Opendoor Searches for ‘Mainstream’ Success

Cory Weinberg:

Instead of helping homebuyers sell their houses, Opendoor buys the homes directly and then resells them, eliminating uncertainty and lag time for sellers. The company charges sellers an average fee between 7% and 8% of the purchase price when it buys houses. While Opendoor can make the case that its approach involves less of a hassle for people looking to sell their home, homeowners might have to pay thousands of dollars more in fees than if they used a real estate agent. Meanwhile, some instant-sell competitors are trying to undercut Opendoor’s fees.

“It’s still more expensive than listing with a realtor, and we’re not there yet,” said Mr. Wu. “I hate to cite other people’s principles, but [Jeff] Bezos says it nicely: ‘Our margin is your opportunity.’”

Lowering fees is a way to get more “mainstream,” said Mr. Wu. Opendoor executives hope to reduce the average fee from about 7% to 6% by the end of the year to be on par with traditional agents, said a person close to the company. It’s a challenging proposition. Opendoor charges the fee to help offset the cost and risk of holding a property for months before selling, a tradeoff that many customers might accept given the certainty selling to Opendoor provides. Reducing that cost hinges on Opendoor honing its predictive models that determine optimal prices to offer.

Mr. Wu, a 34-year-old University of Arizona graduate whose geo-data analytics startup Movity.com was acquired by Trulia, co-founded Opendoor in 2014 with Keith Rabois, a former PayPal and Square executive who is now Opendoor’s executive chairman. In turn, Mr. Wu has recruited the likes of former Uber head of finance Gautam Gupta and former Amazon executive Jason Child to the San Francisco-based company in recent months.

The company, reportedly valued at about $1 billion on paper, focuses mostly on cookie-cutter suburban homes in the $125,000 to $500,000 range. Opendoor calculates how much to offer based on machine-learning models that predict home value and market risk, using both public data like prices of similar homes and more subjective criteria such as the quality of the flooring to help predict how much to offer for homes.

The stakes are high for Opendoor to get prices right. If Opendoor lowballs an offer, customer complaints can stream in on review sites like Yelp, and competitors can scoop up the home. Overvaluing the home is bad for business, too, sticking Opendoor with a home that might be difficult to sell for high-enough margins. (For example, it sells homes at about a 5.5% margin in Phoenix on average, according to an estimate by Mike Delprete, an independent real estate analyst. Opendoor says that figure is too high and likely excludes repairs Opendoor makes to homes and concessions to home buyers.) Mr. Wu said the company has made “drastic improvements” on the rate of big mistakes on pricing over the last few years. He said one in three “serious sellers” accept Opendoor’s offer, a ratio Mr. Wu is pleased with.

Is the Open Office Layout Dead?

April Kilcrease:

Today, the open office layout is back with a vengeance. In a 2013 survey by CoreNet Global, an association for corporate real estate managers, more than 80% of respondents said their company had moved toward an open space floor plan. And once again, the backlash has begun. In the last five years, a slew of articles with alarmist titles like “Death To The Open Office Floor Plan!” and “Open-plan offices were devised by Satan in the deepest caverns of hell” have assailed the supposedly progressive design.
 
 So what exactly is wrong with the modern open office layout and how can we create spaces that fulfill the promise of a happy and collaborative workplace?
 
 What isn’t working
 
 By design, colleagues are more accessible in an open office layout. The minute a question pops into your head, you can easily hop over to a co-worker’s desk, or simply swivel your chair to face them. Unfortunately, these well-intentioned intrusions can lead to real problems.
 
 First among those is reduced productivity. According to a study on the cost of interrupted work, a typical office worker is interrupted every 11 minutes. Even worse, people often take up to 25 minutes to refocus on the original task.
 
 And without physical barriers to block it out, noise may be the number one problem with open office plans. Together, loud phone talkers, gossipy co-workers, and that guy chomping on an apple every afternoon can frazzle your auditory system. Researchers have found that the loss of productivity due to noise distraction doubles in open office layouts compared to private offices, and open office noise reduces the ability to recall information, and even to do basic arithmetic.
 
 As anyone who’s had to call their doctor from their desk knows, one of the worst parts of open office layouts is that you can’t control who you hear—or who hears you. In a 2013 study about the privacy-communication trade-off in open offices, 60% of cubicle workers and half of all employees in partitionless offices said the lack of sound privacy was a significant problem.

Aging Parents With Lots of Stuff, and Children Who Don’t Want It

Tom Verde

“We went from a 3,000-square-foot colonial with three floors to a single-story, 1,400-square-foot living space,” said Tena Bluhm, 76, formerly of Fairfax, Va. She and her 77-year-old husband, Ray Bluhm, moved this month to a retirement community in Lake Ridge, Va.
 
 Before the move, their two adult children took a handful of items, including a new bed and a dining table and chairs. But Mrs. Bluhm could not interest them in “the china and the silver and the crystal,” her own generation’s hallmarks of a properly furnished, middle-class home.
 
 The competitive accumulation of material goods, a cornerstone of the American dream, dates to the post-World War II economy, when returning veterans fled the cities to establish homes and status in the suburbs. Couples married when they were young, and wedding gifts were meant to be used — and treasured — for life.

Why didn’t electricity immediately change manufacturing?

Tim Harford:

But given the huge investment this involved, they were often disappointed with the savings. Until about 1910, plenty of entrepreneurs looked at the new electrical drive system and opted for good old-fashioned steam.

Why? Because to take advantage of electricity, factory owners had to think in a very different way. They could, of course, use an electric motor in the same way as they used steam engines. It would slot right into their old systems.

But electric motors could do much more. Electricity allowed power to be delivered exactly where and when it was needed.

Small steam engines were hopelessly inefficient but small electric motors worked just fine. So a factory could contain several smaller motors, each driving a small drive shaft.

As the technology developed, every workbench could have its own machine tool with its own little electric motor.

Power wasn’t transmitted through a single, massive spinning drive shaft but through wires.

A factory powered by steam needed to be sturdy enough to carry huge steel drive shafts. One powered by electricity could be light and airy.

Steam-powered factories had to be arranged on the logic of the driveshaft. Electricity meant you could organise factories on the logic of a production line.

More efficient

Old factories were dark and dense, packed around the shafts. New factories could spread out, with wings and windows allowing natural light and air.

In the old factories, the steam engine set the pace. In the new factories, workers could do so.

You needed to change everything: the architecture and the production process.

And because workers had more autonomy and flexibility, you even had to change the way they were recruited, trained and paid.

Factory owners hesitated, for understandable reasons.

Of course they didn’t want to scrap their existing capital. But maybe, too, they simply struggled to think through the implications of a world where everything needed to adapt to the new technology.

In the end, change happened. It was unavoidable.

