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15 alarming facts about divorce in the US that will shock you

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divorce

When it comes to divorce statistics, there are a lot of myths out there.

You might have heard that half of all marriages end in divorce, but that divorce "fact" is actually fiction. 

We rounded up the most shocking facts about divorce backed up by research, including the most common age for people to get divorced, the current divorce rate, and how unhappy marriages and divorces actually affect children. 

Here are 15 alarming facts about divorce in the US that will shock you.

SEE ALSO: The 12 biggest money-related reasons people get divorced

In 2018, there were more than 782,038 divorces and annulments in the United States.

However, though that number may sound extremely high, the divorce rate is dropping. In 2018, there were only 2.9 divorces per 1,000 total people, excluding data from California, Hawaii, Indiana, Minnesota, and New Mexico.

The divorce rate has lowered considerably compared to years past. In 2015, the divorce rate was 3.1. In 2000, the rate was 4.0.

Source: CDC



However, although the divorce rate is dropping, 39% of marriages will still end in divorce.

Though this percentage is definitely not as appalling as the previous "50% of all marriages end in divorce" statistic, it's nevertheless something to be wary of.

Source: Time



A study showed that if one partner is a heavy drinker and the other isn't, these couples were more likely to break up than if both partners had the same drinking habits.

The University of Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions conducted a study that found alcohol drinking habits can greatly affect couples' marital happiness.

According to the study, nearly 50% of couples in which only one partner drank heavily ended up divorcing.

Of couples who shared similar drinking habits — neither were heavy drinkers or both were heavy drinkers — 30% divorced in the same time period. 

Source: University at Buffalo



About half of all mothers who have custody of their children have child support agreements, compared to roughly 30% of custodial fathers.

In 2018, there were more than 13.4 million parents separated from the child's other parent living with children under the age of 21. Five out of six custodial parents are mothers, about half of which receive child support.

The average child support payment per month in the United States as of 2010 was $430, though this varies on both the noncustodial and custodial parents' incomes.

Source: Census Bureau, Census Bureau



Among parents who have child support agreements, less than half actually receive the full amount of support they're entitled to.

According to CBS, more than 30% of child support payments are evaded altogether, and less than half of all child support payments are paid in full.

Financial troubles are commonplace for single parents, making the need for child support even direr. Oftentimes, custodial parents find themselves unable to go to court to fight for the child support they were promised.

The poverty rate for custodial-mother families was more than 29% in 2015, versus about 17% for custodial-father families.

Source: CBS, Census Bureau



According to a recent Census survey, about half of all black children in the US lived in single-parent households where their primary caregiver had full or partial custody.

The Census Bureau explains that the proportion of black children who lived with their custodial parent while their other parent lived outside their household was about twice as large as the proportion of white children.

Source: Census Bureau



A study shows that young women who lacked the presence of their father experienced less educational prospects and weakened physical health than young women who had intact families.

Linda Nielsen, a professor at Wake Forest University who studies father-daughter relationships and conducted the study, also found that young girls who grew up without the presence of their fathers may be more likely to divorce and have other issues within their personal relationships.

Source: The Atlantic, Psychnet



Children whose parents fought a lot but stayed together are more likely to divorce than children whose parents divorced.

While children of divorce are still more likely to get divorced than children who grew up in happy families, a recent report by Pew Social Trends, based on data from the National Survey of Families and Households, found that children who grew up in "high-conflict" households whose parents still stayed together were more likely to divorce than children of high-conflict parents who split up.

Source: Pew Social Trends



The average age for people going through a divorce for the first time is 30 years old.

According to a recent report, more than half, or 60%, of divorces involve spouses who are between the ages of 25 and 39.

Source: The Balance



However, while 30 is the average age, the divorce rate for people over 50 has doubled since 1990.

Experiencing a "grey divorce," or divorce after age 50, can take a toll on your mental health and finances. One study reports that those who experience a "grey divorce" had worse depression than those whose partners died.

The LA Times also reports that divorced women over 50 experienced a 45% drop in their standard of living, compared to a 21% drop for men over 50.

Source: LA Times



Black women between the ages of 50 and 59 have been identified as the group most likely to get divorced.

The study found that roughly half of white and Hispanic women in their early 40s were stably married, compared to less than a third of black women in the same age group.

The group reported as the least likely to get a divorce were Asian women between 25 and 29 years old. 

Source: NCBI



Divorced or widowed men are more likely to remarry than divorced or widowed women.

Researchers found that while more men reported remarrying, this could have been due to the fact that many women who either divorced or had a spouse who died didn't actually want to remarry.

Only 30% of eligible men said they did not want to marry again, compared to 54% of divorced and widowed women.

Source: Pew Social Trends



Divorces peak during the spring and summer.

According to research by the University of Washington, August and March are the most common times of year that people file for divorce.

On the other hand, divorce filings are extremely uncommon in November and December as many Americans see these months as a time for families to come together around the holidays.

Source: University of Washington



Social media is playing an increasingly prevalent role in divorces.

Have you ever fought with a spouse over something you posted on Facebook or someone you messaged online? You may not be the only one.

According to the New York Post, more than 30% of divorce filings contain the word "Facebook," with the social network being cited as a way for spouses to strike up affairs more conspicuously, connect with ex-romances, and even be caught in the act with a simple restaurant "check-in."

Source: New York Post



A majority of Americans believe that divorce is preferable to staying in an unhappy marriage.

While divorce is certainly one part of life that no one wants to experience, 58% of Americans agree that divorcing is preferable to staying in an unhappy marriage.

A larger majority, 67%, said that divorcing is better for the children involved than parents who are unhappy with each other staying together.

Source: Pew Social Trends



This $100 smart trash can changes and replaces its garbage bags — see how it works

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TOWNEW automatic trash can

Smart-home products like Roomba vacuums and laundry-folding robots have helped to make menial tasks faster and easier, but there's now a self-changing trash on the market to make one of the most commonly complained about chores almost entirely automated.

The townew trash can, a product from Toronto-based tech company Knectek Labs, is designed to take the smelliness and messiness associated with the simple chore off your hands. The trash can's technology allows it to seal a full garbage bag and replace it with a new one, all on its own. Unfortunately, you'll still have to carry the trash yourself to the curb — the technology for that isn't included (not yet, at least).

The townew trash can went on sale in late 2019 following a successful crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, where over 1,700 backers contributed more than $140,000 toward the product.

Keep reading to see how the technology works, and how you can purchase the $100 smart trash can:

SEE ALSO: Rapper Travis Scott shows off Tesla's Cybertruck, drives the Cyberquad ATV, and uses Elon Musk's flamethrower in a new music video

The townew trash can went on sale in November 2019, following a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo that raised more than $140,000.

Source: Indiegogo



According to the townew website, the trash can is relatively small: it's only about 1.5-feet tall, and weighs less than 8 pounds when empty. The trash can comes in two colors: white and teal.

Source: townew



The trash cans only works with the product's special-made trash bags, which come in 25-count "removable refill rings" that the company estimates will last you about a month. A pack of three refill rings — 75 bags in total — will cost you $18. For context, a pack of 90 Glad garbage bags costs $13 on Amazon.

Source: townew, Amazon



Townew also offers a second bag option: biodegradable refill rings with more environmentally friendly garbage bags. However, these sustainable bags do cost more: a three-pack of those (75 bags total) cost $27 on townew's website.

Source: townew



Given that the townew is self-changing and self-cleaning, the work you have to do only consists of taking the trash out to the curb or dumpster yourself. The can's infrared sensor means the lid opens and shuts on its own when you need to put something in, and seals the trash's smell inside when not in use.

Source: townew



When it's time to take out the trash, all you had to do is press a button on the front of the can. The townew can then seals the bag itself, and has a built-in overload feature to ensure the bag is sealed over everything. The garbage can then detect on its own when you take the trash bag out to refill the can with a new, empty bag.

Source: townew



The trash can is on sale on the townew website for $100, down from its original price of $120. However, the teal model is currently sold out, so you can only purchase the white can in the meantime. The order comes with just one bag refill ring (25 bags), as well as a power adapter to recharge the garbage can (the company estimates it'll need a recharge once a month).



Carlos Ghosn reportedly fled prosecution in Japan by hiding in a box on a private jet. Meet Nissan's disgraced former chairman, who was charged in 2018 with underreporting his compensation.

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carlos ghosn

Carlos Ghosn has fled prosecution in Japan, storing himself away in a box designed for musical instruments on a private jet on December 30, according to media reports.

Ghosn said in a statement that he would "no longer be held hostage by a rigged Japanese justice system where guilt is presumed, discrimination is rampant, and basic human rights are denied."

The former Nissan CEO was awaiting trial in Japan on financial-misconduct charges and had been forbidden from leaving the company as a part of $13 million bail agreement. Prosecutors in Japan have alleged that Ghosn earned a salary of about 10 billion yen, or $88.7 million, from 2011 to 2015 but reported only half of that. Ghosn, who is 64, could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to 10 million yen if found to have committed wrongdoing.

For a long time, Ghosn was known as the man to usher in a new era of profitability and relevance to the automakers he helmed. Yet, to Japanese persecutors, he hid his earnings from regulators for years and used company funds to further decorate his lavish lifestyle.

Keep reading to learn more about the rise and downfall of Carlos Ghosn.

SEE ALSO: How Jeffrey Epstein, the mysterious hedge-fund manager arrested on sex-trafficking charges, made his fortune

DON'T MISS: Bye bye, billionaires: 15 people who lost their billionaire status in 2019

Ghosn was named COO of Nissan in 1999 and later CEO in 2001 after the Renault-Nissan Alliance was formed. In 2016, Mitsubishi joined. The three act as separate entities, while also identifying as a global grouping.

Source:BBC



Ghosn was known for his cost-cutting methods — closing factories and cutting jobs while increasing profits and output. Nissan quickly surpassed Honda as the No. 2 automaker in Japan under Ghosn's leadership ...

Source:BBC, The New York Times



... for which he was greatly compensated. According to BBC's review of company records, Ghosn made over $17 million in 2017 in salary, share options and bonuses. As company success grew, so did Ghosn's net worth. As of 2018, his net worth was around $120 million.

Source:BBC, Bloomberg



Ghosn flew around the world using a series of Nissan-owned Gulfstream private jets, including a G650, which can seat up to 19 passengers, sleep up to 10, fly more than 8,000 miles, and can cost more than $67 million.

As chairman of Renault, Nissan, and Mitsubishi — three car companies on two continents halfway around the world from one another — Ghosn spent a considerable amount of time flying on Nissan's corporate jets between France and Japan. He also had frequent stopovers in the United States, Brazil, and Lebanon.

Source:Business Insider



According to a report from Bloomberg, Nissan paid over 8,000 euros a month for an Amsterdam apartment that was used exclusively by Ghosn.

Source:Bloomberg



And in Beirut, Nissan reportedly paid nearly $9 million in 2012 for a salmon-colored mansion for Ghosn to live in when he traveled.

Source:Bloomberg, The New York Times



In Tokyo, Nissan paid nearly $9,000 a month for Ghosn and family to live in a flat for only "few days each month on average." But then, all of a sudden, Ghosn's world came crashing down.

Nissan would soon begin seizing keys and blocking access from six of its properties frequented by Ghosn and his family. 

Source:Bloomberg



On November 19, prosecutors surrounded Ghosn’s Gulfstream after it touched down in Japan. Prosecutors alleged that Ghosn hid his earnings from Nissan filings for years.

Source:The New York Times



On November 19, 2018, Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa confirmed the arrest of Ghosn after a months-long investigation into alleged financial crimes, like underreporting compensation to regulators. The Nissan board voted just two days later to remove Ghosn from his position as chairman.

Source:Bloomberg



A week after Ghosn's arrest, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. Chairman and CEO Osamu Masuko announced the company would be ousting Ghosn from his role, too.

Source: Bloomberg



Ghosn was reportedly kept in the same facility that previously housed death-row inmates and given limited access to the outside world. Reports indicate that he was allowed to bathe twice a week and had 30 minutes a day of exercise.

Source:Bloomberg



In a January court hearing, Ghosn denied any wrongdoing on his behalf, and said he was "wrongly accused and unfairly detained based on meritless and unsubstantiated accusations." The next day his detention appeal was denied.

Source:Bloomberg



On January 23, Ghosn resigned as chairman and chief executive officer of Renault, French finance minister Bruno Le Maire told Bloomberg Television in an interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Source:Reuters, Bloomberg



Bloomberg reported in February that Ghosn may have used Renault funds inappropriately to "pay for his wedding party at the Chateau de Versailles" — marking the first indecency reported by the company toward its former head executive.

Source:Town and Country Magazine, Bloomberg



At the end of February, Ghosn hired lawyer Junichiro Hironaka, who said Ghosn's arrest was a result of a conspiracy inside Nissan. Hironaka said he believes Ghosn is innocent.

"The prosecutors have made a criminal case out of an issue that should have been handled inside the company," said Hironaka at a press conference. 

