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This British startup thinks it has a crucial competitive advantage over Google, Uber, and Apple in the race to launch driverless cars in Europe

Tue, 08/14/2018 - 04:00

  • Driverless car startup FiveAI is sending out bright blue cars to gather information about London's roads this week.
  • The cars will be driven by humans, but FiveAI CEO Stan Boland said the company is preparing for its first driverless test on public roads before the end of 2018.
  • FiveAI wants bring a shared driverless taxi service to London by next year, and beat Uber and Waymo with the technology in Europe.
  • The company has a small amount of funding compared to bigger US firms, but is confident its autonomous tech will navigate "difficult" European cities better than the competition.


Anyone walking around the South London suburbs of Bromley and Croydon this week might spot a bright new addition to the roads: A futuristic sky-blue Ford Fusion laden with sensors.

FiveAI, a British driverless car startup, is putting five of these vehicles on UK roads to gather data to train its autonomous vehicles. The cars will collect information for the next 10 months to understand real-world road layouts, traffic flow, and the behaviour of other road users.

Part of the reason the cars look so lurid is so that the public knows who's gathering data. FiveAI said it is gathering information in a way that is compliant with Europe's strict privacy regulation, the GDPR, and no individual would be identifiable from the images it captures through its cameras.

While these cars will be driven by humans at all times, the training data they gather will eventually inform FiveAI's efforts to bring shared, driverless taxis to London in 2019. The company said in May that it will begin trialling driverless cars on public roads before the end of 2018.

FiveAI has raised $18 million to become Europe's major driverless car startup

FiveAI hopes to be Europe's answer to Uber or Google's driverless car efforts, and wants to create a shared, autonomous taxi service in the UK before it is beaten by a rich American or Chinese firm.

It has raised $18 million (£14 million) in Series A funding to date, but has to fend off behemoths that are worth billions of dollars. Uber has raised more than $1 billion and is the most valuable startup in the world. Google is sitting on around $100 billion in cash.

Stan Boland, FiveAI's chief executive, has a historian's theory on why it can beat foreign competition.

"If I were [US companies] Waymo, Uber or Aurora... and I was trying to solve the problem of safer driving, I would choose to do it somewhere where it's an easier problem," he said.

"In Europe, our cities are medieval and complicated, density is much higher, human behaviours are different. Our cities were built from villages... I think a European city is much harder than a US city."

In other words, Google's driverless car tech might find it easier to learn in the expanses of the Nevada desert than it would in windy London roads, originally designed for driving cattle.

Still, he acknowledged that "Europe is late" and puts this down to two reasons: US companies benefited from research pioneered by DARPA, America's military research agency, and because it has never been in the European car industry's interest to upend its existing business model. "Europe has been a bit asleep at the wheel," Boland said.

He said it's important that European governments recognise this and clear a path for local companies, rather than being "dazzled" by similar offerings from Silicon Valley giants. "It's very easy for governments to be pushed around by big companies and to be dazzled by [for example] Google's first step... It's quite important we recognise the fact we need to build some big companies out of Europe," he explained.

How FiveAI's driverless cars work

While FiveAI's sky-blue cars are cruising around London's streets gathering data, their autonomous counterparts are still being fine-tuned at a testing ground north of London. The goal is to build a fully fledged driverless car system that can be integrated into different vehicles — perhaps with an eye to licensing that technology out to carmakers.

Boland said in May that FiveAI would be ready to conduct a public trial of its driverless cars later this year. Like other driverless car projects, FiveAI's autonomous vehicles rely on being able to "see" and understand what is around them, and react accordingly.

FiveAI's system is a little different from that being tested out by Google. It is aiming to create a software and hardware stack that would allow vehicles to navigate complex environments with simple maps, rather than highly detailed, precise 3D maps.

That requires a huge number of sensors and computing power, Boland told Business Insider.

The company has fitted eight Ford Fusions with a large number of sensors, and is testing them out at Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire.

Those sensors comprise 14 cameras, three laser detectors, six radars, a GPS, and the additional computing power. There is so much computing power that the hardware is not only housed in a roofbox, but under the bumper and in the trunk. There's also 100kg of battery in the car, Boland said.

The cameras, organised in stereo pairs, do the "seeing", processing raw data feeds and using these to build up an image of their surroundings, and to identify individual objects. Then a deep neural network tries to make sense of the objects in the picture in real time. Even accounting for delays in processing, Boland said, the system "thinks" faster than a human.

"It should be possible for us to build a system that is at least as safe as a human, hopefully safer," he said.

Investors are confident in FiveAI

Though FiveAI's funding is small, Boland said investors are confident.

He described FiveAI's fundraising process last year: "Quite often after half an hour, investors would say 'I should probably do this, will you please let me write a cheque?', and so we could have raised about $100 million last summer when we were raising our Series A but we only raised $18 million."

Boland has previously said publicly that FiveAI has raised a modest sum because it's still building its tech platform. FiveAI will need the big capital raise in future when it wants to buy lots of cars to load its system onto. That may be some point after 2021, according to his previous comments.

Part of the reason for investors wanting to throw money at FiveAI is because Stan Boland is who he is.

Dharmash Mistry, a partner at FiveAI's latest lead investor Lakestar, pointed to Boland's history as a UK tech veteran. Boland was once chief executive of iconic British computing company Acorn Computers, and also founded and sold wireless technology firm Icera to Nvidia. Acorn was cofounded by Hermann Hauser, director at another FiveAI investor, Amadeus Capital Partners.

"He's able to recruit super talent because of who he is," Mistry said. Boland managed to poach a senior engineer from Facebook's Oculus division to run FiveAI's simulation team in London. "You're pulling people out of very well-paid jobs, the £200,000 jobs that the Facebooks, Googles, and others offer."

SEE ALSO: A top Oculus engineer quit Facebook for a self-driving car startup because it's more exciting than VR

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Elon Musk reveals he is working with Goldman Sachs and Silver Lake to help take Tesla private (TSLA, GS)

Tue, 08/14/2018 - 03:31

  • Elon Musk said via Twitter Monday evening that he was working on a proposal with Goldman Sachs and Silver Lake as financial advisors to take Tesla private.
  • In a statement on Monday, Musk also shared more details about who might fund such a deal.
  • Musk said in the statement that a meeting with the managing director of Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund prompted his tweet about wanting to take Tesla private. But Musk said he is also having discussions with other investors because he wants to "continue to have a broad investor base."

Elon Musk said via Twitter Monday evening that he was working Goldman Sachs and Silver Lake as financial advisors on a proposal to take Tesla private.

Musk also said that he was working with the law firms Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and Munger and Tolles & Olson as legal advisors.

Goldman Sachs declined to comment. Silver Lake and both law firms did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Goldman Sachs has long been a key adviser to Tesla, but the involvement of Silver Lake, best known as a private equity firm specializing in tech investments, is striking. Reuters reported after the tweet that Silver Lake was not discussing participating as an investor in the deal and "was offering its assistance to Musk without compensation and had not been hired as a financial adviser in an official capacity," citing a source.

It started with a tweet

On August 7, Musk tweeted: "Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured."

Since Musk's announcement last week, details about such a deal have been sparse.

In a statement published on the company's website Monday, Musk said that after a July 31 meeting with the managing director of Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund he was confident that the fund would back a deal to take Tesla private.

"During the meeting, the Managing Director of the fund expressed regret that I had not moved forward previously on a going private transaction with them, and he strongly expressed his support for funding a going private transaction for Tesla at this time," Musk said in his statement. "I understood from him that no other decision makers were needed and that they were eager to proceed.

"I left the July 31st meeting with no question that a deal with the Saudi sovereign fund could be closed, and that it was just a matter of getting the process moving. This is why I referred to 'funding secured' in the August 7th announcement."

Musk said in his statement that he is still in talks with the Saudi fund, but that he is also having discussions with other investors because he wants to "continue to have a broad investor base."

He said:

"I will now continue to talk with investors, and I have engaged advisors to investigate a range of potential structures and options. Among other things, this will allow me to obtain a more precise understanding of how many of Tesla’s existing public shareholders would remain shareholders if we became private."