Mains electricity became cheaper and more reliable. American workers become more expensive thanks to a series of new laws that limited immigration from a war-torn Europe.

When Teens Don’t Drive Safely, Toyota’s Clever App Plays Their Parents’ Embarrassing Music

Lauren Johnson:

Here’s a sure-fire way to get teen drivers to stay safe behind the wheel: Threaten to embarrass them by playing mom and dad’s favorite tunes.
 
 That’s the idea behind Toyota’s new app from Saatchi & Saatchi London that basically functions as a teen’s virtual parent while they’re driving. First, both a parent and teen download the Safe and Sound app, which is available on all Android devices in Europe.
 
 When a teen asks to borrow a parent’s car, parents click a button and the app pulls in Google Maps API to track how fast the driver is going. After it senses that the vehicle is moving faster than 9 mph, it automatically flips into ‘do not disturb’ mode that blocks all incoming calls and social media notifications.
 
 The app also plugs into Spotify to link up a parent’s and child’s playlists. If the driver tries to touch the phone or speeds while listening to Spotify, the app begins to play the parent’s playlist on Spotify, which the agency expects will include some embarrassing music from artists who kids may find dated like say, Milli Vanilli. “There’s nothing teenagers fear more than being seen as uncool,” says Saatchi & Saatchi London in a statement.
 
 Once the teenager takes his or her hand off the phone or slows down, the driver’s own playlist will resume playing. The app sends the parent and child a message at the end of the drive containing a summary of the trip.

A car buying smartphone app

Neil Boudette:

Most steps can be automated. Scanning the bar code from a driver’s license populates basic personal information like name, address and date of birth. Employment history can be pulled from LinkedIn.
 A few months ago, Lisa Harrington, a corporate lawyer in Los Angeles, was shopping for a new car, and an acquaintance suggested she give AutoGravity a try. “Even as an executive who negotiates for a living, it can be daunting,” she said. “It really isn’t easy, especially for women by themselves.”
 
 She decided on a Mercedes-Benz GLE, a cross between a sports coupe and a sport utility vehicle. The AutoGravity app let her check the models at a dealership, Fletcher Jones Motorcars, near her home in Newport Beach, Calif. From home she used the app to apply for credit and then went to the dealership with the lease financing already lined up.

Rethinking domestic and urban spaces for a better future: lessons from the Spanish property bubble

Maria Sisternas Tusell:

The property crisis in Spain, linked to an unprecedented digital revolution, has radically transformed the construction sector, in turn influencing the way cities are traditionally developed. The burst housing bubble, coupled with the tech and data revolution, has changed the way we live, giving us the potential to correct shortcomings and build a stronger, more people-oriented urban economy. Because knowledge holds the solution to this crisis and there are no longer problems that can’t be solved, there is a conviction that the housing crisis can open up positive paths for Spanish cities.
 
 In Spain, the middle class has seen its purchasing power slip away as the disparity in the income earned from work grows. That said, I will argue here that the ‘city’, if it takes into account the mistakes of the past, can mitigate the impact of this new phenomenon and even generate fairer redistributive policies and opportunities that make climbing the social ladder easier.
 
 Cities too slow with legislation in a tech disrupting age
 
 On the one hand, carrying a window to the world in our pockets in the form of a smartphone or tablet has changed our lives: we share flats, buy and sell second-hand items and video conference at the click of a finger without knowing the first thing about programming. What began by revolutionising the business world is already beginning to have an impact on the city. Millennials no longer buy CDs, for example, because the money spent on the average cost of a CD can go towards a monthly subscription that provides access to a whole digital library that grows daily and makes it faster and easier to search for any song, by any artist, anywhere in the world. That is: access to services is quickly gaining ground on ownership. This paradigm shift can also be seen in shared-economy platforms like Uber and Airbnb, which gain millions of new users weekly, and cities have not been quick enough to adapt their legislation accordingly.

“I also think you have to consider global trends in the direction of, as I said earlier, app based media consumption”

Disney CEO Bob Iger:

I also think you have to consider global trends in the direction of, as I said earlier, app based media consumption, over direct-to-consumer OTT services, which gives us the ability to improve our fortunes in terms of how we monetize the great IP and the strong brands that we have, whether it’s in increased advertising revenue, whether it’s in the, basically the value creation proposition of knowing the consumer better and mining data more effectively; whether it’s in basically creating stronger bonds or stronger brand affinity.

We’ve got this unbelievably passionate base of Disney consumers worldwide, and virtually all of our businesses except theme parks, we’ve never had the opportunity to even connect with them directly and know who they are. And it’s high-time that we got into the business, particularly with the technology available to us, to accomplish that.

Once we do, and this gives us the ability to do it, then I think the monetization possibilities are extraordinary for this company. There will be some sacrifices. Obviously, as you move product from, I’ll call it, a licensed to third-party model to a self-distributed model, you’re foregoing the licensing revenue that you’ll get for whatever revenues you generate by all the things that I just described.

We believe that ultimately, I can’t give you an idea of when or how long, the profitability, the revenue-generating capability of this initiative is substantially greater than the business models that we’re currently being served by.

Disney moves to drive their own platform.

You Are the Product

John Lanchester:

At the end of June, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook had hit a new level: two billion monthly active users. That number, the company’s preferred ‘metric’ when measuring its own size, means two billion different people used Facebook in the preceding month. It is hard to grasp just how extraordinary that is. Bear in mind that thefacebook – its original name – was launched exclusively for Harvard students in 2004. No human enterprise, no new technology or utility or service, has ever been adopted so widely so quickly. The speed of uptake far exceeds that of the internet itself, let alone ancient technologies such as television or cinema or radio.
 
 Also amazing: as Facebook has grown, its users’ reliance on it has also grown. The increase in numbers is not, as one might expect, accompanied by a lower level of engagement. More does not mean worse – or worse, at least, from Facebook’s point of view. On the contrary. In the far distant days of October 2012, when Facebook hit one billion users, 55 per cent of them were using it every day. At two billion, 66 per cent are. Its user base is growing at 18 per cent a year – which you’d have thought impossible for a business already so enormous. Facebook’s biggest rival for logged-in users is YouTube, owned by its deadly rival Alphabet (the company formerly known as Google), in second place with 1.5 billion monthly users. Three of the next four biggest apps, or services, or whatever one wants to call them, are WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram, with 1.2 billion, 1.2 billion, and 700 million users respectively (the Chinese app WeChat is the other one, with 889 million). Those three entities have something in common: they are all owned by Facebook. No wonder the company is the fifth most valuable in the world, with a market capitalisation of $445 billion.

Majority of US based teens have iPhones, and it’s only trending upwards. Yes, really.