Source:The Wall Street Journal



In March, Ghosn, wearing blue workman's clothes and a baseball cap, was released after 108 days in a Japanese jail and after paying a nearly $9 million bail.

Source:Business Insider



According to The Wall Street Journal, Ghosn went to a court-approved residence in Tokyo. A trial was said to be happening later in 2018.

Source:The Wall Street Journal



He was forbidden from contact with anyone outside of the country by phone or computer. "I am extremely grateful for my family and friends who have stood by me throughout this terrible ordeal," Ghosn said in a statement released in March.

Source:The Wall Street Journal



Ghosn was rearrested on April 4 on new charges and then released on a $4.5 million bail later that month.

Source: Business Insider



Nissan is now struggling. In July, the automaker announced that it will cut at least 12,500 jobs — about 9% of its total workforce.

Source: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal



Ghosn and Nissan settled their case with the SEC on September 24. The company will pay a $15 million fine, and Ghosn himself will pay $1 million, the Times reported.

Source: The New York Times



Hari Nada, the Nissan senior vice president who reported Ghosn and is set to testify against Ghosn in a Japanese trial, was found to have also improperly overpaid himself during an investigation by an outside law firm on October 7.

Source: Bloomberg



On December 30, Ghosn fled to Lebanon from Japan, violating the terms of his bail agreement. Media reports said he hid in a box designed for musical instruments on board a private jet. Ghosn said in a statement that his case in Japan amounted to "political persecution."

Source: Business Insider



The 25 worst US cities for retirees

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Oceanside, California

Your golden years may be better spent in some places than others.

That's according to a September report from WalletHub, which ranked the 182 largest US cities for their suitability for retirement.

Unlike working years, retirement is often filled with trips to the doctor's office and leisure time. In the twilight of life, reliable health care and low-cost happiness are important benchmarks when determining where to live.

Taking that into account, WalletHub scored each city on its list based on affordability, activities, quality of life, and available health care. The four categories were weighted equally, and each city was given a total score and then ranked, with the lowest overall score designating the worst city for retirees. WalletHub used data for the city only, not the surrounding metro area.

Keep reading to see the worst places to retire in the US, according to WalletHub, listed in order of least bad to worst.

SEE ALSO: The top 10 states where America's wealthiest millennials live, ranked

DON'T MISS: 15 US cities where wealthy families pay the least in taxes

25. Fort Wayne, Indiana

Fort Wayne has a retirement total score of only 42.29 out of 100, once taking into consideration its particularly low position on the quality of life scale (coming in at No. 149 out of all 182 cities on the list) and low activities ranking (No. 164).



24. Oxnard, California

Oxnard falls in the rankings, with a score of 42.24 out of 100, primarily due to its low affordability rank (No. 140) and low activities ranking (No. 163).



23. Ontario, California

With a total score of 42.18 out of 100, Ontario scores low in each of the four affordability (No. 134), activities (No. 147), quality of life (No. 125), and health care (No. 144) rankings.



22. Oceanside, California

Oceanside has a score of 41.82 out of 100, mostly due to its unaffordability (coming in at No. 161 on that ranking). The city, however, does rank within the top 25 when it comes to quality of life, coming in at No. 24.



21. Detroit, Michigan

Though Detroit ranks within the top 100 for affordability (No. 86), the city only gets a 41.72 total score out of 100, mostly due to its extremely low ranking on the quality of life scale (No. 178).



20. Tacoma, Washington

Tacoma has a 41.68 score out of 100, mostly due to its low ranking on the quality of life (No. 172) and affordability (No. 136) scales.



19. Worcester, Massachusetts

Worcester has a 41.60 score out of 100, mostly due to its low ranking on the quality of life scale (No. 151). 



18. Vancouver, Washington

Vancouver has a 41.40 score out of 100, mostly due to its low ranking on the affordability scale (No. 164).



17. Fontana, California

Fontana has a 41.21 score out of 100 due to its low ranking in each of the four areas: affordability (No. 131), activities (No. 156), quality of life (No. 128), and health care (No. 168).



16. Jersey City, New Jersey

Jersey City has a 40.88 score out of 100, mostly due to its low ranking on the affordability scale (No. 152), though it does rank within the top 100 for quality of life (No. 72).



15. Chula Vista, California

Chula Vista has a 40.65 score out of 100, mostly due to its low ranking on the affordability (No. 161) and activities (No. 170) scales. The city does, however, rank within the top 20 for quality of life (No. 19).



14. Wichita, Kansas

Wichita has a 40.53 score out of 100, ranking poorly across all areas but particularly quality of life (No. 171).



13. New Haven, Connecticut

While New Haven, with a 40.38 total score out of 100, scores decently or its health care availability (No. 36), its overall ranking is tanked due to its unaffordability (No. 172).



12. Modesto, California

Modesto has a 40.11 score out of 100, mostly due to its extremely low ranking on the activities scale (No. 181).



11. Riverside, California

Riverside has a score of 39.99 out of 100, mostly due to its low ranking on the activities scale (No. 166).



10. Providence, Rhode Island

Providence has a 39.86 score out of 100, ranking low in affordability (No. 168) and health care (No. 156).



9. Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore has a 39.53 score out of 100, mostly due to its low ranking on the quality of life scale (No. 169).



8. Rancho Cucamonga, California

Rancho Cucamonga has a 38.80 total score out of 100, mostly due to its low ranking on the activities scale (No. 167). The city does, however, rank within the top 100 for quality of life (No. 96).



7. Fresno, California

Fresno has a 38.73 score out of 100, largely due to its low activities (No. 178) and health care (No. 170) rankings.



6. Newark, New Jersey

Newark has a 37.84 score out of 100, scoring low on affordability (No. 147) and quality of life (No. 179).



5. Bakersfield, California

Bakersfield scored a 37.53 out of 100, mostly due to its low ranking for activities (No. 177) and health care (No. 182 — the bottom of the list). The city does, however, rank within the top 100 for affordability (No. 92).



4. San Bernardino, California

San Bernardino has a 36.94 out of 100, mostly due to its low ranking for activities (No. 176), quality of life (No. 176), and health care (No. 174). The city does, however, rank within the top 100 for affordability (No. 97).



3. Warwick, Rhode Island

Warwick has a 36.74 score out of 100, largely due to its low ranking in affordability (No. 168).



2. Bridgeport, Connecticut

Bridgeport has a 35.74 score out of 100, mostly due to its low ranking in affordability (No. 182 — the bottom of the list). The city does, however, rank within the top 50 for health care (No. 44).



1. Stockton, California

Stockton has a 33.73 score out of 100, ranking low across all areas, including activities (No. 180), health care (No. 177), affordability (No. 133), and quality of life (No. 168).



I waited 2 hours to eat at LA's hottest chicken spot, and it was the best chicken sandwich I've ever had

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Howlin Rays Chicken LA 34

I howl, you howl, we all howl for hot chicken.

The chicken sandwich was perhaps the food that defined 2019. But before Popeyes' chicken sandwich was drawing lines around the block, there was Howlin' Ray's.

Howlin' Ray's started out as a scrappy Los Angeles food truck hawking hot chicken and chicken sandwiches. After an inspiring trip to Nashville, chef Johnny Ray Zone and his wife, Amanda Chapman, gambled everything on bringing hot chicken to Los Angeles. It paid off.

Hordes of hungry hot-chicken fans stormed the food truck on the regular, turning it into one of the hottest food spots in town. Soon enough, Howlin' Ray's moved from the truck to a storefront in a Chinatown strip mall. Now, Zone and Chapman plan to open a second location in Pasadena. But the food remains the same — as do the ridiculous lines to get to it.

When I went to LA for a week, my editor had Howlin' Ray's on his mind. "Go forth, and eat thee some hot chicken," he said.

So I did.

SEE ALSO: I ate chicken and waffles at Roscoe's, the LA chain celebrities love. I'd go back in a heartbeat.

At 4 p.m., I walked from downtown LA to the restaurant in Chinatown.



Google led me to a nondescript strip mall with a bunch of Chinese restaurants and stores. At first, I wasn't sure if I was in the right place.



But at the bottom of the strip-mall sign was Howlin' Ray's Nashville Hot Chicken.



As soon as I walked into the mall, I saw the line extending from the storefront. I went straight to the end.



It didn't look too bad. I've seen lines move pretty quickly at fast-food restaurants. But Howlin' Ray's is no fast-food restaurant.



I'm not someone who typically waits in lines for things. I'd rather just wait for the hype to die down.



But with Howlin' Ray's in its third year and still drawing hours-long lines every day, it seems unlikely that the hype for this hot chicken will die down anytime soon.



I was still full from brunch, so I was worried I wouldn't have an appetite. But after waiting an hour, I was barely halfway through the line.



The place was blasting loud music, a common tactic restaurants use to encourage turnover.



But even though most people were ordering takeout, the line moved at a glacial speed.



I could smell the chili frying from outside, and my stomach started to grumble.



Every so often, I'd hear yelling from the kitchen. I couldn't understand what they were saying, but I dug the energy.



Finally, around 6 p.m., after about two hours of waiting in line, I was in.



I got a medium spicy chicken sandwich, a side of fries, and lemonade mixed with peach tea. After ordering from the employee at the door, I took a seat at the bar in front of the kitchen.



The atmosphere in the kitchen was extremely fast-paced but jovial and casual. I was stunned by how friendly everyone was.



There was someone manning each station, and each action was performed with expert panache.



It was like a hot-chicken assembly line. Gordon Ramsay would be proud of this kitchen.



When orders were called out to the kitchen, they were met with a whole-chested, simultaneous "Yes, chef!" from the team.



Every so often, the kitchen communicated with its customers over a mic.



The guys in the kitchen started me off with a complimentary piece of mild chicken, as well as toast, pickles, and comeback sauce.



There are six levels of spice at Howlin' Ray's: country (no heat), mild, medium, hot, x-hot, and howlin'.



I love spicy food, so I was surprised when the guys told me to start with mild to see if I wanted to go any higher.



And I had to admit, mild was what most restaurants would call medium or even spicy.



Other than the prominent savory flavor of the chili-pepper powder, this was just a very, very good piece of fried chicken. But paired with comeback sauce (a spicy ranch sauce), it was unstoppable.



Still, I couldn't go too crazy. I had my sandwich to think of.



While I waited, I chatted with some of the guys in the kitchen. One of them had moved from Minnesota to LA to pursue his dream of becoming a chef. Howlin' Ray's was the first step in that direction.



Julian, the manager, is an iconic face at Howlin' Ray's.



When I told him I was a food journalist, he seemed more than happy to play with the camera.



The way he handed me that chicken sandwich made me feel like royalty.



Or maybe it was the chicken sandwich that was royalty.



Behold, the best chicken sandwich I've ever had.



It was a big bite, but worth it. The journey began with a soft and sweet brioche bun that gave way into cool, crispy cabbage, thick, tart pickles, and hot battered chicken.



The guys were right: Medium is pretty dang spicy.



I have no idea what's in comeback sauce. To me, it tasted like a spicy, smoky ranch.



But whatever it is, it adds the extra oomph to this sandwich that makes it truly irresistible.



I'm not one to neglect my fried potatoes, so I turned my attention to my shake fries.



Crinkle cut? Bold move, but it worked for Shake Shack.



I immediately went for the comeback sauce. Thank god the guys had given me a cup.



These fries, too, were perfect. They were crispy and full of flavor and seasoning.



I washed down all the salt and heat with a couple of big gulps of peach lemonade.



That was one fragrant, juicy-sweet cup of tea.



Despite the long line outside, the warm atmosphere inside made me feel at home. I didn't at all feel rushed, so I took my time to savor my sandwich.



I'd punctuate bites of crispy hot chicken with a thick slab of pickle ...



... followed by a fry or two.



I felt pretty full by the time I got through half of my sandwich. But there's just something about the nutty smell of chili powder in the fryer that keeps you going.



Finally, I gave up and asked for a box. It was time to give someone else a seat at Howlin' Ray's.



It wasn't just the chicken that made my meal at Howlin' Ray's special. It was the fun, life-affirming energy of the people who work there. The food was so good that the staff could probably get away with terrible service. But the staff members treated each of their guests like a VIP.



It's a darn shame that, at least in the near future, it doesn't seem likely that Howlin' Ray's will make its way out of SoCal. If Howlin' Ray's, instead of McDonald's or Coca-Cola, were the global face of American capitalism, the world would probably be a much better place.



The 15 richest people in India, ranked

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mukesh ambani

Most of India's richest people lost money in 2019, according to Forbes.

But one person has remained firmly at the top of the list of the country's billionaires — and grown exponentially wealthier.

For the 12th year in a row, Mukesh Ambani, the head of oil-gas-telecom conglomerate Reliance Industries, remained the richest person in India with an estimated net worth of $58.4 billion. He's more than $43 billion richer than the second-richest person, having added more than $12 billion to his fortune in 2019 alone.

India's richest 15 people, which include Ambani, pharmaceuticals billionaires, and infrastructure tycoons, are worth a combined $197.8 billion.

Here are the 15 richest people in India right now, ranked. All net worths are sourced from Forbes.

