Monthly Archives: October 2017

These 5 companies are betting on Ethereum to completely reinvent the back end of the internet

An artist's depiction of how ether could be used in the future, as seen in front of the catering trays at Ethereum SF.

An artist’s depiction of how ether could be used in the future, as seen in front of the catering trays at Ethereum SF.
Becky Peterson/Business Insider

If you ask a room full of blockchain enthusiasts how the technology will affect the internet, the answers range from “a lot” to “more than you can even imagine.”

Such responses were easy to elicit at the Ethereal conference in San Francisco on Friday. The gathering is a a day-long event for the founders, engineers, and enthusiastic users of a blockchain protocol called Ethereum.

Blockchain technology – also known as smart contract, or digital ledger technology – is the digital system behind bitcoin and a number of other unrelated applications. The technology isn’t yet in widespread use, but many experts and enthusiasts believe it will soon become a pervasive new layer of the internet, underlying everything from payments to legal contracts to users’ identities.

Many have pinned their hopes for the future impact of blockchain technologies on Ethereum. The protocol underlies a cryptocurrency called ether, which is bought and sold on many of the same exchanges where bitcoin is traded. But enthusiasts believe its real potential is as a foundation for new tools and services.

Ethereum has some obstacles to overcome before it becomes a world-changer. As of June, the protocol could only handle about 13 transactions per second. That’s far shy of what Visa can handle, much less the giant online networks. Facebook, for example, handles about 175,000 requests each second.

Still, people are routing around Ethereum’s limitations and are already developing unique and interesting projects using or related to the technology.

Here are five of those projects, as explained by the people behind them:

Keeping track of volunteer work and other socially beneficial activities

Anne Connelly, CEO at ixo Foundation
Becky Peterson/Business Insider

Organization: ixo Foundation

What it’s working on: CEO Anne Connelly and her team are developing a blockchain product that lets people log and then verify their volunteer jobs, charitable activities, and socially beneficial work, such as how many trees they planted, or how many hours they tutored a child. Once their activities have been verified in the system, the blockchain record of them can be used to apply for grants and subsidies.

How its system is being used: As a pilot project, ixo worked with UNICEF to build an app called Amply to help teachers in South Africa take attendance. The government there subsidizes preschool for lower-income kids, but the subsidies are based on attendance. Normally, teachers have to take roll on paper and then physically submit their roll sheets, a time-consuming process. The app allowed teachers to quickly and easily take attendance on their mobile phones instead.

The outlook on blockchain technology: “I think it’s going to be massively pervasive in a year or two,” Connelly said. “Typically they say with this level of innovation it takes a lot longer to happen then we expect, but when it does, it’s much more impactful.”

Digitizing the power grid to offer lower cost electricity

Matt Walters, lead architect at GridPlus
Becky Peterson/Business Insider

Company: GridPlus

What it’s building: Lead Architect Matt Walters and his team are developing a virtual energy grid that will sit on top of the national energy system. Once deployed, GridPlus will sell energy to consumers at a small premium to wholesale prices.

The energy will be distributed using tokens – essentially, digital coins – which can be saved or passed to other people if they’re not used. Since tokens are easily divisible, Walters said users will be able to pay in smaller fractions than they can with dollars. For example, a consumer could use her tokens to just pay what it costs to illuminate a single lightbulb for 15 minutes, something that would amount to a small fraction of a cent.

How its system will be used: GridPlus will start off as a retail energy provider in Texas, whosederegulated energy market is easy for companies to enter. The company’s goal is to eventually cover the entire country. It’s also working with Tokyo on a similar project.

The outlook on blockchain technology: “I think all of this will happen in the next two years. It’s not even far out,” Walters said.

“Already we’re seeing that blockchains, especially Ethereum, because of its ability to facilitate these token launches, is providing access to liquid capital for the purpose of building new businesses that far exceeded what existed before, be it in investment banking, venture capital or private equity,” he said.

Helping investors manage their cryptocurrency stashes

Alex Gordon-Brander, chairman and chief technology officer at Omega One
Becky Peterson/Business Insider

Company: Omega One

What it’s building: Chief Technology Officer Alex Gordon-Brander and his team are designing a professional-grade system that will allow investors to trade different kinds of cryptocurrencies through various exchanges in one central place and will show them all of their account balances.

How its system will be used: Omega One is aiming its system at professional traders, investors, and institutions to help them manage their cryptocurrency portfolios.

