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Bill Gates

Much of the tech industry is openly opposing President Trump`s Friday night order to bar refugees from entering the country for 90 days as well as banning entry to people from seven predominantly Muslim countries. But an even bigger battle with the tech industry is about to begin if Trump issues an executive order that changes how they can recruit overseas workers.

Trump`s administration has drafted an executive order that attempts to alter the work-visa programs used by many tech companies, telling them that if they recruit foreign workers, priority will be assigned to those workers who will be the mostly highly paid, Bloomberg reports.

Businesses would have to try to hire American first, and if they recruit foreign workers, priority would then be given to the most highly paid, reports Bloomberg`s Peter Elstrom and Saritha Rai, who have seen a copy of the draft.

The draft order covers all of the visas that temporarily bring overseas workers to the US, including H-1B, L-1, E-2 and B1. However it will be one particular type, H-1B visas, that could get the tech industry`s blood boiling.

H-1B visas allow companies to recruit internationally for employees with specialty skills when they cannot find people with those skills locally. These visas are limited to 65,000 a year, plus another 20,000 for those with advanced degrees. Those visas are usually snapped up instantly at the start of every year. The tech industry has, for years, been lobbying Congress to increase access to such visas, citing a skills shortage in the US for high in demand jobs. (Bill Gates famously testified to Congress back in 2008 about it.) 

Just about all tech companies use these visas to hire talent from a global talent pool and bring these people to the US to work. Companies like IBM, Microsoft, Google, Intel, Amazon, Apple, Oracle are among the top 25 users of H1-B visas, each hire 1,000 or more people a year that way, according to MyVisaJobs, a site that tracks H-1B usage.

But there have been ongoing accusations that some companies are not using the visas because they cannot find local talent, and are instead using them to hire overseas workers and pay them lower salaries than they would have to pay a US citizen. The biggest users of H-1B visas are Indian outsourcing companies Infosys, Tata and Wipro. The average salary for a Tata or WiPro worker on such a visa is under 70,000 a year. In comparison, the average salary of an H-1B visa holder hired by Amazon is over 113,000, according to MyVisaJobs.

And there have been accusations that visa holders are trapped by their companies and jobs. If they should lose their jobs, they face deportation unless they can get another company to quickly hire them and sponsor their visa.

The trade group for India`s IT sector tells Bloomberg that there been no evidence of wrongdoing by Indian IT companies over visa use.

Given how long the IT industry has been asking the government to overhaul the visa system to make it easier to recruit internationally, should Trump sign an order that would make that process more difficult, the IT industry will almost certainly push back.

SEE ALSO: `So un-American it pains us all` - How tech titans are responding to Trump`s immigration ban Alex Heath 20h 215,803

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NOW WATCH: These guys have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world

SAN FRANCISCO/NEW YORK, (Reuters) - Al Ameen, a 33-year-old Iraqi refugee with hemophilia A, a genetic disorder that prevents proper blood clotting, has been living in Jordan awaiting medical care in the United States for two years. His condition is so advanced, his doctors have told him, that only a handful of facilities in the world can treat him.
COLLEGE STATION, Texas (Reuters) - The leaders of the only private university in North Korea asked Texas A&M University, known for its agricultural economics and public health programs, for help on Monday in teaching subjects such as how to grow food in a land of chronic shortages.

Flying on a plane is generally an awful experience, but next time you`re crammed in the middle seat counting down the hours, be thankful there aren`t 80 birds perched in coach with you.

An image is going viral on Reddit of a Saudi prince who brought 80 hawks on a plane Monday morning:

hawks on plane

We`ve reached out to the author of the Reddit thread about the photo and will update the post if we learn anything else about which airline accommodated the birds, how long it took to situate them, and generally how well-behaved they were on the flight.

The author of the Reddit thread says the birds are hawks, but it`s more likely they are actually falcons.

Transporting falcons in the Middle East is actually a pretty common practice. Falconry (training birds to hunt) has been practiced in the Middle East for thousands of years and is still a popular past time in the United Arab of Emirates. 

The falcon is also the national bird of the UAE, so it makes sense airlines flying out of there would accommodate the birds` transit needs.

A Reddit user pointed us in the direction of a very helpful Atlas Obscura article that says falcons can get their own forest green passports to fly in the United Arab Emirates. That passport allows the falcons to travel to Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Morocco, and Syria. 

The passport is valid for three years, according to the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Climate Change and Environment.

A spokesperson for the airline Flydubai told Frank Kane, a reporter for UAE news website The National, that falcons must have their own seat and are placed on a cloth to avoid accidents. Kane said the business class cabin was entirely reserved for falcons on his Flydubai flight, so this isn`t as rare of an occurrence as we may think.

Qatar Airways wrote on its website that you can bring a maximum of 6 falcons in economy class.

Etihad Airways also allows falcons on its planes. 

"We accept the carriage of falcons in the main aircraft cabin provided that all the necessary documents have been obtained. We also accept falcons as checked baggage," Etihad writes on its website.

An Etihad spokesperson told Business Insider that, based on the cabin and flight crew uniforms, it`s unlikely the photo was taken on one of the airline`s planes.

So if you`re looking to transport a falcon in the near future, it may not be as hard as you think — depending on where you`re going, of course.

SEE ALSO: Etihad Airways Has Very Strict Rules For How Many Falcons Passengers Can Bring On A Plane

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NOW WATCH: This kinetic sculpture moves like a flock of birds

Shares of Fitbit are down 15.7%, at 6.08 per share, on Monday after the company announced preliminary fourth-quarter results that were well below its previous estimate, in addition to slashing its guidance for the crucial holiday quarter.

The company said it sold 6.5 million devices in the fourth quarter, and that revenue would come in at 572 million to 580 million, well below its previous guidance range of 725 million to 750 million.

And while shareholders have been punished with a 75% plunge in the stock during 2016, one group has been cleaning up: short sellers. They amassed a massive position in the stock during the early part of January, increasing their interest by 31%, up to 424 million, according to data provided by S3 Partners.

Research conducted by the firm shows that while short sellers have incurred 505,000 in costs associated with borrowing shares to sell them short, they booked a mark-to-market profit of 73.5 million as of Monday. That`s an 18% return in just under a month, in addition to the 131% that short sellers made on the stock in 2016, according to S3.

While short sellers have been in control, S3 says, "it might not take much more than a hug to start a true short squeeze in Fitbit."

fitbit stock 1 30 17 COTD

SEE ALSO: Fitbit is plunging after slashing its guidance

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TEHRAN (Reuters) - France vowed on Monday to defend Iran`s nuclear deal, which U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to tear up, but said it was imperative Tehran abide strictly by the conditions of the accord.
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - There are signs the U.S. government is taking a more flexible view of how to pay for its planned border wall with Mexico, and new meetings to craft future bilateral relations could take place soon, a top Mexican official said on Monday.
RIYADH (Reuters) - A building in southern Saudi Arabia used by United Nations staff to monitor ceasefire violations in Yemen was damaged by rocket fire on Monday.
ISTANBUL (Reuters) - A Turkish court ordered the arrest of two lawmakers from the pro-Kurdish Peoples` Democratic Party (HDP) on Monday, security sources said, bringing the total of jailed deputies from the Turkish opposition group to 12.

netflix reed hastings

On Saturday, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings wrote on Facebook that President Trump`s actions were "hurting Netflix employees around the world, and are so un-American it pains us all."

