Channel: Business Insider
Browsing All 48808 Browse Latest View Live
Mark channel Not-Safe-For-Work? cancel confirm NSFW Votes: (0 votes)
Are you the publisher? Claim or contact us about this channel.

We toured the offices of millennial media sensation theSkimm, where employees survive long days with free snacks and Champagne


The SkimmAs we wait with anticipation for the elevator doors to open at the New York City headquarters of theSkimm, we're immediately greeted by heart-pumping music. 

The playlist: songs that were popular in 2012, the year that Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg sent their first email newsletter as theSkimm. 

These days, theSkimm has more than six million subscribers to its daily sum-up of the news. It has raised more than $15 million from investors including 21st Century Fox, RRE Ventures, Greycroft Partners, and The New York Times.

The office, located in New York City's Flatiron District, houses all 50 full-time employees. The walls are painted bright teal, hundreds of books line the walls and serve as makeshift tables or stools, and comfortable couches populate meeting spaces. Champagne and snacks are present in equal amounts. 

The team at theSkimm assures us the decorations and music are not typically this overwhelming, but the office does enjoy a good celebration. This time around, they were celebrating the fifth anniversary of the startup's founding. 

Here's what else we saw during a recent tour: 

SEE ALSO: Tour The Boston Consulting Group's stunning New York office, which has an in-house cafe and workout rooms

Zakin said that her favorite part of the office is the way it's set up. "When you get off the elevator, you have no idea who’s the most senior and who is the most junior," she said. "One of our values [is] that every voice at the table counts."

Weisberg (left) and Zakin (right) sit out in the newsroom with the rest of the team.

On this wall, you'll see a cutout of the "theSkimm girl," which the founders say is the embodiment of their audience. Together, the startup has come up with a list of theSkimm girl's preferences: she drinks spicy margaritas, works out in the morning (though she sometimes skips to sleep in), and likes a great read.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

This major transportation change has nothing to do with driverless cars



When I learned to drive, cars were pretty easy to understand: they ran on gas, which was fairly cheap, and they had radios.

Other transportation options were limited to boats, buses, trains, planes, and motorcycles. If you lived in a big city, you got around using mass transit and your feet.

Fast forward a few decades and the types of transportation are essentially the same, but the automobile has been radically remade by technology and the auto industry is being roiled by everything from electric vehicles and self-driving cars to ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft.

The biggest change to air travel has been the cost, which has come way down since I was 16.

Obviously, I cover transportation and have had a front-row seat for the last decade as a deluge of change has arrived. You might think that if I were to look back, I'd say that the electric car is the biggest change I've seen. Tesla is a $50-billion-market-cap company after all — larger by that measure that Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles!

But you'd be wrong.

Nor is Uber the biggest change I've seen. Nor the advent of high-end luxury air travel, low-cost carriers, or even a rising number of private jets.

High-speed rail? Not so much in the US. Flying cars? Nope.

By far the biggest transportation change I've seen is the explosion in bicycle riding. I lived away from the New York area over a decade ago, and while I rode a bike when I lived in NYC, I was unprepared for the proliferation of bikes on my return.

Now that the summer months have arrived in force, I see more bikes than ever.

Bikes, bikes, everywhere

Bike-sharing schemes like CitiBike have two-wheeled conveyances scattered throughout Manhattan. And although everybody in the 1990s got used to dodging bike messengers, nowadays we dodge commuters — or folks who just want to ride across the Brooklyn Bridge. There are bike lanes everywhere — and bike-oriented traffic signals. People ride their bikes year round, rain, shine, sleet, or snow.

I feel as if there are now as many bike shops as there once were Greek coffee shops and dive bars (both endangered species these days). 

Raleigh Roker Comp bike review copy

This change isn't limited to New York. Cycling has boomed in many other American cities. Whole new genres of bicycles have arrived: bikes with electric-assist motors, bikes with extra carrying capacity (the SUVs of bikes), sleek fixies, fat-tired cruisers, throwback hybrid bikes.

This has quietly become a big deal. Whereas 20 years ago, you took your life into your own hands if you tried to ride from New York's Upper East Side to Midtown, these days a vast flotilla of bikes has been integrated into the city's transportation ecosystem.

"More than three-quarters of a million New Yorkers ride a bike regularly—250,000 more than just five years ago." the NYC Department of Transportation said in its "Cycling in the City" report.

"It is estimated that over 450,000 cycling trips are made each day in New York City—triple the amount taken 15 years ago."

Honestly, I didn't see this coming, but I'm glad it did. Some changes on transportation are disorienting. But this one is welcome. It almost makes me want to ride a bike in the city again. Almost.

SEE ALSO: The coolest high and low tech at the Tour de France

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: This light-up bike helmet has built-in turn signals

Bill Ackman just bought another condo in a building where he already owns 2


the beresford ackman

Why have one combo unit in the Beresford when you can have two? Hedge fund billionaire Bill Ackman has just bought himself yet another apartment at his favorite building, the Beresford, for $9 million, according to city records.

Ackman has lived in the building since 2006, when he and his (now ex) wife Karen paid $26 million for a duplex unit on the 17th and 18th floor. With this latest purchase, it seems like he is planning to create another combo unit in the building; the apartment he just bought is right next to an eighth-floor unit he bought in early June for $13.5 million.

His latest unit was unlisted (hence the lack of listing photos), but public records show it was owned by the estate of the late Edith Rudolph, with William Rudolph acting as executor.

In addition to gobbling up units in the Beresford, Ackman has also paid big bucks for lots of other real estate in the city, including a $91.5 million penthouse at One57 and a $17 million penthouse at 420 West Broadway.


Beauty mogul Laura Mercier lists Walker Tower apartment for $11M

Around the world in 80 properties: An $80M "super penthouse" in Singapore

Ernest Hemingway Museum closing its doors

SEE ALSO: A Florida-based entrepreneur is selling his enormous home — complete with 'Star Trek' room — for just shy of $30 million

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The Obamas just shelled out $8.1 million for the DC mansion they've been renting since leaving the White House

We lived in an Airbnb tiny home for a week — and it was completely different than what we expected


Tiny Home AirBnb 18

One week. One tiny home. Two oversized personalities. 

The latest Bravo reality show? No, just a work trip with two Business Insider reporters looking for a place to rest their weary heads after a long day of dedicated and strenuous fast-food investigating. 

When we booked a tiny home through Airbnb in Charlottesville, Virginia, we didn't know what to expect: a quirky miniature respite, or a tiny home of terror

Would the small space be inhabitable, or unspeakably cramped and uncomfortable? Could two colleagues co-inhabit such close quarters and still remain on speaking terms? And there's a bathroom, right?

What we discovered shattered our expectations in more ways than one. 

SEE ALSO: Southerners swear by this regional chicken chain's breakfast menu — we went to see if it lives up to the hype

ALSO READ: We visited the regional chain that beat Trader Joe's for the title of best grocery store in America — here's what it's like

The tiny home was in the backyard of our Airbnb hosts, at a comfortable distance from their house. Walking up, we were immediately impressed by the charming cottage — but a pang of anxiety arose. Would there be room for two in this tiny home?

Our initial fears were assuaged as we entered and took in the clever use of space. Although the tiny home was essentially an open concept (apart from the bathroom, luckily), there were four distinct sections.

Immediately upon entering, we found ourselves in the "living room" area. The tiny home was smartly decorated in bright, clean colors and sharp furniture.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

More of Johnny Depp's outrageous spending has come out, including a $7,000 couch from the Kardashians


Johnny Depp Rich Polk Getty final

Johnny Depp's former business managers aren't through revealing the extravagant expenses the actor has racked up over the years. 

After a ruling by a Los Angeles judge that Depp's outrageous spending — which at one time totaled $2 million a month — is not relevant in the legal battle between Depp and The Management Group, TMG has re-framed its argument. And in doing so it has disclosed some more heavy spending by its former client.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, TMG revealed in its latest cross-complaint that Depp charged more than $500,000 in rental fees for storage warehouses that hold his Hollywood memorabilia, $17,000 in Prada handbags and luggage, as well as $7,000 for a couch that was featured on the reality show "Keeping Up with the Kardashians." The couch was a gift for his daughter, Lily-Rose.

"After terminating TMG in mid-March 2016, Depp continued to make the minimum payments on the CNB Visa card for a time, but then refused to pay anything further, forcing TMG to pay off the approximately $55,000 that was still owing on the CNB Visa card," TMG attorney Michael Kump wrote in the complaint. "All charges on the CNB Visa card are undisputedly charges that were incurred on Depp’s behalf similar to, and/or including, the exemplar purchases discussed above. Depp knows all of these expenses were incurred by and/or on his behalf, but simply refuses to pay his debts."

The central issue in the case is if Depp's financial issues are due to TMG's negligence or the actor's own. Each side is asking the court to rule to that effect.

