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The latest news from Business Insider

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    uighur

    • McKinsey & Company held a lavish corporate retreat in Kashgar, about four miles from where thousands of Muslim Chinese are locked up in an internment camp, the New York Times reported on Saturday.
    • The retreat highlighted McKinsey's work with China, as consultants enjoyed bonfires, camel rides, and red carpets. 
    • This anecdote speaks to a troubling trend at McKinsey — engaging in work with authoritarian leaders around the globe, even as the consulting firm professes to "make a positive difference."

    Up to one million Chinese citizens have been allegedly locked up in the western region of Xinjiang — a remote, Muslim-majority Chinese province populated by the Uighur ethnic minority.

    Reports of a massive police state that China has launched in Xinjiang has horrified people around the world, who have demanded China cease its surveillance, imprisonment, and forced re-education of Chinese Muslims. The United Nations has demanded that China release the imprisoned citizens.

    But the people at McKinsey & Company's recent retreat in Kashgar, a Xinjiang city, didn't seem to mind. A report from The New York Times revealed on Saturday that McKinsey held a corporate retreat in Kashgar about four miles from an internment camp that holds thousands of Uighurs.

    xinjiang uighur man police

    The anecdote speaks to a larger trend at McKinsey, wrote New York Times reporters Walt Bogdanich and Michael Forsythe:

    At a time when democracies and their basic values are increasingly under attack, the iconic American company has helped raise the stature of authoritarian and corrupt governments across the globe, sometimes in ways that counter American interests.

    Indeed, at the Kashgar retreat, McKinsey consultants spent their time discussing their work with state-owned Chinese firms, as well as riding camels and going to lavish bonfires, the Times reported. They spent their time in tents in the Kashgar desert that were linked by red carpets. And the consultants documented the "Disney-like" experience on Instagram, according to The New York Times.

    The decision to do business with state-owned firms and hold a sumptuous retreat four miles from an internment camp enforcing Islamophobic policies by the Chinese government stands in contrast with what McKinsey alleges to be its mission and purpose in the world. The second "value" listed on its website is "observe high ethical standards."

    The Times report also detailed McKinsey's business deals with authoritarian figures in the Ukraine, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Malaysia. 

    "Since 1926, McKinsey has sought to make a positive difference to the businesses and communities in which our people live and work," the company said in a statement to the Times.

    "Like many other major corporations including our competitors, we seek to navigate a changing geopolitical environment, but we do not support or engage in political activities," the company added.

    Read the entire New York Times report on McKinsey here

    SEE ALSO: Jailing Muslims, burning Bibles, and forcing monks to wave the national flag: How Xi Jinping is attacking religion in China

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Why Harvard scientists think this interstellar object might be an alien spacecraft


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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.

    driftaway coffee gifts mother's dayTeachers form the backbone of our educational system. They teach us everything we need to know in and beyond the classroom, and with endless enthusiasm, patience, and compassion along the way.

    As the year winds down, it's only proper to show them some love and appreciation. Teaching any age group — kids, teens, adults — is a difficult job that most of us can only attempt to understand. So, as you say goodbye before winter break, make sure to give your teacher the thanks they deserve. 

    They have more than enough mugs in their cabinet by now that you probably shouldn't default to giving them one, no matter how witty the slogan on it is. Instead, give them one of these 25 thoughtful and useful gifts. If you're not already one of their favorite students, you surely will be after they receive something from this list.

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

    A fragrant candle

    Gift an Otherland Candle, $36

    These sophisticated coconut and soy wax candles come in scents ranging from refreshing Canopy (fig, ivy greens, mint) to rich Chandelier (champagne, saffron, leather). The beautiful look, delightful scents, and personalized matchbox make this candle gifting experience special

     



    A detailed poster of the opening lines from famous novels

    Gift the Pop Chart Lab 'Diagrammatical Dissertation on Opening Lines of Notable Novels', $30

    English and grammar teachers will appreciate this chart diagramming the opening lines from 25 famous works of fiction. After admiring the partitioned, color-coded picto-grammatical representations, they'll want to read the books all over again. 

     



    A portable tea set

    Gift the Zens Mobile Moon Portable Tea Set, $49.99

    Don't just give them the tea infuser. Give them the cups and a handy carrying case, too, so they can enjoy a hot cup at work or at home. The glass teapot has an integrated infuser plus two indentations for easy holding, and the tea cups are double-walled and resistant to high temperatures. All the pieces fit snugly in the eye-catching hardshell case so they can take their favorite tea from home to school and beyond. 



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Global VR Headset

    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.

    The virtual reality (VR) market is expected to rally in 2018 after seeing slow growth from 2016 to 2017. The uptick will be largely catalyzed by the emergence of the newest headset form factor, stand-alone VR headsets, which address some of the biggest pain points that have prohibited mainstream consumers from adopting VR.

    This new form factor is more affordable than cost-prohibitive high-end headsets and more capable than its smartphone-powered counterparts. Additionally, it features in-unit processing that frees the VR headset from wires. The first major stand-alone headset, the Vive Focus from HTC, was launched in January of this year, and more from other major companies like Oculus and Google are expected to follow over the next six months. 

    In a new report, Business Insider Intelligence lays out where the VR market is and forecasts how it will grow over the next five years. We dissect the various hardware categories and the unique strengths and opportunities of each, and identify how they will gain traction at different points of the market’s evolution. Finally, we examine various components impacting consumer adoption.

    Here are some of the key takeaways:

    • Business Insider Intelligence forecasts shipments of all VR headsets to grow 69% year-over-year (YoY) to reach 13.5 million in 2018. Powering that growth is the stand-alone VR headset category, which is expected to account for 30% of total headsets shipped in the year ahead. 
    • The VR hardware market is volatile because getting a device right is a balancing act. On one hand, the price point needs to be affordable for most consumers, and on the other, the experience has to be distinctive and immersive enough to convince a consumer to strap a visor to their face on a regular basis. 
    • While only a handful of stand-alone VR headsets will hit the market in 2018, they mark the biggest step toward mainstream adoption of consumer-oriented VR headsets by making the technology more accessible for the average consumer. 
    • Declining price points, coupled with high-quality headsets and the introduction of a game-changing app, are crucial for the VR industry to achieve before VR can really gain traction on a global scale.

    In full, the report:

    • Forecasts the growth projections and shipment expectations of the global VR headset market, and breaks it up by the major headset categories.
    • Explores the four major segments in the current VR hardware market, defined by the hardware needed to power the experience — stand-alone, smartphone-powered, PC-powered, and game console-powered VR.
    • Identifies the key players shaping the burgeoning stand-alone VR headset segment.
    • Discusses the biggest challenges to VR development and adoption.

    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

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    pokemon go trainer battles

    • After two and a half years, Pokémon Go players finally have the ability to battle each other, thanks to a long-awaited new update.
    • The update literally changes the game: It introduces a revamped battle system that lets Pokémon learn a third attack, introducing a whole new layer of strategy. 
    • The fights themselves let trainers take a team of three Pokémon into battle, with otherwise hard-to-find items as a possible prize for the victor.
    • To start a battle, you'll generally need to be close enough to your would-be opponent to scan a QR code on their phone — a mechanic designed to encourage real-world interaction.
    • Here's how it all works.

