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The latest news from Business Insider

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    The proliferation of e-commerce has transformed free shipping and same-day delivery from perks to table stakes — and retailers are paying the price. With daily parcel volumes surging and customers increasingly unlikely to foot the bill, companies have been tasked with finding new ways to offer speedy shipments without eating costs.

    last mile share of delivery costs

    Among the most popular strategies is crowdsourced delivery, the Uber model helping online shops solve the most expensive part of shipping: the last mile problem. Like Uber and other ride hailing apps, a number of crowdsourced delivery solutions have been cropping up over the past few years to ease these pains by connecting customers directly with local couriers. And it’s not just startups either; Amazon, the world's undisputed e-commerce leader, is investing big in crowdsourcing deliveries.

    How much does Amazon spend on shipping?

    “Free shipping” comes at a high cost. According to Amazon’s 2017 annual report, the company spent $21.7 billion in shipping last year — a number that includes sortation, delivery center, and transportation costs. This is nearly double the $11.5 billion it spent on shipping in 2015. And as the expectation of free, same-day delivery becomes the standard for online consumers, even giants like Amazon need to seek alternative solutions.

    The crowdsourcing solution to the last mile problem

    The last mile of delivery is the most expensive and time-consuming part of fulfillment for retailers and their logistics partners, comprising 53% of the overall cost of shipment. Crowdsourcing takes the onus off of companies, instead connecting customers directly with local couriers to expedite deliveries and cut down on costs.

    The crowdsourcing model is already popular among meal and grocery delivery and, seeing the success of startups like Uber, Airbnb, and GrubHub, e-commerce retailers are now eyeing it to fulfill their online orders. As a result, general use crowdsourced delivery companies have emerged to meet this need.

    Here’s a look at how three companies - Amazon Flex, Hitch, and Deliv - are trying their hand in the shipping industry — and what’s coming up next.

    Amazon Flex - Deliver with Amazon

    Launched in 2015 and piloted in Seattle, Amazon Flex lets customers order and receive packages through its on-demand delivery service, Prime Now, which guarantees free one- and two-hour deliveries. For Prime customers with already high expectations for prompt delivery, not much changes; the service primarily markets itself as a side gig for couriers.

    Amazon Flex

    For the most part, the app is only open to people who have cars (except in select regions allowing commercial bicycles), so those who want to make deliveries on bike or foot might have to look elsewhere. The service is particularly attractive to rideshare drivers who may want to make extra money without having strangers or potentially disruptive passengers in their cars. Anyone 21 or older with a smartphone, car, and valid driver’s license can log into the app and schedule their availability to start making deliveries.

    Shipments can originate at an Amazon location, store, or restaurant. Drivers use their smartphone camera and GPS to scan packages and get turn-by-turn directions to their destinations. As long as they deliver the package within the allotted time frame, couriers make $18-25 an hour — all through a cashless transfer to their digital wallet on the app.

    Learn more about Amazon Flex.

    Hitch - Crowdsourced Delivery


    Founded in 2014, Tampa-based startup Hitch gives consumers, “the choice to be Shippers, Travelers, or both.” The platform touts “turning your commute into cash” by pairing up shippers (the people placing the orders) with travelers (the local couriers) who are already heading in the direction of the delivery.

    Users create profiles on the app to join the socially vetted community, where they can then rate one another and verify their accounts by adding bank account information. Shippers put out requests to have packages delivered, and Travelers can input travel information to see if there are any available deliveries along their route.

    The app uses GPS to find the quickest route and provide tracking, as well as camera functionality to show proof of delivery. All payments are exchanged through Hitch’s third-party payment processing partner, Stripe.

    Learn more about Hitch.

    Deliv - Same-Day Delivery

    Deliv is a general use last mile solution offering same-day service to over 4,000 omnichannel businesses in 35 cities across the country. Some of its biggest partners include Macy’s, Best Buy, Walmart, and IBM.

    Deliv Fresh

    Rather than just fulfilling ad hoc deliveries for consumers, Deliv seeks to be a long-term business partner solving companies’ last mile problem — evidenced by its breakdown into Deliv Small Business, Deliv Enterprise, and Deliv Fresh for groceries. It offers SLAs, performance metrics, and integrations into business’ online checkout processes.

    And the company is growing. In February, 2018, it launched Deliv Rx to extend these same-day services to patients, doctors, pharmacies, hospitals, labs, and clinics. Deliveries can include things like prescriptions, x-rays, medical equipment, documents, and even pet medicine.

    Learn more about Deliv.

    Growth & Future of Crowdsource Shipping

    Want to learn more? The Crowdsourced Delivery Report from Business Insider Intelligence examines the rise of the crowdsourcing model in the last mile delivery space.

    In this report, we detail the top use cases for crowdsourced deliveries, as well as the benefits and challenges of using this model for delivering online orders. We also provide insights into how to optimize crowdsourced deliveries for e-commerce and, lastly, we explain the long-term potential of startups appearing in the crowdsourced delivery space as automation plays a bigger role.

    Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

    • Retailers are looking for ways to deliver goods faster to consumers' doorsteps to stave off Amazon's threat and meet customer expectations.
    • To accomplish that, retailers and delivery providers are zeroing in on the "last mile" of fulfillment, the most expensive and time-consuming part of the delivery process, which is when a package reaches the customer's address.
    • Startups like Postmates, Instacart, and others are looking to disrupt the last mile delivery space by leveraging the "Uber model," and connecting businesses to non-professional couriers who can deliver goods instantly.
    • Crowdsourcing can drastically speed up deliveries in urban areas, where there is a high density of deliveries and potential couriers to be matched.
    • However, as delivery volumes increase, crowdsourced delivery startups will need to further optimize their deliveries to improve cost efficiencies.
    • Many of the deliveries these startups perform today will likely be automated in the future, raising the possibility that these startups may eventually look to incorporate new technologies like delivery drones or self-driving delivery vehicles.

    In full, the report:

    • Details the factors driving investment and growth in crowdsourced delivery startups.
    • Examines the benefits and drawbacks of using crowdsourcing to deliver online orders.
    • Explains how crowdsourced delivery startups can improve their cost efficiencies to tackle greater delivery volumes.
    • Explores the role that crowdsourcing will play in the future of delivery once automated delivery options, like drones and robots, arrive.

    Subscribe to an All-Access pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to:

    This report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports
    Access to all future reports and daily newsletters
    Forecasts of new and emerging technologies in your industry
    And more!
    Learn More

    Purchase & download the full report from our research store


    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Mick Mulvaney

    • In 2016, Mick Mulvaney, President Donald Trump's acting White House chief of staff, called then-presidential candidate Donald Trump "flawed" and said he was going to support him despite "the fact that I think he's a terrible human being."
    • The comments were made six days before the 2016 presidential election.

    Footage of comments made by Mick Mulvaney, President Donald Trump's pick for acting White House chief of staff, began circulating on the internet hours after the Office of Management and Budget director was selected to serve on an interim basis.

    Six days before the 2016 presidential election, the former Republican representative debated against his Democratic opponent, Fran Person, for the state's 5th Congressional District in York, South Carolina, according to The State. Mulvaney addressed the crowd of around 80 people and appeared to be dissatisfied with presidential candidates from both parties.

    "We have perhaps two of the most flawed human beings running for president in the history of the country," Mulvaney said of then-candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, in video footage found by The Daily Beast and The State. "Yes, I am supporting Donald Trump. I'm doing so as enthusiastically as I can given the fact that I think he's a terrible human being."

    Mulvaney won the district with 59.2% of the vote, compared to Person's 38.7%. 

    Trump won the district with 58.4% of the vote, compared to Clinton's 36.4%.