Read the entire complaint below:

SEE ALSO: Every Christopher Nolan movie, ranked from worst to best

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Here’s what 'Double Dare' host Marc Summers is up to today

Why one Uber driver loves picking up puking passengers


Uber driver Curtis Preston

Uber driver Curtis Preston learned his lesson about inebriated passengers the hard way. The first time someone got sick in his car he wasn’t prepared, and the mess took him off the road and cost him $140 to get his car cleaned. Uber reimbursed him $150, but he lost a night of work. 

After that first experience, he armored his car against anything a passenger with one too many drinks in them could throw at it.

And he had an important realization: The compensation fee Uber gives drivers whose vehicles get sullied by the boozy or the bilious is designed to cover the cost of getting the car cleaned professionally; if he just did the work himself  he’d be able to keep those cleaning fees and make a little extra money. 

Preston now patrols the streets of San Diego in his grey Toyota Prius, equipped with medical gloves, cleaning solution, a portable wet vacuum cleaner, and most importantly, Febreze. Rather than steering clear of the inebriated, he cheerfully welcomes them aboard with the zeal of a Ferris wheel operator.

It's not that he seeks out drunk passengers, he insists. Rather, it's the surge pricing typically in effect during bar closing time that brings him out at that time. But he acknowledges that the customers at that hour tend to be the ones with weak stomachs.

“If you’re drunk enough to need a barf bag, you’re too drunk to use it,” he tells Business Insider, recounting one recent horror story involving a woozy passenger and an ill-fated Taco Bell meal.

Pit stops and photographs

Uber used to charge passengers a flat $250 vomit fee, but recently modified its service charge process. Now, the penalties for purging range between $25 and $150. If a passenger makes a noticeable mess, the driver must take multiple photos and email them to Uber, where the company's experts carefully evaluate the damage. Uber then compensates the driver for whatever they estimate a professional clean up would cost. 

Curtis PrestonHowever, Uber doesn't take into account the time that drivers have to spend off the road dealing with the mess — a costly pit stop during peak surge pricing hours. Preston estimates that getting taken off the road for even a half hour during surge hours can easily cost him $50 in lost fares. 

With his new self-cleaning system, and the proficiency he's developed, Preston says his downtime is minimal. If someone does let their stomach loose in his car today he still has to take time off the road, but if he can quickly find a gas station to park at, he can be back driving within 10 minutes.

He sends in pictures of any mess that requires him to take his supplies out of the trunk. In a blog post, he details the fees he’s been given in return: $50 for melted chocolate on his seats, $80 for spilled dip, and $30 for the girl who ate two Taco Bell meals in under two miles. 

His $40 investment in cleaning supplies was well worth it. Curtis the driver says he made $1500 in cleaning fees last year by having Curtis the cleaner do the work instead of paying for a professional service. 

“Whether you’re going for the fees or not, it’s not a way to make extra money," he cautions any drivers interested in catering to a similar demographic. But for drivers who aren't afraid to roll up their sleeves, it's an ideal system. 


SEE ALSO: Uber employees are conflicted over Travis Kalanick's resignation — over 1,000 have petitioned for his return

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Uber wants to carry you around in a flying car — here’s what it could look like

5 years ago, 2 roommates launched TheSkimm, a newsletter now read by 5 million people and former presidents — here's how they hustled to success


Success How I Did It podcast

The Skimm founders CEO Carly Zakin Danielle Weisberg

TheSkimm launched five years ago, on July 21 2012. Business Insider wrote the first article on the company ever. We sat down with founders Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg a few months ago to catch up on their last few years. They explained (the incredibly hard) way they launched and grew the company. 

Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg cofounded theSkimm, an email newsletter sent to 5 million subscribers every day at 6 a.m.

TheSkimm picks the most important new stories of the day and tells readers what they need to know in a conversational tone that's full of millennial lingo. Loyal subscribers include Oprah and Hillary Clinton's former campaign manager, John Podesta.

The business was far from easy to build. Zakin and Weisberg quit jobs at NBC only to get turned down by "hundreds" of venture capitalists, who saw no value in creating an email company. Together, the pair went into credit-card debt, which they say they finally paid off just last year.

We sat down with Zakin and Weisberg to talk about their battle stories, how they eventually got investors on board, and how theSkimm took off, all on this episode of "Success! How I Did It," a Business Insider podcast hosted by US editor in chief Alyson Shontell that explores the career paths of today's most accomplished and inspiring people.

Subscribe to "Success! How I Did It" on Acast or iTunes. Check out previous episodes with:

The following transcript of the interview has been edited for clarity and length.

A post shared by theSkimm (@theskimm) on

Alyson Shontell: Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg launched theSkimm, a morning email newsletter, in July 2012. Business Insider wrote the first article about it back then, and today the newsletter has over 5 million subscribers, including Oprah and Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, John Podesta, as we learned last year after WikiLeaks' publication of Clinton's hacked emails.

To start, I wanted to go back to 2012 and even a little before that. You met as students studying abroad in Rome. You both worked at NBC and then quit to start a newsletter. Tell me about that process.

Danielle Weisberg: Thanks for having us — it's exciting to be back here. You wrote the first article about us, so it's a lot of déjà vu. Carly and I met studying abroad in Italy. We had a great time and didn't think about what we were going to do later on. We had really similar backgrounds. We're both storytellers, we love journalism, we love news. It was our passion.

We started interning for NBC news as soon as we could and we grew up in that world. NBC was our universe — we always wanted to work there. We worked our way up the ladder from intern to full time, and then we were producers, and between the two of us, we worked in pretty much every news division they had.

We were roommates in an apartment in New York, and we would come home to each other every day and talk about two things.

One, as clichéd as it sounds, we were very much having a quarter-life crisis. Being 25 and 26 and loving what we were doing but wanting to move up and not wanting to hear that you have to get in line and wait 10 years for a position that might open. That was really frustrating as two people who loved what they were doing and wanted to do more of it.

The second thing was our friends who were smart and had great jobs and knew everything about their industries would come home and ask us what was going on in the world. That was our job. That's what we did for a living. We read all day long, and we reported on the news and our friends didn't do that. They had other things to fill their time with. It wasn't a matter of intelligence, and it wasn't a matter of interest; that's not what they were being paid to do.

So we wanted to create a news source that actually brought this audience that was exemplified by our friends, female millennials, who are smart and leading in so many ways, but didn't have a news source that they loved, and we knew that we could create that.

So the newsletter was never the be-all and end-all. It was the beginning to a very big empire that we knew we could create in harnessing the power of female millennials, and being their go-to source for information that really matters and can drive the big decisions that they're making in their lives.

Shontell: When you did this in 2012, it felt like newsletters had been there, done that. Daily Candy had been acquired for a ton of money; Thrillist, a popular guy newsletter, had been around for a few years. What made you think that newsletters were where it's at?

oprah TheSkimmCarly Zakin: It wasn't newsletters that we thought about; it was email. There was a beauty in how naïve we were. We didn't have a tech background. We didn't have a business background. It helped us not overthink things. We just thought — what's the best way to get in front of our friends? We went back and forth. Should we text them?

We were like, "No, the very first thing you do in the morning is you turn off your alarm, it's on your phone, you grab your phone, and you literally open your email to be like, Did someone die? Am I getting fired? or Is my boss yelling at me? and What did my friends send me? And we knew we had to be in that moment. One of our friends worked in finance, and she left for the office at 5:50 in the morning every morning. So we were like, we gotta get it out to her on that commute. So we chose 6 a.m.

A lot of the hallmarks of what theSkimm is about, that one-eye-open routine, we call it. Being in that moment and being there at 6 a.m. happened because we were just thinking about our friends' daily experiences. We weren't overthinking it. We weren't like, let's A/B test this. We didn't even know what A/B testing was.

When we started theSkimm, we started meeting with investors, industry experts, and everyone was like, email is dead — this is a really bad idea. But they would email that to us.

And we would just laugh at it because we're like, you're saying email is dead, but you're emailing that to us. And we both still read email every single morning. Obviously, since then, we've seen a resurgence of email newsletters, and a lot of that, we've been told, is credited to what we've done.

But for us, I think we've talked so much about all the things we didn't know. We haven't spent a lot of time talking about what we did know. And what we did know is that we knew how to talk to this audience, who they were, and we also knew that we were not starting an email newsletter company. We knew email was a marketing tool.

'We made a list of all of the investors, angels, and seed funds, and we would turn anyone who said 'no' red — then the whole list was completely red'

Danielle Weisberg and Carly Zakin, The Skimm

Shontell: Talk about quitting your jobs at NBC. Because you did that and bootstrapped for a bit, right? You said just now there wasn't a ton of investor interest, you were first-time founders with no technical background. That's everything that makes a venture capitalist run away.

Zakin: Yeah, everything that would make you not think "This is a good idea."

Weisberg: It's funny when people ask that, because they're like, "Oh, you decided to bootstrap it." And we're like, "We didn't 'decide.'"

