Monthly Archives: April 2016

Faraday Future’s business partner wants to dominate Silicon Valley

SAN JOSE, California – A giant Chinese media conglomerate has landed in Silicon Valley.

LeEco, the company that’s partnered with electric-car startup Faraday Future, just opened its new US headquarters in San Jose, California.

Close to 300 employees occupy the building now, with capacity for up to 800, LeEco executives said at a ribbon-cutting event on Thursday.

LeEco plans to use its new real estate to further development its many next-generation technologies, which include virtual-reality hardware and smartphones.

The company – founded in 2004 as LeTV before changing its name – has cultivated a vast profile in Beijing, pushing everything from televisions to cloud-computing services and bicycles. It also distributes a broad platform of entertainment and sports content.

The company’s multiple businesses have earned it an oft-heard moniker, “the Netflix of China,” but a more accurate description might be “the Apple of China,” since LeEco focuses so heavily on internet-driven hardware and software.

And, like Apple, LeEco is embarking on an ambitious electric-car project.

Keeping true to the company’s internet-first maxim, LeEco debuted a handful of new smartphones and virtual-reality hardware – and its LeSee electric-car concept – on Facebook Live last week.

Comparisons to Apple likely wouldn’t flatter CEO Jia Yueting, who called the iPhone maker “outdated” in an interview with CNBC this week.

And if you think that Tesla is another giant that LeEco wants to emulate, then you might be wrong there, too. Jia told Reuters on Monday that “We hope to surpass Tesla and lead the industry leapfrogging to a new age.”

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LeEco executives and officials with the city of San Jose pose during the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the company’s new US headquarters on April 28.
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Bryan Logan/Business Insider

More recently, the company announced its inaugural move into automobiles. LeEco’s electric-vehicle project is one that’s close to Jia, who longs to reverse the effects of industrial pollution currently plaguing China’s skies.

“When was the last time we saw a blue sky with white clouds?” Jia once asked, while talking about his vision for China’s pollution-free electric future.

In addition to its partnership with Faraday Future, LeEco is also brainstorming electric vehicles with luxury automaker Aston Martin.

The company pops up in the tech capital of the world at a time when other giants like Google, Apple, and Microsoft shift to next-generation technologies in virtual reality and artificial intelligence. Google and Apple are developing some form of transportation on their own.

Google is nearly a decade into its self-driving car project, and Apple is rumored to be developing some sort of vehicle platform as well.

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A scale model of the Faraday Future FFZero1 concept race car at LeEco’s San Jose headquarters.
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Bryan Logan/Business Insider

A number of legacy automakers also have second homes in Silicon Valley – primarily for research and development around plug-in and autonomous technologies. Honda opened its research office last year. Toyota, GM, and Ford also live here. Tesla is a massive presence here with its Fremont, California, auto factory where the Model S and Model X – and soon the Model 3 – are built.

Faraday Future, another startup focusing on electric, autonomous vehicles, has offices in the San Francisco Bay Area and in Southern California. FF is personally backed by LeEco’s CEO, and his company is one of FF’s strategic partners.

Not long after LeEco christened its new San Jose home on Thursday, it was reported that the company is in talks to buy Yahoo’s old land nearby.

The mostly unused real estate is capable of housing up to 3 million square feet of research and development space.

Video appears to show the moment a Syrian hospital was destroyed by an airstrike

A video obtained by Channel 4 news appears to show the moment al-Quds hospital in the Syrian city of Aleppo was destroyed in an airstrike, killing 55 civilians and wounding many more.

The hospital, which was supported by Doctors Without Borders, was bombed on Thursday, as a fragile ceasefire crumbled and the city erupted in a new wave of violence that has killed at least 250 people over the past nine days. The US and others have pointed the finger of blame at the Syrian government for the attack.

Business Insider cannot independently verify the authenticity of the video. But it purports to show the final moments of Dr. Mohammad Moaz, the hospital’s only pediatrician, as he leaves the facility’s intensive-care unit.

The man shown leaving the unit does appear to be Dr. Moaz, whose photo was released on Facebook by the hospital’s director in a tribute to the 36-year-old pediatrician after he was killed.

The new government offensive on Aleppo, believed to have been months in the making, has resulted in a catastrophic deterioration” of the city over the past three days, said Jan Egeland, the chairman of the UN humanitarian task force for Syria.

US Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Geneva on Sunday to discuss the war’s escalation with his Saudi and Jordanian counterparts. He will also meet with the UN’s envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, in an attempt to get the two-month-old cessation-of-hostilities agreement back on track.

There are suddenly tons of Italian cars for sale in the United States — here they all are

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Two Ferrari F12 TDFs. Woof.
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Ferrari Facebook

“The next wave of Italians has come to America,” a 2010 commercialfor the Fiat 500 proclaimed.

Brightly-colored examples of the itty-bitty city car slid around typical Italian alleyways paved with cobblestones and then … dove suddenly into the sea, to then emerge from the depths on the beaches of Brooklyn.

Jump forward a few years, and we now have more Italian cars in the US than at any time in recent memory.

After they retreated from North America 27 years ago – plagued by a reputation for unreliability – Fiat is solidly back, now offering three models of the 500 and many variations of each. The 124 Spyder roadster will become available to customers later this year.

Maserati, though never truly absent from the United States, began a trek out of near-obscurity with the Quattroporte sedan over a decade ago, then added the Ghibli sedan in 2013. Soon to join the lineup is the beautiful Alfieri sports car and a long-rumored SUV, called the Levante

For the driving enthusiast, there is Alfa Romeo – another brand exiled from the US for more than 20 years. They brought us the exciting 4C in 2014. That car will be joined by the drop-top 4C Spyder and the 505 horsepower Giulia sedan.

And then, of course, there are the supercars.

Some say the most beautiful cars in the world come from Italy. Here’s a list of reasons why.


The car that started it all: the Fiat 500. With 101 horsepower, you may look good, but you won’t be in any hurry. We recommend the tuned-up Abarth trim.

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Fiat

The Fiat 500L. Yes, the Pope has one.


The slightly larger 500x messes with the original concept even more. It’s a BIG tiny car.

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Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

Bringing a little Italian flair to the beloved Mazda MX-5 on which it is based, the Fiat 124 Spyder looks like the best of both worlds: an Italian roadster with Japanese engineering.

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Fiat

And in Abarth trim, the 124 Spyder drips with Italian motoring heritage.

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Hollis Johnson

Having only returned to the USA a few years ago, the Alfa Romeo 4C bantamweight sports car is built purely for driving pleasure.

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Alfa Romeo

And now the roof comes off, thanks to the 4C Spyder.

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Courtesy of Alfa Romeo

Later this year, the Alfa Romeo Giulia will become on of the best-looking sedans available in the US. Watch out, BMW and Audi!

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Alfa Romeo

Here’s the $70,000 Maserati Ghibli, built to compete with the range of medium-sized German sedans, like the Mercedes E-Class. It slots just below …

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Getty

… the sixth-generation Maserati Quattroporte. After 53 years, the car still holds the record for the least original name in the entire automotive industry: “four door.” Of course, it sounds much better in Italian.

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Maserati

Maserati now makes the Levante SUV, which made its first US appearance at the New York Auto Show this year.

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Hollis Johnson

And the current king of the lineup is the Gran Turismo — but not for long.

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Maserati

Because the $100,000 Alfieri will be here soon. Here’s the concept car.

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Maserati

And now for the real fireworks. From the folks who invented the supercar, you can have the V10 Lamborghini Huracan …

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Newspress

… or the V12 Lamborghini Aventador. Tough choice, we know.

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Lamborghini

Upstart supercar maker Pagani has been challenging industry greats since it was formed in 1992. Here’s their Huayra.

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Newspressusa

And then there’s the Zonda and its many variants. This is the absolutely bonkers Pagani Zonda Revolucion.

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Pagani

But of course, there is really only one top dog in the world of Italian supercars: Ferrari. This is the 700-horsepower F12 Berlinetta.

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Alex Davies / Business Insider

The F12 TDF is an even more powerful version.

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Ferrari

The California T is a more reserved grand touring car.

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Ferrari

…and the 4-seat Ferrari FF is the first-ever 4-wheel drive Ferrari. Meaning you can squeeze your kids in the back and do a little off roading — prancing-stallion style.

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Ferrari

The FF has just been replaced by the GTC/4 Lusso.

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Ferrari

This is the Ferrari 458 Speciale, the last of the 458 line, now that …

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Ferrari

… the turbocharged 488 GTB and …

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REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

… 488 Spyder are here. These bring turbocharging to Ferrari’s legendary V8 mid-engine layout.