Full details regarding the source of funding would be provided before anyone would be asked to decide on going private but that it was "premature" to share such information, Musk said.

Read more about Tesla possibly going private:

SEE ALSO: Elon Musk reveals what he meant by his 'funding secured' tweet

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Some of Tesla's board members were reportedly 'totally blindsided' by Elon Musk's tweet about going private (TSLA)

Tue, 08/14/2018 - 03:11

  • Elon Musk's decision to tweet that he was considering taking Tesla private reportedly caught the company's own board of directors off-guard, The New York Times reported Monday night.
  • That August 7 tweet caused Tesla's stock to skyrocket to $380 per share that day.
  • In the days that followed, the SEC got involved, reportedly investigating Musk's online musings about taking the company private.
  • The fallout from that tweet follows an extended run of public missteps by the Tesla CEO.

Elon Musk's decision to tweet that he was considering taking Tesla private reportedly caught some of the company's own board directors off guard, The New York Times reported on Monday.

Citing two people familiar with the internal response to Musk's August 7 tweet, The Times said the Tesla CEO had sent that tweet "with little forethought."

The decision to announce the plan, which Musk has since expanded upon, via Twitter "had not been cleared ahead of time with the company's board," The Times wrote.

The reported added that "some members of the board had been totally blindsided by Mr. Musk’s decision to air his plan on Twitter."

According to two unnamed people familiar with the fallout who talked to The Times about Musk's online musings, the Tesla CEO allegedly told an informal adviser that he posted on Twitter "impulsively," and said he was "not the kind of person who could hold things in," and admitted he "was angry at the company's critics."

The Securities and Exchange Commission has inquired about Musk's claims, which, if found to be untrue, could cause greater problems for Tesla chief executive.

Read more about Tesla possibly going private:

SEE ALSO: 'It was, at best, hasty and naive, and, at worst, manipulative': Experts slam Elon Musk's confusing defense of why he tweeted 'funding secured'

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People are falling for a tweet from a fake Twitter account named after the FBI agent who was fired over anti-Trump text messages

Tue, 08/14/2018 - 01:30

  • A tweet from a self-described parody account "paying tribute" to Peter Strzok, the former FBI agent who was removed from the Russia investigation, went viral after Strzok was fired from the law-enforcement agency.
  • The tweet has since received over 57,000 likes and was retweeted over 20,000 times as of Monday evening.
  • Strzok was fired on Friday, following a long investigation into his conduct that stemmed in part from text messages he sent disparaging Donald Trump during the 2016 election.

A tweet from a self-described parody account "paying tribute" to Peter Strzok, the former FBI agent who was removed from the Russia investigation, went viral after Strzok was fired from the law-enforcement agency.

"I have been fired for expressing my personal opinion in private texts about a dictator that history will soon deem not only a Russian asset but an unhinged madman threatening the sovereignty of the United States of America," the parody account "@notpeterstrzok" tweeted on Monday afternoon.

I have been fired for expressing my personal opinion in private texts about a dictator that history will soon deem not only a Russian asset but an unhinged madman threatening the sovereignty of the United States of America.

— Peter Strzok (@notpeterstrzok) August 13, 2018

The tweet has since received over tens of thousands of likes and retweets as of Monday evening.

An hour later, the parody account tweeted again and railed against President Donald Trump, who had accused Strzok of being biased in multiple tweets and speeches.

"We currently live in a country where an FBI agent lost his job for sending anti Trump text messages, yet Trump is still the President despite his campaign having 75 contacts & 25 meetings with Russian operatives WHILE Russia attacked America," the tweet from the parody account read.

We currently live in a country where an FBI agent lost his job for sending anti Trump text messages, yet Trump is still the President despite his campaign having 75 contacts & 25 meetings with Russian operatives WHILE Russia attacked America.

— Peter Strzok (@notpeterstrzok) August 13, 2018

Strzok was fired on Friday, following a long investigation into his conduct that stemmed in part from text messages he sent disparaging Donald Trump during the 2016 election.

In a statement, the FBI said Strzok "was subject to the standard FBI review and disciplinary process after conduct highlighted in the IG report was referred to the FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility."

Strzok's attorney, Aitan Goelman, disputed the firing and called it "a departure from typical Bureau practice."

In the text messages sent between Strzok and Lisa Page, an attorney for special counsel Robert Mueller, the two, who were romantically involved, reportedly described Trump's election victory as "f-----g terrifying" and said "we'll stop" Trump from becoming president.

After the text messages were brought to light, Strzok was removed from Mueller's team and was placed in the bureau's human resources department. Page completed her detail before the allegations surfaced.

On Monday, Strzok said he was "deeply saddened" by the FBI's decision and that it was "an honor to serve my country and work with the fine men and women of the FBI."

Deeply saddened by this decision. It has been an honor to serve my country and work with the fine men and women of the FBI. https://t.co/iET9SbeTrv pic.twitter.com/7VTswzjoxE

— Peter Strzok (@petestrzok) August 13, 2018

SEE ALSO: FBI fires Peter Strzok for sending anti-Trump text messages during the campaign

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Congress is set to grill the FCC's chairman for falsely claiming his agency was hit with a cyberattack — here's how it could affect the war over net neutrality

Tue, 08/14/2018 - 01:28

  • Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai should expect some tough questions at a Senate hearing last week.
  • Last week, the agency's inspector general released a report into an incident last year in which the FCC's servers became unavailable during the comment period over Pai's repeal of the agency's net-neutrality rules.
  • At the time of the outage, Pai and the FCC told Congress and the public that it had been caused by a cyberattack.
  • The report found no evidence to back that assertion. In fact, investigators believed agency officials made false statements to Congress, and referred the case to federal prosecutors.
  • The incident could play into a court case filed by activists seeking to overturn Pai's repeal.


Ajit Pai is going to be in the hot seat this week — as well he should be.

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission is set to testify Thursday in front of a Senate oversight committee. He's certain to have to respond to questions while there about false statements he and some of his subordinates made to lawmakers about an incident last year in which the agency's computer systems got overwhelmed during the comment period for its then-ongoing net-neutrality proceeding.

Pai has tried to distance himself from those false statements, blaming them on the agency's former chief information officer, David Bray. But lawmakers are sure to want to know when Pai knew the statements were false and why he didn't retract them earlier.

Perhaps more importantly, lawmakers may well try to delve into the role the incident played in Pai's effort to overturn the FCC's net-neutrality rules. And the incident and Pai's answers about it could factor into ongoing court battle over his repeal of those rules.

Pai's expected grilling comes as a result of his and his agency's response to the FCC's server outage last year. At the time, the FCC was soliciting public comments for Pai's proposal to repeal the agency's net-neutrality rules.

Net neutrality is at the heart of the current controversy

As you probably know by now, net neutrality is the principle that all data on the internet should be treated the same. The FCC's rules barred internet service providers from blocking, slowing, or speeding access to particular sites and services.

While widely popular with the public, the rules were vehemently opposed by the big telecommunications companies and by some anti-regulatory Republicans — most notably Pai, who vowed to repeal them even before becoming the chairman of the FCC. He launched that effort soon after taking over as head of the agency under President Donald Trump.

After proposing his repeal last year, Pai followed agency protocol and opened up his proposal to public comment. In May of last year, comedian John Oliver made the repeal effort the focus of one of the episodes of his show, "Last Week Tonight." Oliver supports net neutrality and explained in the episode why viewers should too. At the end of the episode, he encouraged viewers to tell the FCC to abandon its effort to repeal its rules and provided a custom web site address that would redirect them to the agency's comment page.

Immediately after the episode aired, the FCC's comment system saw a spike in traffic, with the site unavailable to many users in the wake. To outside observers, it seemed clear that the site's unavailability was likely a result of "Last Week Tonight" directing its viewers to the FCC's site for the purpose of registering their objections to the net-neutrality repeal effort.