    In February 2017, he was confirmed by the Senate to lead the OMB; later in 2017 he was also appointed acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

    SEE ALSO: Trump reportedly grew frustrated no one wanted to be his chief of staff before settling on Mick Mulvaney

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Anthony Scaramucci claims Trump isn't a nationalist: 'He likes saying that because it irks these intellectual elitists'

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    Mobility Market

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

    Automakers are on the verge of a prolonged period of rapid change to the way they do business, thanks to the combined disruptive forces of growing on-demand mobility services and self-driving cars, which will start to come to market in the next couple of years.

    By the end of 2019, Google spinoff Waymo, Uber, and GM all plan to have fleets of autonomous cars deployed in various US cities to provide on-demand rides for passengers. By eliminating the cost of the driver, these rides are expected to be far cheaper than typical Uber or Lyft rides, and even cheaper than owning a car for personal transportation.

    Many industry experts are predicting that such cheap on-demand autonomous rides service will result in a long-term decline in car ownership rates — PwC predicts that the total number of cars on the road in the US and EU will drop from 556 million last year to 416 million in 2030.

    This decline in car ownership represents an enormous threat to automakers’ traditional business models, forcing them to find alternative revenue sources. Many of these automakers, including GM, Ford, and Daimler, have plans to launch their own on-demand ride-hailing services with fleets of self-driving cars they will manufacture, potentially giving them a new stream of recurring revenue. This could set them up to take a sizeable share of a market that is expected to be worth trillions by 2030.

    However, competing in the on-demand mobility market will pit legacy automakers against ride-hailing services from startups and tech giants that have far greater experience in acquiring and engaging consumers through digital channels. To succeed in what will likely be a hyper-competitive market for urban ride-hailing, automakers will have to foster new skill sets in their organizations, and transform from companies that primarily produce vehicles to ones that also manage vehicle fleets and customer relationships.

    That will entail competing with startups and tech giants for software development and data science talent, as well as reforming innovation processes to keep pace with digital trendsetters. Automakers will also need to create unique mobile app and in-car experiences to lure customers. Finally, these automakers will face many overall barriers in the market, including convincing consumers that self-driving cars are safe, and dealing with a complex and evolving regulatory landscape.

    In a new report, Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, delves into the future of the on-demand mobility space, focusing on how automakers will use fleets of self-driving vehicles to break into an emerging industry that's been dominated thus far by startups like Uber and Lyft. We examine how the advent of autonomous vehicles will reshape urban transportation, and the impact it will have on traditional automakers. We then detail how automakers can leverage their core strengths to create new revenue sources with autonomous mobility services, and explore the key areas they'll need to gain new skills and capabilities in to compete with mobility startups and tech giants that are also eyeing this opportunity. 

    Here are some of the key takeaways:

    • The low cost of autonomous taxis will eventually lead car ownership rates among urban consumers to decline sharply, putting automakers’ traditional business models at risk.
    • Many automakers plan to launch their own autonomous ride-hailing services with the self-driving cars they're developing to replace losses from declining car sales, putting them in direct competition with mobility startups and tech giants looking to launch similar services.
    • Additionally, automakers plan to maximize utilization of their autonomous on-demand vehicles by performing last-mile deliveries, which will force them to compete with a variety of players in the parcel logistics industry.
    • Regulatory pressures could also push automakers to consider alternative mobility services besides on-demand taxis, such as autonomous on-demand shuttle or bus services.
    • Providing these types of services will force automakers to make drastic changes to their organizations to acquire new talent and skills, and not all automakers will succeed at that.

    In full, the report:

    • Forecasts the growth of autonomous on-demand ride-hailing services in the US.
    • Examines the cost benefits of such services for consumers, and how they will reshape consumers’ transportation habits.
    • Details the different avenues for automakers to monetize the growth of autonomous ride-hailing.
    • Provides an overview of the various challenges that all players in the self-driving car space will need to overcome to monetize their investments in these new technologies in the coming years.
    • Explains the key factors that will be critical for automakers to succeed in this emerging market.
    • Offers examples of how automakers can differentiate their apps and services from competitors’.

    Subscribe to an All-Access pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to:

    This report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports
    Access to all future reports and daily newsletters
    Forecasts of new and emerging technologies in your industry
    And more!
    Learn More

    Purchase & download the full report from our research store

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Nintendo Consoles

    • Since the debut of the original Famicom in 1983, Nintendo has released over a dozen video game consoles and handhelds.
    • Each of Nintendo's systems has been focused on innovative technology and family fun, though some have been much more successful than others.
    • At their best, Nintendo's consoles have made a cultural impact that has changed the way people around the world view entertainment.
    • Naturally, we ranked them all. 

    Nintendo has been the number-one household name in video games since releasing its first console, the Famicom, in Japan circa 1983. The company helped pioneer the trend towards home video game consoles, pushing back against the arcades that dominated the industry at the time.

    Even as other companies worked to match the early success of the Nintendo Entertainment System, the company has shown a dedication to innovation and family fun that has inspired each of their follow-ups. While some of the company's consoles have certainly been more successful than others, Nintendo's constant push towards new ways to play games has proven beneficial for companies across the video game industry.


    Exploring the legacy of Nintendo's hardware offers an interesting look at how video games have grown from the earliest days of 8-bit pixels to the high-definition marvel that is the Nintendo Switch. And, naturally, we ranked them all.

    These are our favorite Nintendo consoles, ranked from worst to best:

    SEE ALSO: A complete history of Nintendo consoles, by the numbers

    SEE ALSO: A complete history of Nintendo consoles, by the numbers

    13. Virtual Boy (1995)

    Few would recognize the Virtual Boy as a Nintendo creation, and even fewer actually owned the odd console. The Virtual Boy was designed to use stereoscopic 3D to create an early form of virtual reality gaming, but failed to create a convincing enough experience for there to be much of an audience.

    Nintendo was quick to fold on the console, discontinuing the Virtual Boy within a year of its launch in 1995. With only 22 games ever released for the Virtual Boy, there's really no arguing that this is the least impressive of Nintendo's video game consoles — ever.

    12. Game Boy Color (1998)

    As the name might suggest, the Game Boy Color was Nintendo's first handheld to feature a color screen. The Game Boy Color arrived nearly a decade after the original, providing a hardware upgrade for the more demanding games of the late '90s. However, the system mostly served as a stopgap until the release of the next-generation Game Boy Advance in 2001.

    The Game Boy Color still saw more than 500 releases in that three-year span, though many of those games were still playable on the original Game Boy. The Color could also play classic Game Boy games, and would give them a basic color scheme to highlight their visuals.

    11. Nintendo Wii U (2012)

    Putting aside the huge flop that was the Virtual Boy, the Wii U is Nintendo's least popular video game console. Confusing branding, combined with technology that was only a half-step up from the massively popular Wii, hurt the Wii U at release. It was quickly outmatched by the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 when they launched the following year.

    The Wii U's most innovative feature was the introduction of a large tablet that could be used as a secondary screen during gameplay, or mirror the image of the television. With Nintendo's emphasis on family-focused gaming, the Wii U tablet was designed to allow children to play on the smaller screen while their families were using the living room TV.

    However, the tablet essentially turns into a brick when you walk out of range of the console, making it very limited indeed. The added requirement of developing games with the tablet in mind, and Nintendo's lackluster online gaming infrastructure, led to a lack of games from third party publishers, as well.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    • Institutional investors are slowly getting more comfortable with the emerging marijuana industry.
    • CalPERS, one of the largest US pension funds, snapped up a small stake in Tilray, a Canadian marijuana producer.
    • That's despite the fund's ban on investing in tobacco stocks, Barron's reported.

    The California Public Employees' Retirement System is investing in marijuana stocks.

    The pension fund, known as CalPERS, owns 1,617 shares of Tilray, a Canadian marijuana cultivator that listed on the NASDAQ in July.