And no, you can’t actually own the very exclusive and very sold-out LaFerrari. But here’s a picture of one anyway.

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Flickr/Ben

Apple’s long iPad nightmare might be coming to an end

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REUTERS/Jim Urquhart

For nearly three years, iPad sales have been falling on a quarterly basis, a disappointing run for a device repeatedly held up as the “future of computing.”

It was no different this past quarter. Apple said it only sold 10.2 million iPads, down from 19% from the year-ago quarter’s 12.62 million in sales.

But iPad sales actually significantly outperformed Wall Street expectations last quarter. And during a call to discuss Apple’s results, CEO Tim Cook sounded optimistic that iPad sales have bottomed out:

We continue to be very optimistic on the iPad business. And as I had said in my remarks, we believe we’re going to have the best compare for iPad revenue this quarter that we have had in quite some time. And so we’ll report back in July on that one.

The Wall Street Journal’s Daisuke Wakabayashi tweeted that Cook suggested to him that iPad revenue is “near a bottom,” but probably won’t rise this upcoming quarter.

Is the enterprise strategy working?

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BI Intelligence

But what’s prompting this change in tone? Apple may finally be seeing its strategy to sell iPads in large numbers to businesses start to bear fruit.

In the past two years, Apple has rebranded its two most expensive iPads as “pro” versions, with business-friendly features like keyboard cases, and signed a deal with IBM to develop business-specific software and sell iPads to corporate customers.

Apple’s even gone so far as to sign a deal with MLB to promote the iPad Pro in big-league dugouts.

Analyst Patrick Moorhead at Moor Insights thinks Cook’s confidence means he expects upcoming commercial demand for the iPad, because consumer demand is “a crap-shoot.”

“If Cook had confidence on an improvement, it would have to be on commercial applications, not consumer. Consumers are extending their replacement times on tablets from 3 to 4 years, maybe even 5 years,” Moorhead wrote in an email to Business Insider. “Therefore forecasting here is difficult.”

Commercial applications for iPads include, for example, the fancy cash registers at artisanal coffee shops and kiosks at hospitals.

According to an IDC estimate released on Thursday, Apple still captures about 26% of the total tablet market. But iPad sales have been shrinking faster than the overall market. If that changes later this year, that probably means there will be a lot more people toting around company-issued iPads.

Warren Buffett thinks this is Berkshire Hathaway’s biggest problem

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Warren Buffett, chairman of the board and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, speaks in Gaston Hall at Georgetown University, September 19, 2013 in Washington, DC.
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Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Berkshire Hathaway has been a successful company, to put it mildly.

Over the years Warren Buffett’s and Charlie Munger’s firm has had a bit of a golden touch, but that may also be its downfall according to its CEO.

“Size is the enemy of performance,” said Buffett at the company’s annual meting Saturday.

Said another way, the biggest danger for the company, according to Buffett, is too much success.

Earlier in the day, Buffett remarked on the company’s recent propensity to acquire firms that require a lot of capital expenditures to run. Early in his career, Buffett was a staunch advocate of only investing in companies that didn’t have a lot of fixed costs, but that has since changed.

“It’s part of the problems of prosperity,” said Buffett. “We’d love to buy a company for $10 or $20 or $30 billion that is not capital intensive. And we may. But that is harder.”

Recently, Berkshire purchased capital intensive businesses such as Precision Castparts, which makes airplane parts, and BNSF, a railroad giant.

The upshot here is that as Berkshire has grown so too has its cash pile, eventually forcing the company to make bigger acquisitions and Buffett to stick to investments in ever-bigger companies.

Also on the topic of capital allocation, Buffett and Munger decried the growing number of share repurchases being executed across the corporate landscape.

And Buffett noted that he only likes to do purchases of Berkshire shares at 1.2x book value.

But Buffett did say this “trigger” could be moved up he found the company with so much cash and so few opportunities that repurchasing shares at a higher level was the best use of this cash.

22 Mother’s Day gifts under $50

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FunctionPottery / Etsy

Moms truly are the best.

You can always splurge a little bit on Mother’s Day – but you also don’t have to break the bank to show her how much you care. You can rarely go wrong with a heartfelt card or homemade meal.

