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The latest news from Business Insider

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    • China unveiled the world's longest sea bridge at an October ceremony in Hong Kong.
    • The bridge saw an influx of tourists from the Chinese mainland, but Hong Kong seemed ill-prepared to deal with the traffic.  
    • The nation's Guangdong province issued a 48-hour suspension of one-day weekend trips and imposed certain restrictions on shuttle services, leading to a major drop off in passengers. 

    Two months after China unveiled the world's longest sea bridge at a ceremony in Hong Kong, the nation has already struggled to accommodate an influx of tourists. 

    In November, the Guangdong province temporarily suspended one-day weekend trips to Hong Kong to reduce the number of tourists entering from mainland China. The ban only lasted for two days, but it seemed to spark a major dip in passengers.

    Community members have said that restrictions to the bridge's shuttle services are also to blame.

    At more than 34 miles long, the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge is part of a master plan to create a global science and technology hub by connecting two Chinese territories, Hong Kong and Macau (the world's largest gambling center), to nine nearby cities.

    With an economic output of $1.5 trillion, the new mega-region — known as the Greater Bay Area — is positioned to rival Silicon Valley. The plan also includes the construction of an $11 billion bullet train, which opened in September.

    The bridge is not open to public transit, so only certain vehicles — shuttles, freight cars, and private cars with permits — are allowed to cross. Pedestrians and bicyclists are prohibited.

    While some have criticized the structure as a waste of taxpayer dollars, others tout its ability to connect up to 70 million people in the region.

    Take a look at its remarkable design below.

    The $20 billion structure is 20 times as long as the Golden Gate Bridge.

    The title of world's largest sea bridge previously belonged to the Jiaozhou Bay Bridge, which stretches 26.3 miles.

    Source: BBC

    The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge is designed to last for more than a century, with the capacity to withstand major storms and earthquakes.

    The structure should hold up in the face of 211 mph winds. That claim was put to the test in September, when Typhoon Mangkhut swept through Hong Kong, destroying roofs, shattering windows, and toppling trees.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Cannabis VCs

    • The booming cannabis industry is a huge opportunity for venture capital funds willing to stomach the risk of investing in a nascent sector.
    • Business Insider surveyed the top VCs writing checks in the industry to understand where the best opportunities are and how to seize them.
    • "Great venture capital investing requires the ability to see opportunity where others see a challenge," one of the fund managers said. 

    Ever since Colorado legalized cannabis for all adults in 2014, the cannabis industry has blossomed, with a multitude of companies competing to scale up as more states legalize the drug. On Wednesday, Canada became the first G7 country to legalize the plant for all adults.

    The industry is growing rapidly — some analysts estimate it will be an over $75 billion industry in the US alone — but few institutional funds are willing to invest since marijuana is still considered an illegal, Schedule I drug by the US federal government.

    That's where some dedicated funds see a window of opportunity

    Business Insider surveyed the top VCs writing checks in the booming marijuana industry to understand where the best opportunities lie for new investors.

    [Read more: The top 12 venture-capital firms making deals in the booming cannabis industry that's set to skyrocket to $75 billion]

    The cannabis industry's 'peculiar characteristics' are an opportunity for some investors

    "If you strip away the hype around the cannabis industry, it's really no different from other more established sectors or business models," Brett Finkelstein, a managing director at the Florida-based cannabis fund Phyto Partners, said. "Great venture capital investing requires the ability to see opportunity where others see a challenge."

    There are challenges aplenty in the industry, with its patchwork of state and local regulations guiding how companies can operate. And cannabis is a brand new industry, with a paucity of data and rapidly-changing regulations, making it unlike any other emerging sector.

    "As with any new market, investors should get to know the community and understand the market’s peculiar characteristics," said Eric Hippeau, a partner at the New York City-based Lerer Hippeau Ventures. 

    Hippeau's firm is one of the few established institutional funds investing in the cannabis industry — albeit in software and media companies that support the industry, and not in the plant itself. Most firms avoid the legal risk associated with investing in companies, like dispensaries or cultivators, that touch the plant directly. 

    The fund, famous for its early positions in digital media companies like BuzzFeed and Axios, has made investments in Leaflink, a software platform for dispensaries; and Vangst, a recruitment platform for cannabis companies.

    Hippeau said the "patchwork" nature of the cannabis industry poses special challenges for firms putting money in the space, though it's also a big opportunity.

    "Investors need to understand these nuances," Hippeau said.

    David Abernathy, a VP at the Arcview Group, a network of high-net-worth cannabis investors, echoed Hippeau's sentiment and cautioned investors to keep abreast of the swiftly-changing rules and regulations around cannabis.

    "The landscape evolves on an almost daily basis," Abernathy said. "Cannabis markets are very nuanced and complicated from a regulatory perspective."

    Abernathy added that the opportunities for investors vary greatly "state-to-state" and country-to-country, depending on how the regulations are written.

    The ability to understand the unique risks involved with the cannabis industry allows focused investors to seize opportunities that more-risk averse funds may miss.


    Ancillary businesses, like software and technology, are poised for rapid growth

    "There are some great potential investments in plant-touching businesses — especially emerging brands," Abernathy said. But in his view, the businesses with the most growth potential are "ancillary" companies that provide products and services supporting the cannabis industry.

    Karan Wadhera, a partner in LA-based Casa Verde Capital — which has rapper-turned-renaissance man Snoop Dogg on its management team — agreed that "ancillary" businesses provided the most compelling growth opportunities in the cannabis industry.

    "These businesses are especially exciting as they can scale the quickest with the smallest amount of capital," Wadhera said, adding that his fund is focused on backing "seasoned entrepreneurs" who can manage risk and approach the cannabis industry with maturity.

    Read more: The CEO of the largest cannabis company in the US reveals who his biggest competition is — and pinpoints how he's fending off multibillion-dollar private equity funds

    "When you invest in a company, you are placing your confidence and trust in the team," Wadhera said.

    Michael Gruber and Jeff Howard, the managing partners of the Illinois-based cannabis fund Salveo Capital, said the complex nature of the cannabis industry demands a full-time focus.

    "Cannabis can be a great investment if managed by a fulltime team of finance professionals who truly understand the nuances of this burgeoning, but still nascent industry," Gruber and Howard wrote in an email. Diversifying where you invest is critical to shedding some of the serious risks involved in the industry, they added.

    trimming cannabis marijuana weed plants.JPG

    Tapping into a 'strong network' is key 

    Jon Trauben, a Wall Street veteran who's now a partner at Altitude Investment Management, New York-based cannabis fund, said building a "strong network" in the cannabis industry is crucial to make smart investment decisions.

    "Build a strong network to test their investment thesis," Trauben said. "Data and clarity in the cannabis market is lacking so having a strong network to tap into is essential."

    Some investors cautioned against investing in some of the larger, publicly-traded cannabis companies as the hype surrounding the industry has caused valuations to skyrocket.

    "There are definitely some that will be far more valuable in the future, but I also think there are many that won't execute well and will be worth significantly less in the future," Matt Shalhoub, a managing director at the Toronto-based Green Acre Capital said. "There has been a lot of volatility in the space, and people definitely need to have the stomach for large swings in either direction."