It was a strong statement, especially compared to many other tech CEOs who came out against Trump`s immigration ban, but were more measured in the wording of their criticisms.

Here`s the rest of Hastings` statement:

"Worse, these actions will make America less safe (through hatred and loss of allies) rather than more safe. A very sad week, and more to come with the lives of over 600,000 Dreamers here in a America under imminent threat. It is time to link arms together to protect American values of freedom and opportunity."

This isn`t the first time Hastings has lambasted Trump.

In June, during the campaign, Hastings said that "Trump would destroy much of what is great about America," if he were elected president.

Again, strong words, strong enough to potentially provoke Trump`s wrath.

For the CEO of a public company, it can sometimes be hard to reconcile a moral position with a duty to shareholders, but one reason Hastings likely feels free to speak his mind about Trump is that Netflix, as a company, thinks it`s immune to the Trump administration on one very important issue: net neutrality.

Too big to matter

Net neutrality is the idea of having a free and open internet, in which no website`s data is favored over another`s. Practically, this means that internet service providers (ISPs) can`t charge a site like Netflix a fee to make sure its data runs at a speed that makes streaming video possible.

Under the new Trump administration, the FCC is widely expected to roll back net neutrality laws. At one time, this would have been seen a huge blow for Netflix, since it could open the company up to paying big fees.

That`s still possible, but in Netflix`s last quarterly earnings letter, it told shareholders not to worry. 

“Weakening of US net neutrality laws, should that occur, is unlikely to materially affect our domestic margins or service quality because we are now popular enough with consumers to keep our relationships with ISPs stable,” Netflix wrote.

Netflix`s position is that it is simply too popular, and too large, to be hurt by a weakening of net neutrality rules. That type of change could actually favor the established players in the market, and Netflix now considers itself one of them. It would make it harder for upstart streaming services, which compete with Netflix, to get off the ground.

Still, Netflix is against such a policy change, precisely because the company thinks it is anti-competitive. (It could also hurt Netflix`s margins).

“On a public policy basis, however, strong net neutrality is important to support innovation and smaller firms,” Netflix wrote. “No one wants ISPs to decide what new and potentially disruptive services can operate over their networks, or to favor one service over another. We hope the new US administration and Congress will recognize that keeping the network neutral drives job growth and innovation.”

If Netflix felt more vulnerable to a change in FCC policy regarding net neutrality, Hastings` strong opposition to Trump might be a trickier business proposition. But since Netflix`s public position is that such a change won`t affect its business, Hastings likely feels that staying cordial to Trump isn`t vital for Netflix`s future.

The FCC once could have been used as a big stick against Netflix, but it`s too late now, and Netflix is too dominant.

Additional reporting by Jeff Dunn. 

SEE ALSO: How to turn a viral video hit into 250-person business, from someone who did it

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NOW WATCH: Here’s how the top Silicon Valley companies are responding to Trump’s immigration ban

Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook is set to announce its fourth quarter earnings on Wednesday.

The social media giant is riding an impressive five-quarter earnings and revenue-beat streak, but investors are eager to see how management plans to tide over the slowed News Feed ad growth that`s coming in mid-2017.

During Facebook`s Q3 earnings call, CFO Dave Wehner told investors to brace for a "meaningful" slowdown in revenue growth rates and for "aggressive" investment spending in 2017.

Those factors, combined with a series of uncovered ad measurement errors, caused Facebook shares to drop below 10% over the last few months, although shares have managed to rebound in recent weeks.

As ad growth in the News Feed begins to constrict, investors will look to Facebook`s other monetization bets, like Instagram and Messenger, for signs of meaningful growth.

Looking beyond the News Feed

Instagram Stories

Instagram has become an increasingly important part of Facebook`s ad strategy: The photo-sharing app now reaches 600 million users per month. Facebook recently started allowing ads into Instagram Stories, the Snapchat clone it rolled out last year that already has 150 million daily users.

According to eMarketer, Instagram is expected to generate 3.64 billion in worldwide ad revenue this year, a 96% increase over last year.

Facebook recently started testing News Feed-style ads in Messenger, which has one billion monthly users. The company`s efforts to monetize Messenger with chat bots haven`t shown meaningful results yet, so testing more traditional ads could signal a shift in strategy.

facebook live ads 2

Aside from Instagram and Messenger, investors are paying close attention to Facebook`s video efforts. The company is starting to let publishers finally monetize videos with mid-roll ads, and a recent tweak to the News Feed favors longer videos over shorter ones.

Facebook is also looking into bankrolling its own original video programming, which further signals its interest in tapping into the 70 billion world of TV ad budgets.

Another important piece of Facebook`s video strategy is live video, but a recent Recode report suggests the company has decided to stop paying publishers and celebrities to broadcast. That could either signal that live video`s growth is sustainable without added incentives, or that Facebook is starting to put the brakes on live video in favor of more premium, long-form video.

Facebook has positioned its other two big bets, WhatsApp and VR maker Oculus, as long term growth drivers. WhatsApp will likely roll out its chat bot platform for businesses later this year, and Oculus is working on an untethered VR headset that could help it break into the mass consumer market.

Looking ahead, eMarketer expects Facebook to generate 33.76 billion in total digital ad revenue this year, up 30.2% over 2016. 45% of that revenue is expected to come from the US.

Facebook will also come in behind Google as the second largest ad publisher in the world with 14.7% market share vs. Google`s 31.7%, according to eMarketer.

The key numbers to expect

Here are the expected numbers for Facebook`s Q4 earnings, based on analyst projections complied by Yahoo Finance:

  • Revenue: 8.5 billion, up 46% from 5.84 billion in the year-ago period.
  • EPS (adjusted): 1.31, up from 0.79 in the year-ago period.

Screen Shot 2017 01 30 at 12.25.18 PM

SEE ALSO: Mark Zuckerberg explains Facebook`s secrets for acquiring companies

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NOW WATCH: WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell on Snapchat becoming the `third force` to Google and Facebook

b5

The Bay Area Boat System (BABS) group promotes travel in the virtual world There.com by supporting a large network of landing towers for hoverboat crafts. Tours and floatilla events are set up by BABS for large groups of Thereians to  travel around the There islands while  making new friends and sharing good times together.

there_pyrena_zosime_2017-01-24-03-31-40

Join tonight’s Monday Night Floatilla! Everyone meets at the event location and several hoverboat crafts are set out for Thereians to pilot or kickback and enjoy the ride as a passenger. Hop on your favorite hoverboat and take flight with some friends. If the floatilla has already left the first location and you are late to the party, you can catch up with the flight crew in the BABS IM on the BABS Club Home Page and request a summons to the floatilla. Join the group to stay up to date on BABS events!

b4


AirSelfie 2

If you can hide your arm or selfie stick in a selfie, good for you.

For those who can`t, there`s a drone for that.

The Airselfie is a tiny drone that`s housed in a phone case, and it lets you take selfies or group shots from further away than you could with your arms or a selfie stick.

Airselfie already went through its Kickstarter campaign, where it amassed more than €500,000 (about 534,000), and the company behind the tiny selfie-taking drone is now taking pre-orders

The Airselfie costs 260, and it`ll be ready for shipping in May this year.

Check it out:

SEE ALSO: I was going to review a 1,200 drone, but I lost it in Hawaii — here`s what happened

This is the Airselfie.