Zakin:“Bootstrap” is such a generous term because it makes it seem like we had money to bootstrap. We worked in media in mid-level jobs. We had just over $4,000 between the two of us. We lived in a rent-stabilized apartment downtown and agreed to go into credit card-debt together.

'Bootstrap' is a generous term. It seems like we had money to bootstrap. We worked in media in mid-level jobs. We had just over $4,000 between the two of us. We lived in a rent-stabilized apartment and together agreed to go into credit-card debt.

We just both paid off our credit-card debt in the last year or so, and it was a huge sacrifice, that even looking back now I'm like, "I can't believe I made those choices." Because it sounds so unlike myself, it sounds so unlike Danielle.

Weisberg: The other part, too, is people hear our story now and they think about it as two women decide to quit their jobs and start their own company. Quitting our jobs, it was the scariest day of our life. That was not easy. And those first months ... every point of this company has been hard. That's the case anytime you're building something. But those first months, we only got through it because we didn't have a backup plan. We didn't have a safety net financially or emotionally. This was everything.

That was our saving grace, because there was no plan B. There was only, "We're on our couch, we can't afford cable, we've maxed out our credit cards, our parents are giving us hugs." But that was the support. Carly's parents made us a lot of dinner. That was it. There was nowhere else to go.

So when everyone was saying no, and we made a list of all of the people — all of the investors, angels, seed funds — and we would turn anyone who said "no" red. And then the whole list, which was a lot of names, was completely red. I remember a day in our kitchen, we had just gotten off a pitch that again ended with "Thanks so much, not interested," and we just had to make a decision. Are we going to go for this or are we going to go try to get jobs freelancing for the 2012 election?

It wasn't really even a decision — it was just a half-second to reevaluate where we were, change our pitch a bit, and that was it. That was the closest we've ever come to a crisis of confidence in this company. If you let those things get to you early on, then you don't know what else is coming. There are going to be a lot more challenges.

Shontell: Had you launched the first newsletter at that point? Why quit your job if you're launching a newsletter to begin with? You can do that while keeping your 9-to-5.

Zakin: Well, two things. One is we had both weird schedules. I worked daytime and Danielle worked nights. So we couldn't do that. One of us would have had to change our schedule.

Second, we took a Skillshare class while we were employed, and it was ironic because the class we signed up for was "How to Find Your Business Partner" and that was the only thing we knew how to do. But the person who taught it, Alex Taub [an entrepreneur and investor], became a mentor to us, and he was one of the first people to tell us, "If you're going to start something, you need to be all in. How can you ask anyone to even think about giving you money if you have not made sacrifices to prioritize the effort yourself?'"

When people come to us and ask for advice on starting a business and are like, "I can't afford to quit," I still have mixed feelings about what to tell them. Who am I to tell someone what financial decisions they should make? But for us, we were asking people to believe in us, and we had to show that we believed in us so much that we were willing to take a huge risk ourselves, quit our jobs, have no financial security, and give it a shot.

So we took that approach. That's not for everybody. I don't know if it could have worked out differently. But there was actually a third reason.

A lot of people ask us, "Why didn't you just bring this to NBC? Why didn't you get this in front of Steve Burke?" There is no way that NBC would have allowed two associate producers to not only run the editorial but to run the business side of what we were doing. There was just no way. We knew that in our gut.

Weisberg: That would have ruined the company in a lot of ways in starting off, because the authenticity of having this idea came so much from our friends, and it was developed around routines of this target audience. It couldn't then have had a successful launch if it had then been led by people who had been doing this for 30 years and thought about the same strategy that had worked for all of these other companies and startups. That's not what we're building.

4 days after launch, theSkimm got a shout-out from Hoda Kotb on the 'Today' show, and it changed everything

Jeff Zucker Hoda Kotb Kathie Lee Natalie Morales

Shontell: Tell me about launching your first Skimm. Who did you get to subscribe?

Zakin: We didn't add anyone to the list. We sent an email to everyone in our address book. When we say everyone in our address book, at that point you could download your Facebook friends' email addresses, so we literally took every email address that we had in our possession.

Meaning like, my grandma is on chain letters, chain mail that she forwards. We took those people. So we had, between the two of us, 5,500 names. We sent an email and were like, "Hey, we quit our jobs and we're starting this. Can you please sign up?"

That first day, almost 800 people signed up. But we didn't add anyone to the list. I think the first email had our closest friends and family on it, and it was not a lot of people on it.

Shontell: So 800 pity subscribers?

Zakin: Eight hundred people who were like, "I'll take a look."

Weisberg: The first went out to our family and friends. And then there were two press articles that came out on the first day, and Business Insider was the first to cover us. Thank you! And we got the traction from that.

It all happened very quickly, because we had also emailed every news anchor out there, truly. We didn't know most of them, but we were like, "We're former NBC-ers, thought you would love this, thought you would appreciate the need that we're solving." Most of them didn't respond. Hoda Kotb responded, and she said, "I'll check it out!" We did not know her. We followed up with her two more times, but got no response. Day four of us in business, she said we were one of her favorite things — on air — and it totally changed our life.

So we went from, at that point, let's say under 1,000 users to thousands. All of a sudden, we had geographic diversity. And all of a sudden, we had huge pockets of the country paying attention to what we were doing.

Shontell: Wow. What does a Hoda bump do to your newsletter subscribers?

Zakin: It crashed our site. It crashed our email inbox. We got a few thousand people from it. It was so funny, we were actually back visiting our old bosses at 30 Rock. We were in Starbucks and I tried to load my email and it wouldn't load. Then someone wrote on our Facebook wall: "Just saw you on the 'Today' show." And we thought we were caught walking on the plaza in the background, and we were like, "Oh, how embarrassing — what were we doing?" Then someone had posted what she had done. So it was life-changing.

Shontell: How did you create the voice for theSkimm? It's really something that resonates, and sometimes people will say, "Are they dumbing it down too much?" Or "Do women need their own news source?" But the voice did set you apart, so how did you create theSkimm's tone?

Weisberg: It was the easiest part of building this company. The voice comes from how people speak and how we talk to our friends. We spent a lot of time thinking about, "How do we launch this? What are we doing? What's the ultimate vision?"

We literally sat down in separate parts of our apartment and went to write what would become the Daily Skimm. We came back together, and we hadn't really talked about what the voice would sound like, aside from knowing that it would be how we actually speak to our friends. And we came up with the exact same voice. Since then, we have put a lot of time into explaining the voice to our team and putting a brand guidebook together, and talking about how well we know theSkimm girl, our character inside and out.

Anyone on our team can tell you what her favorite drink is, what she's going to order at Sunday brunch, and it's a living, breathing document — what she likes and where she is in life changes. That is something that everyone in our company knows because they're all telling the story of theSkimm and this character is who the brand is.

So when we put the voice together, it's not for everyone. I think that when we hear criticism like that, that the voice is condescending, we hear it all the time, it's nothing new. I don't think that there should be a one-size-fits-all approach to news. Just because someone doesn't like it, that doesn't mean it's for them.

Shontell: You have coined terms like Mitt Romney was "Mittens" and Hillary Clinton is "Hillz." Business Insider has found the same, that there's something to a conversational nature. That doesn't mean you're dumbing it down; it means you're explaining it so that everyone, the really smart people — because you've got incredibly smart people like John Podesta on your email list — and the people who aren't heavy in politics can understand it.

Weisberg: I think it also goes back to what we were creating, which is it's not something for experts. It's not something for just people who love politics or who love business. That was a huge thing that five years ago when we started the company, we saw such a trend toward personalization. That was the hot thing, and you should be able to just get information about what you're interested in.

That's great, but it left a huge void for people just to be well-rounded. So we want to arm our audience to be able to participate in all types of conversation with all types of different people, and not feel like, "Oh, I work in finance, and my hobby is baseball. So those are the things that I'm going to filter my news on."

That was a huge difference when we started, and that was something that people really latched on to, as well as we were describing business stories and not having words that you had to look up. When we started writing theSkimm, I remember we did this experiment where we were reading a story, and we would kind of highlight if there was a word that we couldn't explain. If that was a term or a sentence we had to go look up and read four times through, that's kind of broken.

Weisberg: We're smart, we worked in news, we were following these stories day in and day out, and if we couldn't understand it, then how can you expect that from people whose job isn't to be up on what's going on day in and day out?

Raising the first million, and hitting No. 1 in the App Store for news

The Skimm employees team jobs Carly Zakin Danielle Weisberg

Shontell: I'm interested in how you got out of your debt. A newsletter that racks up subscribers is great, but at the same time, it's also not immediately clear how you'll start making money. Certainly not enough to pay your salaries and employ people.

Zakin: One is that people still ask us, "How do you guys make money?" And I remember we were on a panel and Danielle just got pissed off and was like, "We make a lot of money!"

Weisberg: I was done.

Zakin: So we're proud to say that we do very well. And it goes back to what we knew, which is that email is a marketing tool. Our goal from day one was to place a long bet on loyalty.

