How Dense Does a Body Have to Be to Break a Concrete Floor?

I often miss some cool stuff the first time I watch a movie. This is probably a good thing—it shows that I’m focused on the story and not the small details. In this case, the movie is 2016’s Captain America: Civil War and the scene involves the density of a character named Vision.

OK, I am going to give a SPOILER ALERT—but if you haven’t seen this movie yet, I have a feeling you won’t be upset about spoilers. Anyway, this scene doesn’t reveal any huge plot points.

So here’s the deal. Vision is trying to keep Wanda (Scarlet Witch) safe in the Avengers’ headquarters. Hawkeye comes to help her leave, but Vision catches them. Although Vision could easily defeat Hawkeye, the same cannot be said for the powers of Scarlet Witch. Scarlet Witch has some ability to control matter—and in this case it appears that she can activate Vision’s powers. One of Vision’s primary powers is his ability to change his density.

So with a bit of magic, Scarlet Witch increases Vision’s density up to the point were he becomes too massive to move. He grows so massive that he breaks through the floor. With Vision out of the way, Wanda and Hawkeye are free to leave and finish the rest of the movie.

Density and Mass of Vision

Now for the fun part. What was the density and mass of Vision when he crashed through the floor? How about a quick review of density? Take a look at these five objects.

Rhett Allain

These blocks are all different, but there is something similar about them. If you took the three blocks on the left, they all have the same mass (about 45 grams). The three blocks on the right all have the same volume (I’m disappointed that they are almost exactly 1 cubic inch—they should have some value in cm3). But wait! What if you take the mass of each block and divide by its volume? This is how we define density. The density is a property that doesn’t depend on the size of the object, just its material. So the two white objects (on the ends) have different volumes and different masses, but the same density. The same is true for the two black objects.

To estimate the mass and density of Vision, I need some particular event that gives a hint about his mass since you can’t “see” the mass of an object. Yes, you guessed it: I can use moment that Vision breaks through the floor to estimate his mass.

Here is what I’m going to do. I’m going to assume the floor is made of concrete and that the gravitational force on Vision (due to his large mass) is enough to exceed the compressive strength of concrete to initiate the break.

What is “compressive strength”? This is the pressure a material can withstand before breaking. Yes, it’s the pressure and not the force (remember that pressure is the force divided by the contact area). This is why you can more easily break a material with a sharp pointy object than you can with a big flat object. The pointy object has a smaller area and therefore you get a bigger pressure for the same amount of force.

But what about the compressive strength of concrete? It’s perhaps between 20 and 40 mega Pascals (MPa) where a Pascal is the same as one Newton per square meter. This means that if the floor breaks, I know the pressure from the force between Vision and the floor. If I estimate his contact area, I can then calculate the force and next his masses.

Really, the only thing left to estimate is the contact area. I could perhaps do a more detailed analysis, but I think it’s fine to just get a rough value. What about a contact area that is a rectangle with a length of 1 meter and a width of 0.5 meters? That would put the area at 0.5 m2. I’m going with that.

Oh, one more thing. If I want to calculate the density of Vision, I also need his volume. He looks like a normal human—at least in terms of size. Humans have a density close to 1000 kg/m^3 (the density of water). If a human has a mass of 75 kg, the volume would be around 0.075 m3. I’m going with that value.

Let’s crunch the numbers. I’m including the calculations in this python script so that you can put your own values in (if you don’t like mine). Just click the “pencil” to edit and “play” to run it if you change any of the values.

Just to be clear, that is massive. The density is extreme (it’s not neutron-star-level density though). Actually, it’s sort of difficult to visualize a mass that large. How about this? What would be the size of a spherical asteroid of that same size? If the asteroid is made of normal stuff, it might have a density of 3,000 kg/m^3. With the same mass as Vision, a spherical asteroid would have a diameter of around 10 meters (30 feet). That’s one big old rock.

Homework

You know (or you should know) that I can’t just stop there. There are many questions left unanswered. I would normally just assign these as homework, but let me answer two of these questions for you.

Would there be a noticeable gravitational force between Vision and Hawkeye due to the large mass?

There is a gravitational interaction between all objects with mass. Normally on the surface of the Earth we only deal with the gravitational force between an object and the other. Interactions between two objects (like people) are usually so small that you would never be able to measure them. In this case, however, one of those people has a giant mass.

The magnitude of the gravitational force depends on both the masses of the objects and the distance between them. If you assume the objects are point masses (not true but an OK approximation), then the following equation calculates the force.

The G is just the universal gravitational constant with a value of 6.67 x 10-11 Nm2/kg2. If I assume a distance of 1.5 meters between Hawkeye and Vision, the gravitational force between them would be 0.0034 Newtons. That is a pretty tiny force. In fact, if you put a paperclip on top of Hawkeye’s head, the weight of this paperclip would be more than twice the gravitational pull from Vision. I don’t think Hawkeye would notice it.

Assuming Scarlet Witch increases Vision’s density at a constant rate, how long will it take for him to have a mass equivalent to the Earth?

If you watch a clip of the scene, it seems clear that Scarlet Witch starts influencing Vision’s mass when his head gem turns from yellow to red. Vision drops to his knees 13.9 seconds later. The floor also starts to crack at this point. Finally, after 20.4 seconds, Vision crashes through the floor.

Assuming a constant rate for the increase of mass (and thus density), the mass increases at 100,000 kilograms per second. If this mass increase rate stays constant, it would take 5 x 1019 seconds to get up to the mass of the Earth (6 x 1024 kg). Hint: that time is super, super, super long. It’s not going to happen. But it was still fun to calculate.

Here are a few more homework questions for you:

  • How long (assuming a constant mass increase rate) until Vision’s mass reaches the point where Hawkeye gets pulled to Vision?
  • If you consider the relationship between mass and energy (E = mc2), how much energy would it take to increase Vision’s mass? What about the power? How does this compare to the power output of the Sun?
  • How large would Vision’s mass need to get before he became a black hole?

More Great WIRED Stories

If Your Business Strategy Looks Too Complicated, It Probably Is. Here's Why

Once a year, I spend two days with my client companies developing their annual plan. While we continuously review strategy throughout the year, the annual plan is a chance to do a deeper dive into the internal and external factors that inform how to go to market.

Getting this strategy right, and keeping it right, is key to long-term growth and success. However, many teams get it wrong. They don’t get it wrong because the strategy they develop won’t work, but because it’s impossible to explain it in simple terms. If it’s not easy to explain, it will be impossible to execute.

Your employees, your partners, and your customers are the ones who will actually be implementing your strategy. If it’s too complicated to understand, they won’t understand it.

After you’ve decided on all of angles you’re going to play and all of the moves you’re going to make, set to work developing a simple, clear, and effective way to communicate it to everyone on the team. Here are three things every strategy must communicate easily and effectively to all stakeholders.

1. Set a clear (and limited) set of focused priorities.

In essence, strategy is about choice. And the first objective is to set a clear and decisive set of priorities for the organization. The fewer the better. These need to be above and beyond the day-to-day work and focused on long-term goals and key moves needed to get there.

Strategic moves include things like creating new products or services, developing new capabilities, entering new markets, scaling up capacity, or even researching technology. While all of these might help the organization, trying to do all of them at once won’t. Pick three to five for the year, max.

Another trick I often employ is to list all of the strategy options that the team  eliminated or de-prioritized. By publishing these strategies as well, you’re making specifically clear what you’re NOT doing in the coming year.

2. Set a clear definition of success and a timeline.

Beyond direction, a good strategy needs a clear desired outcome and definition of success. Too many strategies stop at big ideas without nailing down specifics. The devil lies in the details. Too often, I see a team of people agree to a high level strategic priority, only to discover they are on vastly different pages when the details are fleshed out.

For each strategic direction, create a set of specific goals that are both measurable and time bound. It should be clear to everyone what constitutes completion, and it ideally should include a handful of objective criteria. I generally suggest a simple checklist or short description of the outcome or product.

3. Create a compelling vision of future success.

Now that you have a clear set of priorities and a definition of success, it’s time to paint a vivid picture of success. As humans we’re wired to be compelled by stories and visual images. Turn the goals you’ve selected into a narrative  explaining why you’ve chosen these objectives, why they are the most important ones, and how achieving these will lead to organizational success.

If someone on your team has a creative bent, try illustrating your desired future with photos and illustrations. If you’re developing a new product or service, find images that reflect the impact you want to create on your customer. If you’re expanding into a new geography, create a slideshow highlighting the city or region and explain why it’s such an attractive market.

Having a strategy with a clear set of priorities and objectives with actionable outcomes will increase your stakeholder alignment. By creating a rich vision for future success you’ll drive engagement and motivation. When in doubt, keep it simple, clear, and compelling. A basic strategy, well-executed, will always beat a brilliant one whiffed.

Japanese electronics firms look to re-engineer their design mojo

TOKYO (Reuters) – Akihiro Adachi, a 31-year-old audiovisual equipment designer at Panasonic Corp, longed for some personal space during his lengthy train rides from Osaka to Tokyo. So when his company set out to encourage innovation, he joined with some colleagues and came up with “Wear Space,” a headset that limits noise and peripheral vision.

A designer of Panasonic demonstrates a prototype of ‘Wear Space’ during a photo opportunity in Tokyo, Japan, October 29, 2018. Picture taken October 29, 2018. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Many at Panasonic were puzzled.

“Someone said the office full of people wearing this would look weird,” said Kang Hwayoung, another member of the 10-person design team.

But the prototype unexpectedly won a global design award and received positive feedback from unexpected quarters, such as sake tasters who wanted to limit sensory input.

The project is among a range of efforts in the Japanese electronics industry to reinvigorate industrial design. After years of losing ground to design-first rivals such as Apple and Dyson, Japanese companies are now trying to recover the processes and creative flair that produced iconic products such as the Walkman.

Panasonic, Sony and Mitsubishi Electric are among those implementing practices that have been routine at many U.S. and European companies, such as engaging designers at every step and treating packaging as part of the product.

“We used to have designers involved only in final stages of our product development process, just for an aesthetic fix,” Yoshiyuki Miyabe, Panasonic’s technology and manufacturing chief, told reporters. “We are revamping the process so that designers can join us from the planning phase.”

The Japanese government is promoting the efforts: a report in May urged corporate executives to pursue “design-driven management, whereby a company leverages design as a primary driver of competitiveness.”

It also called for tax incentives for design-related investments and new laws to better protect intellectual property. The government is set to revise such laws next year.

“Of course, we had an argument over how much the government can do and should do with private-sector issues like this,” said Daisuke Kubota, director at the government’s design registration system planning office, who was involved in the panel.

“But a lot of design experts asked us for government initiatives, saying that this is really the last chance and Japan would never be able to catch up with global rivals if this opportunity is missed.”

Another member of the panel, Kinya Tagawa, visiting professor at the Royal College of Art and co-founder of design firm Takram, says there has been a sharp increase in major companies’ requesting design lectures for their executives.

“I’m seeing a sign of change,” he said.

THE ROAD AHEAD

All agree there is a long way to go. C-suite designers remain a rarity at most electronics companies while technologists reign supreme, company officials and industrial designers say.

Japan last year received 31,961 applications for design registrations, only a fraction of China’s 628,658 and half of South Korea’s 67,374. In the heyday of the Japanese electronics industry in the early 1980s, Japan had nearly 60,000 applications every year.

Tagawa said the root of today’s problems was the failure of Japanese firms to absorb lessons from the software revolution, which showed the importance of user-centered design principles and easy-to-use products such as Apple’s iPhone. Instead, they remained fixated on engineering.

Ryuichi Oya, who retired as design chief of Sharp Corp last month, says he saw that attitude up close when he moved to Sharp four years ago after a long stint at automaker Mazda Motor.

“Designers at home electronics companies have little say compared to engineers,” he said. “When engineers dismiss design proposals as too costly or difficult from an engineering point of view, designers easily succumb.”

Oya said he found it particularly hard to convince management of the need for a design vision.

“It’s not about whether you like this color or that shape,” he said. “There have to be design principles unique to Sharp and consistent across its product line.”

COMPETITION

Japanese designers cite the contrast with South Korea’s Samsung Group, where its patriarch, Lee Kun-hee, said in 1996 that design was a core management resource “imperative for a company’s survival in the 21st century.” He sharply boosted both the number and status of designers.

At Sony, insiders say design began its return to the forefront after chairman Kaz Hirai took over in 2012. Change has been slow as the company went through a painful restructuring, but the results can be seen its approach to the revival of Aibo, a robot dog.

Designers worked to craft a holistic user experience, starting from the moment a customer opened the box, tapping into a community of Aibo owners, Sony design chief Yutaka Hasegawa said.

“We had intense discussions over how Aibo should be packaged, to make it look closer to a living creature. It’s important because opening the container box marks the customer’s first encounter with the dog.”