    Overall, investing in the cannabis industry is "very challenging," Morgan Paxhia, the managing partner at the San Francisco-based Poseidon Asset Management, said.

    "Take your time to establish a good foundation instead of rushing into the market," Paxhia said. "Define your investment process."

    Like other fund managers in the cannabis industry, Paxhia said he's "very bullish" on ancillary technology companies from consumer devices to software-as-a-service. 

    "Yes, this industry is moving very quickly but managing outside capital carries a lot of responsibility for the betterment of your investors and the legitimacy of the industry," Paxhia said. 

    Read more of Business Insider's cannabis industry coverage:

    SEE ALSO: The top 12 venture-capital firms making deals in the booming cannabis industry that's set to skyrocket to $75 billion

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Here's how many children you can have in a lifetime

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    This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here.

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    The average US consumer holds about three nonretail credit cards with a balance over $6,000, according to Experian. As confidence rises, spending is hitting prerecession levels. For banks, that should be a good thing, since credit cards are profitable. But the push to attract a particularly interested and engaged customer base through sign-up bonuses and lucrative rewards offerings has led banks into a rat race, with surging expenses and rising delinquencies that are hurting returns.

    To make credit cards as valuable as they could be, and to bring returns back up, issuers need to direct their efforts not just toward becoming one of consumers’ three cards, but also toward becoming their favorite card. Rewards are more important than ever — three of the top four primary card determinants cited by respondents to a Business Insider Intelligence survey were rewards-related — so abandoning them isn’t effective.

    Instead, issuers need to be more resourceful with their rewards offerings, focusing on areas that encourage habit formation, promote high-volume spending, and help to offset some of the rewards costs while building engagement and loyalty.

    In this report, Business Insider Intelligence sizes the US consumer credit card market, explains why return on assets (ROA) is on the decline, highlights the importance of rewards in attracting customers, and lays out three next-generation rewards strategies that are popular among certain demographics, which issuers can implement to return their card business to profitability. To drive this analysis, we conducted a survey centered on users’ card preferences to over 700 US members of our proprietary panel in May 2018.

    Here are some key takeaways from the report: 

    • Competition driven by consumer card appetite in the US is hurting issuer returns. Consumer confidence and regulatory policy that favors credit cards should be a boon to issuers. But the competition has surged expenses to unattainable levels and increased delinquencies, which are causing returns to trend down.
    • Consumers still value rewards above all when it comes to cards. Two-thirds of respondents to our survey cited rewards-related offerings as the leading driver of primary card status, but they can be pricey for issuers.
    • Using resources strategically and offering rewards types that encourage high-volume spending and drive engagement through habit formation, like flexible offerings, rewards for e-commerce, and local bonuses, could be the path to success in the future.

    In full, the report:

    • Identifies the factors that are causing high credit appetite to hurt issuer returns.
    • Explains the value of top-of-wallet status, and evaluates the factors that drive it based on proprietary consumer data.
    • Defines three popular next-generation rewards options that issuers can use to drive up spending and engagement without breaking the bank.
    • Issues recommendations about how to offer these rewards and what demographic groups could be most receptive to them.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Beyoncé is serious goals.

    Not only does she have killer looks and a voice to match, she's one-half of a power couple, dominates the music industry, and embodies female empowerment. It also doesn't hurt that she has an estimated net worth of $355 million, according to Forbes

    And after working hard to build that wealth, she knows how to spend it.

    Queen Bey, as fans love to call her, is known to indulge in multimillion dollar mansions, luxurious vacations and yachting adventures, and beauty treatments. She's also an excellent gift giver, having gifted husband Jay-Z a private jet and a car, and giving daughter Blue Ivy a doll worth five figures on her birthday.

    Beyoncé also spreads her wealth beyond her family, donating it far and wide, including to victims of natural disasters and to education.

    Below, see how one of the world's highest-paid celebrities and one of the richest self-made women spends her fortune.

    SEE ALSO: Taylor Swift is worth more than $300 million — see her bicoastal mansions, lavish vacations, and generous gifts to fans and friends

    DON'T MISS: The Obamas are worth 30 times more than when they entered the White House in 2008 — here's how they spend their millions

    Beyoncé currently has an estimated net worth of $355 million, thanks to her music, touring, and endorsements.


    From 2016 to 2017, she earned $60 million, making her one of the world's highest-paid celebrities, according to Forbes.


    A lot of this came from her Formation World Tour in 2016, which grossed a quarter of a billion dollars.

    Source:Business Insider

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Cannabis VCs

    Ever since Colorado legalized cannabis for all adults in 2014, the cannabis industry has blossomed, with a multitude of companies competing to scale up as more states legalize the drug.

    With so few institutional investors ready to write checks to cannabis companies — marijuana is still considered a Schedule I drug by the US federal government — the industry has given rise to a number of sector-specific firms that deeply understand the nuances of investing in such a highly regulated and fragmented market.

    Besides Lerer Hippeau and Slow Ventures, these cannabis-specific funds mostly raise money from private investors or family offices that may have a higher risk appetite than the average pension fund. They get into top startups before the bigger players begin throwing their weight around, and can quickly adapt to shifting regulations and consumer sentiment.

    In the US, most funds focus on ancillary companies, which are startups that provide software and services to the cannabis industry, or biotech firms focused on the agricultural or pharmaceutical side of the industry, rather than investing directly in companies that touch the plant itself. It's a method for skirting federal marijuana regulations, though some funds will invest directly in plant-touching businesses.

    But now that Canada's set to legalize marijuana this month, more capital is rushing into the market than ever before. Because the country has federally coherent regulations, some of Canada's biggest banks have pushed into space, either underwriting deals or helping cannabis startups go public.

    Last year the total value of all venture deals in the cannabis space across the globe was just under $378 million, according to analytics firm PitchBook. By the beginning of October, that number nearly doubled, to $643 million. To put that growth in perspective, in 2012, the first year PitchBook had data available, there were only two deals in the cannabis sector — worth just $300,000.

    According to some estimates, cannabis may become a $75 billion industry in the next few years. 

    To get a handle on who's cutting early-stage deals in the fledgling industry, Business Insider pulled data from PitchBook and reached out to the top venture-capital firms in the industry. (New deals are happening all the time, so we'll keep updating as we learn more.)

    Here are the top venture-capital firms in the cannabis industry:

    SEE ALSO: Rising stars of marijuana's investment scene everyone from Wall Street to Silicon Valley should know

    AND MORE: Famous short seller Andrew Left is creating a cannabis fund. He explains why the market's not in a bubble, but does need to 'chill out.'

    Casa Verde Capital counts Snoop Dogg and Goldman Sachs veteran Karan Wadhera among its partners.

    Location: Los Angeles

    Deal Count: 15

    Los Angeles-based Casa Verde Capital has made 15 venture investments in the cannabis industry, according to Karan Wadhera, the firm's managing partner. It was founded in 2015 by a team that includes the rapper Snoop Dogg, but it really started building out its portfolio in the summer of 2016, Wadhera said.

    Like other US-based firms, Casa Verde invests in ancillary businesses, including Dutchie, an online-ordering platform, and Eaze, a cannabis-delivery company.