The FCC blamed the outage on a cyberattack

But that's not how the FCC portrayed things. The day after the episode aired, the agency issued a statement attributed to David Bray, its CIO, that blamed the system problems on "deliberate attempts by external actors to bombard the FCC’s comment system." Bray said the effort came in the form of "multiple distributed denial-of-service attacks," better known as DDoS attacks. 

The charge was a loaded one. DDoS attacks have become a fairly routine way for hackers to make a website appear offline and unavailable to its users. But launching one against a US government server is a federal crime. So by alleging that a DDoS attack had brought down the FCC's server, Bray triggered an investigation by the agency's inspector general, working in coordination with the FBI.

The DDoS charge also helped to distract attention from the popular outrage against the repeal effort. Instead of everyone talking about all the comments flooding into the FCC site opposing the repeal, the headlines focused on how the FCC site was the victim of an alleged cyberattack.

"This certainly was a potential distraction, and it certainly cast a shadow over what was a really enormous response from the public in support of net neutrality," said Harold Feld, a senior vice president at Public Knowledge, an advocacy group that opposed the repeal effort.

Despite the FCC's assertion, consumer groups and reporters who cover the agency quickly challenged its story, and Democratic senators pressed it for more details. Even though critics argued that the incident had none of the telltale signs of a DDoS attack, the agency under Pai stuck to its guns — and attempted to undermine the naysayers.

In public, it lambasted critics who reported that it didn't have any documentation of the attack. Meanwhile, Gizmodo reports that behind the scenes, the agency worked with friendly reporters to get out the notion that the FCC had seen a similar attack in 2014 when it was considering the net neutrality rules Pai was now trying to overturn.

The investigation showed otherwise

It turns out, though, that the FCC wasn't hit with a DDoS attack last year and likely wasn't affected by one in 2014. Released last week, the inspector general's report makes clear its investigation found no evidence of a such an attack last year, and the agency has released no evidence for one in 2014.

But the situation is worse than that for Pai and his agency. The investigation found that FCC officials had little basis for making their statements that there had been such an attack. Contrary to the officials' assertions to members of Congress that their analysis had led them to that conclusion, the investigation found they had done no "substantive" analysis at all.

In fact, the paucity of evidence for the attack was so clear so early on, that the investigation quickly swiveled from being an inquiry into a cyberattack into an examination of whether and why FCC officials misled Congress. In January, the inspector general's was concerned enough that a crime had occurred that it referred the matter to the Department of Justice. The DOJ later declined to prosecute.

But all of this raises questions about Pai's role in promulgating and promoting — and waiting more than a year to recant — the now discredited DDoS story.

The incident makes Pai look incompetent — or worse

At best, Pai comes across as being incompetent. The inspector general's office was able to knock down the DDoS story by just pressing the FCC's technology administrators for more details about the outage and finding that they had no evidence to support their claim.

When Bray made a similar claim about an outage in 2014, the FCC at the time didn't broadcast his conclusion. Why? Because agency officials at the time actually examined his assertion and concluded he didn't have any evidence for it, as Gigi Sohn, a counselor to then-FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, recounted to Gizmodo.

But lawmakers this week are likely to wonder much more than why Pai didn't push Bray and his staff for more details about the outage. They're also likely to press him for more information about when he himself realized that his previous statements to Congress about the incident were false and why he didn't alert legislators earlier. If the inspector general's office had reason to believe back in January that false statements were made, there's a good chance Pai knew back then too. He didn't say anything to correct the record until last week — a day before the report was released.

In his statement, Pai blamed Bray and, in turn, the Obama administration, which hired Bray. He also gave an excuse for not speaking earlier about the misstatements — the inspector general had asked that he not say anything about the investigation while it was ongoing.

"It's almost like has a placard on his desk that says, 'the buck doesn't stop here unless I want it to,'" said Matt Wood, a policy director at Free Press, an advocacy group that also opposed the net-neutrality repeal effort.

It remains to be seen whether Pai's excuses will wash with Congress. For his part, Feld doesn't buy them, particularly when it comes to renouncing the assertion about the DDoS attack. There were plenty of ways and an ample amount of time for Pai to do that without jeopardizing the investigation, he said.

"He had a responsibility to inform the Congress as soon as he had doubts," said Feld. "He had a responsibility to inform Congress and to inform the public."

"Instead," Feld continued, "he kept quiet."

The incident could play a role not just in Congress, but the courts

The false statements about the DDoS attack and Pai's delay in retracting them could linger long past Thursday's hearing. For one thing, should the Democrats recapture one or more houses of Congress this fall, they're likely to subject Pai to much more critical scrutiny going forward than have their Republican colleagues. It also might make them more likely to press forward with legislation that would effectively overturn his repeal.

[Pai] had a responsibility to inform the Congress as soon as he had doubts

But the whole incident over the server outage could also play a role in the legal battle over the repeal. Free Press, Public Knowledge, and other groups have sued the FCC to try to overturn the new rules, which the agency passed in December and which basically remove all net-neutrality protections.

When considering new rules, the FCC is required by law to take public comments into account. As part of the case the groups are making against the rules, they plan to argue that the agency didn't, in fact, make a good-faith effort to do that. Instead, they plan to argue that it failed in its duty to seriously gather and consider the public's comments.

The groups will point at numerous examples of this, but one of the examples will be the agency's inability to handle the comments coming in from "Last Week Tonight" viewers and falsely ascribing that inability to a DDoS attack.

"If that were only thing, it wouldn't be fatal on its own," said Feld. "But it's part of a general pattern of the FCC failing to conduct the process in an above-board way that adequately gave the public a genuine opportunity to be heard."

That's why this is unlikely to be the last you hear about this incident. Although, after Thursday, Aji Pai may wish he'd never heard about it in the first place.

SEE ALSO: Net neutrality is coming back, no matter what happens next with the Senate resolution

SEE ALSO: Net neutrality rules are now dead. Here's what that means for you, and what happens next

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IoT Report: How Internet of Things technology is now reaching mainstream companies and consumers

Tue, 08/14/2018 - 01:01

This is a preview of the Internet of Things (2018) research report from Business Insider Intelligence. To learn more about the IoT ecosystem, tech trends and industry forecasts, click here.

The Internet of Things (IoT) is transforming how companies and consumers go about their days around the world. The technology that underlies this whole segment is evolving quickly, whether it’s the rapid rise of the Amazon Echo and voice assistants upending the consumer space, or growth of AI-powered analytics platforms for the enterprise market.

And Business Insider Intelligence is keeping its finger on the pulse of this ongoing revolution by conducting our second annual Global IoT Executive Survey, which provides us with critical insights on new developments within the IoT and explains how top-level perspectives are changing year-to-year. Our survey includes more than 400 responses from key executives around the world, including C-suite and director-level respondents.

Through this exclusive study and in-depth research into the field, Business Insider Intelligence details the components that make up the IoT ecosystem. We size the IoT market and use exclusive data to identify key trends in device installations and investment. And we profile the enterprise and consumer IoT segments individually, drilling down into the drivers and characteristics that are shaping each market.

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  • We project that there will be more than 55 billion IoT devices by 2025, up from about 9 billion in 2017.
  • We forecast that there will be nearly $15 trillion in aggregate IoT investment between 2017 and 2025, with survey data showing that companies' plans to invest in IoT solutions are accelerating.
  • The report highlights the opinions and experiences of IoT decision-makers on topics that include: drivers for adoption; major challenges and pain points; deployment and maturity of IoT implementations; investment in and utilization of devices; the decision-making process; and forward- looking plans.

In full, the report:

  • Provides a primer on the basics of the IoT ecosystem.
  • Offers forecasts for the IoT moving forward, and highlights areas of interest in the coming years.
  • Looks at who is and is not adopting the IoT, and why.
  • Highlights drivers and challenges facing companies that are implementing IoT solutions.
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'It was, at best, hasty and naive, and, at worst, manipulative': Experts slam Elon Musk's confusing defense of why he tweeted 'funding secured' (TSLA)

Tue, 08/14/2018 - 00:55

  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk released a statement on Monday in which he shed light on some of the questions raised last week by his statements about taking the company private.
  • But Musk's explanation is incomplete and raises new questions, experts say.
  • Musk's new statement doesn't back up his claim last week that he had "secured" funding to take Tesla private, Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, the senior associate dean for leadership studies at the Yale School of Management, told Business Insider. 
  • And Musk doesn't explain an estimate he makes about the amount of funding he'll have to raise to convert Tesla into a private company.