 



It`s a tiny drone that fits inside a phone case.



And it has a built-in 5-megapixel camera.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

The Metro North Shopping Center in Kansas City, Missouri has only been vacant since April of 2014, but the building looks like it has been crumbling for decades. Photographer Seph Lawless ventured into the abandoned property to show how time has not been kind to this decaying mall. You can see more of Lawless` work in his upcoming book, Autopsy of America: The Death of a Nation.

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ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - African Union leaders chose Chad`s candidate to chair the 54-nation body on Monday at a summit where the divisive issues of Africa`s relationship to the International Criminal Court and Morocco`s readmission to the AU were on the agenda.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with President Donald Trump on Feb. 15 for talks covering a range of security issues, the White House said on Monday.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Iran carried out a test launch of a medium-range ballistic missile on Sunday which exploded after 630 miles, a U.S. official said on Monday.
QUEBEC CITY/TORONTO (Reuters) - Police were investigating a single suspect in a shooting at a Quebec City mosque that killed six people, with a second person who was arrested now considered a witness, authorities said on Monday.

Indiana Jones, Raiders

Get your felt hat and bullwhip, because a new online platform called GlobalXplorer allows anyone to become a modern-day Indiana Jones.

Developed by Dr. Sarah Parcak, an archaeologist and winner of the 2016 TED Prize, GlobalXplorer relies on satellite imagery to give users a bird`s-eye look at various terrain in Peru, which they can search for new archaeological sites.

Parcak funded the project with the 1 million in prize money issued through the TED Prize, which was awarded in late 2015. In a press call on Monday, January 30, she said she hopes it`ll change how the public thinks about the larger stories that may be hidden under layers of dirt and rock.

"We can really change the conversation and create a world where people not just care about history, but are a part of retelling it," she said.

In many ways, GlobalXplorer is designed more as a game than a tool. You start out as a novice explorer, as the site`s tutorials show you what looting looks like from 450 miles above the Earth. Along the way, you receive a Consensus Score, which keeps track of how often your judgments about particular regions match those of people who have seen the same space.

As you look through more of these "tiles" — 100x100m squares of land, as your screen shows it — you advance through the ranks.

globalxplorerAfter 500 tiles, Wanderers become Pathfinders. After 1,000 tiles, Pathfinders become Voyagers — all the way up to Space Archaeologists, who have looked through at least 50,000 tiles. Each level unlocks various rewards, including early notifications about Reddit AMAs and access to special content on YouTube.

"We want people to feel like there`s a reason to come back," Parcak said.

She wants the program to facilitate a global community of explorers who can somewhat take the load off professional archaeologists. As such, data from GlobalXplorer gets transmitted back to Parcak and her team to analyze which sites might need actual attention.

But she also acknowledges there`s a deeper reason the platform should resonate with people, noting that one of the hallmarks of archaeology is its ability to give perspective. Through tyrants, climate change, economic crises, war, and disease, humans have stayed resilient, Parcak said.

"We`re all human beings at the end of the day," she added. "I think understanding who we are and where we`ve come from, that can connect us in a way that we need right now."

SEE ALSO: A modern-day Indiana Jones got 1 million to protect ancient sites with satellite images

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NOW WATCH: Archaeologists reconstructed the mansion of a wealthy banker in Pompeii

drew houston

Dropbox has hit a 1 billion annual run rate, an important measure of  revenue, CEO Drew Houston shared at an event in San Francisco today. 

Basically, the annual run rate, or ARR, measures the amount of money that the company projects it will bring in this year if current`s rate of business were to continue. If Dropbox makes 250 million or more in one quarter, the company could fairly say that it has a 1 billion annual run rate by extrapolating that out for the next three quarters.

Houston also shared that Dropbox has over 500 million users, with 200,000 business customers. Most of the company`s revenue is "self-serve," Houston says, meaning that it comes from customers signing up for paid plans directly via the Dropbox website and apps — not salespeople. 

In June 2016, Houston announced that Dropbox was free cash flow positive (which, it should be noted, is different from "profitable"). Combined, these two factors are important milestones for the 10-year-old cloud storage company as it`s reported to be considering an IPO later this year.

Still, CEO Houston insists that it`s not in any rush to go public, and that its current position affords it the luxury of waiting for the right moment. "We have the flexibility to go when the timing is right for us," Houston told Business Insider in December.  

Houston also used the event to launch two new Dropbox features, intended to go after the lucrative business space: Dropbox Paper, its long-in-the-works answer to Google Docs; and Dropbox Smart Sync, a feature to consolidate all your files across servers and the cloud and make it searchable.

SEE ALSO: Dropbox just introduced two new products to target deep-pocketed businesses

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NOW WATCH: A new study just blew a hole in one of the strongest arguments against global warming

ATHENS (Reuters) - The third migrant to perish in a week was found dead in his tent on Monday on Greece`s Lesbos island, raising alarm about the grim winter conditions in overcrowded camps that critics have denounced as deplorable.
BOGOTA (Reuters) - Colombia`s Marxist FARC rebels are on the move one final time, traveling by boat, road and on foot across jungle and mountains to demobilization camps, as part of a deal to end more than 50 years of war, guerrillas and the government said.

mary barra donald trump Sergio marchionne

Chrysler infamously had to be bailed out by the federal government in 2009, before going into bankruptcy and then being taken over by Fiat. 

After the financial crisis, Chrysler was by far the weakest of the so-called "Big Three" US automakers. President Obama`s Auto Task Force, led by former investment banker and "Car Czar" Steven Rattner, wanted to let the automaker go. But Fiat and it`s ambitious, unconventional CEO Sergio Marchionne arrived at the right time.

Since then, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has thrived in a US sales boom heavy on pickup trucks and SUVs, staged an IPO, and spun off Ferrari as a separate company.

None of that means FCA is well-situated, however, for the inevitable downturn in the auto industry, which is a highly cyclical and capital-intensive business.

Marchionne knows this and has been trying to get FCA merged up before the bottom falls out and he exits the stage in the next two years. So far, that`s been a non-starter: Marchionne`s efforts to court General Motors in 2015 came to nothing, but he still thinks a merger is a good idea. On FCA`s fourth-quarter earnings call last week, he told analysts that the new administration might like the idea of a GM-FCA tie-up that would create the world`s largest automaker, American-based.

Debt, debt, debt

The real problem for FCA is that it has a poor ratio of cash to debt relative to its peers, and although Marchionne is determined to wipe it out before he departs and leave the automaker with a clean balance sheet, FCA also has a number of plants in Mexico and could get hit harder by a renegotiation of NAFTA or a border tax.

That could be offset, as it would be for others automakers, by a corporate tax cut and business-friendly regulatory reform. But if you look at Ford and GM, each currently has the balance-sheet strength to handle a downturn; GM has said that it can break even in a US market where sales decline to 10 million or 11 million annual sales pace.

Jeep Grand Cherokee

FCA competitors aren`t without their issues, but FCA is unique in being under the gun with Marchionne`s business agenda and on a knife`s edge as far the unknown impact of a future downturn. 

After the meeting with the new occupant of the White House last week, Marchionne said that "the set of economic parameters that President Trump has raised are overall positive for FCA."

But he added, "What concerns me is asymmetrical treatment of some of these proposals, especially on the border tax side." He said he`s concerned with "[h]ow many of them are doable within which period of time we`re talking about here — this is a two-year view up to the end of 2018."

