All posts by admin

Mark Cuban is backing an app that's trying to help people avoid overdraft fees

mark cuban

Mark Cuban was crushed with overdraft fees in his 20s. Now he’s backing an app that’s trying to help people avoid having to pay them.

The billionaire has invested in a new app called Dave that aims to predict coming expenses for users to help prevent them from overdrafting on their bank accounts.

Once Dave connects with a user’s checking account it forecasts the account’s lowest possible balance in seven days based off the person’s spending habits.

Users are notified when their seven-day forecast is negative. That way they can be proactive and potentially avoid overdrafting and being burdened with bank fees.

“Your available balance doesn’t represent how much a person can spend,” Dave’s CEO, Jason Wilk, told Business Insider. “It may say you have $1,000, but if your Netflix bill and rent are due in a couple days, then you don’t actually have a $1,000.”

According to a report by CNN Money, the top big banks — Chase, Wells Fargo, and Bank of America — raked in over $5 billion in ATM and overdraft fees in 2016. In total, overdrafts cost customers $36 billion a year.

Overdraft fees hit close to home for Cuban.

“I got crushed by overdraft fees in my 20s,” Cuban said in a news release. “For anyone who wants to be successful, I always advise to cut down on useless expenses and save money. Overdraft fees are the definition of useless.”

Dave also allows users to borrow cash if their balance gets low. Users who have a negative seven-day balance can borrow up to $250 of their coming paycheck to cover expenses.

“We named the company Dave, because we wanted people to think of the app as a friend they can turn to when they’re in a financial bind,” Wilk told Business Insider.

Dave doesn’t make any money from the borrowing service aside from optional donations requested by the firm. It does, however, charge a $1 monthly fee to use the app, which is available to download now on iPhone and Android.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: SCOTT GALLOWAY: Investing in Snap is something ‘no one responsible should ever do’

Microsoft Office 2010
Polycom Cx5000 Unified Conference Station For Microsoft Lync (Amazon) Amazon Logo

$4300.00



Buy Now

Microsoft Surface (32gb) (Amazon) Amazon Logo

$539.95



Buy Now

+ 11 others available from Amazon
Microsoft Office Home & Business 2010 - 2pc/1user (one Desktop And One Portable) (disc Version) (Amazon) Amazon Logo

$278.00

Buy Now
Microsoft Software Office Home And Business 2010 English Pc Attach Key Product Key Card For 1pc (Amazon) Amazon Logo

$219.69

Buy Now
Microsoft Office Home & Student 2010 - 3pc/1user (disc Version) (Amazon) Amazon Logo

$179.99

Buy Now
Microsoft Office Home & Business 2010 Product Key Card- 1pc/1user [download] (Amazon) Amazon Logo

$150.09

Buy Now
Go! With Microsoft Office 2010, Vol. 1, And Student Videos (Amazon) Amazon Logo

$128.49



Buy Now

Microsoft Office Home & Student 2010 - 3pc/1user [download] (Amazon) Amazon Logo

$124.99

Buy Now
Microsoft Office Home & Student 2010 Product Key Card- 1pc/1user [download] (Amazon) Amazon Logo

$99.99

Buy Now
New Perspectives On Microsoft Office 2010, First Course (Amazon) Amazon Logo

$87.20



Buy Now

Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Desktop 7000 (Amazon) Amazon Logo

$81.78



Buy Now

Microsoft Office 2010: Introductory (shelly Cashman Series(r) Office 2010) (Amazon) Amazon Logo

$69.49



Buy Now

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Snapchat is stifled by its un-algorithmic feed

 Snapchat invented its best products by being the anti-Facebook. Its disappearing chats made visual communication quick and casual compared to Facebook’s email-esque text messages. Stories ditched the likes and permanacy so you could share your raw moments in the now, instead of just the life highlights that define you forever on your Facebook Timeline. Read More
Microsoft Office 2010
Polycom Cx5000 Unified Conference Station For Microsoft Lync (Amazon) Amazon Logo