Tesla CEO Elon Musk released a statement on Monday in which he shed light on some of the questions raised last week by his statements about taking the company private. But Musk's explanation is incomplete and raises new questions, experts told Business Insider. 

Last week, Musk said he was considering taking Tesla private for $420 a share and implied that he had the funding to do so "secured," pending a shareholder vote. But, at the time, he didn't explain where that funding would come from. 

Musk said on Monday that he used the phrase "funding secured" in a tweet last week because he believed there was "no question" Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund would provide financing for a deal to convert Tesla into a private company after a July 31 meeting with the fund's managing director. 

Musk may have contradicted himself

But his attempt to provide clarity to investors and observers raises new problems, said Jeffrey Sonnenfeld, the senior associate dean for leadership studies at the Yale School of Management.

"It was, at best, hasty and naive, and, at worst, manipulative," he told Business Insider.

(Have a Tesla news tip? Contact this reporter at mmatousek@businessinsider.com.)

While Musk expressed confidence in Monday's statement that the Saudi sovereign wealth fund was interested in helping Tesla go private, he didn't mention any legally-binding agreements that were in place at the time he sent his now-controversial tweet. And Musk said he is currently in discussions with the Saudi fund and other investors, which suggests some sources of funding may not be settled.

"He did not have the firm commitment that he said he did," Sonnenfeld said.

"While he's in talks, there's nothing certain until it's certain, and 'funding secured' and having productive talks are two different things," said James Rosener, a partner at the law firm Pepper Hamilton who specializes in private equity and corporate financing.

Tesla did not respond to a request for comment about the potential disparity between Musk's "funding secured" tweet and his statement from Monday.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that the US Securities and Exchange Commission had made an inquiry into Tesla about whether one of Musk's tweets regarding the possibility of taking the company private was truthful. And on Thursday, Bloomberg reported that the agency was "intensifying" its inquiry.

According to Sonnenfeld, Monday's statement doesn't lessen the chance that Musk receives some form of punishment from the SEC, in addition to lawsuits from shareholders, some of which have already been filed.

"It would be hard to imagine he isn't sanctioned, fined, reprimanded in some way for this misconduct," he said.

Musk's statement raises new questions

While the statement appeared to be damage control, according to Gregory Sichenzia, a founding partner at the law firm Sichenzia Ross Ference Kesner, it includes at least one statement that could open Musk to further scrutiny.

At one point, Musk estimates that about two-thirds of the shares owned by current Tesla shareholders would roll over into shares of a private Tesla, were a take-private deal to go through, reducing the total amount of money he would have to raise.

But Musk doesn't explain how he arrived at that estimate.

"How does he know that? How does anyone know that," Sichenzia said. "There's no way to know that, so why would you say it?"

Musk's statements may contradict the reason he wants to take the company private, Akshay Anand, an executive analyst for Kelley Blue Book, said. Last week, Musk said he wanted to take Tesla private in part because the pressures of being a public company have created distractions. But the questions raised by his conduct over the past week may create yet another distraction.

"Musk already has his hands completely full. He doesn't need distractions. The employees don't need distractions. Investors don't need distractions, and this has the potential to turn into one," Anand said.

Read more about Tesla possibly going private:

SEE ALSO: 9 reasons you should buy Tesla's new Model 3 'Performance' car instead of the standard Model 3

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Salesforce owns $1 billion worth of other companies — here are its four biggest investments in public companies (CRM, DBX, DOCU, DOMO)

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 23:16

Salesforce brings in billions of dollars in revenue each year from its subscription software subscriptions. But the $105 billion cloud company is also a big tech investor, especially when it comes to pouring money into other public companies that sell software to businesses. 

And those investments add up. As of April, Salesforce owned $1.02 billion of equity in other companies, according to a company filing.

In a separate filing, published Monday, Salesforce revealed the size and scope of its biggest holdings. All together, the company's four largest investments account for $452 million — just short of half the value of its entire portfolio. 

These are Salesforce's four biggest investments:

SEE ALSO: What you need to know about Keith Block, the ex-Oracle exec who Wall Street says got a 'well-deserved' promotion to co-CEO of Salesforce

Domo — $2.202 million

Domo, a data visualization software company, went public in June, under a cloud of cynicism from analysts and pundits over the company and its financial prospects. Now, Domo is valued on the public markets at $464 million — less than a quarter of the $2 billion private valuation at which it had last raised venture capital funding.

None of that has seemed to deter Salesforce, which owns 80,647 shares in Domo, worth a total of $2.202 million. It's Salesforce's fourth largest investment, according to a public filing. 



Twilio — $49.775 million

Salesforce is a big investor in Twilio, the cloud communication company that went public in 2016. Twilio stock is on something of a bull run: It's now trading at about $74 a share — up from $31 in the August of 2017. 

Salesforce owns 888,517 shares in the company, for a total investment valued at $49.775 million. That makes Twilio its third-largest investment. 



Dropbox — $160.1 million

Salesforce swooped in just before Dropbox's March IPO to make a whopping $100 million investment — one of its largest strategic investments ever. Before that, Salesforce had previously invested $5 million into the file sharing and collaboration software company. 

Now Salesforce owns 4,938,567 shares, which is worth $160.1 million, according to the filing. While Salesforce owns more stock in Dropbox than in any other company, it's only the second largest investment by value. 

 



See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Categories: English

SpaceX just let people crawl into its new spaceship for NASA astronauts — here's what it's like inside

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 22:52

SpaceX allowed a few reporters into its Hawthorne, California headquarters on Monday for close-up looks at a new spaceship and spacesuit for NASA astronauts.

The aerospace company, founded by tech mogul Elon Musk, built its Crew Dragon hardware as part of the agency's Commercial Crew Program. Boeing also designed a new seven-person space capsule for NASA called the CST-100 Starliner.

NASA launched program in 2010 to replace its (now-retired) space shuttle fleet with privately developed American spacecraft — and stop paying Russia more and more money to fly astronauts to the International Space Station.

Crewed test launches of each spaceship are slated for 2019. However, SpaceX is poised to send the first commercial astronauts into space, given that Boeing must fix leaky fuel valves on the CST-100 Starliner.

Some who climbed aboard SpaceX's mockups shared photos and videos of the event on Twitter and Instagram.

Here's a sample of some of the best footage and pictures, and what journalists said it was like inside:

SEE ALSO: This veteran NASA astronaut has tried SpaceX and Boeing's new spaceships — here's what she thinks

DON'T MISS: SpaceX is quietly planning Mars-landing missions with the help of NASA and other spaceflight experts. It's about time.

For Monday's media event, SpaceX took a full-size mockup of the Crew Dragon capsule and rolled it outside its headquarters in Greater Los Angeles.

Tweet Embed:
//twitter.com/mims/statuses/1029077289865072643?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
Mockup of Crew Dragon capsule, with first-ever landed Falcon 9 first stage in background at #SpaceX HQ pic.twitter.com/5AKQkYcqns

 



The spaceship is reportedly identical in appearance to the ones astronauts will fly, minus the expensive rocket engines.

Tweet Embed:
//twitter.com/mims/statuses/1029047991313682434?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
The @SpaceX Crew Dragon mock-up capsule and our awesome photographer Raul Marin. ⁦@CNBCpic.twitter.com/E3tstgtBjQ


Source: Twitter



Aerospace photographer Jack Beyer said he was "on the ceiling" about climbing aboard the ship. This ultra-wide-angle video he shared on Twitter shows what it's like to crawl inside.

