Category Archives: Cloud Computing

Snapchat's first investor explains why the app is so confusing to use (SNAP)

Snapchat app

One of the longstanding criticisms of Snapchat is that the app is confusing and not very intuitive to use.

Snapchat’s parent company, Snap Inc., even went so far as to include a guide on how to use the app in its public offering paperwork with the SEC.

The reason Snapchat can feel hard to understand happens to be the same reason it’s popular with younger people, according to Snapchat’s first investor, Jeremy Liew of Lightspeed Ventures.

In a comment on a recent Medium post titled “Why Snapchat’s Design is Deliberately Confusing,” Liew explained that Snapchat’s design “is confusing to some because it breaks traditional metaphors and conventions for app design. Hence it is confusing to those who are expecting those conventions.”

“But to those who do not come in with any expectations about ‘how an app should work’, it isn’t confusing at all,” he continued. “In fact, it is MORE intuitive because it takes a fresh look at UI from first principles, rather than starting with established metaphor. And because it is more intuitive, it rewards those who use the app heavily.”

here are the five main screens that comprise snapchat

Snapchat is touting its youthful appeal and high engagement metrics — like being opened 18 times per day on average — as it prepares for a blockbuster IPO. The app’s design is a key Snapchat for to keep its young users addicted, according to Liew.

“This is why Snapchat found an initial user base with teens; those with the least expectation for what UI ‘should’ look like, and those who use it the most,” he said.

Snapchat’s “unfolded cube” design, as Liew put it, is a different take on how to navigate an app. Instead of using a menu button or drop-down, you simply swipe in any direction to move between different parts of the app.

If you’re interested in Snapchat’s design, Liew’s full comment and the original “Why Snapchat’s Design is Deliberately Confusing” article he references are both worth a read.

SEE ALSO: How Snapchat’s first investor found Snapchat when it had less than 100,000 users

DON’T MISS: Watch Snapchat’s CEO explain what makes the app special

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NOW WATCH: Teens told us the brands they love and can’t live without

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How Amazon’s payments service could solve its biggest weakness against PayPal (AMZN, PYPL)

jeff bezos

Amazon has tried for years to grow Amazon Payments, but the results have been mixed so far.

The service, which allows customers to make online purchases using the information stored in their Amazon accounts, saw 33 million users last year, up 43% year-over-year, while doubling its total payment volume.

But despite its growth, Amazon Payments is still not available at some of the largest online retailers, including Walmart or Target, giving up a huge chunk of the market to other payment vendors, like PayPal (which now has roughly 200 million users).

Amazon’s biggest weakness against other standalone payment providers is that big online retailers see Amazon as a competitor and fear they might be sharing important sales data by adopting its payments service. It’s why a lot of merchants are still hesitant about Amazon Payments, despite the  roughly 300 million accounts stored in Amazon.com.

So what can Amazon do to expand its payments service?

According to Andreessen Horowitz’s investor Alex Rampell, that fear of Amazon monitoring data is likely not going to go away anytime soon, even though Amazon denies those accusations. That means Amazon will have to become more creative with its approach.

“Amazon Payments has tremendous amount of potential. But it has to be a little more innovative to make it more attractive and more compelling to consumers,” Rampell told Business Insider.

Rampell, who’s also cofounded payment service startup Affirm with PayPal cofounder Max Levchin, gave the following suggestions for Amazon Payments to get to the next level:

  1. Go for the long-tail: Instead of targeting the top 100 online merchants, partner with the next million online retailers, who don’t view Amazon as a foe but a friend. In most cases, they’re likely already sellers on Amazon’s marketplace, making it easier to partner up. He sees companies like Uber or Instacart as good possibilities too, because they’re not direct competitors. “A lot of the top 100 merchants, I don’t expect them to add amazon anytime soon. The next million is where Amazon should do well,” Rampell said.
  2. Leverage Amazon’s retail service: Create a distributed shopping cart by offering discounts if the customer pays through Amazon Payments and spends a certain amount on Amazon.com. For example, the Gogo in-flight wifi service could give a $5 discount to Amazon Payment users, only if they also spend $100 on Amazon.com. “This is a cool example of what they could do both as a retailer and effectively as a payment company,” Rampell said.