But just in case you want something to wrap, we found 22 gifts under $50 that will make her smile.


Give her the gift of a green thumb

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Etsy

No window box? No problem. Mom can grow her own herbs with this indoor garden planting kit.

Price: $5.80 per pot


Keep bits and bobs safe with a tiny ring dish

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Etsy

It might be made for rings, but there’s no rule that it can’t hold earrings, necklaces, or keys.

Price: $10


Help her unwind after a long day with floral bath tea

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Etsy

Because all moms deserve a relaxing bath at the end of the day.

Price: $13


Let her sample a variety of beauty products with a subscription to Birchbox

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Birchbox

A subscription to Birchbox will get her a monthly package of beauty supplies, including makeup, perfume, hair products, and skin creams.

Each month, the products vary – if she finds a favorite, you have next year’s Mother’s Day gift in the bag.

Price: $30 for three months


Perk up her outfit with a fun scarf

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Etsy

It’s fashion forward and will keep her warm.

Price: $14.99


Say it again with a ‘Best momma ever’ mug

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Etsy

Tie your gift together nicely by including an herbal tea set or a bag of her favorite coffee grounds.

Price: $15


Add charm to her kitchen with French-inspired appetizer plates

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Sur La Table

They’re perfect for mom’s homemade sides and small bites.

Price: $17.49


Keep organized with a fun city tote

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West Elm

Just in time for a weekend in the sun.

Price: $20


Keep her trinkets organized with nesting boxes

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West Elm

The perfect place to show off her favorite bits and bobs.

Price: $22


Dress up any corner with a ceramic planter

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Etsy

Place some pebbles in the bottom of the planter and fill it with her favorite greenery.

Price: $26 (and yellow planter shown above)


Make her life easier with a tablet cutting board stand

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Amazon

It’ll keep her recipes propped up and add a decorative touch to her kitchen.

Price: $26.70


Pamper her on the go with scented hand creams

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L’Occitane

Because who doesn’t love a decadent hand cream?

Price: $28


Put her favorite pictures on a custom iPhone case

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Shutterfly

You can create a grid like the one in the picture, or print fewer, bigger photos in different patterns.

Price: $31.99


Bring priceless moments back to life with photo prints

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Social Print Studio

Social Print Studio makes it easy to get your best Instagram photos printed and framed in a snap.

Alternatively, you can print your favorite picture with mom at CVS or any other drugstore and shop for the perfect frame online or at stores like Target, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls.

Price: $35


Energize her day with a Chemex coffee maker

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Williams-Sonoma

Chemex coffee is the trendiest way to drink a cup of joe these days. She can brew for company … or just for herself.

Price: $36.95 – $45.95


Give her a personalized necklace with her kids’ initials

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Amazon

What do moms never tire of doing? Talking about their kids.

This gold initial necklace from Efy Tal Jewelry will go with anything (and if you have Amazon Prime, you won’t even pay for shipping).

Price: $39.95


Treat her to a night on the town

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Shutterstock

Let mom not have to worry about putting dinner on the table for once.

Treat her to an evening out or send a gift card to her go-to restaurant.

Price: Varies


Surprise her with flowers on any occasion

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The Bouqs

You can’t go wrong with a fresh bouquet of flowers. Contact a local florist or order from fresh flower delivery company The Bouqs, which offers lush bouquets starting at $50 (“Bourdeaux” arrangement shown).

Price: Varies


Spice up her living room with a fashionable candle

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Bloomingdale’s

Fashion forward and functional.

Price: $40


Help her reach her fitness goals with a Fitbit Zip

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Fitbit

It’ll be perfect for tracking power walks.

Price: $47.99


Encourage her favorite hobby with an elegant pastry board

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Sur La Table

Moms make the best sweets, don’t they? This marble board will be perfect for her delicate pastries.

Price: $49.95


Treat her to a manicure and pedicure

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REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

She’s earned it.

Price: Varies (find gift cards at Spafinder)

An unusual type of protein snack is after the hearts and wallets of average Americans

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Epic Bar

Meat bars are everywhere.

Companies from enormous chocolate makers to healthy-food startups are investing big on these protein-heavy snacks – despite how bizarre they sound.

