at the top and bottom. The phones also feature biometric unlocking methods, and a new virtual assistant called Bixby.

The freedom of taking a phone to any carrier, even to other countries, offers mobile users a great way to choose whatever mobile plan best fits their needs.  With the Galaxy S8 and S8+ so heavily discounted, users now have a way to get one of the best unlocked phones and pair it with a cheap plan, saving money every step of the way.

from TechRadar – All the latest technology news http://www.techradar.com/news/amazons-unlocked-samsung-galaxy-s8-and-galaxy-s8-plus-deal-is-over-25-off

Already cheap Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet is now $20 less ahead of Amazon Prime Day

It’s easy to come across a cheap tablet, but it’s difficult to come across one that is also good. The Amazon’s Fire HD 8 6th gen tablet managed to be affordable and a compelling device on a budget. 

Good news: Ahead of Amazon Prime Day 2017, the 6th gen tablet price just became even more affordable with a $20 discount on both the 16GB and 32GB models thanks to the arrival of the 7th generation tablet.

The Fire HD 8 tablet might not be the best tablet, but offers decent performance with a 1.3GHz quad-core processor capable of passable mobile gaming. Its screen isn’t the highest resolution, but Amazon apps use a special text smoothing to improve the experience. 

The device also incorporates Alexa for those hoping to get the both a fully fledged tablet and the functionality of Amazon’s virtual assistant without the hefty price of an Amazon Echo.

One choice anyone buying an Amazon device is faced with is the decision to get one “with special offers” for a discounted price, or get one “without special offers”  and pay extra. 

The “special offers” are advertisements from Amazon that appear on the device's lock screen. A surprising aspect of the deal on Amazon’s Fire HD 8 tablet is that the discount price for the tablet with and without the special offers is the same. 

The 16GB Fire HD 8 tablet is $69 and the 32GB model is $89, both $20 down from their list price lock screen advertisements. Currently only the 16GB model shows up as available without lock screen advertisements, and it’s also $69, which is $35 off its list price.

Since the Amazon Fire HD 8 2017 doesn’t offer substantial improvements the 2016 Fire HD 8 looks like an even better deal right now.

from TechRadar – All the latest technology news http://www.techradar.com/news/already-cheap-amazon-fire-hd-8-tablet-is-now-20-less-ahead-of-amazon-prime-day

THE INSURANCE AND THE IoT REPORT: How insurers are using connected devices to cut costs and more accurately price policies

healthinsurerswearables

This is a preview of a research report from BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service. To learn more about BI Intelligence, click here.

Insurance companies have long based their pricing models and strategies on assumptions about the demographics of their customers. Auto insurers, for example, have traditionally charged higher premiums for parents of teenage drivers based on the assumption that members of this demographic are more likely to get into an accident.

But those assumptions are inherently flawed, since they often aren’t based on the actual behaviors and characteristics of individual customers. As new IoT technologies increasingly move into the mainstream, insurers are able to collect and analyze data to more accurately price premiums, helping them to protect the assets they insure and enabling more efficient assessment of damages to conserve resources.

A new report from BI Intelligence explains how companies in the auto, health, and home insurance markets are using the data produced by IoT solutions to augment their existing policy pricing models and grow their customer bases. In addition, it examines areas where IoT devices have the potential to open up new insurance segments.

 Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • The world’s largest auto insurers now offer usage-based policies, which price premiums based on vehicle usage data collected directly from the car.
  • Large home and commercial property insurers are using drones to inspect damaged properties, which can improve workflow efficiency and reduce their reliance on human labor.
  • Health and life insurance firms are offering customers fitness trackers to encourage healthy behavior, and discounts for meeting certain goals.
  • Home insurers are offering discounts on smart home devices to current customers, and in some cases, free devices to entice new customers.

In full, the report:

  • Forecasts the number of Americans who will have tried usage-based auto insurance by 2021.
  • Explains why narrowly tailored wearables could be what’s next for the health insurance industry.
  • Analyzes the market for potential future insurance products on IoT devices.
  • Discusses and analyzes the barriers to consumers opting in to policies that collect their data.

To get your copy of this invaluable guide to the IoT, choose one of these options:

  1. Subscribe to an ALL-ACCESS Membership with BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report AND over 100 other expertly researched deep-dive reports, subscriptions to all of our daily newsletters, and much more. >> START A MEMBERSHIP
  2. Purchase the report and download it immediately from our research store. >> BUY THE REPORT

The choice is yours. But however you decide to acquire this report, you’ve given yourself a powerful advantage in your understanding of insurance and the IoT.

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Chris Sacca apologizes for helping make tech hostile to women — after being accused of inappropriately touching a female investor

Chris Sacca Twitter

A judge from ABC’s ‘Shark Tank’ published a cryptic apology hours before an explosive New York Times article reported he had inappropriately touched a female entrepreneur.

Chris Sacca—who retired from startup investing as well as his role on “Shark Tank” in April— wrote Thursday that he “personally contributed” to making the tech industry “inhospitable for women.