Efficiently served market

Most investors seem to agree Amazon Payments has huge upside. The 300 million or so Amazon accounts is a huge market to tap in to.

In fact, RBC Capital’s analyst Mark Mahaney previously called it an “underappreciated” part of Amazon, pointing out that it already owns a sizeable enough market share to potentially become the next big revenue driver for the company.

But Mahaney is not convinced Amazon is ready to double down in Payments, and may decide instead to invest in other areas, like its grocery delivery or shipping logistics businesses. It’s perhaps why we still haven’t heard much about it, despite Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos having told the team to “move faster” nearly three years ago.

“The one challenge here to whether this really becomes the fourth pillar for Amazon is that it’s already a reasonably efficiently served market,” Mahaney said.

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SEE ALSO: Amazon’s massive cloud business failed to live up to expectations for the first time — but investors aren’t worried

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21 skyscrapers that will transform London's skyline by 2020

SpireLondon,GreenlandGroup,exteriorfacade(day)

With planning permission being granted for building projects further away from the city’s two financial districts, London’s skyline is going to transform over the next three years.

We listed some of the most striking developments across the city that are set for completion by 2020.

While Stratford, Canary Wharf, and Lambeth appear to be the most dominant areas in terms of up-and-coming buildings, new skyscrapers will be cropping up all across London, including two new high-rises in the heart of the City itself.

From Paddington to Stratford, here are the buildings shaking up the city’s skyline right now.

The Scalpel, the City — 2017

Designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF),  the tower at 52 Lime Street will be 190m tall, with 35 floors of offices above ground and mezzanine levels, and include a public square which leads onto the area shared by the Lloyd’s of London and Willis buildings.

The “Scalpel” — which is due for completion in 2017 — was designed as a visual counterpart to the neighbouring “Cheesegrater” building, and is slanted in order to not disturb the closely guarded view of St Paul’s Cathedral. 

Chelsea waterfront, Chelsea — 2019

Designed by architect Sir Terry Farrell, Chelsea Waterfront will include two glass residential towers of 37 and 25 storeys, three riverside buildings arranged around landscaped gardens and the redevelopment of the Lots Road Power Station. The development will also include shops, restaurants, and bars together with a residents’ gym.

Keybridge House, Lambeth — 2017

Due for completion this year, Keybridge will be the UK’s tallest residential brick tower. Designed by Allies and Morrison, it will include eight-storey Keybridge House, and Keybridge Lofts, which stands 37 storeys, adding a unique red-brick building to the sea of glass skyscrapers in Vauxhall. Inside, it will host a club lounge, landscaped gardens, a swimming pool, gym and spa with sauna and steam room.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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RANKED: The 15 tech companies that pay interns the most

The Internship Google

Interns are unflatteringly stereotyped as a lowly role — making coffee, photocopying for hours on end, and getting paid little more than expenses.

This definitely isn’t the case in Silicon Valley.

Internships at America’s top tier tech companies are highly prized, and the businesses compete fiercely with one another for the very best young engineering talent.

There’s no expenses-only or minimum wage salaries here. Many tech interns are paid upwards of $6,000 per month — far more than some people in other industries make with decades of experience under their belt.

Using data provided by Glassdoor, a site for reviewing employers, we’ve ranked the 15 highest-paying internships in the US technology industry today. Everyone from Google to Uber is included, but the number one spot goes to a company you might not expect. Check it out below.

Note: The figures listed are monthly salaries, for companies with 10 or more intern salaries submitted to Glassdoor within the last two years. The salaries listed are all for internships based in the US. Conversions into pounds have been provided, but the amounts paid by these companies to their interns in Britain — and elsewhere in the world — will likely vary from what is paid in the US.

15 (tied). Yahoo: $6,333/month (£5,100)

A former intern said:

“The pay and benefits are promising. Lots of fun activities during my internship. A must-mention: the foods are really good! The people are very friendly and the working pace is very proper for me: people work hard, but not too intensive.”

15 (tied). Twitter: $6,333/month (£5,100)

A former intern said:

“The interns are usually well-programmed. From they day one you can be on top of your project. I interned at Google Inc before and comparing to my previous experiment Twitter was awesome. The company is mid-size so you have place to grow.”