Hershey is launching Krave dried meat protein bars in August, with flavors like blueberry barbecue beef after acquiring the jerky brand last year. General Mills acquired meat bar industry leader, Epic Bar, in January. Startups like Kratos, Omnibar, and Caveman Foods are debuting meaty bars of their own, which are taking off not only in specialty stores, but also at mainstream retail giants like Whole Foods and Costco.

The power of protein

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Caveman Foods Buffalo Style Jerky
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Caveman Foods

The rise of the new snack is rooted in a wider movement towards protein-rich on-the-go options.

American consumers are moving away from many of the diet staples that previously dominated the portfolios of companies like General Mills and Hershey. Growth of chocolate sales in the US has slowed each year since 2010, reports the Wall Street Journal, while cereal sales dropped 5% from 2009 to 2014.

Meanwhile, protein is hotter than ever. In 2006, 39% of the US population said they sought out foods that are high in protein, according to theNational Marketing Institute. By 2014, 53% were seeking high-protein options.

Companies across the food industry have tried to tap into the high-protein trend. Fast-food chains began testing high-protein offerings, such asMcDonald’s Greek yogurt and Taco Bell’s high-protein Cantina Power Bowl. Kraft debuted “Portable Protein Packs” in 2014. Before purchasing Epic Bar, General Mills attempted to profit off of the trend – withoutnecessarily following through on the nutrition– with its launch of Cheerios Protein.

“The food industry is evolving rapidly these days, and I think that’s largely driven by millennials who are much more demanding in terms of authenticity in terms of genuinely better-for-you ingredients,” says Chris Running, founder of Caveman Foods.

Why meat?

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Caveman Foods Primal Bar.
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Caveman Foods

Still, the question remains: Why would someone choose to eat dried meat smushed together into a bar when there are so many other high-protein options on the market?

One reason is that many consumers believe that meat is as all-natural as you can get when you’re seeking protein.

“I was personally inspired to develop a sort of new protein bars – how we refer to our Chicken Primal Bars – because I was just frankly disgusted by some of these other protein bars on the market that were sort of just candy bars,” says Running, who was influenced by the paleo diet to put meat front-and-center in Caveman Foods.

Lean meat options, such as chicken, remain some of American’s favorite sources for healthy protein, especiallyamong millennial consumers.

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Epic Bar

The rise of the paleo diet has encouraged the trend, as the so-called “caveman diet” encourages the consumption of lean meat and vegetables and discourages eating grains, legumes, and seed oils. Paleo-centric blogs recommend meat bars such as Epic, saying the bars are some of the best snacks around, especially for customers who are on a “more strict paleo” diet than others.

“Oddly enough, the roots of Epic were planted shortly after Katie and I became vegetarians,” writes Epic Bar co-founders Katie Forrest and Taylor Collins on the company website. “Unable to maximize our own vigor and wellness, we looked for answers in the whole foods consumed by our human ancestors. Within a week of adopting, what is now called, the ‘paleo diet’ which emphasizes healthy animal fats, grass fed protein, and leafy vegetables, our bodies and minds radiated with exuberance.”

How the average American got on board

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Epic Bar

Perhaps the most surprising part of the movement that has brought about the era of meat bars is that these snacks aren’t just for athletes on bizarre diets. These bars are geared towards the average, semi-active consumer – and, so far, they’re selling.

“It’s an audience that’s interested in learning more about paleo… but I don’t think it’s an audience that’s necessarily 100% paleo,” says Running, who reports Costco sales of Caveman Foods products increased 199% in the Northwest compared to the same period last year. “Our audience is, by and large, one that is trying to find good-for-you products to incorporate into their daily lifestyle.”

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Omnibar

While Krave meat protein bars haven’t hit the market yet, the brand is similarly anti-elitist when it comes to its customer base. From the beginning, the company has aimed to attract the “non-jerky user,” focusing on female customers and others who would see the treat as an all-natural snack, not a gas station staple.

Health trends, like Paleo-inspired and high-protein diets, have gone from something only elite athletes and fitness buffs would consider to part of the mainstream nutrition conversation. Endless health blogs and popular meal-prep Instagram accounts have made wellness and nutrition aspirational – a lifestyle that people can envision themselves achieving.

While consumers are increasingly interested in wellness, most people don’t have time or energy to commit to intensive diets like the hyper-committed paleo plan.

When you combine intense interest in apparently nutritious, high-protein snacks with consumers’ need for convenience, you end up with customers craving meat bars.

