Category Archives: Office Web Apps

A banker-turned-CEO explains how a 'one and done' rule keeps his business moving fast

  • Nasdaq   MarketSnacks Show Photo 2   Friday 2.3.2017.JPGNicolas Martell and Jack Kramer are the cofounders and co-CEOs of daily finance newsletter MarketSnacks.
  • They’ve been running it as a two-person team since November 2011 and have never missed a day.
  • To keep it moving fast, they implemented a “one and done” rule that avoids time-wasting arguments.

Nicolas Martell and Jack Kramer have been friends since 2007, when they were freshmen roommates in college.

Today, they’re cofounders and co-CEOs of MarketSnacks, the daily finance newsletter for millennials they created as a side job while working in banking in their early 20s — Martell at UBS, Kramer at CommerzBank AG.

In the nearly six years since they started MarketSnacks, Martell told Business Insider, they’ve never missed a single day of market news, even though he — who traveled internationally for his job for four years and now spends most of the week pursuing an MBA at Wharton in Philadelphia — and Kramer —who had been working in Berlin and is now pursuing an MBA at the University of Michigan — are rarely in the same time zone.

How does their team of two spend up to three hours writing and editing 750 words every night, and never miss a business day?

Martell calls it the “one and done” rule.

“From a management perspective, what we really found interesting is that, teams crumble and stop functioning when they question each other and slow each other down,” he said. Not every question, he explained, serves to better the product or company — some waste time arguing about bias, or doubting the person with more expertise.

He continued: “What Jack and I do is we have a policy of ‘one and done.’ If one of us disagrees, we don’t have an argument about it. We go with whatever the disagreer says. If Jack thinks a joke I put in isn’t funny, I’m not going to argue. We’re just going to take it out. If I say Jack should add a number here, he’s not going to argue that. We’ll put it in. And we found that lets us move really quickly on projects. Because stopping to argue about that just isn’t worth the time wasted.”

As an example of their policy saving valuable time, he points to breaking news around Chipotle last year:

“In my old job I’d be on a plane on the way down to Brazil. I would have to write MarketSnacks before the plane took off for Rio. And Jack, who worked for a German bank, he was in Berlin. And there would be a time-change issue — we had to get this done.

“So we couldn’t argue whether we were doing too many references to an avocado in a single paragraph, and we couldn’t argue if it was important to include the revenue numbers and the profit numbers, because if we did, we wouldn’t be able to actually finish the paragraph on Chipotle. One made the executive decision, and the other one just went with it.”

Cheddar   MarketSnacks Interview Photo 2   Friday 2.3.2017.JPGThis approach stretches beyond producing their newsletter. When an opportunity arises — for instance, their first appearance on streaming financial news network Cheddar that helped them launch into regular TV spots with brands like Nasdaq and CBS — they don’t stop to argue.

“I’m a little more risk-oriented than Jack is,” Martell said. “He’s a little more conservative in his approach, and that’s great because there’s times when I’ll, for example, want to jump into something and Jack will want to take a more traditional route, and whichever one feels more strongly about it, we tend to back and go behind.”

In order for “one and done” to work, the cofounders have to keep their egos in check. Martell says that although people tend to expect serving as co-CEOs of MarketSnacks would lead to tension, it hasn’t so far. He credits their ability to work together seamlessly to their friendship, and to their both having played college sports (Kramer played football, Martell played lacrosse). “I think we’re both very comfortable with knowing how teams have to work when they’re in either times of crisis or tensions — how you have to be accountable together,” he said.

He continued: “You need to let go of your ego. Because if you don’t, your ego’s going to get in the way and then you can’t make the decisions and then you can’t write the paragraph on Chipotle, and then MarketSnacks doesn’t go out that day.”

SEE ALSO: 2 women who built a business while at Goldman Sachs and Marc Jacobs explain how corporate jobs made them better entrepreneurs

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Google app code hints at Bluetooth headphones with Google Assistant (GOOG)

google reception headphones girl

Google may be working on a pair of Bluetooth headphones that come integrated with the company’s digital helper, the Google Assistant.

9to5Google dug into the code of the Google app’s latest beta, and found references to “Bisto,” a codename that first appeared months ago and seemed to be related to audio.

A string of code says: “Your headphones have the Google Assistant. Ask it questions. Tell it to do things. It’s your own personal Google, always ready to help.”

This doesn’t necessarily mean that Google may be the only one working on Assistant-equipped headphones, however.

Digging further into the code, other lines — such as one that says “oem_partner_app” — suggest that third-party manufacturers might work on Bisto compatible products, in a fashion similar to Android Wear.