15 (tied). Expedia: $6,333/month (£5,100)

A former intern said:

“The company culture is great, with strong sense of belonging and great work-life balance. Coworkers were extremely friendly … Expedia is a HUGE company at this point, and the work is distributed very efficiently–meaning not much room for creativity in everyday work.”

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Why House of Fraser is investing £35 million in app-only bank Tandem

Ricky Knox, Tandem.

LONDON — Eyebrows were raised in December when department store House of Fraser announced it was investing at least £35 million in Tandem, a UK startup that’s building an app-only bank.

Since when did department stores get into venture capital investing? And why is House of Fraser investing in a bank?

House of Fraser said it would offer financial services to customers through its partnership with Tandem and the department store’s chairman Frank Slevin said in a statement at the time that the deal “is just one illustration of how we’ll deliver a meaningfully different set of services to our customers.”

Rick Knox, the cofounder of Tandem, spoke to Business Insider to explain the logic of the deal for both sides.

“We were introduced to somebody who was aware that they had financial services in their strategy,” he said.

“[House of Fraser] is owned by [Chinese investment group] Sanpower and Sanpower in China own Nanjing Cenbest department stores. They’ve created a financial services empire off the back of that base, they’re in wealth management, everything. This is pretty core to their strategy, actually developing a financial services relationship.”

House of Fraser hopes to replicate this successful push into financial services in the UK and use Tandem as a beachhead to do so.

Sanpower purchased a controlling stake in the department store in 2014 and pledged to roll the store out across Asia. However, the Financial Times reported last July that these plans had been shelved as the retailer struggled with a $300 million debt pile and online competition. House of Fraser turned a small £100,000 profit last year, following five straight years of losses.

Knox said: “If you think about it in the very long term, digital disruption is already hurting retail, it’s probably going to keep going. The role of the physical retail site is changing. Their challenge and opportunity is to develop a deeper relationship with the customer and figure out some sticky long-term revenue streams.”

Tandem plans to offer a cobranded version of its products to House of Fraser customers, which the department store will sell to its customers.

Tandem, which gained its banking licence in 2014, currently offers a savings tool that lets people monitor spending on any bank account. It began rolling out its app last month and plans to launch credit and debit products next year, which will include tools to help people switch tariffs and service providers within the app to the best rate for them.

Knox said: “There is a global aspect to the deal, they’ve got a big China presence, a big US presence, a bit scattered around other countries. That’s definitely in the roadmap, but not the first step.

Tandem has yet to fully launch to the public. It is testing products with a group of around 10,000 customers. Knox says: “We could do with a few million customers and we think our product is very much going to speak for itself but you need to get to a certain level of adoption for that to really start to have its own wings.”

“We’d been talking to a number of retailers, House of Fraser was one of the most far-sighted. They’re really interested in serving their customers. We were looking for partners that were interested in actually teaming up with us and doing their customers a favour. Helping save their customers a load of money and eventually bringing our banking products to them.”

Knox added that the House of Fraser tie-up was by no means Tandem’s sole growth strategy. He said: “We’re going out direct. This is an adjunct. I’m very focused on direct acquisition although in year one we’ll probably be doing more customers through House of Fraser than direct.”

Tandem was valued at £65 million in its last funding round. Knox said the House of Fraser deal represents a “significant uplift” but wouldn’t disclose its latest valuation. Tandem has raised over £55 million to date, including more than £1 million through a crowdfunding. Backers include eBay cofounder Pierre Omidyar.

 

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A London startup that posts flowers through people's letter boxes has raised £3.75 million

Bloom & Wild

A London startup that posts packaged flowers through people’s letterboxes has raised £3.75 million to help it expand its business across Europe.

Founded in 2013 by Oxford graduate Aron Gelbard and former Hedge Fund partner Ben Stanway, Bloom & Wild claims to deliver tens of thousands of bouquets a month to customers in the UK and Ireland.

Total investment in the company, which allows people to order fresh flowers via an app, now stands at £7.25 million.

Bloom & Wild said the additional funds will be used to improve the customer experience, develop new products, expand Bloom & Wild’s corporate gifting business, and expand Bloom & Wild into new markets across Europe.

“People’s most exciting moments come straight to their mobile via WhatsApp or other messaging services — we’re enabling them to order flowers and gifts from the palm of their hand with better product, designs and payments,” said Gelbard in a statement.