A concern that becomes a catastrophe

 Given this overall dynamic, the take offered by Larry P. Vellequette at Automotive News is spot on

[A]proposed “Border Tax” aimed at discouraging vehicle importation from Mexico won’t hurt FCA nearly as much as it will hurt its dealers and its customers. FCA still has more debt than it does cash. It can’t and won’t absorb a “border tax,” or move its Mexican operations to the U.S. Instead, it would simply pass that tax along to its dealers and customers, taking money out of their pockets and cutting sales.

In a downturn, lost sales aren`t what FCA needs, and if it can`t shed its debt load, what is now a concern could become a catastrophe. The carmaker could easily lose pickup and SUV sales to rival companies that are capable of making the border-tax deal work for them. Then it just becomes a beat-the-clock game of FCA trying to ride out the downturn with dwindling cash reserves.

And here`s the problem for Trump: the automaker employs workers and operates factories in the states where the President needs results to win re-election — Ohio, Michigan, Indiana. So a second bailout of FCA wouldn`t be out of the question.

SEE ALSO: Here`s why Elon Musk is changing his tune on Trump

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NOW WATCH: `I`m gonna ask him who was his acting coach`: Trump mocks Schumer for `fake tears` in wake of immigration ban

Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos

One of the biggest stories in tech and healthcare over the past year and a half has been the saga of Theranos. 

The blood-testing company once carried a 9 billion valuation and the promise of running multiple tests on just a single drop of blood.

But, starting in October 2015, cracks began to show, calling into question its science and its transparency. By the end of last year, a northern California lab was shut down, the company voided "tens of thousands" of blood tests, and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was barred for two years from running a clinical lab.

The company has since stopped doing all lab testing, instead pivoting to focusing solely on developing its technology.

Which left us here at Business Insider curious: Has there been a "Theranos effect" on biotech investing?

That is, are emerging drug companies facing a higher burden of proof — or more skepticism — than they did a few years ago?

It`s something the health-tech sector has observed for sure, and it`s still a topic everyone seems to have thoughts about. At the JPMorgan healthcare conference in San Francisco earlier in January, we decided to ask around.

The short answer is: No. Biotech companies in the business of developing drugs live in a much different world than diagnostics companies like Theranos. Many executives, even those running companies with skyrocketing valuations, were quick to point to the differences between their firms and Theranos. 

Everything from its decision to market the blood tests directly to consumers, to its secretive culture, to its board of directors that lacked (for a time) a single medical professional makes Theranos very different, and investors understand that. 

"I think they were an outlier, frankly and the outlier thing didn`t work out," Unity Biotechnology CEO Keith Leonard told Business Insider. Unity`s a startup that wants to clear cells related to aging from our bodies, and raised 116 million in October to pull that off

And Theranos was mostly pointed to as the exception that proves the rule: when it comes to healthcare, only good science, led by medical professionals, backed by data and able to withstand review by outsiders, can succeed.

Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes, who dropped out of school to found the company when she was just 19 lacked healthcare experience or a medical background. The company kept its test results and the science behind them secret.

And the severity of its downfall, in part, came from how hyped-up it was thanks to its status as a "disrupter" promising to upend the blood-testing industry. 

"I think it`s emblematic of a mentality of some investors to back what is perceived to be a big idea, [but] that`s more smoke than fire," said David Lowe, CEO of Aeglea BioTherapeutics, a biotech developing enzyme-replacement therapies that went public in April 2016. 

In search of the `next Theranos`

That doesn`t mean investors aren`t more watchful. One company drawing a lot of buzz, and comparisons to Theranos, is Samumed.

The private biotech fetches a 12 billion valuation, and is working on treatments with big consumer-focused promises. For example, Samumed`s lead product is a lotion to treat androgenetic alopecia, a common form of hair loss, and a cosmetic version of the drug could be used to get rid of wrinkles.  The company has the uncommonly high valuation, even though the products are still in development. Samumed has seven drugs in human clinical trials (the farthest along are in phase 2), and plans to be in 10 different disease areas by the end of 2017.

And, Samumed has backers who aren`t traditional life sciences investors, like sovereign funds and high net-worth individuals. 

But the key differentiator is that Samumed is being public about its data: presenting at medical conferences, where it gets peer reviewed as part of the vetting process, said CEO Osman Kibar, in an interview. And before it gets on the market, it will have to be approved by the FDA.   

"Ultimately we will live or die with the strength of our data," Kibar said. "Because we are in the business of therapeutics, we don`t have the luxury of not sharing data with the regulatory agencies."

That same refrain rings true for Neon Therapeutics, a startup developing personalized cancer vaccines, raised a 70 million Series B in January in a round led by Partner Fund Management. (Partner Fund is currently suing Theranos, after the fund invested 96.1 million in 2014.)

Because therapies need to go through clinical trials, there`s not much room to be secretive or keep data from the public. At the end of the day, Neon CEO Hugh O`Dowd — an industry veteran, who spent 20 years at Novartis before joining Neon — said, that data`s what you have to keep in mind. 

"You`re only as credible as your last piece of data," he said.

SEE ALSO: Donald Trump just took the joy out of the drug industry`s biggest investor conference

DON`T MISS: We asked pharma executives the one question they didn`t want to hear about drug pricing

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NOW WATCH: 6 `healthy` eating habits you are better off giving up

Microsoft Segmented Revenue

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Microsoft once again highlighted strong cloud and software growth during Q4 2016 (Microsoft’s Q2 2017) as the key driver of its positive revenue performance, according to earnings released Thursday.

Overall, the company reported 26 billion (non-GAAP) in revenue for Q4, up 4% YoY. Microsoft`s strong cloud growth largely reflects an industry-wide shift in focus from hardware to software, licensing, and cloud.

Microsoft’s cloud and software businesses saw significant gains during the quarter. Both Microsoft’s Productivity and Business Processes segment, which includes revenue from Office consumer and commercial products and cloud services, and its Intelligent Cloud segment, which houses Azure and Enterprise Mobility, saw upward annual growth, despite a slight decline in the first half of 2016. Both segments have increased as an overall share of revenue in the last two years.

  • Revenue for Productivity and Business Processes grew 10% YoY, to surpass 7 billion. Office consumer products and cloud services revenue jumped 22%, with the number of subscribers increasing to 25 million, up from 24 million last quarter. This growth was bolstered largely by Office 365 commercial revenue, which jumped 47% YoY. 
  • The Intelligent Cloud segment generated more than 7 billion in revenue during Q4 2016. Revenue from Azure, Microsoft’s public cloud offering, grew 93% YoY. This growth was in line with increased compute usage, which doubled from the same period last year.

The focus on cloud has allowed Microsoft to reassess where its strengths lie. A big part of this was cutting free Nokia, which Microsoft acquired in 2014 under then-CEO Steve Ballmer, in an attempt to break into the mobile market. Since then, the company has posted consistent growth quarter-over-quarter. Ultimately, having a solid cloud foundation will enable the company to unify its many products — from AI, to the enterprise, to augmented reality.

Cloud computing — on-demand, internet-based computing services — has been successfully applied to many computing functions in recent years.

From consumer-facing, web-based productivity apps like Google Docs to enterprise database management suites, the tools businesses rely on are increasingly moving to the cloud.