“We know we’re not going to go backwards and start eating Twinkies,” says Running. Instead, he and others in the industry are banking on the fact we’re all going to be eating meat bars – in well-labeled packaging that brags about protein and all-natural ingredients.

11 classic novels that will make you a better leader

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Some of the most valuable insights into the heart of leadership don’t come from the business aisle.
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Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

When we think about “leadership books,” we tend to think about non-fiction titles like “Talent Is Overrated,” “High Output Management,” or the perennial favorite, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”

But according to Scotty McLennan, a lecturer in political economy at Stanford Graduate School of Business and the school’s former dean of religious life, limiting ourselves to manuals and biographies and case studies means we’re missing something big.

Some of the most valuable insights into the heart of leadership don’t come from the business aisle, he says. They come from the literary classics.

Unlike traditional business books, literature allows you access to the inner lives of its characters.

“You see them not only in their work environment, and in decision-making moments, but in their larger life,” McLennan explains in a video produced by Stanford GBS. Literature can “show you reality in a way that case studies and biographies and other things that are supposedly about reality can’t touch,” he says. He even teaches a course on the topic for MBA students: “The Business World: Moral and Spiritual Inquiry through Literature.”

Here is what might be the most thought-provoking – and most beautiful – business reading list of all time, according to McLennan.

Rachel Sugar contributed to an earlier version of this article.


‘The Great Gatsby,’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Scribners

“The Great Gatsby,” which McLennan calls an “American dream” book, tells the story of a Midwestern farm boy who was driven to succeed by the love for his lost love, Daisy.

“What’s so great about Gatsby is his idealism, his dreams, his green light in the distance, which set him apart and make him greater than the rest,” McLennan said during a 2014 sermon at Stanford.

“We can learn from him how life can be transformed, by pitching one’s life above the day-to-day practicality, above the desire for security, above the drive for power. I don’t think that many of us can live at Gatsby’s level of idealism very much of the time,” he says. “But of course Fitzgerald’s book challenges us to an idealism beyond Gatsby’s, by pointing up so poignantly the limitations of his ideals.”

Find it here »


‘Siddhartha,’ by Hermann Hesse

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Amazon

Another of McLennan’s favorite literary lessons in work-life balance and living well? Hermann Hesse’s “Siddhartha.”

The novel follows a man who is struggling to “combine business and spirituality,” McLennan explained in a (different) interview with Insights’ Deborah Petersen this past winter. “He becomes a rich merchant who is at first unattached to material success, concentrating on putting his customers first and acting ethically with all stakeholders. But then he becomes covetous, succumbs to the ‘soul sickness of the rich,’ and becomes not only mean-spirited but also suicidal.”

Eventually, he finds something like balance ferrying travelers across a river, “providing spiritual mentoring to some, but finding that most people simply want good transportation services.”

Find it here »


‘The Stranger’ (or ‘The Plague,’ or ‘The Fall’), by Albert Camus

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Amazon

Every now and then, McLennan recommends turning to the existentialists.

“Books like ‘The Stranger’ or ‘The Plague’ or ‘The Fall'” – all by Albert Camus – are “pretty powerful ways of clearing the deck,” he says in the video.

Temporarily shelving questions of spirituality and religion, these books probe at something even more basic: What is the meaning of life, if there is any meaning at all?

Find it here »


‘Zuckerman Bound,’ a trilogy by Philip Roth

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Amazon

Literary critic Harold Bloom said the trilogy – which follows Roth’s fictional alter ego, Nathan Zuckerman – “merits something reasonably close to the highest level of aesthetic praise for tragicomedy.” That’s one reason to read it.

But that’s not the only reason the books appear on McLennan’s list. In a 2013 sermon at Stanford, he called ‘The Ghostwriter’ – the first of the three novels in question – a “wonderful illustration of the importance of balancing personal ambition with social awareness – of balancing individualism with community responsibility.”

Find it here »


‘The Remains of the Day,’ by Kazuo Ishiguro

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Amazon

McLennan points to Ishiguro’s “The Remains of the Day” as a helpful study of the difference between East and West.

And he’s not the only one. The novel, which follows an elderly butler so profoundly devoted to his profession he’s blinded himself to the rest of the world around him, is regularly referenced in writing about leadership and ethics (like here, and here, and here).