SEE ALSO: Meet the Ambanis, Asia's wealthiest family, who live in a $1 billion skyscraper and mingle with royals and Bollywood stars

DON'T MISS: Tadashi Yanai — the richest person in Japan — is stepping down from the board of SoftBank. Here's how the founder of Uniqlo built and spends his $31 billion fortune.

15. Kushal Pal Singh

Net worth: $6.2 billion

Age: 88

Source of wealth: real estate



14. Benu Gopal Bangur

Net worth: $6.5 billion

Age: 88

Source of wealth: cement



13. Savitri Jindal

Net worth: $6.6 billion

Age: 69

Source of wealth: steel



12. Nusli Wadia

Net worth: $7 billion

Age: 75

Source of wealth: consumer goods



11. Azim Premji

Net worth: $7.2 billion

Age: 74

Source of wealth: software services



10. Dilip Shanghvi

Net worth: $7.6 billion

Age: 64

Source of wealth: pharmaceuticals



9. Cyrus Poonawalla

Net worth: $9.2 billion

Age: 78

Source of wealth: vaccines



8. Sunil Mittal

Net worth: $9.7 billion

Age: 62

Source of wealth: telecom



7. Kumar Birla

Net worth: $10 billion

Age: 52

Source of wealth: commodities



6. Lakshmi Mittal

Net worth: $12 billion

Age: 69

Source of wealth: steel



5. Gautam Adani

Net worth: $13.3 billion

Age: 57

Source of wealth:  commodities, infrastructure



4. Radhakishan Damani

Net worth: $13.8 billion

Age: 64

Source of wealth: investments, retail



3. Uday Kotak

Net worth: $15 billion

Age: 60

Source of wealth: banking



2. Shiv Nadar

Net worth: $15.3 billion

Age: 74

Source of wealth: software services



1. Mukesh Ambani

Net worth: $58.4 billion

Age: 62

Source of wealth: petrochemicals, oil and gas, telecom



Stop using champagne flutes — this is the best way to drink champagne

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Following is a transcript of the video.

Helen Czerski: One of the things that is very irritating if you ever have to go shopping for things to fill a flat is there seem to be so many different types of wine glass. It's only a thing to drink wine out of, right? It's got sort of a stem, and it's got a flat bit and it's got a cup bit. How complicated does it need to be? And it turns out, in the case of champagne especially, the shape of the glass does matter quite a lot. 

So to understand what shape a champagne glass should be, you, first of all, need to know what the glass is doing. At the bottom of the glass, there's something very important going on because that's the only part of the glass that is rough. If you've got a champagne glass and it's got bubbles coming from everywhere around the inside of the glass, I hate to tell you this but the glass is dirty. Don't tell your host, it won't make you popular. So in a clean champagne glass, there is a rough bit at the bottom. And champagne has dissolved gas in it, carbon dioxide at really high pressure, six or seven atmospheres, which is one of the reasons that champagne bottles are so big and so thick. And that gas would like to come out of solution but it needs a place to start. So that little roughness at the bottom of the pointy bit, those little sort of grooves in the glass, those are really good places for a new bubble. So that's why bubbles rise just from the center of the glass and they rise up in a thin column. It's because that's the place you can make bubbles.

So then you've got to worry about what happens next. And you'll see the bubbles get a little bigger as they rise because more and more gas is joining them. And as the bubbles go, they don't just move through the fluid, they actually drag liquid with it. So that thin column of bubbles sets up a bubble engine so fluid, the champagne, is being dragged up the middle and then the bubbles stay at the top but the wine has to come back down the outside. So you get this bubble engine going and that has two important consequences. The first thing is that it's always bringing new champagne to the top and that means flavors can get out of the champagne and into the air above it. And the reason that matters is because quite often when we think we are tasting things, what we are actually doing is smelling things. So when you lift a glass of champagne to your nose, just as much as what's in the wine, what matters is in the air just above it because that's the bit that goes right up your nose just as you take a sip. So if you got a bubble engine that is going round and round, it's bringing lots of new champagne to the top, so lots of flavor molecules can get released into that little bit of space. The other thing that happens is that when the bubbles come to the top and burst, they actually do the job for you. They spit little particles up your nose and so even more flavor gets delivered upwards. So this little bubble engine is really important for the flavor of the champagne.

Now, different glasses drive that bubble engine in different ways. So if you've got a nice, tall champagne flute, the sort of classic thing you get at parties, the bubble engine is going really fast, comparatively speaking. The problem is that it's spitting all this flavor into the air but your tall glass if you fill it most of the way up, all the flavor molecules just basically escape out of the glass and disappears. So you've wasted them, which is a bit of a shame. 

The other sort of champagne glass you used to see is a coupe, which is a sort of very flat wide one like that. So, in this case, you've got a very shallow depth of champagne, so your bubble engine's going really slowly. So that's really good for allowing lots of complex molecules to stick to the bubbles, so the flavor molecules that the bubbles are delivering to the surface, they got lots of complexity so it's bringing out all the wonderful things that are in your wine. The problem is that, it's the same thing, when your flavor is released into the headspace just above the wine, it basically just blows away. 

So it turns out that the perfect glass to drink champagne out of, if you are really a wine snob is to pick something that's about the shape of a brandy glass, which is the hard bit. Because what happens then is you get this slow bubble engine that delivers lots and lots of complexity into the air, but then it's trapped in all the space you've got up here. So when you lift the glass to your nose, that's when you get the full benefits of the flavor.

This video was originally published in December 2017.

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The Caribbean is the place to be on New Year's Eve if you're a billionaire with a superyacht. Here's a look at the islands that currently have the most docked yachts.

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St. Barths Gustavia Port

Superyachts start congregating along the Caribbean islands come New Year's Eve.

Bloomberg previously reported that the superyacht count in Sint Maarten, the Dutch side Saint Martin, swelled to 52 in December. The count in November, for comparison, was 16. Even still, that's not where the greatest number of billionaires will ring in the new decade: Saint-Barthélemy, or St. Barts, is known for that, according to Forbes.

MarineTraffic, a real-time ship-tracking website, charts where notable vessels are docked. And currently, the interactive map shows that a number of superyachts are anchored in St. Barts, St. Maarten, Antigua, and Nassau.

Keep reading for a look at the popular ritzy Caribbean destinations for New Year's. We also included a look at the boats and the notable boaters celebrating in each.

SEE ALSO: Forget Bali and Mykonos: An ancient port city in Turkey is the under-the-radar luxury hotspot to visit in 2020

DON'T MISS: The world's first hydrogen-powered superyacht was unveiled at the Monaco Yacht Show. Here's a look inside the game-changing 367-foot vessel concept.

Superyachts belonging to billionaires all over the world pop up in a few Caribbean hot spots during the holiday season. Nassau is just 315 miles off the coast of Florida but Saint-Barthélemy, the most popular island, is 1,000 miles past that.

Source: Google Maps



Saint-Barthélemy, also known as St. Barths or St. Barts, is the Caribbean island where the vast majority of superyachters anchor to ring in the new year.

Source: Forbes



Last year, Nikki Beach, a luxurious St. Barts beach club, hosted a New Year's party that included a Mariah Carey performance.

While many resorts and restaurants will host New Year's Eve parties on the island this year, one of the most iconic is the annual Nikki Beach party.

This year, the evening will include DJing by Kygo. Fortune reports that a table at the party costs upwards of $10,000.

St. Barts New Year's Eve parties of yesteryear have enjoyed performances by Prince and Beyonce.

St. Barts, which is roughly nine square miles, boasts fireworks at midnight while "all the magnificent superyachts moored off the island sound their foghorns in unison," according to the island's official website.



Superyachts currently docked in St. Barts include Rising Sun, the 454-foot vessel owned by media mogul David Geffen, and Symphony, the 331-foot yacht owned by Bernard Arnault, the third-richest man in the world.

Source:MarineTraffic, Business Insider, Business Insider



Eos, the 350-foot sailing superyacht owned by billionaire Barry Diller and his designer wife, Diane von Furstenberg, is also in St. Barts.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and girlfriend Lauren Sanchez were also spotted boarding a yacht in St. Barts last week, according to Page Six. As Business Insider previously reported, the pair enjoyed time on both Eos and Geffen's Rising Sun this past summer.



Aside from St. Barts, another popular destination is neighboring Sint Maarten.

St. Barts and the island of Saint Martin are only separated by 17 nautical miles.

Sint Maarten, the bottom Dutch half of the island, is the more popular vacation destination over the top French half of the island, Saint-Martin, according to Vanity Fair.

Bloomberg previously reported that the superyacht count in Sint Maarten swelled to 52 in December — the count in November was 16.



Eclipse, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich's superyacht, was recorded as one of the 52 yachts passing through St. Maarten this month.

Abramovich, a Russian steel magnate and owner of the English Premier League's Chelsea FC, bought the vessel in 2009. At 533 feet long, Eclipse was once the largest superyacht in the world, until it was overtaken by Azzam in 2013.

The ship was recorded by MarineTraffic as docked in St. Maarten earlier this week, but is now docked in St. Barts. Abramovich reportedly owns 70 acres on the south side of the island, according to the New York Times.

Also in St. Maarten? Ecstasea, a 282-foot superyacht previously owned by Abramovich. Bloomberg reported that the yacht, now owned by a Pakistani billionaire, crashed while docking in the St. Maarten marina on Sunday, December 29, knocking down an operator's booth.



A third key Caribbean destination for the 1% during the holidays is Antigua.

Antigua is 75 miles southwest of St. Barts. The island saw 37 superyachts in December, according to Bloomberg.



Maltese Falcon, the 289-foot sailing yacht owned by Greek hedge fund manager Elena Ambrosiadou, is docked in Antigua.

Source:MarineTraffic, Business Insider



Here Comes the Sun, a 272-foot vessel owned by Russian drilling billionaire Alexander Dzhaparidze, is also in Antigua.

Source: MarineTraffic, Business Insider, Forbes



Other spots with a spike in superyacht activity include Bahamian islands like Nassau. Still, when it comes to New Year's Eve, St. Barts is king.

Tiger Woods' 155-foot superyacht, Privacy, is en route to Nassau, according to MarineTraffic. The total number of vessels, including superyachts, at port in Nassau is 140.

Meanwhile, there are 160 total vessels at port in both St. Maarten and Antigua.

St. Barts, however, still reigns supreme: It has 170 vessels at port.



A $111 million estate with a bowling alley just broke Florida's real-estate record. Here are the 16 most expensive homes sold in the US over the past decade.

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The playboy mansion

The US has long been home to jaw-dropping real estate with equally jaw-dropping price tags.

Jonathan Miller, the president and CEO of real estate and consulting firm Miller Samuel Inc., has spent the past few years compiling all the sales of single-family homes and condos at or above $50 million in the US.

He's shared that information with Business Insider so that we could round up the 16 most expensive residential sales the country has seen over the past 10 years.

From a number of $100 million mansions to one nearly $240 million penthouse, 15 out of the 16 most expensive homes are located in either Florida, New York, or California— three states with notoriously expensive housing markets. In fact, the most recent homes to make the list include the Chartwell Estate in Los Angeles, California, which sold for a jaw-dropping $150 million, and a $111 million estate in Palm Beach, Florida.

Keep reading to see a full ranking of the 16 most expensive home sales the country has seen since December of 2009.

SEE ALSO: The biggest metro areas with the most million-dollar homes in the US

DON'T MISS: The 10 most expensive NYC neighborhoods to live in right now, ranked

T16. This 25,000-square-foot mansion in Los Altos Hills, California, sold in 2011 for $100 million.

This mansion on La Paloma Road, called Palo Alto Loire Chateau, was built to mirror an 18th-century French chateau.

According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, at the time of the purchase, the home featured indoor and outdoor pools, a ballroom, and a wine cellar.



T16. This mansion in Holmby Hills — a neighborhood in Los Angeles, California — sold in 2016 for $100 million.

Also known as the Playboy Mansion, 10236 Charing Cross Road was originally listed for $200 million in January 2016. 

As Business Insider previously reported, the property was sold a few months later (for half its asking price) to the next-door neighbor who, at the time of the sale, expressed interest in connecting the two properties.



T16. This property in Malibu, California, sold in 2019 for $100 million.

This property, 27600 Pacific Coast Highway, is located along the legendarily scenic state highway. It includes two guest houses, a tennis court, a spa house, a two-story library, a theater, a gym, and a pool, along with other amenities.

It fell just $10 million short of matching the most expensive home sale in Malibu.

 



T16. This 10-bedroom mansion in Holmby Hills — a neighborhood in Los Angeles, California — sold in 2016 for $100 million.

As Business Insider previously reported, this mansion, which is located at 301 North Carolwood Drive, was built on speculation and originally listed for $150 million.

The home spans 38,000 square feet and includes everything from private hiking trails to a movie theater complex.



12. A penthouse in Manhattan, New York, sold in 2014 for $100,471,452.

This penthouse is located on the 89th and 90th floors of One57, a residential skyscraper in the Midtown area referred to as Billionaire's Row.

