Tag Archives: Mobile Trends

Female engineers: James Damore wasn't fired for 'truth,' he was fired for mishandling a complex debate


Four female engineers have spoken out about James Damore, saying he wasn’t fired for “speaking truth to power” in his controversial memo, but for “mishandling” a complicated and sensitive debate about diversity.

The engineers made the comments anonymously during a forum discussion for Y Combinator’s “Ask a female engineer” blog series. One of the women said she works at Google.

Damore, who was fired last week for writing a 10-page document titled “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber,” has consistently presented himself in subsequent interviews as a man of science and someone who was fired for “the truth.” He posts under the Twitter handle @Fired4Truth. In his memo, he cites certain studies to bolster an argument that the gender gap in tech can be explained away by biological factors as well as bias. 

One engineer, writing under the name Edith, said it wasn’t just the content of the memo that was objectionable. It was the intent and framing too, and that’s why Google was right to fire Damore.

“Social skills are part of a professional skillset,” she wrote. “It is important to learn how to handle difficult subjects in a workplace – we all have to do it. There are consequences for doing it in a way that causes problems for your employer, and I think in this case the consequences were appropriate.”

She added: “He was not fired for speaking truth to power, he was fired for mishandling a complex subject in a way that caused harm to his employer (and many of his colleagues).”

Damore has never acknowledged this point in his interviews, and has not apologised for any harm he may have caused. He did say he regretted referring to the “neuroticism” of women, though.

The Y Combinator discussion is nuanced and wide-ranging and, importantly, dominated by women. While there have been lots of “takes” on Damore’s memo, female voices from Google have been in the minority. Business Insider spoke to a current female Google employee earlier this week about the memo.

During the discussion, the anonymous Googler sympathises with Damore at various points, and said the firm should have tried to change his mind about diversity before firing him.

She wrote: “I think that variations on his opinion are held by people in the industry far more frequently than some (or many) people think, and it’s not productive to hide from that reality or shout down every expression of those opinions.”

But she also disagreed with Damore’s supporters, who complain his critics don’t address the scientific substance of Damore’s memo.

She wrote: “Some people at Google reacted by saying ‘well if he’s so wrong, then why not refute him,’ but that requires spending a significant amount of time building an argument against the claims in his document … I should not be forced into that kind of debate at work.”

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NOW WATCH: We tried Amazon’s $50 tablet — here’s what it’s like

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Bitcoin is back above $4,000

Bitcoin is back above $4,000 a coin on Wednesday, as the digital currency pars back losses.

Bitcoin fell below $4,000 late on Tuesday after a sensational rally on Sunday and Monday that saw the cryptocurrency break the $4,000 and $4,500 mark for the first time.

The digital currency was down as much as 4% against the dollar in early trade on Wednesday but is making up ground in mid-morning. Bitcoin is down 1.8% against the dollar to $4,079.55 at 12.30 p.m. BST (7.30 a.m. ET).bitcoinMati Greenspan, an analyst with trading platform eToro who follows the crypto space closely, says in his morning email: “This week we saw a massive surge in bitcoin that simply dominated the entire cryptocurrency market. Today, it seems we’re experiencing a bit of a pullback.

“The is quite normal of course. Any asset that can surge 62% in a week and a half should also expect a sizeable retracement after such a run.”

Elsewhere in the crypto space, Bitcoin Cash, a new digital currency spun off from the Bitcoin network at the start of the month, is down 3.6% against the dollar to $293.00. Ethereum, the second biggest cryptocurrency by market cap after Bitcoin, is down 0.79% against the dollar to $284.04.

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NOW WATCH: Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg are waging a war of words over the future of AI

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An Uber investor has been accused of wanting to boot Arianna Huffington from the board

arianna huffington

Uber’s Machiavellian drama rumbles on.

The latest board-level spat involves early investor Shervin Pishevar, shareholder Benchmark Capital, and board member Arianna Huffington.