The outlook on blockchain technology: It will be “five years or 10 years” before it’s in widespread use, said Gordon-Brander.

When you change fundamental things around, like how human beings organize and how human beings change value, that translates to changes in every sector of society,” he said. He added that the kinds of changes that blockchain technology will spur “are, in some ways, as hard to predict as the current internet landscape would have been in 1995 or ’98.”

Creating a new universal ID

Michael Sena, product lead at uPort
Becky Peterson/Business Insider

Company: uPort

What it’s building: Michael Sena and his team are developing a kind of universal identification. At its most basic, it’s just a unique address on the Ethereum protocol. But it’s designed to function a lot like a Google or Facebook ID.

Instead of having to use a unique ID to log into every site or service they access, people would be able to use their uPort ID for each one.

How its system will be used: uPort is aiming its service at blockchain and Ethereum developers who need to a way to authenticate users that is more complex, yet easier to use, than the anonymous serial numbers blockchains typically assign them.

The outlook on blockchain technology: Sena said it will be “a couple of years” before it has a significant impact on consumers.

Helping diversify the blockchain economy

Shira Frank (left) and Raine Revere, co-founders of Maiden
Becky Peterson/Business Insider

Company: Maiden

What it’s building: Co-founders Shira Frank and Raine Revere are developing an organization that’s equal parts consultancy, startup incubator, and training service, all focused on blockchain technology.

How its system will be used: Frank and Revere are focusing on women, people of color, gay people, and members of other marginalized groups. They’re hoping to educate such people about blockchain technology and help them set up their own blockchain-related startups.

The outlook on blockchain technology: “I’m actually of the opinion that blockchain [technology] won’t necessarily be that visible, that it’s actually [an] infrastructural change,” said Revere. She continued: “It will affect consumers more pervasively than they will ever realize.”

Paul Manafort, accused of being an unregistered foreign agent, used ‘bond007’ as his password, experts say

Paul Manafort

Paul Manafort
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

    President Trump’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort is accused of acting as an ‘unregistered agent of a foreign principal” and “conspiracy against the United States,” according to an indictment issued Monday. Manafort led a lavish lifestyle, the indictment says. If it all sounds like something out of a James Bond movie, computer security researchers agree. They even found evidence indicating that Manafort’s used ‘bond007″ as a password.

On Monday, President Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort was indicted by a grand jury, along with two others, including Manafort’s former business associate, Rick Gates. Manafort and Gates have pleaded not guilty.

The indictment stems from Manafort’s and Gate’s business dealings. Manafort is accused of lobbying on behalf of some controversial foreign leaders such as pro-Russian leaders in the Ukraine, and failing to properly register as a foreign agent.

The indictment contains 12 counts including conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading FARA statements, false statements, and seven counts of failure to file reports of foreign bank and financial accounts.

This development comes after months of news stories about Manafort’s alleged business dealings with foreign governments. These stories inspired curiosity in the minds of computer security researchers, reports Motherboard’s Louise Matsakis.

That curiosity caused a couple of security researchers to dig in and discover that Paul Manafort appeared to be fond of the James-Bond-inspired password “bond007”.

Their interest was piqued in February, after Manafort confirmed to Politico that hackers broke into Manafort’s daughter’s iPhone. As Business Insider previously reported, hackers then published roughly 300,000 of what they said were her text messages – about four years’ worth – to the “dark web.” The dark web is a secret version of the internet often used for criminal activity accessible only via a special browser.

Those messages apparently contained Manafort’s former email address, uncovered by a security researcher who goes by the online name Krypt3ia. Another researcher discovered that accounts that used this same email address were compromised in two big security hacks: the 2013 Adobe hack, and the 2012 Dropbox hack.

The password hints for the Adobe account were things like “secret agent” and “James Bond.” Those hints basically allowed the researchers to correctly guess that the password itself was “bond007.” The same Bond-inspired password worked for both the Adobe and Dropbox accounts.

The indictment also alleges that from 2008 to 2014 (a time frame when the password was active), Manafort used offshore accounts to wire over $12 million to fund a luxurious lifestyle, paying for items like Range Rovers, men’s clothing, and to buy $3 million New York City condo rented out on Airbnb.

All of that sounds like a James Bond movie, too.