What can you do with loyalty? How do you develop a community, get people engaged? And from there, you can activate them, and in many ways directly monetize that. From truly day one — maybe let's not be hyperbolic; let's just say day four — we had brands reaching out to us, like our wish-list brands. Saying, "Just got this, would love to advertise." We knew nothing about how to work with an advertiser. So instead, we said, "We're actually not working with brands right now."

By doing that, I think we created a little bit of mystery. Our list kept growing. There kept being more press about how big our list was and who the audience was. And we weren't letting brands in.

What happened over time was that we continued to gain a lot of traction. We were meeting with venture capitalists who said to us, "Email is dead. Why are you going after a niche market like women?" Which is ridiculous. And who were like, "My wife reads it."

As Danielle said, we literally had thousands of "nos" in a spreadsheet tracking all of it. So it had been a year and a half almost of the two of us on our couch, in coffee shops, just growing organically. We got to about 150,000 users, and we were able to take in a little bit of seed money.

Shontell: How long did it take to get to 150,000 subscribers?

Zakin: Less than 18 months. It took us one year to get to 100,000. Once we got that first big check — we raised just over $1 million — it was life-changing. We took a picture of it in our bank account. We were like, "We've never seen this many zeroes." It was so exciting. We treated ourselves to nice haircuts, and then we went to go hire a team.

In hiring a team, we really chose to double down on growth. We had one goal, which was to get to 1 million users in a year. We ended up doing it in six months. Then over the course of that year, we started to let brands in, but really selectively. What we've been doing over the last four and a half years is building out two businesses.

We have a media business. We work with sponsors in a really needed capacity, and we're really great storytellers with that. If you asked us, "Do you think it's a really innovative that we created an email newsletter and work with brands to email a newsletter?" No. That is not why we raised venture-capital funding, and that is not why we're building a huge business. What we're doing is we have turned that loyalty into a community. And a community that we can activate.

The other business that we have is a subscription business. We launched our first subscription product just under a year ago, which has been a huge success, called Skimm Ahead. And for us, these two businesses and subsequent capital raises we've taken in have helped really create what Danielle said. We're building an empire. That is how we feel.

A post shared by theSkimm (@theskimm) on

Shontell: Talk about Skimm Ahead. That's your new product. What is it?

Zakin: TheSkimm, as a company, makes it easier to be smarter. We looked at the Daily Skimm. We were like, "Here's an email that makes it easier to be smarter about everything that happened yesterday, and everything you need to know about today." And then we thought, "What's the routine that we all share? And outside of email, what happens next?"

For us and our friends, we look at our phone, and I immediately look at my calendar, and I'm sure you are like us, and you live on your calendar as well. So we thought that was a really interesting way to deliver information. When we thought about what information could we solve next, it was that moment that we all have of, Wait, when is that happening? When's that show back on Netflix? What time is March Madness on? When is the State of the Union? What night? It was about the idea of making it easier to be smarter about the things coming up.

So we created a subscription product that costs $2.99 a month. It can integrate directly into your calendar. For us, it really pushed the door open toward subscription. We had a hunch — we obviously made more than an educated guess — that our audience would be willing to pay for something. I don't think we had any idea what we were stepping into. We're so excited about how well subscription has gone over with our audience.

Shontell: Are there any metrics you can share to show it is an early success?

Weisberg: We can tell you we were No. 1 for news in the App Store in our first month. We continually beat The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal in highest-grossing news apps every month. Apple actually asked if we had figured out how to hack their rating system because they had never seen so many five-star reviews.

Building a marketing empire on loyalty, not scale

Carly Zakin Danielle Weisberg TheSkimm The Skimm

Shontell: The venture capitalists did finally come around, and you've now raised $15 million. But it is hard in the media environment right now. There's a lot changing. Fifteen million dollars is a lot, but it's not the $200 million Vox and BuzzFeed and others have raised. How do you look at the media climate, and how do you plan to survive?

Weisberg: A blessing for this company is that we've never fit in. People have been constantly surprised by our audience, even when we've gone out for raises and the traction has been there. We've never been what venture capitalists have been looking for. So I think us trying to guess or trying to figure out what the trends are in media has never been helpful to us, because we've always been carving our own path.

It took a long time for people to understand what we were building. The criticism that we got was always like, "Oh, it's just that newsletter." And I think that it really came through strongly with the election.

We launched our "No Excuses" campaign, which started with, How can we rally our entire company and our audience around getting people to vote? And at a time when a lot of other media companies were facing this crisis of confidence from their audience, and they were endorsing candidates and hearing a lot of backlash for it.

the skimm

We've always been nonpartisan. Our stance in the last election, just like the other elections that we've covered, has been to get people out to vote. So we interviewed the candidates, we launched a big destination site, and what we are most proud of is that we got over 120,000 people to register to vote, making us pretty much Rock the Vote's biggest partner ever. That's over 90,000 women. That's unprecedented.

The biggest part of our company is our Skimmbassadors. We have the media business, we have the subscription business, and then we have the community element. They are why Apple called us to say, "How did you get so many five-star reviews in such a short period?" Our Skimmbassadors. We have over 20,000 of them. They've started off as just people writing in saying "I love your product." We would ask them to get 10 friends to sign up. And they became pen pals.

Zakin: We call it "intimacy at scale." We genuinely know subscribers' names. We really know who they are. Of course you can't do that for 5 million people, but we have a community. We know how to activate them.

Shontell: Facebook has 2 billion monthly active users. That is tremendous scale, but there seems to be this movement in media and tech happening where maybe you don't need that many people, as long as they're loyal.

Weisberg: We talked about it with our investors very early on. We've heard various founders of some of those companies speak, and we're such fans of them. But we look at them and we're like, "It's so funny to us that VCs ever put us in the same sentence as them because we couldn't be more different. We would much rather say we have 5 million people we activate and get to pay for a subscription product. Or we can get them to turn out in the hundreds of thousands to vote, than say "We've got 20 million of them, but only 2 million of them open us every day." That's not interesting to us.

Zakin: That's why we've always been our own category. As these media trends — and what's hot and what's not come up — we always knew who we were. We always knew what we were building as a company, and we've been lucky to be surrounded by a board and investors and advisors who respected that and respected our vision and helped us along.

At times we got, "Well, you're not BuzzFeed, you're not at BuzzFeed's scale." And we're like, "That's because we're not trying to be BuzzFeed." BuzzFeed's great, we think they have great stuff, but that's not what we're trying to build as a company.

It has always been about staying true to our vision and staying true to our audience in that whatever we create has to be additive. It has to be a voice that they trust, and it has to be part of what they actually need to get through their day. That's what they find whenever they interact with our products.

There's a new New York Times best-seller list for millennials

Shontell: One thing that's interesting that you've built loyalty-wise, and we've seen it being on the receiving end when you put a Business Insider link in a Skimm newsletter, we see a flood of traffic. Are we allowed to talk about this? How when theSkimm recommends a wine, and when it recommends a book, it's often better performing sometimes than even The New York Times?

A post shared by theSkimm (@theskimm) on

Zakin: We've been told by publishers that we are the No. 1 way to sell books for this audience.

Shontell: Above being in the New York Times best-seller list?

Zakin: Above the "Today" show and above the New York Times best-seller list. Multiple publishers have told us that.

Weisberg: You can see that by walking into our office. Publishers are sending us cartloads of books. And we're like, "We just need one or two."

Shontell: You put one in a newsletter every day, right?

Zakin: One every Friday, and a bottle of wine that we like every Friday. We happily taste-test the wine and happily read the books.

Shontell: Do you get affiliate fees?

Zakin: Yes, and we are open about that in the newsletter. But we choose what we think is the best for this audience. It's not about, "Oh we're going into the book business." That's not what we're saying. It's about being in the engagement business.

We can drive as much traffic to a Business Insider article as we can to driving book sales and as we can to driving sales toward our new products with Skimm Ahead. It just goes into the powerful relationship that we have with our audience. We feature products and brands we like all the time, and I can't even tell you how many brands have said we've changed their business trajectory because they were featured in theSkimm. That's a wonderful feeling, and we've been told we have the Oprah effect. We would never say that about ourselves, but we're happy to repeat the quote.

Shontell: Definitely. And Oprah is a fan right?

Zakin: Oprah is a fan, which is a very surreal sentence to say.

Shontell: You've grown tremendously, but I'm sure it's still early in the company's history. What do you think is next? Are you going to do video? Are you going to do an audio version of theSkimm?

Weisberg: I think it's all coming. It's just about how you prioritize it and when you release it. We started the company with two guiding principles. The first is that we have a voice — the voice is very clear — and it's in all products we create.

The second is that we really have a strong belief in looking at the routines of this target audience and fitting that in with what we release and when. That's the same thing, you wake up, you get an email telling you what you need to know for your day, and then you step out your door and you get your calendar. So those two things are very much in our product roadmap.