Tweet Embed:
//twitter.com/mims/statuses/1029054770110234624?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw
Beyond excited to be at @SpaceX today for a Commercial Crew update! Here’s what it looks like to climb into a Crew dragon. @NASASpaceflight #SpaceX pic.twitter.com/1Ncmn98SKy

 



See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Categories: English

We tried out 4 phone lenses that let you take photos that aren't possible with your stock iPhone camera — take a look

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 22:42

Mobile phone cameras are incredibly powerful now, and although they still aren't as powerful as modern DSLR cameras, you shouldn't let your phone's photo capabilities go to waste.

However, there are still certain things mobile cameras can't do on their own. One of the advantages of having a standalone, DSLR camera is the ability to swap out lenses for different applications. You can use a wide lens to capture as much of a scene as possible, or use a tele lens to get sharp, crisp shots of subjects far away. Your phone probably only has two lenses at most — iPhones have one standard semi-wide lens (about 28mm), and a medium lens (about 56mm). These get the job done for most tasks, and they do it well, but sometimes it feels like there's something missing.

Moment, a mobile photography company, is trying to fill in the gaps where your phone camera falls short. Although phone cameras won't be replacing DSLRs anytime soon, Moment makes lenses that are designed to give your smartphone camera a wider array of possibilities, including macro, tele, and fisheye shooting. 

We tried out Moment's 60mm tele lens($89.99), the 18mm wide lens ($99.99), the 'Superfish' fisheye lens ($89.99), and the macro lens ($89.99). To attach the lenses to your phone you'll need one of Moment's phone cases — we used the 'Battery Photo Case ($99.99) for the iPhone 8 Plus (cases for other phone models are available), which provides some backup battery charge to your phone, and it has a shutter button to allow you to easily capture photos without needing to tap your screen or volume button. The cases let you attach a lens to either the 1x or 2x cameras on your phone, depending on how much additional zoom you want (Note: you'll have to manually switch which lens your phone is using in order for this to work). 

Here are the results we got from the lenses: 

Here's the 'Superfish' fisheye lens.

The fisheye lens was probably the most fun to use.

If you've watched a skateboarding video from the 90s, you're familiar with fisheye lenses. They have a super wide focal length, meaning you can capture a large amount of the scene (although it will be distorted, which is part of the charm). 

 



The Superfish lens works well for quick street photography — you don't have to spend a lot of time lining your shots up.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Categories: English

MoviePass is enrolling some former subscribers into its new plan even after they canceled, and is spitting out an error message when they try and cancel again

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 22:21

  • MoviePass is enrolling some subscribers who had previously canceled the service into its new plan, which is expected to be implemented this week.
  • Some subscribers received an email that they had "confirmed" their new MoviePass plan, even after canceling, with a note at the bottom of the email that said their "opt-in to the new plan will take priority" over the cancellation.
  • Many of these users are complaining that they can't re-cancel MoviePass, and receive an error message when they attempt to do so.

 

MoviePass is rolling out a new plan this week, and wants its users to experience it — so much so that it's re-enrolling some users who had previously canceled the service.

MoviePass users have taken to Twitter to voice their displeasure with the service, and several have emailed Business Insider about their frustrations. MoviePass is expected to implement a new plan by Wednesday in which users will once again be able to see any movie they want, but will be limited to three movies a month for $9.95. 

But there are MoviePass subscribers who had already jumped ship, and some who had canceled the service recently have found themselves re-enrolled into this new plan, they said. Several of these users received an email from MoviePass that they were signed back up, with a note at the bottom that reads, "Please note: if you had previously requested cancellation prior to opting-in, your opt-in to the new plan will take priority and your account will not be canceled."

Below is an example of the email, provided to Business Insider by a MoviePass subscriber who had canceled the service:

One MoviePass user told Business Insider, "I actually canceled the other day (or so I thought), but then I got an email from MoviePass saying they had taken the liberty of signing me up again."

Another said, "Cancelled my MoviePass two weeks ago. Today I received an email from MoviePass updating my membership to 9.99 [note: it's $9.95] for 3 movies per month. Went into my account to find that no, my account is not cancelled. So I went through the steps to cancel AGAIN, and am receiving an error message."

Not only is MoviePass enrolling users who had cancelled into the new plan, but it's making it difficult to cancel again, several subscribers said. Many on Twitter have complained that they receive an error message when they attempt to re-cancel. 

MoviePass did not immediately return a request for comment.

Below are more subscribers who tweeted about their frustrations:

I finally canceled my @Moviepass subscription yesterday and today I got this email. Then I tried to quit AGAIN, and it wouldn’t let me. What kind of Twilight Zone shit is this pic.twitter.com/1lv1OG2we3

— Chase Mitchell (@ChaseMit) August 13, 2018

As a WARNING, MoviePass may have re signed people up if you had cancelled at the end of July. So you may have to re cancel. Very shady @MoviePass pic.twitter.com/vITv6B8TvV

— Ryan B (@TheChewDefense) August 13, 2018

The ultimate shady/fuck you tactic. CHECK UR EMAILS if you previously cancelled so you don’t get billed again @MoviePass @MoviePass_CS pic.twitter.com/9Ti7nWNpNB

— Ryan B (@TheChewDefense) August 13, 2018

Hey @MoviePass stop stealing my money, no matter how many times I cancel my service my account is still active. Awesome to see I've just been billed for next month when I canceled a week ago.

I recommend no one use this shitty service.

— Nuzlocke/Nick Franco (@Nuzlocke) August 11, 2018

@johncampea Hey John want to hear how shady @MoviePass is. I cancelled my account 2 weeks ago. Now get an email saying since I cancelled prior to change my account is active again. When I try and recancel I get an error saying failed to cancel. Hear of this happening to others ? pic.twitter.com/olGXqAIFpq

— Danny Ortiz (@chubs1889) August 11, 2018

Yup, I had to re-cancel as well. Very very shady. Some people may not catch this and get billed for another month of their horrendous service. pic.twitter.com/27L2L08dqu

— Don Jariyasunant (@djariya) August 13, 2018

.@MoviePass is crap. They changed their plan so many times that it’s become annoying. I canceled my account & then get an email today “confirming” my new plan - something I never did. THEN I go to cancel my account AGAIN and it says “failure to cancel account.” Not cool

— Rob McGowan (@IslesRM) August 13, 2018

Omg @MoviePass
What part of cancel means sign me back up? You guys suck!

— Paden (@p4d3n) August 13, 2018

@MoviePass what the fuck is your problem? i cancel my subscription on the 10th and receive an email that i’m automatically opted back in? is it crack that you smoke? pic.twitter.com/26YRAbRRJ8

— knight (@zzzplant) August 13, 2018

Heads up. After cancellation weeks ago, @MoviePass just decided to sign me back up for their new plan and let me know be sending a confirmation email! Fuck that nonsense. Had to go in and cancel again. And you know what? If I have to, I'll go in and cancel again!!!

— A. Cohn (@ADotCohn) August 13, 2018

 

SEE ALSO: MoviePass encouraged its subscribers to see 'Mission: Impossible — Fallout' on Sunday, even though it was blocked in most theaters

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Categories: English

Rapper Azealia Banks claims she was at Elon Musk's house over the weekend as he was 'scrounging for investors' (TSLA)

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 22:17

  • The rapper Azealia Banks claimed that she spent the weekend at Elon Musk's house, setting social media ablaze.
  • Banks told Business Insider she saw the Tesla CEO at home "scrounging for investors" after tweeting last week about plans to take Tesla private.
  • Banks also said that she was not trying to eavesdrop but that she "could hear that he was scrambling because he in fact didn't have any funding secured."
  • Musk's representative told Business Insider he could not comment on funding. Tesla declined to comment. 

Azealia Banks lit up the internet after saying in her Instagram Stories that she was at Elon Musk's house for the weekend.

On Sunday, the rapper posted on Instagram: "I waited around all weekend while grimes coddled her boyfriend." In another story, she wrote that "staying in Elon musks house has been like a real like episode of 'Get Out.'"

Grimes, the singer and songwriter whose real name is Claire Boucher, has been dating Musk, the founder and CEO of Tesla, since earlier this year.