    CalPERS bought the stake despite the fund's ongoing ban on investing in tobacco companies, Barron's reported. The stake, however, is a drop in the bucket for the $300 billion CalPERS: It's worth just over $90,000, as of Friday morning.

    The pension fund also owns 587,362 shares of Constellation Brands, the beer maker behind popular brands like Corona and Modelo.

    In August, Constellation paid $4 billion for a 38% stake of Canopy Growth, a publicly traded Canadian marijuana cultivator. The move was cited by many in the financial community as paving the way for institutional investors and Fortune 500 corporations to strategize about how to gain exposure to a sector with lots of risk — and lots of upsides.

    Read more: Sullivan & Cromwell, an elite Wall Street law firm, is working with a Canadian pot company on a $1.8 billion M&A deal. Here's why that's 'momentous' for the marijuana industry.

    Tobacco companies are moving into the sector as well. Earlier this month, Altria, the tobacco maker behind popular brands like Marlboro, announced that it intends to invest $1.8 billion for a 45% stake in Cronos Group, a NASDAQ-listed Canadian marijuana cultivator.

    Marijuana could become a $194 billion global opportunity if the US and the EU legalize the drug federally, according to some Wall Street analysts. But investing in marijuana — even publicly traded companies — comes with a ton of risk.

    The US federal government considers marijuana an illegal, Schedule I drug, though 33 states have legalized the drug for either recreational or medical use.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The legendary economist who predicted the housing crisis says the US will win the trade war

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    • Bookkeepers are finding that the emerging marijuana industry can be a boon for business.
    • The complicated, constantly evolving regulations around marijuana in the US — not to mention, the gold-rush aspect of the mostly cash industry — is giving accountants lots of work. 
    • CPAs find they can charge higher fees to marijuana industry clients because of their specialized knowledge on the subject. But it remains challenging to pick and choose who to work with. 

    Nerdy number-crunchers are finding themselves on the bleeding edge of a brand-new, multi-billion global industry: marijuana. 

    For certified public accountants, the patchwork of state laws governing the industry — and not to mention, the specter of federal illegality — is a boon for business in what could be a $75 billion industry. 

    Yet, marijuana presents a number of headaches for those who are willing to take the plunge into the rapidly growing sector. 

    "This isn't an industry you can handle with kid gloves," said Mitzi Hollenbeck, a Boston-based partner at accounting firm Citrin Cooperman who leads its cannabis advisory practice."Things are moving so fast. You need to put in the hours." 

    Hollenbeck was speaking at the New York State Society of CPAs "Navigating the Cannabis Industry Conference" in Midtown Manhattan on Tuesday, on a panel titled: "Should I take this cannabis client?"

    Read more: A top marijuana CPA says the 'bubble will burst' for weed M&A deals

    While the marijuana industry is quickly going corporate, accountants on the panel discussed the numerous challenges they had in selecting and dealing with cannabis clients. Part of that, the accountants said, is establishing a client acceptance procedure that's unique to the cannabis industry — and making the complexities of the industry a full-time focus. 

    "The biggest concern is 'where's the money coming from,'" said Hollenbeck. Most marijuana startups are funded by family offices and high-net-worth individuals, who may be able to take on more risk than a financial institution. But because many investors lie outside of traditional banks, it's an environment that could be ripe for fraud. 

    "You have to do a background check on the investors. You have to protect yourself and your client from money that's being laundered into the system," she added. 

    John Pellitteri, the New York-based healthcare practice group leader at accounting firm Grassi & Co, said he's seen prospective clients disappear once he started "asking questions."

    Investors based in places like the Cayman Islands, or anywhere the State Department has raised red flags, is a sure sign not to take on that client, Pellitteri said. 


    'They'll whip out a bong in the meeting' 

    Another piece of advice all the panelists shared: be selective with who you take on as a client and get paid up front.

    Larry Lippman, the CEO of the Colorado-based Expo, a non-bank financial institution that serves the marijuana industry, said he's met with clients and felt like he's the "only adult in the room."

    "They'll whip out a bong in the meeting," Lippman said. "I'm not trying to be silly — you need to get everything in writing because they'll forget. Get your money up front in a retainer."

    Some clients have asked Hollenbeck if they could pay her in cash, or in "product," an offer she roundly rejects.  

    "I've heard the excuse, 'my bank account is frozen,'" said Lippman. In some cases, that may be true — minefields abound for investors and entrepreneurs trying to ride the green rush. 

    "Even opening a fund to invest in cannabis can be a trigger to losing bank accounts," said Jason Hoffman, a senior manager at Janover LLC. 

    Marijuana industry startups, whether they cultivate and sell the plant directly or provide ancillary services like software and hardware to the industry, are subject to unique federal tax burdens in the form of Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code. That code prohibits businesses engaged in the distribution, loosely-defined, of a federally controlled substance from deducting things like payroll from their taxes.

    They're also forced to conduct their business on an all-cash basis as most banks won't touch marijuana money — or even provide a loan or a line of credit — as the drug is listed as an illegal, Schedule I substance by the US federal government.

    That means that marijuana companies must figure out a way to deal with all that cash in order to pay vendors, make payroll, and file taxes. 

    states where marijuana legal 4x3

    'There's a lot of backpedaling' 

    Part-and-parcel of the challenges for CPAs in the marijuana industry is the gold-rush aspect. Everybody's piling in.

    "Clients are jumping first because the industry is moving so quickly," said Hollenbeck. "There's lots of backpedaling." 

    But all that risk and complexity has led these few buccaneering CPAs to carve out a lucrative niche for themselves.

    "It's a highly specialized business," Pellitteri said. "You should be able to raise your price above market value and get paid well for your knowledge."

    The accountants all agreed that in order to be in the cannabis industry, you have to be flexible. The rules are constantly changing. 

    Read more: Sullivan & Cromwell, an elite Wall Street law firm, is working with a Canadian pot company on a $1.8 billion M&A deal. Here's why that's 'momentous' for the marijuana industry.

    "To anyone who thinks about getting into this business: you will get that 2 a.m. phone call that your client's bank is kicking them out," said Hoffman.

    But the challenges are worth it — and so is being at the forefront of a brand-new, multibillion-dollar global industry that's set to disrupt pharmaceuticals, consumer-packaged goods, alcohol, and tobacco, the panelists said.

    To Lippman, this work has been some of the most exciting of his career.

    "This industry certainly has its characters, but they're some of the most creative people I've ever met," said Lippman. "Maybe it's the pot?" 

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The legendary economist who predicted the housing crisis says the US will win the trade war

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    • The marijuana industry might be suffering from an M&A bubble — and it's going to burst. 
    • "I'm nervous about the valuations out there on the M&A deals," said Mitzi Hollenbeck, a partner at accounting firm Citrin Cooperman. "The numbers don't support it."
    • Hollenbeck leads Citrin Cooperman's cannabis advisory practice. She was speaking at the New York State Society of CPAs "Navigating the Cannabis Industry Conference" in Midtown Manhattan on Tuesday. 

    A top marijuana industry accountant had a stark warning for the emerging industry: There's an M&A bubble.

    "I'm nervous about the valuations out there on the M&A deals," said Mitzi Hollenbeck, a Boston-based partner at accounting firm Citrin Cooperman who leads its cannabis advisory practice. "The numbers don't support it."

    Speaking at the New York State Society of CPAs "Navigating the Cannabis Industry Conference" in Midtown Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon, Hollenbeck warned that "we're going to see the bubble burst."

    She added that as more state markets open — and investor excitement around the emerging industry ramps up — the bubble will be "artificially propped up" as marijuana companies spend hundreds of millions in cash and stock to build out their geographic presence and fend off competitors. 