Elsewhere, the code hints at other Google Assistant functionalities on headphones, such as alerting the user to read notifications with a “notification chime”, letting them reply via voice, or tell how much battery is left. It also suggests headphones would have a dedicated button for users to activate the Assistant.

There is no further indication of an actual product, but Google will likely host its annual hardware event some time later this year. It has already been rumoured that new devices — like a new Chromebook and a smaller smart speaker — might make their way to the company’s portfolio, and now Google-branded headphones could be part of the picture too.

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Microsoft Office 2010
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These 11 iOS and Android apps will help you make the most out of London

London Skyline

London is one of the greatest cities in the world, and the only one — alongside New York — that has the status of “Alpha++” Global City, according to the Globalization and World Cities Research Network (GaWC).

That means that the city offers a great number of things to do: From places to visit, things to eat, markets to explore, events and concerts to attend, to pop-ups that may disappear before you even know they are there.

We put together a list of 11 useful apps that will help you better navigate the British capital, and make the most out of it every day of the year.

1. Dojo — An all-round great app to discover events, restaurants, and shops to enjoy London

Dojo is an all-encompassing app that’s great both for locals as well as visitors and tourists. It offers a wide range of options to look through for whatever it is you may be fancying: Something to eat, a rooftop to enjoy a view, a nearby shop, exhibition or market — Dojo has it all.

The categories the app divides activities into are oddly specific; you will find “restaurants” and “markets,” but also more intriguing and specific ones like “cheap eats,” “rooftop drinking,” and “beer gardens,” in addition to the ever-useful “around me” and “new openings.”

The reason Dojo stands out is twofold. For one, everything is handpicked by the Londoners who run the app. There is a 1-to-10 ranking scale for things like restaurants and cafes, but you can generally rest assured that the places highlighted are all good.

Then there’s the fact that Dojo is updated constantly; it evolves with the city, the seasons, and the events, so the app always offers timely recommendations that make good use of where you are and what is happening around you.

Free — iOS (link), Android (link)

2. REVL — Find events in London and compare ticket prices

Dojo always offers a good choice of events, but REVL is a fully fledged app dedicated to just that.

REVL offers a much broader selection, as well as a series of features that can come in really handy when you actually want to attend an event rather than simply browse to see what’s up.

When you first open the app, it will ask you to activate notifications (that prompt you when something you may be interested in is happening in your area) and then select from the so-called “PLAYlists.”

PLAYlists are categories of things you may be interested in: Think music festivals, sports, talks, comedy, or art and culture. All of these also have sub-categories, which may further expand to narrow your selection.

You might find “Restaurants” under “Food & Drink,” for instance, and then dig deeper to find “Mediterranean Restaurants.” The app also makes use of a Calendar and a News tab to keep all your interests organized, and even offers ticket price comparisons when there is a choice.

Free — iOS (link), Android (link)

3. Citymapper — Move around London in the shortest amount of time

Citymapper is your best public transport companion app. That means that if you’re just looking for a maps app to orientate and look for things around you, you better stick with Google Maps.

However, if you want to actually move from point A to point B, there’s no better alternative. Citymapper is easy to use and straight to the point: It asks for a place where you want to go, and offers a range of alternatives on how to get there.

Every possible transport method is there: London’s tube, buses, Overground, trains, even bikes and the ferry, all mapped out in the app’s main page.

Citymapper’s main strength is accuracy: Its estimated time of arrivals (ETA) are often scarily precise down to the minute, as all of London’s transport services are fully integrated within the app. You can also share your ETA to let your friends know how long it will take for you to arrive.

In addition to that, things like telling you which section of the underground train to take (back, middle or front in accordance with the station’s exit position) or letting you set places like “Home” and “Work” to make your commute easier (this will trigger a timely notification in accordance with your pre-set times) make it reliable and useful.

There is also a handy Uber integration that will show you both an ETA as well as an estimate for the fare, and a direct link to the app to hail a ride.

Free — iOS (link), Android (link)

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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New wearable tracker can transmit vital signs from a soft, tiny package

 Body sensors have long been bulky, hard to wear, and obtrusive. Now they can be as thin as a Band-Aid and about as big as a coin. The new sensors, created by Kyung-In Jang, professor of robotics engineering at South Korea’s Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology, and John A. Rogers, Northwestern University, consists of a silicone case that contains “50 components… Read More

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Google and Walmart are joining forces to take on Amazon (AMZN, GOOG, WMT)

Walmart

Giants Google and Walmart are teaming up to take on Amazon‘s Prime shipping service.