Giuseppe Stuto

The Piper Jaffrey data shows how commanding iPhones are in today’s smartphone landscape for teens. This is in line with our various surveying here at Fam, in which we have approximated over the past year that 75% of US teens use iPhones. In terms of why this may be the case, there are several factors to consider: design, iTunes, network effects, and of course what we believe to be the most important one, iMessage.
 
 By no means am I commenting on what device is better, more powerful, better looking, or any of that. Simply laying the groundwork for this thesis at large.
 
 iMessage IS a social platform for teens. It’s currently the center of their immediate, social universe.
 
 Another thing that is far too often over looked is what iMessage actually is to teens. Given the trend over the past several years with the rise of various messaging apps, e.g. WhatsApp, Messenger, Snapchat, Kik, most people now glance over traditional SMS as being much of a social experience, and understandably so. The only problem is many people consciously / subconsciously view iMessage as synonymous to traditional SMS. I can see why this is the case — after all, iMessage is a pre-installed platform on every single iPhone so obviously it will naturally have a ton of engagement. But it being pre-installed should not be a reason to discount it, especially when taking into account the level of saturation within the Gen-Z demographic and its dynamic user experience to date (relative to traditional SMS). Of course this is more of a subjective premise, however, after first hand observing how teens use iMessage over the past few years it is clear that they treat it as much more than a basic text message delivery service. It’s the center of their mobile social life, whether they themselves realize that or not.

Another cheng / chi sighting

Chet Richards:

This time in the wild battlefields of strawberry development:
 
 Bjorn, the company’s president, says, “Consumers have to be more satisfied, or what we call more delighted, all the time.” Produce companies tend to be driven by supply: what they grow, they try to sell. Driscoll’s, conversely, sees itself as a consumer-products company. According to Bjorn, “We create the demand …”
 The company is Driscoll’s “a fourth-generation family business, says that it controls roughly a third of the six-billion-dollar U.S. berry market, including sixty per cent of organic strawberries, forty-six per cent of blackberries, fourteen per cent of blueberries, and just about every raspberry you don’t pick yourself.”
 
 Produce is war, and it is won by having something beautiful-looking to sell at Costco when the competition has only cat-faced uglies.
 In other words, they meet customer expectations for flavor and appearance (that would be cheng) but then figure out how to add something special and unexpected — something that delights (the chi). This could be a new variety as a result of their high powered R&D effort, or perhaps a tinkering of a currently seasonal variety to make it available year round, in 49 countries. The result, as the man said, and as it usually is: “We create the demand.” The Steve Jobs of Strawberries?
 
 

The Global Liveability Report 2017

The Economist Intelligence Unit :

Although the most liveable cities in the world remain largely unchanged, there has been movement within the top tier of liveability. Of the 65 cities with scores of 80 or more, six have seen a change in score in the past 12 months. While most cities in the top tier have registered an improvement in their scores, two of them, Manchester in the UK and Stockholm in Sweden, have seen their scores decline as a result of recent, high-profile terrorist attacks.

Over the past few years several US cities have registered declines in their scores. This stems in part from unrest related to a number of deaths of black people at the hands of police officers. In addition, the country has seen protests held in response to President Trump’s policies and executive orders.
Sydney in Australia is another city that has seen a decline in its ranking, reflecting growing concerns over possible terror attacks in the past three years. Sydney now ranks outside the top ten most liveable cities, at number 11, down from seventh place just over a year ago. Nevertheless, with such high scores
already in place, the impact of these declines has not been enough to push any city into a lower tier of liveability. Although 17.2 percentage points separate Melbourne in first place from Warsaw in 65th place, all cities in this tier can lay claim to being on an equal footing in terms of presenting few, if any, challenges to residents’ lifestyles.

Apple Has Triggered This Major Phenomenon That Is Preventing Many Malls From Dying

Michelle Lodge:

Apple users head to their local mall’s Apple Store, owned by Apple Inc. (AAPL) , with their iPhone or laptop in tow for service or to take a course.
 
 Then while waiting for repairs or on the way in or out of the mall, they may stop at a Nordstrom (JWN) and drop $300 on a shirt or look at a loveseat at a Brookstone for about $200.
 
 The mall trip could also mean picking up makeup at MAC, owned by Estee Lauder Companies Inc (EL) , or maybe even dinner at P.F. Chang’s. $Ka-ching, $ka-ching, $ka-ching.
 
 Apple Stores turn out to be very good neighbors, and have become the new mall anchor store, a role once held by department stores, because they draw lots of foot traffic, which also benefits the smaller stores.
 
 In the U.S., there are roughly about 140 million customers with iPhones, estimated Gene Munster, a partner in Loup Ventures in an interview with TheStreet, and those millions usually need to go to a bricks-and-mortar store for service.

A Journey to the New Heart of Urbanization in China

Brendan Ahern and Grant DePoyster

The sun was just rising when my colleague, Mark Schlarbaum, and I left our hotel to visit the outskirts of Beijing. We headed out on a three-hour drive from the Central Business District to an area that most Beijing natives would have historically never had reason to visit.
 
 Our destination is the site of China’s next megacity, the Xiong’an New Area, which was announced by the Chinese government on April 1, 20171. Xiong’an is located about 170 km (106 miles) southwest of Beijing by car. The area is being built to help stimulate economic growth in Northern China and combat overcrowding in Beijing2. It consists of mostly agricultural land today but is expected to eventually become a city covering more than 2000 square kilometers3. To put this in perspective, that’s almost three times the geographic size of New York City4.

Highlights of the US Mobile Market Q2 2017

Chetan Sharma:

After a brutal first quarter, the US wireless market recovered a bit in Q2 with positive revenue growth though service revenue declined again.
 
 Q1 saw the first ever decline in US mobile data services revenue. In Q2, the operators saw a return to the positive territory. Verizon recovered.
 
 US mobile data revenues eclipsed the 80% mark for the first time. US became the second nation after Japan to do so.
 
 Smartphone penetration went past 90%.
 IoT and Cars accounted for 71% of the net-adds for the quarter.
 
 Ecosystem has been trying to find the next big merger but efforts haven’t borne any fruits yet.
 While the operators struggled to maintain growth, the overall wireless market is expected to grow 18% in 2017 thanks to the continued explosion on the 4th Wave by new digital players.

“Surveillance is now the business model of the Internet. Companies make money spying on you,

Liz Reid

But critics say there’s a catch.
 
 “Surveillance is now the business model of the Internet. Companies make money spying on you,” says Bruce Schneier, an Internet security expert and the chief technology officer at IBM’s cybersecurity arm. “When the app says I can detect when you’re out of paper towels, they’re not doing it for your best interest. They’re doing it because they want to sell you paper towels.”
 
 Schneier pointed to Roomba, the little automated vacuum from iRobot. The company’s CEO said last month that the device could soon start mapping your home, raising concerns that that data could be sold for a profit. The company swiftly clarified that it would collect and share data only if customers consented.
 