    Developer Niantic has finally given Pokémon Go players the ability to battle their fellow Pokémon trainers — a feature that's been in hot demand since the game first launched in the summer of 2016. 

    Starting late Wednesday evening, the update started going out to Pokémon Go players. As is usually Niantic's way, it started going out to high-level players first, but it's spreading fast. So if you don't see the option right away, just give it a little bit and try again to see if it's reached you. 

    It's already clear that the addition of player-versus-player (PvP) battles is slated to completely change the game. And I mean that literally: Among many other things, the trainer battle update adds the ability for your Pokémon to learn a third attack, beyond the two that they already know. The game's battle system itself is getting tweaked slightly, such that you're rewarded for tapping rhythmically to charge up certain attacks in combat.

    Much of it builds on the game's new social features, which were introduced a few months ago alongside the also-much-requested Pokémon trading feature. While you can battle strangers, there are a few advantages to fighting your friends. 

    Here's how Pokémon Go trainer battles will work:

    SEE ALSO: This is how Pokémon trading works in Pokémon Go

    The first thing you gotta know is that Pokémon Go battling is sorted into leagues. When you challenge another trainer, you decide ahead of time which league's rules you'll fight under.



    Different leagues have different caps on the strength of the Pokémon you can use to battle. The highest-level league, the Master League, takes off (almost) all the limits: You can use any Pokémon, at any level, including so-called Legendaries.

    The one caveat are that you can't use Ditto or Shedinja, two weird cases in the larger Pokémon canon, in any kind of player-versus-player battles, including Master League. 



    If you want to battle another trainer, you'll use your phone's camera to scan their unique QR code. You'll only be able to battle remotely with your Ultra Friends and Best Friends, as a perk for IRL besties.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    • At Amazon's annual cloud conference, AWS re:Invent, Business Insider sat down with Ed Sim, founder and managing partner of Boldstart Ventures, to talk about the hottest trends in enterprise startups.
    • Boldstart Ventures often writes the first check to early enterprise startups, and it was the first to invest in Greenplum, which became part of Pivotal Software.
    • Sim says that there's massive opportunity in "low code, no code," security and serverless applications.

    The next big trend in startups is … no code.

    That's what Ed Sim, founder and managing partner of Boldstart Ventures, says. Boldstart often writes the first check to seed enterprise startups. In fact, Boldstart was the first investor to invest in Greenplum, which became part of Pivotal Software.

    The job gives Sim a window into the latest industry trends, and he pointed to a recent "low code, no code" theme in which startups build programs and apps with little to no code. 

    There's also massive potential in cloud and security, Sim says. Enterprises are still in the early stages of moving their workloads to clouds, which means that there are tons of opportunities for cloud startups to dive into. And with constant attacks and vulnerabilities in software, security startups can help strike the balance between security and how fast developers can build a product.

    Here are three early trends that Sim is seeing.

    Low code, no code

    Startups in this space make developing easier for users.. For example, Manifold ties together the best cloud services into one space for users to easily search, and RapidAPI also organizes API's on one site.

    "At the end of the day, it's all about the developer," Sim told Business Insider. "You're going to win opportunities in the enterprise. Any startup leveraging that developer first trend is exciting."

    What's more, these startups make it easier for people to build applications, often without writing code. Twilio, which had a $1.2 billion IPO in 2016, was one of the seminal companies in the sector. And a growing number of startups are making waves in the space, including Airtable, which allows users to build databases by entering data onto a spreadsheet-like interface and using drag and drop.

    Another such company is Dark, currently a five person startup co-founded by Paul Biggar, one of the co-founders of the developer tool CircleCI. Dark promises that it can help people build applications in just an afternoon.

    "It's getting easier and easier for regular people to code," Sim said.

    "Security is going to get absolutely hot."

    "Security is going to get absolutely hot," Sim said. "Every time you think about security, you think about tradeoff in speed versus security."

    Observability startups are increasingly becoming key, Sim says. Observability is similar to monitoring, but they also help with alerting and analytics on how well a system works. Essentially, these startups monitor a system's performance to make sure everything is working.

    For example, a startup called Snyk, which Boldstart seeded, automates the process of finding and fixing vulnerabilities in open source software.

    Google engineer, servers

    "Not only are [developers] writing code and assembling code, but they're also putting it into production," Sim said. "Now there's all these vulnerabilities built in. Why not make developers security aware? That's going to become a really big thing next year."

    Another security trend Sim sees is chaos engineering, which means that engineers purposely break things in order to test for vulnerabilities and outages, before they happen. This was spearheaded by Netflix developers in 2010 when they created Chaos Monkey, but more startups like Gremlin have joined the space.

    Chaos engineering is similar to vaccinations, instead of injecting a virus or bacteria into your body to prevent diseases, engineers inject attacks into a system.

    "Companies like Gremlin are out there talking about how you pull the plug on the database or server," Sim said. "Is the system going to bounce back? Is it resilient? It's like injecting problems before it breaks."

    Going serverless

    Serverless is starting to become the norm for enterprises, with Amazon Web Services developing serverless databases like Timestream and Aurora.  Applications are run on the cloud instead, and companies can focus on building their application, rather than managing infrastructure.

    Read more:Wall Street says Amazon and VMware are teaming up to take down Microsoft in the cloud wars

    "All you have to worry about is building your application or back end service," Sim said. "It automatically scales. It gives you even more agility. That's the promise of serverless technology."

    As a result, there are now rising opportunities for startups to build tools to help enterprises support serverless applications, or applications built without servers and on the cloud instead.  One startup that Boldstart seeded, IOpipe, which does monitoring for serverless applications.

    SEE ALSO: Wall Street says Amazon and VMware are teaming up to take down Microsoft in the cloud wars

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Why Harvard scientists think this interstellar object might be an alien spacecraft


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    Mark Zuckerberg protest

    • Facebook has lost its crown as the best place to work in America, falling seven places down Glassdoor's 100 Best Places to Work list.
    • It is Facebook's lowest ranking in the survey since 2015, when it finished in 15th position.
    • A string of scandals has dented company morale, according to an internal survey obtained by The Wall Street Journal.
    • Despite the negative reviews, feedback on Glassdoor remains largely positive.

    Facebook has tumbled seven places on Glassdoor's list of the best places to work after a year of scandals, data breaches, and employee discontent.

    Glassdoor published its list of the 100 Best Places to Work in 2019 on Tuesday, which is based on ratings and reviews left by employees.

    Last year, Facebook topped the bill as the number one place to work, but now it has fallen to number seven, just behind LinkedIn. It is Facebook's lowest ranking in the survey since 2015, when it finished in 15th position.

    A series of scandals this year have impacted morale, according to the results of an internal company survey obtained by The Wall Street Journal.

    Back in 2017, 84% of the workforce "said they were optimistic about the company's future," a figure that has since dropped to just 52%. And 72% of employees previously said "Facebook was making the world better"— now it's 53%.

    Read more:Facebook employees react to the latest scandals: "Why does our company suck at having a moral compass"

    Glassdoor identified frequent complaints from employees, which included "poor work-life balance" and "long hours."