“Our mission is to make sending and receiving flowers a joy, using technology to turn emotions into an action in the simplest and most beautiful way possible. This attention to detail sits as a core value to our ambition to be Europe’s most loved flower brand.”

The funding round was led by Burda Principal Investments, Hubert Burda Media’s investment unit, while previous investors MMC Ventures and the company’s other angel investors also participated.

Camilla Dolan, director at MMC Ventures, said in a statement: “Aron and his team’s commitment to delighting customers through the power of flower continues to amaze and impress us and is reflected in the business’s growth to date – it is exactly this kind of focus and ambition we seek to support at MMC Ventures.

“We welcome Burda Principal Investments as a co-investor and are confident that this additional funding will allow Bloom & Wild to further develop its market-leading position using technology to bring joy to its customers.”

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A 29-year-old CEO named to Forbes 30 under 30 shares his advice for young entrepreneurs

Screen Shot 2017 02 07 at 4.29.41 PM

RapidSOS, a New York-based startup that’s modernizing the way people connect with emergency services, is growing quick. 

Their smartphone app Haven, which allows users to transmit their exact location to emergency dispatchers, was launched in June 2016 and the company expects to be in a million devices by the end of this year. 

RapidSOS’s founder Michael Martin was recently named to the 2017 Forbes’ 30 under 30 list for healthcare

The 29-year-old entrepreneur told Business Insider his idea for the app was inspired by a “quintessential New York experience.”

“I was walking home late at night when I noticed that someone was following me,” he said.

“I didn’t want to attract attention by dialing 911 on my phone, so I ended up calling an Uber,” he added.

And that’s when it hit him. Contacting 911 should be just as easy as getting an Uber.

The main selling point of the app, however, isn’t its convenience. Martin said it addresses some of the issues that underpin the emergency dispatch infrastructure.

nypd, cop car, cop, cops, police car, police, night, nyc, sept 2011, business insider, dng“The system was built back when landlines were king and so it’s not well equipped to handle cell phones,” he said.

“Over 10,000 people die a year because calls drops or dispatchers can’t accurately pinpoint a person’s location,” Martin added.

Martin told Business Insider that his entrepreneurial journey wasn’t a cake walk, and that it took almost four years to bring the product to market.

In addition to raising hundreds of thousands of dollars from various student entrepreneurial contests including the Harvard Innovation Challenge, Martin said he and his team had over 10,000 conversations with industry experts.

We asked Martin to share his best advice for young aspiring entrepreneurs. He said they should consider three things:

Importance of passion. When you’re starting a company there are so many ups and downs and tons of challenges. If it’s not something you’re passionate about, you’re going to be miserable.

Take on a big problem. I always encourage my younger peers to avoid anything that’s too comfortable. If you’re too comfortable, then you’re not being challenged. Do something that’s different and that will make difference.

It’s not all about disruption. The notion of disruption is very in vogue these days. But from my experience, it’s not always about disrupting an existing industry but partnering with it and then improving it.

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Scientists across the US are scrambling to save government research in ‘Data Rescue’ events

  • Groups are downloading and archiving government data out of fear the Trump administration might delete it.
  • Some sites have already undergone changes.
  • A Congressional caucus and the New York Attorney General’s office are also starting to address the issue.

Data Rescue NYC EDGI

Laptops in hand, roughly 150 people descended on an NYU building over the weekend to spend their Saturday downloading data.

Amid pizza boxes stacked next to a variety of 2-liter soda bottles, volunteers — mostly programmers, software developers, system administrators, scientists, and librarians by day — made their way through a list of government websites, flagging them to be preserved and downloading the data sets they contained.

The 8-hour event, called Data Rescue NYC, is the latest in a series of similar gatherings organized by a group called the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI). The organization is attempting to download and archive data generated by government agencies like the EPA and NOAA that they believe is at risk of being taken down by the Trump administration. EDGI is also working to save versions of webpages and monitor sites for changes to wording about topics like climate change.

By the end of the day on February 4, the New York volunteers had archived over 5,000 websites and downloaded nearly 100 gigabytes worth of data sets.