One of Trump’s first major solutions to the opioid crisis could actually make the problem worse

    President Donald Trump’s opioid commission plans to recommend that drug courts be established in every federal judicial district. Drug courts are meant to divert some defendants with substance abuse disorders into treatment programs rather than prison. But public health experts say drug courts are a harmful way of incorporating the criminal justice system into addiction treatment.

The White House Opioid Commission will recommend on Wednesday that drug courts be established in every federal judicial district in an effort to combat the opioid crisis, according to a draft report obtained by STAT News.

Thousands of drug courts have sprung up across the country since the first was created in 1989, with the goal of diverting certain defendants with drug abuse and addiction issues to treatment, rather than prison. The White House commission’s report, however, found that fewer than one-third of federal judicial districts and just 44% of US counties had drug courts as of 2015.

Drug courts are geared toward criminal defendants arrested on low-level possession charges, or other drug-driven crimes that could carry criminal penalties, Chris Deutsch, communications director for the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, told Business Insider earlier this year.

The push towards drug courts, Deutsch said, is part of a larger movement toward tailored, evidence-based criminal justice programs that serve different populations and needs.

“Rather than entangling someone in the system for a low-level possession, they can be diverted,” Deutsch said. “We need systems in place that – no matter where you are in the system – you are being diverted based on an assessment. There should be an evidence-based program for you.”

Deutsch declined on Tuesday to comment on the White House commission’s draft report before itsformal release.

Drug courts have come under scrutiny by public health experts who say that incorporating the criminal justice system into treatment for a disease such as opioid-use disorder is harmful and can often result in punishing participants by sending them to prison if they relapse, as most people addicted to opioids do.

Many of the cases that come before drug courts shouldn’t touch the criminal justice system at all, according to Mae Quinn, director of the MacArthur Justice Center in St. Louis, a public interest law firm that uses litigation as a tool to provoke criminal justice reform.

“When we try to put a criminal justice overlay over what should be a public health issue, it’s not a good match,” Quinn told Business Insider earlier this year. “We need community-based voluntary options. You shouldn’t have to be arrested to get access to a program.”

Mixing healthcare and criminal justice

A drug user takes a needle before injecting himself with heroin on March 23, 2016 in New London, CT. Communities throughout New England and nationwide are struggling with the unprecedented heroin and opioid pain pill epidemic. On March 15, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), announced guidelines for doctors to reduce the amount of opioid painkillers prescribed nationwide, in an effort to curb the epidemic. The CDC estimates that most new heroin addicts first became hooked on prescription pain medication before graduating to heroin, which is stronger and cheaper.

A drug user takes a needle before injecting himself with heroin on March 23, 2016 in New London, CT. Communities throughout New England and nationwide are struggling with the unprecedented heroin and opioid pain pill epidemic. On March 15, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), announced guidelines for doctors to reduce the amount of opioid painkillers prescribed nationwide, in an effort to curb the epidemic. The CDC estimates that most new heroin addicts first became hooked on prescription pain medication before graduating to heroin, which is stronger and cheaper.
John Moore/Getty Images

Drug courts are also notorious for providing neglectful care to their participants, according to David Patterson, a public health expert at Washington University in St. Louis.

Patterson, who has worked on drug courts in Kentucky and has worked in treatment for more than 15 years, said he has seen drug courts that push participants into signing contracts that bind them to questionable treatment methods such as writing papers, attending boot camps, and various forms of therapy that, in some cases amount, to “pseudoscience.”

Another pitfall is that in the drug court system, judges essentially take on the roles of “clinical treatment directors,” Patterson said, allowing them vast discretion to determine treatment options or jail or prison time, based on participants’ adherence to the court’s rules.

“There is such political branding of drug courts that they are able to treat people however they want to,” Patterson told Business Insider earlier this year.

Andi Peterson, a 26-year-old Utah resident, was one such participant. Peterson told Business Insider last year that she was in and out of drug court for nearly two years after a felony arrest for narcotics possession, where she repeatedly relapsed, was put in jail for months at a time, and eventually faced up to 15 years in state prison.

Peterson said she was unable to stay off opioids in drug court, despite the treatment provided. She eventually was successful while serving a year in prison, after which she was released. She has stayed in recovery since.

Stories like Peterson’s, said Patterson, are what make him wary of drug courts.

“[The court takes] custody of people with a medical illness and they treat them like it’s a criminal issue. That’s malpractice,” Patterson added. “This would never happen to people with cancer, but because they are an addict they get away with it.”