    One review from November, titled "Six months of strange tech cult," said the company displays a "complete lack of moral responsibility for the world." Another, also from November, lamented "the product is not technology, its [sic] the users."

    Under "advice to managers," one employee wrote: "Please get the company out of bad reputation slump... align business objectives with long-term strategy of connecting people and communities."

    But Facebook's overall ratings remain positive, with 96% of reviews saying they approve of CEO Mark Zuckerberg at time of writing. One reviewer described it as "Disneyland" for software engineers, and another wrote: "Don't believe all the negative press."

    SEE ALSO: The 29 best tech companies to work for in 2019, according to employees

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: USB-C was supposed to be a universal connector — but it still has a lot of problems


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    Mandy Ginsberg

    • When Mandy Ginsberg took over as CEO of Match Group she vowed to make sure the company was welcoming to women.
    • She knew she had to audit the company's payrolls to make sure that women were paid equally to men.
    • She hired an outside auditor and was so shocked when they told her that Match was paying women 100% equally that she made the auditor double check the results.
    • She now credits one of her long-held leadership practices on how to deal with employee pay.

    When Mandy Ginsberg took over as CEO of online dating juggernaut Match Group in mid-2017, she was determined to alter the perception of the industry as a "bro culture" world.

    And one step she made was to audit the salaries of her own workforce, which is now 1,500 people, to see if she was paying women and men equally for equal work.

    She was shocked to discover that at her company — the largest operator of dating apps with brands like Tinder, Match, Plenty of Fish and dozens of others — her female employees were 100% equally paid, according to the findings by a third-party auditor.

    Paying people equally for the work that they do, regardless of their gender, has been required by law since the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963. And yet women still earn 80 cents for every $1 that men earn, and are often underpaid even for equal work.

    Ginsberg didn't just want to give lip service to her internal audit. She hired outside auditor, Syndio, to examine the pay rates of her workforce which is 36% female. The firm didn't just look at job title but grouped employees by what their jobs entailed. If it found a difference in pay between genders, it looked at other non-gender factors such as tenure, education, years of experience to determine if that explained the gap.

    And often, it doesn't. Salesforce famously audited its workforce, not just once but twice over the past couple of years and issued $6 million in raises to women and agreed to publicly discuss its process, becoming the poster child for equal pay. The second audit and adjustment was done after Salesforce grew its employee base substantially through acquisitions, CEO Marc Benioff previously told Business Insider. 

    Match has also grown dramatically through acquisitions. So, when the consultants told Ginsberg that their analysis had found no discrepancy, Ginsberg was so surprised she demanded the third-party auditor go back and check the data again. They did and the results stood.

    It was a light-bulb moment for Ginsberg. Although she's only been in the top CEO role for a year and a half, she spent the last half dozen years as the executive in charge of a number of Match's biggest businesses, including Match.com, Match Affinity, Plenty of Fish, OKCupid. 

    And one of her "guiding principals" has been to offer pay and raises based on people's value to their company "whether they ask for it or not," she said in the press release.

    In other words, she hasn't turned compensation into a negotiating game, granting raises only when someone asks. She has simply paid people what the company was willing to pay them and rewarded them without asking for a job well done. And now, she's not only published the results but is speaking out and advocating for this method.

    "So often and in so many businesses, women don’t make compensation demands. And until we raise our daughters to make those demands, we, as leaders, need to be proactive and methodical about how we think about
    compensation," she said.

    SEE ALSO: 8 key takeaways from Business Insider CEO Henry Blodget's opening IGNITION keynote on 'Better Capitalism'

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    Zymergen Lab 37

    • On Thursday, the Silicon Valley-based synthetic-biology company Zymergen announced a mammoth funding round of $400 million.
    • It's the third largest biotech deal of 2018.
    • With financing from SoftBank Vision Fund and Goldman Sachs, the fresh infusion of cash brings the startup to the forefront of a hot and growing industry based on manufacturing goods with biology.
    • Zymergen doesn't yet have any consumer-facing products, but CEO Joshua Hoffman told Business Insider they're working on their first: a safe insect repellant that he expects to see on the market by 2021.

    Part of the reason Andreas Stavropoulos joined venture-capital firm DFJ was to put his money toward products that the world had never seen before.

    That's also why he chose to lead the firm's investment in Zymergen, a Bay Area science and tech company that turns living organisms into new materials.

    On Thursday, Zymergen announced a mammoth funding round of $400 million, bringing the five-year-old startup to the forefront of a hot and growing industry based on manufacturing goods with biology instead of chemistry. It's the third largest biotech deal of 2018, according to data from research firm PitchBook.

    In recent years, investors have been pouring money into companies in that field, known as synthetic biology. Put simply, synthetic biology involves harnessing the power of cells to make everything from less-toxic sweeteners for food to drugs and biodegradable building materials and bags.

    From 2012 to 2017, funding for synthetic biology startups has more than tripled, surpassing the $1 billion mark for the first time in 2016, according to a report from CB Insights. Deals have also mushroomed, rising more than 150% since 2012, the authors of the report concluded.

    The idea is to move away from old, highly polluting manufacturing processes based on petrochemicals in favor of cheaper, faster, and more sustainable methods founded on cells.

    "For us it's all about big ideas," Stavropoulos told Business Insider. But with Zymergen, "It's not just theory. They're doing it."

    Joshua Hoffman, Zymergen's cofounder and CEO, told Business Insider that part of its aim isn't simply to avoid dirty materials. It's also to plan for a future where those materials run out or become insufficient and to think of new and better products that don't yet exist.

    "We’re seeing diminishing results from companies using traditional chemical processes to manufacture their goods," Hoffman said. "There’s only so much more innovation to get."

    'An engine you can crank ... where amazing things come out'

    Joshua Hoffman, Zymergen CEOZymergen stands out to Stavropoulos because it doesn't simply want to make better alternatives to existing products (think foldable, rollable materials for smartphone displays that will be better than the rigid materials we have now). It also aims to make brand-new products.

    "There's immense value in this company as a platform," Stavropoulos said. "When what you essentially have is an engine you can crank where every time you crank it amazing things come out, that's huge."

    This week's monster funding round in Zymergen was led by SoftBank Vision Fund. Goldman Sachs also invested, alongside returning investor DFJ. The money brings the company to nearly $600 million in total funding.

    Zymergen doesn't yet have any consumer-facing products, but Hoffman said they are working on their first: a safe, nontoxic insect repellant that he expects to see on the market by 2021. Hoffman said the company is working with a number of Fortune 500 companies on projects whose details he's not free to disclose and that more than $500 million worth of products have been made with its techniques.

    Those include unique, flexible films that would enable the world's first foldable electronics and special kinds of ultra-durable coatings and glues. Although Zymergen's existing product lineup isn't public, the company has issued and published 26 patents for everything from pieces of their engineering platform to techniques for electrically coaxing new DNA into the cells of bacteria.

    The year of synthetic biology?

    ginkgo organism design 184277f1Zymergen isn't the only synthetic-biology company that appears to be thriving.