Find it here »


‘Death of A Salesman,’ by Arthur Miller

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Amazon

Also included in what McLennan calls the “American dream” books, this play is a lesson in trust – in oneself and the surrounding world.

As he explains during a 2003 sermon, traveling salesman Willy Loman thought he could singlehandedly control his destiny and that of his family, trying to force himself and his sons into jobs that didn’t fit their nature.

“What if he’d let go, relied on others around him rather than trying to control everything himself, and accepted his own basic nature rather than trying to become someone he wasn’t?” McLennan asks. It’s likely he would have been much more successful.

Find it here »


‘Things Fall Apart’ by Chinua Achebe

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Amazon

Even if you read “Things Fall Apart” – or any of the rest of these – as a high school freshman, McLennan recommends giving it another go.

Because the thing about great literature? “The exact same book looks different every ten years,” he says, and whatever you got at 16 will be different from what you get at 26, 36, or 66.

McLennan recommends the Nigerian classic because it “helps people see the juxtaposition of traditional African society with the imposition of Western religion, military, and business,” Rimby writes.

Find it here »


‘The Last Tycoon,’ by F. Scott Fizgerald

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Amazon

In the video, McLennan raves about Fitzgerald’s final (and unfinished) novel, which offers insight into the always-relevant crisis of work-life balance.

Fitzgerald follows the life of Hollywood mogul Monroe Stahr (based on the real-life film producer Irving Thalberg) – a staggeringly successful business executive who’s thriving in public and flailing in private.

“What we begin to see is the lack of a fully integrated life – somebody who is literally working himself to death, but doing very well,” McLennan says. “And then you need to ask, could he do as well if he had a more balanced life?” (For the record, McLennan says his students seem split on the question.)

Find it here »


‘Jasmine,’ by Bharati Mukherjee

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Amazon

Jasmine tells the story of a young Indian woman’s journey from Florida to New York to Iowa to California in search of the American Dream – and it’s a regular on McLennan’s syllabi.

Talking to Petersen, he outlines the (many) takeaways:

“… how to balance new-world selfishness in personal freedom with old-world selflessness in familial duty; examining whether there is a stable self (or Self) to rely upon in each of us or an ever-changing identity as we change our environments; the foundation of morality in karma, or reaping what one sows; and the struggle between fate and will.”

Find it here »


‘Miramar,’ by Naguib Mahfouz

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Amazon

“Miramar,” which follows a peasant woman named Zohra who escapes her family and finds employment in a small hotel in Alexandria, makes McLennan’s list for its dissection of sexual harassment in the workplace.

But in a 2012 sermon at Stanford, McLennan offered another reading of the text – one with (secular) business implications.

According to him, the book illustrates the tension between enduring values (justice, freedom, and “courage as a virtue”) and things that are ultimately fleeting (among them, the “single-minded pursuit of profit to the exclusion of fundamental human values”).

Find it here »


‘All My Sons,’ by Arthur Miller

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Penguin

According to a 2010 McLenan sermon, we see two characters learn important lessons about where we place our values and the multifaceted nature of people.

American businessman Joe Keller admits to shipping out defective cylinder heads that led to numerous deadly airplane crashes during World War II – and possibly the death of his pilot son, Larry – and says he did it for his son, Chris, who would inherit the business.

“Joe expands his value orientation beyond his own family to think about his nation,” McLennan says. “He understands that not only Larry and Chris are the sons whom he had to care for, but ‘They were all my sons.'”

As a result of his father’s crime, Chris abandons his naive idealism, “sees that the world is not as black and white as he once thought, and he begins to develop a capacity to relate to others as having a mixture of virtue and vice, rather than being uni-dimensional.”

Find it here »

How the free-to-play model captured the mobile gaming market, why it’s proven problematic, and how to fix it

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BI Intelligence

The mobile gaming app industry is quickly growing. Over the past eight years, developers have flocked to create mobile games as smartphones became a mainstream consumer device. Technological evolutions including faster processors, larger screens, more input points, and better overall graphics capabilities, combined with dropping prices, brought the ability for gaming via smartphone to audiences larger than ever before.