$4300.00



Buy Now

Microsoft Surface (32gb) (Amazon) Amazon Logo

$539.95



Buy Now

+ 11 others available from Amazon
Microsoft Office Home & Business 2010 - 2pc/1user (one Desktop And One Portable) (disc Version) (Amazon) Amazon Logo

$278.00

Buy Now
Microsoft Software Office Home And Business 2010 English Pc Attach Key Product Key Card For 1pc (Amazon) Amazon Logo

$219.69

Buy Now
Microsoft Office Home & Student 2010 - 3pc/1user (disc Version) (Amazon) Amazon Logo

$179.99

Buy Now
Microsoft Office Home & Business 2010 Product Key Card- 1pc/1user [download] (Amazon) Amazon Logo

$150.09

Buy Now
Go! With Microsoft Office 2010, Vol. 1, And Student Videos (Amazon) Amazon Logo

$128.49



Buy Now

Microsoft Office Home & Student 2010 - 3pc/1user [download] (Amazon) Amazon Logo

$124.99

Buy Now
Microsoft Office Home & Student 2010 Product Key Card- 1pc/1user [download] (Amazon) Amazon Logo

$99.99

Buy Now
New Perspectives On Microsoft Office 2010, First Course (Amazon) Amazon Logo

$87.20



Buy Now

Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Desktop 7000 (Amazon) Amazon Logo

$81.78



Buy Now

Microsoft Office 2010: Introductory (shelly Cashman Series(r) Office 2010) (Amazon) Amazon Logo

$69.49



Buy Now

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

The top 15 organizations business majors want to work for after graduation

Google employee headphones

Where do business students want to work these days?

To find out, Universum, a global research and advisory firm, surveyed 81,102 students from 359 universities in the US about their views on employers.

Out of those respondents, 26,809 were studying business.

Universum ranked a number of well-known companies (and a few governmental agencies), based on the percentage of business students who reported that they’d want to work for the organization.

Here are the top 15 organizations that business students have their eyes on:

SEE ALSO: The 5 best fields for recent grads to find a job right now

15. Microsoft

Microsoft is an American tech company based in Redmond, California.

Percentage of business students who want to work there: 6.16%

14. Patagonia

Patagonia is an outdoor clothing brand that was founded in 1973.

Percentage of business students who want to work there: 6.17%

13. PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers)

One of the “Big Four” accounting firms, PwC is based in London.

Percentage of business students who want to work there: 6.61%

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

The director of 'The Circle' explains why the movie makes huge changes from the book

The Circle

“Kill Your Darlings” is a phrase often used in the world of writing and movies. Made famous by William Faulkner, it refers to deleting material that’s near and dear to the creator’s heart for the sake of making their story better.

It’s something writer-director James Ponsoldt (“The End of the Tour”) knows all too well after adapting to the screen Dave Eggers’ popular 2013 novel “The Circle” (in theaters Friday).

“I think any novel that is as ambitious as this one, there was a big unyielding collection of ideas and characters and plots at the start of writing the script,” Ponsoldt told Business Insider a day after the movie had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. “I think a very literal adaptation of this book would make for a good miniseries, but for a movie, it was figuring out which characters were absolutely essential.”

A cautionary tale of the all-consuming technology and social media around us, the movie stars Emma Watson as Mae Holland, a idealistic twenty something who finally gets her dream job, working at the powerful tech company The Circle. Dazzled by the “anything is possible” vibe of the campus (think Google), she catches the eye of the company’s co-founders, Eamon Bailey (Tom Hanks) and Tom Stenton (Patton Oswalt), and agrees to take part in the company’s latest big idea — wearing a camera and being 100% transparent to the world all day long. Now having millions of viewers following her every move, Mae becomes a sensation at The Circle and has bigger ideas, ones that bring up questions about privacy and surveillance throughout the world.

The Circle STX EntertainmentLike in the book, Mae is driven to know everything about The Circle and aspires to change the world through its innovations. But fans of the book will find some major tweaks in the movie version. A big one taken out is the love triangle Mae has in the book with fellow Circle employees Francis and the mysterious Kalden.