    Read more:'My lips are wet, my mouth is watering to get a piece of that': A war is brewing between US and Canadian marijuana companies to claim a $75 billion market

    US marijuana companies, known in industry parlance as multi-state operators (MSOs), have gone on acquisition sprees in recent months in a race to capture a market that some Wall Street analysts say could be worth $75 billion in a decade, provided the federal government legalizes marijuana. 

    These companies, like Acreage Holdings, MedMen, and iAnthus, operate marijuana retailers and cultivation facilities in states where the drug is legal.

    In October, the Los Angeles-based MedMen acquired the medical marijuana retailer PharmaCann in an all-stock transaction that valued the combined entity at $682 million.

    On the heels of that deal, iAnthus, another multi-state operator, acquired the Toronto-based marijuana company MPX Bioceutical in a transaction valued at $640 million, among other smaller deals that pop up in press releases seemingly every day. 

    Read more: Marijuana companies are using a 'backdoor' strategy to tap the public markets — and it's fueling an M&A boom

    These M&A deals are fed by a boom in reverse mergers, in which US marijuana companies go public on the Canadian Securities Exchange — where marijuana is federally legal — by buying shell companies that are already publicly traded.

    According to data from Dealogic, the number of US companies pursuing reverse mergers in Canada has more than doubled in the past five years, to over 16 this year from just 7 in 2013, with cannabis companies leading the charge.

    The US federal government classifies marijuana as an illegal, Schedule I drug, though it's legal in some form in 33 states. Major US stock exchanges won't list companies that sell or cultivate marijuana in the US.  

    In August, the accounting firm PwC released a report warning that marijuana industry is gripped by a "deal mania," and that the largest marijuana companies are guilty of "moving in too many directions at once."

    "Investors will show little patience for companies that cannot differentiate themselves to win in a crowded market," PwC said.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    manhattan skyline midtown downtown

    • Altria, the tobacco behemoth behind popular brands like Marlboro, announced on Friday that it intends to sink $1.8 billion into a 45% stake in Cronos Group, a Canadian marijuana producer.
    • Sullivan & Cromwell, a prestigious, white-shoe law firm, advised Cronos on the deal. Altria was advised by Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.
    • Lawyers at Sullivan who worked on the deal told Business Insider that the firm worked with Cronos because of a special relationship they had with Cronos' CEO, Michael Gorenstein.

    White-shoe law firms, top-tier investment banks, and Fortune 500 corporations are waking up to the $194 billion opportunity that is the emerging global cannabis industry.

    On Friday, Altria — the tobacco behemoth behind popular brands like Marlboro — announced its intent to sink $1.8 billion into a 45% stake in Cronos Group, a NASDAQ-listed Canadian marijuana producer.

    While the news of the largest tie-up yet between the cannabis and tobacco sectors is notable, the firms that advised Cronos and Altria represent a watershed moment for the fledgling industry, mergers-and-acquisitions lawyers say.

    Read more: 'An investment of this magnitude provides overall legitimacy to the sector': Here's why Wall Street is bullish about the largest tie-up yet between the tobacco and pot sectors

    New York-based Sullivan & Cromwell, which is one of the most prestigious law firms in the world and is known for advising major corporations, represented Cronos on the deal, while the Canadian arm of investment bank Lazard served as Cronos' financial adviser.

    These advisers are pushing into a growing industry that has so far been dominated by smaller Canadian investment banks like Canaccord Genuity and boutique law firms in states like Colorado and California that specifically serve cannabis clients.

    In the past, blue-chip firms like Sullivan had been unwilling to take on the perceived risk of working with cannabis companies of any kind. Advising Cronos, however, provided more comfort, as the company confines its operations to countries like Canada, where cannabis is legal at the federal level, and Germany, where cannabis is legal for medical purposes.

    mike gorenstein cronos group ceo

    A unique relationship between Sullivan & Cromwell and Cronos Group

    Sullivan's involvement on the deal came about through a unique relationship that Cronos' CEO, Michael Gorenstein, had with the firm: He spent over three years working at the law firm before becoming a partner at the hedge fund Alphabet Ventures, after which he moved to Toronto to start Cronos in 2016.

    Matthew Goodman, an associate at Sullivan who worked on the deal, told Business Insider in an interview that he and Gorenstein were in the same first-year class at the firm and spent time working on the M&A floor together. They've remained friendly since.

    "We always knew Mike would move on from practicing law to do something impressive on the business side," Goodman said.

    Sullivan first got involved in cannabis M&A in August, prior to the Cronos deal, said George Sampas, a partner at Sullivan who led the firm's involvement on the Cronos deal.

    The firm advised Goldman Sachs, which served as Constellation Brands' financial adviser when the beer maker acquired a $4 billion stake in Canadian marijuana producer Canopy Growth.

    Following that deal, Sampas said, a growing number of top-tier investment banks and law firms began to get more comfortable working with cannabis companies — albeit ones that don't operate in the US.states where marijuana legal 4x3

    'A bright red line'

    That means Sullivan isn't ready to advise US cannabis operators yet.

    The US federal government considers cannabis an illegal, Schedule I drug, though a number of states have legalized the drug for both medical and recreational use for adults over 21.

    "That's a bright red line," Sampas said. "We won't cross that."

    While some US law firms, like Duane Morris and Baker Botts, have built out formal cannabis-practice groups, many of the largest firms still shy away from the industry because of the conflict between state and federal law.

    Read more: Big law firms are building out specialized pot practices to chase down a red-hot market for weed deals

    As for the US law firms that have developed cannabis practices, "that's pretty buccaneering," Sampas said. He added that Sullivan has no plans yet to build out a cannabis group at the firm.

    In Canada, however, it's a different story — cannabis has given Toronto's biggest law firms a boost. Canada legalized cannabis federally in October, and Toronto-based law firms have worked on more cannabis M&A deals than US firms, according to data from Dealogic.

    Altria, for its part, was represented by Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, and boutique investment bank Perella Weinberg Partners served as its financial adviser.

    "Now us, Wachtell, Perella, and others have crossed over the bridge," Sampas said. "It's momentous for the cannabis industry."

    SEE ALSO: 'Everybody thinks they're going to make billions overnight': Mexico's former president says the cannabis industry isn't a gold rush

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The legendary economist who predicted the housing crisis says the US will win the trade war

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    Dubai Development Property Real Estate (28 of 40)

    • The city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is known for extravagant, newly built landmarks like the Burj Khalifa, the Palm Jumeirah, and the Dubai Mall.
    • In just over two decades, the city has transformed from a desert backwater port to a thriving metropolis with the third-most skyscrapers in the world.
    • While the rapid development has produced a futuristic city, it has come at the cost of hundreds of thousands of workers who suffered to build it.

    Three decades ago, Dubai was little more than desert.

    The city exploded in prosperity after the United Arab Emirates discovered oil in 1966, leading to a development boom that has resulted in the world's tallest building, the second-biggest mall, one of the most luxurious hotels, and more skyscrapers than any city besides New York and Hong Kong.

    From the outside, Dubai looks like an unmitigated success story.  But for those looking at Dubai and wishing their country or city would use it as a model, Dubai may be more of a cautionary tale.

    The shiny, glass towers hide the trampling of the hundreds of thousands of migrant workers hailing from countries like Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and the Philippines.

    Nearly 90% of Dubai's 3.1 million residents are expats, many of whom are migrant workers brought in to work on construction projects or in service jobs. Most come alone on the promise of much higher salaries than in their home countries, so they can send money back to their families.

    But Dubai and the UAE have long been the subject of complaints of mistreatment of workers. Migrant workers say they often face brutal work conditions, shifts of 12 hours or more, and that companies withhold paychecks or workers' passports so as not to let them quit or return home.