The downloading efforts have only been underway for a few months — EDGI formed after Trump’s election — but the work is already yielding results. The group’s monitoring work has revealed that descriptions of the negative environmental impacts of coal, as well as graphs showing the carbon dioxide emissions levels associated with different energy sources, are gone from the EIA website. On the EPA’s site, references to the US commitment to UN climate negotiations have been deleted, and phrasing has been changed on a variety of pages to emphasize “adapting” to climate issues, rather than mitigating the problem by addressing emissions.

EDGI EPA website change

EDGI has also found that reports detailing the progress made on President Obama’s Climate Action Plan have disappeared from the State Department’s website. The plan itself was briefly taken down and then put back up.

“We feel like the administration has been called on a couple things they’ve tried to take down, and they’ve backtracked on a few things,” says Jerome Whitington, an anthropology professor at NYU who is also a member of EDGI and helped plan the Data Rescue event. “Basically they know they’re being watched.”

Within 24 hours of registration opening for the New York Data Rescue day, all 200 slots were full, Whitington says. A similar event held in Ann Arbor, Michigan on January 27 attracted 350 volunteers. Another is planned at MIT on February 18.

The issue has gained so much traction among the scientific community, in fact, that the Congressional Transparency Caucus is now trying to figure out how to support data preservation efforts — or even how to create government archives to keep this problem from arising in the future.

Representative Mike Quigley“We can’t just capture everything at the end of an administration,” Congressman Mike Quigley, who co-chairs the bipartisan caucus and represents Illinois’s 5th district, tells Business Insider. “It needs to happen on an ongoing basis so that you’re not waiting until the end and then — heaven forbid.”

Quigley says the need to archive data gathered by government agencies — beyond just environmental findings — and make it accessible to the public is an important priority. He and Darrell Issa, the caucus’ other co-chair, held a briefing about the issue last week. Quigley has also been working to compel the Congressional Research Service to make its reports public since early 2016, and now hopes to help groups like EDGI coordinate and even get funding for their efforts.

“The federal government is the largest scientific institution in the country. We engage in research across every scale, from botany to nuclear energy and everything in between — critical information for how we base our decisions that’s owned by the American people,” he says. “We base our policies on the best information we have. If you can’t determine what the truth is, then we are lost because the world is an increasingly complicated place and it’s difficult to make those decisions.”

Beyond being used to inform policy decisions and scientific research, environmental data collected by the government is often cited in legal cases, so a movement has emerged to preserve it for those purposes as well.

On January 24, plaintiffs in a landmark climate lawsuit filed a legal request for preservation of all electronically stored information related to government knowledge of climate change and its effects. The case, which was brought by 21 young people between ages 9 and 20, alleges that because the federal government knew the risks of climate change but has done little to address its causes, it violated future generations’ rights to life, liberty, and property. 

“We are concerned about how deep the scrubbing effort will go,” plaintiff attorney Julia Olson said in a statement at the time. “Destroying evidence is illegal and we just put these new U.S. Defendants and the Industry Defendants on notice that they are barred from doing so.”

The New York Attorney General’s office is also worried about what a lack of available information could mean for their current and future cases. Amy Spitalnick, the office’s press secretary, says the Attorney General’s team has been downloading data, too.

“We’ve been working to preserve information from the federal government’s databases, such as scientific info compiled under prior administrations on issues like climate change,” she says. “That info is vital to our legal work protecting New Yorkers.”

Data Rescue NYC EDGI

At the Data Rescue event, volunteers were divided into different groups. Most worked on saving pages (based on a list EDGI had created beforehand), while others downloaded data that couldn’t be captured by the web crawler. Programmers in a separate room worked on developing software that will be able to watch websites and create alerts when there are changes. In another space, a group of archivists were working to keep everything organized, and discussing ways to eventually get the downloaded information onto a new, non-governmental, publicly accessible platform. University librarians started a conversation about how libraries can help with the project.

“It’s definitely a powerful counterpoint to the administration’s line and the movement in the House of Representatives to suppress the EPA right now,” Whitington says. “It definitely seems like we’re proving that Americans of all different stripes really care about this stuff.”

Even so, he says, compared to the profusion of environmental data that’s out there, the amount EDGI members and volunteers have downloaded so far is just a drop in the bucket. Smaller follow-up work groups, where local volunteers can meet for a few hours in the evening, are already being planned.