Slideshow (6 Images)

They decided to lay Aibo sideways with its head tilting to the left, a more expensive option than placing it face down because the interior packaging must be asymmetrical.

The result was a buzz among Aibo owners, with some posting on the Internet videos showing a “ceremony for opening the Aibo container.”

($1 = 112.7200 yen)

Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki; Additional reporting by Yoshiyasu Shida; Editing by Jonathan Weber and Gerry Doyle

Japan rules out asking private firms to avoid telecoms gear that could be malicious

FILE PHOTO: Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga attends a news conference at Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s official residence in Tokyo, Japan May 29, 2017. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s government has no plan to ask private companies to avoid buying telecommunications equipment that could have malicious functions, such as information leakage, its top spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, said on Thursday.

The comment suggests Japan does not intend, for the moment, to extend to private firms a policy of not buying such equipment for the government, after it issued a policy document on Monday on the need to maintain cybersecurity during procurement.

While China’s telecoms equipment supplier Huawei Technologies, and ZTE (0763.HK) are not explicitly named, sources said last week the change aimed at preventing government procurement from the two Chinese makers.

Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim and Sam Nussey; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

Google studies steps to open representative office in Vietnam, government says

HANOI (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google is studying steps toward opening a representative office in Vietnam, the government of the Southeast Asian nation said on its website, citing Google’s Senior Vice President Kent Walker.

FILE PHOTO: The brand logo of Alphabet Inc’s Google is seen outside its office in Beijing, China, August 8, 2018. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

Despite economic reforms and increasing openness to social change, Vietnam’s Communist Party retains tight media censorship and does not tolerate dissent.

The news comes as a controversial cybersecurity law is set to take effect next month, requiring global technology firms to open local offices and store data in the country.

“Google is studying steps to open a representative office in Vietnam,” the website quoted Kent as saying on Tuesday, and adding that Google would abide by laws of the host nation, while ensuring it does not contradict international laws.

Vietnam appreciated an opinion Google contributed to a draft decree on guidelines to implement the law and ensure cyber safety and security, the website added.

“We remain very excited to see how technology is being used by businesses and people in Vietnam. There are a number of different factors we look at before opening an office, but we have nothing to announce at this time,” a Google spokesman told Reuters in an emailed statement on Wednesday.

Vietnam’s new law has provoked objections from tech companies, rights groups and Western governments, including the United States.

Facebook and Google, which are widely used in Vietnam and serve as the main platforms for dissidents, do not have offices or data storage facilities there and have pushed back on the localization requirements.

The security ministry said the law would protect Vietnam from tens of thousands of large-scale cyber attacks that directly cause serious economic losses and threaten security and social order.

This year, Vietnam, which has been drafting a code of conduct for the internet, asked Facebook to open a local office.

Its information ministry also wants half of social media customers to use domestic social networks by 2020, and plans to stamp out “toxic information” on Facebook and Google.

The draft decree, released last month, requires providers of services such as email and social media to set up offices if they collect or analyze data, allow anti-state actions or cyber attack by users, and fail to remove objectionable content.

Reporting by Mai Nguyen; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Himani Sarkar

Kroger Just Made the Sort of Massive Decision That'll Make Competitors Scramble In Panic

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

There’s panic in the supermarket aisles.

For once, it’s not a vegan who can’t find the right strain of cabbage.

No, this is the panic of supermarket chains worried that the game has changed and no one will tell them the new rules.

Amazon‘s tentacles seem to be wrapping themselves around everything and everyone and the more traditional chains need to react. But how?

In Kroger’s case, the answer seems to be to stop people shopping at Kroger.

Or, rather, to make it not entirely necessary.

The chain has announced that it’ll be perfectly happy if you go to Walgreen’s instead.

In essence, this supermarket within a drugstore will contain “a curated assortment of 2,300 products” that’ll take up around a third of the space in your average Walgreen’s.

Which wise people will do the curating, I hear you cry. 

Oh, not so much people, but “customer data and insights provided by Kroger subsidiary 84.51.”

In 13 Northern Kentucky Walgreen’s, you’ll be able to pick up essentials such as chicken or beef. Or, for the especially adventurous, Home Chef meal kits.

Some might see this as two big brands feeling threatened and huddling together for a little warmth.

This is your number 2 and number 6 biggest American retailers getting together.

But if you’re up against the twisted might of Amazon and Whole Foods, what are you going to do?

You’re going to think about where people regularly go and try and make things easier for them to buy your wares. 

People are lazy. They’re getting lazier. Help them solve their own little daily problems that, for so many, tend to involve surviving more than thriving.

Other chain stores have found it harder to find huddle-partners.

It’s trying to get foot traffic, after all.

And who’s next? Safeway and CVS? 

How about Costco and H&M? 

You have to think creatively about these things. Amazon’s getting into food and fashion. It’s creeping its way into your kitchen, living room and bedroom with its Echo.

There are only so many means of escape.

Alibaba's Jack Ma is a Communist Party member, China state paper reveals

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Jack Ma, the head of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and China’s best-known capitalist, is a Communist Party member, the official Party newspaper said on Monday, debunking a public assumption the billionaire was politically unattached.

FILE PHOTO: Alibaba Group co-founder and Executive Chairman Jack Ma attends the World Trade Organization (WTO) Forum “Trade 2030” in Geneva, Switzerland, October 2, 2018. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

The People’s Daily revealed Ma’s Party membership in a list of 100 people it said had helped drive the country “reform and opening up” process. Ma is China’s richest man with a fortune of $35.8 billion, according to Forbes.

It was unclear why the paper chose to mention Ma’s affiliation now but it comes amid a push by Beijing to bring the country’s private enterprises more in line with Party values, especially in the technology sector that has grown rapidly, driven by the successes of private firms.

Ma, who announced in September he would step down as Alibaba chairman next year, is China’s highest-profile business leader. He has acted as an adviser to political leaders in Asia and Europe and fostered big ambitions in the United States.

He has driven Alibaba to become a $390 billion giant, which dominates China’s online retail market, stretches from logistics to social media, and has spawned a separate fintech empire around popular payment platform Alipay.

Ma’s political affiliation came as a surprise to many.

Results from domestic search engine Baidu Inc, when asked “is Jack Ma a Communist Party member”, also mostly said that he was not.

Alibaba declined to comment on Ma’s Party membership, but said political ties did not impact the firm’s operations.

“Political affiliation of any executive does not influence the company’s business decision-making process,” a spokesperson said in emailed comments to Reuters on Tuesday.

“We follow all laws and regulations in countries where we operate as we fulfil our mission of making it easier for people to do business anywhere in the digital era.”

The People’s Daily list also included Baidu head Robin Li and Tencent Holding Ltd chief Pony Ma, though did not name either of them as Party members. Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent together make up the “BAT” trio of China’s top tech firms.

The paper did not say when Ma had become a Party member.

Reporting by Adam Jourdan and John Ruwitch; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Himani Sarkar

Attention Passengers: Your Next Flight Will Likely Arrive Early. Here's Why

As frequent fliers, Kellogg’s Jan Van Mieghem and Yuval Salant have seen the same scene unfold numerous times: Their plane touches down and the pilot announces over the loudspeaker that the flight arrived ahead of schedule. Upon hearing about this stroke of good luck, the passengers immediately perk up.

“Everybody is smiling,” says Van Mieghem.

But are these smiles due to more than good luck? Van Mieghem, the Stuart professor of managerial economics and operations, and Salant, an associate professor of managerial economics and decision sciences, began to wonder whether airlines were strategically adjusting their schedules to make early arrivals more likely.

In a new study with Assistant Professor Dennis Zhang of Washington University in St. Louis, the researchers analyze two decades of data on 43 million domestic U.S. flights. They discover that published flight times–the flight duration that consumers see when they shop for plane tickets–increased 8.1 percent between 1997 and 2017, amounting to an additional 341 million passenger hours.

But when the researchers break down what caused that increase, they find that planes are not flying slower than they used to.

Rather, nearly half of the additional time comes from airlines strategically padding their schedules. Late planes are bad for business–so, by adding time to their predicted flight lengths, airlines can increase the odds that their planes will arrive on time. This schedule padding is especially common on flight routes with less competition, the researchers find.

In Search of Lost Time

The team looked at historical data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics containing detailed data on 43 million flights over the last 21 years. They analyzed changes in flight duration for the same route operated by the same carrier year over year.

On paper, it appeared that the same flights now take significantly longer than they did in the ’90s.

The researchers knew that there were several possible explanations for this. Planes may be spending more time circling in the air waiting for an open landing strip, or more time on the ground waiting for a gate to become available. Another possibility is that air travel has become less predictable–if so, airlines could be adding more buffer time to guard against increasingly frequent delays from bad weather or other unplanned events.

A final possibility was “strategic padding”: airlines might extend their scheduled flight times not for any logistical reason, but as a matter of sheer business strategy. 

“When flights arrive on time or ahead of schedule, you get happy customers,” says Van Mieghem. 

However, Salant notes, “there are costs associated with that.” For one, if an airline pads too much, a competitor can undercut them by offering a shorter flight. Furthermore, flight crew members are often paid for the full scheduled flight duration, regardless of how long the flight actually takes.

The researchers created a mathematical model to tease out how much each factor–air time, ground time, unpredictability, and strategic padding–contributed to the increase in published flight times. 

They found that planes spend roughly the same amount of time in the air as they did 21 years ago. And unpredictability did not seem to be playing much of a role in the increase, either.

Ground time was a different story. “Passengers were spending more time on the plane waiting for take-off, or waiting for a gate after landing, possibly because of increased air traffic,” Salant says.

But that increase in ground time explained about half of the increase in published flight times, leaving more than 150 million passenger hours unaccounted for. The researchers concluded that this remaining time was the result of strategic padding.

“We find that the missing time is not due to physical constraints like air time and ground time or variability. It’s due to strategic decision-making by airlines. They’re padding their schedules, and they’re doing it for a reason.”

— Jan Van Mieghem

Less Competition Means Longer Flight Times

Why has strategic padding become more common? The researchers suspected that part of the reason is dwindling competition. 

“If you have plenty of competitors, logic dictates that you will seek to offer customers the most efficient route from A to B. You’ll cut back your scheduled flight time,” Van Mieghem explains.

But due to bankruptcies and mergers, there are fewer large U.S. airlines today than in 1997. So airlines today may feel less competitive pressure to offer shorter flight times.

To test this theory, the researchers looked at how published flight times changed after competitors either started or stopped offering flights on a particular route. 

As predicted, when competition grew stiffer, airlines cut down travel time. Conversely, Van Mieghem says, “as the playing field thins out, less competition makes it easier for airlines to do the opposite.

A Silver Lining to Schedule Padding?

Walk around O’Hare airport, for example, and you are likely to come across a billboard advertising the “reliability” of United Airlines’ flights.

“But it’s not really about reliability,” Van Mieghem says. “If airlines really wanted to improve reliability, they’d focus their efforts on enhancing their operations. What our study shows is that this is not the case. What they’re going for instead is the easier–and cheaper–option of schedule padding.”

Nonetheless, the researchers stress that schedule padding has its benefits. After all, a flight that usually takes 90 minutes may indeed take 120 on an unlucky day. By publishing a time closer to two hours, the researchers explain, airlines are simply erring more on the side of caution.

In fact, schedule padding may actually help travel go more smoothly. Passengers are not only more likely to experience the joy of an on-time arrival, but also get more buffer time to make a connecting flight.

And the paper’s revelations suggest that there is an opportunity for passengers to be strategic, too, says Van Mieghem.

“We tend to allow a little extra time for delays or hold-ups when we’re travelling,” he notes. But if consumers know that their flight is likely to get in on time, they might save time by reducing that buffer in their schedule. “Of course,” he adds, “this is a question of our individual tolerance for risk.”

Black Friday 2018: The Absolute Best Tech Deals Online

We know how you’re feeling. You’re full of turkey (or maybe Tofurky!) but the deals are happening, and they’re happening right about now. Well, fear not. We here on the WIRED Gear team have been patrolling every online deal we could find for the past week. We’ve produced half a dozen or so guides covering a good swath of the tech world, and this guide has our absolute favorite sales. It has super expensive, amazing TVs and $5 smart plugs, side by side. Keep this page bookmarked, too. It will also become our home for Cyber Monday deals in just a few days.

Note: Deals tend to flow and out of availability at a rapid rate during Black Friday, and some may not be available until 12 a.m. Friday, or early in the morning. Please bear with us. We will continue to update this list as we learn about new deals, and items sell out. You can read more WIRED Black Friday 2018 Deals guides here.

TV Deals

LG OLED C8 55-Inch 4K TV for $1,697 ($400 off)

Amazon

Once you spend a day with LG’s OLED screen tech, you won’t go back. Visually, nothing compares to it. The contrast and inky blacks are as good as they come, and the LG C8 is a perfect example. OLED TV’s have yet to get cheaper than $1,500, which is a shame, but if you want the best, they’re worth the extra cost. Read our C8 review to learn more.