As of September, Google’s commerce platform Google Express will count America’s largest retailer among its list of vendors.

Starting in September, customers will be able to place orders with Walmart at express.google.com, the Google Express app, or through Google Assistant-enabled devices like Google Home.

Walmart will instantly be the largest vendor on the platform when it joins.

The integration with Walmart goes deeper than any current retailers on the Express platform — Google’s head of commerce Sridhar Ramaswamy called the partnership “the first of its kind.”

Customers can link their Walmart and Google accounts, which allows buyers to access unique Walmart features, like being able to quickly reorder oft-bought items, even through Google Assistant voice software.

Telling a Google Assistant to “add paper towels” to your cart, for instance, will add your most-frequently purchased size and brand of paper towels. Customers will also be able to choose to pickup purchases in-store for a discount — another uniquely Walmart ability.

Walmart and Google hope the service creates a seamless experience for customers, with ease of ordering via voice using Google Assistant as the signature of the partnership.

The partnership puts Walmart further in competition with Amazon, which has its own similar service in Alexa. Alexa integrates voice control and speech recognition technology to enable customers to place orders via voice using the retailer’s Prime service in a similar way.

Amazon

Google is also removing the $95-a-year membership fee for Google Express, which previously enabled customers to get free two-day shipping at retailers. Now, each store on the platform will have its own threshold for free shipping. Walmart’s policy will mirror its own website, and each order of $35 or more will receive free two-day shipping.

Walmart e-commerce CEO Marc Lore was optimistic about the future of shopping using voice, and said he hopes to integrate the platform with Walmart’s Fresh grocery platform next year.

There will be “certain specific use cases in shopping where voice will be the preferred means,” Lore told Business Insider. “You can imagine you’re driving home from work and ordering from groceries via voice and picking them up at your local Walmart on the way home.”

SEE ALSO: Amazon just unveiled a better alternative to vending machines

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Uber's turmoil has reportedly taken a toll on its valuation

Travis Kalanick

Uber’s series of scandals have finally started to affect the company’s value, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Four mutual funds that have invested in the app-based taxi company have marked down their stakes in it by as much as 15%, according to The Journal. Together the moves represent the first major set of markdowns to hit the company, which has faced near-continuous turmoil since late last year.

Uber’s stock, which is privately held, had been valued at $48.77 per share since late 2015. At the end of June, though, Vanguard Group, Principal, and Hartford Funds all valued it at $41.16 per share, a 15% decrease, according to the report. T. Rowe Price Group, meanwhile, valued its Uber stock at $42.70 a share.

The San Francisco company has been rocked by multiple scandals and bad news, most notably an investigation into its workplace culture that uncovered numerous claims of sexual harassment and which led to the resignation of former CEO Travis Kalanick. But the company has also been dealing with a lawsuit that accuses it of stealing trade secrets from Google spin-off Waymo, and emails revealing that it knowingly leased unsafe cars to drivers. 

Despite the company’s problems, not all of Uber’s mutual fund investors marked down the value of their stakes in the company. Fidelity Investments maintained its estimate of the value of its Uber stock at $48.77 a share. And BlackRock actually raised its estimate to $53.88 a share, according to the report. 

Mutual funds typically invest in public company stocks. But some 3.7% of mutual funds now have stakes in private companies like Uber as well, according to Morningstar. Funds estimate the value of their stakes in private companies in quarterly reports to their investors.

SEE ALSO: Travis Kalanick resigns as Uber CEO

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Apple reportedly scaled back its car ambitions because nobody could agree on what an Apple Car should do (AAPL)

Tim COok Apple carplay

The so-called “Apple Car” may never come to be, thanks in large part to a lack of agreement by Apple leadership as to what such a vehicle should do, reports the New York Times’ Daisuke Wakabayashi.

Apple has all but abandoned its original plans for building a vehicle in its own factories, and will instead focus its energies on building self-driving systems for other vehicles, according to the report. In the meantime, the company is focusing on a self-driving campus shuttle, codenamed PAIL — short for “Palo Alto to Infinite Loop.” Infinite Loop is the street on which Apple’s main campus is located and Palo Alto is a city nearby. 

Apple employees working on its car effort have experimented with everything from augmented reality dashboards to a whole new “CarOS” operating system to replacing the car’s steering wheel with a spinning sphere that would offer a wider range of movement, according to The Times report. Apple also looked at ways to hide a self-driving car’s lidar array, which is a crucial but often unsightly component that gives such vehicles information about the environment around them.