    Aside from Zymergen, a handful of other synthetic-biology startups have attracted fresh funding in recent months, from Boston-based Ginkgo Bioworks — which in September signed a $122 million deal with marijuana producer Cronos to create lab-grown cannabis compounds — to San Diego-based Genomatica, which in October raised $90 million to churn out alternatives to the traditional chemicals used in plastic bags.

    Read more: A startup with ties to Bayer has inked a $122 million deal to make lab-grown marijuana — and it's eyeing the pharma industry

    Geltor, a startup in the Bay Area using bacteria to make animal-free collagen for cosmetics, recently raised $18 million with help from global collagen supplier Gelita, and this fall agricultural startup Pivot Bio closed a $70 million financing round to beef up its microbe-based fertilizer business.

    Investors like Stavropoulos say the companies are working on a similar premise: that their superior production techniques can save companies money while protecting the environment and pushing the boundaries of what's possible.

    "It's about making things better, cheaper, and at an industrial scale," Stavropoulos said.

    SEE ALSO: A startup with ties to Bayer has inked a $122 million deal to make lab-grown marijuana — and it's eyeing the pharma industry

    DON'T MISS: 40 AND UNDER: The Silicon Valley biotech stars who are backing startups aiming to cure disease, prolong life, and fix the food system

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: What happens to your brain and body when you procrastinate too much


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    A deliveroo worker cycles along a pedestrianised road in Liverpool, Britain, October 18, 2017. Picture taken October 18, 2017.     REUTERS/Phil Noble

    • British food delivery startup Deliveroo has opened a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Hong Kong.
    • The "Deliveroo Food Market" will cater both to online orders and in-store customers.
    • Reports emerged in September that Uber was in acquisition talks with Deliveroo.

    Deliveroo, the British food delivery startup last valued at $2 billion, has opened a brick-and-mortar restaurant in Hong Kong.

    Named the "Deliveroo Food Market," the location will fulfil both online orders and serve customers in-store where they can choose from 15 different "dining concepts,"CNBC reports.

    The restaurant is an extension of Deliveroo's Editions, a programme which it launched in 2017 setting up pop-up kitchens to help restaurants deal with delivery demand.

    Read more:Uber's plan to buy UK delivery giant Deliveroo has stalled, with the 2 sides said to be 'miles apart' on valuation

    "We find there is an opportunity to bring our online to offline model to our customers," General Manager of Deliveroo in Hong Kong, Brian Lo, told CNBC.

    "Hong Kong is one of the most expensive rental prices, so the pressure on restaurant operators is very high and this model works very well for them," he added.

    Deliveroo is reportedly being courted for an acquisition by ride-hailing giant Uber, whose Uber Eats service is a direct competitor of Deliveroo. However, recent reports suggest that Uber and Deliveroo had reached an impasse over Deliveroo's valuation.

    SEE ALSO: Uber is reportedly holding talks to buy electric scooter firms Bird and Lime

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: How Singapore solved garbage disposal


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    Ambarish Mitra Blippar

    • Blippar CEO Ambarish Mitra held a crisis meeting with staff on Monday about the firm's imminent risk of collapse.
    • According to one person who attended the meeting, Mitra was too emotional to finish his speech, and new Chief Operating Officer Libby Penn had to finish on his behalf.
    • Blippar confirmed on Monday that it was close to administration — similar to bankruptcy in the US — thanks to one investor blocking an emergency fundraiser from another backer.
    • In a terse email to staff on Wednesday, Mitra said the situation remains deadlocked.
    • Multiple sources told Business Insider that employees are furious with Blippar's leadership and are worried they won't be paid before Christmas if the firm collapses.
    • It's a dramatic fall from grace for the much-hyped augmented-reality startup, which two years ago said it was worth $1.5 billion.

    Blippar CEO Ambarish Mitra held an emotional internal meeting with employees on Monday, warning them that the company is perilously close to collapse as it desperately tries to raise new cash.

    It's a dramatic fall from grace for the much-hyped augmented-reality startup, which two years ago said it was worth $1.5 billion. Mitra seemed resigned to failure, according to one insider.

    The source said Mitra was too emotional to finish his speech and had to hand over to the firm's new chief operating officer, Libby Penn, to finish. Penn said Blippar's status remains uncertain as an investor dispute stands in the way of it raising the finances it needs to survive.

    The source, who is not authorized to speak to the media, told Business Insider that the mood inside Blippar was "very low" and that employees were convinced the company would shutter in the next 48 hours. Employees are nervous they aren't going to be paid before Christmas and angry at how little they have been told, the person said.

    Blippar's latest company accounts, dated March 2017, show that the firm employed 261 staff members across its UK, US, Singapore, and New Delhi offices. LinkedIn data indicates the current figure is closer to 125 employees.

    Read more: Buzzy startup Blippar was said to be valued at $1 billion and held talks to sell to Snap. It is now on the brink of death.

    Mitra sent a terse, company-wide update on Wednesday morning stating that Blippar had not yet found a resolution. In the email seen by BI, he said: "No further info to share at the moment. We are still trying everything we can to find a resolution."

    Blippar said on Monday that it is trying to complete emergency fundraising after one of its backers, Malaysian sovereign wealth fund Khazanah Nasional, last week blocked a cash injection from another shareholder, property tycoon Nick Candy.

    According to The Sunday Times, Blippar Chairman David Currie warned shareholders that the firm was on the brink of administration — similar to corporate bankruptcy in the US — if it didn't receive the funding. Accounting firm David Rubin and Partners has reportedly been lined up as the administrator.

    Former Blippar loyalists say the firm is a 'complete mess'

    Blippar was founded in the UK in 2011 by Mitra, Omar Tayeb, Jessica Butcher and Steve Spencer, and is best known for its augmented-reality app that identifies real-world objects.

    Mitra told The Financial Times in 2015 after turning down an acquisition offer that Blippar was worth $1.5 billion, which appeared to put the company firmly among the ranks of British unicorns. The firm has raised $150 million to date from backers including Khazanah, Candy, Lansdowne, and Qualcomm Ventures.

    But Blippar sources cast doubt on the company's numbers and financial status in April 2017, telling Business Insider that the firm was close to running out of money.

    Former Blippar employees, some of whom held longtime senior positions, described the company to Business Insider as a "complete mess" this week.

    One former senior employee with knowledge of Blippar's finances said: "I am not surprised by the latest news. Complete mess." Another former senior employee said, "I'm surprised they've lasted this long."

    A third said the company had an "overblown self-belief" thanks to its onetime status as a first mover in augmented reality. "Some people will try anything to keep a dead dog alive," the person said of the company's attempts to raise new funding.

    Blippar founders Ambarish Mitra

    Outside the company, the industry prognosis is gloomy. One well-placed source working in computer vision said the firm wasn't known for its technical prowess, despite specializing in the complex field of augmented reality.

    "Strong computer-vision candidates who went for interview there were a bit shocked at how lacking in knowledge their interviewers were," the person said.

    Sources told Business Insider that Blippar tried to sell itself towards the end of last year as the extent of its financial woes became clear. It tried to sell to Snapchat owner Snap and German software firm SAP for considerably less than its unicorn valuation, with an internally rumored price tag of about $200 million (£160 million). When those talks fell through, Blippar shuttered its Silicon Valley office and lost its US commercial chief in the process.

    Now the company is relying on further funding from its existing backers.