Instead, the roles were combined into the character of Ty in the movie, played by John Boyega (“Star Wars: The Force Awakens”). Though Ty and Mae seems to have a romantic chemistry, he has more of the Kalden character in him, as Ty is the off-the-grid former wunderkind at the company that reveals to Mae the dark secrets of The Circle.

Ponsoldt said the Francis character was in early drafts of the script, but was lifted as he didn’t feel central to Mae’s evolution at The Circle.

“It felt like to properly do justice to that love triangle you would have been another 45 minutes of screen time,” Ponsoldt said. “There would have been a totally valid movie that focuses on that, but I think the idea of privacy and surveillance are central to the novel and I wanted to explore that.”

To do that, Ponsoldt also changed the tone of the ending. In the book, Mae comes off as unsympathetic about how the ideas she’s come up with about The Circle imposing on people’s privacy, even those close to her, have led to disastrous results. The movie gives a more hopeful ending.

James Ponsoldt Theo Wargo Getty final“I love the ending in the book and in adapting there were a lot of conversations with Dave and with Emma, and it was a feeling that if the audience feels that Mae is purely evil then it becomes too binary or some propaganda film,” Ponsoldt said. “I’m not technophobic, I don’t think technology is inherently bad, I think technology is great. My issue is more with the companies that are bringing us all that great stuff. Why do they have to collect, store, and perhaps monetize our private information? That was the spirit that we wanted to have with the movie and of Emma’s character at the end. She means well, I think, to the very end.”

Ponsoldt wrote the script on spec soon after completing his acclaimed 2015 movie “The End of the Tour.” Following numerous conversations with Eggers, in which Ponsoldt said the author encouraged him to tweak his story for it to work on screen, Tom Hanks and his production company Playtone came on board and helped get the project off the ground.

Ponsoldt is not the first or last writer-director who made sacrifices from a book he loves to get it on screen. But he believes the core of what Eggers tried to get across in book form is in the movie.

“For me, Mae is in many ways the future of where technology is going and we like disrupters coming along and changing the status quo, but it’s also not always for the better,” Ponsoldt said. “I think we can certainly see that with the elections in the UK and the US in the past year, where outside forces disrupt things to disastrous effects. I think the ending of the movie has an ambiguity and one hopes for the best and believes that youthfulness and idealism will make things better, but it doesn’t always work that way.”

 

SEE ALSO: Jenny Slate and Zachary Quinto explain why making movies isn’t always about the money

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Watch the first trailer for ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

I've taken 3 DNA tests that told me about my ancestry — here's how to choose which one to try

Helix DNA 7

I’ve sent my spit off for more genetics tests than anyone else I know.

These tests analyzed my saliva sample to find out a host of different things that my DNA can tell me about my ancestry and health. 

Genetic testing companies have proprietary sets of data and various ways of analyzing information, so each one I tried offered a distinc approach to how they presented my results and what information they gave me. One provided details about my great-grand relatives, while others listed how much Neanderthal DNA I have. 

Every so often, someone asks me which test I recommend. And my answer boils down to one question: What do you want to get out of the test? 

Let’s compare the three direct-to-consumer ones I’ve tried out: AncestryDNA, 23andMe and National Geographic’s Geno 2.0 test. 

23andMe

23andMe kit

23andMe currently offers two versions of its tests: The $199 version comes with health and ancestry components, whereas the $99 version just has the ancestry test.

The health reports can tell you information about your physical traits, (like if you’re likely to have dimples or curly hair), wellness (how well you metabolize caffeine or if you’re a sprinter), and carrier status for certain genetic mutations. In April, the FDA began allowing 23andMe to provide reports on a person’s genetic health risk for certain diseases, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. In total, the test now has more than 74 reports

To analyze your DNA, 23andMe uses a technique called genotyping. Humans have 3 billion base pairs of DNA in our genome — that’s a lot of information to sift through — so genotyping technology looks for specific parts of DNA and pieces them together.

With 23andMe’s ancestry reports, users have access to information about their ancestry composition (which geographic regions your genes most closely align with), haplogroups (genetic populations that share a common ancestor), and Neanderthal ancestry. They also get access to something called a DNA Relatives tool, which 23andMe users can opt into to connect with other users and find out whether they have relatives in the system.