It spans 11,000 square feet and boasts six bedrooms. Up until 2019, it was the most expensive home ever sold in New York City.



T11. A compound in Malibu, California, sold in 2018 for $110 million.

As Business Insider previously reported, this beachfront home is located on Carbon Beach, also called "Billionaire's Beach," which is known for its multimillion-dollar homes and ultra-wealthy residents. 

The home, which was designed by Richard Meier, includes a main residence and a guest house.



T11. Three properties on Lily Pond Lane in East Hampton, New York, sold in a single sale in 2016 for $110 million.

Before this sale, the three properties — 93, 97, and 101 Lily Pond Lane — were bought in 2014 for $93.9 million.

According to a report by the New York Post, the properties total 6.4 acres and include 284 feet of oceanfront access.



9. An oceanfront estate in Palm Beach, Florida, sold in 2019 for $110,250,000.

This 13-bedroom property, also known as La Follia, is located at 1295 S. Ocean Blvd, only half a mile from Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort.

As Business Insider previously reported, it was originally listed in 2018 for $135 million. The property includes 210 feet of private beach, lush gardens, and a private boat dock.



8. In early December of 2019, an 11-bedroom, 22-bathroom mansion in Palm Beach, Florida sold for $111 million.

According to a report by CNBC, hedge fund billionaire Steven Schonfeld and his wife closed on the property on December 3, making it the most expensive home ever sold in Florida.

The property boasts over 70,000 square feet of living space, a bowling alley, a spa, an ice cream stand, and a candy parlor, according to CNBC.



7. A 9-acre estate in Woodside, California, sold in 2012 for $117,500,000.

Until 2019, this home, which is located at 360 Mountain Home Road, was the most expensive residence ever sold in California.

As Business Insider previously reported, the off-market deal took place in November 2012.



6. A massive mansion in Holmby Hills — a ritzy neighborhood in Los Angeles, California — sold in 2019 for $119,750,000.

Also known as The Manor, this home, which is located at 594 S. Mapleton Drive, is the most expensive home ever sold in Los Angeles County, according to the Los Angeles Times.



5. A 51-acre estate in Greenwich, Connecticut, sold in 2014 for $120 million.

Known as Copper Beech Farm, this property, which is located at 499 Indian Field Road, was originally listed in May 2013 for $190 million.

According to a report by Forbes, the price was cut by $50 million in September 2013, and then dropped another $10 million before it closed for $120 million in 2014.

It's the only home on this list in a state that's not California, Florida, or New York.



4. Four oceanfront properties in Palm Beach, Florida, sold in 2013 for a total of $129,600,000.

These four properties are located at 20, 30, 40 and 50 Blossom Way.

According to a report by The Real Deal, the buyer owns all the properties along that street. The report also states that many of the properties have been demolished.



3. A massive estate in East Hampton, New York, sold in 2014 for $137 million.

This 18-acre property, located at 60 Further Lanes, was the most expensive home ever sold in the US until 2019.

The sale price was first mistakenly reported as $147 million by several publications in 2014 (though either amount qualified it as the priciest real estate in the country at the time of the sale).



2. A 26-room mansion in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles sold for $150 million in December of 2019.

As Business Insider previously reported, this massive estate, also known as the Chartwell Estate, spans more than 10 acres.

The property originally hit the market for $350 million in 2017. It is currently the most expensive home ever sold in California and the second-priciest ever sold in the US. It has a 26-bedroom mansion and an underground tunnel.



1. The penthouse atop 220 Central Park South, a residential tower in Manhattan, New York, sold in January 2019 for $239,958,219.

This New York City penthouse spans the 50th through the 53rd floor of 220 Central Park South. It currently holds the title as the most expensive home ever sold in the US.

Billionaire hedge-fund manager Ken Griffin bought the property in a record-breaking sale.



I moved from the Texas suburbs to the biggest tech hub in America. Here are the 11 things that surprised me most.

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san francisco

I'd never necessarily dreamed of moving to San Francisco specifically. That fantasy was reserved for New York, just like every journalist's pipe dream.

But fortunately, I landed a job in February 2018 and made the move from my hometown of Pflugerville, Texas, to the Bay Area and have lived here ever since while also reporting on the region.

There was a bit of culture shock when I was first adapting to the tech hub — companies like LinkedIn and Twitter ran their global headquarters in buildings near my office, and the people walking next to me on the street were some of the country's highest-paid workers. Down in the South Bay was the heart of Silicon Valley, where for decades the industry's greatest advancements have been pioneered. What was happening around me was clearly much bigger than me.

There was also a bit of an adjustment going from what feels like a small town to a major metro area. Pflugerville is a suburb about 20 miles north of Austin, Texas, which is a tech city in its own right. I also went to school at Texas A&M in College Station, which also has a small-town feel. 

Two years in and my skin's gotten fairly thick — but only after I learned a few things.

Here are 11 things that surprised me most moving from Texas suburbia to Silicon Valley.

SEE ALSO: Photos of San Francisco taken 10 years apart show how much the city has changed

1. Let's just get this one out of the way: Yes, it is expensive to live here. The high costs gave me a bit of a fright at first, but it's doable if you have a full-time job that pays well.

You'll see stats on median rent thrown around. Some sites list the average rent as $3,550, others at $2,492. But at the end of the day, they all conclude that rent in San Francisco is more expensive than anywhere else. 

I pay $1,200 a month for a room in an apartment in a building constructed in 1907 with two other roommates, one of whom lives in what was once the living room. The only common area we have is the kitchen, and we have a split bathroom (meaning the toilet is in one room while the shower is down the hall in its own space).

My sister lives in a modern two-story house with two bathrooms in Austin, has 2 roommates as I do, and pays $200 less than I do for a room. Her downstairs floor is bigger than my entire apartment.

But we're both where we want to be, which is exactly the point — people living in San Francisco are lucky enough to have jobs that allow them to put up with the city's quirks because we deem them worth it to live here.

 

 



That's not to say that the high costs don't get frustrating.

Nothing gets under my skin more than a $13 cocktail served in a shot glass or a $10 sandwich. But that's not the restaurant's fault more than it is anyone else's. There are a lot of reasons why it's so expensive out here for business owners and residents alike.



2. It's not San Fran for some reason. It's SF, "the city," or, as some may call it, "Frisco," but never San Fran. Let your relatives and friends call it that when they come to visit, but you are a local, so don't you dare.

Source: Thrillist



3. It took me a while to get used to seeing the names and logos of some of the biggest tech companies displayed on street corners.



LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram — these used to exist merely in my phone. Now they're plastered above me whenever I venture outside for a bite to eat during my lunch break.



It's surreal, and sometimes I don't think I've fully adapted to it.



4. The people working in these offices are some of the highest-paid in the city — and the country, for that matter. But besides the typical techie uniform that most conform to, you wouldn't be able to tell that by looking at them.



With so much wealth and success, I thought it would be reflected in the lives and possessions of people living in the city.

And it is to a point — there are Teslas aplenty — but you'll still see people that make sky-high salaries dressed in jeans and sneakers riding a bike to and from work. Ostentatious lifestyles are not as common as I thought they would be.

And that's because it costs so much to merely survive here. Your money doesn't go as far as it would in, say, my hometown of Pflugerville.



5. It is nowhere near as bohemian as I thought it would be.

I knew there would be a more corporate side to the city, but I pictured there being pockets of truly bohemian people. And there are — mostly artists, surfers, and other free spirits living on the western side of the city — but they're not as prominent as I thought.

No flowing dresses and peace signs — just Patagonia vests and sneakers. Everyone dresses the same (including myself), and it's all pared down, nothing fancy. As tech has grown in the city, artists and other free spirits have been priced out.



6. Many below a certain pay grade have been priced out, and I've never seen homelessness like I've seen it here.

The living conditions for homeless people in San Francisco are some of the worst in the world, with discarded needles, human feces, and tent encampments just some regular sights when walking around the city.

I've seen trash collectors slip on human feces on the sidewalk while dumping trash bins on my walk to work in the morning.

But there are systemic problems causing San Francisco's homelessness crisis — a crushing housing shortage, stunted living wages, and an explosion of tech money have all contributed to a growing wealth divide that is seeing more and more people pushed out of their homes and onto the streets.



7. I knew the Bay Area had a temperate climate, but in reality, that means it's just straight cold. It's always chilly, with periodic bursts of warmth and sunlight throughout the day.

Summers don't really exist here. Never (ever) leave home without a jacket. And dress in layers whenever you can, i.e., short-sleeve shirt, button-down over that, then a jacket. Remove as needed.

And if you live in a building that's over 100 years old (like yours truly), the windows are loose and insulation is nonexistent. Socks and layers are your friend, both outside and indoors.



8. You can be in the heart of an urban city, at a beach, or on the mountains all within a day.

Living in San Francisco gives you easy access to so much adventure, for lack of a better word.

Lake Tahoe is about a three- to four-hour drive east, there are beaches like Ocean Beach out to the west of the city, and hiking trails surround the Bay Area. I could go on, but it makes you feel like you're getting your money's worth when you can experience everything that comes with living in the Bay Area.



9. The hills will kill you, but then you'll get used to them.

Parking spaces are not guaranteed, even for some living in multimillion-dollar homes, and traffic is congested throughout the city.

So if you are carless, which in my mind has been a perk of living in an urban environment, walking can be much easier than public transit or ridesharing. The downside is that I've worn out and have had to toss some of my favorite shoes, and I've dealt with foot problems since I moved out here. On the bright side, I have calves of steel.

Sneakers or work boots and thick socks are the way to go — you learn to opt for function over form very quickly.



10. You can absolutely meet your forever friends and maybe even a lifetime partner here, but don't get used to it.

You'll meet a Bay Area native occasionally, but most people who live here aren't from here.

The turnover rate of people coming to and leaving SF is high. A 2018 poll showed that 46% of San Franciscans in the survey said they would move in the near future. And a recent November survey of city residents showed that a third of the respondents want out. There's a mass exodus from the city as costs rise and issues plaguing the region are exacerbated.

Another reason is simply that many see San Francisco as a temporary place to live to jump-start their careers or enjoy the youth of their 20s and 30s.

I met my best friends here when I moved to the city in 2018, and about a year and a half later, they packed up and moved to London for grad school — and I doubt it's the last time I'll have to deal with friends moving away.



11. Reporting on Silicon Valley has been interesting as I've learned about how the tech industry has also played a role back home in Texas.

There's a long history of tech in Austin, spearheaded by companies like Texas Instruments, Motorola, IBM, and Dell, to name a few. And Apple has had a presence in the region for two decades now.

But tech offices and workers have filed in even more noticeably within the past decade or so. And the suburbs will continue to feel the effects as well.

Every time I go home to Pflugerville, more apartment complexes seem to appear. Shopping centers are planned for my hometown, I overhear venture-capitalist meetings at my neighborhood Starbucks, and a Bay Area couple, one of whom came from Google's Mountain View, California, headquarters, recently moved into my parent's neighborhood.

Whether I'm home in Texas or back in the Bay Area, tech has become inescapable.



Tourism in Antarctica has seen a 50% spike over the past four years, and luxury travel companies are tripping over each other in the race to capitalize on it

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antarctica travel tourism

  • 56,000 people traveled to Antarctica during the 2018-2019 season, a 53% increase over the number of tourists in 2014-2015, according to the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators. 
  • Luxury travel companies are rushing to capitalize on the interest in Antarctica.
  • In 2020 and 2021, travelers will be able to book cruise ships with heated outdoor igloo rooms as well as business-class jet service to the continent, Travel Weekly's Tom Stieghorst reported.
  • The 200th anniversary of Antarctica's discovery, an emphasis on experiential travel, and last-chance tourism are reasons why Antarctica tourism is surging.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The number of people visiting Antarctica — arguably the most remote place on Earth —  has spiked in the past four years.

According to the International Association for Antarctica Tour Operators, 56,168 travelers visited the continent in 2018-2019. That's a 53% increase from the 36,702 visitors during the 2014-2015 season.

In the scheme of global tourism, of course, 56,000 visitors is a relatively low number. To put it into perspective, 56,000 people is less than the number of passengers who travel "on a single ship the size of the Oasis of the Seas in three months," Travel Weekly's Tom Stieghorst reported.

Traditionally, Antarctica has been a smaller tourism market due to "time, distance, cost," Stieghorst said. The average entry-level Antarctica journeys costs around $11,000, he added.

According to Adventure Life, an adventure travel company, the shortest trip to Antarctica lasts six days and is offered by Express Air Cruise. To reach Antarctica, most visitors travel by ship from Argentina or New Zealand. Flying from Punta Arenas, Chile, is another option.

A trifecta of factors is making Antarctica an increasingly popular destination

Luxury travel is a $1.54 trillion market, according to a study Baron Consulting and Wealth-X released in November. Travel Weekly's Jeri Clausing chalks this up to a "growing emphasis on experiences."

Luxury travelers — especially billionaires — are seeking the "unknown and the exclusive," Business Insider's Hillary Hoffower noted, and Antarctica is about as remote as it gets.