    Blippar did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Here's what it told TechCrunch on Monday:

    The rate of change in the AR industry resulted in a lack of standardisation across platforms and tools which has become a barrier to greater adoption and application of the technology. In response to these we refined our strategy to primarily focus on our SaaS self-service AR creation and publishing platform and we are on the path to accelerate the developments of this platform. Our goal is to unify and standardise all AR formats and make it easy for everybody to create AR.

    Our strategy and product roadmap to enable this goal has unanimous approval from our board, for which we require an additional amount of funding to accelerate our growth and fulfill our profitability plans. The additional funding has been secured and approved by the whole board, but ultimately requires shareholders’ approval, which was given by all except one.

    Despite not participating in any further funding of the business, that shareholder took the decision to vote against the additional funding. We tried to reach an agreement with them that would allow the business to continue with these plans and have offered various solutions, and so far they have refused all proposals.

    Our board is still trying to negotiate with them and we hope to have a reasonable position at some point this week.

    If you work at Blippar and would like to talk or have information about its current situation, email sghosh@businessinsider.com.

    SEE ALSO: Blippar, once valued at £1 billion, burned through huge amounts of cash and struggled to find recurring revenue, ex-staff say

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    google ceo sundar pichai

    • After a boatload of drama at Google over how the company has handled sexual harassment and misconduct, CEO Sundar Pichai announced new policies.
    • Google is joining a wave of companies that will no longer force its employees making sexual-harassment claims into private arbitration.
    • This is a hopeful sign that Silicon Valley's much publicized bro culture could be truly changing.

    There's been another round of employee drama at Google these past few weeks. After The New York times published an explosive story on how the company previously protected one of its star engineers, Andy Rubin, amid a sexual-misconduct investigation, Google CEO Sundar Pichai revealed the company has fired 48 employees for sexual harassment in the last two years.

    On Thursday, Google published new policies for how the company will handle sexual harassment after employees staged a walkout and sent the company a list of five demands.

    Employees didn't get everything they wanted, but they did get their top demand: an end to forced arbitration for sexual-harassment cases.

    In a memo, Pichai announced the new policy while also defending Google's general policy of forced arbitration by claiming it never required confidentiality.

    Read more: Here's the memo Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent to employees on the changes to its sexual harassment policy after the walkout

    "We will make arbitration optional for individual sexual harassment and sexual assault claims. Google has never required confidentiality in the arbitration process and arbitration still may be the best path for a number of reasons (e.g. personal privacy) but, we recognize that choice should be up to you," he wrote.

    Forcing employees to sign agreements forbidding them to sue the company, and to instead go to arbitration, is one of the key ways a company can keep its dirty laundry secret.

    Arbitration is a private process that doesn't produce public court documents or public court decisions. It can also make it more difficult for employees to band together to file class-action lawsuits.

    And settlement agreements may also include a gag order, forbidding the employee to talk about their experience, even if they won the case.

    Mix it all together, and you get a perfect combo where a company's incentives to cover things up can seem more alluring than banishing illegal behavior or misconduct and seeing that it doesn't happen again.

    With private arbitration, even if the company fires the employee (and that doesn't always happen), a new employer has no easy way to know about the underlying incident, freeing the employee to continue engaging in the same behavior at the new company.

    Forcing employees to agree to arbitration as a condition of employment has become common practice in corporate America today. And it is standard practice in Silicon Valley. It is so common that Susan Fowler, the famed engineer who wrote about her experience with sexual harassment at Uber, argued the practice should be banned in a petition to the Supreme Court about a year ago.

    While Google clearly hasn't given up forced arbitration in general, making it optional for sexual-harassment cases is a huge step for Silicon Valley.

    Alone, this one company's choice won't end Silicon Valley's well-documented bro-culture problems.

    But the thing is, Google isn't alone. About a year ago, Microsoft also removed its forced-arbitration clause for sexual-harassment claims and endorsed a Senate bill attempting to make such a change the law of the land.

    Uber followed suit in May.

    Ideally, companies would simply stop making their employees waive their rights to sue in regular courts for every issue, not just sexual-harassment claims.

    But for now, a slow-and-steady wave of change is happening on this front. Perhaps Silicon Valley can even become a beacon for other industries with well-publicized sexual-harassment issues, like media and finance, to do the same.

    Ultimately, the freedom of employees to go public with sexual-harassment claims will shed some much-needed light on a situation that has been allowed to fester in the dark far too long.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    weed grinder

    This week, a plant that's nearly identical to marijuana is set to become legal to grow in the US. 

    Thanks to the US Farm Bill, which the House passed on Wednesday in a 369 to 47 vote, American farmers will be able to plant and harvest hemp, a strain of the same plant species from which marijuana originates. The bill passed the Senate Tuesday in an 87 to 13 vote, and President Donald Trump has indicated his support.

    Hemp legalization has been a longtime goal of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, who believes it can help replace tobacco as a key crop for his state's farmers. 

    The move alters the language of a major drug law that had previously remained unchanged for half a century and loosely defined hemp alongside marijuana as a controlled substance. The new bill exempts hemp from that law and defines it as an agricultural product. That means farmers and researchers of hemp now get some of the same benefits as farmers and researchers of other crops, like the ability to apply for insurance and federal grants.

    "The era of hemp prohibition is over,"Jonathan Miller, legal counsel for a lobbying coalition of over 60 hemp companies called the US Hemp Roundtable, told Business Insider.

    That's a key change for scientists, many of whom say previous drug laws deterred them from studying hemp because it was regulated like marijuana.

    The bill may also boost interest in a nascent but booming $1 billion industry based on a component of the cannabis plant called CBD, which has been touted for a variety of health and wellness claims. CBD is popping up in more and more products, from coffee and tea to supplements and beer

    But because CBD can be sourced from both marijuana and hemp plants, its legal status, set by the Drug Enforcement Administration, remains somewhat hazy. CBD from marijuana, just like marijuana as a whole, remains illegal. But now that hemp is legal, CBD from hemp may be legal, too.

    "The devil is in the details, and we don’t know yet how the DEA will act to implement the law,"Daniele Piomelli, the director of the University of California at Irvine Center for the Study of Cannabis and a professor of neuroscience and pharmacology, told Business Insider.

    The DEA, which controls the scheduling of substances, has not said how it will respond to the new bill. As it stands, so long as a CBD product is "intended for human consumption," it remains a Schedule 1 drug, DEA spokesperson Katherine Pfaff told Business Insider on Tuesday. She said she couldn't comment on how the bill might affect the DEA's approach.

    The difference between hemp and marijuana comes down to one word: strain

    MarijuanaMarijuana and hemp come from the same plant species, called cannabis sativa. Both contain THC and CBD. But each plant is its own unique strain of cannabis.

    Until recently, hemp was bred almost entirely for industrial uses like manufacturing. As a result, hemp plants today have very low amounts of THC, the psychoactive chemical responsible for marijuana's high. Instead, hemp plants are often higher in CBD, or cannabidiol, which is also found in marijuana. CBD is now thought to be responsible for several of cannabis' therapeutic effects.