Pishevar, in a letter seen by Axios and Recode, has accused Benchmark Capital of trying to oust Arianna Huffington from Uber’s board. She has been on the board since last April, and the face of the company since its CEO Travis Kalanick stepped down, helping to oversee an internal investigation into its culture.

Pishevar wrote: “Based on a conversation with a representative of Lowercase Capital, we have learned that Benchmark also desires to remove Arianna Huffington from the Board of Directors and have made quite derogatory remarks about her.”

There are several layers to this. Lowercase Capital is another early Uber investor, but its founder Chris Sacca and Kalanick “barely speak”. Benchmark, meanwhile, is already in the news for suing Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick for alleged fraud. And in the background, Uber is trying to appoint a new CEO and deal with a massive legal fight with Google.

Pishevar said Uber’s other investors were “confounded” by Benchmark’s behaviour, both in terms of the lawsuit and the apparent plotting. He accused the firm of collaborating with Lowercase in “efforts that are adverse to Uber.” He said the two investors “co-ordinated” with an important ex-Uber staffer, global SVP of operations Ryan Graves, to announce his resignation on the same day as Benchmark’s lawsuit, maximising the bad publicity.

Pishevar added: “Benchmark is holding the company hostage and not allowing it to move forward in its critical executive search. The claim in your letter that your litigation efforts speed up on-boarding a CEO disingenuous or delusional.”

He concludes his letter by asking Benchmark to resign from Uber’s board, and accused them of blocking other potential investors from putting money into the firm.

According to earlier reports, Pishevar is trying to buy out Benchmark’s stake in Uber.

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Bitcoin is drifting below $4000

Bitcoin has fallen below $4,000 and is drifting lower on Wednesday morning, as traders continue to take profit from the cryptocurrency’s recent rally.

Bitcoin is down 3.8% against the dollar to $3,996.32 at the time of writing (7.35 a.m. BST/2.35 a.m. ET). The pullback follows a strong rally for the digital currency on Sunday and Monday that saw the cryptocurrency break the $4,000 and $4,500 mark for the first time.

Despite the dip for Bitcoin over the last two days, it still remains well above its three-month average price.bitcoin

Mati Greenspan, an analyst with trading platform eToro who follows the crypto space closely, says in his morning email: “This week we saw a massive surge in bitcoin that simply dominated the entire cryptocurrency market. Today, it seems we’re experiencing a bit of a pullback.

“The is quite normal of course. Any asset that can surge 62% in a week and a half should also expect a sizeable retracement after such a run.”

Elsewhere in the crypto space, Bitcoin Cash, a new digital currency spun off from the Bitcoin network at the start of the month, is down 3.6% against the dollar to $293.00. Ethereum, the second biggest cryptocurrency by market cap after Bitcoin, is down 0.79% against the dollar to $284.04.

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NOW WATCH: The stock market is on bubble watch — And unlike the dotcom era, this time the whole market is expensive

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A hot fintech startup has amassed nearly $5 billion from people willing to hand over their bank logins

  • Jay_Shah_Personal_CapitalPersonal Capital is a startup known for its free platform, which allows people to plug in their bank and investment accounts to see all their financials at once.
  • CEO Jay Shah says Personal Capital has been monetizing the business by getting richer clients to pay for financial advice.
  • The startup recently raised an additional $40 million in outside funding.

A popular fintech startup is banking on rich people to power its business.

Personal Capital is known for its free platform, which allows users to plug in their bank and investment accounts to get a one-stop to track budgeting and spending, asset allocation, and fees they’re paying to asset managers.

Personal Capital also runs a financial advice business, for a much smaller, and overall richer, slice of the population. That unit charges users a flat fee to get access to Personal Capital’s advisors. To get a dedicated financial advisors, users are charged a fixed fee and need at least $200,000 in investable assets. The more millions one has to invest, the lower the fees. 

The company is managing assets for Americans worth about $4.9 billion, and increasingly the customers are more affluent, Personal Capital’s CEO, Jay Shah, told Business Insider in a recent interview. 