"It's definitely on many people's bucket list," Steven Cowpe, who led expeditions for Antarctica Bound, a United Kingdom-based travel agency, told the AP in 2015. "You feel like you're at the end of the planet because it's so wild and when you come back, you feel like you have achieved something great, even if you're not an explorer."

What's more, 2020 is an anniversary year for Antarctica. The new year "marks 200 years since Nathaniel Palmer laid claim to the discovery of the Antarctic mainland, making it an iconic year for all Antarctic travel," Tom Barber, cofounder of luxury travel agency Original Travel, told Hoffower.

The increase in visitors to Antarctica could also be due in part to last-chance tourism. Antarctica is losing six times as much ice as it did in the 1970s, Business Insider's Katie Warren noted

The uptick in visitors this past season has luxury travel companies rushing to develop new ships and routes for travel to Antarctica. In 2020, Lindblad Expeditions is introducing the 126-passenger National Geographic Endurance complete with heated outdoor rooms enclosed in clear igloo structures, Stieghorst noted. For 2021, Ponant is developing its first polar exploration ship, and Silversea Cruises is adding a business-class jet service called Antarctica Bridge that, for $15,750 per person, saves passengers the two-day journey across the Drake Passage, Stieghorst added.

This past November, Hurtigruten sent the world's first hybrid cruise ship on its maiden voyage to Antarctica. And as Business Insider's Hillary Hoffower noted, 2019 also witnessed the launch of the AdventureSmith Explorations' Magellan Explorer, the first small passenger ship to be purpose-built for Antarctica and offer single-traveler cabins.

SEE ALSO: These are the 10 hottest destinations billionaires are traveling to in 2020

NOW READ: A luxury travel company exec says Japan, Slovenia, and Antarctica will be the hottest travel destinations of 2020

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Patrón Tequila sells a bottle for up to $7,500 — here's why the brand is so expensive

Bloomberg says he'll trade the Oval Office for an 'open office plan' in the East Room if elected — and is being mercilessly mocked for it on Twitter

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Michael Bloomberg

  • Billionaire presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg is being mocked on Twitter for his plan to rearrange the White House if elected.
  • Bloomberg's "open office plan" includes turning the White House's East Room into a space where the President and his staff can work together — saving the Oval Office for "official functions," he tweeted Monday.
  • One Twitter user said the layout "would rank in popularity somewhere between heartburn and terrorism," while others pointed out that an open office would not be conducive to discussing matters of national security.
  • Bloomberg tweeted that the new layout will improve teamwork, but research has shown that open offices tend to have the opposite effect on workers.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Michael Bloomberg is still a long way from being elected president, but that hasn't stopped the billionaire presidential candidate from redesigning the White House.

Bloomberg plans to remodel the East Room with an "open office plan" so he can work in close proximity to his staff, he tweeted Monday.

The East Room is currently reserved for hosting events, and administration staffers have offices in the West Wing and the nearby Eisenhower Executive Office Building, according to the White House Historical Association and the archives of the Obama White House.

"I'll use the Oval Office for some official functions – never for tweeting – but the rest of the time, I'll be where a leader should be: with the team," Bloomberg announced on Twitter.

Twitter largely disagrees.

One user said the layout "would rank in popularity somewhere between heartburn and terrorism," while another suggested that Bloomberg use the money that would go into the remodel to "fix Flint MI's water supply, or donate to DEM Senate candidates, or make an actual difference rather than fuel his ego project." Others pointed out that an open office would not be conducive to discussing matters of national security.

A spokeswoman of Bloomberg's campaign defended the proposal in a statement to Business Insider, saying: "As the founder and leader of one of the fastest growing and most effective businesses in the world, which employs over 20,000 people across 73 countries, Mike has successfully implemented open office plans both in his business and for twelve years as the Mayor of New York City. Unlike Donald Trump, Mike and his teams are successful because he has built his career on tearing down walls and building environments where people work together to get big things done."

white house east room

Despite Bloomberg's claims that the proposed layout will make him a more effective leader, research has shown that open offices lead to mixed outcomes on workplace performance and wellbeing, to say the least.

Opens have been found to increase burn out, job dissatisfaction, and performance by eliminating privacy, Business Insider's Allana Akhtar and Drake Baer previously reported. Bloomberg isn't the only prominent executive to advocate for open offices in an effort to connect with their teams, however. Goldman Sachs CEO David Solomon told employees that the investment bank's executives will adopt open offices earlier this month, Business Insider's Dakin Campbell reported

Bloomberg LP's offices are all open format, the CEO wrote in a December 17 LinkedIn post. Bloomberg wrote that he adopted the same policy at City Hall during his tenure as New York City mayor, and credited it with fostering trust among the staff and reducing leaks. 

Bloomberg built a $54 billion dollar fortune after cofounding media company Bloomberg LP, which now brings in $10 billion in annual revenue. Bloomberg LP's success has made the former New York City mayor the ninth richest person in the US, Business Insider previously reported.

The office layout controversy comes days after reports that Bloomberg used inmates in an Oklahoma prison to make calls for his presidential campaign. The campaign said it was unaware that the New Jersey-based call-center company ProCom that it contracted through a third-party vendor operated out of state prisons, and that it stopped working with the firm when it found out. 

SEE ALSO: Inside the Napa Valley 'wine cave' fundraiser that Pete Buttigieg was slammed for attending, where guests paid $2,800 to dine under a chandelier covered in 1,500 Swarovski crystals

DON'T MISS: From George Washington to Michael Bloomberg, here are 12 of the richest US presidential candidates in history

Join the conversation about this story »

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The 10 most popular YouTubers at the beginning of the decade — and where they are now

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top youtubers 2010

At the beginning of the decade, a whopping 24 hours of video was being uploaded to video-sharing platform YouTube every minute. Now, that number has skyrocketed to more than 500 hours per minute.

Since YouTube made it possible for video creators to make money off their content in 2007, the platform has become a place where people can become celebrities and well-known names outside the traditional path to fame. Today, names like PewDiePie, Logan and Jake Paul, and David Dobrik each have tens of millions of subscribers eating up their content across social media.

But 10 years ago, when YouTube was still relatively new, the most popular stars were different. Some creators are still around on YouTube today, like Shane Dawson and Philip DeFranco, while others have since moved on from the platform where they first rose to notoriety.

Here are the 10 most popular YouTubers at the beginning of the decade, and what those stars are up to now:

SEE ALSO: A Tesla Cybertruck knockoff made by Russian YouTubers has no doors and is powered by gasoline, but it's fooled people into thinking it's the real thing — here's how they did it

10. What The Buck Show

AKA: Michael Buckley

Video type: Buckley once hosted "What the Buck!?," a popular YouTube show that shared news about celebrities and pop culture, delivered with snark, parody, and color commentary.

Where they are now: Buckley is now a life coach (you can apply to be coached by him on his website). He released a book in 2017 geared toward parents who don't "get" the appeal of YouTube to kids, and he's started making videos again on YouTube featuring vlogs about his family and being part of the LGBTQ+ community.



9. Venetian Princess

AKA: Jodie-Amy Rivera

Video type: Known by the name "Venetian Princess," Rivera was revered for her hilarious parodies of pop songs, including hits like "7 Things (Guys Don't Have to Do)" and "I Kissed a Girl - Elderly Remix." She was the most subscribed-to woman on YouTube until 2012.

Where they are now: Rivera's notable VenetianPrincess parodies and spoofs ended in 2014, but she brought back her YouTube channel in 2019 to feature vlogs from her daily life and serious covers of songs. She also has a daughter, who she posts pictures of on Instagram.



8. Dave Days

AKA: Dave Colditz

Video type: Like Venetian Princess, Dave Colditz gained notoriety for his pop-punk covers and parodies of various songs in pop culture, as well as the release of his own albums. His channel gained so much traction that he actually got Miley Cyrus to make a cameo appearance in the video for his song, "Last Song."

Where they are now: It seems Colditz has continued to pursue his independent music career, uploading covers and parodies intermittently to his YouTube channel and onto music streaming services in the last couple years. Colditz also hosts a free online class, called Musician.Life, where he teaches wannabe artists how to become successful in the music industry.



7. KevJumba

AKA: Kevin Wu

Video type: Wu was one of YouTube's early comedian vloggers, who gained fans and laughs from relating stories and talking at the camera. His videos often played off Asian-American stereotypes, and were laced with self-deprecating humor.

Where they are now: Wu mysteriously disappeared from YouTube in 2013 to return to college and reconnect with Buddhism. He suffered a near-fatal car crash in 2015, and reactivated his YouTube channel in 2017 under new branding as simply "Kev."

However, Wu hasn't posted to YouTube or Instagram since March 2017, and his Twitter handle appears to be suspended. Wu has maintained a more private life since then and is "working on" himself, he said in a rare appearance on a podcast hosted by fellow prominent YouTuber Ryan Higa in mid-2019.



6. Ray William Johnson

Video type: Although he only launched his channel in 2009, Ray William Johnson became wildly popular in less than a year thanks to his YouTube series called "Equals Three." Johnson helped to pioneer YouTube's popular "react" video format, in which he would offer commentary on viral videos.

Where they are now: Johnson stopped producing "Equals Three" and other popular series in 2015, which led to his popularity to drop. He continued to use his YouTube channel to vlog through 2018, and also uploaded some music under the name "Fat Damon." However, Johnson has since moved over to Facebook and Instagram, where he uploads videos of sketch comedy and inspirational messages.



5. sxephil

AKA: Philip DeFranco

Video type: DeFranco has been around for a decade as a bonafide news anchor for YouTube, delivering roundups of headlines about current events in both light-hearted subjects (like celebrity gossip) and heavier issues (such as politics).

Where they are now: DeFranco's popularity on YouTube has only skyrocketed in the past decade, now going by Philip DeFranco instead of "sxephil." He has expanded his work into a full-blown news network, including YouTube news series SourceFed and website Rogue Rocket. DeFranco is now married to former vlogger LinzLoves, and has two young children.



4. ShaneDawsonTV

Video type: Dawson's early work comprised short comedy sketches in which he would don accents and wigs to play different characters. However, many of these characters — with names like "Barb the Lesbian" and "Shanaynay" (referred to as a "ghetto girl"), and gangster S-Deezy — were viewed as problematic, and were criticized for drawing on offensive stereotypes about people of color and other minority groups.

Where they are now: Dawson's YouTube presence has grown and changed over the decade, and he hasn't posted to his ShaneDawsonTV channel in over three years. On his channel, simply titled "shane," Dawson has shifted to making multi-part documentary series investigating conspiracy theories and the lives of YouTubers, including Tana Mongeau, Jake Paul, and Eugenia Cooney.

Dawson also came out as bisexual in 2015, and got engaged to fellow YouTuber Ryland Adams in 2019.



3. Smosh

AKA: Ian Hecox & Anthony Padilla

Video type: The comedy duo collectively known as "Smosh" were behind some of the most popular and viral comedy skits circulated on YouTube in the platform's early days.

Where they are now: Smosh has since expanded beyond its two original creators to feature a group regular cast members that creates and appears in comedic content for Smosh and its multiple spinoff channels. One of the Smosh founders, Anthony Padilla, left the channel in June 2017.

The Smosh brand was acquired in early 2019 by Mythical Entertainment, a company owned by YouTuber duo Rhett & Link.



2. FRED

AKA: Lucas Cruikshank

Video type: Cruikshank created hilarious videos as his online persona Fred Figglehorn, a dysfunctional six-year-old with a high-pitched voice, who regalled viewers with stories of his life and doing simple day-to-day activities.

Where they are now: Cruikshank stopped producing content starring Fred in 2014, and hasn't posted to that YouTube channel since 2015. Cruikshank is still active as a YouTuber, but now stars as himself in vlogs and comedy on his eponymous channel, "Lucas." Cruikshank came out as gay in 2016.



1. NigaHiga

AKA: Ryan Higa

Video type: Higa was known for his comedy sketches, filmed alongside three friends with an especially low quality camera, which often parodied how-to and commercial formats. He held the title as the most subscribed-to channel for 677 consecutive days between 2009 and 2011, a feat that's only been topped by PewDiePie.

Where they are now: Higa still works as a YouTuber, producing comedy skits and parodies on his original NigaHiga channel and his second channel, HigaTV. Higa also launched a weekly podcast in 2018 called "Off the Pill," which has featured famous YouTubers, K-pop stars, and presidential candidate Andrew Yang.



Elon Musk's decade was a non-stop sprint from taking Tesla public to weathering controversies and hitting major milestones

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elon musk

  • Elon Musk is a member of the "PayPal Mafia," and CEO and founder of both Tesla and SpaceX. In 2016, he also founded The Boring Company.
  • In October, Tesla surpassed GM to become the most valuable car company in the US. It currently has a market cap of $76 billion compared to GM's $52 billion and Ford's $37 billion.
  • Beyond his work with Tesla and SpaceX, Musk has gained attention over the last decade for his Twitter presence, controversies like smoking pot during a podcast interview, and his romantic relationships with celebrities.
  • Here, we gathered some of the highs and lows of his decade.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Elon Musk has had a busy decade. He led 2 companies, took Tesla public, feuded on Twitter, married and re-married, founded a third company, and had a few other high-profile relationships.