Sacca posted the apology note after he was contacted by the Times about female entrepreneur Susan Wu’s accusation that he had touched her face without her permission at a tech event in 2009, the paper reported.

Sacca and ABC, which broadcasts “Shark Tank,” did not respond to requests from Business Insider for comment. 

Wu told The Times that when Sacca touched her face, it made her feel uncomfortable. She also said she was propositioned in 2010 by Justin Caldbeck, the founder of Binary Capital, who has been accused of multiple cases of sexual harassment. 

There is such a massive imbalance of power that women in the industry often end up in distressing situations,” Wu told the Times, in response to her experiences.

Sacca did not dispute Wu’s account of his behavior, according to the Times. He also didn’t specifically discuss it in his apology.

He did, however, tell the Times in a statement that he was “grateful to Susan and the other brave women sharing their stories. I’m confident the result of their courage will be long-overdue, lasting change.”

And in his post, Sacca apologized in a general fashion for behaving in ways that made women feel uncomfortable: 

“Particularly when reflecting upon my early years in Silicon Valley, there is no doubt I said and did things that made some women feel awkward, unwelcome, insecure, and/or discouraged. In social settings, under the guise of joking, being collegial, flirting, or having a good time, I undoubtedly caused some women to question themselves, retreat, feel alone, and worry they can’t be their authentic selves. By stupidly perpetuating a culture rife with busting chops, teasing, and peer pressure to go out drinking, I made some women feel self-conscious, anxious, and fear they might not be taken seriously.”

 

Sacca was just one of several tech investors named by the Times in its article for behaving inappropriately toward women in the industry. In the wake of the article, 500 Startups announced that Dave McClure, its co-founder who was also named in the story, has stepped down from running the firm’s day-to-day operations. 

The Times piece comes amid heightened attention to gender inequality and sexual harassment in the tech industry. Earlier in June, Travis Kalanick resigned as position as Uber’s CEO after an investigation into the company’s culture revealed multiple cases of sexual harassment at the company.

SEE ALSO: The head of one of San Francisco’s most famous startup farms is no longer running his firm after being accused of sexual harassment

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Real estate startup Redfin is getting ready for an IPO

Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman

Online real estate brokerage Redfin has put the “for sale” sign on its own shares, filing the paperwork for an IPO late on Friday. 

Redfin is backed by some of Silicon Valley’s biggest names, and plans to begin trading on the Nasdaq exchange under the ticker symbol “RDFN,” it said in the S-1 filing with the SEC.

Redfin pegged the size of the offering at $100 million, though that number is likely just a placeholder that will be updated with the real, larger number as it moves closer to IPO day.

Seattle-based Redfin was founded in 2005 and had its share of founder controversies over the years and is currently run by CEO Glenn Kelman, formerly the co-founder of Plumtree Software, acquired back in 2005 by BEA Systems.

It has become famous as an online real estate brokerage that doesn’t just list properties like other real estate sites such as Zillow and Trulia. Redfin actually employs agents to sell properties and it charges a lower-than-industry-standard 1.5% listing fee.

The company says it has helped customers buy 75,000 homes, worth than $40 billion in total, through 2016. 

It has raised a boatload of venture investment over the years, nearly $168 million, according to Crunchbase. One early backer is Vulcan Capital, the investment arm of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Vulcan still owns 10% of the company.

Still, the IPO market has been fickle this year, with an assortment of hits and misses. For investors looking for growth, Refin seems to have that:

  • Revenue has been rising: 2016 revenue was $267 million, up from $187 million in 2015.
  • Losses have been narrowing: 2016 net loss was $22.5 million, down from $30.2 million in 2015.
  • Monthly average visitors to its website are rising: 16,215 in 2016, compared to 11,705  in 2015.
  • And its total number of real estate transactions are on the rise: 35,350 in 2016, compared to 27,492 in 2015.

SEE ALSO: By desperately trying to save his nearly bankrupt startup, this guy accidentally found a $10 million idea

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This one chart shows the iPhone’s devastating effect on the consumer electronics market

It’s hard to imagine life without a smartphone, but it’s only been 10 years since Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone and kicked off the smartphone boom. Before that, buying a GPS system for your car or a new camcorder to use on vacation was totally normal. 

But as time went on smartphones grew to include the same devices people once went to RadioShack for, and paying for and keeping track of cameras, iPods, and portable navigation systems became more of a hassle than a luxury. 

Companies like Garmin and Cannon struggled and then were forced to diversify their products into other markets not yet dominated by the smartphone. Data from the Consumer Technology Association charted for us by Statista shows the staggering decline in sales for various types of electronics after 2007, the first year of the iPhone.

As the survey shows, some consumer electronics (the camcorder in particular) have practically become obsolete, and it’s almost impossible to imagine them making a comeback as smartphones become even more advanced. Chart of the day 6/30/17

SEE ALSO: How far Apple’s business has rocketed since the iPhone first launched

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