Shah declined to say how many of the company’s estimated 1.5 million free users convert to paying for financial advice from the free platform.

The company recently raised an additional $40 million in a Series E funding round and plans to invest in more marketing, technology and financial planning for customers.

Personal Capital is a fiduciary, meaning its advisors are legally required to put their clients’ best interests ahead of their own. That setup is not standard throughout the US’ financial advice model.

The Obama Administration had pushed through the so-called fiduciary rule, which was to reduce conflicts of interests for advisors overseeing Americans’ retirement accounts. President Trump has vowed to roll this rule back. Earlier this month, the Labor Department, which oversees the rule, announced that it would push back the rule’s implementation date until next year.

Business Insider caught up with CEO Jay Shah to get a sense of where the company is headed. 

Responses have been edited and condensed for length and clarity. 

On Personal Capital’s pitch to the rich

rich people lawn croquet“It all starts off with the free dashboard. All of our users will come into the dashboard and link their financial accounts. Our typical affluent or high-net-worth individual, they have 15 or 20 different accounts, so it’s a lot of stuff. The dashboard lets them see not just their investment portfolio but their spending, their savings and most importantly, it lets them see their cash flows, which is very important to how we might design a solution for them.

“We have a segment of our free user base that will just continue to use our free software and that’s just fine, we’re doing something that we think is slightly philanthropic and trying to help people see and understand their financial lives. 

“When it comes to people that have complexity and substantial assets, we have found that when they engage and when they look at what we offer as a solution, they find value there. To be clear, when we win new clients, about half of those come from advised relationships where our software allows us to go take a close look and say, ‘Are these assets being strategically managed? Are they well diversified? Is there an effective fee structure?'”

Who is paying

“We’re about $4.9 billion in assets under management in managing these US households’ money. And increasingly, these are more and more affluent and getting into the high-net-worth range for our customers. About 40% of our assets now are in portfolios that are greater than a million dollars. 

“Increasingly, it’s folks with complexity and not a lot of time to control it and manage it themselves.

“The sweet spot are these accumulators in their 30s, 40s, 50s. 

“Our average client is having us manage about $385,000 in their wealth. Now we’re not managing all of it, they might have active 401(k) accounts that we don’t manage.”

Why Shah thinks people will pay up

cashier cash register“We see a lot of mutual funds and active fund management and it just doesn’t make sense for the everyday investor, so they’ll switch over to us because it’s a much better answer. And importantly, they get an adviser. These are complex individuals. Our typical customer is a household and many times it’s a couple, many times they have children, and they have a ton of complexity.

“So it’s easy to say, ‘OK, this dashboard shows me everything, I’ll go manage it myself.’ But we go deep into what we do in portfolio construction and tax optimization.

“One thing that I think of is it’s much like the inflection point for a consumer when you start working a job when you have a single pay stub and have to pay a tax bill. It’s fine, you can do it, but when you start, you know, getting into multiple accounts, 15 to 20 accounts across a household and you’re needing to do tax prep, stock options, retirement accounts, and, “Oh goodness, I’ve got AMT’ and things that require a professional assistant, then people hire a CPA.”

Where Personal Capital will expand to

“I don’t think I’ll get into specific things that we’re considering and building.

“That being said, there are many things we could do. I would think about mass affluent, high net worth, what are the topics that are important to them. They want to do trust and estate planning, taxes are important to them, what other solutions might be form fitting for them? So insurance is a heavy topic for our customer set. I’m talking about the broader range of viable topics.”

On peoples’ concerns about handing over their bank logins

cybersecurity“We actually believe the solution we have is one of the safest environments where these users can operate.

“Once your information is together in a single destination, it allows you to see everything that’s going on and whether or not there’s anything happening in your accounts. We also have features that users can set up – I use this myself, every single day, I get a full manuscript of every single transaction in every one of my accounts. It’s a great canary in the coal mine.