However, Apple executives apparently couldn’t agree on a direction for the car. Apple design guru Jony Ive wanted to focus on a fully self-driving vehicle like those from Google spinoff Waymo. Original project head Steve Zadesky wanted Apple’s car to only be semi-autonomous, operating like Tesla’s vehicles when they are under the control of the company’s Autopilot function. 

Now, under current head Bob Mansfield, Apple is rededicating itself to building the underlying systems for self-driving cars — even if that means building those systems into vehicles from non-Apple manufacturers. To that end, Apple has recently obtained a self-driving car testing permit from California, with CEO Tim Cook publicly stating that the company is working on autonomous systems. 

Apple declined to comment. You can read the full New York Times report here.

SEE ALSO: A bureaucratic mistake has revealed Apple’s secret team of self-driving car experts

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Here's how people are using their smartwatches

Smartwatches have yet to live up to the early hype. According to data published last week by the NDP group, only 9% of consumers 18 and older own one. That’s not terrible, given how young the industry is, but it does indicate that many consumers don’t yet consider them to be must-have devices. 

Apple initially touted its Apple Watch as a mini-wearable computer that could run loads of apps and free users from having to interact as often with their smartphones. But the company eventually realized consumers saw little value in running so many different apps on a watch, so with the second version of the device, it decided to focus largely on fitness tracking and text notifications. 

It turns out that those are the features smartwatch owners use the most, as this chart from Statista — based on data from NPD Connected Intelligence’s Wearable Advisor Service — indicates. Focusing on such features seems to have paid off for Apple. It recently announced that Apple Watch sales were up 50% in its latest quarter.

Chart of the Day 8/22

 

SEE ALSO: Oreo may be the latest flavor of Android, but most users are still stuck with Marshmallow or something older

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Martin Shkreli is buying websites associated with the names of journalists critical of him and customizing them with mocking messages

Former drug company executive Martin Shkreli arrives at U.S. District Court for the third day of jury deliberations in his securities fraud trial in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, U.S., August 2, 2017. REUTERS/Amr Alfiky

Over the past several months, former pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli has trolled journalists who have written or tweeted about him by purchasing the internet domains associated with their names.

After sitting on the domain names for months, Shkreli appears to be customizing the sites, explicitly mocking reporters who have tweeted about him.

On a website named after Vanity Fair tech reporter Maya Kosoff, for example, Shkreli welcomes the visitor, adding: “Here we honor one of the most vibrant Social Justice advocates today,” a reference to “social justice warriors,” a derisive slur associated with advocacy for liberal causes.

Shkreli wrote a similar message on a website he bought associated with CNBC editor Caroline Moss: The landing page on a site associated with her name welcomes visitors, saying the site has “Everything you need to know about this CNBC safe-spacer,” a reference to college “safe-spaces” often mocked by the right.

Since the beginning of the year, Shkreli has purchased domain names for 12 people, including journalists and commentators from CNBC, Vice, Vanity Fair, Teen Vogue, AOL, Bloomberg, Deal breaker, Gizmodo, and Business Insider.

Shkreli did not respond when Business Insider reached out for comment.

Shkreli first sparked national outrage when he raised the price by 5,000% for a drug used to combat a disease that can be fatal to people with HIV, and has since embraced his image as a provocateur and “pharma-bro.”

When Shkreli’s Twitter account was suspended in January after he harassed Teen Vogue opinion writer Lauren Duca, the former exec scooped up domain names for journalists, snagging “marrymelauren.com” on the day he was suspended from the social network.

He’s continued to mock and criticize journalists who’ve covered the spectacle surrounding his trial and celebrity, particularly singling out outlets that cover the pharmaceutical industry.

Shkreli has repeatedly blasted CNBC, refusing to take questions from a CNBC reporter after being convicted this month of two counts of securities fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit securities fraud during his time managing Retrophin, a drug company he ran.

He livestreamed himself earlier this year purchasing domain names associated with Bloomberg pharma reporter Max Niesen, who has written about Shkreli, and Noisey reporter Phil Witmer, who published a story titled “Lil B Shouts Out Martin Shkreli, We All Die a Little Inside,” in which he dubbed Shkreli a “living cartoon gremlin,” and called rapper Lil B’s shoutout a “stain on BasedGod’s good name.”

“Can I buy philwitmer.com right now? Yes I can, and yes I will,” he said on a livestream.

The former CEO has also toyed with reporters in other ways, such as posting private exchanges with former STAT correspondent Dylan Scott to “put this geek journalist on notice” when Scott reached out to Shkreli for a story.

After Business Insider published an article about Shkreli’s actions, he purchased a domain associated with the author of the post, and emailed the author offering the opportunity to purchase the domain.