43-Inch TCL 4K Roku TV for $320 ($80 off)

Amazon

You can find cheaper TVs, and some of them may also be from TCL with Roku built in, but this is the one you want. The TCL 5 Series strikes a really good balance between beautiful picture quality and price. And, as always, since it has a Roku inside it, the interface and remote are easy to use and great for streaming out of the box.

Headphone and Audio Deals

Lenovo

Sonos One for $174 ($25 off)

Amazon, Sonos

The Sonos One is the Best Smart Speaker you can buy. It sounds incredible and is a perfect starter speaker to a larger Sonos world. The thing that’s best about Sonos is that the speakers network together around your home, and you can easily group and ungroup them, and play music from just about any streaming service. The One also has Alexa built in, works with Apple AirPlay 2, and will connect to Google Home in early 2019, we’re told. It’s rarely discounted, but this weekend you can also get $50 off the Beam, and $100 off the Sub.

Lenovo Smart Display for $99 ($100 off)

Walmart

Lenovo’s Smart Display is one of the Best Google Speakers you can buy and a top Smart Speaker, too. We like Google Home a bit more than Amazon’s Alexa right now for its ease of setup and use. This was Google Home’s first smart display (now, there are many), and it does a great job of making itself a relevant addition to the kitchen, especially. It has interactive recipes and delivers morning video news reports.

Sony WH1000XM2 for $200 ($150 off)

Amazon

These Sony 1000XM2s can’t quite match the Bose QC35 headphones(see below), but they’re pretty close. (The 1000XM3 are even better.) They cancel noise incredibly well, and if you put your hand over the right earcup, it amplifies the sound around you, so you can hear the bus driver or pilot say something you hoped would be important.

Bose QuietComfort 35 II for $299 ($50 off)

Amazon, Jet, Dell

Bose’s killer travel headphones are on sale! Almost nothing can match the noise canceling abilities of these cans. They’re a rock-solid pick, all around, but even at a discount… they’re pricey.

Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphones for $200 ($150 off)

Amazon, Best Buy (Available Now), B&H, Target

Starts Friday. The Studio3 get excellent battery life, work remarkably well for phone calls, connect especially well to iPhones, and cancel noise better than you’d think. They are very underrated. Yes, they are a bit bassy like most Beats, but they sound pretty great.

Google Home Hub for $99 ($50 off)

Walmart, Google

Google, or Amazon? Amazon, or Google? If you’re a Google household, there are a couple good deals on the new Home Hub right now.

Home, Kitchen, and Toy Deals

Furbo

Instant Pot Duo 6-Quart for $70 ($30 off)

Amazon, Walmart, Target, Macy’s

It wouldn’t be a shopping holiday without a sale on the Instant Pot, the multi-purpose cooking device which has saved dinner for millions of parents across the country. Naturally, it’s on sale for Black Friday.

iRobot Roomba 960 for $499 ($200 off)

iRobot, Amazon, Best Buy, Target

iRobot’s Roomba 900 series is one of our favorites, with smart navigation, Dirt Detect to sniff out gross spots, and AeroForce cleaning tech to suck up debris with a typhoon’s force.

Amazon Smart Plug for $5 ($20 off) with any Echo Purchase

Amazon

We have a separate list of our favorite Amazon devices that are on sale for the holiday. But if you’re in the process of setting up your smart home, it’s hard to go wrong with a simple smart plug that’s basically free.

Furbo Dog Camera for $135 ($114 off)

Furbo

One of our favorite devices for pet parents who have to work out of the home is over $100 off for the holiday.

ChefSteps Joule Sous Vide for $159 ($40 off)

Amazon, ChefSteps, Sur la Table

Are you cooking a large hunk of meat over the holidays? This smart sous vide immersion wand will take a lot of stress out of the process.

Kiwi Crates starting at $8 ($12 off)

KiwiCo

Our favorite kid’s gift subscription has boxes with fun age-appropriate activities for ages 0-14. For the holiday, you can get 60 percent off your first month’s box.

Fitness and Outdoor Deals

Fitbit

Fitbit Versa for $149 ($51 off)

Target, Walmart

The Fitbit Versa is one of the most effective, attractive, and affordable fitness watches you can buy. The Apple Watch Series 3, also an excellent fitness watch, will also be $80 off.

Fossil Sport Smartwatch for $179 ($76 off)

Fossil, Amazon

Confession: Our tester model is still en route to the office, but word on the street is that this sport smartwatch is an excellent value for the money, and we’re very excited about checking it out. We would be remiss to not point out that it’s on deep discount right now.

Mission Workshop The Rhake for $292 ($73 off)

Mission Workshop

Mission Workshop’s burly bags are a favorite around the WIRED offices. Through November 26, you can get 20 percent off all purchases, plus a $20 gift card, plus a free bag of coffee!

Brazyn Collapsible Foam Roller for $51 ($17 off)

Huckberry

All of Huckberry’s Black Friday deals are worth checking out, especially if you have an outdoorsy man in your life. Our pick is this lightweight, collapsible foam roller, which is easy to pack if you fear for the state of your IT band while traveling over the holidays.

Arc’teryx Gamma MX Hoody for $262 with code TAKE25ARC ($87 off)

Backcountry

Arc’teryx’s jackets are durable, weatherproof, and cut to allow you maximum freedom of movement while still looking svelte. But they’re too expensive to buy without a discount. Backcountry is currently offering 25 percent off one full-price Arc’teryx item through November 26.

Burley D’Lite Bike Trailer for $517 ($172 off)

Burley

If you and your child want a bike trailer for Christmas, Burley is offering 25-30 percent off bike trailers and bundle deals through November 28. The D’Lite can seat two children and convert to a stroller, a jogger, or a sled.

Free Belt Plate, Skid Plate, and $50 Gift Card with Boosted Mini S Purchase ($749)

Boosted

Boosted is currently offering free accessories with the purchase of the Boosted Mini S.

Gaming Deals

Catch all of our favorite Black Friday Gaming Deals in our official guide, updated regularly.

Nintendo

PS4 Slim with Spider-Man for $200 ($160 off)

Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, GameStop

Marvel’s Spider-Man is one of our favorite games of 2018 and is a perfect starter if you’re entering the PS4 world. There are a ton of fantastic games to play and the Slim looks good on any TV.

Nintendo Switch Mario Kart 8 Bundle for $300 ($60 off)

Walmart, Best Buy

Everyone likes Mario Kart, and it’s one of the best games on the Nintendo Switch. If you don’t yet own the system, pick one up. There are quite a few really amazing games on it already. When you’re ready to up your game, check out our list of fun Switch accessories.

Two Nintendo Labo Kits for $99 ($40 off)

Best Buy

The Nintendo Labo is like Legos meets videogames, and we love it. Using on-screen instructions, you put together crazy cardboard contraptions like a fully functional steering wheel, and then use them in a game by plugging the Nintendo Switch display or Joy-Con motion controllers into slots in the cardboard. Building is fun for adults, but kids will have a blast doing this alone or with parents. The Vehicle Kit is our favorite, but the Variety Kit is also a lot of fun. Both Kits come with multiple things to build that will take at least a dozen hours of focused fun. Then you get to play!

Laptop, Phone, and Device Deals

For all our computing recommendations, read our Black Friday Laptop, Tablet, and Phone Deals roundup.

Amazon

Apple iPad 2018 for $249 ($80 off)

Amazon, Apple

Starts Friday. If you have any leanings toward a new iPad, this is the time to buy it. The 2018 iPad is fantastic and now compatible with the Apple Pencil. There are no real surprises about it: it just works very nicely for casual tasks and has more worthwhile games and apps than any other tablet.

Samsung 11-Inch Chromebook 3 $99 ($100 off)

Walmart

If your needs are few and your expectations are in check, this Chromebook might satisfy your computing needs. It can check email, browse the web, and do other basic tasks. That’s all we ask of a $100 computer.

Microsoft Surface Pro 6 with Keyboard for $799 ($260 off)

Microsoft, Newegg (+$20 gift card)

The Surface Pro 6 is a hybrid laptop/tablet that WIRED Recommends). We particularly like this Black Friday deal because it bundles in the magnetic keyboard.

SHOP HAPPY

Get Gadget Lab’s picks of the best holiday deals this season. Headphones, laptops, TVs, oh my!

Kindle Paperwhite for $80 ($40 off)

Amazon

You’ve seen a Kindle. You know what the Kindle is all about. If you need to read, and want to do it with a nice backlight, this 7th gen Kindle gets the job done at a lower price than we normally see during Amazon sales.

Nokia 6.1 for $180 ($75 off)

Amazon, Best Buy, B&H

The Nokia 6.1 is one of the only budget phones to get updates straight from Google, making it one of the most secure and up-to-date phones you can buy—all for less than $200 during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. If you’re looking for a good affordable phone, try this. It’s not a beast like the Galaxy S9, but it’s completely usable and has a durable metal unibody.

Samsung Galaxy S9 for $520 ($200 off)

Amazon, Walmart, Samsung, Best Buy, B&H

Most high-end phones cost $800 – $1,100 this year. That’s ridiculous, which is why we’re happy to see the Galaxy S9 on sale for around $500. It’s worth that amount of money and has a camera, processor, and display that’s competitive with any other phone on the market.

Black Friday Sale Pages for 2018

We’ve sifted through the mess of deals, but if you want to look for yourself, here are some links. Many of these prices may not be live until day-of.

When you buy something using the retail links in our stories, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Read more about how this works.

Black Friday 2018: Best Laptop, Tablet, and Phone Deals

Laptop makers love to hitch their wagon to a good sale, and Black Friday weekend is one of their favorites. There are a bunch of PC deals going on all the way through Cyber Monday as well. We’ve spent days sifting through sales to find devices worth your time. Below are the best laptop deals we’ve found so far, along with our favorite tablet and smartphone deals for good measure.

Note: Deals tend to flow and out of availability at a rapid rate during Black Friday, and some may not be available until 12 a.m. Friday, or early in the morning. Please bear with us. We will continue to update this list as we learn about new deals, and items sell out. You can read more WIRED Black Friday 2018 Deals guides here.

Best Black Friday Laptop Deals

Microsoft

For a little insight on the laptops we like, check out our new list of Best Laptops for 2018.

Samsung 11-Inch Chromebook 3 $99 ($100 off)

Walmart

This is a petite, lightweight Chromebook for lightweight tasks. It’s good for email, browsing, and some basics but it should do them admirably. At this price, that’s OK.

HP Pavilion 15-Inch Gaming Laptop $750 ($250 off)

Walmart

This HP laptop has a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU, Intel Core i7 (8th Gen) CPU, a 1TB hard drive with 16GB of Optane memory, and 8GB RAM. If you like color LED-lit keys, it can likely rip through some office work, as well.

Asus 17-Inch Gaming Laptop for $999 ($400 off)

Best Buy

With an Intel Core i7 CPU, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU, a 512 GB SSD, and 16 GB of RAM, you should be able to do just about anything on this gaming laptop, even a little VR. To get all that for one grand is a great deal.

Microsoft Surface Pro 6 with Keyboard for $799 ($260 off)

Microsoft, Newegg (+$20 gift card)

When the first Surface debuted, it was a strange tablet/laptop hybrid. Years later, the Pro 6 is one of the best, most versatile PCs you can buy, and its keyboard rocks (8/10, WIRED Recommends). To get it for under $1,000 with a Keyboard cover is an excellent example of a good Black Friday laptop deal.

Huawei MateBook X Pro with All the Fixins’ for $1,350 ($150 off)

Microsoft Store, B&H, Newegg

If you want just about the most kickass little laptop money can buy, the 14-inch upgraded MateBook X Pro is it (7/10, WIRED Review), with an Intel Core i7 (8th Gen), 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, and a Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics card. The screen is extra nice on this one. It’s touch and stretches all the way to the edges, meaning you get a 13-inch screen in a much smaller body. The only downside is the webcam, which is stored inside a key on the F keys. It’s really fun to pop open, like old Corvette headlights, but isn’t a fun angle.

SHOP HAPPY

Get Gadget Lab’s picks of the best holiday deals this season. Headphones, laptops, TVs, oh my!

Lenovo Ideapad 720S Laptop with 4K Display for $950 ($550 off)

Newegg, Lenovo ($450 off)

If you want a Retina-like display on a Windows machine, this IdeaPad packs a lot of pixels into a 13-inch rectangle. With an Intel Core i7 (8th Gen), 8GB RAM, a fingerprint reader, and a 512-gigabyte SSD for storage, it should be able to handle most work tasks with ease. If you want to spend a bit less, the Lenovo 710S is also a good buy and only costs $760 on Amazon right now.

Gigabyte Aero 15X VR-Capable Laptop $1,749 ($550 off)

Newegg

Deal ends Saturday, November 24

This is another nice gaming laptop, this one with top-notch specs, 8 GB of video RAM and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 1070, which is quite capable of almost any gaming or VR system you can throw at it. It has all the ports you’ll need too.