We did video. You can check out our Instagram and Facebook site for some of the video that we've been producing. We just did one on equal pay and we did one on Syria and immigration and it's gone over really well. That's just the beginning of what we're doing and what we're testing. As former video producers, it's exciting that we're going into that, and we clearly see a lot of interesting ways to work with brands.

So that's up next. It's also thinking about other products and services that fit into the routines of this audience that we've always wanted to create and haven't had the time or the ability to focus on other things. That's the benefit of being where we are now with the amazing team that we have, that we can really start thinking about what was in our head five years ago and three years ago, and now it's actually the perfect time for us to create those things.

A post shared by theSkimm (@theskimm) on

Shontell: How does theSkimm newsletter come to be every day? How do you pick the stories? Who writes it?

Zakin: I think we developed our secret sauce. Of our team of 41, only five are on the editorial team. We still touch every word and see every word.

Shontell: What is everyone else doing?

Zakin: It's tech, analytics, sales product, really. For us, it's about every day, it's the best part of our day to pick the stories. It's the same principle that we started with, which is: What will our friends need to talk about? What's becoming a story? What already is a story? And what will feel old by tomorrow?

We want you to be able to go to any work or social event and talk to anyone about anything. We love doing that, we love picking the stories every day — it's the easiest and best part of our day. The last edit is made every morning at 5:58.

Shontell: Ready for that 6 a.m. deadline.

Zakin: Yep.

Shontell: Congrats to you both.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Hackers and governments can see you through your phone’s camera — here’s how to protect yourself

Here's why US presidents get libraries


The Obama Presidential Center is scheduled to be completed by 2021. It will be the 14th presidential library managed by the US National Archives and Record Administration. The concept gained traction in 1939 when FDR donated his presidential papers to the US government. 

Join the conversation about this story »

I tried the 'Atkins on steroids' diet for 2 months — and it made me feel invincible


melia robinson

It was 2 o'clock on a Tuesday, and I felt surprisingly awake. Attentive. Even productive.

I love my job, but on a normal afternoon, I find myself searching for distractions in the depths of my inbox and on Facebook.

That Tuesday in June was different. I knocked out one to-do list item after the next. I felt not just focused, but genuinely happy and relieved to be making so much progress.

It was the moment I realized how effective the ketogenic diet could be.

The "keto" diet is experiencing a surge in popularity thanks to Silicon Valley tech workers who evangelize its ability to promote weight loss, boost energy, and possibly prolong life itself.

The low-carb, high-fat diet — which first became popular in the 1920s as a treatment for epilepsy and diabetes— limits carbohydrates to no more than 50 grams a day, the rough equivalent of a plain bagel or a cup of white rice. Dietary guidelines laid out by the US Department of Agriculture recommend between 225 and 325 grams of carbs a day.

Adherents of the keto diet fill up on healthy fats — like cheese, nuts, avocado, eggs, and butter — as well as leafy greens and animal protein. The body switches from burning carbs to burning fat as its primary fuel source, a process known as ketosis, which gives the diet its name.

Like the keto diet, the Atkins diet restricts carb consumption to 20 to 25 grams a day during an introductory phase, then ramps up to 80 to 100 grams a day. So it's less strict than the keto diet — some have called it "Atkins on steroids."

healthy fats ketogenic keto diet

For two months last spring, I tried the keto diet to see why it was so popular with techies. The first few weeks challenged me more than Weight Watchers or the "Fed Up" diet ever had. I regularly experienced headaches and painful urges to eat every sugary substance in sight.

But after being diligent for three weeks, I felt the difference. Even on days when I ate bunless cheeseburgers for lunch, my energy was sky-high. I drank less coffee and felt more alert. And because protein and fat send signals to the brain when you've had enough to eat, my snacking became less frequent and I was more focused on work as a result. I felt invincible.

When I lost 30 pounds on Weight Watchers in college, I celebrated the numbers on the scale and how my clothes fit. But because I continued to eat carbs in smaller portions, I was still prone to sugar crashes and afternoon "brain fog." The transformation was incomplete.

The keto diet made over my mind and my body. The sense of mental clarity and energy that came on about one month into eating keto was unlike anything I've experienced. I woke up feeling strong, confident, and capable of taking on whatever the day threw at me.

ketogenic keto diet review 4091

Sadly, I've struggled to maintain the keto diet since challenging myself to make it two months.

The keto diet is beyond strict. Cheating with carb-heavy foods has the potential to reverse a state of ketosis and its pleasant side effects. After the dieter returns to keto eating, it takes an average of five days for the body to use up the carbohydrates stored as glycogen in the body.

Eating at restaurants was the hardest part. I ate taco fillings out of tortillas and scraped the breading off fried chicken. Every menu had just one or two things I could order guilt-free.

I want to return to the keto diet. I hope to find the willpower in a plate of bacon.

SEE ALSO: Here's why the super low carb 'keto' diet could leave you feeling euphoric

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Here's the diet and workout routine LeBron James uses to stay in insane shape

This is why older Americans are happier than others


Brighthouse 2

Though you'd never guess it from our youth-centric culture, older Americans are actually happier than younger folks. Americans 55 and older eat more fresh produce, smoke less, and have less worry and stress than their younger counterparts, a Gallup Survey[1] found. They also have a greater sense of purpose and well-being.

Older Americans also do particularly well when it comes to financial well-being, the study found, thriving at a rate of 53%, compared with 33% for younger people. They are happier with their standard of living, worry less about money, and say they have enough money to do what they want — all at significantly higher rates than those under 55.

So what's their secret? Why do older people enjoy life more than those with better health and more of their lives still ahead of them?

Researchers don't know for sure, but many believe positive thinking and a refusal to accept age-related stereotypes help. Older people also have more time to volunteer for causes they find rewarding. But perhaps most important is that they're more financially secure. Here are some things to think about as you work toward financial security by retirement.

Exploring options

One reason older people have fewer financial worries is they've had years to plan ahead and save for retirement. Over time, they've built up strong balances in their retirement accounts through their own contributions and matching amounts from employers. Many also have IRAs or a combination of retirement plans. This money has accumulated tax-free, creating a nice nest egg for retirement.

Some also have pensions. Those are going the way of the dinosaur today, but, fortunately, there are other ways of achieving steady income later in life.

Securing a steady stream of income

An important factor in achieving financial security during retirement is ensuring that there is a steady stream of income. This can be accomplished in a number of ways. Some retirees actually decide to work part-time after official retirement, which provides a source of income that can supplement any savings.

But most people choose certain financial products that can provide a regular source of income during retirement. Some people opt for annuities, which require an initial investment and then provide regular payments for a set period — or for the rest of your life.

Depending on market performance, a regular annuity income may also help you delay claiming Social Security, which increases the size of your payout for the rest of your life. For example, though full retirement age begins at 66, delaying collection of Social Security until you're 70 —when benefits reach their maximum amount —will increase payments by an average of 8%[2] annually.

Another option is to consider some forms of life insurance as a way to fund retirement. Permanent life insurance allows you to take out cash to help with retirement expenses. Usually you don't have to pay tax on the withdrawal, though it does reduce the policy's cash value and death benefit.

Perhaps the most important thing to consider in making this decision is the opinion and advice of a financial advisor. These professionals have vast experience and can work with you to find the best solution for your specific situation.

Planning ahead

A study from the Pension Research Council that people who think ahead about retirement — even just a little —approach retirement with twice the wealth[3] of those who don't. Using a retirement calculator increases your likelihood of saving. But again, consulting a professional is always a good idea, too, to make sure you are taking advantage of every opportunity to save.

To boost your chances of being one of America's happy older people, get a head start by eating right, exercising, and planning ahead with a balanced portfolio of income and growth. That can help to ease your mind in later years.

Find out more about how to achieve financial security by retirement age.

This post is sponsored by Brighthouse Financial.

[1] State Well Being for Older Americans. Gallup Survey. 2015
[2] "Delayed Retirement: If You Were Born Between 1943 And 1954." Social Security Administration. 
[3] "This Money Habit Makes All the Difference." Liz Weston. Nerd Wallet. 2017

Join the conversation about this story »

A mathematical formula may be the best way to resolve a disagreement with your partner


The Breakup couple fighting

Imagine: You and your partner have the same five days off from work.

Each of you wants to spend the whole five days alone, apart from the kids. But you can't very well leave the little rascals parentless. How should you split up the five days fairly?

This might sound like an issue for a couples therapist. In fact it's a problem that can be solved pretty quickly using math.

That's according to "The Calculus of Happiness," a new book by Wellesley professor Oscar E. Fernandez. In the book, Fernandez presents mathematical equations that can help you figure out how many calories to consume, when you'll hit financial independence, and how to resolve the most common relationship dilemmas.

The formula for making optimal joint decisions is based on a 1950 paper titled "The Bargaining Problem" by John Nash (the protagonist in "A Beautiful Mind").