 Despite Its Promise, The Internet Of Things Remains Vulnerable
 ALL TECH CONSIDERED
 Despite Its Promise, The Internet Of Things Remains Vulnerable
 But on top of the issue of surveillance, Schneier says makers of Internet of things devices just aren’t prioritizing security.
 
 “We’re building a world-size robot without even realizing it,” he says.

Here’s What Goldman Is Telling Big Money Clients About Bitcoin

Camila Russo

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is acknowledging that it’s getting harder for institutional investors to ignore the cryptocurrency market with total assets ballooning to $120 billion and bitcoin soaring more than 200 percent this year.
 
 “Whether or not you believe in the merit of investing in cryptocurrencies (you know who you are), real dollars are at work here and warrant watching,” analysts including Robert Boroujerdi and Jessica Binder Graham wrote in a Q&A sent to clients.

The End of Typing: The Next Billion Mobile Users Will Rely on Video and Voice

Eric Bellman:

The internet’s global expansion is entering a new phase, and it looks decidedly unlike the last one.
 
 Instead of typing searches and emails, a wave of newcomers—“the next billion,” the tech industry calls them—is avoiding text, using voice activation and communicating with images. They are a swath of the world’s less-educated, online for the first time thanks to low-end smartphones, cheap data plans and intuitive apps that let them.

How Asos gets 58 percent of customers to buy on mobile

Hilary Milne:

“Our number one priority is: We need to build experiences that capitalize on mobile,” said Rich Jones, Asos’s head of product and UX. “We’re designing experiences that are essentially right for the customers’ devices because their entire lives are here. How do we make sure our experience matches that?”
 
 It helps that the majority of Asos’s traffic and conversions are happening there. Globally, 70 percent of traffic and 58 percent of purchases happen on mobile. In the U.K., where Asos is headquartered, those figures creep up, to 80 percent and 70 percent for traffic and conversions, respectively.
 
 Jones said that when figuring out how to improve the mobile app, the technology team turns to customer pain points and figures out how to solve them. One of Asos’s strengths is its vast inventory of 85,000 products from 200 brands, and it’s resonating with customers. In its latest earnings report for the third quarter of 2017, retail sales were up 32 percent, to $859 million, putting it on track to hit $103 million in profits for the year. For their most recent results, Asos outpaced competitors like Zara, where sales rose 17 percent, and H&M, which saw a 9 percent sales bump.
 
 But while scrolling through endless product pages is suitable for desktop, such a dense assortment is difficult to digest on mobile, a problem Jones and his team set out to fix.

Is LIBOR, Crucial Financial Benchmark, a Lie?

Matt Taibbi:

The admission comes by way of Andrew Bailey, head of Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority. He said recently (emphasis mine):
 “The absence of active underlying markets raises a serious question about the sustainability of the LIBOR benchmarks. If an active market does not exist, how can even the best run benchmark measure it?”
 
 As a few Wall Street analysts have quietly noted in the weeks since those comments, an “absence of underlying markets” is a fancy way of saying that LIBOR has not been based on real trading activity, which is a fancy way of saying that LIBOR is bullshit.
 
 LIBOR is generally understood as a measure of market confidence. If LIBOR rates are high, it means bankers are nervous about the future and charging a lot to lend. If rates are low, worries are fewer and borrowing is cheaper.
 
 It therefore makes sense in theory to use LIBOR as a benchmark for borrowing rates on car loans or mortgages or even credit cards. But that’s only true if LIBOR is actually measuring something.
 
 Here’s how it’s supposed to work. Every morning at 11 a.m. London time, twenty of the world’s biggest banks tell a committee in London how much they estimate they’d have to pay to borrow cash unsecured from other banks.
 
 The committee takes all 20 submissions, throws out the highest and lowest four numbers, and then averages out the remaining 12 to create LIBOR rates.
 
 Theoretically, a fine system. Measuring how scared banks are to lend to each other should be a good way to gauge market stability. Except for one thing: banks haven’t been lending to each other for decades.
 
 Up through the Eighties and early Nineties, as global banks grew bigger and had greater demand for dollars, trading between banks was heavy. That robust interbank lending market was why LIBOR became such a popular benchmark in the first place.
 
 But beginning in the mid-nineties, banks began to discover that other markets provided easier and cheaper sources of funding, like the commercial paper or treasury repurchase markets. Trading between banks fell off.
 
 Ironically, as trading between banks declined, the use of LIBOR as a benchmark for mortgages, credit cards, swaps, etc. skyrocketed. So as LIBOR reflected reality less and less, it became more and more ubiquitous, burying itself, tick-like, into the core of the financial system.

But it will soon involve the heart of Google’s business: surveillance capitalism

Jonathan Taplin

The effects of the darker side of tech culture reach well beyond the Valley. It starts with an unwillingness to control fake news and pervasive sexism that no doubt contributes to the gender pay gap. But it will soon involve the heart of Google’s business: surveillance capitalism. The trope that “if you are not paying for it, you aren’t the customer — you’re the product” has been around for a while. But now the European Union has passed the General Data Protection Regulation, which will go into effect next May. This regulation aims to give people more control over their data, so search engines can’t follow them everywhere they roam online. It will be an arrow to the heart of Google’s business.
 
 We have an obligation to care about the values of the people who run Google, because we’ve given Google enormous control over our lives and the lives of our children. As the former Google design ethicist Tristan Harris points out, “Without realizing the implications, a handful of tech leaders at Google and Facebook have built the most pervasive, centralized systems for steering human attention that has ever existed, while enabling skilled actors (addictive apps, bots, foreign governments) to hijack our attention for manipulative ends.”
 
 The future implications of a couple of companies’ having such deep influence on our attention and our behavior are only beginning to be felt. The rise of artificial intelligence combined with Google’s omnipresence in our lives is an issue that is not well understood by politicians or regulators.

Leaving town at rush hour? Here’s how far you’re likely to get from America’s largest cities.

Sahil Chinoy:

Using billions of anonymous measurements from cell phones and vehicle sensors, Here Technologies, a location platform company, calculates how traffic conditions change throughout the day, said Alex Gordy, director of the company’s product management for traffic. That information can be used to predict how far you can get if you depart at rush hour versus later at night.
 
 In Boston, you can drive a full 20 miles farther if you leave at 10 p.m. than if you leave at rush hour. Twenty miles might not seem like much, but in tightly packed New England, it’s the difference between being stuck in Massachusetts or escaping to neighboring Rhode Island or New Hampshire.
 
 Compare that to Houston — a city with more than three times as many people as Boston — where you can travel almost 50 miles in one hour no matter what time you depart.