Google Pixelbook Chromebook for $899 ($300 off)

Amazon

Is the Pixelbook excessive? Maybe, but even if you’re only running the Chrome browser, it doesn’t hurt to have a powerful processor and plenty of RAM/storage. And that’s just what Google’s official Chromebook has. Read our full review to learn more.

Black Friday Tablet Deals

Apple

To learn more about what’s hot, read our Best Tablets and Best iPads guides.

Apple iPad 2018 for $249 ($80 off)

Amazon, Apple

This is a rare iPad deal. The standard iPad is compatible with the Apple Pencil, making it the most well-rounded affordable tablet you can own. Period. It has better apps and better games than any other platform. It’s the same iPad you’ve seen before, and should last you years.

Apple iPad Mini 4 (128GB) for $300 ($100 off)

Amazon, Apple

Apple only sells a 128GB iPad Mini 4 now. It hasn’t updated its smallest tablet in a while, but it’s still the best option if you want a more travel-friendly screen size—and it still works great. The storage is more than you’ll likely need, and we’ve never seen it at this low a price before.

Apple iPad Pro 10.5 for $575 ($75 off)

Amazon, Apple

Apple may have released a new iPad Pro with Face ID and no home button, but it’s still selling last year’s 10.5-inch Pro, and it’s still an awesome Pro-level tablet. It can do most everything (work-wise) that the new iPads can do, and at this price, it’s hundreds cheaper.

Kindle Paperwhite for $80 ($40 off)

Amazon

No, it’s not technically a laptop, phone, or tablet, but whatcha gonna do? The Kindle is one of the last surviving ebook readers, and for good reason: it’s a fantastic reading device and gets a month of battery life on a charge. This model isn’t the brand new waterproof Kindle, but it’s still fantastic and has a wonderful built-in backlight

Fire HD 10 for $100 ($50 off)

Amazon

The Fire HD 10 is no workhorse, but it’s big enough and powerful enough to act as a second (larger) screen when you need one—perfect for simple games, hands-free Alexa, reading, or Netflix binging. (Of course, Amazon would prefer that you stream Prime Videos instead.)

Best Black Friday Smartphone Deals

Nokia

There are some smartphone deals happening on Black Friday too. To understand the market a bit more, you may want to check our Best Android Phones and Best iPhones guides.

Belkin 5,000mAh Portable Charger for $15 ($15 off)

Amazon

This charger is smaller than your phone, but will recharge it almost two times from an empty battery (depending on your phone model).

OnePlus 6 for $429 ($100 off)

OnePlus

The OnePlus 6 is still as powerful as any phone on the market, with a Snapdragon 845 processor and plenty of RAM. At less than $500, it’s a complete steal. Unlike the new OnePlus 6T (which we also really like!), the 6 still has a headphone jack. It also comes with a case in the box. The only downside: it won’t work on Sprint or Verizon. Read our full review to learn more.

Samsung Galaxy S9 for $520 ($200 off)

Amazon, Walmart, Samsung, Best Buy, B&H

The Galaxy S9 is still at the top of the class of 2018 phones. It’s as fast as they come, and its camera shines brighter than most Android phones outside the Pixel 3 (see below). It’s now on sale for $520 for the holidays, making it the cheapest flagship phone around—even cheaper than the latest OnePlus, though you should consider the OnePlus 6 above if you’re on AT&T or T-Mobile. If not, Samsung’s phone will work on any carrier.

Apple iPhone XR for $600 ($150 off)

Best Buy

This is our favorite new iPhone. It has the full-size screen like the X and XS iPhones, along with Face ID, and it comes in a rainbow assortment of colors. We like that Best Buy is just offering a straight discount on the phone for any carrier, though they like it if you sign up for a 24-month payment plan.

Sandisk 64GB MicroSD Card for $14 ($11 off)

Amazon

If you’re running low on storage and your phone has a MicroSD slot (many do), this is a cheap way to extend the life of your phone—and extend your sanity.

Nokia 6.1 for $180 ($75 off)

Amazon, Best Buy, B&H

The Nokia 6.1 is always a good deal, but during Black Friday weekend, it’s an outstanding phone deal. It’s a bit speedier than a Motorola Moto G6 (the go-to affordable phone), but even cheaper. Thanks to a nice metal unibody design and Android One, it’s a better overall phone. It gets security updates and new OS updates direct from Google. Very few other phones, even expensive ones, will get a fraction of the software love this little Nokia gets. It works on AT&T and T-Mobile networks.

Motorola Moto Z3 Play for $370 ($80 off)

Amazon

The Moto Z3 Play is such a nice mid-range Android phone that I kept using it for more than a month after I wrote my review of it. For a professional phone reviewer, that’s a life time. It doesn’t lag much and I really like the Moto Mod that comes in the box. It’s a magnetic battery pack you can snap on the back, and it’s thin enough that I just kinda left it on for days at a time. With it, you’ll always get at least two days of battery life. It works on all major wireless networks.

Motorola Moto X4 for $180 ($70 off)

Amazon

The Moto X4 is just a nice little phone. It’s right up there with the Nokia 6.1 and a step above the Moto G. If you want a dependable phone that won’t break the bank or drive you nuts, this is it. It’s not perfect, but it works well. It works on any U.S. wireless carrier.

Google Pixel 3 for $650 ($150 off)

Google Store

The Pixel 3 is the best Android phone you can buy for all these reasons. For Black Friday, Google is running a few different Pixel deals. The Pixel 3 will have a discount on it, and if you buy two, you’ll get the second one half off. On Cyber Monday, it will also run a promotion bundling it with the new Home Hub.

Black Friday Sale Pages for 2018

We’ve sifted through the mess of deals, but if you want to look for yourself, here are some links. Many of these prices may not be live until day-of.

When you buy something using the retail links in our articles, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Read more about how this works.

Have You Built a Culture of Creativity?

But before a company can build their business value of design, some critical building blocks must be in place. 

They must first prime the organization to have a culture of creativity that supports design-centric initiatives.  This only happens when companies get really good at leveraging creativity as an innovation resource.  

I’ve written in an earlier article about the significance of “the human quotient” in companies as they grapple with the future of work in the midst of our 4th Industrial Revolution- a time when we are tethered to cloud technology, AI, VR, robotics and data in ubiquitous ways.  Pointing out the business value of design is another way of acknowledging that when a company starts with their customers’ human needs and desired experiences, and builds products and services around those drivers, it is ultimately a more efficient way to run a business.

The human quotient is grounded in creativity.  Creative approaches to business outcomes can positively affect revenue generation, market share diversification, efficiencies and cost reductions.  This has to happen in an inside-out manner.  That is, the creative impact of your products and services on people’s lives will only come to pass when the company builds a culture of creativity.  This is especially true at a time when employee engagement, generative thinking and thought diversity in a company are critical means to innovation.  

Here are three ways companies can build their creative competencies, and thus prime themselves to build the business value of design.

1.     Encourage Curiosity

Leaders need to model that inquiry – versus certainty- gets us to the next level. There are market leader companies- such as Amazon, Whole Foods and Lyft- who would have never anticipated 5 years ago with certainty, where they are today.  There are new alliances they now make based on macro-environmental drivers.  Encouraging people to ask lots of questions and not equate curiosity with appearing ignorant is a crucial first step.

2.     Improvise

Companies that design flexible structures and processes, versus rigid rulebooks, are better off.  Humans respond well to structure – to an extent.  Structure helps us to understand the limits we can push.  This is the very nature of improvisation.  Like jazz music, all improvisational systems have rules.  It’s the ability to stretch and rebound off the rules which allows for adaptive and responsive solutions to customer needs.  

3.     Intuit

While most corporate boardrooms don’t admit out loud the role of intuition in decision making- because of our culture’s leniency on the rational- the truth of the matter is that plans are fiction:  they haven’t happened yet.  Although honing intuition is not something we teach in business school, the majority of successful entrepreneurs can speak to pivotal moments when they followed their heart, paid attention to subtle patterns, and great things happened.  

Companies that implement great design practice linked to positive business outcomes, have also created opportunities for encouraging curiosity, improvising solutions through adaptive structures and acknowledging intuition.  Try experimenting with implementing your own version of these 3 building blocks, one per month over the next quarter.

Google reveals new policy for election ads ahead of EU vote: Bloomberg

An illuminated Google logo is seen inside an office building in Zurich September 5, 2018. REUTERS/Arnd WIegmann

(Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google said it will roll out new policies in Europe to provide more transparency around political ads, ahead of European Union elections in the spring, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, citing a blog post.

According to the report, Google said it would require advertisers to submit an application and receive verification before they can pay for political ads.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The European Commission said in September that Facebook Inc, Google and other tech firms had agreed a code of conduct to do more to tackle the spread of fake news, over concerns it can influence elections.

Google also said it would publish an EU transparency report, along with a searchable ad library, to provide more information about who is purchasing election ads, for how much, and to whom they are targeted, Bloomberg reported.

Public databases that shine a light on online political ads – launched by Facebook and Google before U.S. elections – offer the public the first broad view of how quickly the companies yank advertisements that break their rules.

Reporting by Akanksha Rana in Bengaluru; Editing by Leslie Adler

What BlackBerry’s Acquisition of Cylance Means for the Cybersecurity Business

BlackBerry is making its biggest acquisition ever.

The once-dominant smartphone maker known for producing mobile devices so addictive people used to call them “crackberries” said Friday it is plunking down $1.4 billion in cash to buy Cylance, a cybersecurity firm that specializes in machine learning-enabled threat detection. Pending regulatory approval, expected by February, the purchase will deplete more than half of BlackBerry’s cash pile.

The acquisition reflects BlackBerry CEO John Chen’s multiyear imperative: a shift from selling phones to enterprise software and services. He first laid out the strategy shortly after becoming CEO in 2013. (BlackBerry stopped making its own phones two years ago, though it continues to license its brand.)

Chen said in a statement that the addition of Cylance would “immediately complement our entire portfolio.” In particular, he said the business, set to run as an independent unit, would bolster BlackBerry’s “unified endpoint management” software, which helps businesses manage devices and applications, and QNX, an operating system used inside power plants and cars.

With Cylance, BlackBerry is seeking a greater slice of businesses’ information security spend, which market researcher Gartner estimates will exceed $114 billion this year. That BlackBerry is putting up triple the amount it paid for ex-rival Good Technology, its last biggest acquisition, made in 2015, demonstrates that it is fully committed to the pursuit of this new business model—best exemplified by BlackBerry Spark, a platform it is pitching as the secure, connective tissue for all sorts of connected devices.

If the deal goes through, BlackBerry’s purchase of Cylance will be the latest in a recent series of cybersecurity acquisitions including Cisco buying Duo for $2.4 billion and private equity firm Thoma Bravo taking over Veracode for $950 million. (Rumors are swirling, meanwhile, that Facebook, beset by propagandists, trolls, and privacy breaches, has been poking around for a major cybersecurity acquisition as well.)

Even as Cylance exits the “unicorn” club, a collection of startups privately valued at $1 billion or more, another company has stepped up to take its place. Earlier this week I broke the news that Netskope, a cloud security startup, had earned its unicorn horn after raising a new round of funding worth $170 million. But these mythical beasts are fleeing the stable quicker than their stock can be replenished.

Market consolidation will continue. Businesses are going to be spending more money on cybersecurity in the years to come, but it’s going to be with fewer vendors.

BlackBerry sure hopes it will be one of them.

Cloud security: The essential checklist

Cloud security is one of those things that everyone knows they need, but few people understand how to deal with. I

The good news is that it’s actually pretty simple, and somewhat similar to security for your enterprise systems. Here’s a checklist of what you may need and how to make these features work.

  1. Directory service. If you use identity and access management, you need a directory to keep the identities. Although Microsoft’s Active Directory works just fine, any LDAP-compliant directory will work. Note that you need to deal with security at the directory level as well, so the directory itself does not become a vulnerability.
  2. Identity and access management. IAM is needed to ensure that you can configure who is who, who is authenticated, and what devices, applications, or data they can access. This gives you complete control over who can do what, and it puts limits on what they can do. These IAM tools are either native to the public cloud platform or come from a third party.
  3. Encryption services. What specific encryption you needwill largely depend on where you are in the world and the types of things you need to encrypt, as well as if you need to encrypt data at rest, in flight, or both. I say “services” (plural) because you’ll likely ise more than one encryption service, including at the file, database, and network levels.
  4. Security ops. Often overlooked, this is the operational aspect of all of security. Security ops, aka secops, includes the ability to proactively monitor the security systems and subsystems to ensure that they are doing their jobs and that the security services are updated with the latest information they need to keep your system safe.
  5. Compliance management. Another often overlooked security feature, this is where you deal with those pesky rules and regulations that affect security. No matter if you need to be GDPR-compliant or HIPAA-compliant, this is where you have a console that alerts you to things that may be out of compliance and lets you take corrective action.