But developing a cloud strategy is no easy task. Public cloud solutions will likely come to dominate the market over the next decade, but business constraints, such as security concerns and the limitations of existing infrastructure, make it difficult for companies to fully adopt the public cloud right now.

That means that hybrid clouds, in which multiple cloud implementations (including public and private) are connected, will remain popular for the time being, at least until these constraints are addressed. The tech giants that dominate the IaaS market — Amazon, IBM, Microsoft, and Google — are constantly expanding their offerings to address current business constraints as they compete for market share.

Christina Anzalone, senior research analyst at BI Intelligence, Business Insider`s premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on cloud computing that evaluates the current business considerations for the various cloud solutions and provides an outlook on the state of the market.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report: 

  • Cloud computing solutions have gained traction because they`re flexible and cost efficient. Sixty-seven percent of companies used an Infrastructure-as-a-Service solution in 2015, like the cloud, for some part of their business, up 19% from the prior year.
  • All cloud solutions provide certain benefits that are becoming increasingly essential to businesses in the digital age. These include on-demand self-service, rapid elasticity, and broad network access, among others.
  • Security needs, demand predictability, existing infrastructure, and maintenance capabilities are key business considerations for enterprises choosing between cloud implementations.
  • While hybrid cloud strategies will remain popular in the near term, the market is likely to shift toward the public cloud over time. That`s because costs are falling, providers are developing solutions that address main concerns with the public cloud, and business practices like agile development and data analytics are dependent on advantages the public cloud provides. However, industries that handle sensitive information, like financial services and healthcare, will likely prefer hybrid and private cloud strategies given regulatory restrictions.
  • Amazon Web Services is the dominant cloud computing provider by market share, followed by Google, IBM, and Microsoft. Because the latter three companies have had little success taking on Amazon, market-share gains are likely to come at the expense of smaller competitors.

In full, the report:

  • Explains the different cloud computing strategies and benefits of cloud computing.
  • Evaluates key business considerations – security needs, demand predictability, existing infrastructure, and maintenance capabilities – for enterprises choosing between cloud implementations.
  • Provides and outlook for trends and major players in the cloud computing market.

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

  1. 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. >> START A MEMBERSHIP
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A drone that uses retractable feather wings, mimicking the natural flight of birds, has been designed by researchers in Switzerland.

The drone is controlled by a joystick but the team is developing an autonomous version.
 
They hope to make it useful for search and rescue mission.
 
Produced by Leon Siciliano

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LONDON (Reuters) - The Syrian government has denied rumors that President Bashar al-Assad is suffering from ill health, saying he was "carrying out his duties quite normally".
QUEBEC CITY/TORONTO (Reuters) - Police were investigating a single suspect in a shooting at a Quebec City mosque that killed six people, with a second person who was arrested now considered a witness, authorities said on Monday.

Japanese Man Elderly

Centuries ago, Japan created a word called ubasute. Translated as "granny dumping," it described the practice of poor citizens bringing their senile elders to mountaintops because they can no longer afford their care.

Today, amid Japan`s widespread demographic and economic woes, ubasute is making a comeback.

Modern-day granny dumping doesn`t involve hauling seniors up the sides of mountains, but driving them to hospitals or the offices of nearby charities and, essentially, giving them up for adoption.

"There are a lot of people who have a certain amount of income but who still live in poverty and struggle terribly with relatives who can`t look after themselves," social worker Takanori Fujita told the Times of London. "They are reluctant to ask for help because they feel it`s shameful."

Japan`s economy has been shrinking for the better part of the last decade. Senior citizens have continued aging into their 80s, 90s, and 100s, while younger generations have largely stagnated in having children. As a result, there are fewer people to help take care of the elderly, pay for social security, and keep the workforce full.

Economists have taken to calling the situation a "demographic time bomb."

There have been a number of related side effects to the demographic time bomb. For instance, the country has seen greater rates of karoshi, or "death by overwork," in which burnt-out employees commit suicide under the weight of job pressure.

The government has also taken steps to make family life more enticing to people, including hosting speed-dating events, teaching men how to be fathers, and recommending shorter work hours in large companies.

Granny dumping`s revival signals another side effect of the demographic time bomb. Fujita works in Saitama prefecture, where he said there are roughly 10 abandoned elders per year. That likely equates to a nationwide total in the low hundreds, he told the Times.

The trend is unlikely to stop anytime soon. There are more people in Japan over the age of 65, as a share of the total population, than at any point in the country`s history. As of 2016, elderly people accounted for 26.7% of Japan`s 127.11 million citizens.

And since 2011, adult diapers have outsold those intended for babies.

Some charities around Japan have begun catering to the new crop of abandoned elders, even setting up "senior citizen postboxes" (offices where people can be dropped off) to standardize the practice as best they can. The charity will then transfer the family member to a local retirement home, where they can receive the care they deserve.

SEE ALSO: A 24-year-old`s `death from overwork` causes Japan to rethink work-life balance

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NOW WATCH: This Japanese artist creates life-size animals from thin rolls of newspaper

Several of the top companies in Silicon Valley have responded publicly to President Trump`s executive order banning immigration in specific countries.

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VIENNA (Reuters) - Austria`s coalition government promised on Monday to ban Muslim face-covering veils and to restrict eastern European workers` access to the labor market, in a package of policies aimed at countering the rise of the far-right Freedom Party.
JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian police on Monday named the leader of an Islamist group, the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), as a suspect over allegations that he insulted the secular state ideology in the world`s biggest Muslim-majority country.

lsd

For nearly six years, the psychiatrist Humphry Osmond gave thousands of alcoholics LSD.

The treatment was part of an experimental regimen which Osmond oversaw from 1954 to 1960. He thought the acid trip might mimic some of the symptoms of delirium tremens — a psychotic condition common in chronic alcoholics who stop drinking — and shock the alcoholics into not drinking again.

But instead of terrifying his patients, the LSD trip — an 8-14 hour affair which can involve powerful hallucinations —appeared to produce positive, long-lasting changes in their personalities. Something about the experience appeared to help them "reorganize their personalities and reorganize their lives," New York University psychiatrist Michael Bogenschutz said at a conference on therapeutic psychedelics last year.

After a five-decade hiatus, scientists are finally returning to the study of psychedelics as a potential treatment for mental illnesses ranging from addiction to anxiety and depression. But the research, which has been incredibly promising so far, is still in its early stages. Most recent studies focus on "trip treatment" — essentially giving someone what`s considered a "full" dose of psychedelics so that they trip or hallucinate. Patients in these studies have said the experience was overwhelmingly positive; many describe the trip as one of the most important experiences of their lives.

But as this important research has gathered steam, so too has another non-scientific trend: Microdosing. People in Silicon Valley and elsewhere say they`re using tiny doses of psychedelics to supposedly increase their productivity; others claim they`ve been self-medicating with microdoses for things like depression.

Problem is, there are no existing scientific studies on microdosing, so it`s impossible to say if people`s anecdotal reports about the drugs` allegedly positive effects are legitimate.

What you need to know about microdosing

To be clear, psychedelic microdosing differs in several key ways from a "trip treatment."

First and foremost, researchers are not studying microdosing. This is likely why Albert Hoffman, who synthesized LSD, described it as an "under-researched area." 