Madison Named Top City for Tech Talent Growth, Ranking #1 on CBRE’s Annual List of Tech Momentum Markets

Cal Owings

Madison ranked #1 on CBRE’s list of tech talent momentum markets, a measurement of the change in tech job growth, as part of its fifth annual Scoring Tech Talent Report. Aided by the presence of large universities, the report also found Madison has the highest concentration of millennials compared to other tech cities, accounting for 26.5 percent of the urban population.
 
 The report, which can be viewed in detail by market in the interactive Tech Talent Analyzer, finds that tech job growth gained momentum in 28 of the 50 markets. This means job creation grew faster in the past two years (2015-2016) compared with the prior two-year period (2013-2014). Madison’s tech talent pool grew 30.2 percent from 2015 to 2016, an increase of 24.8 percentage points compared to the previous two years.

The Fate of Online Trust in the Next Decade

Lee Rainie and :

Many experts say lack of trust will not be a barrier to increased public reliance on the internet. Those who are hopeful that trust will grow expect technical and regulatory change will combat users’ concerns about security and privacy. Those who have doubts about progress say people are inured to risk, addicted to convenience and will not be offered alternatives to online interaction. Some expect the very nature of trust will change.
 
 Moreover, the rise of the internet and social media has enabled entirely new kinds of relationships and communities in which trust must be negotiated with others whom users do not see, with faraway enterprises, under circumstances that are not wholly familiar, in a world exploding with information of uncertain provenance used by actors employing ever-proliferating strategies to capture users’ attention. In addition, the internet serves as a conduit for the public’s privacy to be compromised through surveillance and cyberattacks and additional techniques for them to fall victim to scams and bad actors.
 
 If that were not challenging enough, the emergence of trust-jarring digital interactions has also coincided with a sharp decline in trust for major institutions, such as government (and Congress and the presidency), the news media, public schools, the church and banks.
 
 The question arises, then: What will happen to online trust in the coming decade? In summer 2016, Pew Research Center and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center conducted a large canvassing of technologists, scholars, practitioners, strategic thinkers and other leaders, asking them to react to this framing of the issue:

BHP positions itself at centre of electric-car battery market

Jamie Smyth:

For more than a century, Western Australia has yielded a lucrative bounty for gold and iron ore miners. Now, a battery revolution driven by the transition to electric vehicles and energy storage systems is creating a rush to exploit its reserves of lithium, cobalt and nickel.
 
 On Wednesday BHP Billiton joined the party, revealing plans to transform itself into the world’s biggest suppliers of nickel sulphate — a key component in lithium-ion batteries that power electric cars.
 
 BHP is spending $43m on a new facility to produce 100,000 tonnes of sulphate per year and aims to start output by April 2019.

How much is a Keller Williams Agent Worth?

Keller Williams recently announced a “$1 billion” technology fund to “combat disruptive technologies”.

Disruption might be over-hyped in the real estate industry, but Redfin’s valuation and investment into real estate technology should give brokerages pause about their future.

Keller Williams announced a $1 billion fund to help protect the franchisor against potential industry disruption.

(Josh) Team announced that Keller Williams is taking steps to protect the agent and the brokerage, setting aside $1 billion for technology development in the near future and encouraging others in the industry — franchise-based and independent brokers alike — to follow their lead by working to elevate real estate agents.

Founder Gary Keller and CEO John Davis “realized that the next 12 to 18 months will be the most important months in real estate,” Team told Inman. “That was a soul-defining moment where they said, ‘We can’t let money be a deterrent.’ So they’ve committed a fund so that if and when we need to accelerate and make aggressive moves, money isn’t a factor.”
Disruption is real?

The home sale pie isn’t getting bigger, but there are more companies today that want to take a bigger slice of that pie.

Team mentioned Redfin’s IPO (initial public offering) and noted how the company’s stock rose. “Redfin’s valuation has shown that the market thinks they have a chance,” he explained.

In other words, investors think there’s an opportunity to close that gap in real estate — and they’re willing to put money down to back a potential winner.

“The only way our industry stays protected is if the other big franchises and brokers enter the platform wars,” Team told Inman. “If they don’t get involved, then all these non-traditional players will — and that’s not good for the industry.”

A February, 2017 press release noted that Keller Williams’ franchises include “more than 800 offices and 154,000 associates”…

Presumably, a “$1B” disruption protection fund seeks to monetize their associates. Is a KW associate worth $6,493 (simple math $1B/154,000)?

More or less depending on the projected multiples of that “$1B” fund?

Related:
Commentary on Redfin’s Public Market Valuation and Long Term Prospects
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A case in point for skeptics is the experience of ZipRealty, a maker of a real estate technology platform that went public in 2004 and peaked at about a $500 million market capitalization before selling to Realogy for $166 million in 2014 after the housing crisis hit home sales nationwide.

“What happened to ZipRealty is a pretty good indication of what the future looks like for a business model that sounds new, disruptive and sexy, but always loses money, year after year,” said Patrick Carlisle, an executive at Paragon Real Estate Group, an independent real estate brokerage in San Francisco not backed by venture capital.

Redfin plans to use cash from its IPO to fuel growth in its existing markets. Nationwide, it controls slightly more than a half-percent of home sales, it said in its IPO prospectus. Even in Seattle, Redfin’s biggest market, the company only has about a 4% to 5% market share of housing units sold, according to industry estimates. Redfin has higher costs than similar firms because it employs brokers full time rather than having them work on commission. The company tries to use that model to offer cheaper commissions to home sellers.

Commentary on Redfin’s Public Market Valuation and Long Term Prospects

Cory Weinberg::

A case in point for skeptics is the experience of ZipRealty, a maker of a real estate technology platform that went public in 2004 and peaked at about a $500 million market capitalization before selling to Realogy for $166 million in 2014 after the housing crisis hit home sales nationwide.

“What happened to ZipRealty is a pretty good indication of what the future looks like for a business model that sounds new, disruptive and sexy, but always loses money, year after year,” said Patrick Carlisle, an executive at Paragon Real Estate Group, an independent real estate brokerage in San Francisco not backed by venture capital.

Redfin plans to use cash from its IPO to fuel growth in its existing markets. Nationwide, it controls slightly more than a half-percent of home sales, it said in its IPO prospectus. Even in Seattle, Redfin’s biggest market, the company only has about a 4% to 5% market share of housing units sold, according to industry estimates. Redfin has higher costs than similar firms because it employs brokers full time rather than having them work on commission. The company tries to use that model to offer cheaper commissions to home sellers.

Glenn Kelman, Redfin’s CEO, acknowledges that growth isn’t as quick and profitable as pure software businesses. But he said his company benefits from tech investors getting interested in businesses like physical retail and automotive. “Investors are just seeing Amazon, Tesla, Google, every major internet company investing in real-world operations for more durable growth,” he said.