He ended the decade on a high note: Tesla's stock price hit an all-time high, resulting in Tesla dethroning GM as the most valuable US car manufacturer, and Musk successfully defended himself in a defamation lawsuit that gained national attention.

To catch up on everything he got up to in the last 10 years, keep scrolling.

Elon Musk started his popular and controversial Twitter account in the summer of 2010.

 



That summer, Tesla also went public, and was valued at $2.2 billion by the end of the first day of trading, initially trading at $17 per share.

Source: TechCrunch, Tesla



Justine Musk, ex-wife of Elon, wrote a September 10 article for Marie Claire about her marriage and divorce, titled "'I Was a Starter Wife': Inside America's Messiest Divorce."

Source: Marie Claire



In 2010, Elon Musk married actress Talulah Riley.

Source: Business Insider



In 2012, the couple divorced. Musk tweeted "It was an amazing four years. I will love you forever. You will make someone very happy one day."

Source: Forbes



That year, Tesla released the Model S, an electric vehicle that received positive reviews and was named MotorTrend's "Ultimate Car of the Year."

Source: Business Insider



In 2013, Musk revealed his plans for a $7.5 billion hyperloop, a high-speed transportation system that would be faster than a plane.

Source: Business Insider



Musk and Riley's relationship was back on in 2013. That year, they remarried. Musk filed for divorce, then withdrew it, all within the same year.

Source: Business Insider



In 2015, Elon Musk tweeted that he was looking for "hardcore software engineers" for autonomous vehicles at Tesla.

Source: Marketwatch



That year, he also got into a Twitter fight with Jeff Bezos about rockets after Bezos' Blue Origin rocket successfully made it back from space.

Source: Mashable



In December of 2015, Musk got back at Bezos with a successful SpaceX rocket upright landing after an orbit around the earth.

Source: Marketwatch



In 2015, Tesla released the Model X, the company's first crossover SUV, with its signature falcon wing doors. The release was pushed back nearly three years after the prototype was first revealed.

Source: Business Insider



Things got busier than ever for Musk in the latter half of the decade. On a 2016 earnings call, Musk revealed that he was sleeping in a Tesla factory ahead of production deadlines.

Source: NY Post



Musk and Riley divorced for the second time in 2016. The relationship reportedly ended on good terms, and she told People "We still see each other all the time and take care of each other."

Source: People



In 2016, Musk also started The Boring Company, an infrastructure and tunneling company, which he says "started out as a joke."

Source: Business Insider



That year, Musk started dating another actress, Amber Heard. He confirmed their breakup in 2017 in a comment on her Instagram.

Source: The Cut



In the summer of 2017, Musk left his role on 2 White House councils, tweeting "Am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world," after the US pulled out of the Paris climate accord.

Source: Marketwatch



At a speech in September 2017, Musk said that he hopes to land a spaceship on Mars by 2022, and his new spaceship, "Mars City," will take passengers from New York to LA in 25 minutes.

Source: Marketwatch



That year, Tesla also released the Model 3 sedan, which later became the company's best-selling electric vehicle.

Source: Business Insider



At a November 2017 event, Tesla unveiled prototypes of both the new Roadster, which Musk said would have a battery range of 620 miles, and the Semi electric truck.

Source: Business Insider, Business Insider



In 2018, Tesla reported its biggest quarterly loss ever.

Source: CNN



A fatal Tesla crash led to an investigation and concerns about safety, and share prices dropped.

Source: WSJ



Elon Musk and the pop artist Grimes (Claire Boucher) attended the 2018 Met Gala together, and confirmed that they were dating. Musk reportedly reached out the singer after discovering she had already made the same joke about an AI theory on Twitter.

Source: Page Six



Grimes defended Musk several times throughout the spring and summer on Twitter, at one point saying that he didn't prevent employees from unionizing.

Source: Insider



In July, Elon Musk proposed a submarine to rescue the Thai soccer team trapped in a cave. After one of the divers involved in the rescue called Musk's submarine a PR stunt, Musk called him a "pedo guy" in a tweet that would later land him in court.

Source: The Guardian



In August, rapper Azealia Banks claimed that she spent the weekend at Musk's house, where she saw him "scrounging for investors."

Source: Business Insider



In August, Musk tweeted that he was considering taking Tesla private.

 



At the end of an eventful summer, Musk smoked marijuana on "The Joe Rogan Experience," podcast, which went viral.

Source: Business Insider



Musk has since been in trouble with the SEC for his tweet about taking Tesla private. They landed on a settlement that placed constraints on his Twitter use going forward, which the SEC says he violated in February.

Source: Business Insider



He also faced a defamation lawsuit for his comments about the rescue diver. It went to trial in 2019, and Musk successfully defended himself against the charge.

Source: Business Insider



In 2019, Tesla finally unveiled the Model Y, which it first announced in 2015. The car is set to go on sale in 2021, and sits on the Model X frame.

Source: Electrek



In October, Tesla surpassed GM as the most valuable US car manufacturer, worth $53 billion to GM's $51 billion.

Source: Reuters



In November, Tesla announced the Cybertruck, which quickly gained hundreds of thousands of preorders, according to Musk, despite its controversial design and a flubbed demo where the windows broke.

Source: Business Insider



This fall, Musk also said that he's financially illiquid.

Source: Business Insider



In the fall of 2019, Musk promised to donate 1 million trees to a campaign started by YouTuber Jimmy Donaldson.

Source: Business Insider



On the last day of the decade, Tesla stock was trading at nearly $419 per share. Tesla is currently worth $76 billion compared to GM's $52 billion and Ford's $37 billion.

Source: Markets Insider



A billionaire just scooped up the most expensive home ever sold in Florida: a $111 million estate that has its own bowling alley

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In early December, hedge fund billionaire Steven Schonfeld and his wife bought an estate in Florida for $111 million.

The property boasts over 70,000 square feet of living space, 350 feet of beachfront, and 233 feet on the Intracoastal Waterway. According to a report by CNBC, it's the most expensive home ever sold in the state.

Screen_Shot_2019 12 31_at_11_21_08_AM

A spokesperson for the couple told Fox Business that the 11-bedroom, 22-bathroom home went into contract over the summer and will serve as a vacation home for the family; the Schonfelds primarily reside in New York. According to CNBC, the new property's amenities include a bowling alley, a spa, an ice cream stand, and a candy parlor.

The estate sits on a stretch known as the area's Billionaires Row, which is home to a number of ultra-rich people, including hedge-fund managers Paul Tudor Jones and Ken Griffin. In fact, Griffin has accumulated nearly $250 million of real estate on Billionaires Row. His most recent Palm Beach purchase was a $99 million 3.7-acre property located next door to another property he owns

But Griffin is no stranger in the world of expensive real estate. Earlier this year, he bought a $238 million penthouse in New York City— the most expensive real-estate transaction ever recorded in the US.

The $111 million Florida estate is also among the most expensive real-estate transactions in the country. In fact, it ranked No. 8 on Business Insider's list of the most expensive homes sold in the US over the past decade.

Other homes on the list include the Chartwell Estate in Los Angeles, California, which sold for a jaw-dropping $150 million in 2019, and the Playboy Mansion in Holmby Hills, which sold for $100 million in 2016.

SEE ALSO: I toured a $24.5 million penthouse in New York's iconic 'Jenga Building' and found the interior had a different look than its sharp, boxy silhouette did — here's a look inside

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The wealth of the 500 richest people in the world grew by an astronomic 25% in 2019. Here are the billionaires who made the most money this year.

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2019 billionaire winners

The world's 500 richest people grew their collective net worths 25% in 2019— but some billionaires benefitted more than others.

Billionaires who made their fortunes from tech and luxury goods led the pack. Increased demand for luxury goods in China grew the fortunes of Francois Pinault, Bernard Arnault, and Francoise Bettencourt Meyers. Microsoft's stock surge made two of the software developer's largest shareholders over $10 billion each in 2019. Facebook also saw massive growth in 2019, despite a never ending stream of negative headlines about its handling of political advertising and hate speech.

Keep reading to learn which billionaires made the most money in 2019.

SEE ALSO: How composer Andrew Lloyd Webber built a billion dollar fortune off 'Cats' and 'The Phantom of the Opera'

DON'T MISS: 11 ultra-wealthy people who aren't leaving their fortunes to their children

12. Francois Pinault

Net worth: $42.0 billion

2019 gain: $12.08 billion

Like other French luxury magnates, Francois Pinault saw his net worth grow substantially in 2019 amid increasing Chinese demand for luxury goods. Pinault's fortune stems from his family's 41% stake in Gucci and Yves St. Laurent owner Kering, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.



11. Francoise Bettencourt Meyers

Net worth: $59.3 billion

2019 gain: $13.1 billion

Francoise Bettencourt Meyers became the richest woman in the world when she inherited a third of L'Oréal, the world's largest cosmetics company, after her mother died in September 2017, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Shares of L'Oréal are up 30.8% in 2019 so far, Markets Insider data shows.



10. Sergey Brin

Net worth: $63.3 billion

2019 gain: $13.4 billion

Google cofounder Sergey Brin may have stepped down from his role as Alphabet's president, but his net worth still benefitted from the company's rising share price in 2019.



9. Larry Page

Net worth: $65.2 billion

2019 gain: $14.0 billion

The former CEO of Alphabet and cofounder of Google is the world's 10th richest person with a net worth of $65.2 billion, Bloomberg estimates.



8. Mukesh Ambani

Net worth: $59.5 billion

2019 gain: $15.2 billion

Business tycoon Mukesh Ambani is India's richest man and the patriarch of Asia's richest family, Business Insider's Katie Warren previously reported. Ambani's stake in oil-to-telecom conglomerate Reliance Industries helped him add over $15 billion to his net worth in 2019, while more than half of India's richest people took hits to their net worth during the same time period.



7. Amancio Ortega

Net worth: $76.6 billion

2019 gain: $17.9 billion

Amancio Ortega built his multibillion-dollar fortune running retail conglomerate Inditex, Zara's parent company, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Inditex saw record sales in the first half of 2019, up 7% from the same period last year, Markets Insider previously reported.



6. Steve Ballmer

Net worth: $58.5 billion

2019 gain: $19.9 billion

Former Microsoft CEO and LA Clippers owner Steve Ballmer made nearly $20 billion in 2019, as the software giant increased its dividend, launched a $40 billion share-buyback program, and saw its share price hit record highs as its cloud computing business grows.



5. Bill Gates

Net worth: $113 billion

2019 gain: $23.1 billion

Bill Gates also benefitted from Microsoft's stock surge, the Bloomberg Billionaires Index shows. Gates even briefly dethroned Jeff Bezos as the world's richest man, Business Insider previously reported.



4. Mark Zuckerberg

Net worth: $79.4 billion

2019 gain: $27.4 billion

Facebook spent much of 2019 battling negative headlines about its political advertising, poor monitoring of hate speech, and market dominance, but that didn't stop the social network from making money. The value of Facebook shares jumped 45% in 2019 — and as the company's largest shareholder, Mark Zuckerberg was the biggest beneficiary, according to Markets Insider.



3. MacKenzie Bezos

Net worth: $37.5 billion

2019 gain: $37.5 billion

MacKenzie Bezos became one of the richest women in the world following her divorce from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in July. MacKenzie announced in a Twitter statement that she'd retained 25% of the former couple's Amazon shares, while Jeff will keep 75% along with voting control of the shares she now holds.



2. Bernard Arnault

Net worth: $106 billion

2019 gain: $37.7 billion

 In March, the French billionaire overtook Warren Buffett to become the third-richest person in the world, Bloomberg reported. A few months later, he surpassed Bill Gates to become the world's second-richest person for a brief period before dropping back to third. And in October, Arnault made $5.1 billion within 48 hours after a surge in share prices of his luxury conglomerate LVMH. Arnault even spent a few hours as the world's richest person on December 16, Forbes reported.

Arnault now has a net worth of $106 billion, Bloomberg estimates, making the French businessman is the third-richest person in the world and the richest person in the fashion industry.



1. Julia Flesher Koch

Net worth: $62.1 billion

2019 gain: $62.1 billion

Julia Flesher Koch took the No. 9 spot on Bloomberg's Billionaire Index that once belonged to her husband, conservative megadonor David Koch, following his death in August. The stake in industrial giant Koch Industries she and her three children inherited from her husband gives her a net worth of $62.1 billion, Bloomberg estimates.



Legal marijuana goes on sale today in Illinois. Here are all the states where cannabis is legal.

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states where marijuana legal map

Illinois residents can purchase marijuana legally for recreational use, starting today. 

That makes Illinois the second midwestern state to make cannabis broadly available. Dispensaries opened for business in Michigan on December 1.