    "The ancillary space presents some of the most compelling investment opportunities," Wadhera told Business Insider. "These businesses are especially exciting as they can scale the quickest with the smallest amount of capital."

    In June, Casa Verde participated in a Series A funding round into Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies, a biotech startup researching cannabinoid medicines, along with the venture arm of the tobacco company Imperial Brands.

    Altitude Investment Management is a New York City-based firm that's raised $25 million.

    Location: New York

    Deal Count: 15

    The New York City-based Altitude Investment Management has made 15 deals since the firm's launch in 2017, according to Jon Trauben, a partner in the firm.

    Altitude invests in both ancillary and plant-touching companies, with a focus on data and analytics.

    "Data and clarity in the cannabis market is lacking, so having a strong network to tap into is essential," Trauben told Business Insider. "We think it's critical to invest in the industry on a portfolio basis to diversify exposure and manage known and unknown risks."

    Altitude's portfolio consists of startups across a range of verticals, such as PathogenDx, a DNA-testing firm geared toward cannabis; Flowhub, a point-of-sale-software service for dispensaries; and Green Flower, a digital-media outlet.


    Merida Capital is a New York City-based fund that invests in later-stage startups.

    Location: New York

    Deal count: 40

    New York City-based Merida Capital has made 40 investments in 22 cannabis companies, Mitch Baruchowitz, a managing partner, told Business Insider.

    Baruchowitz, a former corporate lawyer, founded Merida in 2016 after being involved in the cannabis industry since 2010. Unlike other firms on this list, Merida mostly invests in later-stage companies, rather than in seed rounds.

    Baruchowitz believes two of the hottest areas to invest in the cannabis sector are agricultural technology and data analytics.

    To that end, Merida has teamed up with private-equity fund Pegasus Capital to invest in Vividgro, a state-of-the-art lighting and growing system for indoor greenhouses.

    Baruchowitz said data is going to be the "most disruptive" evolution of the cannabis market.

    "When data becomes actionable, when the data sets become big enough, it's going to be like whiplash for the market," Baruchowitz said. "When data moves into the space, all of that historical or even instinctual behavior goes away."

    Merida has made multiple investments in New Frontier Data, a cannabis-industry analytics firm, along with compliance platform Simplifya, among other investments.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Edward Lampert

    • The deadline to submit bids for Sears is December 28. 
    • Chairman Edward Lampert and his hedge fund, ESL Investments, outlined a plan earlier this month to buy up the rest of Sears for up to $4.6 billion in cash and stock. However, sources told CNBC that as of Thursday afternoon Lampert had not submitted his bid or rounded up financing.
    • These sources also told CNBC that ESL Investments is the only party offering to buy Sears as a whole. Without this, Sears will likely be split up by the liquidators.

    The day of reckoning has come for Sears.

    The century-old department-store chain has just 24 hours to secure a bid for the company, without which it faces liquidation. 

    Sears chairman Edward Lampert and his hedge fund, ESL Investments, outlined a plan earlier this month to buy up the rest of Sears for up to $4.6 billion in cash and stock. However, sources told CNBC that as of Thursday afternoon Lampert had not submitted his bid or rounded up financing.

    These sources also said ESL Investments is the only party offering to buy Sears as a whole, CNBC reported.

    A spokesperson for ESL Investments declined to comment to Business Insider. 

    Lampert may well be biding his time, but sources told CNBC that it's also possible he could secure financing to meet Friday's deadline. 

    Read more:Sears, once the largest retailer in the world, has filed for bankruptcy and is closing 142 stores. Here's how it got there.

    Sears filed for bankruptcy in October. The company has been losing money and closing stores for years, and many employees blame its former CEO turned chairman, Lampert. In interviews with Business Insider's Hayley Peterson in 2016, executives accused Lampert of neglecting Sears' stores and leaving them to crumble in his bid to turn Sears into a tech company.

    Between 2013 and this October, Sears' store count dropped from 1,980 to 687, according to the company's bankruptcy filing. The department store stayed afloat thanks to Lampert bailing it out with billions of dollars of loans through his hedge fund ESL Investments.

    SEE ALSO: Sears is catching heat for dedicating over $25 million to exec bonuses while reportedly cutting off severance for laid-off store workers

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The true story behind the name 'Black Friday' is much darker than you may have thought

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    Constance Wu Crazy Rich Asians premiere

    • As 2018 comes to a close, INSIDER compiled a list of the best-dressed women in Hollywood.
    • Over the past 12 months, Constance Wu and Cardi B became breakout fashion stars.
    • Other celebrities, like Tracee Ellis Ross and Zendaya, took risks that paid off.
    • Meghan Markle pushed the boundaries of royal fashion.
    • And some stars kept it simple and chic, like Margot Robbie and Zoë Kravitz.

    With 2019 right around the corner, it's time to revisit some of the most memorable fashion moments of the year.

    Over the past 12 months, celebrities wore some truly unforgettable looks, from Constance Wu's Swarovski crystal-covered gown to Thandie Newton's custom "Star Wars"-themed dress.

    Below, see INSIDER's list of the 16 best-dressed women in Hollywood in 2018, shown in no particular order.

    Lady Gaga made a powerful statement in a suit.

    In October, the singer wore an oversized Marc Jacobs pantsuit to Elle's annual Women in Hollywood celebration.

    During the event, Lady Gaga gave a moving speech about power dynamics in Hollywood and opened up about her experiences as a survivor of sexual assault.

    At one point of her speech, the singer said she decided to wear a pantsuit to the ceremony to reclaim the power she felt she had lost.

    Fans also won't soon forget the many intricate looks Lady Gaga wore during the press tour for "A Star is Born," as well as during the movie's numerous premieres.

    Rihanna made major waves in the fashion industry.

    As expected, Rihanna wore some of the boldest streetwear looks of the year.

    The long-time style icon repurposed lingerie into daywear, turned a denim skirt into a top, and rocked the "no pants" trend over and over again.

    But it was perhaps the singer's work with Savage X Fenty — a lingerie collection she launched in May — that left the biggest mark on the fashion world.

    The collection itself, as well as its website and marketing efforts, have been praised for including people with a wide range of body shapes and skin tones.

    Chrissy Metz brought vibrant colors and bold prints to the red carpet.

    During awards season earlier this year, the "This Is Us" star wore one memorable ensemble after another.

    In January, Metz attended the Critics Choice Awards in a multicolored striped dress by Eloquii, which she customized with black sequin detailing.

    Later that month, the actress stunned at the Screen Guild Awards in a custom cobalt blue Kate Spade gown with ruffled tiers and flowers cascading down from her right shoulder. 

    Metz had another major fashion moment at the Emmys in September, where she wore a one-shoulder emerald green dress that was custom-made by John Paul Ataker.

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    GM self-driving bolt

    Tech companies and auto companies are all racing to be the first to roll out self-driving cars onto the road.

    The stakes are high for everyone involved. The self-driving revolution and the prevalence of ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft threatens to reduce individual car ownership, which would eat into a sizable piece of automakers' core business.

    Meanwhile, tech companies are jockeying for a piece of the self-driving-car market, which Apple CEO Tim Cook dubbed"the mother of all AI projects." These companies are all looking to deploy self-driving cars as part of a commercial ride-hailing service that would operate similarly to how Uber and Lyft do now.