What Music Do Americans Love the Most? 50 Detailed Fan Maps

Josh Katz:

YouTube has become a dominant force in the music industry in the last few years, particularly among younger people. With the help of YouTube’s geocoded streaming data, we set out to map the contours of music fandom and culture in the United States.
 
 Of the artists on the Billboard Top 100 this spring, we looked at the 50 that were most watched on YouTube in the United States between January 2016 and April 2017. Each map shows relative popularity in different parts of the country. If one part of a map is lighter, it doesn’t mean people there weren’t watching the artist’s videos; it just means fans were more likely to listen to a variety of other artists.
 
 See the complete set of fan maps below, listed in order of YouTube views in our data.

In 2017, a majority of these highest-traffic digital-native news outlets (61%) have apps for at least one of the two main mobile platforms (iOS and Android).

Pew Research:
 

Mobile advertising revenue’s rapid growth is estimated to have continued in 2016, increasing from about $32 billion in 2015 to nearly $47 billion. Desktop advertising revenue, on the other hand, continued to decline in 2016, while mobile advertising revenue comprised 65% of all digital advertising revenue.

YouTube 8:38 Public key cryptography – Diffie-Hellman Key Exchange

Art of the Problem
 
 Video

Real estate tech company aims to replace agents with robots, data

Maura McDermott:

A real estate technology company that aims to lower the cost of home-selling by using robots and “big data” instead of commission-based real estate agents has opened a Long Island office — its first outside of California.

REX Real Estate Exchange, which charges a selling commission of 2 percent instead of the usual 5 percent to 6 percent, launched its Long Island operation last week, when it started operating out of a co-working space at RXR Plaza in Uniondale. The Los Angeles-based company expects to start listing New York-area homes on its website, rexchange.com, later this week.

Traditional real estate fees “are just crazy high compared with every other industry in the United States,” said Jack Ryan, Rex’s chief executive and a former partner at Goldman Sachs. Decades ago, investment brokerages charged 12 cents a share for stock trades, but now they charge less than a penny, he said. By lowering real estate fees, he said, his company is “doing the same thing with residential real estate.”

Buyers typically start their search online, he said, “but at the end of the day, most people are still relying on the value a real estate agent provides.”

The company does not list homes on services such as the MLS. Instead, Ryan said, it uses ads and listings on websites such as Zillow.

“You used to really need a traditional agent to buy a home or sell a home,” Starck said. But now, he said, “there’s an unprecedented amount of information available . . . I really do think this is going to be the company to change the industry.”

Apple’s Upcoming Safari Changes Will Shake Up Ad Tech

Auren Hoffman:

In September, Apple will release new changes to Safari with iOS 11 called “Intelligent Tracking Prevention.” These changes will have large effects on the ad tech industry and create new winners and losers.
 
 In short, the iOS 11 changes will really help the big guys, are neutral to the small guys and significantly hurt the mid-size guys.
 
 A Recap
 
 Today, all Safari browsers essentially block third-party cookies that are dropped by domains other than the domain of the URL to which the user browsed. But the browsers reward first-party cookies with lots of privileges. This has been good for well-known sites, but also for large ad networks that get lots of clicks because a click gets routed through the ad network domain and becomes a first-party cookie.
 
 IOS 11 will change the concept of a “first-party cookie.” The new first-party cookie comes with a ticking clock. In the first 24 hours, the cookie acts exactly like it used to – and can be used for retargeting. So, if you go to jetblue.com and search for a beach vacation, you can be retargeted for that beach vacation for exactly 24 hours. It is just like Jack Bauer racing against the clock before the world explodes.
 
 For the first 30 days, the new first-party cookie lets you login on-site so you don’t have the annoyance of re-entering your password if you go back to the site 15 days later.
 
 If you have not gotten back to the site in 30 days, your first-party cookie expires.

Newest home buyers: the generation known for not owning stuff

Schuyler Velasco

After three years in a one-bedroom apartment, Heatherington bought his split-level three-bedroom, two-bath home east of downtown Atlanta for $109,000 in July of last year. “I had the goal to buy within one year, but I wasn’t able to save anything,” he says.
 
 He managed to scrape together a 5 percent down payment, thanks to a promotion at his job doing quality control at a call center, and cutting back on spending. His monthly mortgage is now $750.
 
 “It makes me feel like a grownup,” says Heatherington. “I like the fact that it’s mine, it’s quiet, and that the dog has space to roam around. But in terms of drawbacks, now I’m responsible for repairs and I’m still learning the different noises the house makes.”

Busting the Myth of Successful CEOs

By Bryan Borzykowski 4 August 2017

Myth 5: CEOs should have a top-tier education
 Another myth is that you need to graduate from Harvard or Oxford to become a successful CEO. In fact, only 7% of the high-performing CEOs that The Genome Project studies had an Ivy League undergraduate education, while 8% didn’t even graduate from university.
 
 Only 7% of the high-performing CEOs in the studies had an Ivy League undergraduate education
 
 Jill Wight, a principal at private equity company The Carlyle Group, has hired many CEOs for the companies her firm invests in and agrees that a degree from a top school doesn’t by itself determine performance. “Strong intellectual horsepower” is a pre-requisite for success, she says, not the school you came from. “The presence of a degree is positive, but the absence of one isn’t by itself a negative,” she says.
 
 A degree from a top school is even less of an issue in the UK, says Ryan, where social class, not intelligence, would typically determine who went to the best universities. People know that where you graduate from doesn’t reflect how smart or savvy you may be.
 
 “It’s never a given in the UK that just because you have a certain level of intelligence that you would follow a particular route into higher education,” she says. “There a lot of other factors that determine where people go.”

The Mortgage Interest Deduction Is Pure Rent Seeking So End It

Jeffrey Dorfman

Note that those who are winning from the current policy are mostly securing those wins at the expense of some unidentified losers. The additional allocation of spending on homes and mortgage payments means less money is being spent on other forms of consumption (restaurants, vacations, cars, etc.). More expensive houses don’t mean a larger economy because those higher home prices represent a reallocation of spending, not economic growth. That is the textbook definition of rent-seeking: activity designed simply to capture a bigger share of the pie rather than making the pie bigger.
 
 If the mortgage interest deduction is eliminated those harmed will be the people no longer benefitting from a government-encouraged misallocation of resources to the housing sector plus all current homeowners. Homeowners were little effected by the policy while they were both buying and selling houses at artificially inflated prices, and would be similarly held harmless once a new policy was in place and fully established, but there is a transition problem—what economists call an adjustment cost. Anyone unlucky enough to own a house when the policy is changed, even if they don’t have a mortgage or don’t itemize their deductions, will be harmed because they bought at the higher prices encouraged by the tax break and will eventually sell at the lower prices that result from ending the deduction.

The war between Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple.