Fernandez adapted the equation from Nash's paper and came up with a neat formula. Before I share it, let me say that there's a handy online calculator that can do the math for you. Now here's the formula:

Your share of the vacation days = T/2 (1 +Yd/M - Pd/N)

Your partner's share of the vacation days = T/2 (1 +Pd/N - Yd/M)

If you're not a numbers person, don't freak out. Once we break down what each of these letters means, it'll seem a lot simpler. So here goes:

  • T is the total sum. In this case, that's five days.
  • M is your happiness level if you were to get all five days to yourself (on a scale of 1-10).
  • N is your partner's happiness level if they got all five days to themselves.
  • Yd is your happiness level if you two weren't able to reach any agreement on how to split the five days.
  • Pd is your partner's happiness level if you two weren't able to reach any agreement on how to split the five days.

Let's say your happiness level if you were to get all five days off is eight and your partner's is 10. And let's say your happiness level if you two weren't able to reach any agreement is four and your partner's is three.

Plug those numbers into the formula and you see that you should get three days off and your partner should get two.

Fernandez highlights a cool implication of this formula: A simple way to get a bigger piece of the pie is to start feeling happier about the possibility that you two won't reach any agreement. In other words: The more willing you are to walk away, the more negotiating power you have.

As Fernandez points out in other parts of the book, this formula assumes that you're able to quantify your feelings — and that your feelings won't change over the course of the negotiation. So it won't work perfectly every time.

Still, it's one example of how you can outsource a messy life task to a calculator (or a pen and paper, if you're so inclined). Another example is an algorithm that can help you find your soul mate— an idea that people are notoriously resistant to.

If nothing else, these formulas are a nice reminder that our interpersonal issues probably aren't unique. Other people have not only encountered these problems, but they've also come up with ingenious ways to solve them — at least temporarily.

SEE ALSO: A mathematical formula reveals the secret to lasting relationships

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Here's how you can use math to find your soul mate — and why we're so resistant to that idea

See inside Trump's New Jersey golf club, where he'll likely spend much of August


Trump National Golf Club Bedminster

Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, may be about to become a much more popular spot with the president.

ABC News reports that a FAA flight restriction has been imposed on the area from August 3-20, indicating that Trump is preparing to spend some serious time in the Garden State.

Bedminster is one of the few golf clubs in the Trump family business that the president built from the ground up instead of purchasing and refurbishing. He reportedly holds a special affinity for it.

The club sits in a small town of 9,000 that has just 16 members on its police force, according to the New York Times. Bedminster Township will receive reimbursement for costs incurred on the president's trips to the golf club.

Take a look around Bedminster and the club, and get the history of how it came to be one of Trump's favorite retreats.

SEE ALSO: This watch company is the perfect example of why Trump's 'Made in America' initiative is easier said than done

Bedminster, New Jersey, is small and sparsely populated. This road is the closest thing the town has to a main street. Only 8,165 live in the entire township, according to the 2010 census.

The town is a 40-minute drive from New York City and Newark Airport.

Most of the township looks like this, with wide-open farmland converted to large estates.

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

This French castle can be yours for $17 million — take a look inside


Château de La Barben is located in Aix-en-Provence, South of France. The castle is nearly 1,000 years old.

The current owner's father bought it in the '60s. It has been running as a family business to rent out rooms as bed and breakfasts, and for the public to enjoy. The owners want to move on, and it is currently for sale

The incredible home includes about 60 different rooms and 700 acres of land. 


Join the conversation about this story »

The 10 most expensive beach towns in the US — where you have to be a millionaire to buy a home


manhattan beach california

Beach season is upon us. If you're in the market for an affordable summer home within spitting distance of the ocean spray, there are some under-the-radar places across the US where you can nab a beach house for less than $250,000

In other places, you'd better be a millionaire or billionaire if you want to get a showing.

In ritzy summer vacation spots like the Hamptons, Malibu, or Nantucket, for instance, the median price for property currently exceeds $3 million, according to a report from Realtor.com. 

Realtor.com dug through its database to find the most expensive beachfront locales in America. It limited its scope to beach cities with populations between 1,000 to 100,000 and that had at least 30 properties on the market. And to ensure some geographic diversity, Realtor.com capped its list to two towns per state separated by at least 30 miles. 

In Malibu, the most expensive beach town in the US, one neighborhood along the surf has earned the moniker "Billionaire's Beach." Music mogul David Geffen reportedly sold his home there last year for $85 million.

Read on for the rest of the 10 most expensive beach towns to buy a home — each of which has a median home price over $1.4 million.

SEE ALSO: The salary you need to earn to buy a home right now in 19 of the most expensive housing markets in America

DON'T MISS: The 10 most affordable places to buy a beach home in the US

10. Anna Maria, Florida

Population: 1,626

Median home price: $1.4 million

9. Avalon, New Jersey

Population: 1,297

Median home price: $1.46 million

8. Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts (Martha's Vineyard)


Median home price: $1.5 million

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Baby Boomers could irreversibly ruin the planet for Millennials — and the clock is ticking


apollo 8 earth blue marble nasa

Twenty-nine years ago, James Hansen, the director of NASA's Institute for Space Studies, told the US Senate that the question of the day — whether climate change was happening — was no longer in doubt.

"It is time to stop waffling so much and say that the evidence is pretty strong that the greenhouse effect is here," Hansen told reporters at the time.

Hansen's testimony before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on June 23, 1988 — coincidentally the hottest June 23 in the District of Columbia's recorded history— is frequently considered the most important climate change hearing in history.

The greenhouse effect that Hansen described — in which the widespread combustion of fossil fuels causes a heat-trapping buildup of gases like carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere — has since become almost common knowledge. For more than 400,000 years, the concentration of atmospheric CO2 fluctuated between just under 180 and 300 parts per million (ppm). Levels are now over 400 ppm and climbing.

The most alarming consequences of that change, like an uninhabitable planet, are still far off. But the near-term effects of climate change, things people alive today will see, include rising sea levels, exaggerated temperature extremes, and stronger hurricanes and typhoons.

The question Hanson's testimony raised was what would be done about that threat. Leading scientists had spoken; political leaders had the information; and even ExxonMobil researchers had privately concluded that "major reductions in fossil fuel combustion" would be needed to prevent "potentially catastrophic events," according to prizewinning investigative reporting.

But the answer to that question, nearly 30 years later, is pretty much nothing.

The more time passes, the more difficult and expensive fixing the climate problem will get. Hansen is still sounding alarms — in a study published this week, he calculated that future generations could be forced to spend more than $530 trillion cleaning C02 out of the atmosphere (something we don't yet know how to do). For context, the entire US budget is about $4 trillion annually.

That's quite a burden to leave the children of the future.

The leaders that got us here

People's Climate March (3 of 20)After Hansen's testimony, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works sent a letter to Lee Thomas, the EPA administrator, asking for an examination of policy options that would help stabilize greenhouse gas emissions.

"It was shelved," Mary Wood, head of the University of Oregon School of Law's Environmental and Natural Resources Law Center, told Business Insider.

In 1988, George H.W. Bush, who would take the presidential oath the following January, vowed to "fight the greenhouse effect with the White House effect."

That didn't happen. In fact, at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Bush famously declared that "the American way of life is not up for negotiation."

The members of the 101st Congress in 1989 hailed mostly from the Silent Generation (the average age was about 53) and to be fair, they were stuck with a problem created by past generations, too. But by the time those leaders were in power, they had access to knowledge about the scale of the problem that previous generations' representatives did not.

hottest yearOf course, behavioral psychologists and economists know that humans aren't good at coming together to deal with problems whose consequences seem far off.

"On any issue, it takes an enormous amount of effort to overcome the status quo," environmentalist and author Bill McKibben told Business Insider. "In the case of climate change, it's doubly hard, since you have to deal with the entire world. In a certain way, we shouldn't be too surprised about how difficult it's all been."

But the biggest barrier to action hasn't been cooperation, nor a lack of information.

"It turned out that we were not engaged in an argument for which more evidence and data was the cure — we'd won the argument long ago," McKibben said. "It was a fight, and it was about money and power … And that one we were losing."

The power of money and misinformation

Energy company executives have long known the scientific consensus on global warming. Exxon leaders were informed by company scientists that there was general scientific agreement on the topic in the 1970s. Oil giant Shell created a film in 1991 explaining the future threats of extreme weather, flood, famine, and climate-related conflict.

But they also knew that a serious fight against climate change would hurt their businesses, and lobbied against regulation.

In the early 2000s, groups connected to energy billionaires like the Koch brothers also started funding efforts to discredit climate science. As Jane Mayer explained in her book "Dark Money," political consultant Frank Luntz showed these groups how to persuade voters that the science wasn't clear.

"On cue, organizations funded and directed by the Kochs tore into global warming science and the experts behind it," Mayer wrote. From 2005 to 2008, the Kochs spent almost $25 million funding anti-climate groups, according to the book.