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker signed a legal marijuana bill into law in June. The bill contains a sweeping criminal justice component, expunging the records of potentially hundreds of thousands Illinois residents who have previously been convicted for possessing marijuana under previous laws. Up to 770,000 Illinois residents may qualify for expungement, according to ABC News

The bill will also proactively create opportunities for minority business owners to capitalize on the new industry.

Read more: Here's how to land your dream job in the booming cannabis industry

Despite hiccups in New York and New Jersey, marijuana legalization is spreading around the US. 

In 2018's midterm elections, Michigan became the 10th state to legalize recreational marijuana, and Utah and Missouri voted to legalize medical marijuana. Deep-red Oklahoma also voted to legalize medical marijuana in 2018, joining numerous other states that have such laws on the books.

Vermont became the first state to legalize marijuana possession — not sale — through its legislature in 2018 as well, rather than via a ballot initiative.

And, President Donald Trump also signed the bipartisan Farm Bill into law in December 2018, which legalized hemp — a plant that's roughly identical to marijuana but doesn't contain THC, a psychoactive compound in marijuana — nationwide. 

Hemp is also a source of CBD, or cannabidiol, a popular, if scientifically untested ingredient in many cannabis-infused products. 

Eleven states and Washington, DC, have now legalized marijuana for recreational use for adults over 21. And 33 states have legalized medical marijuana.

Read more: Investors are placing huge bets on marijuana as more states legalize THC. Here are the top 25 cannabis startups that have raised the most VC cash.

In October 2018, Canada legalized marijuana federally, becoming the first G7 country to do.

Mexico's Supreme Court also ruled that marijuana prohibition is unconstitutional, paving the way for the country's new leader, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, to follow Canada's lead.

Marijuana prohibition began roughly 80 years ago when the federal government banned the sale, cultivation, and use of the cannabis plant. It remains illegal at the federal level.

Overturning prohibition is one of the few hot-button topics with widespread support.

According to a recent Pew poll, 67% of Americans think marijuana should be legal, and 91% support making medical marijuana legal. Opposition to legalized marijuana has fallen from 52% in 2010, to just 32% as of November 15. 

This article was first published in January 2018 and has been updated. Melia Robinson contributed to an earlier version of this post. 

SEE ALSO: Marijuana companies are using a 'backdoor' strategy to tap the public markets — and it's fueling an M&A boom

Alaska

Adults 21 and over can light up in Alaska. In early 2015, the northernmost US state made it legal for residents to use, possess, and transport up to an ounce of marijuana— roughly a sandwich bag full — for recreational use. The first pot shop opened for business in late 2016.

Alaska has pounced on the opportunity to make its recreational pot shops a destination for tourists. More than two million people visit Alaska annually and spend $2 billion.



California

California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana back in 1996. California became even more pot-friendly in 2016 when it made it legal to use and carry up to an ounce of marijuana.

The law also permits adults 21 and over to buy up to eight grams of marijuana concentrates, which are found in edibles, and grow no more than six marijuana plants per household.

Getting Californians to buy legal weed — rather than from the black market — has been challenging since the law took effect, The New York Times reports



Colorado

In Colorado, there are more marijuana dispensaries than Starbucks and McDonalds locations combined. The state joined Washington in becoming the first two states to fully legalize the drug in 2012.

Residents and tourists over the age of 21 can buy up to one ounce of marijuana or eight grams of concentrates. Some Colorado counties and cities have passed more restrictive laws.



Illinois

Illinois lawmakers in June passed a bill that legalizes the possession and commercial sale of marijuana in the state, starting on January 1.

Governor JB Pritzker, who made marijuana legalization a core component of his campaign for the governor's office, signed the bill into law earlier this year. 

Legal marijuana sales in the state start on January 1, but you'll only be able to buy cannabis in a handful of locations initially. Just 28 dispensaries will be ready to sell recreational marijuana, according to The Chicago Tribune.

For its part, Illinois is the first state to legalize marijuana sales through the state legislature, rather than a ballot initiative.



Maine

A ballot initiative in 2016 gave Mainers the right to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, more than double the limit in most other states.

Maine's legislature is still ironing out the details of how, and when, recreational pot shops will open in the state.

 



Massachusetts

In 2016, Massachusetts gave residents the green light to carry and use an ounce of marijuana and grow up to 12 plants in their homes. 

The first pot shops opened in the state last year, with more to come, reports The Boston Globe



Michigan

Voters in Michigan passed Proposition 1 in 2018, making it the first state in the Midwest to legalize the possession and sale of marijuana for adults over the age of 21. The bill allows adults to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and allows residents to grow up to 12 plants at home.

The law is more permissive than other states with legal marijuana: Most allow residents to only possess up to an ounce at a time.

Marijuana dispensaries in Michigan officially opened on December 1.

"The end of prohibition is historic," James Daly, the owner of a Michigan dispensary told The Associated Press. "We wanted to rip the Band-Aid off."



Nevada

Residents and tourists who are 21 and over can buy an ounce of marijuana or one-eighth of an ounce of edibles or concentrates in Nevada — while supplies last. Less than two weeks after sales of recreational weed began on July 1, 2017, many stores ran out of marijuana to sell.

The state has earned nearly $20 million in marijuana tax revenue since the market launched.

There's bad news if you want to grow your own bud, though. Nevada residents must live 25 miles outside the nearest dispensary in order to be eligible for a grower's license.



Oregon

Oregonians have enjoyed the right to carry an ounce of weed and grow up to four plants at home since 2015. 

Sales in Oregon pot shops have exploded since legalization: they're expected to top $1 billion by 2020, reports The Portland Business Journal



Vermont

Vermont became the first state to legalize marijuana through the legislature, rather than a ballot initiative, when Republic Governor Phil Scott signed a bill into law in January 2018.

Adults in the Green Mountain State can carry up to an ounce of marijuana and grow no more than two plants for recreational use. The new law went into effect in July 2018. But the bill is limited in scope. It doesn't establish a legal market for the production and sale of the drug.



Washington

Dispensaries in Washington have raked in over $1 billion in non-medical marijuana sales since the drug was legalized for recreational use in 2012.

The state allows people to carry up to an ounce of marijuana, but they must require the drug for medicinal purposes in order to be eligible for a grower's license.



Washington, D.C.

Residents in the nation's capital voted overwhelmingly to legalize marijuana for adult use in November 2014.

The bill took effect in 2015, allowing people to possess two ounces or less of marijuana and "gift" up to an ounce, if neither money nor goods or services are exchanged.



New York and New Jersey may be next.

Since Massachusetts opened its first pot shops in November 2018, other states around the Northeast are considering legalization more seriously.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made legalizing marijuana a top priority for the first hundred days of his third term as governor, though that hasn't panned out. New York's legislative session ended on June 19, and the state was unable to pass marijuana reform. 

And while New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy hasn't yet given up on legalization, it's not likely to happen this year after lawmakers couldn't reach an agreement on a marijuana legalization bill.   

It's possible that New Jersey residents will vote on legal marijuana as a ballot initiative in 2020. 

While the federal government under President Trump is no friend to marijuana reform laws, it's likely that we'll see action from Congress — with a Democrat-controlled House — easing tax burdens and banking restrictions on marijuana businesses and expanding access to medical marijuana next year. 

 



C-3PO star Anthony Daniels on dropping out of law school to become an actor, his first meeting with George Lucas, and what his Star Wars character has taught him

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Anthony Daniels Author Photo

  • Dan Schawbel is a bestselling author, speaker, entrepreneur, and host of the "5 Questions with Dan Schawbel" podcast, where he interviews world-class humans by asking them just five questions in under 10 minutes.
  • He recently interviewed Anthony Daniels, who is best known as playing C-3PO in the Star Wars franchise.
  • After originally turning down a meeting with George Lucas, Daniels reconsidered after seeing a painting by Ralph McQuarrie of the character.
  • When it comes to career advice, Daniels says to "be clear about your goal" and then "pursue your goal, whatever it is."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

With the release of "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker," I couldn't help but speak to C-3PO star Anthony Daniels.

Daniels originally studied law for two years before dropping out to pursue amateur dramatics at Rose Bruford College. Upon graduating in 1974, he worked at BBC Radio and for the National Theatre of Great Britain. During his time there, he was invited to meet George Lucas, who was casting for Star Wars. Daniels got the part of C-3PO and has played the character in more Star Wars movies than any other actor. His Star Wars journey spans 40 years and his perspectives, insights, and stories are captured in his new book, "I Am C-3PO." 

In the below conversation, Anthony Daniels talks about why he dropped out of law school to pursue a career as an actor, what he learned from meeting George Lucas, why C-3PO has resonated with audiences, the hardest moment he's had to overcome, and his best career advice.

Dan Schawbel: Why did you decide to make this career switch, especially when lawyers on average have more job security and higher pay than entertainers?

Anthony Daniels: I made a choice that I should have had the bravery to make earlier in my life, because the only thing I ever wanted to do was to be an actor. But, quite rightly, my parents thought I should pursue other ideas, other careers, as you suggest, that would make money. My soul took over, and I finally realized there was no real way of carrying on unless I did what I needed to do.

DS: You originally turned down a meeting with George Lucas, who was casting for Star Wars. Why did you turn it down — then reconsider — and how did that meeting change you personally and professionally?

Dan Schawbel

AD: Having spent three years at drama school, learning to be pretty much a stage actor and so on, I felt it was not appropriate. I thought it was beneath me in my stupidity — and in my naivety — to take a role where I would be completely invisible as a human being, pretending to be a machine. What changed my mind was Ralph McQuarrie's concept painting that showed us a character that possibly had more human emotion written in his face than some of the human actors.

I was encouraged forcibly to meet George Lucas and that meeting changed my life. You'll never know where your life is going to go otherwise. But, in this case, I jumped on a bandwagon without quite knowing where it was going. But meeting such a remarkable man, seeing such a remarkable piece of two-dimensional art, reading a remarkable script in which George had written a remarkable character, how could I say no? That choice of saying yes has taken me around the planet many times, given me friends that I have never met and hope to gradually meet — the fans over the years to come. Maybe I haven't played Hamlet or a King Lear, but I have had extraordinary experiences of being on "The Muppet Show," "Sesame Street," "The Donny and Marie Osmond Show," "The Academy Awards," and other strange events that have cheered me on the way.

DS: C-3PO is a robot but displays human qualities. How are you like the character you play on the screen, and why do you think he resonates with so many people?

AD: I think C-3PO resonates with many people because he does have overt human qualities, which are not normally attributed to a machine. He is allowed in the scripts that he's being given to show emotions that, if a human were to do, they would be slightly overblown and embarrassing. They'd be emotions that we're taught to hide as adults. I have learned through talking to fans that C-3PO speaks very clearly to those among us who find it uneasy to be in human society, who are not comfortable being with people, and who have to really work hard to read the unspoken messages and the way people communicate with each other. He gives comfort to people who feel lonely or who have been bullied in some way. I have enjoyed hearing about it as an aspect of something I never thought to receive from having given a performance. As for what we share, I don't know. I hope, above all, a sense of loyalty. Without loyalty to our fellow humans, we would all feel a bit lonely.

DS: What was your hardest moment as a performer that tested you and made you a stronger person, and what can we learn from that experience?

AD: Being in the original Star Wars film, and what happened subsequently, was not a comfortable experience both physically and emotionally. When the choice came to be in the second film, "The Empire Strikes Back," I realized it was a kind of obligation or duty. And as an actor, it's a job. But also, I've become very fond of the character and didn't feel able to abandon him. It took tenacity to carry on.

DS: What's your best piece of career advice?

AD: Be clear about your goal. To know where you're heading. And that doesn't mean you can't change your goal at some point, but you need to have thought it out and you need to pursue it. But at the same time, keeping an open mind, don't flip flop, but pursue your goal, whatever it is.

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3 entrepreneurs at the helm of fashion and retail startups all say Instagram's decision to hide likes is 'for the greater good' — but it will inevitably disrupt how brand marketing works

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Instagram logo.

Ever since Instagram announced in November that it would be testing out the "hidden like" feature in the US, curiosity — and concern — arose over how the change would impact influencers whose money is often directly made off of followers, post engagement, and likes. But there is another group who may be significantly impacted by this change: entrepreneurs.

As reported by CNN, Instagram had been testing the hidden like feature in places like Australia, Brazil, and Canada, before expanding the test worldwide in November. The feature makes it impossible for users to see how many people liked others' photos or videos, though users can still see how many people liked their own posts.

This is a decision that would not only impact the influencers who use Instagram to promote their likeness, but also the entrepreneurs and direct-to-consumer brands who use the platform to promote their businesses. In speaking to Business Insider, three fashion and retail entrepreneurs shared their thoughts about the hidden like policy and how they intend to market and reach consumers given this new change.  

"[It] will ultimately be a good business practice"

The new like feature is meant to help users "focus on the photos and videos [they] share, not how many likes [they] get," the company wrote on Twitter in July. "We're looking forward to learning more about how this change might benefit everyone's experience on Instagram." Instagram decided to implement the feature after facing criticism for the app's negative impact on mental health, as previously reported by Paige Leskin for Business Insider

"Instagram is our number one platform," said Matthew Alland, chief experience officer at the luxury retailer Olivela. "That platform is quite significant as well, as it reaches the demographic that we want it to."