Will Chang:

Vail built AT&T’s network as a public service to improve the lives of its customers. Yet, AT&T eventually used its monopolistic advantages to tax customers without adding value. A public company must report to shareholders who care about short-term profit. It’s structurally impossible for Vail’s successors to have a founder’s idealism and authority to ignore their demands.
 
 Though Zuckerberg and Amazon’s Bezos are still on their thrones, the founders of Apple and Google have passed on their scepters. The FCC is repealing net neutrality. Our Four Pharaohs will utterly control your Nile while you build their pyramids. Could the Internet be closed and predatory in the next 10 years?

For decades, Western culture touted self-esteem. It got the most important thing wrong


Melody Wilding:
The key to cracking the confidence may lie in tackling those uncomfortable emotions head on, as entrepreneur Steph Crowder did live on her podcast. She candidly shared how a recent bad review from a listener had blindsided her, ruining her day. But how she handled it made all the difference.
 
 A lot of people might be tempted to follow the conventional wisdom “fake it till you make it” and try to cover up her reaction with false positivity. However, research shows that keeping up appearances is stressful—and can actively undermine well-being. Instead, Steph took her listeners through the process of listening to bad feedback and learning from it. Studies show people who deal effectively with their emotions in this way, an active coping skill called emotional regulation, have higher resilience and greater self-esteem. Steph’s example illustrates the face that the only way to build self-worth is through behavior. You have to put yourself in difficult situations, so that you can learn how to survive them.
 Do the work
 
 We would all do better if we understood, as Mindy Kaling has put it, that confidence isn’t something that ought to come to us naturally. Rather, as she writes in her book Why Not Me?, “confidence is like respect: it’s something you have to earn.” Kaling recalls:

Facebook: Your Face Belongs to Us

Jared Bennett::

When Chicago resident Carlo Licata joined Facebook in 2009, he did what the 390 million other users of the world’s largest social network had already done: He posted photos of himself and friends, tagging the images with names.

But what Licata, now 34, didn’t know was that every time he was tagged, Facebook stored his digitized face in its growing database.

Angered this was done without his knowledge, Licata sued Facebook in 2015 as part of a class action lawsuit filed in Illinois state court accusing the company of violating a one-of-a-kind Illinois law that prohibits collection of biometric data without permission. The suit is ongoing.

Facebook denied the charges, arguing the law doesn’t apply to it. But behind the scenes, the social network giant is working feverishly to prevent other states from enacting a law like the one in Illinois.

Since the suit was filed, Facebook has stepped up its state lobbying, according to records and interviews with lawmakers. But rather than wading into policy fights itself, Facebook has turned to lower-profile trade groups such as the Internet Association, based in Washington, D.C., and the Illinois-based trade association CompTIA to head off bills that would give users more control over how their likenesses are used or whom they can be sold to.

The Evolution of Trust

ncase:

During World War I, peace broke out.
 
 It was Christmas 1914 on the Western Front.
 Despite strict orders not to chillax with the enemy, British and German soldiers left their trenches, crossed No Man’s Land,
 and gathered to bury their dead, exchange gifts, and play games.
 
 Meanwhile: it’s 2017, the West has been at peace for decades, and wow, we suck at trust. Surveys show that, over the past forty years, fewer and fewer people say they trust each other. So here’s our puzzle:
 

Motorola’s Huckfeldt: Facebook Didn’t ‘Move The Needle’ In Re-Launch Campaign

Larissa Faw:

Motorola, along with agency partners Ogilvy and Motomentum, a custom Publicis Media shop, is shifting the Moto Z campaign strategy away from social and digital media.
 
 “We spent quite a lot on Facebook last year,” says Jan Huckfeldt, VP, global marketing & communications, Motorola, adding the social network even touted the partnership’s success as a case study in an earnings call.
 
 However, Motorola discovered that this strategy didn’t “move the needle overall,” he says. “We were disappointed it did not grow enough.”
 
 The Moto Z campaign is part of a re-launch effort by Motorola and parent Lenovo that re-introduced the iconic catchphrase “Hello Moto” and aligned with social media influencers.
 
 “When we launched for the first time, we were only distributed in Verizon which is only 35% of the distribution channel,” says Huckfeldt. “So we said, ‘Let’s be as targeted as possible'” by targeting the “low-hanging fruit” of Android users.

How Rent the Runway is pulling off deliveries at the speed of Amazon

Hilary Milnes:

“This isn’t Rent the Runway comparing itself to Amazon out of the blue,” said Nicole Ferry, the executive director of strategy at the marketing agency Sullivan. “They’re responding to a clear shift in customer behavior and expectations, and to grow, they need to be more relevant.”
 
 Rent the Runway saw in its internal data that the window between when customers booked orders and when they wanted them delivered was narrowing. In Rent the Runway’s five retail stores, customers are taking advantage of last-minute orders already: according to the company, 30 percent of store orders are made to be worn that day.
 
 Hyman hopes that the convenience of same-day delivery could replace a trip to Zara or one of its fast-fashion counterpoints, where customers flock for quick, trendy closet pick-me-ups.

Rent the runway’s iOS app.

Google told to come clean on how it tracks what you buy offline

Liam Tung:

Privacy rights group the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) will file a legal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission over a system Google is using to link web activity with in-store card purchases.
 
 The complaint concerns Google’s new Store Sales Measurement program, which aims to demonstrate to advertisers that clicks online do lead to purchases at the register.
 
 According to The Washington Post, EPIC wants Google to be more transparent about what data on credit and debit card purchases it’s accessing, how it’s getting the information, and what encryption it’s using to ensure user data remains anonymous.
 
 Announcing the system in May, Google said third-party partnerships allow it to capture 70 percent of all payment card transactions in the US. The system matches transactions back to Google ads, which Google said was done in a “secure and privacy-safe way”. It also reports aggregated and anonymized store sales data to advertisers.

Elizabeth Dwoskin, Craig Timberg::

The Washington Post detailed Google’s program, Store Sales Measurement, in May. Executives have hailed it as a “revolutionary” breakthrough in advertisers’ abilities to track consumer behavior. The company said that, for the first time, it would be able to prove, with a high degree of confidence, that clicks on online ads led to purchases at the cash register of physical stores.

To do this, Google said it had obtained access to the credit and debit card records of 70 percent of U.S. consumers. It had then developed a mathematical formula that would anonymize and encrypt the transaction data, and then automatically match the transactions to the millions of U.S. users of Google and Google-owned services such as Gmail, search, YouTube and maps. This approach prevents Google from accessing the credit or debit card data for individuals.

But the company did not disclose the mathematical formula it uses to protect consumers’ data. In a statement, Google said it had taken pains to build custom encryption technology that ensures the data the company receives remains private and anonymous.

It is easy to expose users’ secret web habits, say researchers

Mark Ward

The data analysed by the pair connected a list of sites and links visited to a customer identifier. However, he said, by drawing on public information that people share about their browsing habits, it became possible to connect that entry on a list to an individual.
 