Mike Quigley agrees that compiling all the government’s data into one archive or platform, even if just on one topic, is an immensely difficult task — for a group of volunteers or even for the government itself.

“It’s a little daunting, especially considering that the administration is determined to keep us busy with the tweet of the day,” he says. “Right now I’m just worried about them shutting the switch off on things and doing ‘delete, delete.’”

SEE ALSO: A new browser extension lets you see what government websites looked like before the Trump administration

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A Facebook alum explains how he knew he was ready to work for himself

Chris Gomersall

Chris Gomersall loved working at Facebook. However, he was also certain that he wanted to leave it behind to found his own startup.

So when he left the tech giant to run cloud-based marketing software company Atomized in 2015, he had no regrets.

“It was really more of a calling,” Facebook and Instagram’s first creative strategist told Business Insider. “I was running to something rather than away from something.”

Many people love the idea of building something or becoming their own boss. But that doesn’t mean everyone’s cut out to be an entrepreneur.

Gomersall provided Business Insider with four signs you might be ready to take the plunge and work for yourself:

1. Your work doesn’t feel like work

Gomersall was still working full-time at Facebook and Instagram when he started his side project Atomized. However, he didn’t let the double workload stress him out.

“I think in general when you find a job you love, it just doesn’t feel like work,” he says. “It never felt like anything more than doing what I love.”

Having a passion for what you’re working on — whether it’s a side hustle or your full-time entrepreneurial gig — is crucial. You’re going to need that love and enthusiasm if you don’t want to burn out

2. You have a support system

Gomersall says it’s important to surround yourself with people who support you, on both a professional and personal level.

“Entrepreneurship is a very lonely environment,” he says. “Going from Facebook, where I was just surrounded by people constantly, to sometimes being on my own for a week at a time while visiting clients, it’s always important to turn back to that support system and those people that care about you.”

3. You’re realistic

Forget all the stories you hear about overnight successes. Entrepreneurship is about putting in a ton of hours of hard, thankless work before you achieve your goals.

So, before you quit your job to pursue the life of an entrepreneur, make sure that you have realistic expectations (and a solid timeline of when you’d like to achieve certain goals).

“At some point, if you’re going to go skydiving, you’ve got to have a backup parachute,” Gomersall says.

4. You don’t mind a little (or a lot of) discomfort

Gomersall says that anytime he starts to “get comfortable” in a job, he immediately wants out. Entrepreneurship is anything but comfortable. The Facebook alum likens the life of an entrepreneur to “getting punched in the face over and over again.”

“Then one day, it’s amazing,” he says. “And then you go right back to getting punched in the face. What kept me going was thinking about the most successful people in history and the discomfort that drove them. Keep in mind that that darkness and struggle is what produces the most powerful companies, idea, and products. I think people forget about that.”

SEE ALSO: I asked experts if it’s ever okay to quit your job on the spot — here’s what they said

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The tech industry has $21 billion worth of open, high paying jobs — here are the top 15

hackathon coding computers working

Most employers don’t want to broadcast the salaries they’re willing to pay when they post jobs, so job-hunting site Glassdoor has decided to do that for you.

It now includes a salary estimate with every job listing, based on sifting through the millions of self-reported salaries hosted on its site.

To celebrate that new feature, it dug into its data to find out which industries and job titles had the most openings.

All told, there are a whopping $272 billion worth of unfilled jobs right now in the U.S. 

The industry that had the most job openings is health care. It has just under 800,000 open jobs worth $45.2 billion in annual salaries. 

The tech industry ranked fifth overall, in terms of the total estimated dollar value of its job openings (after health care, business services, retail, transportation and logistics.)

But tech still has a lot of high paying jobs available, with some job titles more in demand than others.

Here are the top tech titles with the most open jobs and total pay available, aka total economic value, according to Glassdoor.

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There are 263,586 jobs available in tech in the US right now.

All told they are worth $21 billion a year in pay.

No. 15: Mobile Developer

Job title: Mobile Developer

A mobile developer writes mobile apps.

Open Jobs: 1,930

Average Base Pay: $91,167

Economic Value: $175,951,865

See open jobs

No. 14: IT Architect

Job title: IT Architect

An IT architect is someone that can design corporate IT systems.

Open Jobs: 1,618

Average Base Pay: $115,332

Economic Value: $186,607,738

See open jobs

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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