Olivela is a retailer who, for every designer item purchased, donates a portion of proceeds to children in need. The company launched in 2017 and now carries over 300 different designers. In November, Olivela launched a $1 million pledge on Instagram, partnering with celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston and Selena Gomez, hoping to highlight various humanitarian causes and organizations such as St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and Stand Up To Cancer. 

Despite the difficulty it might pose for marketing purposes, Alland says it would be against his company's ethos to be opposed to the hidden likes, noting that the new feature is "just a better thing for the world." 

"We believe that children's health and mental well being is much more important [than showing likes] and [this change] will ultimately be a good business practice," Alland told Business Insider. "I personally am very supportive of it as well as our company ... [It's] taking [social media] pressure away from children and adolescents and teens and all of our consumers."

"We need to be more flexible"

Christina Fagan, the CEO and founder of the knit-wear company SH*T THAT I KNIT, expressed similar sentiments. Fagan also uses Instagram primarily to market to consumers, and her company has developed a sizeable millennial audience and customer base as a result.

Ultimately, Fagan supports the new policy, but not without a few reservations. 

"I think it's for the greater good," she said. "I personally think that a 13 year old's mental health is more important than a brand's ability to market, and brands needs to be more flexible and figure out how to use this platform in a different way." 

However, Fagan admits that, as she uses influencers to promote her brand, she worries how she will be able to track the engagement her products receive on sponsored posts shared by partners.

"For me as a business owner, [Instagram likes are] one way I gauge the legitimacy of influencers and of other brands," she said. "It is the ratio of likes they get to the amount of followers they have. So I do worry about how they're going to regulate [users] from not buying followers and having the appearance of being bigger than they actually are right now." 

"It will disrupt the data analysis world"

Other fashion and retail entrepreneurs echoed Fagan's worry about tracking users' legitimacy given this new change. Edge Beauty CEO and founder Steve Mormoris told Business Insider that ultimately, brands are going to have to find new methods to track and study user engagement. 

"[The hidden likes] will disrupt the data analysis world on how they're analyzing engagement," Mormoris said. "[Right now] I look at written comments. I look at user reviews. I look at people who actually find my email, write me beautiful letters — or nasty letters — and talk to me."

But at the same time, he also questioned how meaningful "likes" (and tracking them) were to begin with. "It's very easy to say you 'like' someone, but does someone really like something?" he said. "It's hard to know because people get this reflex of surfing images and clicking on likes to the point where it's so voluminous. You know, one has to ask — is it really meaningful?"

SEE ALSO: A TikTok star is the new face of 74-year-old French fashion house Celine, and it shows how luxury brands are courting Gen Z

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Everything contractors and freelancers need to know about navigating California's new Assembly Bill 5, which is set to drastically change the gig economy in the state

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FILE - In this May 8, 2019, file photo Uber and Lyft drivers carry signs during a demonstration outside of Uber headquarters in San Francisco. A California law that makes it harder for companies to treat workers as independent contractors takes effect next week, forcing small businesses in and outside the state to rethink their staffing. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

  • California Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) goes into effect on January 1, 2020.
  • AB5 is codifying a California Supreme Court decision made in April 2018 as a result of the Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court case.
  • Once this bill is in effect, all workers are considered employees. The hiring party must use an ABC test to prove that they are independent contractors.
  • Some occupations are exempt from AB5, but they must still pass the Borello test to determine their independent-contractor status. Freelancers can no longer submit more than 35 separate pieces of content to a single client in one year or less.
  • Many independent contractors are misclassified and will be converted to full-time employees, have their workload cut to 35 content submissions or less, or lose their roles completely — unless they can figure out how to pass the ABC test.
  • In addition to abiding by the 35-piece submission rule, freelancers who want to remain independent should talk to their employers, take steps to make sure they can pass both the ABC and Borello tests, and consider consulting a lawyer.
  • Click here for more BI Prime stories.

Today, California Assembly Bill 5 (referred to as AB5) goes into effect.

Authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez and signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom in September, the bill's main purpose is to require California employers to adhere to a stricter definition of "independent contractor."

As a result, countless companies will likely have to reclassify many of their current independent contractors as employees, thus allowing those workers to benefit from traditional labor protections and minimum wage laws. 

AB5 is codifying an April 2018 decision made by California's Supreme Court in a case called Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court, in which the court determined that a company called Dynamex incorrectly labeled their drivers as independent contractors. 

Because of Dynamex, there's now a presumption that all California workers are employees, not independent contractors, unless the hiring party proves otherwise. Two other states already have a law like this — Massachusetts and Virginia— and New Jersey proposed a similar bill on November 7, 2019. 

AB5 could affect over one million Californians, including rideshare drivers, approximately 70,000 truck drivers, freelance creatives, and more. Here's an overview of how it works, who exactly it'll affect, and what California freelancers can do about it. 

The reasoning behind AB5

Gonzalez proposed AB5 because she believes many employers have misclassified individuals as independent contractors in an effort to cut costs, a shortcut she thinks has unfair and detrimental consequences for those workers.

This is a nationwide problem. An IRS audit found that misclassification actually led to over $44 billion in unpaid taxes from 2008 to 2010.

In addition, Gonzalez stated in an interview that she's heard of way too many Lyft and Uber drivers who are barely able to make a living, despite the fact that when both Lyft and Uber went public, several of their current and former top executives became multimillionaires— and others made billions. Her solution to that? AB5.

How AB5 works 

Post Dynamex, every worker is considered an employee— meaning they're entitled to any benefits the company offers, and the company controls when and how they do their work — unless all three parts of the following ABC test are true:

A. The worker must be free from the hiring company's control in how and when they do their job.

B. The worker must perform work outside of the hiring company's core business.

C. The worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation, or business of the same nature as the work performed for the hiring entity.

There are several occupations exempt from AB5, such as accountants, insurance brokers, and investment advisors. For them, the ABC test isn't necessary, but those individuals do still have to pass the Borello test, which has been in place since before Dynamex.

"The Borello test looks at 11 factors, none of which are determinative, such as whether their work is part of the client's regular business, the degree of permanence of the working relationship, and whether or not the parties believe they're in an employer-employee relationship," explained Alicia Calzada, deputy general counsel of the National Press Photographers' Association (NPPA), an organization that represents and advocates for visual journalists all over the country. They filed a lawsuit against AB5 in mid-December.

Under the Borello test, Uber and Lyft could classify their drivers as independent contractors because not all 11 factors had to be met in order to achieve independent contractor status for their drivers. The main priority was to ensure that workers controlled when and how they worked. Since drivers can choose when they pick up passengers and how long they drive for each day, this wasn't an issue. 

But now, thanks to AB5, Lyft and Uber are subject to the ABC test and must satisfy all three parts, which will be quite difficult for them to do. When it comes to part 'b,' drivers directly contribute to the core business. What would these rideshare companies do without drivers? And in regards to part 'c,' drivers likely aren't operating a rideshare platform of their own. 

As for freelance creatives — writers, editors, photographers, designers, and so forth — they can no longer submit more than 35 pieces of content to a single employer in one year. According to the new stipulations of AB5, submitting more than 35 moves them out of the classification of independent contractor and into employee status.  

Who AB5 will affect

AB5 will affect pretty much anyone who isn't already classified as an employee (whether full-time, part-time, or hourly), as they'll have to take a look at their role and ensure they're not incorrectly classified as an independent contractor. However, the burden of proving that someone is an independent contractor falls solely on the shoulders of the hiring party, not the worker.

Kiffanie Stahle

Kiffanie Stahle, founder of Stahle Law, a law firm that serves creative businesses, and the artist's JD, a suite of resources that helps creative entrepreneurs understand the legal aspects of their businesses, said that the workers who'll feel the impact the most are those who never should've been labeled as an independent contractor in the first place.

"Those [independent contractors] providing services integral to the hiring party's business will be most affected because those businesses will start understanding the risks," she said. And they're not going to want to take those risks any longer, she added.

Workers incorrectly classified as independent contractors will either be converted to employee status, experience reduced work loads (such as freelancers who'll go from more than 35 submissions a year to less), or lose their role completely, should the employer not want to make them full time or lack the funds to do so.

"Both freelancers and publications based in California will need to adhere to the 35-submission limit," said Calzada. "All of this will have a chilling effect on those who have been freelancing as journalists and news photographers for years."

Michael Grecco, an award-winning photographer and film director in California, can't predict exactly how much AB5 will affect his livelihood, but he doesn't think it'll be favorable. 

"[AB5] will limit the number of shoots I can do for any one client before they have to move on to the next [photographer]," he explained. "I can only deal with it when the situation arises, though." A recurring client could reach out to Grecco and request a shoot the very next day. But if he has already reached his 35-piece limit for them, he'll have to say no to the opportunity — and probably a good chunk of revenue, too.

Though the law isn't in effect yet, many have already felt its impact. Vox Media, for example, has already cut 200 freelancers due to AB5, opting to replace them with 20 full-time employees.

How California freelancers can navigate AB5

For some independent workers, AB5 could be a good thing. Already, a group of Uber drivers has sued Uber in an effort to receive back pay and retroactive benefits dating back to the Dynamex decision in April 2018. 

Conversely, Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash are fighting the bill by trying to get a referendum on the 2020 ballot, the California Trucking Association is actively challenging the bill because it will prevent so many truck drivers from being able to do their jobs (even though many have invested $150,000 in their own equipment), and a few companies claim AB5 is unconstitutional because it violates equal protection and due-process clauses of the Constitution.

For many freelancers — especially those who want to remain independent — AB5 could be detrimental. Two groups representing freelancers have filed a suit to get the part of the law that will affect them removed.

Michael Grecco

"The heart of the bill is a good idea — get freelancers who are regularly working for one particular client benefits," Grecco shared. "This would've been great 15 years ago, but these days photographers, writers, and outlets are barely hanging on. It's not a good time to try to give benefits in an industry that will end up cutting jobs because they can't afford to provide benefits."

If you're a freelancer in California and you want to stay independent, here's some advice from Stahle and Chas Ramphenthal, general counsel of LegalZoom, an online legal tech company.

Figure out your clients' intentions

Just because the law goes into effect on January 1 doesn't mean all employers will act right away. Don't just sit around waiting to see if they'll say something.

"The first thing a worker who wants to stay independent should do is get an idea if their hiring company is planning to treat them as an employee [going forward] or worse — terminate the contractor relationship based on the law," Ramphenthal advised.

Take steps to pass the ABC test

If you don't pass the ABC test as is, try to work with your employer so you can. This includes: tweaking your job description and duties, having a written contract that stipulates that you have control over how and when you do your work, establishing an official business entity, and marketing your business. 

"It can be as simple as building a website showing you're open for business, including a way for potential clients to request you to work for them," said Rampenthal.

Chas Ramphenthal

To ensure you can also pass the Borello test, Stahle said you should get a business license, have a W9 form on file that you automatically send to new clients, and be able to easily provide proof that you work with other clients, such as building out a sales page discussing the services you offer or getting referrals from current clients.

"Get the name of one or two current clients who are willing to function as a reference and confirm that you work for them," Stahle said. "Under the business-to-business exemption [of the Borello test], one of the requirements is that you actually have other clients." 

Ramphenthal also advised providing your own tools, vehicles, and workspace. And, if you happen to work out of a company's office, "try to spend as little time there as possible, and do it in a manner where it's up to you, not the company." In other words, you decide when you go there and how long you stay — not them.

If you only have one client, it's time to start branching out, as it will be nearly impossible to be classified as an independent contractor if you only do work for one employer. 

Adhere to the 35-submissions-per-client limit

As Grecco mentioned, this could be very hard to plan for, as you never know when a client might need work. It also will impact your income. But as of now, unless the previously-mentioned lawsuit succeeds, this is a rule you need to abide by.

So, as much as you can, take steps to estimate how many submissions you have planned for each client, and make sure to track them consistently throughout the year.

Take note: If you submit work to publications of different names that have the same parent company, you need to talk to them to ask if the 35-piece submission rule is per publication or for the parent company as a whole.

Consult with a lawyer

Seeking advice from someone who knows the ins and outs of the law is never a bad idea, especially because you can ask about details specific to your situation.

Of course, legal advice can be expensive, so Stahle suggested California Lawyers for the Arts, an organization she worked for while she was in law school. For a low cost, they'll pair you with an attorney with whom you can have a 20-minute consultation. (Stahle also has a webinar about AB5 that you can check out.)

Take a good look at how you currently operate as an independent contractor to see if you'll be affected. If you think the bill will negatively impact you, figure out your next steps. And don't hesitate to reach out to a lawyer to make sure you're on the right track.

SEE ALSO: California's Assembly Bill 5 drastically affects gig economy companies like Uber and DoorDash. This is what an independent contractor actually is, and how it's classified under the new law.

Join the conversation about this story »

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