This means that anyone who is doing it is self-administering an illegal drug — there are no official experiments, no variables, no controls involved. In other words, it`s impossible to use any of this data to come to any real conclusions about what the drugs are doing. (For example, someone who`s microdosing on LSD and saying it alleviates their depression could also be taking another medication which interferes with their results.)

night starry sky milky way galaxy illustration shutterstockNext, microdosing involves taking tiny amounts of a psychedelic drug — several times interspersed over a few days — rather than a single, full dose that would generally cause someone to trip.

In one official psychedelic study focusing on LSD, for example, participants were injected with 75 micrograms of the drug in 10 mL of saline — enough to trip. By contrast, LSD microdosers report taking about 10 micrograms, or roughly one-fifth to one-tenth of a standard recreational dose) once every four days. These levels are intended to be "sub-perceptual," as an article in The New York Times` "Style" section notes, or "too small to inspire Technicolor hallucinations, but large enough to [allegedly] enhance a sense of mental flow."

Again, though, the only research we have on microdosing is anecdotal — there are scattered reports of people doing the drug themselves, discussion boards on sites like Reddit, and several, more organized, written accounts compiled by doctors, such as those that Bay Area psychologist James Fadiman and the author of the book "The Psychedelic Explorer`s Guide" have collected. Fadiman says people who`ve microdosed have reported everything from fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression to enhanced creativity — but these claims remain unverified.

What we know about what`s going on in the brain during a psychedelic trip

Scientists still can`t say for sure what goes on in the brain during a trip — induced by a full dose of psychedelics — that appears to produce the types of life-altering experiences that people like Osmond`s alcoholics reported. Still, some researchers believe whatever it is may also be happening to a lesser degree with several microdoses.

On a psychedelic trip, "The normal hubs which control and regulate brain function become disrupted. There’s much greater connectivity — parts of the brain that rarely talk to each other ... talk to each other," David Nutt, the director of the Center for Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London, told me earlier in January. In low doses, he believes, this might happen "to a lesser extent."

David Nichols, a professor of pharmacology at Purdue University in Indiana told Wired Magazine`s Olivia Solon that it`s "quite possible" that microdoses of LSD could activate the brain`s dopamine pathways so as to produce a stimulant effect.

woman backpacking travel alone mountains hikingPart of what`s going on during a psychedelic trip has to do with the tamping down of certain brain circuits and the ramping up of others. One important circuit that appears to be subdued during a trip is the one that connects the parahippocampus and the retrosplenial cortex. This network is thought to play a key role in our sense of self, or ego.

And deflating the ego appears to make people feel more connected to the people and environment around them. "The normal sense of self is broken down and replaced by a sense of re-connection with themselves, others, and the natural world," Robin Carhart-Harris, who conducted the first study of its kind to take images of a healthy brain on a trip-inducing dose of LSD, said at a conference in New York.

Again, however, that`s with a large dose. What happens with a microdose — or several — remains to be studied.

SEE ALSO: Why psychedelics like magic mushrooms kill the ego and fundamentally transform the brain

DON`T MISS: New images show how LSD changes the way parts of the brain communicate

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NOW WATCH: What magic mushrooms do to your brain and state of mind

mark fields

Ford`s CEO Mark Fields officially weighed in on Trump`s immigration ban in an interview with Business Insider on Monday.

"Core to our values are respect for people. And all of our policies, including our human resource policies, support a diverse and inclusive workplace and we don`t support policies that are counter to our values. We are going to stay focused to the well-being of our employees and running a successful business," Fields said when asked about the ban. 

Trump signed an executive order barring people from seven Muslim-majority nations from entering the US on Friday.

Fields is the first executive from the "big 3" automakers, which also  includes General Motors and Fiat Chrysler, to respond to Trump`s immigration ban. Ford has not released a statement publicly on the matter.

Ford`s hometown is in Dearborn, Michigan, which has been called America`s Muslim Capital. Over 30% of the Dearborn population is of Arab descent, Bloomberg reported.

Fields has met with Trump at the White House on two back-to-back occasions. Last Monday, he attended a meeting on US manufacturing with executives from Lockheed Martin, Whirlpool, and Under Armour, as well as Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

But he also attended another meeting on manufacturing last Tuesday that only included the CEOs from the big 3 automakers. Fields is also a part of Trump`s Manufacturing Jobs Initiative.

Fields said the meetings last week were "very good and productive."

"I`ll be upfront and straightforward and tell it like it is," Fields said. "He was looking for what ideas we would have to promote growth here in the US, manufacturing growth, jobs, things of that nature. He listened."

SEE ALSO: CEOs from the `big 3` automakers met with Trump at the White House to talk jobs

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NOW WATCH: We just got our first look at `Blade Runner 2049` and it looks amazing

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - Pakistan on Monday ordered Hafiz Saeed, accused by the United States and India of masterminding the 2008 attacks on the Indian financial capital Mumbai that killed 166 people, placed under house arrest, a spokesman for Saeed`s organization said.
QUEBEC CITY (Reuters) - Two suspects were under arrest after six people were killed in a shooting at a Quebec City mosque, police said on Monday, and a source said one was French-Canadian and the other was of Moroccan heritage.

millennium tower san francisco

There`s good news for the wealthy tenants of Millennium Tower, San Francisco`s very own leaning tower.

An inspection by the city`s Department of Building Inspection concluded that the skyscraper, which has sunk 16 inches and tilted two inches since it opened in 2009, is safe to live in, according to The San Francisco Chronicle.

"There was no evidence of life-safety concerns observed during the inspection," the report stated. "The building is safe to occupy at this time."

The 350 million tower is home to over 400 multimillion-dollar condos and some pretty famous residents, including former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana. In December, former tech executive Craig Ramsey scooped up the penthouse for 13 million.

The building has been embroiled in scandal for months, as its developers, residents, and city officials argued over who was at fault for the building`s surprising vertical settlement. Homeowners have filed multiple class-action lawsuits against the developer, Millennium Partners, as well as the city, for not bringing the issue to their attention earlier.

The city conducted inspections on two dates, December 2 and January 11, and found that the building is safe to occupy. However, inspectors also found visual evidence of stress on the electrical wiring support systems and water intrusion in the fifth level of the basement.

millennium tower dirt soil samples drilling

Jerry Dodson, a resident and an attorney who represent some of the homeowners in a lawsuit, told The San Francisco Chronicle that the city report does not provide sufficient evidence of the building`s safety. The homeowners association commissioned an independent geotechnical study that is currently underway.

Millennium Tower is likely to continue to sink at a rate of two inches per year — double what engineers earlier estimated, according to an AP report.

SEE ALSO: Here`s why millennium Tower probably won`t fall

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NOW WATCH: This Bangkok skyscraper is one of the coolest buildings in the world

Honda clarity

General Motors and Honda just made a huge move to put hydrogen-powered cars on the map.

The two automakers announced Monday that they are investing 85 million in a joint venture to begin mass producing hydrogen fuel cells in 2020. The manufacturing facility will operate within GM`s manufacturing facility site in Brownstone, Michigan.

The two companies said they are sharing intellectual property to create a "more affordable commercial solution" for fuel cell and hydrogen storage technology.

GM and Honda said the joint venture will allow them to reduce the cost of development and manufacturing through economies of scale, adding that the two will work to advance the infrastructure to support hydrogen-powered cars to encourage consumer acceptance.

"They are not a science project anymore, they are a mainstream alternative energy source," Dan Nicholson, GM`s vice president of global propulsion systems, said at a press conference Monday.