Vivitrol and drug courts

One issue in particular that has sprung up over the last five years has been the proliferation of drug courts that mandate participants use Vivitrol, a monthly injection that blocks opioid receptors in the brain. Though a recent study suggests some success for Vivitrol, most addiction experts recommend maintenance treatments like Suboxone or methadone despite those treatments having some potential for diversion or abuse.

“The #1 recommended treatment across the world is indefinite maintainence treatment on Suboxone or methadone. It’s not controversial except in the minds of people who don’t like science,” Mark Willenbring, a leading addiction psychiatrist who runs Alltyr, a treatment clinic in Minneapolis, told Business Insider last month.

The pharmaceutical company Alkermes, the company behind Vivitrol, drew headlines recently after investigations by ProPublica, The New York Times, and the Associated Press reported how the company grew its business from $30 million in 2015 to $209 million a year later, primarily by marketing Vivitrol directly to hundreds of drug courts, particularly to judges in areas hard-hit by opioids who are wary of maintainence treatment.

It is as yet unclear how or when the federal drug courts would be established or what kind of treatment modality they would use.

Establishing more drug courts was just one of 53 recommendations contained in the commission’s report, according to STAT News. President Donald Trump on October 26 declared the opioid crisis a “national public health emergency” and announced several measures the federal government plans to take to address the issue.

Reporters grill Sarah Huckabee Sanders over John Kelly’s suggestion that the Civil War could have been averted by a ‘compromise’

    The White House had to again address a controversy related to the Civil War. Chief of staff John Kelly told Fox News the Civil War happened because the two sides couldn’t come to a compromise. White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders wouldn’t say whether that compromise was in reference to slavery, and she added that she didn’t think his comments were offensive.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had to address another Civil War-related controversy involving the administration on Tuesday after chief of staff John Kelly suggested the bloody war could have been avoided if both sides came to a compromise.

Sanders was pressed on the subject by multiple reporters who wondered if the compromise that Kelly referenced involved slavery, which the war was fought over.

In an interview with Fox News, Kelly said Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee was “an honorable man” who “gave up his country to fight for his state,” adding that “the lack of an ability to compromise led to civil war.” The comments echoed remarks from President Donald Trump earlier this year, who openly wondered why the war happened in the first place.

In her first response to Kelly’s comments, Sanders said “all of our leaders have flaws” but “that doesn’t diminish their contributions to our country and certainly can’t erase them from history.”

She was further pressed specifically on the “compromise” Kelly was speaking of.

“What is the compromise that they’re talking about?” one reporter asked. “To leave the southern states slave and the northern states free? What is the compromise that could’ve been made?”

Sanders said she wouldn’t “get into debating the Civil War,” but said “many historians” agree “that a failure of compromise was a cause of the Civil War.”

“There are a lot of historians that think that, and there are a lot of different versions of those compromises,” she said. “I am not going to get up here and re-litigate the Civil War, but there are certainly some historical documentation that many people and there’s pretty strong consensus, people from the left and the right and the North and the South that if some individuals engaged had been willing to come to some compromises on different things, then it may not have occurred.”

Sanders was then pushed by another reporter on whether the administration would “at least acknowledge” that Kelly’s comments “are deeply offensive to some folks and historically inaccurate.”

“No,” Sanders said. “Because as I said before, just because you don’t like history doesn’t mean you can erase it and pretend that it didn’t happen. And I think that’s the point that Gen. Kelly was trying to make.”

She also blamed the media.

“I think the fact that … the media continues to want to make this and push that this is some sort of a racially charged and divided White House,” she said. “Frankly, the only people I see stoking political racism right now are the people who are running ads like the one you saw take place in Virginia earlier this week. That’s the type of thing that I think is really a problem.”

The reference was to an ad published by the Latino Victory Project in the Virginia gubernatorial race. The ad depicted a truck with a Confederate flag and a bumper sticker for Republican gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie chasing down a group of multi-cultural children down a suburban street. Trump recently tweeted that Gillespie “might even save our great statues/heritage!,” a clear reference to the controversy over the removal of monuments to the Confederacy and its prominent members.

While Kelly and Sanders both spoke of a possible compromise to avert the war between the Union and Confederacy, a long series of compromises related to slavery were hashed out between the North and South prior to the outbreak of war. Some of those included the Three-Fifths Compromise, the Missouri Compromise, the Compromise of 1850, and the Kansas-Nebraska Act.