When Business Insider reached out to Banks via Instagram direct message, Banks shared further details. She said she arrived at one of Musk's homes in Los Angeles early on Friday and left on Sunday night. An independent secondary source confirmed that Banks was at one of Musk's properties over the weekend.

Over the course of the weekend, Banks said, the couple essentially went into hiding as Musk — who had tweeted earlier in the week about plans to take Tesla private and said funding was "secured" — sought funding. But Banks said the couple kept stringing her along with the promise of collaborating on music.

"They bring me out there on the premise that we would hang and make music," Banks said in a DM. "But his dumbass kept tweeting and tucked his dick in between his ass cheeks once shit hit the fan."

Banks said Musk seemed distracted over the weekend.

"I saw him in the kitchen tucking his tail in between his legs scrounging for investors to cover his ass after that tweet," she said. "He was stressed and red in the face."

Banks added: "He's not cute at all in person."

A spokesperson for Musk told Business Insider in an email that "Elon has never even met Ms. Banks or communicated with her in any way," but did not deny that Banks had stayed at one of Musk's properties over the weekend. 

Tesla declined to comment on Banks' claims about Musk looking for investors.

Banks also said that she was not trying to eavesdrop but that Musk seemed to be scrambling.

On Monday, Musk said in a statement on Tesla's website that he used the phrase "funding secured" to indicate that he believes there was "no question" that Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund would provide funding to convert Tesla into a private company.

A representative for Musk referred questions about Tesla's funding to the company, which declined to comment. Boucher also did not respond to a request for comment, and neither Musk nor Boucher responded to Banks' claims on social media.

Banks' Instagram posts also caused a stir because she alluded to drug use and Twitter. Musk's representative said such claims were "utter nonsense."

Banks has a history of making bold and sometimes unverified claims. In 2016, she slammed Beyoncé on Twitter and accused her of stealing from other artists.

Banks' Twitter account was deactivated in June after she graphically insulted Monet X Change, a competitor on the most recent season of "RuPaul's Drag Race." Earlier this year, Banks started a GoFundMe asking for help to fund a lawsuit against the actor Russell Crowe, who she claimed spit on her, choked her, and called her the N-word at a party in 2016. (The producer RZA later confirmed that Crowe spit on Banks.)

"I could run Tesla better than he does," Banks told Business Insider of Musk.

"They're so pitiful," she added. "And it's honestly stupid of them to think another performative 'angry/crazy black girl hit piece' will do anything to bring me down."

If you have a Tesla or Elon Musk story to share, contact ktaylor@businessinsider.com.

SEE ALSO: Elon Musk reveals new details about taking Tesla private, says he thought tweeting announcement was 'the right and fair thing to do'

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Categories: English

Apple is delaying group FaceTime calls, one of the most-anticipated features in the next iOS (AAPL)

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 22:14

  • Apple delayed Group FaceTime, a software feature in the forthcoming iOS 12 that will enable video calls with 32 different people at the same time.
  • Apple's official release notes: "Group FaceTime has been removed from the initial release of iOS 12 and will ship in a future software update later this fall."

The latest beta of iOS 12 doesn't include one of the banner features Apple promised for the iPhone and iPad earlier this summer: Group FaceTime.

Apple says that Group FaceTime will let you have a group video chat with up to 31 friends at once. However, that feature won't be available with iOS 12 once it comes out later this year. 

From Apple's official iOS release notes, dated August 13: "Group FaceTime has been removed from the initial release of iOS 12 and will ship in a future software update later this fall."

Apple releases preview and beta versions of its new iOS software in June, ahead of new iPhones are released in September. The early versions enable developers to update their software to take advantage of new features, ahead of Apple's traditional September launch for new iPhone hardware.

This schedule also enables Apple to make splashy software announcements in June, at its annual developer's conference, and save the hardware reveals for the fall. Apple revealed Group FaceTime on stage this past June, and older phones will be able to install the software when it's released. 

"Right about now is the time when Apple needs to cut any features that won’t be ready in time for the iPhone launch next month," Daring Fireball's John Gruber wrote

Group FaceTime has been a feature demanded by iPhone users for years. Other videoconferencing software, including Google Hangouts and Microsoft Skype, have had group video calls for years. 

Last year, Apple was forced to delay one of its big new tentpole features, Apple Pay Cash — a rival to Venmo and services like it. Apple Pay Cash was eventually launched in December 2017, a few months after its original release date. 

Apple also has yet to release AirPower, the wireless charging mat it announced last September along the iPhone 8 and iPhone X. 

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: DermaClip is a needle-less alternative to stitches

Categories: English

Robinhood shuts customers out of buying shares of MoviePass' parent company after the stock crashed more than 99.99% (HMNY)

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 21:20

  • Robinhood is suspending new purchases of Helios & Matheson, the parent company of MoviePass, after the stock's drastic 99.99% crash.
  • "In order to protect our customers from the risks associated with some low-priced stocks, we remove the buy option for stocks like HMNY that consistently trade under $0.10," the company said in an email to customers.
  • Follow HMNY's stock price in real-time here. 

Helios & Matheson, the parent company of MoviePass', won't be getting any new investors on Robinhood.

The free stock-trading app said Monday that it would not allow users to buy shares of the company, but that they would still be able to hold and sell shares currently owned.

"In order to protect our customers from the risks associated with some low-priced stocks, we remove the buy option for stocks like HMNY that consistently trade under $0.10," the brokerage said in an email to customers.

Business Insider has reached out to Robinhood for more information about its policy for so-called "penny stocks" like HMNY, and will update this post if comment is received.

HMNY has been wildly popular among Robinhood investors in recent months. More than 74,000 users currently hold the stock, the firm's website shows, and it has consistently been one of the app's most popular names since Business Insider first started tracking the data in June.

It's not clear when exactly the suspension will occur. An order for one share of HMNY was successfully placed via Robinhood by Business Insider shortly before the closing bell Monday.

Despite a massive 1-for-250 reverse stock split in July, HMNY has declined by more than 99.99% in the past month and was trading at just $0.05 on Monday. Adjusted for the reverse split, the stock was trading as high as $8,200 when it first acquired MoviePass in the fall of 2017.

SEE ALSO: 2 Wall Street banks made millions selling the collapsing shares of MoviePass' parent company, as their analysts kept 'buy' ratings on the cratering stock

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Categories: English

This tool lets you bequeath your Google account to a trusted person when you die — here's how to set it up

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 20:54

If you've ever worried about what would befall your Gmail, photos, documents, YouTube videos, and other digital data in the event of a terrible accident or your own death, you're not alone. 

It's a little dark to think about, but the good news is that Google has your back.

The service offers a feature that will bequeath your Google account and all of its contents to up to 10 pre-selected trustees, and even let you set your account to self-delete after an extended period of inactivity. 

Here's how to set it up:

SEE ALSO: We compared 3 of the most popular note taking apps for iPhone — but the winner depends on what you want to do

To get started, you'll want to make sure you're logged in to your Google account, and find your Account settings.

Click on the tile menu, and "Account" should be the very first module in the drop-down window. 



From your the landing page for your account settings, you'll want to click "Personal info and privacy."

Google doesn't really advertise this feature, and bury it pretty deeply among the dozens of other account customizations, making it feel like the morbid needle in a settings haystack. 



From here, you'll have to scroll almost all the way down the page, until you see the section titled "Assign an account Trustee." On the right side, you'll see an entry to the "Inactive Account Manager." Go ahead and click "CHANGE THIS SETTING" to set it up.

This page doesn't include any mentions of the word "death" or establishing a virtual will of all your Google data, but trust me, that's what we're doing. 



See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Categories: English

It is now abundantly clear that Elon Musk does not have 'funding secured'

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 20:47

  • In a blog post, Elon Musk attempted to explain why he said last week that he had "funding secured" for a deal to take Tesla private.
  • His explanation doesn't hold water for anyone who understands finance, sovereign wealth funds, or the passage of time. 

Elon Musk has written a blog post explaining why he said last week on Twitter that he might take Tesla private at $420 a share. "Funding secured," he declared in the tweet.