    In a new free report, Business Insider Intelligence — Business Insider's premium research service — takes an in-depth look at the most expansive self-driving-car tests taking place in the US, and offers insights on the leaders in the self-driving-car race.

    To get your copy of this free report, click here.

    Join the conversation about this story »

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    Tim Cook

    • Apple's stock could soon benefit from a shift in investor thinking about the company, Gene Munster, a longtime tech analyst, said.
    • The company is increasingly looking like Proctor & Gamble or other consumer staple companies, he said.
    • Those businesses are valued by investors for their stable and predictable revenue and growth — and trade at far more favorable multiples of their earnings. 
    • The combination of Apple's iPhone and services businesses allows it to portray itself as something very similar to investors, Munster said.

    You likely don't think of Apple as being in the same category of companies as Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, and Philip Morris, but Gene Munster thinks it has more in common with them than many people realize.

    Better yet — in Munster's book, Apple's stock could soon start trading like those consumer staples.

    Like those companies, "Apple has a more predictable business than it may have historically been and was thought of," Munster, a longtime Apple analyst who is now a managing partner at venture capital firm Loup Ventures, told Business Insider in an interview

    He continued, "Over the next few years, it could see a multiple like a consumer staple." 

    Indeed, Munster thinks Apple next year will outperform its big-tech peers in the group of FAANGs — Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google owner Alphabet.

    Read this: Longtime Apple analyst Gene Munster thinks the iPhone maker will reclaim its crown as the best tech stock in 2019. Here's why.

    That may seem like an insult. After all, Apple is a tech company, and such businesses often trade at several dozen times their expected earnings. By contrast, consumer staples are often thought of as stodgy companies that aren't accorded such high premiums by investors. 

    Consumer-staple companies trade at a premium to Apple

    But Munster, who doesn't own Apple shares, thinks it would be a positive for Apple's stock if it started being placed in the latter category. On average, the consumer-staple companies in the S&P 500 trade at about 16 times their forecasted earnings for next year and top-tier companies in the sector, such as Coke and P&G, are accorded a multiple of 20 or more.

    Managing Director & Senior Research Analyst for Piper Jaffray Gene Munster, now of Loup Ventures, speaks on stage at LocationWorld 2016 Day 2 at The Conrad on November 3, 2016 in New York City. (Photo byWhile there are high fliers in the tech sector, such as Amazon, which is valued at more than 50 times its predicted 2019 profits, the tech companies in the S&P 500 trade at less than 14 times their expected earnings. And Apple itself now has a multiple of about 11.

    So, if investors start thinking of Apple as a consumer staple, its stock price should appreciate markedly. If Apple were trading at the average consumer-staple multiple, its stock would be at around $214 a share, instead of $156.

    And Munster is convinced that's going to happen. Apple's stock has been weighed down by its iPhone business. The overall smartphone market has started to decline, in terms of units shipped, and Apple in particular has faced concerns about soft demand for its latest iPhones.

    But the company is in the process of redirecting investors' attention from the number of smartphones it sells to its overall revenue, Munster said. When investors realize that number is continuing to grow — regardless of what's happening with the number of iPhones it sells — they'll start to feel more comfortable with its stock and valuation, he said. 

    "Over the course of 2019, investors will take away that this is a reliable business, and this deserves a higher multiple than the smartphone business," he said.

    Apple wants investors to pay attention to its services business

    Apple announced last month that it would no longer disclose the number of iPhones, iPads, and other devices it sells, instead disclosing just its revenue from selling such products.

    The company and many of its backers on Wall Street have been arguing that the number of devices it sells is becoming less important as the prices of those devices has gone up and as it has started to bring in significant revenue from other parts of its business, particularly its services offerings. Those include subscription products such as Apple Music and iCloud storage, as well as the commissions it gets on sales of apps through its App Store.

    Munster thinks there are good reasons to be optimistic about Apple's services business. Its customers are paying more for apps, which means Apple is making more money off such sales, he said. And it's poised to launch a subscription streaming video offering next year, which should bring in additional revenue.

    But that business alone isn't why investors will give Apple's stock a higher multiple. Instead, Munster thinks investors will come around to the idea of Apple's business as a whole being akin to a subscription service offering, one with steady, reliable, and recurring revenue. 

    But its iPhone business is an important part of the story

    Apple's iPhone business accounts for more than 60% of its total revenue. Munster thinks that business will remain stable.

    The company created some concern among investors and analysts in its last earnings call when it announced that it would no longer release its iPhone unit sales, and offered disappointing guidance for the holiday quarter. Many on Wall Street interpreted that as a sign that its iPhone sales would decline, and worried that the company was on the wrong side of peak demand for the product. Other electronics companies have seen their sales plunge after their products hit peak demand.

    But Munster doesn't think that will happen to Apple. 

    Companies such as BlackBerry and Nokia saw their sales fall because something better or cheaper came along that undermined the market for their key products, he said. But that doesn't seem to be the case with Apple, at least not right now. Smart glasses or other wearable products that could steal sales away from smartphones still seem years off, he said. And cheaper phones, such as those from Huawei and Xiaomi, don't seem like they're really attracting iPhone customers, he said.

    The iPhone plus services is a compelling story for investors

    Instead, what seems to be happening with Apple is that its customers are starting to wait longer to trade in their iPhones for new ones, Munster said. But they are and will continue upgrading their devices on a regular basis, he said. And that business could become even more service-like if Apple builds on its iPhone trade-in program to offer iPhones on a subscription basis, he said.

    "I think Apple pretty well has their base locked up," he said. At least for the next year, he continued, "There doesn't seem to be anything out there that will shake that base."

    On top of that steady iPhone revenue stream, Apple has its fast-growing services business and it has the potential for a "wild card" that could significantly boost its sales in the form of either existing products such as the Apple Watch or others that it has in development, Munster said. 

    Add it all up, and you've got a business with a highly predictable revenue base and the room for notable — if not super-rapid — growth. That's pretty much the profile of a consumer-staple company, he said. Investors give those companies healthy multiples not because of their standout growth, but because of the combination of their steady growth and predictability, he said. 

    Munster thinks it will take Apple much of this next year to steer investors to this new way of thinking about its business. But each quarter it can show the steadiness of its business and results will help reinforce that message, he said. And once investors buy in, Apple's stock will benefit. 

    "I think it's going to have a positive impact," he said. 

    SEE ALSO: Microsoft's surprising comeback over Apple is the outcome of two new CEOs with radically different gameplans

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: I'm a diehard iPhone user who switched to Android for a week — here's what I loved and hated about the Google Pixel 3 XL

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    This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here. Current subscribers can read the report here.

    Blockchain is seemingly being explored by innovation teams in every corner of every industry. This includes the logistics industry, which, despite continuing on an impressive upward trajectory — the market is expected to reach $15.5 trillion by 2023, up from $8.1 trillion in 2015 — is filled with inefficiencies that the distributed ledger technology (DLT) is potentially well suited to fix.


    As a result, the DLT has become one of the most attractive investment opportunities for companies in the logistics space; in fact, the market for blockchain technology in supply chain management is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 49% from $41 million in 2017 to $667 million in 2024, according to Zion Market Research.