 “With only a few domains you can quickly drill down into the data to just a few users,” he said.
 
 The public information included links people shared via Twitter, YouTube videos they reported watching, news articles they passed on via social media or when they posted online photos of items they bought or places they visited.
 In many cases, he said, it was even easier to de-anonymise because the clickstreams contained links to people’s personal social media admin pages which directly revealed their identity.
 
 “The public information available about users is growing so it’s getting easier to find the information to do the de-anonymisation,” he said. “It’s very, very difficult to de-anonymise it even if you have the intention to do so

Self-driving cars will affect everything you know

Anika Patel

These were just a few drops in an ocean of secondary effects that came to be when we massively adopted the first feasible cars. When most people were able to afford a car, society went through an evolution.
 
 And while AVs will be more of a socioeconomic revolution rather than an evolution, we could still see a lot of secondary effects in the decades to come. An example includes changes in the workforce — taxi drivers, certain car mechanics, and traffic officers will no longer be professions.
 But here are three less obvious areas that I think will experience secondary effects when we massively adopt AVs:
 
 Land and Property Use
 
 Advertising
 
 Retail

P&G Dumps on Digital Advertising

Bob Hoffman:

They announced that they had cut over $100 million in online ads from their 3rd quarter spending. According to The Wall Street Journal this …”had little impact on its business, proving that those digital ads were largely ineffective.”
 
 “Chief Executive David Taylor said in an interview that the digital spending cuts are part of a bigger push by the company to more quickly halt spending on items…that aren’t working.”
 
 Referring to the problem of fraud in online advertising, P&G finance chief Jon Moeller said one of the reasons for the cut in online advertising was “…we were serving (ads to) bots as opposed to human beings.”
 One of the lessons here is that no one knows how much bot fraud there is. Agencies keep giving their clients reports on how “fraud-free” their advertising is. It’s all bullshit. If P&G can’t get fraud-free advertising, do you really think you can?
 Despite the hysterical appetite for online advertising on the part of the marketing community, I still remain highly skeptical about its effectiveness for brand marketers. In fact, I’m getting more skeptical by the day.

Chinese Fintechs Use Big Data To Give Credit Scores To The ‘Unscorable’

Rebecca Feng:

The remaining 75% is the battleground Chinese fintech companies are racing toward. They say that with big data they can provide alternative credit scores to the unscorable. More-established contenders include China Rapid Finance and CreditEase, and Yongqianbao has joined the fray. The winning strategy, they say, is twofold–targeting the right potential borrowers and developing the best data model to provide customized loans to each loan applicant.
 
 That the Chinese have leapfrogged a generation of consumer finance is clear. With spending increasing, credit card use per capita actually declined from 0.34 in 2014 to 0.29 at the end of 2015, according to People’s Bank of China. In that same year, however, mobile payment users grew 65%. By last May, Alibaba’s Alipay surpassed cash and become the most frequently used form of payment. According to FT Confidential Research, 80% of Chinese consumers in first-tier cities have used Alipay while 79% have used cash. For the whole year, $5.5 trillion third-party mobile payments were completed in China.

The digital native is a myth The younger generation uses technology in the same ways as older people — and is no better at multitasking.

Nature:

Some people put the cut-off at 1984, but for most it is 1980. People born after that date are the digital natives; those born before are digital immigrants, doomed to be forever strangers in a computer-based strange land.
 
 The generational difference between the groups goes beyond their numbers of Facebook friends and Twitter followers: it can also help to explain differences in how they buy insurance. At least, that’s according to a report released this week for the insurance industry. Targeting Millennials with Insurance explains that young people aren’t like those who came before and queued passively for cover. They “prioritize holidays”, for one, which might surprise some of them. Because they are digital natives, they “will favor technologically innovative insurance policies”.

Buzzfeed built a viral hit machine with its Tasty recipe videos. The next logical step? Selling the stovetop.

Mark Wilson:

BuzzFeed, a digital media company, is making appliances. Maybe it’s not as crazy as it sounds. After all, as Buzzfeed’s video-based food publication, Tasty has an almost unfathomable scale, with 107 million active users who see its videos across sites and social media channels each month. The One Top is designed to tap into that ready-made market.
 
 The Bluetooth-connected induction cooktop–whose electric burner uses magnetism to warm the pan instead of heat coils or flame–connects straight into a database of hyper-viral Tasty recipes, helping home cooks follow the site’s instructions more precisely. With a temperature sensitive plate and a connected thermometer probe, the One Top should be able to tell users when it’s time to flip the chicken in the skillet, or pull the pasta from the water. Meanwhile, an accompanying app breaks Tasty’s videos into step-by-step GIFs, which demonstrate the methodology of cooking and offer push notifications when it’s time to take the next step.

Steve Bannon Wants Facebook and Google Regulated Like Utilities

Ryan Grim:

TECH COMPANIES LIKE Facebook and Google that have become essential elements of 21st-century life should be regulated as utilities, top White House adviser Steve Bannon has argued, according to three people who’ve spoken to him about the issue.
 
 Bannon’s push for treating essential tech platforms as utilities pre-dates the Democratic “Better Deal” that was released this week. “Better Deal,” the branding for Democrats’ political objectives, included planks aimed at breaking up monopolies in a variety of sectors, suggesting that anti-monopoly politics is on the rise on both the right and left.
 
 Bannon’s basic argument, as he has outlined it to people who’ve spoken with him, is that Facebook and Google have become effectively a necessity in contemporary life. Indeed, there may be something about an online social network or a search engine that lends itself to becoming a natural monopoly, much like a cable company, a water and sewer system, or a railroad. The sources recounted the conversations on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to give the accounts on record, and could face repercussions for doing so.

What we learned analyzing 100 million headlines

Steve Rayson:

It is difficult to overstate the importance of headlines. A good headline can entice and engage your audience to click, to read, and to share your content. In many cases headlines are the thing that is shared rather than the article. So you knew that. But do you know what makes an engaging headline?
 
 To help answer this question we analyzed 100 million article headlines. We have set out below our findings from the research including the:
 
 Headline phrases that drive most engagement on Facebook
 
 Worst performing headline phrases on Facebook
 
 Most effective phrases that start or end headlines
 
 Optimum number of words and characters to use in a headline
 
 Most impactful numbers to use in headlines
 
 Most engaging Twitter headline phrases
 
 Differences between B2C and B2B headlines
 
 While there is no magic formula for creating a viral or popular headline, there are many lessons we can learn to improve our content engagement. We shared our findings with a number of content experts to reflect on the implications of the research for writers. We have included their expert thoughts and advice at the end of this post. We have also included a section on how you can analyze headlines yourself using BuzzSumo.