But after reading Musk's new post, the only conclusion to be drawn is that funding was, in fact, not secured.

And that could spell serious trouble for Musk.

In a nutshell, Musk said that he spoke with Saudi Arabia's sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, on July 31 and that the person he spoke to expressed an interest in taking Tesla private. Musk said his Saudi investors had been thinking about this since early 2017. Musk considered it all he needed to say "funding secured."

"He strongly expressed his support for funding a going private transaction for Tesla at this time," Musk wrote. "I understood from him that no other decision makers were needed and that they were eager to proceed."

But there are some obvious problems with this, one of them being price. Wall Street, which is chomping at the bit for big deals as always, estimates that a traditional leveraged buyout of Tesla would require about $66 billion in cash.

In other words, Saudi money alone would not be able to finance such a deal.

What's more, The Wall Street Journal described two people familiar with the matter at the PIF as saying they "doubt there are any serious discussions under way about the fund taking a significantly larger stake in Tesla."

"Indeed, the fund is struggling to find ways to finance its existing commitments," the report says.

As it turns out, after Musk announced the possibility of the deal, he reengaged the Saudis on August 7 and found that he would need more than one person at the fund to approve his deal. The Saudi involvement, he said, would be "subject to financial and other due diligence and their internal review process for obtaining approvals."

As for this inconsistency between July 31 and August 7, perhaps Musk simply has no idea how sovereign wealth funds work. If, as Musk said, his Saudi shareholders had been interested in taking Tesla private for almost two years, it seems odd that they wouldn't have already been asking questions about how a deal would work, or about things like regulatory requirements.

Literally, what's the deal?

Now, as I said before, the Saudis alone cannot finance this deal. And Musk wrote in his blog post that he had planned all along to talk to Tesla's other investors.

"I continue to have discussions with the Saudi fund, and I also am having discussions with a number of other investors, which is something that I always planned to do since I would like for Tesla to continue to have a broad investor base," he wrote.

So in that scenario, this back-and-forth between them and Musk is just the tiniest of steps on the way to securing funding. It certainly is not "funding secured."

And then there's the question of the deal structure. Musk addressed that issue in his blog post too, writing:

"Reports that more than $70B would be needed to take Tesla private dramatically overstate the actual capital raise needed. The $420 buyout price would only be used for Tesla shareholders who do not remain with our company if it is private. My best estimate right now is that approximately two-thirds of shares owned by all current investors would roll over into a private Tesla."

There are a couple of issues with that statement from a finance perspective:

  1. What Musk is talking about is a stock swap in which investors would exchange their currently liquid Tesla stock for illiquid private shares.
  2. He has absolutely no way of knowing who would take that deal since he hasn't asked. Some investors may not be able to hold a private company at all.
  3. With 2,000 investors or more, Musk would still be subject to reporting requirements. This means he wouldn't be totally free of public scrutiny, defeating some of the purpose of taking the company private.

What's more — and perhaps this matters only to Poindexters and finance geeks — but Tesla has yet to file official Securities and Exchange Commission paperwork about this event, raising eyebrows all over the deal universe.

Tesla's stock is down slightly after Musk's blog post, reflecting the idea that the market is not pleased with his explanation. In fact, the stock has given back all the gains it made since Musk made his going-private announcement. The SEC is looking into the accuracy of Musk's statement.

If funding was not secured and he knew it, he could be charged with stock manipulation.

And according to Musk's own words, the deal sounds far from done.

"I left the July 31st meeting with no question that a deal with the Saudi sovereign fund could be closed," Musk wrote, "and that it was just a matter of getting the process moving."

Join the conversation about this story »

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Categories: English

Ethereum plunges to its lowest level in 11 months

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 20:30

  • Ethereum plunged as much as 17% Monday, sinking to a low of $285.14 per token, it's lowest price since September 2017.
  • Other major cryptocurrencies, like the flagship bitcoin and Ripple's XRP, also saw significant selling and were down about 1% and 5%, respectively.
  • Ethereum is closely intertwined with initial coin offerings (ICOs). Over the past year,those thousands of fundraisers propped up the price of ethereum. Monday's decline comes as many of those projects cash out of the blockchain in order to fund their operations, one expert told Bloomberg.
  • "These startups are raising a lot of funds but they don’t have treasury management or enough cash management experience, so they’re selling too early and causing a lot of pressure in the market," Biswa Das, who manages the cryptocurrency hedge fund BloomWater Capital, told Bloomberg. "It was fine last year but right now the the market is so fragile that it causes a lot of pressure."
  • The price of ethereum,  still the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, is now down more than 61% this year.
  • Follow ethereum in real-time here. 

SEE ALSO: The crypto market has lost 20% of its value in 2 weeks and bitcoin is still dropping

Join the conversation about this story »

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The makers of ‘Fallout’ and ‘Skyrim’ just issued an ultimatum to Sony over the PS4, and it could have a huge impact on the future of gaming

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 20:03

  • Microsoft and Sony directly compete in the video game market, where the PlayStation 4 has a commanding lead over the Xbox One in hardware sales numbers.
  • Starting in 2017, Microsoft has been pushing the concept of "cross-platform" play — the ability to play games like "Minecraft," "Fortnite" and more with friends on PC, smartphone, and even Nintendo's Switch.
  • Sony refuses to allow games on the PlayStation 4 to work with games on Microsoft's Xbox One and Nintendo's Switch.
  • Both video game fans and game makers are publicly pushing back on Sony's stance — and now, "The Elder Scrolls: Legends" publisher Bethesda Softworks has issued an ultimatum.


The massive video game publisher Bethesda Softworks — the company behind franchises like "Fallout," "The Elder Scrolls," and "DOOM" — just issued a major ultimatum to Sony.

The issue at hand is seemingly simple: Bethesda has a game coming to the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Nintendo Switch called "The Elder Scrolls: Legends." Bethesda wants "Legends" players on all consoles to be able to play the game with each other, and for their progress to carry over if they change platforms. 

"The Elder Scrolls: Legends" is a competitive card game, similar to Blizzard's "Hearthstone" — it's the same game across all platforms, visually and gameplay-wise, whether you're playing it on an iPhone or on a PC. The game is turn-based, so it doesn't require precise, reaction-based controls.

In so many words: There's no technical reason it couldn't work across competing platforms, like the Xbox One and PlayStation 4. 

"The way the game works right now on Apple, Google, Steam, and Bethesda.net, it doesn't matter where you buy your stuff, if you play it on another platform that stuff is there. It doesn't matter what platform you play on, you play against everyone else who is playing at that moment," Bethesda senior VP Pete Hines said in a recent interview with Game Informer.

Sony, however, won't allow publishers like Bethesda Softworks to enable this type of functionality in their games.

Even "Fortnite" publisher Epic Games isn't allowed to enable cross-platform play between Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One (let alone Nintendo's Switch). 

If the biggest game in the world isn't getting around Sony's blockade, how will "The Elder Scrolls: Legends"? Potentially by skipping Sony's PlayStation 4 altogether.

"It is our intention in order for the game to come out, it has to be those things on any system," Hines said. "We cannot have a game that works one way across everywhere else except for on this one thing." 

By saying as much, Hines and Bethesda drew a line in the sand with Sony's cross-platform policy: Allow cross-platform play and progress, or we'll skip the PS4 altogether.

It's a small move in the short term, but it's part of a growing wave of backlash to a long-held policy in the video game business.

It all started with "Minecraft"

The Microsoft-owned blockbuster is available on pretty much everything that plays games, from consoles to phones to handhelds.

Microsoft — maker of the Xbox One, and direct competitor to Sony's PlayStation 4 and Nintendo's Switch — publishes "Minecraft" on Sony and Nintendo (and Apple and Google) platforms in addition to its own Xbox consoles.

More importantly, even though Microsoft owns "Minecraft," the game can be played across competing devices. "Minecraft" players on Xbox One can join up with players on iPhone, Nintendo Switch, Android, and PC/Mac — even if you're playing in a virtual reality headset! But Xbox One can't play with PlayStation 4, and vice versa.