    This is leading some of the largest firms in the logistics industry to explore blockchain and its potential use cases. For example, in 2017, a group of technology, transportation, and supply chain executives formed the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BiTA) to create a forum for the development of blockchain standards and education for the freight industry. BiTA now has over 450 members, including global heavyweights UPS, FedEx, SAP, Google, Cisco, and Daimler.

     However, there are still major hurdles to overcome before the technology can become commonplace. Many companies, especially small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs), are still unaware of what blockchain is, how it works, or what the benefits of the technology are. 

    In this report, Business Insider Intelligence explores how blockchain can provide value to the global logistics industry. We break down some of the inefficiencies in the logistics industry that are leading firms to explore blockchain and explain how the technology can be used to solve these issues. Additionally, we examine some specific use cases along the supply chain and identify some of the hurdles to adoption. And finally, we take a look at what needs to occur in the logistics industry for blockchain to be deployed widely. 

    The companies mentioned in this report are: BiTA, FedEx, IBM, Maersk, Modum, SAP, Volt Technology, and Walmart.

    Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

    • The logistics industry suffers from a number of inefficiencies caused by outdated processes that blockchain could solve. Some of the issues plaguing the space include a lack of transparency caused by siloed, disparate systems, high costs as a result of slow, manual processes, and difficulties related to the amount of time it takes to create and close a contract.
    • Firms that deploy blockchain-based solutions are likely to achieve a more streamlined experience through a reduced need for intermediaries, better planning capabilities as a result of improved visibility, and lower costs through the digitization of documentation.
    • Major companies are allocating resources toward developing a viable blockchain-based platform. Although few solutions have actually been fully developed, companies including IBM and Maersk, as well as retail heavyweight Walmart and FedEx, are making considerable strides in bringing their blockchain solutions to market.
    • However, use of the technology is still in its infancy within the logistics industry. Firms are still confused about the potential benefits of the technology — only 11% of respondents to an MHI Annual Industry survey believe they have a working knowledge of blockchain.
    • Having industry-specific case studies will show firms that are exploring the technology how they can go from testing to full deployment. These high-profile companies, which are some of the biggest and most influential in the world, will also be able to help shape a global standard for the use of blockchain and aid in the development of new legislation.

    In full, the report:

    • Sizes the potential market for blockchain in the management of the supply chain.
    • Explains how blockchain technology can be used to improve the inefficiencies that have long plagued the logistics industry. 
    • Details how specific companies are testing blockchain technology to enhance parts of the supply chain, including freight shipments and last-mile delivery. 
    • Discusses the potential barriers that will challenge the adoption of blockchain in logistics and how these hurdles can be overcome.
    • Pinpoints what will likely need to happen next for the mass adoption of blockchain to occur.

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    David Kelly

    • David Kelly, JPMorgan Asset Management's chief global strategist, said December's market volatility was caused largely by passive and momentum investors, rather than active managers concerned about fundamentals. 
    • He said that much of the market is not decided "by millions of little Warren Buffetts thinking carefully about the value of stocks," but rather by pre-set indexes and algorithms. 
    • Market swings that "are not validated by an actual problem" in the economy will fade, Kelly said. 
    • Stocks erased sharp losses in a choppy trading session Thursday. After earlier dropping more than 600 points, the Dow Jones Industrial Average erased losses and settled more than 250 points higher, up about 1.1%.

    Much of the blame for recent market volatility falls with two types of investors, David Kelly, JPMorgan Asset Management's chief global strategist, said on a Thursday call with clients and media. 

    Economic fundamentals, from jobs to earnings, look positive, he said, leading him to place responsibility for this month's series of sharp sell-offs on two groups: passive and "momentum" investors – those which buy and sell through algorithms and automatic trading systems.

    "One of the things we have to get over is the impression that this market is being decided and determined on a day-to-day basis by millions of little Warren Buffetts thinking carefully about the value of stocks. It was never quite like that and it’s not like that today," Kelly said. "Over time, you’ve gone from markets moved by individual and institutional investors who were at least thinking about the value of stocks, although they were very prone to bouts of fear and hope, to a market which is more and more dominated by passive or momentum investors." 

    See also:Investors are fleeing active funds in the worst month for managers in nearly 2 years

    Overall, Kelly said that growth rates are slowing but show no signs of weakness, a promising signal. He also pointed out that, over the holiday season, trading volume is thin and active managers and executives "are off on vacation." 

    "These wild swings in markets have always occurred. You always have some volatility – that’s the price you pay for being in equities," he said. "But when [the swings] are not validated by actual weakness in earnings or increases in interest rates – they’re not validated by an actual problem – then they will tend to fade."

    Kelly highlighted one opportunity for investors: with the market down 15% since the start of the quarter, it may be time to buy. 

    JPMorgan Asset Management managed $1.7 trillion as of September 30.

    Also read:

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The legendary economist who predicted the housing crisis says the US will win the trade war

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    Tim McGraw and Faith Hill

    • There are plenty of celebrity couples that have lasted over 20 years. 
    • Even today, they look just as happy as ever.
    • From Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith, who got married in 1997, to David and Victoria Beckham, who wed in 1999, these celebrity couples glow as they grow together. 

    One of the benefits of a long-term relationship is that you get to grow old together. Long-lasting celebrity couples also do it in the public eye. 

    Many of these famous couples — from Tim McGraw and Faith Hill to Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi— have gone through various transformations over their decades-spanning relationships. 

    From then to now, here's how these long-lasting celebrity couples have grown over time. 

    Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi have been together for 14 years.

    Comedian Ellen DeGeneres met actress Portia de Rossi in 2004 and said "I do" in 2008. After 14 years together, the pair is still going strong. 

    Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher have been married for eight years but have been together for 16.

    Actors Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher first met in 2002 at a party in Australia. The pair didn't tie the knot, though, until 2010 at a private wedding which only six people attended. 

    Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr. have been together for 18 years.

    While filming "I Know What You Did Last Summer" in 1997, actors Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr. met, but they didn't start dating until 2000. Today, they are married and have two children. 

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    arike ogunbowale

    • This year was filled with memorable sports moments, from jaw-dropping dunks to goosebumps-inducing buzzer-beaters.
    • Our list includes the best action from the World Cup, NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB, college sports, and plenty more.
    • Though he doesn't own the top play, it's hard to argue that anybody else produced more highlights this year than LeBron James.
    • Our top play was the buzziest play of 2018.

    With 2018 coming to a close, we compiled the best plays in sports we saw this year and arranged them in a completely subjective order.

    On the list you'll find feats of athleticism from jaw-dropping jumps to clever maneuvers. Of course, the stakes of the play, the athlete, and the situation all got taken into account. A game-winner in the playoffs is cooler than a great pass — it just is.

    Additionally, star power played a part. When LeBron James hits a game-winner or dunks on somebody, it simply means more than if the 8th man on the team does so. And — spoiler alert — James had a highlight-filled year.

    Our top 40 plays of 2018 include action from the World Cup, Super Bowl, World Series, NHL playoffs, NBA season and more.

    Check out the best plays of 2018 below.