Disclosure: Both Moss and Kosoff previously worked at Business Insider.

SEE ALSO: Martin Shkreli keeps buying up the personal domain names of journalists who write about him

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Four-year-old startup Databricks raised another $140 million to solve the hardest problem in AI

  • ali ghodsiFour-year-old startup Databricks just raised another $140 million in venture funding for a total of $247 million.
  • Its six cofounders launched the company only after they couldn’t give away the software they invented for free. 
  • With the new money, they are working on a “Slack for AI” that solves the problem of a lack of machine learning/AI scientists.

Big-data startup Databricks has raised another $140 million in venture funding, it announced on Tuesday, bringing the total raised for the four-year-old company to $247 million.

Databricks CEO Ali Ghodsi tells us this funding happened during “the most stressful week of my life.”

He had initiated discussions with investors in the same week he did back-t0-back keynote speeches at two big tech conferences, in two different cities, one of them sponsored by his own company. During that week, investors “were just bombarding me with phone calls,” he describes. Less than four weeks later, he had a handful of term sheets, and by eight weeks, “the money was in the bank.”

In comparison, Ghodsi had raised $60 million for Databricks just nine months earlier — but that took him months of effort. Ghodsi wouldn’t reveal the new valuation of the company (we’ll update when we find out), but after the last round, investors valued it at $513 million, according to Pitchbook.

VCs were crawling over themselves to grab a bite of Databricks for a one main reason: In just four years, Databricks had already amassed about 500 big companies as customers, so revenue was growing, Ghodsi said, although he wouldn’t indicate how much revenue the company had generated or its growth rate. 

The other reason is that Databricks founders have also become famous in their field.

They invented a big-data technology called Spark that’s become extremely popular with enterprises because it helps computers chomp through vast amounts of data super fast. This, in turn, makes it easier to build machine-learning and artificial-intelligence apps, which require computers to chomp through large amounts of data very fast in order to make decisions.

Crossing the Valley of Death

The funny thing is, the six Databricks founders never intended to be entrepreneurs. They founded this company pretty much out of frustration when the established enterprise software industry dissed their work.

Databricks Matei Zaharia“We were researchers at UC Berkeley and we really just wanted to get this tech out. We were hoping the world would just pick it up. We talked to all the existing companies out there and told them, ‘we developed Spark, we just want to make these machine learning predictions and big data software as simple as possible.’ And actually none of them picked it up,” he recalls.

The companies they talked to all poo-pooed the tech as “academic software coming out of a university,” he remembers, and said “we don’t think Spark will be anything enterprises will use.”

They were facing what famous researcher and Google X founder Yoky Matsuoka calls the ‘The Valley of Death” in technology development. That’s where tech developed in a research setting can’t make the leap to a commercial product because the researchers don’t have the experience or interest to do it (they want to find the next breakthrough, not iterate on a past one). Meanwhile, commercial vendors don’t have the time, experience or interest to take raw tech and figure out how to turn it a product (they need to focus on their sure-fire revenue generating products).

So, in 2013, these researchers just up and launched their own company. Andreessen Horowitz’s Ben Horowitz saw the promise, invested $14 million, joined its board and advised them on how to turn it into a success.

The founders still gave Spark away as open-source software, meaning anyone can use it for free and contribute to it. And Databricks offers a fully supported commercial version.

Solving the next big challenge

With the new influx of $140 million, Ghodsi and team are hoping to tackle the next big problem in the big data/machine learning/AI world: the lack of trained people.

Databricks appThey have just launched a new product that Ghodsi describes as “Slack for AI.”

It allows teams to work on a project together, including the business folks, the AI scientists, and the programmers. The actual AI app can be developed by all of them from inside this collaboration tool, called the Unified Analytics Platform.

Ghodsi describes his company like one big, happy four-year-old rocket ship.

“It’s been a blast these past four years, where we went from zero to this and all six cofounders are still with us. Most cofounders get into fights and backstabbing and 2 or 3 leave and they hate the company and they erase their names from the web page,” he laughs.

But because Databricks found an untapped niche in big data and AI, it quickly generated revenue, which led to investment, which led to growth, which led to happy cofounders.

In addition to the six cofounders, (Ghodsi, Matei Zaharia, Ion Stoica, Patrick Wendell and Reynold Xin), Databricks employs 220 people, Ghodsi said.

The new round was led by Andreessen Horowitz, with participation by New Enterprise Associates and Battery Ventures.

SEE ALSO: Asian woman who quit Google: ‘The culture there is really discouraging’

SEE ALSO: A man reported the sexual harassment he witnessed at his job — and got fired

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