 

Screen Shot 2015 12 17 at 5.54.33 PM

Verdict: If you’re looking at this test as a science experiment, using it as a way to get involved in research, or viewing it as a chance to learn about your genetic health risks, then this is the test for you. And if you just want to know your ancestry percentages and how much Neanderthal variants you have, the $99 version is a good bet. If you do opt for the full test, however, there are some considerations patient groups and genetic counselors would like users to take into account

If you’re primarily interested in retracing your ancestry, though, read on.

AncestryDNA

AncestryDNA test box

Ancestry’s test, as its name suggests, is all about family histories and genealogy. You won’t find health and wellness reports in its $99 test, but you will find information about where your family comes from and how that lineage connects you to potential ancestors. Like 23andMe, Ancestry uses genotyping technology to analyze your DNA. The service also helps you link up your DNA test to a self-reported family tree. 

There’s a lot to discover within that ancestry data — for example, I was matched up with ancestors dating back to the 18th century, and could explore how I was connected to them. 

Screen Shot 2016 03 30 at 4.41.49 PM

If you simply want to know what percent Scandinavian you are, Ancestry’s site makes it easy to focus on those numbers. Those who want to dig deep into your family tree can do that as well. I would definitely consider purchasing this test for a relative who enjoys researching family history.

Verdict: If the idea of tracing your family tree through the generations and connecting with distant relatives gets you excited — but you’re less interested in receiving health information — this is the test for you. 

National Geographic

Helix DNA 1National Geographic has an ancestry test called Geno 2.0.

The test — which currently costs $149.95 but originally was $199.95 — is different from the others in that it uses next-generation sequencing instead of the genotyping technology that AncestryDNA and 23andMe rely on. 

Unlike genotyping, which just looks for specific parts of DNA and pieces them together, next-generation sequencing looks at only the protein-encoding parts of your genome — called the exome. The next-generation sequencing analyzes roughly 2% of those 3 billion base pairs. The additional information this technique picks up could lead to new, more specific genetic testing features in the future, especially as our knowledge of the genome and exome continues to grow.

Helix DNA 5

Based on next-generation sequencing, National Geographic’s test provides three ancestry reports.

  • Regional, which tells you where your ancestors came from more than 500 years ago. This didn’t get into as many specifics in my case as AncestryDNA and 23andMe’s tests did. 
  • Deep, which shows your ancestors’ migration patterns thousands of years ago.
  • Hominin ancestry, which tells you how much DNA you have in common with a Neanderthal.

The verdict: For what you get, the test doesn’t have nearly the range that other ancestry tests have. And it’s more expensive than the other two $99 options, though National Geographic says the revenue funds nonprofit “conservation, exploration, research, and education” efforts.

Other ancestry tests:

There are, of course, other tests I have yet to try.

MyHeritage, for example, has a DNA test that’s currently going for $79 (originally $99). Its tests, like Ancestry’s, are focused on building family connections and trees. 

Others, like FamilyTree DNA (which offers tests from $59) are also geared toward those wanting to find genetic links to relatives.

Conclusion: Each company has its own methods, algorithms, and data, and the reports can differ a bit. Because the three main direct-to-consumer genetics tests come in at around the same price point, you should go with the one that will answer your most pressing questions.

SEE ALSO: I shipped my spit to AncestryDNA to see how much I could learn from my genes — and found out my family history is more complex than I thought

DON’T MISS: I revisited my 23andMe DNA test results that can now tell if you’re at an increased risk of diseases — here’s what it was like

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Biologists caught rare footage of the mysterious ‘seven-armed’ octopus clutching something exciting in its mouth

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Fyre Festival organizer says he was 'naive' about the luxury event that became a nightmare — but he's still planning another one

billy mcfarland ja rule fyre

The Fyre Festival was supposed to be an escape to an island paradise, where you and your friends could party with super models and indulge in luxury.

What those who spent $450-$12,000 for a ticket actually got, however, was a day spent trapped on an island, allegedly with no plumbing, a processed cheese sandwich, few musicians, and airport officials who reportedly padlocked dehydrated attendees waiting for a plane to escape.