    40. Tiger Woods eagles from 95 yards out at the Memorial Tournament

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    One thing to know: Was there anyone more watched or more rooted-for in 2018? Fresh off some encouraging rounds at The Players Championship and Masters, Woods continued to round into shape, sending the crowd into a frenzy with this shot.

    39. LeBron James fools the entire Lakers defense

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    One thing to know: James was on cruise control for half of the 2017-18 season, but in the latter part of the year, he turned it on, seemingly creating jaw-dropping highlights each night. This one was pretty, understated, and another example that he controls all parts of the game.

    38. Ping pong player practices perfect paddle defense

    One thing to know:According to Deadspin, this is 15-year-old Chris Chen at the Trondheim Table Tennis Club going with a last-ditch defense and coming up with the point. We're not sure he could do this again if he tried — then again, maybe he has!

    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    donald trump

    • President Donald Trump pushed the US government into a partial shutdown over his demands for border-wall funding.
    • Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez suggested some alternative uses for Trump's demands for $5.7 billion toward the wall.
    • INSIDER polled people on alternative uses of the $5.7 billion in border wall funding, and most preferred other ideas, including infrastructure improvements, covering a half-million Americans' healthcare expenses, and expanded pre-K education.
    • The only group that supported the wall was conservatives, while border money came in last for moderates and liberals.

    As the partial government shutdown drags on into its sixth day, President Donald Trump has remained steadfast in his demands that $5 billion for a wall along the US-Mexico border be included in any package to funding and reopening the government.

    "Have the Democrats finally realized that we desperately need Border Security and a Wall on the Southern Border," Trump tweeted Thursday. "Need to stop Drugs, Human Trafficking, Gang Members & Criminals from coming into our Country."

    But according to an INSIDER poll, most Americans would prefer to put the $5 billion Trump is demanding toward other policy goals.

    At the start of the government shutdown, Representative-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez lamented House Republicans inclusion of $5.7 billion in border-wall money in their doomed funding package.

    "And just like that, GOP discovers $5.7 billion for a wall. $5.7 billion," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted. "What if we instead added $5.7B in teacher pay? Or replacing water pipes? Or college tuition/prescription refill subsidies? Or green jobs? But notice how no one’s asking the GOP how they’re paying for it."

    Read more:The government shutdown is now in day 6 — here's how long previous government shutdowns have lasted

    In response to Ocasio-Cortez's tweet, Washington Post writer Jeff Stein suggested a few alternatives for the $5.7 billion in funding, including funding pre-kindergarten education for every child in the US or covering the healthcare expenses for hundreds of thousands of Americans over the course of the year.

    INSIDER polled these alternatives against funding for the wall and found that the wall was not a particularly popular option.

    Conducted as a SurveyMonkey Audience poll with 1,025 respondents that ran December 21-22, INSIDER asked respondents, "What is the best use of $5.7 billion in federal funding?" and offered four options:

    • "build a portion of a wall along the US-Mexico border"
    • "fund pre-kindergarten programs for every child in the US for a year"
    • "pay the healthcare expenses for roughly 530,000 Americans for a year"
    • "fund infrastructure improvements"

    The figures were based on Stein's estimates for the utility of $5.7 billion in different areas of administration and calculations based on the most healthcare spending data.

    Only 19% of respondents thought the wall was the best use of that funding.

    The best-polling use of funds was paying healthcare expenses for a half-million people, backed by 36% of respondents.

    A further 30% thought infrastructure would most benefit from the funding, while 15% would fund pre-K programs.

    Only respondents who identified as conservative thought the wall was an important priority.

    • Of those who identified as moderately or very conservative, about 53% wanted the wall, with 22% preferring infrastructure improvements and 16% preferring healthcare.
    • Of those who only slightly leaned liberal or conservative or didn't identify with either political ideology, they vastly preferred healthcare (39%) and infrastructure (32%), then pre-K (16%) and only then the wall (13%).
    • Of those who identified as moderately or very liberal, only 2% want to fund the wall, with 49% preferring that spending go to healthcare, 34% on infrastructure and 14% on pre-K.

    Overall, 24% of respondents identified as very or moderately conservative, 28% very or moderately liberal, and 36% as neither or slightly liberal or conservative.

    It illustrates a key divide on the shutdown: According to this survey, only the core supporters who comprise Trump's base want the funding for the wall, while the rest of respondents were uninterested in allocating nearly $6 billion to the border partition.

    The finding also seems to match up with a previous INSIDER poll, conducted before the start of the shutdown, that found 60% of those surveyed wouldn't tolerate a shutdown over the wall. Other pollsters found similar results.

    SurveyMonkey Audience polls from a national sample balanced by census data of age and gender. Respondents are incentivized to complete surveys through charitable contributions. Generally speaking, digital polling tends to skew toward people with access to the internet. SurveyMonkey Audience doesn't try to weight its sample based on race or income. Total 1,025 completed respondents December 21-22, margin of error plus or minus 3.12 percentage points with 95% confidence level.

    SEE ALSO: Here's everything you need to know about the current government shutdown

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    NOW WATCH: Meet the woman behind Trump's $20 million merch empire

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    utility worker

    • CenturyLink customers across the nation are experiencing phone-signal and internet outages.
    • The website, which detects technology outages in real time, reported that customers have been impacted in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Denver; Seattle; Boise, Idaho; Dallas; Los Angeles; Chicago; Phoenix; and parts of Montana.
    • Some local news stations are reporting that 911 services have been impacted in parts of Arizona, Minnesota, and Missouri.
    • CenturyLink provides internet, phone, television, and home-security services to customers across 37 states.

    CenturyLink customers nationwide are experiencing phone-signal and internet outages.

    The website, which detects technology outages in real time, reported that customers have been impacted in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Denver; Seattle; Boise, Idaho; Dallas; Los Angeles; Chicago; Phoenix; and parts of Montana.

    "Our network is experiencing a disruption affecting customer services," the company tweeted on Thursday afternoon. "We understand some customers are currently unable to generate tickets through the CTL help portal. We know how important services are to our customers and are working to restore services as quickly as possible."

    The local ABC News affiliate KNXV-TV in Arizona reported that the outage impacted the Cochise County Sheriff's Office, which had to reroute 911 and administrative calls to the Douglas Police Department. KOMO-TV in Seattle reported that parts of Missouri and Minnesota also experienced 911 service disruptions, and, in Idaho, some government agencies were impacted.

    The issue began early Thursday morning for some customers. On, some customers commented that their internet service was intermittent, while others complained about the lack of communication about the outage and how long it would last. Customers also vented their frustration on Twitter with the hashtag "#CenturyLinkDown."

    CenturyLink provides internet, phone, television, and home-security services to customers across 37 states. When contacted by Business Insider, a CenturyLink representative said they are working to restore service.

    SEE ALSO: Instagram accidentally released an update that removed scrolling and replaced it with a horizontal feed. And people were furious.

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    NOW WATCH: How Singapore solved garbage disposal

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    bii top 5 startups to watch in digital health

    The healthcare industry is facing disruption due to accelerating technological innovation and growing demand for improved delivery of healthcare and lower costs. Tech startups are leading the way by seizing opportunities in the areas of the industry that are most vulnerable to disruption, including genomics, pharmaceuticals, administration, clinical operations, and insurance.