Such groups poured money into political campaigns, directed at candidates (often Republicans) who voiced doubts about the established science. According to a 2013 study, organizations connected to fossil fuel companies have spent almost half a billion dollars on "a deliberate and organized effort to misdirect the public discussion and distort the public's understanding of climate."

And lo and behold, political inaction continued. In 2001, George W. Bush rejected the Kyoto Protocol, which would have gone into effect and required emissions cuts by 2008. (Bill Clinton initially signed it.)

In the most recent presidential election, Republican candidates had already been given a total of more than $100 million from fossil fuel barons by March 2016. President Trump's administration is now full of officials who don't accept the scientific consensus on climate change.

"A government decision maker that has taken money from the fossil fuel industry cannot simply turn around and take action on the climate the next day," Wood said. "They've been compromised, they've breached the duty of loyalty."

The influence that fossil fuels companies now have in politics, Wood added, has created a conflict of interest between government officials and citizens that's "the size of the Gulf of Mexico." Ironically, the Gulf is particularly at risk of being destroyed by the thousands of oil spills that happen there every year.

Gulf of Mexico oil

A straightforward solution

Those in office during Hansen's initial testimony may have been part of the Silent Generation, but by the 111th Congress in 2011, the average age of leaders in the House and Senate marked them as Baby Boomers. And their generation has failed to confront the problem, too.

Of course, it's wrong to blame two full generations for our climate crisis (as tempting as that may be for Millennials, Gen Z and the generations to come). Many members of those generations have spent their lives pushing for solutions, and it's unfair to villainize the average layperson for the actions of politicians or the 100 companies that are responsible for 71% of global carbon emissions since 1988.

However, the window in which action can still avert the most devastating consequences of climate change is rapidly shrinking. Hansen recently told reporters that his new study suggests putting the problem off for even a few more years could create a situation where "the costs of trying to maintain a livable planet may be too high to bear."

That means that the Baby Boomers currently running our country and energy companies are in a unique position. They may be our last line of defense, our final chance to fix the situation.

"It's a historic moment, because we're at the last possible moment of opportunity to avert irrevocable catastrophe," Wood said.

The solution is simple.

china solar panels"The irony of all this is that it's been entirely clear from the beginning what we need to do," McKibben said. "It has to look like the very rapid conversion to 100% renewable energy."

Eventually, the world will run out of fossil fuels and be forced to make that switch — though if we burn through all oil, gas, and coal before we do so, the planet will be drastically different. Many researchers believe the right policies can facilitate a much faster transition.

"We undertake enormous expenditures to do things that we think are in the long term interest, national security expenses for example, undertaken with a view that they protect us against future threats," Larry Karp, an economist at UC Berkeley, told Business Insider.

Wood also likens the threat of climate change — and necessary action — to military efforts.

"There was certainly a consensus in World War II when everyone stepped up to the threat. Car manufacturers made military equipment, toy manufacturers made gun bets — that kind of war effort was incredible then and that's exactly what's needed now," said Wood. "It takes a real leader to meet that threat."

There are substantial bipartisan arguments in favor of switching to renewable energy: It's the only way for the US to achieve energy independence, and the falling price of renewables has already created a market trend towards cleaner energy.

Plus, the cost of such a transition would be far cheaper than the alternative. A 2014 report by the International Energy Agency estimated that transitioning away from fossil fuels by 2050 would cost the world $44 trillion. But by cutting fuel use, the report estimates, we'd avoid $115 trillion in fuel costs, which would more pay for the switch.

Rising activism around the world

As older leaders continue to stall, millions of individuals in younger generations are now pushing for policies and investments that could avert the worst effects of climate change.

"It became clear, we've got to organize for some power of our own," said McKibben — a Boomer who's devoted his career to this cause.

Competing with oil and gas interests isn't viable on a financial level. But political mobilization is.

McKibben's organization 350.org, is filled with young activists leading initiatives to fight projects like the Keystone Pipeline and other new oil, coal, and gas developments.

Climate-related lawsuits are on the rise around the world as well. In the US, a group of 21 kids, aged 9 to 21, are currently suing the federal government. They argue that by engaging in actions that contribute to climate change despite long-held knowledge of its dangerous consequences, the government has violated their constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property.

youth climate lawsuit our children's trust

Hansen's granddaughter Sophie Kivlehan is one of those kids. And if their lawsuit succeeds, they'd establish a fundamental right to a stable climate and compel agencies to pursue that goal.

Advocacy like this has contributed to the emergence of a stronger global consensus about the need to curb emissions.

"Paris was a success, though you have to squint a little bit to see it — at least everyone agreed there was a problem," McKibben said.

Although President Trump has said he will pull the US out of the agreement, cities and states around the country are vowing to meet its emissions reductions goals anyway. Other countries, including China and the EU, have said they plan to stick to their pledges no matter what.

The question, however, is whether any of these efforts can yield results quickly enough.

"In order to catch up with the physics of climate change we have to go at an exponential rate," McKibben said. "It's not as if this was a static problem. If we don't get to it very soon, we'll never get to it."

The looming cliff

himalayan glacier getty

More Gen Xers and Millennials are assuming positions of authority every day. But the threat of climate change is quickly getting harder to deal with.

I am a Millennial — I was born five years before Hansen's testimony — and I'm also a new father. I wonder every day if we will solve this in time for my son to avoid the most disastrous versions of climate model projections.

"He's going to look back and think, 'what the hell were you all thinking,'" McKibben said of my son. "And the answer will be that we weren't thinking enough."

"Huge swaths of the world will be living in places that by the end of the century will have heat waves so deep that people won't be able to deal with them, you have sea level rising dramatically, to the point that most of the world's cities are drowning, the ocean turning into a hot, sour, breathless soup as it acidifies and warms," McKibben said.

The legislators currently in power could not, of course, be held responsible for that stark future. And they're not to blame for a problem that started at the beginning of the industrial era. But by virtue of their position at this moment, they're the ones with the power to finally do something.

"They're sitting in a historic moment that is cast upon them by nature itself," Wood said. "Everybody in the future will know that we sat in this one fleeting moment of time. Everybody will know who stood up and who stood on the sidelines."

SEE ALSO: A last-resort ‘planet-hacking’ plan could make Earth habitable for longer — but scientists warn it could have dramatic consequences

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: A 45-year-long study discovered trends in successful hyper-intelligent children

You don't need to close apps on your iPhone (AAPL)


alex heath iphone 2_1024

Closing unused apps on your iPhone won't improve its battery life.

I repeat, opening up the multitasking window and swiping apps off the screen won't help your iPhone get through the day.

This myth that it does has persisted for years. Apple blogger and podcaster John Gruber said earlier this week it's the "single biggest misconception about iOS," the software that iPhones run on.

Apple has also busted the myth. Executives have said in emails that swiping apps off the screen doesn't help your iPhone's battery life. 

Last year, Apple fan Caleb sent an email to CEO Tim Cook asking, "Do you quit your iOS multitasking apps frequently and is this necessary for battery life?"

Craig Federighi, the head of software development at Apple, replied: "No and No. :-)"

9to5Mac has a copy of the email.

The myth that closing unused apps can save battery life has been long-running and pernicious. It's widely believed, and it has even been suggested by reputable publications as a tip.

That has led to the popular habit of swiping to close the apps in the multitasking window until it's entirely empty.

Killing those appz

The misconception has been debunked several times, but former Apple technician and MartianCraft CEO Kyle Richter wrote a great and detailed explanation earlier this month about why closing unused apps could actually hurt your phone's battery life.

Many people think that force-quitting these apps will at the very least do no harm since "they aren't running anyways." The logic of "…you might as well quit, just in case" comes into play ...

The very process of quitting an app will use up a measurable amount of battery life. There are times when the device may need those resources and it will quit the app on your behalf, which will drain the battery in the same fashion. However, modern smartphones have an abundance of memory and you would be surprised how often an app can just stay suspended forever. This is doubly true for any app that you are frequently launching and using, these apps in all likelihood will never need to be closed and the repetitive exiting and relaunching can have a very noticeable toll on your battery life.

Federighi obviously didn't go into the same level of detail as Richter, but he clearly has a great grasp of how iOS works, and his word should be considered the final one on closing unused apps.

So the next time you have an Apple rumor you want busted, you might try shooting an email to an Apple executive. They might just respond.

SEE ALSO: Closing all of your apps doesn't actually save your iPhone's battery

Join the conversation about this story »

Why In-N-Out Burger won't expand to the East Coast


in-n-out burger

Fans of In-N-Out have been begging the chain for years to open restaurants on the East Coast. 

The fast-food chain, which is based on the West Coast, has slowly expanded eastward over its 70-year lifetime to Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and more recently to Houston, Texas. The company has also been holding "pop-up shops" around the world, where burgers tend to sell out within minutes.

All signs seemingly point to a plan for expansion.