    Most workers are brought over by recruiters or recruitment agencies, many of which promise exaggerated salaries or job descriptions that differ greatly from what the workers end up doing.

    Dubai Development Property Real Estate (35 of 40)

    The "kafala," or visa sponsorship, system has been singled out as perpetuating some of the worst abuse, by Human Rights Watch. The system requires employers to sponsor employees' visas for a fee, which the employers frequently pass on to workers.

    Many workers are in debt to their employers for the cost of arranging their contracts, visa, and travel to Dubai, the New York Times found last year.

    Under the kafala system, if a worker tries to leave their job without permission, they can face fines, prison, or deportation. As a result, many have little legal recourse if they find themselves in a bad situation or one differing from what recruiters promised.

    "There is a huge dependence on migrant workers who have employment terms that are no different than indentured servitude," Sarah Leah Whitson, the director of the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch, an advocacy group that documents abuses of migrant workers, told The New York Times last year.

    "This is a system that's put in place to entrap workers."

    Dubai Development Property Real Estate (31 of 40)

    In recent years, Dubai's government and the UAE have appeared to work to fix the situation.

    Training sessions are now held regularly to educate workers on their rights and the UAE has adopted a system to ensure on-time salary payment.

    Last year, the country passed laws to establish working hours, paid sick leave, and stiff penalties for employers or recruitment agencies that fail to guarantee legal rights, use violence against workers, or fail to accurately convey the expected job description or salary to workers before bringing them to the country.

    While recent reports from Human Rights Watch and the United Nations acknowledged improvements, both said labor abuses continue. HRW said the reform laws still allowed employers to charge workers the recruitment fees that can put them in debt.

    Most of the workers come of their own accord, out of a serious need to make money because their home countries are impoverished. That makes it all the more tragic that the existing system seems set up to exploit them.

    The knowledge of how migrant workers have suffered to make Dubai's vast constructed reality — which is more or less set up to fulfill a person's every whim, if you have the money to pay for it — makes it hard to recommend it as a place to put your tourist dollars.

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: History of the Christmas tree: Evergreens were sacred to ancient Egyptians. Then people started decorating them.

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    This is a preview of The Reverse Logistics Report from Business Insider Intelligence. Current subscribers can read the report here.


    With e-commerce becoming a lucrative shopping channel, retailers and their logistics partners have been primarily focused on how to quickly move goods through the supply chain and into the hands of consumers — a process commonly referred to as forward logistics. However, the opportunities presented by the growing popularity of e-commerce also come with a challenging, multibillion-dollar downside: returns.

    Return rates for e-commerce purchases are between 25% and 30%, compared with just 9% for in-store purchases. Turning reverse logistics — the process of returning goods from end users back to their origins to either recapture value or properly dispose of material — into a costly and high-stakes matter for retailers.

    Not only are retailers experiencing more returns as a result of e-commerce growth, but consumer expectations also demand that retailers provide a seamless process. In fact, 92% of consumers agree that they are more likely to shop at a store again if it offers a hassle-free return policy (e.g. free return shipping labels). Some consumers even place large orders with the intention of returning certain items. 

    And e-commerce sales are only going up from here, exacerbating the issue and making retailers' need for help more dire. However, for logistics firms that can offer cost-effective reverse logistics solutions, this has opened up a significant opportunity to capture a share of rapidly growing e-commerce logistics costs in the US, which hit $117 billion last year, according to Armstrong & Associates, Inc. estimates. 

    InThe Reverse Logistics Report, Business Insider Intelligence examines what makes reverse logistics so much more challenging than forward logistics, explores the trends that have driven retailers to finally improve the way in which returns move through their supply chains, and highlights how logistics firms can act to win over retailers' return dollars.

    Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

    • E-commerce is now a core shopping channel for retailers, and it's still growing. US e-commerce sales are set to increase at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14% between 2018 and 2023, surpassing $1 trillion in sales, according to Business Insider Intelligence estimates.
    • Booming e-commerce sales have driven product returns through the roof. Business Insider Intelligence estimates that US e-commerce returns will increase at a CAGR of 19% between 2018 and 2023, surpassing $300 million dollars. 
    • Consumers have high expectations about how returns are handled, and retailers are struggling to find cost-effective ways to meet their demands. Sixty-four percent of shoppers stated they would be hesitant to shop at a retailer ever again if they found issues with the returns process. And retailers don't have the expertise to effectively keep up with how demanding consumers are about returns — 44% of retailers said their margins were negatively impacted by handling and packaging returns, for example.
    • Logistics firms are well positioned to solve — and profit from — returns. These companies can take advantage of their scale and expertise to solve pain points retailers commonly experience as goods move through the reverse supply chain. 
    • Reverse logistics solutions themselves present a lucrative opportunity — but they're also appealing in the potential inroads they offer to supply chain management. The global third-party logistics market is estimated to be valued at $865 billion in 2018, according to Bekryl. 

    In full, the report:

    • Explores the difficulties found in the reverse logistics process.
    • Highlights the reasons why reverse logistics needs to be a key focus of any retailer's operations. 
    • Identifies the specific trends that are leading to growth in reverse logistics, including changes in shopping habits, consumer expectations, and regulatory pressures
    • Pinpoints where along the reverse supply chain logistics firms have opportunities to attract retail partners by offering unique and helpful solutions. 
    • Outlines strategies that logistics firms can employ to capture a piece of this growing multibillion-dollar market.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    sonos alexa gifts

    The desire for speed and convenience seems to be hardwired into human behavior. The less energy we expend to accomplish our tasks, the better — that's why voice assistants like Amazon's Alexa are thriving right now.

    Alexa is primarily known for living inside Amazon devices like the Echo Dot, but it turns out you don't actually have to own an Echo speaker to take advantage of Alexa's capabilities. Many everyday devices like headphones and car dash cams have Alexa built in, allowing you to do things you thought you could only accomplish with an Echo speaker. 

    These gifts are all perfect for anyone who loves the convenience of Alexa and is always tinkering around to create the most seamless smart home setup. 

    Looking for more gift ideas? Check out all of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides for 2018 here.

    SEE ALSO: All of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides, in one place

    Sonos One

    Sonos One Smart Speaker, $179, available at Amazon

    If your main priority is a good music listening experience, splurge for this smart speaker, which fills your room with clear, rich sound. You can use Alexa to play and control your music without ever lifting a finger, and you can also control the other smart home devices in your home. 


    Portal from Facebook

    Portal from Facebook, $149.99, available at Amazon

    Frequent Facebook users should consider Portal, the Alexa-enabled device that keeps them connected to their friends and family. It has a smart camera for video chatting and taking photos that adjusts and widens the camera view automatically as you move in and out of the frame, and a Super Frame feature that displays Facebook photos, videos, and birthday reminders. 


    Bose QuietComfort Wireless Headphones

    Bose QuietComfort 35 (Series II) Wireless Headphones, $349, available at Amazon

    These headphones cut out surrounding noise so you can focus completely on the music and your task. Ask Alexa to turn down the volume, add to your to-do list, and tell you about tomorrow's weather without skipping a beat. 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    truck driver

    • There aren't many female truck drivers
    • Companies rarely target women in their recruiting practices.
    • However, data suggests that women are safer truck drivers, and they could help lessen the truck driver shortage.


    There's something unusual about Peoria, Arizona-based Roadmaster Group: 37% of the truck drivers are women. Industrywide, only 6% of truckers are women.

    It's something of a mission for Vonda Cooper, the operations director at Roadmaster, to get more women into truck driving. "There's great opportunity for advancement for women in this field," she told Business Insider.

    And data suggests it's wise for fleets to boost their number of female drivers, too. Fleet management solutions company Omnitracs found that female truck drivers get into fewer preventable accidents than men and generally drive more cautiously. They also are less likely to quit driving, which is particularly critical as turnover rates among truck drivers reach 95%.