    For example, marijuana-derived CBD is the active ingredient in Epidiolex, a syrup that is the first cannabis-based drug to gain US government approval for medical use. The government approved the drug over the summer. The drug treats two rare forms of childhood epilepsy.

    One thing that is clear from the new bill is that commerce involving hemp is now in the clear. Federally insured banks, for example, have the green light for the first time to work with industrial hemp producers.

    Read more:A drug derived from marijuana has become the first to win federal approval, and experts predict an avalanche effect

    From A to CBD: cannabis is showing up in everything

    By Chloe CBD CREDIT Leslie Kirchhoff2

    Because CBD can come from either marijuana or hemp plants, it is unclear whether or not hemp-derived CBD products are now legal. Previously, thousands of manufacturers and entrepreneurs glommed onto the CBD wellness trend with the awareness that CBD products existed in a legal gray zone.

    Read more:Heineken is betting on a brew made with marijuana instead of alcohol, and it could help give a boost to the struggling beer industry

    Part of the reason for this was that there was no specific language in the DEA's main drug law, called the Controlled Substances Act, that used the word "hemp."

    Thanks to that fuzziness, you could find everything from CBD lattes in New York to CBD teas at grocery stores across the country.

    But now that hemp is legal, some experts expect the trend to really take off.

    "The passing of the farm bill will most certainly open up the marketplace for hemp products, specifically hemp extracts that are high in CBD,"Josh Hendrix, the director of domestic product business development for cannabis company CV Sciences, told Business Insider.

    "It will provide a higher comfort level for retailers and consumers and will lead to more investment and opportunity in the industry as it will continue to see rapid expansion."

    Still, other experts — particularly scientists — have expressed concern that while the bill itself is a step in the right direction, what remains to be seen is how the DEA will respond to it. Until the DEA decides to change the status of CBD, researchers can't expect too many changes to their current work.

    What CBD does — and may not do — for your health

    cbd oil product lineupIt's difficult to say what the real health benefits of CBD are right now. The drug does appear to have at least one well-vetted therapeutic benefit: staunching the symptoms of two rare forms of childhood epilepsy by way of the newly approved drug Epidiolex.

    There's another pressing issue facing the CBD industry, too: The products are poorly regulated, meaning there's wide variation in their content, safety, and price.

    For a 2017 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers tested 84 CBD products purchased from 31 different online retailers. Roughly seven out of 10 items had different levels of CBD than what was written on the label. Of all of the items tested, roughly half had more CBD than was indicated; a quarter had less. And 18 of the samples tested positive for THC, despite it not being listed on the label.

    "I've seen a lot of dirty CBD manufacturing facilities," Kelvin Harrylall, the CEO of a company called the CBD Palace that audits CBD companies and creates a list of vendors it deems safe for customers, told Business Insider in June.

    "It's tough to know what you're getting."

    The farm bill itself won't directly affect product safety. But experts believe that as these laws move toward legalization and an increased role for regulators, the companies that abide by strict manufacturing conditions will come out on top, while those who run fast and loose with rules will suffer.

    "I believe if you are a CBD manufacturer and you can say that you're making a quality product ... then you have nothing to worry about," Harrylall said. "But if you aren't sure [or] if you've cut corners, those CBD manufacturers are the ones that should be worried."

    SEE ALSO: A pair of high-profile Stanford scientists wants to use marijuana to treat an entire class of diseases where big pharma has fallen short

    DON'T MISS: The CEO behind the first prescription marijuana drug explains what cannabis-based drug he wants to get approved next

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    NOW WATCH: What is CBD oil and how did it become a $1 billion industry?


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    LinkedIn

    • Comparably, a website that rates companies across a number of different areas, released its 2018 Best Company Culture list.
    • Of the 50 businesses on that list, 29 were tech companies.
    • Below, we've compiled the list of 29 companies in tech with the best company culture below. 

    Good company culture is one of the most important aspects of any job. 

    Sure, beer in the fridge and holiday parties are nice. But having company culture runs deeper than the perks — no matter how over-the-top that holiday party may have been. 

    On Monday, Comparably — a website that rates companies across a number of different areas — released its 2018 Best Company Culture list. Of the 50 businesses on that list, 29 were tech companies. 

    Here are the 29 big companies in tech with the best company culture: 

    SEE ALSO: The 18 biggest tech scandals of 2018

    29. Akvelon

    Headquarters: Bellevue, Washington

    What it does: Business and technology consulting firm

    What employees say:"Akvelon is one of the best companies that I have worked for. The overall approach and the focus on having a good work-life balance and proactive engagement with their employees make them an extremely good and efficient organization to work with." 



    28. Indeed.com

    Headquarters: Austin, Texas

    What it does: Job search platform 

    What employees say:"The office encourages collaboration and teamwork, to ensure everyone is sharing ideas and working together towards the same mission. I've always felt like I can speak up and my thoughts/ideas are heard and addressed."



    27. Adobe

    Headquarters: San Jose, California

    What it does:Software development company best known for its design and photo-editing solutions

    What employees say:"Everybody generally works together and is united." 



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    GinniRometty2016

    • As part of its efforts to focus on "high-value" products, IBM will sell seven software products to the Indian company HCL for $1.8 billion, the company announced Thursday.
    • While HCL shares fell 5% following the news, Wall Street is feeling good (or at least, better) about IBM's decision to sell.
    • The products were part of a declining division, Cognitive Solutions, which IBM wants to return to profitability.

    One month after IBM announced its $34 billion strategic acquisition of Red Hat, the software giant revealed a sale of its own.

    IBM announced late Thursday that it would sell a suite of software products to the Indian IT company HCL for $1.8 billion.

    In the deal, IBM will sell seven unique software applications in the collaboration, on-premise marketing, and commerce spaces, which altogether have an addressable market of $50 billion, the company said. Those applications were the last products left over from its acquisition of Lotus, which it bought for $3.5 billion in 1995.

    IBM and HLC already had intellectual-property partnerships on five of those products.

    While HCL's stock price took a 5% dip on Friday following the news, Wall Street was slightly more supportive of IBM's choice to abandon the assets in favor of more cash and a higher-margin software portfolio. Still, IBM shares fell more than 3% in trading on Friday, though the stock was still trading above its low for November.

    "We like that IBM continues to sell its non-core software product lines," the UBS analyst John Roy wrote.

    The software suite was part of IBM's Cognitive Solutions, a segment that includes IBM Watson Health and other artificial-intelligence businesses — and which has seen revenue declines. The company said it expected to see this segment improve its revenue growth after the sale.

    Cognitive Solutions brought in $4.15 billion in the third quarter of 2018 , down 6% from the same period in 2017. Its margins declined by 2.7% in the same period, according to the company filing.

    IBM has done similar deals every year over the past 14 years

    In a blog post on Friday, IBM explained the sale to investors as being part of a push toward a "high-value model," which essentially means the company would rather invest in higher-yield emerging areas such as AI, cloud, and blockchain than figure out a way to help its declining businesses grow.

    Read more:IBM was losing the cloud wars — here's why Wall Street thinks its $34 billion Red Hat acquisition will change that

    "Delivering a high-value model also requires ongoing investment prioritization, considering factors such as market attractiveness, differentiation, and importance to IBM’s integrated model," the company said in the post.