The festival was the brainchild of young entrepreneur Billy McFarland and early 2000s rap star Ja Rule.

After hours of social media postings from attendees who learned shortly upon arrival on the Bahamian island that the festival was canceled and that there were no flights home or hotels to stay at, Ja Rule posted on Twitter, denying the allegation the festival was a scam while also apologizing.

McFarland broke his silence late on Friday with an apology on Rolling Stone, and spoke again on Saturday morning through a video he sent to TMZ.

“We were overwhelmed and just didn’t have the foresight to solve all these problems,” McFarland told Rolling Stone, adding that he and his team were “a little naive.” He said that he would atone for the failure by refunding all attendees this weekend and offering them access to a free festival in the US later this year. He said that the Fyre Festival as it was intended will re-launch in 2018, and that $1.50 of every ticket would go to the Red Cross in the Bahamas (later saying in the TMZ video each donation would be $1.00).

“Next year, we will definitely start earlier,” he said.

On Saturday morning, McFarland told TMZ that promoters and artists had already reached out to him, and that he was working with them on next year’s festival, to be held at a beach location in the US.

McFarland created Fyre with Ja Rule in 2015, and told the story of how they came together last November at the MusicNotes Conference.

McFarland was interested in putting on a music event of some sort and decided to find the representative of Ja Rule, one of his favorite artists. His first stop was Instagram, where he found a guy going by “Reggie Muscles” who claimed to be the rapper’s representative. Reggie Muscles requested $500 for a meeting with Ja Rule.

Instead of the rapper, Muscles passed McFarland to “Big Fred,” who made the same request. This repeated several times, McFarland said, until he finally found himself on a helicopter with Ja Rule after spending thousands to finally get to him. It was here, he said, that he learned Ja Rule had no idea McFarland had been trying to book him.

And thus Fyre was born, they said, as a way to cut out the middle men and create a festival that dealt with artists directly.

This year’s event was supposed to be headlined by Blink-182, who canceled shortly before the event, citing a lack of resources provided by Fyre.

In his Rolling Stone account, McFarland said he and Ja Rule picked the Exumas section of the Bahamas because of its beauty. He said that he later learned that there was no working water or sewage on the island. He told TMZ that he had to ship an ambulance to the island from New Jersey for the event.

McFarland claimed that he didn’t cancel the event sooner because things didn’t turn so bad until a storm late Wednesday night destroyed much of the event’s infrastructure.

This isn’t the first time McFarland has faced complaints for failing to deliver. Earlier this year, Business Insider reported that many members of McFarland’s Magnises club for millennials said that Magnises regularly canceled events with little notice, and that their Magnises credit cards were frauduently charged.

As for Fyre, McFarland said he’s moving forward and will be more prepared next time, assuming that actually happens.

“We underestimated the size of the team we’d need,” he told TMZ. “We had 300 full-time festival staff this year … we would seek to multiply that by a large factor for next year.”

SEE ALSO: Here’s what Fyre Festival attendees thought they were getting when they bought $12,000 tickets — and here’s the nightmarish reality

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Fyre Festival expectations vs. reality — here’s what attendees thought they were getting when they bought $12,000 tickets

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

This futuristic $300 white noise machine helped me get the best sleep ever

woman sleeping

White-noise machines are not a modern concept. But a white-noise machine that creates a sound blanket customized to your room’s acoustics? That’s new. 

And that’s what the Nightingale does: It’s a smart sleep system that masks all sorts of sounds, like car horns outside or snoring in the next room.

The Nightingale works by plugging into the outlets in a room and emitting noise based on the acoustic makeup of the space. If your bedroom is mainly glass and concrete, for example, Nightingale will emit sounds that won’t echo off those reflective surfaces. 

I’ve now been sleeping with the Nightingale turned on for more the last week. Here’s what it’s like. 

SEE ALSO: This adorable device might be the world’s smallest 4G smartphone — check it out

It’s easy to install — and there’s no need to give up an outlet.

Nightingale consists of two rectangular boxes that plug into the wall outlets in your bedroom. The nice thing about the devices is that they have pass-through plugs, so you don’t have to sacrifice outlet space in your room. 