    Every 100 female drivers get into 3.41 preventable accidents, compared to a rate of 3.44 accidents among every 100 male drivers. Omnitracs data also found that women are less likely than men to get warnings while driving like "excessive overspeed,""forward collision warning,""hard breaking," and other signals that can lead to an accident.

    "In general, women are slightly more cautious drivers than men," LaurenDomnick, chief data scientist at Omnitracs, told Business Insider. "If you extrapolate that to the big rig, we've seen that women are not as as aggressive drivers on the road as their male counterparts."

    Along with the safety points, women drivers tend to rack up more miles than men. That's likely because they often drive in teams and can switch with their partner when one of them reaches the government-limit of driving, Domnick said. 

    She said team drivers of women or husband-wife duos are a very underutilized resource in the trucking industry.

    Trucking companies have gone all in on recruitment efforts in the face of a shortage of 51,000 drivers. Sign-on bonuses for flatbed drivers have jumped from $1,500 in 2017 Q2 to $6,000 in 2018 Q2. One trucking company reported that bonuses of $20,000 still haven't lured in quality, new hires

    One way trucking companies could curb that shortage, Domnick said, is to target women in their recruiting efforts — something that very few of them do. "It's something that companies just don't think about as much as they should," Domnick said. 

    SEE ALSO: Trucking companies are offering their drivers bonuses as high as $20,000 — but they say it's still not enough to fix the truck driver shortage

    DON'T MISS: A day in the life of a NYC Coca-Cola delivery truck driver, who gets to work at 4 a.m. and spends his morning pushing 175-pound carts full of bottles through Penn Station

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Meet the 24-year-old who's the youngest female broker in the New York Stock Exchange

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    • The Department of Justice said on Dec. 14 that it is suing subsidaries of YRC Worldwide for allegedly overcharging the Department of Defense.
    • This follows a nine-year-long investigation on YRC's charging practices.
    • YRC has denied the charges.


    The Department of Justice said on Dec. 14 that it is suing subsidiaries of YRC Worldwide, the fifth-largest trucking company in the US. 

    The subsidiaries, including YRC Freight, Roadway, and Yellow, allegedly overcharged the Department of Defense "by millions of dollars" for more than seven years, the DOJ said

    Following the announcement, YRC's shares sank to a 52-week low, dropping 20% on Friday.

    According to the DOJ, YRC did this by estimating the weight of a shipment for the DoD, weighing the shipment, and then supressing the results if the shipment was lighter than estimated. Then, YRC allegedly charged the inflated rate for the shipment. This all occured prior to 2013, YRC said.

    Read more:An Arkansas court quietly ruled that truck drivers need to be paid minimum wage even when they're not driving on the job — here's what it means for drivers around the US

    Nine years ago, the government began investigating YRC's charging practices after a whistleblower James Hannum, who previously worked at YRC, filed a case. The DOJ says YRC "made false statements to the government" during the  investigation.

    YRC has countered that these allegations are false. 

    "These claims are totally without merit," said Jim Fry, YRC Worldwide General Counsel, in a statement yesterday. "We have made every effort over nearly a decade to address the government’s questions. We are confident that the evidence will demonstrate YRC Freight acted consistently with our contract and all applicable guidelines. We look forward to continuing to provide essential and valuable logistics services to the US government and all our customers."

    Defense contracts represent less than 1% of YRC Freight's annual revenue, the company added.

    US Attorney James P. Kennedy Jr. for the Western District of New York said in a statement (emphasis added):

    When a federal agency, such as the Department of Defense, enters into a service contract with a private corporation or company, the expectation is that the agreement will be administered in good faith. In this case, YRC did not legally fulfill its agreed upon obligations to the Defense Department, choosing instead to line its pockets with tax payer’s dollars. Such actions are fraudulent and illegal. This case should serve as a warning to any organization that enters into a contract with the federal government — if you try to rip us off, be prepared to pay a heavy price.

    And indeed, it's not the first time the DOJ has brought charges against a defense contractor in the shipping industry this year.

    Inchcape Shipping Services, previously a Navy contractor, paid the DOJ $20 million in May after it allegedly overbilled the federal government. Inchcape, which is owned by a United Emirates investment firm, had federal contracts worth more than $240 million to service ports in Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas. 

    "Fraud is an abuse of the system that siphons resources away from the American warfighter,"said Jeremy Gauthier, Special Agent in Charge of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service’s Washington D.C. field office, following the Inchcape settlement. "NCIS will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to hold responsible those who would put personal gain above corporate integrity."

    SEE ALSO: Companies will hire 700,000 seasonal employees this year. At UPS, some of them are bound for the C-suite.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    • High tech, at-home fitness companies are gaining ground and putting traditional players under pressure. 
    • Peloton, which is widely considered to be a pioneer of the home fitness industry, was valued at $4 billion in August after raising an additional $550 million in venture funding. 
    • These are some of the most exciting at-home fitness innovations to come out over the past year. 

    America is exercising more than ever, but people are becoming lazier when it comes to where they do it. 

    Home fitness has become one of the biggest trends of 2018, as a series of high-tech fitness companies have swooped in to create more advanced ways to replicate a boutique class-style workout from home. 

    According to insights firm Alpha, the home fitness equipment market is currently worth $14 billion and is gaining more traction among traditional gym-goers. Of the people it surveyed, 54% said they would be interested in buying an at-home fitness system, Fast Company reported earlier this year. 

    By comparison, the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) estimated that 60.9 million Americans have a gym membership, which generates $30 billion in revenue annually. 

    Peloton, which is widely considered to be a pioneer of the industry, was valued at $4 billion in August after raising a further $550 million in venture funding.

    Recent data released by analytics firm Second Measure, which tracks the credit and debit purchases from a pool of four million US customers, showed that Peloton is increasingly stealing market share from the traditional market leaders. According to the report, during the third quarter of 2018 Peloton overtook SoulCycle for the first time ever, drawing in 4% more customers, though SoulCycle strongly denied this analysis in a statement to Business Insider this week. 

    These are some of the most exciting at-home fitness innovations to come out over the past year:

    SEE ALSO: Peloton is accusing Flywheel of copying its hugely popular at-home fitness bike

    Peloton Tread

    Peloton is best known for its wildly successful exercise bike, which paved the way for other high-tech at-home fitness options. 

    Its new product — the $3,995 treadmill — launched this fall and works in a similar way to its indoor bike. It has an HD touchscreen that streams thousands of live and on-demand classes, which users can join from home.

    Classes cost $39 a month and include high-intensity boot-camp routines, running drills, and mat work. 

    When Business Insider trialed the treadmill in February, we were impressed by the style and range of classes but were overwhelmed by the size of the machine. 

    Read more:We tried the new $4,000 treadmill from the billion-dollar startup that could be 'the Apple of fitness' — here's the verdict


    New York-based startup Mirror launched its $1,500 interactive mirror in September

    The machine looks just like a standard mirror but has an LCD screen that streams live and on-demand workout classes into your home. These classes cost $39 per month.

    Customers connect to the Mirror using a Bluetooth heart rate monitor or an Apple Watch.

    Read more:We tested the $1,500 mirror that streams exercise classes into your home and saw how it could upend the fitness world

    Flywheel — FLY Anywhere

    Boutique indoor cycling studio Flywheel made the move into home fitness in November 2017 with the launch of its FLY Anywhere bike.

    The bike starts at $1,699 and functions in a similar way to Peloton's version: it allows users to stream on-demand and live classes from their home. The main difference is that customers have the option to stream classes from their own device or pay extra to have a screen included on the bike itself.

    In September, Peloton filed a lawsuit against Flywheel accusing the bike of being a copycat version of its proprietary bike.