But four major factors make it highly unlikely that East Coasters will get to experience the joy of an In-N-Out in their neighborhood anytime soon.

Here's why:

1. Quality control: There are no freezers or microwaves in In-N-Out restaurants because the company has a strict policy of serving its food fresh. Therefore, all locations must be within 300 miles of the company's distribution facilities.Lynsi Snyder

"At In-N-Out Burger, we make all of our hamburger patties ourselves and deliver them fresh to all of our restaurants with our own delivery vehicles," In-N-Out vice president of planning and development Carl Van Fleet told Business Insider in a previous interview. "Nothing is ever frozen. Our new restaurant locations are limited by the distance we can travel from our patty-making facilities and distribution centers."

2. Exclusivity: Everything has more appeal when it's not available to everyone, and the exclusivity of In-N-Out has helped the restaurant gain such a rabid following of fans.

In response to pleading from a local politician for an In-N-Out to open in Denver, Van Fleet made it clear the company was not planning to expand farther east.

InNOut3.11 1024x733"You continue to give us the biggest compliment possible with your efforts to interest us in Colorado," he wrote in a letter obtained by The Denver Post. "That said, at this time, we're still not looking to add a sixth state and we're just focusing our growth efforts in the five states where we currently operate."

Since then, In-N-Out has expanded to Oregon — which is the chain's sixth state of operation.

3.Competition: The East Coast has numerous burger joints that would offer tough competition for In-N-Out, including Shake Shack and Five Guys.

4. No franchising: In-N-Out President Lynsi Snyder has said the company will "never" go public or franchise its restaurants.

"The only reason we would do that is for the money, and I wouldn’t do it,"Snyder told CBS.

"My heart is totally connected to this company because of my family, and the fact that they are not here — I have a strong tie to keep this the way they would want it."

A large-scale expansion without franchising would require a massive amount of up-front capital from the company.

"In-N-Out remains privately owned and the Snyder family has no plans to take the company public or franchise any units," the company reaffirms on its website.

SEE ALSO: Everything we know about In-N-Out's reclusive 35-year-old president who just became one of the youngest billionaires in America

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Here's what happened when I ordered Shake Shack's secret menu burger

Here are the real best things to do in San Francisco, according to locals


mission district, san francisco, hipster, tacolicious

San Francisco offers visitors more than tourist traps like Fisherman's Wharf and trolley cars. 

To help you experience the best of the city, we surveyed Business Insider employees based in San Francisco on their favorite local spots. From the nature trails at Lands End to happy hour at the Tonga Room, these off-the-beaten path destinations showcase the best the city has to offer.

SEE ALSO: San Francisco is so expensive, this couple decided to live on a boat — here's what it's like 10 years later

On Thursday nights, the California Academy of Sciences stays open late for adults-only special events. Take a yoga class in the aquarium, see the stars at the planetarium, or grab a cocktail and mingle with the nearly 46 million scientific specimens on site.

Address:55 Music Concourse Drive

Cost: $15

Church of 8 Wheels is a roller disco like no other. On Friday and Saturday nights, skaters (many in costume) fill the rink located inside a 120-year-old former Catholic church.

Address:554 Fillmore Street

Cost: $10 for admission and $5 for skate rental

GameVibes at the Folsom Street Foundry is a gamer's paradise. Thursday and Friday nights, players flock to the bar for video games, board games, and everything in between.

Address:1425 Folsom Street

Cost: $5

See the rest of the story at Business Insider

5 health benefits of being single


woman smiling happy smile

Bella DePaulo is 63 years old and she's been single her entire life.

"I never wanted to get married. Living single was my happily ever after," DePaulo, a psychologist at the University of California Santa Barbara and a pioneer for the single life, said at a TEDx Talk this spring.

DePaulo has studied singles like herself for more than a decade, and her findings suggest that being single has a range of benefits, from the psychological to the physical.

"The beliefs that single people are miserable, lonely, and loveless, and want nothing more than to become unsingle are just myths," DePaulo wrote on the blog PsychCentral in 2013.

In 2016, she combed through more than 800 studies of single and married people and found that her own work isn't the only research to suggest that being single could have some tangible health benefits — from stronger social networks to a healthier body. Read on to find out about the other advantages you might reap from singledom.

SEE ALSO: How to tell if you're going to break up, according to a psychologist who's studied couples for decades

DON'T MISS: Why it's harder to build muscle now than when you were young — and the best way to overcome it

Singles have a stronger social network than their married counterparts.

Think married people have more friends? Think again.

In 2015, social scientists Natalia Sarkisian and Naomi Gerstel set out to explore how ties to relatives, neighbors, and friends varied among single and married American adults. They found that singles were not only more likely to frequently reach out to their social networks, but also tended to provide and receive help from these people than their married peers. Their results held steady even when they took into account factors like race, gender, and income levels.

Put simply, "being single increases the social connections of both women and men," Sarkisian and Gerstel wrote in their paper.


Singles may be more physically fit.

There may be some truth to the idea that people who "settle down" ease into unhealthier habits, at least when it comes to some measures of physical fitness.

After surveying more than 13,000 men and women between ages 18 and 64, researchers found that those who were single and had never been married worked out more frequently each week compared with their married or divorced peers.

And a 2015 study in the journal Social Science and Medicine that compared body mass indexes for about 4,500 people across nine European countries found that single men and women had slightly lower BMIs, on average, than men and women who were married. Overall, the married couples also weighed about five more pounds, on average, than the singles.


Single people could be more likely to develop as individuals.

An analysis of data from the National Survey of Families and Households that compared more than 1,000 people who had always been single with about 3,000 people who had been continuously married in 1998 found that the single people in the sample were more likely to experience personal growth than the married people — at least when it came to how they answered the following two questions. 

As compared to the married people in the sample, the singles were far more likely to say they agreed with the statements:

  • For me, life has been a continuous process of learning, changing, and growth.
  • I think it is important to have new experiences that challenge how you think about yourself and the world.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Retailers are making big bets that brands as we know them are dying



Brands as we know them might be changing forever.

Retailers both new and old are rethinking the way consumers connect with the items they purchase.

In this brave new world, people may not care as much about buying Heinz ketchup or Dove soap if they know they can get similar-quality goods at a cheaper price with a brand that doesn't carry the same cachet.  

One newcomer to the retail scene is making a major bet that this new attitude towards brands will hold true. 

Brandless is an online retailer that, as its name implies, sells products with no name brands. Brandless' roster of private-label goods — what used to be called "generic" —  includes everything from peanut butter and hand soap to kitchen tongs, all for $3. 

Instead of having a big logo emblazoned on a product, the actual attributes are listed on the package instead. The food is all-natural, and often, it's organic. The products are purported to be high-quality and can be sold at these prices because they're not subject to a "brand tax," according to Brandless cofounder Tina Sharkey. The hope is that customers will try this private label, like it enough to keep buying it, and shift their preference away from name brands to Brandless itself. 

The startup's founders say this is the next logical step for retail.

"The false narrative of modern consumption, that brands have created and products have created, was actually dying a fast and painful death," Sharkey told Business Insider.

Choosing value over a name

In a retail environment where customers are opting for value over name brands, private-label initiatives also seem to be a good move.

AmazonBasics AA Rechargeable Batteries (8-Pack)Amazon, for example, has seen success with several of its private-label brands, which has spelled trouble for other brands in the categories it has moved into.

Amazon holds about 90% of the online battery market with its AmazonBasics battery line. The batteries are cheaper than comparable brands, and in the eyes of regular Amazon customers, they perform just as well. That has spelled trouble for Energizer, according to UBS.

Trader Joe's has also used this strategy to take on the traditional grocery business. Its stores full of private-label food — often with organic or non-GMO attributes — are generally considered to be a good value for the price.

As Business Insider's Kate Taylor reported in May, 80% of the products carried by Trader Joe's are in-house brands. The grocer buys those goods directly from suppliers, which cuts out the middlemen in the supply chain and ensures the retailer can keep the low prices its loyal customers have loved. 

Filling a niche market

Private labels can also fill specific niches that name brands can't or don't see the point in filling.

Dick's Sporting Goods is going niche with a new private line of sports apparel aimed at high-intensity athletes. The line, called Second Skin, has high-tech and compression fabrics that are designed to keep athletes comfortable during high-intensity training like CrossFit. While this is a relatively small portion of all athletic apparel buyers, Dick's VP Ryan Eckel called it an underserved market and a void in the brand's stores.

It's part of Dick's overall strategy to increase its private-label business and give people a unique reason to shop its stores over competitors. Should Dick's keep finding niches in the sportswear market to fill with specialized new private labels like Second Skin, that could present an issue for brands like Nike and Under Armour, who currently occupy those spaces with their more general offerings and are still looking for room to grow.

Second Skin

SEE ALSO: Retail experts say Hispanics aren't shopping because of Trump

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Turns out the Amazon Echo Dot makes an amazing car infotainment system

Browsing All 48808 Browse Latest View Live