    But this strategy isn't new for IBM. Roy, the UBS analyst, wrote that IBM had similarly sold off some of its software portfolio over each of the past 14 years. All of those deals, he said, were valued at $740 million to $1.6 billion.

    Bottom line: It's not about Red Hat

    IBM's $34 billion acquisition of Red Hat in October has created some redundancies in the company's portfolio, but that's not why this sale is happening, Roy wrote.

    A "potential issue" for IBM is that once the acquisition closes, there will be some overlap between middleware products, such as IBM's WebSphere and Red Hat's JBoss product lines, he said — but that risk doesn't involve any of the products that it sold off to HCL.

    Instead, UBS views this as a straightforward sale of underperforming software products, as it refocuses on the good stuff.

    "Mixing away from under-performers is just good business," Roy wrote.

    SEE ALSO: Workday surged 19% after earnings — but Wall Street thinks its future success could hinge on a newly public competitor

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    autonomous trucking graphic

    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.

    Trucking is set to transform radically in the coming years, with innovative technologies enabling trucks to take over more and more driving responsibilities, saving time and money for operators and businesses that rely on shipping.

    Autonomous trucks are being tested on roads around the world, and systems from startups like Peloton and Embark could make their way into commercial trucks as soon as next year. Fleets will be able to leverage autonomous technologies to cut costs and gain a critical edge over competitors.

    But to start planning for, and to eventually implement, those technologies, companies need to know what sorts of systems will be ready and when, and what regulatory hurdles will need to be overcome to get autonomous trucks on the road. 

    In The Autonomous Trucking Report, Business Insider Intelligence provides an early glimpse into the emerging autonomous trucking market. First, we look at the trucking market as it stands today, offering a basic profile of the industry and highlighting a number of the challenges and issues it faces. Then, we go through the three waves of autonomous technology that are set to upend the industry — platooning, semi-autonomous systems, and fully autonomous trucks — looking at who is making strides in each of these areas, when the technology can be expected to start making an impact, and what companies can do to get ahead of the curve.

    Here are some of the key takeaways:

    • Advanced and autonomous technology will enable operators and shipping firms to eradicate some of the challenges that have long plagued them. Trucks will take over more and more driving responsibilities, saving time and money for operators and businesses that rely on shipping.
    • The impact of autonomous technologies on the trucking industry will come in three major waves: platooning or fuel-saving vehicle convoys, semi-autonomous highway control systems, and fully autonomous trucks.
    • Change to the trucking industry will be gradual but inexorable. Companies with foresight can start to make long-term plans to account for the ways that autonomous technologies will change how goods and products move from place to place.

    In full, the report:

    • Analyzes the development of autonomous trucking technology.
    • Explains the waves in which advanced and autonomous technologies will start to impact the trucking industry, providing detailed explanations of how a company can take advantage of the disruptive technology transforming logistics at each stage.
    • Profiles the efforts of the companies that are at the forefront of new technology in trucking, looking at what they're working on and when their efforts could start to impact the market.

    To get this report, subscribe to a Premium pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to:

    This report and more than 275 other expertly researched reports
    Access to all future reports and daily newsletters
    Forecasts of new and emerging technologies in your industry
    And more!
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    Or, purchase & download The Autonomous Trucking Report directly from our research store

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    JUUL In Hand Female Denim Jacket copy

    • Juul told its employees on Dec. 11 that California-based employees can no longer vape at their desks, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
    • The company, based in San Francisco, is enforcing a 2016 California law in which e-cigarettes are banned in the workplace.
    • Juul will erect a tent outside of its San Francisco headquarters for vaping. 

    Employees at Juul Labs Inc. have created the buzziest e-cigarette on the market. There's no other vape that's also a verb — "juuling."

     

    But now, the employees of Juul can no longer use their company's insanely popular (and insanely controversial) product while working. On Tuesday, chief executive Kevin Burns emailed Juul's staff of around 800 that Juuling at work is no longer allowed, the Wall Street Journal wrote in an article on Friday.

    The company, based in San Francisco, is enforcing a 2016 California law in which e-cigarettes are banned in the workplace.

    "It may feel nonsensical to prohibit at-work use of the very products we work hard to create and promote," Chief Executive Kevin Burns emailed staff, according to the Journal. "But the bottom line is we need to comply with legal requirements the same as any company."

    Read more: Silicon Valley e-cig startup Juul 'threw a really great party' to launch its devices, which experts say deliberately targeted youth

    Previously, Juuling was a-okay throughout the office. "Nonstop, in the open, and in virtually every meeting," a current employee told the Journal, "in all parts of the building."

    Instead, Juul employees will have to take to a tent that will be erected outside of the headquarters, the Journal reported. Burns wrote in his email that he would explore options for employees at Juul's other locations. 

    But while Juul has banned vaping in its own offices, workplace e-cigarette usage has become something of a cultural phenomenon, the Journal wrote.

    Some workers who vape do it discretely.

    Others are more explicit.

    Now, Juul employees will have to take their vape out in the open air.

    Read the entire Wall Street Journal report here

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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.

    81svgGy5D2L._SL1500_

    Coffee drinkers are a diverse lot, and if you're going to buy a gift for one of them, you better have the who's who down pat.

    There's, of course, the quintessential café brooder, who might need a little pick-me-up. Maybe a chocolate to go along with the dreary cup of black coffee that's always glued to their hand. Or how about the peppy aerobic workout-obsessed early riser? They could probably stand to have a French press in their on-the-go life. The do-it-yourself artisan might fancy a cold brew kit for the home. And so on.

    Whatever the temperament of your oh-so-temperamental coffee lover(s), you'll be sorted out below with these 22 fun and useful gifts for coffee lovers.

    Still shopping for more gifts? Check out all of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides for 2018 here.

    Looking for Black Friday deals? We've rounded up the best Black Friday sales by store and product-specific deals on the internet.

    SEE ALSO: 15 fun and unique gifts for tea lovers to spread holiday cheer

    DON'T MISS: 15 thoughtful gifts for book lovers to satisfy the bookworm on your list

    A paired coffee and chocolate gift box

    Bean Box's Deluxe Coffee & Chocolate Gift Box, available at Amazon, $68

    Fresh coffee beans paired with fresh chocolate is nothing short of divine, and if the recipient of this trove can't appreciate it, their soul is surely black as coal — which is probably what you should gift them next year.

    Read our guide to the best chocolate you can buy online here.



    A guide to help them make better coffee

    How to Make Coffee: The Science Behind the Bean, available at Amazon, $15.35

    Because we could all use a few pointers on our morning cuppa. 



    A mokka espresso pot

    Bialetti Mokka Espresso Pot (3-cup), available at Amazon, $29.95

    This should be a staple in every household. Easy, rich, and oh so crema-y when done right. Also, consider the Bialetti Express Set for two ($44.69).

    Check out our full guide to stovetop espresso makers here.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    • Voice assistants like Amazon's Alexa, Google's Assistant, Apple's Siri, and Microsoft's Cortana, are pegged to trigger a widespread transformation across the retail industry in the years to come.
    • The current interest in, and adoption of, voice assistants for commerce is being driven by recent technological breakthroughs, advantages of the tech over existing channels, and the development of voice apps.
    • As consumer demand for voice technology mounts, brands offering this functionality throughout the entire customer journey stand to gain in three key ways.