That same situation applies to "Fortnite," which launched on Nintendo Switch earlier this summer. Xbox One players are able to play with iPhone/iPad, Nintendo Switch, PC, and Mac players — but not with PlayStation 4.

Worse: If you're a PlayStation 4 "Fortnite" player, your "Fortnite" account is locked to the PlayStation 4 platform.

Any of the stuff you've unlocked, and the Battle Pass you paid for? None of that shows up on other platforms if you unlocked it on a PlayStation 4, despite the fact that the game uses an Epic Games account separate from your PlayStation Network ID.

That isn't the case for players on other platforms, and it's the latest example of Sony's PlayStation 4 taking a surprisingly exclusionary stance with multiplayer gaming.

When Microsoft announced the "Better Together" update to "Minecraft" — uniting "Minecraft" players across all platforms — it seemed for the first time ever that there was hope for competing game platforms finally playing nice together.

"Sony is a good partner, and they are working with us on this," head of Microsoft Studios Matt Booty told Business Insider in an interview at the time.

In the perfect world scenario Microsoft was trying to create,"Call of Duty" players on PlayStation 4 could play with "Call of Duty" players on Xbox One, for example, — something that's still not the norm even if it makes perfect sense. Why can't "Call of Duty" players on any console play together? Not for a good reason.

It's because Sony and Microsoft are competitors with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One

Unfortunately, nearly a year later and there's been no movement on the plan to unify multiplayer gaming across the Xbox and PlayStation platforms, despite the number of parties that want it to happen. That's what Xbox lead Phil Spencer told Business Insider in an interview this past June at the annual E3 video game trade show in Los Angeles.

"It's impossible to answer this question without saying the name of a competitor. And as soon as I do that — I don't want to throw stones at anybody," Spencer said in a clear reference to Sony's PlayStation 4.

Instead of directly speaking to Microsoft and Sony's respective consoles, Spencer offered an example:

"Say you're not into gaming, and it's your kid's birthday. You buy them a console. I buy my kid a console. We happen to buy consoles of different colors — you bought the blue one, I bought the green one. Now those kids want to play a game together and they can't because their parents bought different consoles.

I don't know who that helps. It doesn't help the developer. The developer just wants more people to play their game. It doesn't help the player. The players just want to play with their friends who also play games on console. So, I just get stuck in who this is helping."

When asked directly if there's been any progress, Spencer offered only, "No, no."

But with publishers like Bethesda pushing back on Sony's policy in such a direct way, perhaps progress can begin again. 

Competing home video game consoles have never been able to play with each other, going back to the days of Nintendo versus Sega, but that makes less sense as they've become more alike. The current Xbox One and PlayStation 4 are very similar consoles capable of outputting very similar results. They even offer similar services, and the world's biggest games are identical on both — look no further than "Minecraft" and "Fortnite" to see that. 

And that's before we start talking about smartphones, which are increasingly capable of running the same games that home game consoles can.

"The Elder Scrolls: Legends" is just the latest example of the entire gaming medium becoming more accessible across devices.

Whether you're on a phone, or on a home game console, you're playing the same game. You play against people on other platforms, and your progress carries over from your phone to your home conosle or PC. "There's no 'Oh, it's easier to control, or it has a better framerate on this system.' It's a strategy card game. It doesn't matter," Hines told Game Informer.

There's a sense of inevitability to the concept of cross-platform play and progress tracking, as Sony continues to look like the bad guy for keeping the PS4 siloed off and even third-party game publishers pubicly push back. The company has only made a few statements on the matter, most recently saying, "We're hearing it."

Sony representatives didn't respond to a request for comment on this story.

SEE ALSO: Sony finally responds to the backlash over its exclusionary PlayStation 4 policy: 'We're hearing it'

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Here's how Samsung's new $330 Galaxy Watch compares to the Apple Watch

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 19:06

Samsung's latest competitor to the Apple Watch is here: the Galaxy Watch, a $330 fitness-focused smartwatch. 

Samsung introduced the new smartwatch on stage at its Unpacked event last week. The Galaxy Watch isn't Samsung's first wearable, but it's the first with the Galaxy brand name — in the past, Samsung's smartwatches have been under the "Gear" branding.

The Galaxy Watch also sets itself apart with two key features: battery life (the watch can last up to four days on a single charge, Samsung says) and a rotating crown that lets you control the watch like a dial. Plus, it looks more like a standard watch than most other smartwatches on the market, Apple Watch included. 

Still, Apple Watch is the best-selling smartwatch in the world, and Samsung faces an uphill battle if it wants to unseat Apple as the queen of smartwatches. 

So as the Apple Watch and the Galaxy Watch prepare to go head-to-head — the Galaxy Watch will be available August 24 — here's how the two watches are similar and different. 

SEE ALSO: How Samsung's new Galaxy Note 9 compares with last year's Galaxy Note 8

NOW READ: I've spent the last 24 hours with Samsung's new Galaxy Note 9 — here are my first impressions

There are a lot of ways in which the watches are similar. Both the Galaxy Watch and the Apple Watch Series 3 come in three colors: black, silver, and rose gold.

The Galaxy Watch and Apple Watch start at the same price: $329.

The 42 mm Galaxy Watch, which comes in black and rose gold, costs $329. The 46 mm Galaxy Watch, which comes in silver, costs $349. Samsung hasn't said if there's a price increase for the cellular version of the Galaxy Watch, which is coming later this year. 

The 38 mm Apple Watch Series 3 with GPS costs $329, but the price goes up when you increase the size and add cellular:

  • The 38 mm Apple Watch with both GPS and cellular costs $399
  • The 42 mm Apple Watch with GPS costs $359
  • The 42 mm Apple Watch with GPS and cellular costs $429. 



The Galaxy Watch and Apple Watch both have OLED displays, although they're totally different shapes.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Categories: English

Tesla's dramatic stock rise and fall shows how skeptical investors are of Elon Musk's go-private plans (TSLA)

Mon, 08/13/2018 - 18:58

  • Tesla's stock price surged to new highs last week when Elon Musk announced his intent to take the company private.
  • But almost a week later, the stock is trading below its pre-tweet prices, signalling that investors aren't convinced a deal will happen.
  • Follow Tesla's stock price in real-time here. 

It took less than 48 hours for the stock market to decide it didn't believe in Elon Musk's plan of a go-private deal for Tesla.

When the billionaire cryptically tweeted that he was "considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured" at 12:48 pm eastern time on Tuesday, the stock was trading just above $361. By that afternoon, shares had surged more than 10% to a near record-high of $379.57.

Over the course of the week, however, the stock fluttered downward amid reports of an investigation by the US' top stock regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and interviews with experts who told Business Insider his tweet could have been illegal.

Tesla's stock continued to stall Monday and was hovering near $350 per share, a 17% discount to the $420 go-private price Musk said was "fully secured." If stock investors were fully confident in the CEO's ability to get a deal done at that price, shares would theoretically be trading at a much smaller discount.

In other words, traders are telling Musk, as best they can, that they're not convinced. 

Wall Street analysts have been puzzled by the $420 price set by Musk. The price is likely too expensive to solicit new private investors and not high enough for current holders who may be seeking higher returns, Pierre Ferragu of New Street Research told clients Monday.

"The stock will not look indecently cheap to private investors. We understand many would buy in the $420 region, but struggle to believe they would pay materially more," Pierre Ferragu of New Street Research told clients Monday.

"Many existing shareholders are unlikely to be in for $420," he continued. "Given how controversial the stock is, we have the convictions most shareholders believe in a lot of upside in the stock, over the years. On that basis we believe many of them would decide against the $420 offer."

Rita McGrath, a professor at Columbia Business School, made a similar point when speaking to Business Insider last week.

"On the one hand, he's got to tell a great story to get private investors interested. But then you have to get the public guys out," he said. "It’s two different messages."

Alex Morrell and Joe Ciolli assisted with reporting.

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SEE ALSO: Tesla's surging stock has cost short sellers $3 billion this month

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NOW WATCH: Cigna's CEO says that the problem with healthcare in America has nothing to do with employers

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