In that growth and through that transition, smartphones as a gaming arena experienced its own evolution. More developers flocked to this medium, and the gaming sections of app stores became saturated. While mobile gaming apps using an up-front paid downloading model, wherein consumers paid a typically nominal fee to download an app, flourished in the early days of mobile gaming, the deluge of apps led to a change in monetization strategy. More apps started using the free-to-play (F2P) model, wherein a consumer can download an app for free, and is then later monetized either via in-app purchases or in-app advertising. Since that transition, most consumers have been conditioned to expect quality mobile gaming apps for little or no cost.

In a new report from BI Intelligence, we examine how the mobile gaming market has been affected by the transition to F2P monetization. We also take a close look at how saturation in the mobile gaming category, combined with the standard F2P model, has led to numerous issues for developers, including spiking marketing costs, the premium on acquiring users who will spend heavily within a game (called whales), and the impact that it’s having on mobile gamers who do not spend in-app. The report then identifies innovations in mobile app marketing and engagement that seek to alleviate the issues of F2P and inadequate monetization in the fact of mounting marketing costs.

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

    The mobile gaming app market is so big it makes other app categories seem small by comparison. Mobile gaming apps accounted for 20% of active apps in Apple’s App Store in March 2016, according to AppsFlyer. That’s more than double the second most popular category, business apps. It’s only going to keep growing as quality smartphones become more accessible and more consumers look to their smartphones for gaming. In the US alone, 180.4 million consumers will play games on their mobile phones in 2016, representing 56% of the population and a whopping 70% of all mobile phone users, according to estimates from eMarketer. This quick growth is resulting in numerous growing pains. Saturation in the market has led to the dominance of the free-to-play (F2P) monetization model, which in turn has led to sky-high marketing costs. As marketing costs for mobile gaming apps has skyrocketed, so has the tendency for apps to focus on the very small segment of players who spend money in-app. This has resulted in game mechanics that optimize the amount of money being spent by this small user group, which can often alienate the large swath of users who do not spend money in-app. There are numerous new solutions coming to market that offer developers and publishing houses a diverse selection of monetization models which combine in-app purchases with other methods.

In full, the report:

    Sizes up the current mobile gaming app market and its future growth trajectory. Examines the role of free-to-play (F2P) games in the greater mobile gaming ecosystem. Identifies the major threats and opportunities inherent in the current mobile gaming market and in peripheral markets such as marketing. Explains the current monetization conundrum wherein the vast majority of revenue comes abysmally small segments of mobile gamers. Presents new approaches and solutions that can help mobile gaming apps monetize without alienating swaths of mobile gamers.

Interested in getting the full report? Here are two ways to access it:

Subscribe to an All-Access pass to BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and over 100 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you’ll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. >> Learn More NowPurchase & download the full report from our research store. >> Purchase & Download Now

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BI Intelligence

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Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger just destroyed Valeant at Berkshire’s annual meeting

Warren Buffett is not a fan of Valeant Pharmaceuticals.

And he never was.

At Berkshire Hathaway’s annual meeting on Saturday, Buffett expressed disappointment over the direction of the company and called it a “Wall Street scheme.”

“In my view, the business model of Valeant was enormously flawed,” said Buffett.

Buffett’s partner Charlie Munger, who last year made headlines with comments about the company, also chimed in.

“Valeant, of course, was a sewer,” said Munger, adding that the directors deserve “all the opprobrium they are getting.”

Valeant has had a disastrous six months with scandals involving its practice of purchasing drug companies and then raising the prices on their products, a mess of a financial report tied to shady revenue reporting, and patient assistance programs that are being investigated in multiple states.

All of these problems have led to the removal of the company’s top executive, an investigation by the US Senate, and a 70% decline in the company’s stock price.

Buffett also said that he was approached by multiple people asking if he wanted to in Valeant and urging Buffett to meet former Valeant CEO Michael Pearson. Buffett said he declined to do either of those things, and was wary of the company from the start.

There were also some pointed words about management.

“If you’re looking for a manager you want someone who is intelligent, energetic, and moral,” said Buffett. “But if they don’t have the last one, you don’t want them to have the first two.”

The question also asked about Sequoia Fund, a mutual fund Buffett has been associated with for some time that had accumulated a stake in Valeant. (One of Sequoia’s founders, Bill Ruane, was a Buffett confidant from way back.)

Buffett said that it was unfortunate that Sequoia took such a large position in Valeant, saying the investment firm was “entranced” by Valeant’s business model. Buffett also noted that the manager that selected the investment has since been fired.