“Importantly, when you put all this information into one single location, clients are not going to the individual institution. Most of that malicious activity is on that desktop, it’s on that open internet when users are transacting their credentials every single time they log into one of these end points.

“Once all of this is set up in our dashboard, it’s all read-only. This isn’t where we’re actively moving money around or it’s not a lot of money in motion stuff, it’s just one cohesive place.”

SEE ALSO: Some of the world’s largest hedge funds are getting crushed

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A $1.6 billion startup that's aiming to take business from Oracle reportedly just filed to go public (ORCL)

MongoDB cofounders Elliot Horowitz, Michael Gordon, Dev Ittycharia

MongoDB, a database startup with over $300 million in venture capital financing, has confidentially filed to go public, reports TechCrunch.

At the time of its last private valuation in 2015, MongoDB was reportedly a $1.6 billion company. The Wall Street Journal reported in May that MongoDB had hired Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to underwrite an IPO.

A change to SEC regulations took effect earlier this summer, allowing any company to confidentially file to go public — a move intended to jump start the IPO market. Previously, this option had only been available to companies under a certain size. 

Earlier this year, MongoDB CEO Dev Ittycheria told Crain’s New York that the company was doing “nine figures” of revenue, with “double digit” growth. At the time, Ittycheria named Oracle as the company’s biggest target. 

“We believe Oracle is incredibly vulnerable because they’ve lost the developer’s heart and soul,” said Ittycheria. 

If MongoDB does go public, it will be the fifth so-called “unicorn” startup to do so in 2017.

SEE ALSO: Tech ‘unicorn’ IPOs are booming

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NOW WATCH: The 2 hottest IPOs of 2017 have been enormous flops

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Smart watches and VR headsets are catching on, but they're still not ready to kill the smartphone

Smartphones replaced TVs and computers as the dominant product in consumer electronics. But what will replace smartphones as the next king of the hill is still anybody’s guess. 

Things like wearables, smart-home devices, and drones have all hit the consumer market with a bang, but no single technology has raced ahead of the others to be heralded as the next society-altering device.

This chart from Statista used a recent forecast from the Consumer Technology Association to look at the various contenders and how they’re expected to do this year. As the chart indicates, sales of wearables like Apple Watches and Fitbits are expected to continue to grow, but not particularly quickly. Sales of virtual reality devices and drones, meanwhile, are expected to grow much quicker and will reach the billion-dollar threshold for the first time.

Even with such growth, though, none of the new product categories looks set to take on smartphones just yet. The CTA predicts 185 million smartphones will ship during 2017.COTD_8.15 tech

SEE ALSO: Tesla’s appetite for cash keeps growing and growing

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10 business leaders who have distanced themselves from Trump so far

Donald Trump Kenneth C. Frazier, Chairman and CEO of Merck & Co

It’s no secret that this White House tends to hemorrhage staff.

But occupants of the West Wing aren’t the only casualties of President Donald Trump’s governing style.

While Trump has repeatedly billed himself as pro-business, his rhetoric and actions around immigration policy, the environment, and the deadly white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, have alienated several business leaders.

On Monday, Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier resigned from the president’s manufacturing council in response to Trump’s controversial initial response to the situation in Charlottesville.

Frazier was the only black member of the manufacturing council.

“As CEO of Merck, and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism,” he said in a statement, according to Business Insider’s Lydia Ramsey.

The president immediately took to Twitter to blast the CEO. The New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin reported that Trump’s response cowed to at least one anonymous member of his advisor councils, who said, “Just look at what he did to Ken. I’m not sticking my head up.”

But Frazier is by no means the only top business exec to have backed away from the White House.

Here are nine additional business leaders who have publicly distanced themselves from the president:

SEE ALSO: Here are the 17 executives who met with Trump for his first business advisory council

DON’T MISS: The Trump administration declared that a landmark federal law doesn’t protect LGBT employees from workplace discrimination

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook

The Facebook COO never sat on one of Trump’s councils, but she did appear at the then-president-elect’s December sit down with Silicon Valley powerhouses.