The war then broke out after those compromises amid years of tensions between the northern and southern states. It was fought namely over the issues of slavery and whether Western territories being added to the union would enter as “slave” or “free” states, which had a significant effect on the makeup of Congress. The war between the Confederacy and the Union was, to this day, the bloodiest in US history, and led to the abolition of slavery in the US, freeing millions of slaves in the South.

As she was leaving the lectern on Tuesday, another reporter tried to shout questions related to Kelly’s comments.

“Sarah, was slavery wrong?” a reporter asked. “Does this administration believe slavery was wrong?”

Sanders did not respond.

After nearly 40 years, Tony Robbins has boiled performance coaching down to two basic steps

“To influence somebody, you have to know what already influences them,” said Tony Robbins, pictured here with Lively founder Michelle Cordeiro Grant.
Graham Flanagan/Business Insider

    Tony Robbins developed the idea of a “performance coach” in the 1980s.People pay up to $3,000 to attend his seminars.Robbins has a “tool box” of tested approaches he uses to connect with people.

Michelle Cordeiro Grant’s eyes filled with tears.

Her coaching session with Tony Robbins ran past its scheduled 30-minute mark as they moved from advice on marketing strategy and operations to a topic the self-assured entrepreneur was less willing to talk about: the fear that she would have to neglect her two young children for the sake of growing her business, Lively.

The session was typical of working with Robbins: practical advice through the lens of behavioral psychology, wrapped in a dramatic package for maximum impact. This approach is the bedrock of events like “Unleash the Power Within,” a three-and-a-half-day seminar with tickets running from around $650-$3,000. In these seminars, he’ll regularly pick members of the audience to work through issues, primarily for their benefit but with the secondary benefit of the audience.

Robbins has several personal clients who pay him more than $1 million annually for intensive, private coaching, but his impromptu coaching sessions in front of a crowd are what he’s been practicing longest. In September, Business Insider sat in on some of the coaching sessions for the eight winners of Shopify’s Build a Bigger Business contest in Fiji, including his session with Cordeiro Grant.

Over nearly 40 years, Robbins has refined his approach to these sessions. Every session is personalized but includes two basic steps. First, he takes a read on their psychology. Then, he determines which approaches from his “tool kit” to use.

1. He starts with psychological tests.

Before getting to details, Robbins asks questions that will help him determine his subject’s thought process. Before he can focus on an issue to fix, he needs to determine how he’s going to help.

“To influence somebody you have to know what already influences them,” Robbins said. He said he has about 30 or 40 pattern tests that he uses to read people, and gave us a simplified example of one:

He shows someone an image of three identical yellow rectangles arrayed differently around the page and asks his subject how they identify the rectangles in front of them. Robbins then pays attention to whether they initially focus on the shape’s similarities (they share dimensions and color) or differences (they appear in different locations on the paper). If a person is inclined to initially see differences, Robbins may resist when they request his advice. saying that he’s unsure of how to help them. In his experience, he person will usually push back, changing from helpless to motivated and telling him there is definitely a way to fix their problem.

2. It only takes him 10 minutes to settle on which techniques to use.

Robbins sits down with Gymshark founder Ben Francis.

Robbins sits down with Gymshark founder Ben Francis.
Samuella Tofinga for Shopify

When he’s determined a cursory read on their psychology, it’s then time to select a process for working through a problem at hand, whether it’s someone at a seminar asking about a failing romantic relationship or an entrepreneur asking about work-life balance.

“I have so many at this stage, right, that it’s like a giant tool box and I never use all the tools,” Robbins said.

These “tools” can be elaborate, like the one he used with Cordeiro Grant, in which he got her to lower her guard and state what the next step was for her business from the perspective of different personas, like “the warrior,” “the queen,” and “the magician.” He presented it in a playful way, but it got Cordeiro Grant to realize that she was leading so strongly with her aggressive side that she was draining her energy and thus her effectiveness as a leader.

The tools can also be as quick and simple as the one he used with Fanjoy founder Chris Vaccarino, who was struggling with embracing a leadership role. Robbins asked him to hold his hand flat in front of him, and then Robbins pushed against it with his fist. Robbins noted how Vaccarino instinctively resisted Robbins’ force, and used that as a tangible metaphor for how Vaccarino needed to stand up for himself when being harassed by a troublesome client.