    Venture funds and businesses are taking notice of these startups' potential. In the US, digital health funding reached $1.6 billion in Q1 2018, according to Rock Health — the largest first quarter on record, surpassing the $1.4 billion in venture funding seen in Q1 2016. These high-potential startups provide a glimpse into the future of the healthcare space and demonstrate how we’ll get there.

    In this report, a compilation of various notes, Business Insider Intelligence will look at the top startups disrupting US healthcare in four key areas: artificial intelligence (AI), digital therapeutics, health insurance, and genomics. Startups in this report were selected based on the funding they've received over the past year, notable investors, the products they offer, and leadership in their functional area.

    Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

    • Tech startups are entering the market by applying the “Silicon Valley” approach. They're targeting shortcomings and legacy systems that are no longer efficient.
    • AI is being applied across five areas of healthcare to improve clinical operation workflows, cut costs, and foster preventative medicine. These areas include administration, big data analysis, clinical decision support, remote patient monitoring, and care provision.
    • Health tech startups, insurers, and drug makers are rapidly exploring new ways to apply digital therapeutics to the broader healthcare market that replace or complement the existing treatment of a disease.
    • Health insurance startups are taking advantage of the consumerization of healthcare to threaten the status quo of legacy players. 
    • Genomics is becoming an increasingly common tool within the healthcare system as health organizations better understand how to extract the value from patients’ genetic data. 

     In full, the report:

    • Details the areas of the US health industry that show the greatest potential for disruption.
    • Forecasts the industry adoption of bleeding edge technology and how it will transform how healthcare organizations operate.
    • Unveils the top five startups in AI, digital therapeutics, health insurance, and genomics, and how they're positioned to solve big issues that key players in healthcare face. 
    • Explores what's next for the leading startups, providing a glimpse into the future of the healthcare space and demonstrating how we’ll get there.

    Subscribe to an All-Access pass to Business Insider Intelligence and gain immediate access to:

    This report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports
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    And more!
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    This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here. Current subscribers can read the report here.

    trust smart speaker makersSmart speakers comprise one of the fastest-growing device segments in the consumer technology market today. Ownership levels have nearly doubled from early 2017 to summer 2018. 

    With this rapid growth, there are a few pivotal questions that both companies looking to develop and sell smart speakers as well as those looking to sell products, deliver media, and offer access to services like banking over these devices need answers to in order to craft successful strategies. In particular, they need to know who is and isn’t buying smart speakers, and what consumers who own smart speakers are actually doing with them. 

    To offer these stakeholders insight, Business Insider Intelligence asked more than 500 US consumers about their knowledge of smart speakers, the devices they do or don’t own and what led them to their purchase decisions, as well as the tasks they’re using their smart speakers for.

    In this report, Business Insider Intelligence will look at the state of the smart speaker market and outline how each of the major device providers approaches the space. We will then focus on the key factors that affect whether or not someone owns one of these devices. Next, we will use our survey data to outline the reasons why people don’t own devices in order to offer guidance for who to target and how. Finally, we will discuss what consumers are actually doing with their smart speakers — specifically looking at how the devices are used and perceived in e-commerce, digital media, and banking — which can help companies determine how well they’re publicizing their smart speaker services and capabilities.

    The companies mentioned in this report are: Amazon, Google, Apple, Samsung, Facebook, Sonos, LG, Anker, Spotify, Pandora, Grubhub, Netflix, Hulu, Instagram, Snap.

    Here are some key takeaways from the report:

    • Despite their growing popularity, nearly half of respondents still don't own a device — which presents a long runway for adoption. Our survey data reveals a number of key factors that impact whether or not someone owns one of these devices, including income, gender, and age.
    • Smart speakers are establishing themselves as a key platform for e-commerce, media, and the smart home.
    • The introduction of a screen to some smart speakers will expand the possibilities for companies developing for the device — but developers will need to resist the compulsion to use speakers to accomplish too much.

    In full, the report:

    • Provides an overview of the key players and products in the smart speaker market.
    • Highlights critical adoption rates broken out by key factors that define the segment.
    • Identifies how consumers are using devices in important areas where companies in various industries are trying foster greater use of the voice interface.

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    Michael Cohen

    • Investigators have reportedly learned that a cell phone traced to Michael Cohen sent cell signals in Prague in late summer 2016.
    • The revelation raises fresh questions about a key allegation about Cohen in the Steele dossier.
    • The document said Cohen and Kremlin representatives held "clandestine meeting/s" in Prague in August 2016 to discuss how to limit the discovery of the close "liaison" between the Trump campaign and Russia.
    • Previous media reports have indicated that investigators have additional evidence corroborating the dossier's claim.
    • Cohen, who is cooperating with Mueller, denied the dossier's allegation on Thursday.

    Investigators have learned that a cell phone traced back to Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump's longtime former lawyer and fixer, sent signals that ricocheted off cell towers in the Prague area in late summer 2016, McClatchy reported, citing four people with knowledge of the matter.

    During that same period — around late August or early September 2016 — the outlet said an Eastern European intelligence agency picked up surveillance of a conversation among Russians, one of whom remarked that Cohen was in Prague.

    Details of Cohen's possible trip to Prague first emerged publicly in a dossier, which alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, compiled by the former British spy Christopher Steele.

    The document cited a "Kremlin insider" as saying there were "clandestine meeting/s between Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's lawyer Michael COHEN and Kremlin representatives in August 2016."

    "The Kremlin insider clearly indicated to his/her friend that the reported contact/s took place in Prague, Czech Republic," it said.

    The document further alleged Cohen met with individuals linked to the Russian government, including Konstantin Kosachev, a member of Russia's parliament, and Oleg Solodukhin, who works with the Russian Center for Science and Culture.

    It also said Cohen, Kosachev, and others, including Romanian hackers, discussed "how deniable cash payments were to be made to hackers in Europe who had worked under Kremlin direction against the [Hillary] Clinton campaign," and ways to "sweep it all under the carpet and make sure no connection could be fully established or proven."

    The dossier further alleged that Cohen and one or more Kremlin officials huddled in or around Prague to plot ways to limit the discovery of the close "liaison" between the Trump campaign and Russia.

    Earlier this year, McClatchy reported that the alleged trip was a subject of focus for lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee. Their interest in Cohen's whereabouts in 2016 was said to be fueled by what they considered to be weak documentation Cohen provided to show them where he was — New York and Los Angeles — at the time of the alleged Prague visit.

    After he was widely criticized last year for tweeting out a photo of his passport cover as proof that he didn't visit Prague in 2016, Cohen showed the inside of the document to BuzzFeed News. According to the outlet, Cohen's passport did not contain a stamp for the Czech Republic.

    However, investigators working for the special counsel Robert Mueller have reportedly obtained evidence that Cohen first flew to Germany in late August or early September 2016, and then traveled to the Czech Republic through another means of transportation.

    Were that the case, Cohen may not have needed a passport because both Germany and the Czech Republic lie within the Schengen Area, which encompasses 26 European countries and functions as a single jurisdiction for international travel.