    Not too long ago, if your friend had a smart speaker like Amazon’s Alexa or Google's Assistant in their living room, it seemed like a rare novelty. Within a matter of months, however, smart speakers have started becominghousehold staples — and they’re still only at a fraction of their growth potential.

    US Consumers Use Voice Assistants Throughout the Entire Shopping Journey

    One of the biggest drivers of adoption has been increased functionality. Smart speakers aren’t just changing the music and turning on the lights; they’re helping consumers find new products and make purchases — and they’re quickly becoming a preferred method of shopping.

    In fact, nearly a quarter of consumers globally already prefer using a voice assistant over going to a company website or mobile app to shop. This share will jump to 40% by 2021, according to Capgemini.

    Consumers are on board with the prompt, convenient nature of shopping with smart speakers — and brands who join them stand to reap massive rewards. The Voice in Retail Report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, highlights the value voice brings to the shopping funnel and how retailers can implement it throughout the customer journey.

    Here are three ways brands can capture consumers with voice technology:

    • Driving product purchases: Voice assistants make spending faster and easier when consumers are unable to use their hands. The ability to make a purchase on any channel and the addition of personalized, intelligent elements to the shopping experience are simplifying the transition from product discovery to product purchase.
    • Heightening customer loyalty: Brands can leverage voice assistants in the post-purchase phase to track delivery status, automate part of the return process, interact with customer service, offer feedback, and collect consumer behavioral and transactional data.
    • Shifting consumers’ spending behaviors: Smart device ownership has a snowball effect, so as the smart device ecosystem reaches the mainstream, consumers will flock to connected cars, smart home devices and appliances, and connected virtual reality and augmented reality (VR/AR) headsets.

    Want to Learn More?

    Shoppers are interested in using voice assistants for every stage of the customer journey, from initial product search and discovery to post-purchase customer service and delivery status. And retailers that take advantage of consumers’ desire to leverage voice will be in a stronger position to heighten customer engagement, increase conversion times, drive sales, and boost operational efficiency.

    The Voice in Retail Report from Business Insider Intelligence examines the trends driving the adoption of voice commerce, details the role of voice throughout the customer shopping journey, outlines how brands can benefit from implementing voice in their strategies, and explores what's ahead for the technology in retail.

     

     

    Join the conversation about this story »


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    AI Drive Revenue

    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.

    Major logistics providers have long relied on analytics and research teams to make sense of the data they generate from their operations.

    But with volumes of data growing, and the insights that can be gleaned becoming increasingly varied and granular, these companies are starting to turn to artificial intelligence (AI) computing techniques, like machine learning, deep learning, and natural language processing, to streamline and automate various processes. These techniques teach computers to parse data in a contextual manner to provide requested information, supply analysis, or trigger an event based on their findings. They are also uniquely well suited to rapidly analyzing huge data sets, and have a wide array of applications in different aspects of supply chain and logistics operations.

    AI’s ability to streamline so many supply chain and logistics functions is already delivering a competitive advantage for early adopters by cutting shipping times and costs. A cross-industry study on AI adoption conducted in early 2017 by McKinsey found that early adopters with a proactive AI strategy in the transportation and logistics sector enjoyed profit margins greater than 5%. Meanwhile, respondents in the sector that had not adopted AI were in the red.

    However, these crucial benefits have yet to drive widespread adoption. Only 21% of the transportation and logistics firms in McKinsey’s survey had moved beyond the initial testing phase to deploy AI solutions at scale or in a core part of their business. The challenges to AI adoption in the field of supply chain and logistics are numerous and require major capital investments and organizational changes to overcome.

    In a new report, BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, explores the vast impact that AI techniques like machine learning will have on the supply chain and logistics space. We detail the myriad applications for these computational techniques in the industry, and the adoption of those different applications. We also share some examples of companies that have demonstrated success with AI in their supply chain and logistics operations. Lastly, we break down the many factors that are holding organizations back from implementing AI projects and gaining the full benefits of this disruptive technology.

    Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

    • The current interest in and early adoption of AI systems is being driven by several key factors, including increased demands from shippers, recent technological breakthroughs, and significant investments in data visibility by the industry’s largest players.
    • AI can deliver enormous benefits to supply chain and logistics operations, including cost reductions through reduced redundancies and risk mitigation, improved forecasting, faster deliveries through more optimized routes, improved customer service, and more.
    • Legacy players face many substantial obstacles to deploying and reaping the benefits of AI systems, though, including data accessibility and workforce challenges.
    • AI adoption in the logistics industry is strongly skewed toward the biggest players, because overcoming these major challenges requires costly investments in updating IT systems and breaking down data silos, as well as hiring expensive teams of data scientists.
    • Although AI implementations are unlikely to result in large-scale workforce reductions in the near term, companies still need to develop strategies to address how workers' roles will change as AI systems automate specific functions.

     In full, the report:

    • Details the factors driving adoption of AI systems in the supply chain and logistics field.
    • Examines the benefits that AI can deliver in reducing costs and shipping times for supply chain and logistics operations.
    • Explains the many challenges companies face in implementing AI in their supply chain and logistics operations to reap the benefits of this transformational technology.

    Interested in getting the full report? Here are two ways to access it:

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    This is a preview of the Internet of Things (2018) research report from Business Insider Intelligence. To learn more about the IoT ecosystem, tech trends and industry forecasts, click here.

    The Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming how companies and consumers go about their days around the world. The technology that underlies this whole segment is evolving quickly, whether it’s the rapid rise of the Amazon Echo and voice assistants upending the consumer space, or growth of AI-powered analytics platforms for the enterprise market.

    Investments into Internet of Things solutions

    And Business Insider Intelligence is keeping its finger on the pulse of this ongoing revolution by conducting our second annual Global IoT Executive Survey, which provides us with critical insights on new developments within the IoT and explains how top-level perspectives are changing year-to-year. Our survey includes more than 400 responses from key executives around the world, including C-suite and director-level respondents.

    Through this exclusive study and in-depth research into the field, Business Insider Intelligence details the components that make up the IoT ecosystem. We size the IoT market and use exclusive data to identify key trends in device installations and investment. And we profile the enterprise and consumer IoT segments individually, drilling down into the drivers and characteristics that are shaping each market.

    Here are some key takeaways from the report:

    • We project that there will be more than 55 billion IoT devices by 2025, up from about 9 billion in 2017.
    • We forecast that there will be nearly $15 trillion in aggregate IoT investment between 2017 and 2025, with survey data showing that companies' plans to invest in IoT solutions are accelerating.
    • The report highlights the opinions and experiences of IoT decision-makers on topics that include: drivers for adoption; major challenges and pain points; deployment and maturity of IoT implementations; investment in and utilization of devices; the decision-making process; and forward- looking plans.

    In full, the report:

    • Provides a primer on the basics of the IoT ecosystem.
    • Offers forecasts for the IoT moving forward, and highlights areas of interest in the coming years.
    • Looks at who is and is not adopting the IoT, and why.
    • Highlights drivers and challenges facing companies that are implementing IoT solutions.

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