The variety of these techniques, as Robbins said, is so that he’s “always engaged and never bored, and it’s exciting and fun. So it’s art. You want to do it a little differently every time a little bit.” In a session, Robbins can sound a lot like a therapist, but with the style of a basketball coach.

When she left her session, Cordeiro Grant told us that she received practical advice around hiring and management to act on, but that the biggest takeaway was just as relevant for life as for business. Robbins helped her realize that she didn’t have to live in a constant frantic state, and could take each win and loss with Lively for what it was “and elegantly move on to the next,” she said. “With that, there’s balance and focus.”

Why the iPhone 8 makes the iPhone X a tougher sell

The iPhone 8 Plus, left, and the iPhone X

The iPhone 8 Plus, left, and the iPhone X
Hollis Johnson

    Despite fears around supply shortages, you can still get the new iPhone X in about 5-6 weeks. iPhone X demand may have been tempered by the bevy of available iPhone options, especially the new iPhone 8. For prospective buyers, it’s difficult to value the price difference between the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, since both phones are so similar under the hood and most people have yet to try the iPhone X.

For months, analysts studying Apple and its supply chain have been saying “good luck finding the iPhone X” when it launches in November. Yet, despite demand for the phone being “off the charts” according to Apple CEO Tim Cook, you can still order an iPhone X right now and get it before the end of 2017.

As of October 31 – four days after pre-orders kicked off – you can expect to receive most iPhone X models in about 5-6 weeks.

We may never know how well the iPhone X is selling is compared to other iPhone models – Apple stopped reporting pre-orders and first-weekend iPhone sales back in 2014 – but it does make one wonder: Is the presence of the new iPhone 8 affecting demand for the also-new iPhone X?

More options than ever before

The iPhone has been around for 10 years now, but Apple has changed a lot in the past decade.

For many years, people had two options when it came to buying an iPhone: Buy the newest model, or buy the prior-year model. This made it a pretty easy pitch to consumers: You can save $100 and get last year’s iPhone, or spend $100 more to get the latest and greatest. And who doesn’t want the latest and greatest?

Now, prospective iPhone customers have a ton of options. As of October 31, you can choose between:

– The iPhone SE, starting at $350

– The iPhone 6S, starting at $450

– The iPhone 6S Plus, starting at $550

– The iPhone 7, starting at $550

– The iPhone 7 Plus, starting at $670

– The iPhone 8, starting at $700

– The iPhone 8 Plus, starting at $800

– And the iPhone X, starting at $1,000

That’s at least eight different iPhone models to choose from, at an array of price points – and the final three iPhones on that list can all be considered “new.”

The iPhone SE has the power of the iPhone 6s, inside the body of an iPhone 5S.

The iPhone SE has the power of the iPhone 6s, inside the body of an iPhone 5S.

Let me be clear: For consumers, this is a very good thing. More choice leads to more competition, which drives down prices, which makes everyone happy. Plus, as we’ve written about many times before, the biggest selling points of these phones versus others tend to boil down to software, and all of these phones run iOS 11 and share many of the same great features.

That said, the multitude of options makes it harder for Apple to entice consumers into buying the “latest and greatest phone,” which it did successfully for many years.

Simply put, nobody needs to bite the bullet anymore. You can own an excellent iPhone this year without shelling out $1,000 for the latest model.

But the presence of the iPhone 8, specifically, seems to make the iPhone X a tougher sell.

iPhone X = increased risk + increased cost

I’m going to break the fourth wall for a minute. I hope you don’t mind.

Over the past month, I’ve written two different stories offering reasons to buy one iPhone model over the other. But there is a clear discrepancy in interest between the two stories.

iphone x 8 cms

Dave Smith/Business Insider

iphone x 8 cms

Dave Smith/Business Insider

Of course, there are various contributing factors at play here – the timing of each article published, for example, and the fact the iPhone X isn’t in the wild just yet. But to me, it shows that people are clearly looking for any reason to save money when it comes to their new iPhone purchase, which makes perfect sense.

My colleague Lauren Lyons Cole recently changed her mind and decided to get the iPhone 8 instead of the iPhone X. Business Insider CEO Henry Blodget agreed with Lauren’s takeaway, saying it “seems like the iPhone 8 Plus is the best option.”

The iPhone 8 and iPhone X are extremely similar phones on paper, but choosing to buy an iPhone X right now means being okay with both increased cost and increased risk.

iPhone X

Hollis Johnson

The iPhone X’s starting price is $200 more than the iPhone 8, so you’d really have to value what that price increase means – and that’s especially hard to do if you’ve never tried the phone before (most people haven’t), and especially true for people who don’t really know what the differentiating features are.