Of course, you may need more security features than these five types, based on who you are, what sector you’re in, and your own enterprise’s security requirements. However, this checklist provides a solid foundation for security success. Chances are that you’re missing one or two of them.

How Did the 'Freedom From Facebook' Campaign Get Its Start?

In July, executives from YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter testified before Congress about their company’s content moderation practices. While Facebook’s head of global policy Monika Bickert spoke, protesters from a group called Freedom From Facebook, seated just behind her, held signs depicting Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg’s heads atop an octopus whose tentacles reached around the planet.

Freedom From Facebook has garnered renewed attention this week, after The New York Times revealed that Facebook employed an opposition firm called Definers to fight the group. Definers reportedly urged journalists to find links between Freedom From Facebook and billionaire philanthropist George Soros, a frequent target of far-right, anti-semitic conspiracy theories. That direct connection didn’t materialize. But where Freedom From Facebook did come from—and how Facebook countered it—does illustrate how seemingly grassroots movements in Washington aren’t always what they first appear.

The point here isn’t to question Freedom From Facebook’s intentions. Their efforts seem to stem from genuine concern over Facebook’s outsized role in the world. But the labyrinthine relationships and shadowy catalysts of the efforts on all sides of that debate show just how little involvement actual Facebook users have in the fight over reining the company in.

Since the 2016 presidential election, Facebook has confronted an onslaught of scandals, many of which drew scrutiny from federal lawmakers. First, Russian propagandists exploited the social network, using duplicitously bought ads to sway US voters. This March, journalists revealed data firm Cambridge Analytica had siphoned off information belonging to tens of millions of users. In the wake of this second controversy, Freedom From Facebook was born.

The initiative wasn’t formed by everyday Facebook users. It’s instead the product of progressive groups with established records of opposing tech companies, whose own relationships illustrate just how tangled these connections can be.

Specifically, Freedom From Facebook is an offshoot of the Open Markets Institute, a think tank that operated under the auspices of the New America Foundation until OMI head Barry Lynn publicly applauded antitrust fines levied against Google in Europe. Google is a major New America donor; Lynn’s entire team studying tech market dominance and monopolies got the ax, and spun out Open Markets as an independent body.

Earlier this year, former hedge fund executive David Magerman approached Lynn’s group with the idea to start to start a campaign in opposition to Facebook. Magerman poured over $400,000 into what became Freedom From Facebook, according to Axios. His involvement wasn’t known until Thursday. The connected between Freedom From Facebook and OMI was also not entirely explicit.

Freedom From Facebook has done more than stage protests on Capitol Hill. During Facebook’s annual shareholder meeting in May, the group chartered an airplane to fly overhead with a banner that read “YOU BROKE DEMOCRACY.” When Sandberg spoke at MIT in June, Freedom From Facebook took out a full-page advertisement in the student newspaper calling for the social network to be broken up. On Thursday, the group filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission asking the agency to investigate a Facebook breach disclosed in September that affected 30 million user accounts.

Freedom From Facebook also formed a coalition with a diverse set of progressive organizations, like Jewish Voice For Peace, which promotes peace in Israel and Palestine, and the Communications Workers of America, a labor union that represents media workers. The coalition now comprises 12 groups, who “all organize around this fundamental principle that Facebook is too powerful,” says Sarah Miller, the deputy director of Open Markets Institute. Confusingly, according to Freedom From Facebook’s website, the coalition also includes Citizens Against Monopoly, a nonprofit Miller says was set up by Open Markets itself.

Eddie Vale, a progressive public affairs consultant, also confirmed in an email that Open Markets hired him to work on the Freedom For Facebook Initiative. He led the protest in July featuring the octopus signs.

Definers began lobbying journalists, including those from WIRED, to look into Freedom From Facebook’s financial ties this past summer. The effort was led by Tim Miller, a former spokesperson for Jeb Bush and an independent public affairs consultant, according to The New York Times. “It matters because people should know whether FFF is a grassroots group as they claimed or something being run by professional Facebook critics,” Miller wrote in a blog post published Friday. He added that he believes the push to connect the group to Soros does not amount to anti-semitism, especially if it contains a modicum of truth. Facebook itself asserted much the same in a statement it released Thursday.

The extent of the Soros relationship seems to be that the billionaire philanthropist does provide funding to both Open Markets and some of the progressive groups who constitute the Freedom From Facebook coalition. There’s no indication, though, that he has any direct involvement with the initiative. Open Markets’ Miller says the think tank wasn’t aware Facebook was paying an opposition firm to ask journalists to look into its work. “I just think knowing Facebook as we do, I don’t know that I would say that we were surprised, but I do think the Soros angle was surprising,” she says.

After The Times published its report Wednesday evening, Facebook severed its ties with Definers. “This type of firm might be normal in Washington, but it’s not the sort of thing I want Facebook associated with,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on a call with reporters Thursday. Both Sheryl Sandberg and Mark Zuckerberg claim they didn’t know Facebook was working with Definers until the The Times published its story. This is not the first time Facebook has employed an opposition research firm. In 2011, the social network hired a public relations firm to plant unflattering stories about Google’s user privacy practices.

By distancing itself from Definers, Zuckerberg and Sandberg are putting space between themselves and how the sausage gets made in Washington. As they have grown more powerful, tech organizations including Facebook, but also Google, Amazon, and others, have poured millions into lobbying on Capitol Hill. Those efforts include fighting back against well-funded and sometimes secretive campaigns, like Freedom From Facebook. Meanwhile, the social network’s over two billion users mostly sit on the sidelines, watching the high-stakes battle unfold.


More Great WIRED Stories

The Afrotech Conference Captured in One Powerful Quote

One of the biggest discussions came from a Grammy-award winning panel featuring rapper Common, producer Karriem Riggins and musician Robert Glasper, collaborators in the new supergroup August Greene. All of them had outgrown their defining monikers, expanding into acting, music scoring, and so on. Glasper shared his own key to success:

Other people don’t know what your lane is, so they can’t tell you what your lane isn’t.

Sure, it’s about defining yourself and not relying on the acceptance of others. It also means not being afraid to fail until you get it right – even while others are watching. This challenge becomes more important for minority entrepreneurs who may have a vision less understood by the mainstream public.

What is uniquely yours?

I recently interviewed TED Speaker and RETI founder DeAndrea Salvador. She wasn’t focused on engineering, but she saw a need in her community for fair energy use and distribution. That desire planted the seed for RETI, the energy equity company that now educates and spreads insight into low-income communities.

Get comfortable with being a fool

As Glasper mentions, your lane is only defined by you – and, often, is defined by only your own insecurities.  So, the ability to be comfortable with being uncomfortable directly dictates your ability to grow.

Serial entrepreneur Naveen Jain said it recently: When you don’t know, you can ask dumb questions.” And dumb questions allow true breakthroughs. Sitting with Glasper and Riggins, Common shared how coming from a hip-hop background actually helped him make an impact on Hollywood, as he didn’t automatically follow the traditional Hollywood rules or pathway. Instead, he questioned long-held beliefs and was able to bypass the classic barriers to success.

So pay attention when a new arena is calling you. It may not be your lane, but it may be the area where you can make an even deeper impact.

Apple finds quality problems in some iPhone X and MacBook models

The new Apple iPhone X are seen on display at the Apple Store in Manhattan, New York, U.S., September 21, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

(Reuters) – Apple Inc said on Friday it had found some issues affecting some of its iPhone X and 13-inch MacBook pro products and said the company would fix them free of charge.

The repair offers are the latest in a string of product quality problems over the past year even as Apple has raised prices for most of its laptops, tablets and phones to new heights. Its top-end iPhones now sell for as much as $1,449 and its best iPad goes for as much as $1,899.

Apple said displays on iPhone X, which came out in 2017 with a starting price of $999, may experience touch issues due to a component failure, adding it would replace those parts for free. The company said it only affects the original iPhone X, which has been superseded by the iPhone XS and XR released this autumn.

The screens on affected phones may not respond correctly to touch or it could react even without being touched, the Cupertino, California-based company said.

For the 13-inch MacBook Pro computers, it said an issue may result in data loss and failure of the storage drive. Apple said it would service those affected drives.

Only a limited number of 128GB and 256GB solid-state drives in 13-inch MacBook Pro units sold between June 2017 and June 2018 were affected, Apple said apple.co/2AXkeEw on its website.

Last year, Apple began a massive battery replacement program after it conceded that a software update intended to help some iPhone models deal with aging batteries slowed down the performance of the phones. The battery imbroglio resulted in inquires from U.S. lawmakers.

In June, Apple said it would offer free replacements for the keyboards in some MacBook and MacBook Pro models. The keyboards, which Apple introduced in laptops starting in 2015, had generated complaints on social media for how much noise they made while typing and for malfunctioning unexpectedly. Apple changed the design of the keyboard this year, adding a layer of silicone underneath the keys.

Reporting by Ismail Shakil in Bengaluru and Stephen Nellis in San Francisco

A changing New York neighborhood wonders how Amazon would fit

NEW YORK (Reuters) – It was the lunch-hour rush at the Court Square Diner in New York’s Long Island City on Wednesday, and co-owner Nick Kanellos pointed to the elevated subway tracks that rattle overhead as he fretted over the news that Amazon may build a major outpost in the neighborhood.

People wait for the arrival of 7 train in Long Island City, where Amazon.com is reportedly considering as part of its new second headquarters, New York, U.S. November 7, 2018. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

Like many long-time inhabitants, he worries how this once-sleepy enclave in Queens would absorb the up to 25,000 people the online retail giant may employ here as it expands outside its Seattle home base.

“It’s a whole soccer stadium at 8 a.m. each day coming in,” Kanellos said, gesturing at the narrow metal staircases leading from the subway platform to the street, already crowded with commuters at rush hour.

Amazon announced in September last year that it was seeking a site for a second corporate headquarters that would eventually employ up to 50,000 people. But it now plans to split its new headquarters between two sites, including Long Island City, according to a New York Times report.

Amazon again declined on Wednesday to comment on its selection process.

Kanellos’ apprehension was shared by other long-time residents interviewed on Wednesday on their home turf, a rapidly gentrifying area that sits just across the East River from Midtown Manhattan.

Few, if any, objected to Amazon.com itself: Many conceded they were happy customers of the world’s largest online retailer, some paying for its Prime membership service. They just fear that their neighborhood is already bursting at the seams, with scores of glass apartment towers transforming an area long characterized by a mismatched jumble of low-rise buildings.

The cost of this rapid development, residents say, is that local hardware stores and pharmacies have been priced out and an aging sewer system is often overwhelmed by the more than 10,000 new apartments and 1.5 million square feet of office space built in recent years, according to city data.

Kanellos, 50, took over the Court Square Diner in 1991, when it was one of the few places where the artists then using old factory buildings as studios could sit down for a cheap meal.

The neighborhood’s cinematic views of Manhattan only heightened the sense it was a quiet village overlooked by the rest of New York City, residents say.

“We felt like we had the place to ourselves,” said Pat Irwin, a musician and composer who for years played with The B-52’s and settled in Long Island City in the mid-1980s.

The 50-story, blue-glass tower that Citigroup built in 1990 was an early harbinger of the transformation. The reports this week that Amazon had decided to build part of its “second” headquarters here, along with an outpost in northern Virginia’s Crystal City, feels to some residents like the death knell for a neighborhood they love.

“It feels like we’re being walled in and it’s out of control and the neighborhood can’t handle it,” Irwin said.

Irwin’s wife, Terri Gloyd, is the co-owner of the LIC Corner Cafe, which sits around the corner from MoMA PS1, a major outer-borough arts museum, and sells coffee, cookies and a pastry confection described as “a guava goat cheese Pop-Tart.”

Some of the residents who moved into the new apartment towers have become welcome regulars, even while some artist friends have been priced out of the area, she said. But construction and the ubiquitous film and television shoots, thanks to the proximity of Silvercup Studios, sometimes make the streets barely navigable to pedestrians.

“It already feels so oversaturated,” said Gloyd, who moved here in 1987.

Even so, if Amazon’s arrival brought with it a decent supermarket or helped bring a much-needed school to an underserved area, then perhaps that could soften its landing, she said.

Slideshow (17 Images)

If there is one constant in the crane-filled neighborhood these days, it is Manducatis, a white-tablecloth, Italian restaurant that Vincenzo Cerbone, 88, has presided over since 1974, after moving to the area in the 1950s. His wife, Ida, still cooks there most days, walking from their home around the corner.

“My husband, in the ‘50s, he predicted this,” she said with a proud smile, explaining their decision to acquire property in an area so close to Manhattan, no matter how unprepossessing it seemed at the time.

As for Cerbone, he shrugged at the Amazon news: New York City has always been changing. “These days, everything is new,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s an upgrade or a downgrade.”