The following month, Sandberg blasted Trump’s travel ban in a Facebook post.

Business Insider’s Alex Heath reported that Sandberg wrote: “People seeking refuge have been turned away and sent back to the danger they just managed to flee. This is not how it should be in America.”

She also has spoken out against the Trump administration’s global gag rule policy, which bans US-funded groups around the world from discussing abortion as an option.

Kevin Plank, CEO of Under Armour

The Under Armour CEO caught massive flack for an initial pro-Trump statement back in February. Dennis Green reports for Business Insider that Plank hailed Trump as an “asset to the country.”

The comment sparked controversy. Even Under Armour’s own athletes reacted negatively, including NBA MVP Steph Curry, according to USA Today.

Plank later took a full-page ad out in the Baltimore Sun to clarify his statement and denounce Trump’s travel ban.

On Monday, the sportswear CEO announced that he will follow Frazier’s suit and step down from Trump’s council. According to Business Insider’s Bob Bryan, Plank released a statement declaring that “Under Armour engages in innovation and sports, not politics.”

Travis Kalanick, former CEO and founder of Uber

Joining Trump’s council proved to be yet another controversy for the recently ousted Uber CEO.

The New York Times reports that many Uber employees were angry about Kalanick’s decision to join the board in the first place. The controversy swelled after the administration announced its travel ban.

The Uber founder stepped down from the council in February.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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Facebook and Instagram get redesigns for readability

 Taking inspiration from line drawings, Reddit and Messenger, Facebook is overhauling the design of the News Feed to make it more legible, clickable and commentable. Meanwhile, Instagram today got a little redesign itself with comment reels now being threaded so you can have sub-conversations in public. Read More

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NASA's Cassini probe just got closer to Saturn than ever before — here's what its death spiral is revealing

cassini saturn grand finale illustration artwork nasa jpl caltech 13

NASA’s Cassini probe is plunging to its death.

The nuclear-powered spacecraft has orbited Saturn for 13 years, and sent back hundreds of thousands of images. The photos include close-ups of the gaseous giant, its famous rings, and its icy moons — including Titan, which has its own atmosphere, and Enceladus, which has a subsurface ocean that could conceivably harbor microbial life.

To prevent Cassini from crashing into and contaminating any of those hidden oceans, the space agency has directed the robot, which is running out of fuel, onto a crash course with Saturn.

On Monday, the space probe conducted the first of its final five orbits around the planet, dipping into its atmosphere, according to NASA. It’s all part of the “Grand Finale” for the $3.26-billion, 20-year mission, which will end on September 15 as the spacecraft dives to its demise and burns up like a meteor.

“As it makes these five dips into Saturn, followed by its final plunge, Cassini will become the first Saturn atmospheric probe,” Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist at JPL, said in a press release. “It’s long been a goal in planetary exploration to send a dedicated probe into the atmosphere of Saturn, and we’re laying the groundwork for future exploration with this first foray.”

These last passes will reveal new data about Saturn, its atmosphere and clouds, the materials making up its rings, and the mysterious gravity and magnetic fields of the gas planet.

“It’s Cassini’s blaze of glory,” Spilker previously told Business Insider. “It will be doing science until the very last second.”

Here’s what the probe’s final spiral is revealing so far.

SEE ALSO: NASA’s $1 billion Jupiter probe just sent back breathtaking new images of the Great Red Spot

Gravity from Titan, Saturn’s planet-sized moon, plays a key role in Cassini’s final orbits. NASA is using the force to bend Cassini’s course, a task that would otherwise require large amounts of rocket fuel.

These two views of Titan show the new details about the moon’s surface — including clouds and hazes in its atmosphere — that Cassini has revealed.

The first of the probe’s final five orbits took it between the rings and the planet itself. Data from that fly-by is being sent back to NASA today.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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