Even if you’re completely aware of the differences between the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, you haven’t tried living with the phone yet. It’s a completely new experience, from the shape of the phone itself to the way you interact with it.

You can watch all the YouTube videos you want; you are essentially taking a risk buying the iPhone X without trying it first.

There's no home button on the iPhone X.

There’s no home button on the iPhone X.
Hollis Johnson

Meanwhile, the iPhone 8 provides a very familiar, almost safe experience. If you’ve owned an iPhone 6, 6S, or 7, you’ll feel right at home with the 8. It’s the same look, shape and feel as those phones, with most of its “new” features – wireless charging, fast charging, and a faster processor – under the hood.

The iPhone 8 provides an easy way out for people looking to get a new iPhone, but are sheepish about the iPhone X.

The iPhone 8 will almost certainly affect iPhone X sales in some way, but to be clear, the takeaway here is not “Apple is doomed.” Far from it: The iPhone business is still extremely strong, and Apple still wins every time someone buys an iPhone, even if it’s not the iPhone X. This may well have been Apple’s strategy for 2017, given all the supply-related fears for this particularly new phone – the first iPhone with an OLED display, the first with Apple’s new TrueDepth camera system, etc. But it will certainly be interesting to see how Apple changes its iPhone lineup in 2018, if it wants to push another one of these iPhone “super cycles” where everyone upgrades to the new technology.

Having choices is certainly good for consumers, but it’s unclear how other, cheaper iPhones may affect the excitement around future iPhone launches. New iPhones still set the tone for the smartphone industry at large, but people no longer need to upgrade to the “latest and greatest” anymore.

Tesla jumps more than 3% after reportedly solving its Model 3 bottleneck

Benjamin Zhang/Business Insider

    Tesla’s partner, Panasonic, says the automaker has figured out its production problems with the Model 3. The company should be able to make vehicles much faster now. Tesla closed up 3.28% on Tuesday.

Tesla shares jumped 3.28% on Tuesday to $330.94 a piece after the company’s battery production partner said that it has solved its production bottleneck.

On the company’s earnings call, Panasonic’s CEO said the production bottlenecks that previously held back the car maker are understood and that the number of vehicles Tesla can manufacture would “rise sharply,” according to Reuters.

Tesla and Panasonic are partners in the Gigafactory, with the latter helping Tesla manufacture the batteries for its Model 3 vehicles. Some parts of the battery production process had to be completed by hand, which hobbled production of the company’s first mass-market vehicle, Reuters says. Tesla produced just 260 Model 3s in the third quarter when it had been targeting 1,500 for September alone.

Tesla has previously said that production was being held up by a bottleneck, but Panasonic’s CEO confirmed the bottleneck was located at the companies’ Gigafactory.

Tesla is up 53.29% this year and reports its earnings after the bell on Wednesday. Wall Street is expecting an adjusted loss of $2.23 per share on revenues of $2.928 billion, according to data from Bloomberg.

Read more about Tesla’s Model 3 production here.

tesla stock price

Markets Insider

STOCKS CLIMB, NASDAQ HITS RECORD HIGH: Here’s what you need to know

Yana Paskova/Getty Images

All three major US stock indexes were in the green Tuesday, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq leading the way and hitting an all-time closing high.

We’ve got all the headlines, but first, the scoreboard:

    Dow: 23,377.24, +28.71, (+0.12%) S&P 500: 2,575.26, +2.43, (+0.09%) Nasdaq: 6,727.67, +28.71, (+0.43%)

Under Armour got crushed after earnings. The sport apparel company saw its stock sink roughly 23% after posting mixed third quarter earnings and slashing guidance for the rest of the year. Under Armour now sees full-year adjusted earnings per share of $0.18 to $0.20, well below its previous forecast of $0.37 to $0.40. CME Group will launch futures products for bitcoin. The exchange giant said the futures trading will be open by the end of the year. The announcement also comes just a month after CME CEO Bryan Durkin said that the company would not get into bitcoin in the “short-term.” Rockwell Automation jumps after reports that it received a buyout offer from Emerson Electric. Rockwell confirmed it turned down an offer for $107.50 per share in cash and 225 million shares of Emerson common stock. The deal would have been worth about $27.5 billion. President Donald Trump laid out his timeline for tax reform the day before house GOP debut their bill. Trump said he wants the bill passed in the House by Thanksgiving and on his desk, finalized, by Christmas. Canada’s GDP unexpectedly went negative. Canada’s GDP fell by 0.1% month-over-month in August following the prior month’s flat reading of 0.0%. Economists were expecting GDP to tick up by 0.1%.