Reporting by Jonathan Allen; Additional reporting by Hilary Russ in New York and Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco,; Editing by Frank McGurty and Leslie Adler

Amazon plans to split second headquarters in two cities: sources

(Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc is planning to split its second headquarters evenly between two cities, people familiar with the matter said Monday, in a twist to a more than year-long contest that has drawn overtures from locales across North America.

Dallas, Long Island City in New York and Arlington near Washington, D.C. are all among the finalists with which Amazon is holding advanced talks, one of the people said on condition of anonymity. The person would not confirm which two are expected to win or if any others remain in the running.

Amazon declined to comment on the news, first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The world’s largest online retailer sparked a bidding frenzy in September 2017 when it announced it would invest over $5 billion to create an “HQ2” in addition to its home base in Seattle and hire up to 50,000 people.

One of the major reasons for the decision was for Amazon, which has satellite operations around the world, to recruit top talent. Offering a choice of head offices could help it win new workers in a battle with Alphabet Inc’s Google and others, with which Amazon competes in areas such as cloud computing and voice-controlled technology.

“Amazon is going where it won’t have to jostle with Google and Facebook as much as it would in San Francisco or it does in Seattle,” said Alex Snyder, analyst at CenterSquare Investment Management near Philadelphia.

The HQ2 split also could help Amazon ease the same degree of congestion and jump in costs of living that led to unrest in Seattle. An affordable housing crisis there prompted the city council to adopt a head tax on businesses in May, which Amazon helped overturn in a subsequent city council vote.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Amazon is seen at the company logistics centre in Boves, France, August 8, 2018. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol/File photo

It was unclear what incentive packages were offered to Amazon. New Jersey early in the contest proposed $7 billion in potential credits against state and city taxes if Amazon located in Newark and stuck to hiring commitments.

On Monday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the state was in talks with Amazon. “We have a great incentive package,” which was not “crazy” like other states’ offers, he said, according to audio from WCBS 880 Radio.

“I’ll change my name to Amazon Cuomo if that’s what it takes,” he said.

Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco, David Shepardson in Washington; Additional reporting by Herb Lash in New York and Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Lisa Shumaker

Forced Selling Drags GE Down Further

The eagerly awaited first General Electric (GE) earnings call under new CEO Larry Culp did not disappoint. Culp immediately went over almost every major issue and addressed them without sugar coating. He clearly communicated he wants change and the company wants it with him, which I though was a very positive message and takeaway. Finally, he refrained from presenting easy fixes which seemed healthy just 30 days into the job.

I did like the new CEO on appointment (like everyone else) but I didn’t want to buy General Electric at least until this call was behind us. New CEOs have a tendency to put out all dirty laundry on the first one or two calls. As an incoming CEO that’s your chance to show the world what a mess you are left with. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been but the stock dropped big time.

Chart

GE Price data by YCharts

So now it’s getting really interesting. Here are my key takeaways from the earnings call:

Dividend

GE scrapped its dividend. OK, they kept it at $0.01 but that’s probably just to prevent ETFs and funds that require a dividend because of their mandate from selling. This will save GE nearly $4 billion in cash that it can direct toward debt paydown and GE Capital. This was sort of expected and is widely seen as a wise decision. It may still cause some people to throw in the towel and perhaps some forced selling by dividend-focused funds/ETFs that require a higher level. This is good because maybe we can buy cheaper.

Power

Power is where it’s at. There’s going to be a lot of news coming out with respect to this unit. I’m predicting 1) a spin-off or sale of part of the power business and 2) significant layoffs across the entire unit. Here are a few selected quotes from the earnings call:

Second, we will take a materially different approach to running our Power business.

…It has become clear to us that we need to simplify the business structure. Therefore today we are announcing our intent to reorganize Power into two units, both of which will report directly to me.

Likely both headed by a president and able to be sold or spun out more easily. Financials will be easier to understand by potential buyers.

Then an analyst asked a question about the Power reorganization and Culp answered as follows (emphasis mine):

Nicole, I think what we’ve done today is really share both internally and publicly the organizational architecture, if you will, that we have in mind. There are a number of details that Russell, the team and I will be working through in the days and weeks to come. And as those details become more clear, we’ll share those first internally, and then we will share them with you and others publicly.

I think that means lots of layoffs, and they will be concentrated in power.

GE Capital

As expected by the market GE Capital is going to be a drag for years. It will eat up at least $3 billion next year. However, it didn’t sound completely hopeless. I didn’t get the impression this division was about to sink the company. That probably means Culp doesn’t think it will in the long term either. A good sign.

Conclusion

Because the dividend was scrapped combined with the general market environment there may be more short-term selling. Valuation wise it’s getting more attractive. From a tactical standpoint I think it’s better to wait. This comes at the risk you’ll miss out getting GE in the single digits.

I expect harsh cuts in power and that may give the stock a jolt. This will take a few weeks at a minimum.

GE Capital’s restructuring and debt paydowns will eat up lots of free cash flow for the foreseeable future. Until the market is sure these two issues are no longer issues, GE will not get back into favor. This may take 3-4 years. Unless part of the power unit is sold or spun out and/or Baker Hughes (BGHE) puts in a few good quarters and GE can monetize its stake attractively.

Bottom line – General Electric is an attractive deleveraging story with a terrific CEO. Given tactical considerations I wouldn’t build more than a starter position and would slowly build as it slides because dividend funds are selling.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, but may initiate a long position in GE over the next 72 hours.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

This GenZ Entrepreneur Explains How Old People Can Understand The Rising Generation

This moment marks a transition as YouthLogic, the company Blakley founded five years ago at the age of 14…

Focusing on providing information about “Generation Z” and youth culture to larger marketing firms, YouthLogic was acquired by the Campus Agency, a leading college marketing brand agency based in Downtown Boston. This acquisition will better align marketing campaigns with the tastes and needs of the growing Generation Z.

While YouthLogic focused on consumer power among young people, the
combination of an agency specializing in one generational cohort and an agency specializing in marketing to people during one specific life stage promises powerful results.

Blakley’s broader goal is to help older generations understand current culture, which he defines as “coolness plus relevance.” Thus, his new role marks an important transition from YouthLogic and for Blakley himself. He insists that the issue is less about generational differences than the context.

“Culture is what ultimately moves brands, so it is imperative that businesses understand culture.” Blakley’s view of marketing to Generation Z is more holistic than others might expect it to be. While others may just apply the same tactics used for Millennials but tweak them to be more mobile and digital, Blakley insists that there are key differences between the generations that render this strategy ineffective.

For example, he argues that Generation Z is not attention-span deprived, but rather gifted with a well-calibrated “BS meter.” He also underscores the fact that context and experiences strongly inform perception, and this dynamic also informs how people market to different groups.

Blakley’s emphasis on Generation Z should alert all relevant businesses that this emerging demographic is poised to become some of the world’s biggest spenders. Most of human history, dating as far back as.

Socrates, has consisted of intergenerational conflicts in which the older generation assumes that the younger generation is inferior. While this may simply be an aspect of being human, it is critical that companies evaluate their positioning and perceptions of Generation Z.

Even though this generation is our youngest, they develop strong relationships with brands – especially accessible, creative ones that connect with their demographic in particular. For some companies, this might mean a strategic shift away from how things have been done, and for others, it might mean simple tweaking of existing approaches.

In any case, Blakley’s success illustrates how valuable knowledge of Generation Z is and his work represents a powerful conduit for brands to effectively connect with this generation.

Here’s an edited transcript of our conversation:

Why do you think there’s a need for your services?

Brands are failing at marketing to Generation Z. They move too slowly to integrate trends, they try to direct the message when they work with influencers. As with many generations before this, when they use youth culture it seems inauthentic and awkward. The stakes are especially high for Generation Z, because this is a huge generation that is completely tied to the digital world, and we can tell right away if a concept is stale or if someone is not authentic.

So brands’ strategies that might have worked for other generations or other market demographics are not really working anymore. It’s not enough to just hire a consultant; they need a direct conversation with actual young people. More and more companies are learning this the hard way: They need me.

How do you measure the success of an influencer-based marketing campaign?

A successful influencer-based marketing campaign has to retain the influencer’s voice and still get the audience curious about the brand. So measuring its success involves engagement.

How many people liked or commented on the post, or shared it? How many people ended up liking the sponsor’s page?

Questions like that are helpful in beginning to evaluate the success, or lack thereof, of a campaign. People need to remember, the reason these influencers grew large and engaged fan audiences, is because they were being themselves. As a brand, you can’t take that away!

Where’s the growth space in social media today?

Facebook is a joke. Instagram and YouTube are the real growth areas. For marketing directly to Generation Z, the platforms need to be visual. They need to be current and able to move with the trends and integrated into everyday life, so a stale Facebook page is not going to cut it. An Instagram video showing interesting content is better, and synergizing that with a YouTube channel is best of all.

Too many companies have made the mistake of either using these platforms inappropriately or putting too much into platforms that were successful a decade ago. That’s not where you are going to find a Generation Z audience. This is the generation of digital intuitiveness, so it is imperative that platforms be used effectively or at least in a way that dovetails with that intuitiveness.

Where have brands gone wrong in talking to GenZ?

They seem to be driven by a need to control all the messages in communicating to this generation, which you can see when they awkwardly work with influencers. They don’t seem to get that influencers have the power they do because they are authentic.

However, brands seem determined to drain the authenticity away, and they don’t seem to get that Generation Z notices that. Brands think they can impose their message on an influencer, instead of relying on them to use their built-in audience and voice to communicate the brand’s message.

Brands need to be less formal and friendlier, connecting in a way that is not just selling things to people. Everyone hates being sold to. But if a brand engages on a peer level and does not take itself too seriously – Wendy’s Spotify campaign is a great example of this – then it has a chance of cracking this market.

Conclusion

Connor is one of several GenZ entrepreneurs that will be on a panel at the coming Genius Network Annual Event, which is rumored to have some seriously big names at.

I have no affiliative relationship with either Connor or Genius Network. However, I am a member of the mastermind and, as a psychologist and entrepreneur, report on the fascinating things I’m seeing. 

​Red Hat: An independent barony in the kingdom of IBM

When the news broke that IBM was buying Red Hat, staffers were caught by surprise. They were understandably nervous. But, it looks like life will continue on as normal for Red Hat‘s employees, its programs, and open-source projects. The big difference? The company will have IBM’s massive resources behind it.

Under IBM, Red Hat will maintain its autonomy. CEO Jim Whitehurst and his current management team will continue to lead the company. Red Hat will also keep its existing facilities, brands, and its unique Red Hat’s open organization leadership style.

IBM sees Red Hat as the Switzerland of the open-source and Linux enterprise software stack. The last thing IBM wants is to transform Red Hat into just another IBM brand. Arvind Krishna, IBM’s senior vice president of hybrid cloud, said: “Red Hat must, and will, remain independent.”

This idea is not as radical as it sounds. IBM divisions have historically been given a great deal of freedom. It’s only from the outside looking in that IBM appears to be a monolithic kingdom. It’s really more a set of baronies under one name.

For example, all of Red Hat’s open source programs and operating systems–including Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), CentOS, Fedora, CoreOS, Ansible, WildFly (formerly JBoss) and others–will go on just as they have been. In addition, open-source programs that Red Hat supports, such as the OpenStack cloud, will continue to be supported.

Paul Cormier, Red Hat’s president of products and technologies, said the acquisition will have no impact on Red Hat’s day-to-day activities. “The day after we close there will be nothing different. It will be business as usual with the same roadmaps. We’ll continue to do what’s right for the community,” he said. “There will be no changes. I don’t know how else to say that. There will be absolutely no change in how we work with the upstream Linux community.”

In addition, Red Hat will continue to support all its existing partners. Yes, that includes IBM’s public cloud rivals. “Red Hat’s would continue to support existing partnerships with other cloud providers,” said Cormier. These partners include Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services, and Google Cloud.

Make no mistake about it, though, this merger and acquisition is all about the cloud.

What Red Hat brings to the table, said Cormier, is both its OpenShift Kubernetes cloud-platform and its vast Linux experience.

Cormier continued:

We’re not an open source company. We’re an enterprise-software company with an open-source development model. Red Hat’s secret sauce is we’ve put those two things together. And we’ve both done that. IBM has a huge history of enterprise-grade software and open-source development.

The hope is, in what may be more of a partnership than a merger, IBM will continue to be an enterprise software services power and Red Hat will continue to be a dominant open-source player. Together, they hope to become the hybrid cloud powerhouse of the 21st century.

Related Stories:

What It's Like to Fly the WWII-Era Plane That Crashed on LA's 101 Freeway

Watching the flames devour the wing of a World War II-era aircraft that crash-landed on the 101 Freeway in Los Angeles, a few questions come to mind. How did the pilot escape unharmed? How’d he manage not to whack any cars as he came down around 2 pm on Tuesday? Why was the plane, a T-6 Texan, dressed up like a German fighter aircraft (sans swastikas)? And, most pressing of all, what is anybody doing flying a 70-year-old plane over northwest LA?