Since the devices only need an outlet to work, Nightingale says you can travel with them, put them in hospital rooms, or move them around in your house. They also don’t need to be unobstructed or out the open, so it’s OK if you want to hide the devices behind furniture. 

The Nightingale also serves as a nightlight, if you need it.

Both devices have lights that glow either green, red, yellow, blue, or white to light your way to bed. I opted not to use the lights because they’re very bright, but they can be helpful if your room gets very dark at night. 

Finding your “custom sound blanket” is pretty simple.

To use Nightingale, you’ll need to download the iOS app (it’s coming to Android soon). Once you plug in the two devices, you’ll have to give Nightingale some information about the room it’s in. Is it a hospital? A nursery? A master bedroom? 

From there, you’ll need to tell the app a bit about the materials in the room. If your room is carpeted, your bedding is plush, and you have thick curtains, the sound will be a lot different than if your room has high ceilings and concrete floors. 

My bedroom is pretty standard: it has hardwood floors and big windows, but it’s not particularly big and all my bedroom furniture is wood. I also don’t have tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or a roommate that snores, so Nightingale chose the basic “General Bedroom Blanket” setting for my room. But there are 15 total sound blanket preferences within the app based on the type of room and your sleeping conditions. 

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Nintendo just unveiled a new portable console — here's what it is and why you should want one

nintendo 3ds

Nintendo’s blockbuster Switch is a new kind of video-game console that can be plugged into a TV for big-screen gaming, or pocketed for portable action.

But the Switch isn’t Nintendo’s only portable console.

The Nintendo 3DS has been on the market since 2011, meaning it has a deeper bench of top-tier games. Plus, as a portable-only gadget, it gets way better battery life than the Switch. 

And late Thursday night, Nintendo made the surprise announcement of the New Nintendo 2DS XL, a new $149 console in the 3DS console lineup, on sale in July. It’s like the regular Nintendo 3DS consoles, minus the 3D aspect.

Picking between the Nintendo 3DS and 2DS can seem a little tricky. Luckily, we’re here to help.

SEE ALSO: Nintendo’s Wii U was a flop, but here’s why you should consider buying one on Black Friday

The original Nintendo 3DS first launched in 2011. The bottom screen is for touch, complete with a little stylus.

The 3DS is Nintendo’s follow-up to the massively successful Nintendo DS, pictured here. The Nintendo DS was the best-selling game console of all time with 154 million units sold.

The 3DS doesn’t try to reinvent the wheel. It adds a joystick for better control in games, sports overall better graphics, and can display games in 3D, without the need for any kind of glasses. Hence the name.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

How Echo Look could feed Amazon’s big data fueled fashion ambitions

 This week Amazon took the wraps off a new incarnation of its Alexa voice assistant, giving the AI an eye so it can see as well as speak and hear. The Echo Look also contains a depth sensor that’s being used, in the first instance, to create a bokeh effect for a hands-free style selfies feature that Amazon is hoping will sell the device to fashion lovers, by making their outfits pop… Read More

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Despite setbacks and job cuts, Google is promising a big update in its race against Amazon’s delivery drones (GOOG, GOOGL)

Project Wing drone

Project Wing, the delivery drone initiative under development at Google-parent Alphabet, felt another jolt of turbulence this week as more members of the team were officially cut loose.

But even as sources inside the high-profile group report ongoing challenges, the drone unit is preparing an important update to demonstrate progress that’s expected in a matter of weeks.

Business Insider has heard from multiple people that a group of employees left the team this week. And despite getting a big shout-out from Alphabet CEO Larry Page in a recent public letter, Project Wing is still not close to being ready to launch, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Our sources are calling the latest job reductions at Wing a layoff, however an X spokesperson explains that these cuts are not new but rather the final part of the reorganization that began in January, shortly after the departure of the unit’s leader Dave Vos in the fall.

Employees were informed back then that their jobs were going away and they had until mid-April to land another one elsewhere including within Google. Some of the affected employees managed to get hired into new groups, while others are no longer employed by Alphabet.