    Read more:Washington is buzzing about a mysterious grand-jury fight between Mueller's office and an unknown witness

    Cohen disputes the explosive allegation

    Michael Cohen and Donald Trump

    Mueller and the Senate Intelligence Committee are said to be using the Steele dossier as a "roadmap" as they investigate Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

    Trump has called the dossier a "pile of garbage," and Cohen has also publicly disputed the document's allegation about his alleged Prague trip.

    "I hear #Prague #CzechRepublic is beautiful in the summertime," Cohen tweeted Thursday, shortly after McClatchy's report was published. "I wouldn’t know as I have never been. #Mueller knows everything!"

    Cohen pleaded guilty in November to one count of lying to Congress about his involvement in the Trump Organization's push to build a Trump Tower in Moscow at the height of the election.

    He has been cooperating with Mueller since August, shortly before he pleaded guilty in a separate Manhattan US attorney's office investigation into his and Trump's business dealings before the election.

    The significance of the dossier's allegation about Cohen stems from the fact that the time frame of Cohen's alleged trip came after a series of damaging revelations about members of the Trump campaign during summer 2016. The dossier said the purpose of Cohen's trip was to mitigate the resulting fallout from those events.

    Carter Page's Moscow trip

    Carter Page

    Carter Page, who served as a foreign-policy adviser to the Trump campaign, traveled to Moscow in early July 2016. The dossier alleged Page met with top Russian officials on the trip who raised the possibility of offering Page a 19% stake in the state-owned company Rosneft in exchange for the US lifting sanctions on Russia if Trump became president.

    It also alleged that a former Russian security official, Igor Diveykin, informed Page that the Kremlin had a dossier of kompromat on Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton that it wanted to give to the Trump campaign.

    Page has slammed the document as "fake news" and often calls it the "dodgy dossier." However, he testified to the House Intelligence Committee last year that he had several contacts with Russia-linked individuals, at times with the Trump campaign's knowledge.

    WikiLeaks' email dump

    FILE PHOTO: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange makes a speech from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy, in central London, Britain February 5, 2016. REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/File Photo

    On July 22, 2016, the radical pro-transparency group WikiLeaks, which has been described by CIA director Mike Pompeo as a "non-state hostile intelligence service," published the first batch of hacked Democratic National Committee emails. The US intelligence community concluded that the emails were stolen by hackers aligned with Russian interests, and that WikiLeaks was used as a tool of the Russian government.

    Trump has repeatedly praised WikiLeaks and the email dumps. Five days after the first batch of emails was published, Trump publicly called for Russia to find the thousands of emails Clinton deleted from her server.

    "Russia, if you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing," Trump said at the time.

    Paul Manafort's resignation

    Paul Manafort

    Meanwhile, on July 19, 2016, The New York Times reported on financial records Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort had filed in Cyprus that showed he was $17 million in debt to pro-Russian interests when he joined the campaign in March.

    Shell companies connected to Manafort during his time working for Ukraine's pro-Russia Party of Regions had bought the debt, the report said.

    The following month, it emerged that the Party of Regions had earmarked $12.7 million in undisclosed cash payments for Manafort in return for his work with the party from 2007 to 2012.

    Three days later, on August 19, Manafort resigned from the campaign.

    The dossier said Cohen's visit to Prague was made to "clean up the mess" resulting from the revelations about Page's Moscow trip and Manafort's Russia ties.

    If Russia investigators do have evidence connecting Cohen to the alleged trip, it would raise a new set of questions about whether, and to what extent, Trump and other campaign associates had knowledge of the event.

    SEE ALSO: Washington is buzzing about a mysterious grand-jury fight between Mueller's office and an unknown witness

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Anthony Scaramucci claims Trump isn't a nationalist: 'He likes saying that because it irks these intellectual elitists'

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    Digital has transformed retail possibilities.Future of Retail 2018: Delivery & Fulfillment

    And with e-commerce sales growing at nearly five times the rate of brick-and-mortar sales, retailers need to find cheaper and more efficient ways to deliver e-commerce orders.

    But different age groups have different preferences for which delivery and fulfilment options are most important to them.

    Find out which delivery features are most important to consumers as well as what fulfillment options retailers should be using to meet consumer demands in this new FREE slide deck from Business Insider Intelligence’s three-part Future of Retail 2018 series.

    In this first installment of the series, Business Insider Intelligence explores delivery and fulfillment, including consumers’ delivery preferences, the challenges those demands pose to retailers, and the strategies retailers can use to meet consumers’ expectations of fulfillment without tanking their profitability.

    As an added bonus, you will also gain immediate access to our exclusive Business Insider Intelligence Daily newsletter.

    To get your copy of the first part of this FREE slide deck, simply click here.

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    • Digital trust is the confidence people have in a platform to protect their information and provide a safe environment for them to create and engage with content.
    • Business Insider Intelligence surveyed over 1,300 global consumers to evaluate their perception of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube.
    • Consumers’ Digital Trust rankings differ across security, legitimacy, community, user experience, shareability, and relevance for the six major social networks.

    If you feel like “fake news” and spammy social media feeds dominate your Internet experience, you’re not alone. Digital trust, the confidence people have in platforms to protect their information and provide a safe environment to create and engage with content, is in jeopardy.

    Digital Trust Rankings 2018

    In fact, in a new Business Insider Intelligence survey of more than 1,300 global consumers, over half (54%) said that fake news and scams were "extremely impactful” or “very impactful” on their decision to engage with ads and sponsored content.

    For businesses, this distrust has financial ramifications. It’s no longer enough to craft a strong message; brands, marketers, and social platforms need to focus their energy on getting it to consumers in an environment where they are most receptive. When brands reach consumers on platforms that they trust, they enhance their credibility and increase the likelihood of receiving positive audience engagement.

    The Digital Trust Report 2018, the latest Enterprise Edge Report from Business Insider Intelligence, compiles this exclusive survey data to analyze consumer perceptions of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

    The survey breaks down consumers’ perceptions of social media across six pillars of trust: security, legitimacy, community, user experience, shareability, and relevance. The results? LinkedIn ran away with it.

    As the most trusted platform for the second year in a row – and an outlier in the overall survey results – LinkedIn took the top spot for nearly every pillar of trust — and there are a few reasons why:

    • LinkedIn continues to benefit from the professional nature of its community — users on the platform tend to be well behaved and have less personal information at risk, which makes for a more trusting environment.
    • LinkedIn users are likely more selective and mindful about engagement when interacting within their professional network, which may increase trust in its content.
    • Content on LinkedIn is typically published by career-minded individuals and organizations seeking to promote professional interests, and is therefore seen as higher quality than other platforms’. This bodes well for advertisers and publishers to be viewed as forthright, honest, persuasive, and trustworthy.

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    Enterprise Edge Reports are the very best research Business Insider Intelligence has to offer in terms of actionable recommendations and proprietary data, and they are only available to Enterprise clients.

    The Digital Trust Report 2018 illustrates how social platforms have been on a roller coaster ride of data, user privacy, and brand safety scandals since our first installment of the report in 2017.

    In full, the report analyzes key changes in rankings from 2017, identifies trends in millennials' behavior on social media, and highlights where these platforms (as well as advertisers) have opportunities to capture their attention.

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