That last one, at least, is easy enough to answer.

“The T-6, out of all the airplanes I’ve flown, is one of my favorite aircraft to fly. It’s a beautifully handling aircraft, it’s extremely well built, very powerful, and it’s just a lot of fun,” says Dave Whitcomb, a professional pilot who has logged about 500 hours in the T-6 while working with a group called History Flight, which takes members of the public out flying in old-timey planes.

The crashed plane, a North American T-6 Texan, currently belongs to Condor Squadron, KTLA reports. (The Van Nuys-based non-profit’s pilots fly the vintage aircraft for parades and other events, according to its website.) In its previous life, the aircraft saw some combat during World War II and the Korean War, but mostly served as a trainer for pilots preparing to climb into the cockpits of Mustangs and Corsairs. Like a driver’s ed car, the two tandem seats each have a full set of controls. Forty-two feet from wingtip to wingtip, the plane can hit 205 mph at 5,000 feet, thanks to its single engine.

The joy of flying a vintage aircraft is similar to that of driving an old race car, Whitcomb says. Without any of the automated systems that pilots now spend most of their time monitoring, operating the T-6 requires constant adjustments to the stick in your right hand, the throttle and propeller controls in your left.

“You’re always flying the airplane,” he says. “In a smaller aircraft like that, it feels like it’s a part of you. Whereas big heavy jets today, you’re not manipulating the controls as much, because they’re so stable.”

Throw in the joy of reliving history, and it’s easy to see why you’d want to climb into the T-6’s cockpit, slide open the canopy, and slide through the air like the pilots of old.

Most of the folks flying T-6’s today are very experienced, Whitcomb says, largely because insurance companies aren’t in the business of covering rookies who want to zip about in a relatively rare and expensive plane. (Someone in Italy’s selling one for $28,735.) Most of the aircraft now have GPS navigation systems; they all have modern radios.

And while the T-6 is generally reliable, it only has a single engine, meanings that if that one craps out, you’re gonna make like Icarus. (This is why Whitcomb avoided flying the T-6 over large bodies of water or unlandable terrain.) That’s where the experience comes in. When an engine failure turns your plane into a glider, it’s time to look for a long, smooth landing surface—like the 101— steadily drop altitude, float down gradually, and hope everybody in their 21st century car can get out of the way.


More Great WIRED Stories

Their Flight Wasn't Until the Next Morning. Passengers Slept on the Floor. Then Airport Security Prodded Them to Stay Awake

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

Have you ever noticed that there are never enough seats for passengers at airports?

Many are forced to mill around because, well, what else are you going to do?

You don’t expect, however, airport staff to instruct you on the milling-around rules. Nor, indeed, on the sleeping-at-the-airport rules.

Last weekend, though, passengers at Stansted Airport near London had a difficult time.

Some passengers flew in from elsewhere late at night and didn’t have a connecting flight until the next morning.

What are passengers supposed to do all night? Wouldn’t you try to get some sleep?

The UK’s Metro describes how passengers tried to find any perch they could to get a few winks.

But when there are only 50 seats and perhaps 500 passengers, there’s only one option: the floor.

I’ve done it before. Perhaps you have too. You try and find a corner, lie down, grip your valuables and hope no one bothers you.

At Stansted last weekend, however, airport security patrolled the scene.

As one passenger, Ricardo Gavioli, told Metro: 

I even saw a young couple sitting together on the ground and when the woman tried to rest her head on her boyfriend’s chest and stretch her legs security came up and prodded her into an upright position.

Gavioli likened it to “sleep deprivation torture.” He said: 

The security were passing every ten minutes to tell people to sit upright and not to lie down.

Why would the airport behave this way?

The airport offered a simple statement: 

We don’t allow people to sleep on the floor or come with sleeping equipment (camp beds, hammocks, sleeping bags etc), and people sleeping on the floor will be asked to sit up or move if necessary. 

There is a caveat, says the airport:

However, nobody is stopped from sleeping or woken up while sitting in a chair.

How very reasonable when there’s hardly a chair to be had.

Why, in fact, doesn’t the airport start charging for chairs? I’m sure U.S. airlines can offer them software for that.

I wonder how Stansted executives fall asleep in meetings. Does security prod them awake, too?

Stansted has banned sleeping on the floor between midnight and 2 a.m. This, it claims, is to accommodate renovation work and, as the airport told the Telegraph:

Feedback shows passengers don’t like arriving at the airport for an early flight to find lots of people blocking access and getting in the way of both staff and those traveling.

They also don’t like having nowhere to sit.

Still, perhaps many will find this approach reasonable. 

Is it also reasonable, though, to prod people awake when they have nowhere else to go and they’re not doing any harm?

Stansted says too many travelers deliberately decide to sleep on the floor, so they don’t have to pay for a hotel.

On the people’s foghorn, Twitter, passengers offered reasonable arguments. There’s just nowhere to go in that airport.

Of course, the airport says passengers should arrive at a time nearer their scheduled departure. 

Many know, however, that this can also provide a crush not worth tolerating.

This airport security’s prodding behavior isn’t exactly unique.

The airport insisted this was to allow cleaners to do their jobs.

Perhaps one idea for passengers is to avoid Stansted altogether.  

Until, that is, the renovations are done and the reception is gloriously welcoming. 

Should both things ever occur, that is.

Gadget Lab Podcast: Pinterest’s Evan Sharp on What Makes Good Software

Why did Apple’s Jony Ive name Pinterest co-founder Evan Sharp as one of the figures in technology who he believes will change the future?

If you were wondering about that, here’s a great chance to learn a little bit more about Sharp and make the call yourself. During the 25th anniversary festival for WIRED last week, the Gadget Lab team had the chance to interview Sharp on stage, among other high-profile technologists. Over the next few weeks we’ll be publishing these taped conversations as a part of the podcast.

In this particularly interview, Mike and Arielle ask Sharp what it’s like to receive praise from Ive, how machine learning is changing software design, and whether Pinterest can remain once of the internet’s last happy places.

Show notes: Click here to read more about Jony Ive’s nomination of Evan Sharp for our 25th anniversary issue. And here’s Lauren’s WIRED 25 interview with Kevin Systrom, which we mentioned in this week’s show.

Recommendations this week: Lauren recommends the Dakota backpack from Dagne Dover. Mike recommends these awesome smartphone accessory lenses made by Moment.

Send the Gadget Lab hosts feedback on their personal Twitter feeds. Arielle Pardes can be found at @pardesoteric. Lauren Goode is @laurengoode. Michael Calore can be found at @snackfight. Bling the main hotline at @GadgetLab. Our theme song is by Solar Keys.

How to Listen

You can always listen to this week’s podcast through the audio player on this page, but if you want to subscribe for free to get every episode, here’s how:

If you’re on an iPhone or iPad, open the app called Podcasts, or just tap this link. You can also download an app like Overcast or Pocket Casts, and search for Gadget Lab. And in case you really need it, here’s the RSS feed.

If you use Android, you can find us in the Google Play Music app just by tapping here. You can also download an app like Pocket Casts or Radio Public, and search for Gadget Lab. And in case you really need it, here’s the RSS feed.

We’re also on Soundcloud, and every episode gets posted to wired.com as soon as it’s released. If you still can’t figure it out, or there’s another platform you use that we’re not on, let us know.

Jack Dorsey Has Problems With Twitter, Too

It contributes to filter bubbles, he said. It risks silencing people, he said. And when it’s not silencing them, it might be incentivizing them to behave badly, or basely, he said. His biggest criticism of the social media site he runs was that it could be nudging its users in the wrong directions.

“What does the service currently incentivize?” asked Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey on stage at the WIRED25 summit today. It’s the question he and his whole team are asking themselves right now—about every aspect of the site “Right now we have a big Like button with a heart on it and we’re incentivizing people to want it to go up” and to get more followers, he pointed out. “Is that the right thing? Versus contributing to the public conversation or a healthy conversation? How do we incentive healthy conversation?”

When he co-founded the website 12 years ago, it was meant as a place for friends to share pictures of their lunch. “Now it’s become a place to launch nuclear war,” said Wired editor in chief Nick Thompson. That evolution, from innocuous late-night destination for cryptic jokes to lubricator of social movements to a cesspool of outrage and the platform for geopolitical discourse was not a result of Twitter’s code, Dorsey’s argued. But it was inevitable.

From the second it launched, Twitter was a free app with which anyone could text message the entire world. “Once the world saw that, there was no taking it back,” Dorsey said. “Once they saw it, they needed it. Our job now is to make sure we are actually serving that need.” By which he means the need for a global public square, a place for a global conversation to discuss the most important topics—he cited climate change and poverty as topics that can only be tackled in a global discussion—which he feels it is Twitter’s responsibility to facilitate.

If that means not being an absolutist about free speech, so be it. “We can only stand for freedom of expression if people feel safe to express themselves in the first place,” he said, adding, “A lot of people come to Twitter and they don’t see a service. They see what looks like a public square and they have the same expectation as they have of a public square, and that is what we have to get right.”

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey (right) on stage with WIRED editor in chief Nick Thompson.

Amy Lombard

To get it right, Dorsey indicated everything was on the table. Twitter, he indicated, may need to be radically changed. He noted right now the service only allows you to follow accounts, not topics. It only allows you to like or retweet. What should it allow you to do instead? He’s not sure, but he’s considering every option.

And he’s open to your ideas. “When we started the company, we weren’t thinking about [any of] this at all,” he said. “One of the interesting things about Twitter has been this amazing experiment in creating with others—the hashtag, the thread, the retweet—have all been invented by the people using our service, not us.” So if you have ideas for how to fix Twitter, make it known. Dorsey is listening.


More Great WIRED Stories

OnDeck launches new subsidiary to partner with banks

NEW YORK (Reuters) – OnDeck Capital Inc has set up a subsidiary that will provide technology and other services to banks looking to lend to small businesses online, it said on Tuesday.

Called ODX, the new company will expand OnDeck’s existing business of providing online lending software to banks, such as JPMorgan Chase & Co, the company said.

ODX plans to announce a new bank partnership imminently and has a pipeline of other potential bank partners across the world, the company said.

It believes ODX will make it faster and easier for banks to digitize their lending to small businesses.

“We felt that given the robust demand we are seeing by the largest banks, it is not a question of if they are moving into online lending, but of when,” Noah Breslow, chief executive of OnDeck, said in an interview. “We thought that by creating ODX, we would set ourselves to take advantage of that opportunity.”

New York-based OnDeck is one of the most established companies that extends credit to small businesses through its website and then sells loans to financial institutions such as banks.

It announced a partnership with JPMorgan Chase in late 2015, through which the bank uses OnDeck’s technology to lend to small businesses.

Brian Geary, who served as vice president of OnDeck’s partnership unit, has been appointed president of ODX.

The company also hired financial technology executive Raj Kolluri to serve as ODX’s head of product and technology.

Kolluri joins ODX from financial services software provider SS&C Primatics, where he served as vice president of product and engineering.

Reporting by Anna Irrera; Editing by Peter Cooney

Aphria And Altria: Big Tobacco Enters The Cannabis Industry?

(Google)

On Wednesday, a potential deal was reported between Canadian cannabis company Aphria (OTCQB:APHQF) and tobacco maker Altria (MO).

“U.S. tobacco giant Altria Group Inc. is in talks to acquire an equity stake in Canadian cannabis grower Aphria Inc., multiple sources say.

Details of Altria’s proposed investment in Aphria are still being finalized, said the sources, who asked to remain unnamed because the talks are private. They said Altria has expressed an interest in acquiring a minority stake in the Leamington, Ont.-based grower with the intention of eventually holding a majority of the company’s shares.

The sources cautioned that it could take time for the two companies to strike a deal and that talks could still fall through.”

The Globe and Mail (paywalled article)

Shares of Aphria had been trading at C$17.24 on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSE:APH), and quickly shot up as high as C$20.36. Shares are currently at ~C$20, as of this writing – up ~16% after being down prior to the news.

For their part, Aphria basically said, “No comment.” Aphria’s response:

“Aphria Inc. today responded to a request from the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada regarding media reports suggesting the Company is engaged in discussions regarding a potential investment in Aphria. While Aphria engages in discussions with potential strategic partners and/or investors from time to time, the Company notes that there is no agreement, understanding or arrangement in place with a potential investor at this time.

Aphria will advise the investment community of any material changes, if and when they occur, in accordance with applicable disclosure requirements.”

Aphria Press Release

Potential Benefits: Global Expansion

An investment from Altria could pay huge dividends for Aphria. Altria could also benefit from access to the enormous potential cannabis market – worth $200 billion by 2032, according to Canopy Growth – to offset tobacco declines.

From Aphria’s point of view, they would gain access to a large pool of both capital and knowledge. Altria has been operating in a regulated industry for decades and has extensive experience working with regulators worldwide. Altria also has decades of experience in a related industry, and could help Aphria in marketing, supply chains, and distribution.