    Read more:Peloton is accusing Flywheel of copying its hugely popular at-home fitness bike

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    • House flipping isn't all reality TV makes it out to be.
    • Flipping houses can be rewarding and a good investment, but you should be prepared for unexpected problems, budget increases, time-inducing mistakes, a longer renovation timeline, and issues selling on the market.
    • Here's what house flipping is really like, according to those who've done it.

    "Flip or Flop"— it's not just the name of one of HGTV's most popular home-improvement shows but the reality of house flipping.

    Buying a home, renovating it, and reselling it can be a hit or a miss. If it's the latter, you best be prepared for a financial hit.

    But that's not preventing people from flipping houses. American homeowners flipped 217,000 single-family homes or condos in 2017, the most in 11 years, reported Ronda Kaysen of The New York Times, citing real estate data company ATTOM Data Solutions.

    But flipping houses isn't as easy as reality TV makes it out to be — or as quick. We talked to several people who have been through the process of flipping a house more than once, and many said the real-life timeline of house flipping is longer than depicted. The consensus? You need to be prepared for unforeseen circumstances, especially going over budget. 

    You're also bound to learn the hard way from mistakes. One house flipper spent a grueling amount of time scraping wallpaper off her kitchen, while another didn't check how laminate flooring fit together before purchasing it, resulting in complications when it came to laying it down. 

    And then there's the housing market. Sometimes, a flipped house will take longer to sell or won't sell for as much as you anticipated, decreasing your profit.

    But that's not to say house flipping can't be rewarding — or a good investment — especially if you love doing it.

    Here's what house flipping is really like, according to house flippers themselves.

    SEE ALSO: Here's what living in a tiny house is really like, according to people who traded their homes for minimalism

    DON'T MISS: What a $250,000 home looks like in the biggest city in every state

    House flipping involves buying an investment home, renovating it, and reselling it quickly to make a profit.

    Instagram Embed:
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    You can make serious money if all goes well, but it's not a surefire way to get rich. There are a lot of details to house flipping that can get overlooked.

    Instagram Embed:
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    In fact, house flipping isn't what HGTV makes it out to be. Here's what it's really like, according to those who've done it.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Trump cabinet resignations_12.08.18

    President Donald Trump announced on Dec. 15 that his secretary of interior Ryan Zinke would leave his job following a series of ethics investigations.

    The administration has been rocked by high-profile departures — including Reince Priebus as chief of staff and James Comey as FBI director — since Trump took office in January 2017.

    Here are all the top-level people who've either been fired or resigned from the administration, and why they left.

    SEE ALSO: Trump's staff turnover is higher than any administration in modern history

    DON'T MISS: MEET THE CABINET: Here's who Trump has appointed to senior leadership positions

    Ryan Zinke

    After initial reports emerged on Dec. 15 that interior secretary Ryan Zinke would leave the White House, President Donald Trump tweeted out the news, writing, "Secretary of the Interior @RyanZinke will be leaving the Administration at the end of the year after having served for a period of almost two years. Ryan has accomplished much during his tenure and I want to thank him for his service to our Nation."

    Zinke was under numerous ethics investigations at the time of his departure. By the time it was announced that he was leaving he had been the subject of 15 investigations.

    During his tenure as inerior secretary, Zinke became notorious for questionable expenditures. One report alleged that he spent thousands on a helicopter ride bringing him to a location where he would ride horses with Vice President Mike Pence.

    John Kelly

    President Donald Trump announced to reporters on Dec. 8 that his chief of staff John Kelly will leave "at the end of the year" and he plans to name his replacement in the next day or two.

    Tensions brewed between Kelly, a former Marine Corps general, and Trump for months, with CNN reporting the day before Trump's announcement that their relationship had deteriorated to the point where they stopped speaking altogether. 

    Kelly's replacement is rumored to be Nick Ayers, Vice President Mike Pence's current chief of staff and a longtime Republican operative. 


    Jeff Sessions

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions submitted his resignation on November 7 after nearly two years in the position, with Trump announcing that Matthew Whitaker, Sessions' Chief of Staff, would serve as acting attorney general until he nominates a permanent replacement.

    Trump frequently criticized Sessions in harsh terms over Sessions' recusal from overseeing the special counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian election interference and whether the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow.

    "You know, the only reason I gave him the job is because I felt loyalty," Trump told Fox News' Ainsley Earhardt in an August interview. "He was an original supporter." Trump lamented that he "put in an attorney general that never took control of the Justice Department."

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    general stanley mcchrystal

    • As head of Joint Special Operations Command in Iraq, now-retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal led the effort to take out Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
    • Al-Zarqawi, as the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, sought to ignite a sectarian conflict in the country after the US invasion.
    • In tracking down and killing al-Zarqawi, however, McChrystal came to respect his ability to lead the militants he commanded.

    Before Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was blotted out by a US airstrike on June 7, 2006, he made an impression, especially on Stanley McChrystal, who, as a lieutenant general in charge of US Joint Special Operations Command, led the effort to take out the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq.

    Al-Zarqawi's zealotry made him a lodestar for an extremist movement that still roils Iraq and the region, McChrystal said on a recent episode of Business Insider's "This Is Success" podcast.

    "For about two and a half years, we fought a bitter fight against this guy. And Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had come from a tough town in Jordan, very little education, got involved in crime and things like that in his youth," said McChrystal, who profiled al-Zarqawi in his most recent book, "Leaders."

    GettyImages 71156660

    "But then, what happened was he realized that if he showed self-discipline to exhibit the conviction of his Islamic beliefs — if he did that overtly, if he became a zealot — other people were attracted to him," McChrystal added. "He was living up to what he said and was demanding that they do."

    Arriving in Iraq in 2003 to lead a US Joint Special Operations Task Force, McChrystal recognized the strengths of Al Qaeda in Iraq and the mismatch the group presented for the US military's traditional conception of its enemies.

    "By habit, we started mapping the organization in a traditional military structure, with tiers and rows. At the top was Zarqawi, below him a cascade of lieutenants and foot soldiers," McChrystal wrote in 2011, a year after retiring. "But the closer we looked, the more the model didn't hold."

    Stanley McChrystal Kandahar Afghanistan

    AQI's network was characterized by the free flow of information and resources.

    Tactics changed quickly across broad swaths of Iraq. It became clear that Al Qaeda in Iraq was less a hierarchical fighting network than "a constellation of fighters" organized by relationships and reputations.

    At the center was al-Zarqawi.

    "When he became the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, he led the same way. He wore all black [and] looked like a terrorist leader," McChrystal told Business Insider correspondent Richard Feloni.

    In 2004, al-Zarqawi beheaded American contractor Nicholas Berg, McChrystal said.

    Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Al Qaeda machine gun

    That was "a gruesome thing to do," he added, but it served as a message that "'our cause is so important, I'm willing to do something that we all know is horrific.'"

    "He was able to bring forth people to follow his very extreme part of Islam when most of them really didn't," McChrystal said. "The Iraqi Sunni population were not naturally adherents to Al Qaeda, but yet he was able to produce such a sense of leadership and zealous beliefs that they followed. He became the godfather of ISIS."

    In summer 2005, McChrystal was recalled to the White House to brief the National Security Council on al-Zarqawi.

    "Are you going to get him?" President George W. Bush asked McChrystal.

    "We will, Mr. President," McChrystal replied. "There is no doubt in my mind."

    Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Iraq airstrike

    As US forces whittled away the middle ranks of al-Zarqawi's organization, which he had built into semiautonomous cells, the Al Qaeda in Iraq leader was seeking to ignite a sectarian war, stoking violence between Sunnis and Shiites.

    By spring 2006, al-Zarqawi was a bigger priority for JSOC than Al Qaeda cofounders Osama bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahiri, the latter of whom is still alive.