From a purely technical standpoint, hydrogen-powered cars are better than electric vehicles. Hydrogen-powered cars boast longer ranges and have shorter re-fuel times than their EV counterparts. However, it`s difficult and expensive to produce hydrogen and there is a serious shortage of hydrogen stations.

For example, there are 15,360 electric stations in the United States, and hydrogen stations are really only available in California.

Honda began leasing its fuel-cell car, the Honda Clarity, at the end 0f 2016. The EPA gave the car an estimated range of 366 miles, the longest range of any zero-emissions vehicle. As of October, GM had achieved 3.1 million miles of hydrogen fuel cell testing.

Honda and GM said the new venture will create 100 jobs. The announcement comes at a time President Donald Trump is pushing to keep auto manufacturing in the US to create jobs.

SEE ALSO: 10 hydrogen-powered cars in the works right now

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NOW WATCH: This futuristic-looking hydrogen car could change the industry

PARIS (Reuters) - French presidential candidate Francois Fillon and his wife are being questioned by investigators as part of a probe into allegations that Penelope Fillon was paid for fake jobs, a source close to the case said on Monday.
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel`s government postponed a vote in parliament on Monday on a bill retroactively legalizing about 4,000 settler homes built on privately owned Palestinian land, a measure the attorney-general has said is unconstitutional.

Snap Snapchat NYSE

Snapchat parent company Snap Inc is expected to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange, CNBC`s Bob Pisani reports, citing one source.

The Los Angeles-based company filed confidential paperwork last fall for an initial public offering, or IPO, setting the wheels in motion for what`s likely to be the largest tech debut in years.

The filing has not yet been made public.

Snap is expected to list its shares in late March at a value of between 20 billion and 25 billion. Management held a meeting with equity analysts earlier this month.

It can`t hold formal meetings — the official IPO "roadshow" — with investors until 15 days after its financial statements are made publicly available. But Snap executives were in New York earlier this month speaking informally with investors.

The NYSE declined to comment. Snap could not immediately be reached for comment.

More to come...

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NOW WATCH: The best and worst months to rent an apartment in major US cities

SmartHome market

This story was delivered to BI Intelligence IoT Briefing subscribers. To learn more and subscribe, please click here.

Over the past year, the world’s largest tech companies’ smart home ecosystems have taken shape, and the market strategies for the three largest of these companies is now clear.

However, as Reuters notes, this will set the companies on a collision course with each other as the smart home matures and becomes a more mainstream consumer service.

  • Apple’s HomeKit is centered on sales of the iPhone, the remote of the HomeKit ecosystem. While the entire ecosystem is built around Apple products, with the Apple TV or iPad serving as the hub for the HomeKit ecosystem, the iPhone is the only prerequisite for a user to set up an Apple Home ecosystem. Users can still operate the ecosystem without an Apple TV or iPad, albeit only from inside the home rather than remotely. This helps the company because each iPhone user with iOS 10 has the ability to set up HomeKit devices and use Apple products to adopt the smart home.
  • The Google Home is centered on targeting users with ads. The company is one of the largest in the world to rely on ads as its primary stream of revenue, announcing a whopping 79.4 billion from its AdSense division on its earnings call last week, the overwhelming majority of the Alphabet parent’s total revenue. While Alphabet bought the device makers Nest and Dropcam in recent years, it doesn`t have the built-in user base that Apple has with iPhone. It may boast a technological advantage in the Google Assistant, however, over Alexa and Siri at this point, as Sundar Pichai argued on the company’s earnings call.
  • Amazon’s Echo products are designed to be an access point to the Prime network. As BI Intelligence has previously identified, the online retailer’s monetization strategy doesn`t focus on the hardware of the Echo devices, but rather on connecting users directly to the Prime network without having to go through an iPhone or Google search engine to do so. This creates a recurring revenue stream for the online retailer. As Alexa’s reach continues to expand, it will become an even larger monetization asset for Amazon by allowing more points of entry into the Prime network.

But Apple may fall behind Google and Amazon due to its heavy reliance on iPhone sales to monetize the smart home. As previously noted, Apple is only one of the three companies listed above to rely on hardware to drive revenue in the smart home space. Amazon and Google will continue to be able to monetize the smart home even if the sales of their hardware decline, which is especially relevant given the recent trend of iPhone sales stagnation. But with a new tenth-anniversary iPhone on the horizon this year, the company might be able to overcome this at least temporarily. Further, despite that the company might not be able to get more people to buy iPhones and set up HomeKit, it still has a massive iPhone user base that works to its advantage.

The U.S. smart home market has yet to truly take off. At its current state, we believe the smart home market is stuck in the `chasm` of the technology adoption curve, in which it is struggling to surpass the early-adopter phase and move to the mass-market phase of adoption.

There are many barriers preventing mass-market smart home adoption: high device prices, limited consumer demand and long device replacement cycles. However, the largest barrier is the technological fragmentation of the smart home ecosystem, in which consumers need multiple networking devices, apps and more to build and run their smart home.

John Greenough, senior research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider`s premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on the U.S. smart home market that analyzes current consumer demand for the smart home and barriers to widespread adoption. It also analyzes and determines areas of growth and ways to overcome barriers.

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  • Smart home devices are becoming more prevalent throughout the US. We define a smart home device as any stand-alone object found in the home that is connected to the internet, can be either monitored or controlled from a remote location, and has a noncomputing primary function. Multiple smart home devices within a single home form the basis of a smart home ecosystem.
  • Currently, the US smart home market as a whole is in the "chasm" of the tech adoption curve. The chasm is the crucial stage between the early-adopter phase and the mass-market phase, in which manufacturers need to prove a need for their devices.
  • High prices, coupled with limited consumer demand and long device replacement cycles, are three of the four top barriers preventing the smart home market from moving from the early-adopter stage to the mass-market stage. For example, mass-market consumers will likely wait until their device is broken to replace it. Then they will compare a nonconnected and connected product to see if the benefits make up for the price differential.
  • The largest barrier is technological fragmentation within the connected home ecosystem. Currently, there are many networks, standards, and devices being used to connect the smart home, creating interoperability problems and making it confusing for the consumer to set up and control multiple devices. Until interoperability is solved, consumers will have difficulty choosing smart home devices and systems.
  • "Closed ecosystems" are the short-term solution to technological fragmentation. Closed ecosystems are composed of devices that are compatible with each other and which can be controlled through a single point.

In full, the report:

  • Analyzes the demand of US consumers, based off of survey results
  • Forecasts out smart home device growth until 2020
  • Determines the current leaders in the market
  • Explains how the connected home ecosystem works
  • Examines how Apple and Google will play a major role in the development of the smart home
  • Some of the companies mentioned in this report include Apple, Google, Nest, August, ADT, Comcast, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, Lowe`s, and Honeywell.

To get your copy of this invaluable guide, choose one of these options:

  1. Subscribe to an ALL-ACCESS Membership with BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report AND over 100 other expertly researched deep-dive reports, subscriptions to all of our daily newsletters, and much more. >> START A MEMBERSHIP
  2. Purchase the report and download it immediately from our research store. >> BUY THE REPORT

The choice is yours. But however you decide to acquire this report, you’ve given yourself a powerful advantage in your understanding of the smart home market.