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Deaths from opioid overdoses are especially prevalent in 4 US states

A study compared opioid death rates in four states with the US average.

A study compared opioid death rates in four states with the US average.
Ohio Department of Health via the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

    Rates of death from opioid overdoses in West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania are higher than in the rest of the United States. West Virginia’s rate is 35 per 100,000 people. Experts say addressing the underlying socioeconomic problems of communities where this happens is key to solving the issue.

The rates of death from opioid overdoses in West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania are all above the national average, according to a study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

The study, which focused on the impact of the opioid crisis on the labor market in the fourth Federal Reserve district, which includes parts of all four states, found that while the nationwide rate of deaths from opioid overdoses sits at about 10 per 100,000 people, Pennsylvania’s is about 10.5, Kentucky’s is 20, and Ohio’s is about 22. West Virginia’s is a staggering 35.

The study also showed, as several previous ones also have, that rates of overdose deaths relating to fentanyl have eclipsed those relating to heroin.

Last week, President Donald Trump officially declared the opioid crisis a national public-health emergency.

“As Americans, we cannot allow this to continue,” the president said Thursday. “It is time to liberate our communities from this scourge of drug addiction. Never been this way. We can be the generation that ends the opioid epidemic. We can do it.”

The underlying causes of the crisis are many, but high rates of overdose deaths seem to be driven at least partially by high prescription rates. Though heroin and fentanyl deaths have been on the rise, legal opioids still act as a gateway to these drugs, and experts say overprescription often leads to an increased likelihood of addiction. Many states where prescription rates are high, like the four states in the Cleveland Fed study, also have high levels of opioid abuse.

While the Trump administration has announced an increased focus on developing strategies to prevent overprescription, socioeconomic problems like poverty, a lack of economic opportunity, and a lack of health insurance make people more likely to fall into addictive behavior.

Health experts like the Stanford professor Keith Humphreys say tackling the broad opioid issue will require responding to these indirect causes.

“So why are more people dying in West Virginia?” Humphreys told Business Insider. “When people are addicted, they’re far less likely to get treatment – if they have an overdose, they’re far less likely for an ambulance to come. It could be really far away. The services aren’t there. So the same drug problem that is less likely to end up ruining your life if you happen to live in a city that has abundant health services is going to harm you more when you’re living in a low-income rural state like West Virginia, Kentucky, or southern Ohio.”

MORGAN STANLEY: Disney’s new streaming service could be worth $25 billion

Aly Song/Reuters

Disney‘s new streaming service could draw in 30 million subscribers in the next 10 years, valuing it at $25 billion, according to a Morgan Stanley note.

The company is poised to make a significant reach into the 1 billion global pay-TV household market, given its exclusive rights to new films, large library offerings, and a share of Netflix’s subscriber growth, which Morgan Stanley forecasts to be 10% to 12% in 2028. Back in August, Disney announced it was ending its exclusive Netflix deal in 2019 in favor starting up its own streaming service.

If, and when, Disney hits 30 million subscribers, the streaming service could generate $5 billion in revenue and roughly $1.5 billion of EBITDA, culminating in a $20 billion to $25 billion asset.

“Disney’s brands and content depth and breadth give it a unique opportunity among existing content producers to build a large global customer base in a direct to consumer streaming model,” Benjamin Swinburne, an equity analyst at Morgan Stanley, wrote.

Its competitive advantage over other direct-to-consumer streaming businesses is its well-known brands (especially Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars), and its track record of both a good quality content and a good quantity of content that is sure to support its offerings, Swinburne says.

However, he notes that the market’s view of Disney is that it “has not proven any core competency” compared to its peers, and how it deals with technology, customer service and marketing has yet to be tested. Investors are also wary of Disney’s decision to pull out of its exclusive movie deal with Netflix in 2019, further harming the company’s potential of tapping into Netflix’s vast subscriber base.

Disney shares are down 0.35% at $97.70.

To read more about why Disney’s stock is having a tough time, click here.

Disney stock price

Markets Insider