    By May that year, JSOC had mapped out al-Zarqawi's organization around Baghdad, including his spiritual adviser, with whom he met frequently.

    On June 7, 2006, a drone tracked the adviser to a house in Hibhib, a village roughly 12 miles from McChrystal's own headquarters, where US personnel watched intently as a man dressed black walked out and strolled through the driveway.

    Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Iraq

    Just after 6 p.m., an F-16 dropped a 500-pound laser-guided bomb on the house, following it with another less than two minutes later.

    Less than 20 minutes after that, US Army Delta Force operators arrived at the demolished house to find Iraqi police loading a still-alive al-Zarqawi into an ambulance. They watched him die.

    "We didn't just depose him. We killed him," McChrystal told Feloni. "I stood over his body right after we killed him."

    McChrystal expressed no admiration for al-Zarqawi's methods — "in many ways, he was a psychopath," he said — but he acknowledged al-Zarqawi's strengths as a leader.

    "Your first desire is to demonize him, but you know the reality is I had to respect him. He led very effectively," McChrystal said.

    Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Times Square New York Al Qaeda

    "Initially you just say we're just going to get this guy, and then after a while you watch him lead, and you realize not only is he a worthy opponent, he's making me better, [and] you're also going after someone who truly believes," he added.

    McChrystal held his position in Iraq until 2008 and was credited with making JSOC more agile and more lethal, evincing"an encyclopedic, even obsessive, knowledge about the lives of terrorists" and pushing his command to kill as many of them as possible.

    He took over command of NATO forces in Afghanistan in 2009, but his tenure was short-lived.

    He resigned in the summer of 2010, after the publication of a Rolling Stone article in which his aides were quoted disparaging US officials, including Vice President Joe Biden.

    Stanley McChrystal Charles Duhigg

    The killing of al-Zarqawi looms large among McChrystal's accomplishments, though he said that operation was reflective of how he learned to decentralize responsibility rather than indicative of his martial prowess.

    "The myth is the counterterrorist who killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi — went out, wrestled him to the ground, bare to the waist, and that's total BS," McChrystal told Feloni, when asked how he would describe his own biography.

    "At times, do I like the myth, because people go, 'Wow, look at him'?" he said. "Yeah, it's kind of cool, and you never want to go, 'no, that's not true.' But it's not true."

    "The reality is that I built the team" that took out al-Zarqawi, he added. "Ultimately I'm more proud of enabling the team than I would be of wrestling [al-Zarqawi] to his death."

    SEE ALSO: Here's how the US pulled off a daring mission to take out the mastermind of the attack on Pearl Harbor

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    If you're looking to make a big difference with a gift, shopping for a college student is a good place to begin. They have classes, internships, second jobs, social lives, and relationships to manage, and they probably have far less money to support themselves than they wish they did.

    Useful, thoughtful gifts can make a disproportionate difference in their quality of life — especially when it's something they'll both use frequently and couldn't afford on their own.

    As a recent college graduate, I can tell you from experience that the list below is a really good place to start your shopping.

    Below are 36 of the best gifts for college students:

    SEE ALSO: All of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides, in one place

    DON'T MISS: The 18 best subscription boxes you can gift from Amazon this holiday season

    Popular wireless over-ear headphones for quality noise-canceling during studying, traveling, and working out

    Beats by Dre Wireless Solo3 Headphones, available at Best Buy and Amazon, $239.95

    If there's one thing every college student needs, it's good wireless headphones. They'll use them at the gym, at the library, and commuting to class and internships. This pair has great sound, cushioned ear cups, and 40 hours of battery life so they have one less thing to think about. And if they let the battery run out, a five-minute charge is the equivalent to three hours of play time.

    If they like to study in public spaces, you can't go wrong with Bose's pricey but unbeatable QuietComfort headphones for noise-cancellation. If they're a runner and need something lightweight and in-ear, you should opt for Jaybird RUN

    An Amazon Echo Dot for hands-free calls, alarms, music, updates on the weather, recipes, and more

    Echo Dot (3rd Generation), available on Amazon, $29.99

    The Amazon Echo Dot is the most popular Amazon device for a reason — it's compact and has all the capabilities of Alexa (weather updates, recipes, music, news), which is the main reason most people buy an Echo device. The newest version — the third generation — has a speaker that's 70% louder than the second, and comes in a fabric design that better matches home decor. Find an Insider Picks comparison of the Echo devices for fast reference here


    An inexpensive way for them to get the iced coffee they love at home

    The Takeya Cold Brew Maker is an inexpensive, easy way to make cold brew from home — something that can save them hundreds of dollars per year. Find a full review here.

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    movies streaming

    Consumers having been “cutting the cord,” or canceling their pay-TV subscriptions in favor of internet-delivered alternatives, for years now, but the trend reached new heights in 2017. 

    There’s little reason to believe that this phenomenon will slow down any time soon either, so pay-tv providers will have to find new ways to generate revenue as their primary source continues to erode. 

    One of the most prominent ways media companies are recuperating cord-cutting losses is by launching their own direct-to-consumer streaming services. 

    But what makes for a successful streaming video service? 

    The Business Insider Intelligence Digital Media research team has written a note breaking down the evolving landscape of streaming video on-demand (SVOD). The note looks at which characteristics consumers care about most in a streaming service and which are just "nice to have." 

    To get your FREE copy, click here.

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    This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here. Current subscribers can read the report here

    If we're living through a “retail apocalypse” that spells doom for brick-and-mortar retail, as many have suggested, why are e-commerce leaders like Amazon, Alibaba, and so focused on building their own brick-and-mortar networks?

    US Consumers Who Made an Impulse Buy Due to Personalization in the Past 90 Days

    It's because they want to revitalize physical stores by introducing features associated with online shopping like personalization — and a whopping 65% of consumers said personalization and promotions are most important to their shopping experiences, according to a report from Oracle cited by Chain Store Age.

    Brick-and-mortar retailers have the opportunity to reap the same benefits of personalization that e-tailers do, like repeat visits and impulse purchases, but they need to invest in the right technologies and techniques to do so because they currently don’t meet shoppers’ expectations. For example, 41% of consumers expect sales associates to know about their previous purchases, but just 19% have experienced this, according to a report from Segment.

    In this report, Business Insider Intelligence analyzes how physical retail’s personalization is being outperformed by e-commerce’s, and examines the value personalization holds for brick-and-mortar in particular. We also look at what techniques and technologies are available to help retailers identify and track consumers in-store, and how they can be used to bolster their personalization capabilities. Finally, we examine the different channels through which retailers can reach consumers with their personalized offerings in-store.

    The companies mentioned in this report are: Amazon, Alibaba,, Intel, Mastercard, Target, Velocity Worldwide, RetailMeNot, b8ta, Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Sitecore, Oak Labs, Calabrio, and Alegion.

    Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

    • Consumers say that a personalized shopping experience can inspire loyalty and increases in spending.
    • But brick-and-mortar retailers aren't meeting consumers’ in-store personalization expectations.
    • The nature of online shopping gives e-commerce the upper hand when it comes to personalization.
    • Physical retailers can close the gap in personalization by identifying consumers when they enter, tracking them throughout their journey, and then using that information to inform individualized offerings.
    • To make the most of personalized offerings, retailers must consider how content is being presented to consumers in-store, and what the strengths of each channel are.
    • If physical retailers fail to improve their in-store personalization, they risk losing sales and market share to e-commerce companies, both online and in-store.

    In full, the report:

    • Identifies the values of personalization to physical retailers.
    • Details the reasons e-tailers currently offer better personalization than brick-and-mortar stores.
    • Outlines the technologies and processes that can bolster in-store personalization.
    • Discusses how retailers can best present personalized offerings in-store.

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