Join the conversation about this story »

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syria said on Monday that any attempt to create so-called safe zones for refugees without coordinating with Damascus would be "unsafe" and violate Syria`s sovereignty, the state news agency SANA reported.
QUEBEC CITY (Reuters) - Two suspects were under arrest after a shooting at a Quebec City mosque on Sunday evening killed six people and wounded eight, police said on Monday, and a source said one was French-Canadian and the other was of Moroccan heritage.
SARAJEVO (Reuters) - A Bosnian Serb woman has been indicted for taking part in the killing of 37 Muslim Bosniak prisoners of war early in the Balkan country`s 1992-95 war, the office of a Bosnian war crimes prosecutor said in a statement on Monday.
PARIS (Reuters) - French election candidate Francois Fillon and his wife Penelope are being questioned by prosecutors as part of an investigation following press allegations that Penelope Fillon was paid for fake jobs, BFM television said on Monday.

Fred Korematsu google doodle

Call it Google`s first sub-doodle.

In the week following President Trump`s orders to build a border wall with Mexico and a ban of immigrants from seven predominately Muslim countries, Google`s Doodle Monday celebrated Fred Korematsu, the civil rights activist who fought against Japanese internment camps in the US during World War II.

Korematsu would`ve been 98 on Monday.

Korematsu filed a civil suit challenging the internment camps that went all the way to the Supreme Court. However, he lost the case. Decades later, the US apologized for the executive order that placed people of Japanese ancestry in internment camps. Eventually, some were compensated.

Google and its parent company Alphabet have had mixed dealings with the Trump administration so far. Before Trump`s inauguration, Alphabet CEO Larry Page and chairman Eric Schmidt met with then president-elect Trump in the so-called "tech summit" in Trump tower. Schmidt met with Trump again a few weeks later.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent a memo to staff Friday that criticized Trump`s executive order on immigration.

“We’re upset about the impact of this order and any proposals that could impose restrictions on Googlers and their families, or that could create barriers to bringing great talent to the US," Pichai wrote. 

"It’s painful to see the personal cost of this executive order on our colleagues," he added.

SEE ALSO: Google CEO didn`t have an answer for how the company would make money off voice searches

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NOW WATCH: WPP CEO Sir Martin Sorrell on Snapchat becoming the `third force` to Google and Facebook

woman backpacking travel alone mountains hiking

For nearly six years, the psychiatrist Humphry Osmond gave thousands of alcoholics LSD.

The treatment was part of an experimental regimen which Osmond oversaw from 1954 to 1960. He thought the acid trip might mimic some of the symptoms of delirium tremens — a psychotic condition common in chronic alcoholics who stop drinking — and shock the alcoholics into not drinking again.

But instead of terrifying his patients, the LSD trip — an 8-14 hour affair which can involve powerful hallucinations —appeared to produce positive, long-lasting changes in their personalities. Something about the experience appeared to help them "reorganize their personalities and reorganize their lives," New York University psychiatrist Michael Bogenschutz said at a conference on therapeutic psychedelics last year.

After a five-decade hiatus, scientists are finally returning to the study of psychedelics as a potential treatment for mental illnesses ranging from addiction to anxiety and depression. But the research, which has been incredibly promising so far, is still in its early stages. Most recent studies focus on "trip treatment" — essentially giving someone what`s considered a "full" dose of psychedelics so that they trip or hallucinate. Patients in these studies have said the experience was overwhelmingly positive; many describe the trip as one of the most important experiences of their lives.

But as this important research has gathered steam, so too has another non-scientific trend: Microdosing. People in Silicon Valley and elsewhere say they`re using tiny doses of psychedelics to supposedly increase their productivity; others claim they`ve been self-medicating with microdoses for things like depression.

Problem is, there are no existing scientific studies on microdosing, so it`s impossible to say if people`s anecdotal reports about the drugs` allegedly positive effects are legitimate.

What you need to know about microdosing

To be clear, psychedelic microdosing differs in several key ways from a "trip treatment."

First and foremost, researchers are not studying microdosing. This is likely why Albert Hoffman, who synthesized LSD, described it as an "under-researched area." 

This means that anyone who is doing it is self-administering an illegal drug — there are no official experiments, no variables, no controls involved. In other words, it`s impossible to use any of this data to come to any real conclusions about what the drugs are doing. (For example, someone who`s microdosing on LSD and saying it alleviates their depression could also be taking another medication which interferes with their results.)

night starry sky milky way galaxy illustration shutterstockNext, microdosing involves taking tiny amounts of a psychedelic drug — several times interspersed over a few days — rather than a single, full dose that would generally cause someone to trip.

In one official psychedelic study focusing on LSD, for example, participants were injected with 75 micrograms of the drug in 10 mL of saline — enough to trip. By contrast, LSD microdosers report taking about 10 micrograms, or roughly one-fifth to one-tenth of a standard recreational dose) once every four days. These levels are intended to be "sub-perceptual," as an article in The New York Times` "Style" section notes, or "too small to inspire Technicolor hallucinations, but large enough to [allegedly] enhance a sense of mental flow."

Again, though, the only research we have on microdosing is anecdotal — there are scattered reports of people doing the drug themselves, discussion boards on sites like Reddit, and several, more organized, written accounts compiled by doctors, such as those that Bay Area psychologist James Fadiman and the author of the book "The Psychedelic Explorer`s Guide" have collected. Fadiman says people who`ve microdosed have reported everything from fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression to enhanced creativity — but these claims remain unverified.

What we know about what`s going on in the brain during a psychedelic trip

Scientists still can`t say for sure what goes on in the brain during a trip — induced by a full dose of psychedelics — that appears to produce the types of life-altering experiences that people like Osmond`s alcoholics reported. Still, some researchers believe whatever it is may also be happening to a lesser degree with several microdoses.

On a psychedelic trip, "The normal hubs which control and regulate brain function become disrupted. There’s much greater connectivity — parts of the brain that rarely talk to each other ... talk to each other," David Nutt, the director of the Center for Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London, told me earlier in January. In low doses, he believes, this might happen "to a lesser extent."

David Nichols, a professor of pharmacology at Purdue University in Indiana told Wired Magazine`s Olivia Solon that it`s "quite possible" that microdoses of LSD could activate the brain`s dopamine pathways so as to produce a stimulant effect.

Part of what`s going on during a psychedelic trip has to do with the tamping down of certain brain circuits and the ramping up of others. One important circuit that appears to be subdued during a trip is the one that connects the parahippocampus and the retrosplenial cortex. This network is thought to play a key role in our sense of self, or ego.

And deflating the ego appears to make people feel more connected to the people and environment around them. "The normal sense of self is broken down and replaced by a sense of re-connection with themselves, others, and the natural world," Robin Carhart-Harris, who conducted the first study of its kind to take images of a healthy brain on a trip-inducing dose of LSD, said at a conference in New York.

Again, however, that`s with a large dose. What happens with a microdose — or several — remains to be studied.

SEE ALSO: Why psychedelics like magic mushrooms kill the ego and fundamentally transform the brain

DON`T MISS: New images show how LSD changes the way parts of the brain communicate

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NOW WATCH: What magic mushrooms do to your brain and state of mind

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Israel should apologize for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu`s praise for U.S. President Donald Trump`s plans to build a wall on the Mexican border, Mexico`s foreign minister said on Monday, calling it an "aggression" against the country.
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