“X (and Alphabet generally) typically gives people time and support to find new roles when there are changes in teams/projects,” a spokesperson told Business Insider.

Ambitious initiatives like Project Wing, which is trying to invent a drone that can deliver packages, is by definition a risky undertaking with no guarantee of success. 

Wing is part of X, formerly known as Google X, which is the company’s R&D unit working on far-out “moonshot” projects, racing against Amazon and drone makers like DJI to usher in what may one day be a massive new market, delivering everything from food to medicine straight to people’s doorsteps.

Stress test

All told, since January, between layoffs and people quitting, Project Wing’s workforce has been reduced by about 10%. However, that’s not very many people, less than a dozen. We understand that Wing employs about 70 people.

The main team that has been dismantled with Project Wing’s reorganization is the one that was working business product strategy, doing things like crafting partnerships with Chipotle and Starbucks, the Wall Street Journal reported last fall and a source close to the project confirmed with Business Insider. A potential partnership with Starbucks was nixed when that happened, as Bloomberg reported at the time. 

Project Wing has experienced a ton of change and turmoil since its beginnings in 2012 and has a reputation for stress and politics, more than one person familiar with the project has told us.

One guy, who was working long hours out-of-doors testing the drone, even collapsed on the job and was briefly hospitalized, sources previously told us. He was later let go as part of the team’s reorganization, people told us.

It’s not clear if Wing’s disruptions will cease now that the final employees whose jobs were cut back in January have moved on.

Grandfathered in

The turmoil stems in part because Wing is one of X’s earliest cornerstone projects, one person speculated to us. This project was created before Google reorganized itself into Alphabet and forced X to implement more stringent business analysis, hiring practices and cost controls on the projects it funded.

Dave VosThese days, it’s difficult to get a job at X, we understand. People can no longer get hired into X just because one of their buddies works there, a marked change from earlier days when the so-called moonshot factory was a freewheeling hive of experimental projects.

Wing’s first leader was famed MIT robotics scientist Nick Roy, who worked there during a two year sabbatical then went back to his tenured job at MIT. Various engineers joined Wing during those earlier years, including people from MIT who followed Roy there and left when he did, our source told us.

Roy was replaced by Vos. And Vos was pushed out by a coup of sorts when a group of employees, led by a trio of managers hired in the earlier era, went to the leader of X, Astro Teller, and made their case against Vos. (Vos did not return our request for comment.)

The initial design of Project Wing, a fixed wing aircraft that took off and landed like a helicopter, had proven to be a bust, and other internal problems plagued the team even as it shifted to a new drone design. Teller sided with the faction of protesters and Vos was out. Each of the three men were then put in charge of crucial elements of the newly designed drone and Teller himself took over as the project’s leader, we understand.

Everyone is watching

Project Wing is being watched at the highest levels of Google. X is Google cofounder Sergey Brin’s baby and he keeps tabs on many of the projects. We understand that he keeps a desk at Project Wing and talks with the team regularly.

Larry Page, the co-founder of Google who is now CEO of its parent company Alphabet, also called out Wing in his annual letter to shareholders just published on Thursday.

“Sergey is continuing to spend time working with the X moonshot factory. They have a number of efforts like Wing, which is doing drone delivery. I also can’t wait for them to launch!” he wrote.

Google Project WingHowever, the person we talked tells us that the drone still needs a lot of work as is not on the verge of becoming its own company and product. This person didn’t estimate when that would happen.

Despite the politics, Alphabet remains committed to the project and says there’s exciting news to be shared soon.

“Project Wing is moving ahead at full speed and we’re enthusiastic about the team’s progress in developing the next phase of our technology. We’re wholeheartedly committed to the moonshot of opening the skies to faster, more efficient transportation of goods, and we look forward to having updates to share in the coming weeks,” the spokesperson told us.

SEE ALSO: The alarming inside story of a failed Google acquisition, and an employee who was hospitalized

SEE ALSO: The return of Joe Lonsdale: How the cofounder of multibillion-dollar company Palantir was vilified in Silicon Valley, then bounced back

Join the conversation about this story »

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,