Aphria is not short on cash. In my recent article on Aphria, I noted that Aphria has a free cash flow deficit of ~C$56 million/quarter and has ~C$335 million in net cash. That free cash flow deficit can be expected to turn positive very soon – recreational cannabis will be legalized next week and Aphria’s expansion projects are set to come online in early 2019. At that point, Aphria will not have much higher operating cash flow and much lower capital expenditures – they should be significantly cash flow positive.

However, Altria could provide a capital injection that will provide Aphria with optionality. One of Canopy Growth’s largest advantages – which I wrote about in Canopy Growth: The King Of Cannabis Doesn’t Come Cheaply – is that they have billions of dollars in the bank. Globally, cannabis laws are rapidly-evolving. As cannabis laws are loosened around the world (e.g., in Germany last year), Canopy Growth will be able to use their capital to expand into any new country that legalizes cannabis:

“So this is really rocket fuel. It does add quite a lot. As we look around the world, we’re going to be expanding production, we’re going to be doing more research, we’re going to develop more intellectual property, we’re going to create more leading brands, we’re going to have more products, and we’re going to be way more global.

If you’re thinking about this it does establish that Canopy is the cannabis platform for Constellation. And that’s a great deal of focus and trust, and we took it seriously as a management team. Everybody on my team was unbelievably excited to take this next step to the place where we could actually go global and do it with and for Constellation.”

Bruce Linton, Canopy Growth CEO, Q1/FY19 CC (August 2018)

While Aphria does not need additional capital to grow their Canadian production to 255,000 kg/year, an Altria investment could give Aphria the “rocket fuel” it needs to think globally and to compete for global cannabis markets as laws liberalize and those markets open to both medical and recreational cannabis.

History of Investments in Cannabis

This is still just a rumor, and the deal could still fall through. If the deal is finalized, it would be another in a line of investments in Canadian cannabis from alcohol and tobacco makers.

Chart

CGC data by YCharts

The most notable investment is Constellation Brands’ (STZ) $4 billion investment in Canopy Growth (CGC). I have previously written about both the Constellation deal (Constellation’s Risky, Leveraged Bet On Canopy Growth) and Canopy Growth itself (Canopy Growth: The King Of Cannabis Doesn’t Come Cheaply) on this platform.

(Canopy Growth/Constellation Presentation)

That investment sounds quite similar to the proposed Altria investment into Aphria: Constellation acquired a minority stake in Canopy Growth and has warrants sufficient to expand that stake into a majority position. Constellation also has the right to nominate a majority of Canopy Growth’s board as a result of the deal.

Shareholders in Canopy Growth were big winners as a result of the Constellation deal. Canopy Growth’s US-listed shares closed at $24.62 on the day prior to the Constellation investment (8/14). Yesterday (10/9), shares closed at $48.72 – up 98% since Constellation’s investment. Aphria shareholders will hope to see similar gains from an Altria investment.

While Constellation’s deal was the largest investment in Canadian cannabis, it is not the only investment.

Back in August, Molson Coors (TAP) entered into a joint venture with HEXO (OTCPK:HYYDF) to form a company which will sell cannabis-infused beverage products. That joint venture now has a name, as of October 4:

“The joint venture, Truss, will be led by former Molson Coors executive, Brett Vye, in the role of Chief Executive Officer. Vye will report to the Truss board of directors consisting of three members appointed by MCC and two members appointed by HEXO.

‘With the backing of two partners with deep Canadian roots, proven success, and market-leading experience in the respective beverage and cannabis industries in Canada, Truss will hit the ground running,’ said Brett Vye, Chief Executive Officer at Truss. ‘When consumable cannabis is legalized in Canada, Truss will be ready to make its mark as a responsible leader in providing high-quality beverages for the Canadian consumer. Why ‘Truss’? We are joining together the extensive experience and excellent practices of each partner to build a powerful foundation for the future.'”

Molson Coors Canada and HEXO Launch Truss

Molson Coors owns 57.5% of the Truss joint venture, while HEXO owns the other 42.5%. As part of the deal, Molson Coors received 11.5 million warrants for HEXO shares with a strike price of C$6 for 3 years. HEXO currently trades at C$8.70, up ~85% from its price prior to the Molson Coors deal.

CannTrust (OTC:CNTTF) also has an exclusive partnership with Breakthru Beverage Group, a larger Canadian alcohol distributor. By dollar value, this deal is a lot smaller than either the Canopy Growth or the HEXO deals. As part of this deal, Breakthru invested C$9 million into CannTrust for ~900,000 shares and Breakthru has options to purchase another 2,000,000 shares for a 15% discount.

There have also been other rumors, such as rumors of a deal between Coca-Cola (KO) and Aurora Cannabis (OTCQX:ACBFF). Nothing has come of those rumors yet. However, given interest in cannabis from alcohol companies (STZ, TAP), a tobacco manufacturer (MO), and potentially soft-drink manufacturers (KO), it may be only a matter of time before other deals are announced. The most likely targets would be other cannabis producers with large production capacity – capable of growing enough cannabis to supply a globally-distributed product, be it CBD- or THC-based.

Takeaways

Two weeks ago, I wrote Aphria: The Best Value Of The ‘Big 5’ Cannabis Producers and put a BUY rating on Aphria. This rating is only strengthened by a potential investment from Altria – Aphria will be able to use any capital it receives to continue expanding aggressively within Canada and to make international expansion deals as well.

That said, this is a very volatile time to purchase shares of Aphria. Shares are up sharply today on a deal that has not yet been finalized. Purchasing based on this rumor may be a risky proposition, given that the deal could still fall through or the rumors could turn out to be false or exaggerated.

Further, any investment in cannabis is going to be a risky investment – this is a speculative, volatile market. For that reason, I suggest that investors diversify their holdings within the industry. Consider an approach like my Model Cannabis Portfolio, available to The Growth Operation subscribers, which holds nine different cannabis companies. There is no need to “pick a winner” as, odds are, there will be multiple winners in this market. Holding a diverse group of companies will allow you to weather storms that might impact single companies and will still allow you to capture the long-term upside of this market.

Aphria may also be volatile this week because they are set to announce first quarter (FY19) results on October 12, 2018. I will write more about those results when they are released later this week.

Aphria remains a part of both my personal portfolio and my Model Cannabis Portfolio, available to The Growth Operation subscribers.

This is an exciting time to be a cannabis investor, but please, invest responsibly.

Members of The Growth Operation, my exclusive community, receive:

  • Exclusive access to my in-depth research articles on smaller cannabis companies.
  • Access to my Model Cannabis Portfolio.
  • Up-to-date news and updates on cannabis companies.
  • Access to my full, live portfolio.

This month only, membership is 25% off for your first year. Prices are going to rise come October, so sign up for a free trial today. (If prices rise later, early members get grandfathered prices, forever.)

Disclosure: I am/we are long APHRIA, AURORA CANNABIS, CANOPY GROWTH, CANNTRUST.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Editor’s Note: This article discusses one or more securities that do not trade on a major U.S. exchange. Please be aware of the risks associated with these stocks.

These Parents Are Angry That American Airlines Wouldn't Let Their 5-Year-Old Boy with Autism Board a Flight

Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

The disappointment was crushing. Especially after the preparation. 

Adam and Heather Halkuff have five children, two of whom have autism. 

They wanted to take the whole family on a trip to Kansas City. So the Texas family did all they could to make it happen.

As NBC 5 reports, they called American Airlines in advance. The airline has a program that helps kids, including those with autism, become familiar with all the trials and quirks of flying. 

Five-year-old Milo and two-year-old Ollie took part, on September 24, more than a week before their flight. 

Yet on the day of the flight, Milo became distressed — many call it a meltdown — during the boarding process at Dallas/Fort Worth airport.

A meltdown might involve screaming, crying and other expressions of feeling overwhelmed.

The Halkuffs say other passengers were kind, but an American Airlines gate agent was less so.

“Right away she goes, ‘He can’t get on the flight … he’s going to bother the other passengers and then he’ll still be upset during the flight and we’ll have to turn around and escort you off the plane,” Heather Halkuff told NBC.

Some might observe that they’ve seen all sorts of kids get on planes and express upset.

Sometimes, they calm down quickly. Surely everyone has at least once been on a flight when a child didn’t quieten at all. 

At times, ground crew and Flight Attendants can be sympathetic. At other times, not so much.

The Halkuffs depiction of this particular gate agent suggests that she was of the latter variety.

Worse, Heather Halkuff says that the whole family weren’t allowed to board. Even though Adam Halkuff offered to take Milo home, so that at least Heather and the other children could still take the trip.

I contacted American for its view and a spokesperson told me:  

We are concerned to hear about this situation. Our team has reached out to the Halkuff family to gather more information about what transpired at Dallas/Fort Worth. The American Airlines team is committed to providing a safe and pleasant travel experience for all of our customers.

Clearly, the fact that American provides a service to help children — including those with autism — get used to flying means that the airline isn’t insensitive to the potential issues.

Moreover, we have no idea of the level of distress Milo might have undergone.

Yet again, though, we’re in a customer service situation when individuals are involved and initial reactions matter.

If the Halkuffs’ story is accurate, then some might conjecture the gate agent reacted too quickly. 

There could, perhaps, have been an alternative solution. Could anyone really know if Milo might have calmed down, once on the plane?

Not allowing any of the family to fly, however, seems to be the sort of draconian decision still too often taken by airline staff. 

I recently wrote about a dad who says he called American to explain that his three-year-old had a burst appendix and please could the airline rebook their trip.

American, he says, insisted on still charging $200 change fees for both of them. Before, says dad, the decision gained some Twitter traction.

Then the airline made a “one time exception.”

When it comes to boarding passengers, airline employees are graded severely on so-called D0.

This is the measure of whether a plane departs at the very minute and second it’s supposed to.

It could be that thoughts of this may have played upon this particular gate agent’s mind.

Yet as long as customers still see airlines as being in the customer service business — perhaps erroneously — such stories are likely to reach the media and become examples of airline insensitivity.

Airlines employ enormous numbers of people and are therefore at the mercy of each of their employees’ behavior.

The Halkuffs hope that what happened doesn’t cause Milo’s older brothers to resent him.

Perhaps there’s some way that American might provide another attempt for Milo to fly with his family.

Indeed, American told me:

A few members of the American team have been in touch with the family, and yes, we are hopeful they will reschedule and try once again.

Walmart partners with MGM to boost video-on-demand service Vudu

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Walmart Inc (WMT.N) said on Monday it would partner with U.S. movie studio Metro Goldwyn Mayer to create content for its video-on-demand service, Vudu, which the retailer bought eight years ago.

FILE PHOTO: Walmart signage is displayed outside a company’s store in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. November 23, 2016. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski

Walmart has been looking to prop up Vudu’s monthly viewership that remains well below that of competitors like Netflix Inc (NFLX.O) and Hulu LLC, which is controlled by Walt Disney Co (DIS.N), Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) and Twenty-First Century Fox Inc (FOXA.O).

Media outlets had reported the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company was looking to launch a subscription streaming video service to rival that of Netflix and make a foray into producing TV shows to attract customers.

Walmart is not planning such a move, company sources have told Reuters. The retailer continues, however, to look for options to boost its video-on-demand business and offer programs that target customers who live outside of big cities.

Walmart and MGM will make the announcement at the NewFronts conference in Los Angeles on Wednesday. It will include the name of the first production under the partnership, which Walmart will license from MGM.

“Under this partnership, MGM will create exclusive content based on their extensive library of iconic IP (intellectual property), and that content will premiere exclusively on the Vudu platform,” Walmart spokesman Justin Rushing told Reuters.

The focus will be on family-friendly content that Walmart customers prefer, Rushing said.

The financial deals of the deal were not disclosed.

Licensing content is a cost-effective strategy at a time when producing original content has become a costly venture. As of July, Netflix said it was spending $8 billion a year on original and acquired content. Amazon.com Inc’s (AMZN.O) programming budget for Prime Video was more than $4 billion, while U.S. broadcaster HBO, owned by AT&T Inc (T.N), said it would spend $2.7 billion this year.

Walmart acquired Vudu in 2010 to safeguard against declining in-store sales of DVDs. Walmart bet that customers would continue to buy and rent movies and move their titles to a digital library, which Vudu would create and maintain for viewers.

But the video site has not posed a significant challenge to rivals that dominate the segment even though it is pre-loaded or can be downloaded to millions of smart televisions and video-game consoles.

Vudu offers 150,000 titles to buy or rent, while its free, ad-supported streaming service, called Movies On Us, includes 5,000 movies and TV shows.

There are currently more than 200 video services that bypass cable providers and stream content directly to a TV, laptop, phone or game console. That is up from 68 five years ago, according to market researcher Parks Associates.

Reporting by Nandita Bose in New York; Editing by Peter Cooney