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Here's how to use your FSA dollars before you lose them at the end of the year — and get a discount on supplies you'd need to buy anyway

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FSA Dollars Lead Image
  • The pre-tax money you contribute to your FSA must be used on eligible healthcare products and services, which can be as mundane as Advil and as unexpected as Felix Gray or Warby Parker glasses or an at-home Zeel massage.
  • FSA dollars work on a use-it-or-lose-it provision. If you don't use your FSA money by December 31 of each year (or March 15 of the new year for many), you lose it. 
  • FSAstore.com makes it easy to spend that money before it's gone. They have over 4,000 items that are guaranteed to be covered by your FSA.

Fall is in full swing and it's almost time to use or lose your FSA dollars. Read on to learn more about what that means, and how you can avoid letting your money go to waste.

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What is FSA?

Many employers offer access to Flexible Spending Accounts, which let you put away pre-tax dollars for eligible healthcare products and services (think everything from surgery and medical bills to thermometers and first-aid kits). Storing money in an FSA account is a great deal, provided that you spend it.

How does FSA work?

FSA operates on a use-it-or-lose-it provision; you must spend the money in your FSA account by the end of the year or risk losing it for good. Many employers offer either more flexibility with a two-and-a-half-month grace period (until March 15, 2021, rather than December 31, 2020) or let you roll $500 into the next year. They can't offer both.

FSA Store estimates that more than $400 million is forfeited every year in FSA funds because employees either miss or forget their spending deadlines (based on estimates using data from the 2017 FSA and HSA Consumer Research conducted by VISA). It's your money and it's pre-tax — it doesn't make sense not to use it. 

You can use FSA dollars to pay for medical expenses that aren't covered by a health plan, like co-pays, deductibles, dental and vision care, or dependent daycare, though eligible expenses can vary based on the plan. But if it's nearing the end of the year and you haven't used your money to help meet your deductible or pay medical expenses, you have the option of spending it on supplies like over-the-counter medication.

What can you buy with your FSA money?

The nitty-gritty details depend on the plan your employer has in place, but you can skip the burden of research by shopping the selection at the FSA store. They do the homework for you and curate more than 4,000 products that are guaranteed to be covered. If they're somehow not, you get your money back. 

Here are a few items on FSAstore.com that you can buy with your pre-tax money before you lose it: thermometers, feminine care, sunscreenvitamins, condoms, high-tech healthcare (at-home defibrillator, nausea relief bands, vibrating shoe insoles, ovulation predictors), and travel pillows with orthopedic neck support. View all categories here.

And since the new Affordable Care Act required over-the-counter medications (like Advil and Benadryl) to come with a prescription from a doctor for FSA reimbursement, FSAstore created a Prescription Process that will contact your doctor for you, so you can get the information you need to complete the purchase. 

You can also buy things like Warby Parker or Felix Gray glasses with your FSA and HSA dollars as long as your FSA or HSA card is affiliated with a major credit card, or even book an at-home Zeel massage with it. 

Shop thousands of FSA-eligible items here before you lose those dollars for good.

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Ulta's Black Friday sale is live — here's everything you need to know, plus the best deals you can shop now

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2 Black Friday Ulta Deals 4x3

Ulta cherrypicks all of our favorite beauty products and puts them together in one place for easy shopping. And as of November 21, you can shop Black Friday discounts on many of its bestsellers. 

This year, you'll find deals on cult-favorite products like the Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick, Naked eyeshadow palettes, and the Foreo Luna 2. Plus, you'll get free shipping on orders over $35. Below, you'll find some of the best deals available now.

Shop all deals at Ulta here.

Best Ulta Black Friday and Holiday Deals for 2020:

The Burgundy Palette Kyshadow (medium, Preferred: Ulta)Your #1 Bestsellers Kit (medium, Preferred: Ulta)Featherweight Compact Folding Hair Dryer with Dual Voltage (medium, Preferred: Ulta)Volumizing Hot Rollers Luxe Set (medium, Preferred: Ulta)

We've tested the T3 Hair Rollers ourselves and liked them as a fast, easy way to cheat a blowout. You can read our full review here.

Naked Heat Eyeshadow Palette (medium, Preferred: Ulta)
Luna Mini 2 (medium, Preferred: Ulta)

Many Insider Reviews members have used the Luna at home for years now. You can find a full review of the original Foreo Luna 2 here.

How do we select Black Friday deals from Ulta?

  • We only choose products that meet our standards for coverage. These items come from trusted brands that we know and use or have tested.
  • The deal price must be better than the retail price or the normal sale price, and if we write about it, we've made sure it's not available somewhere else for cheaper.

When does Ulta's Black Friday sale start?

The Black Friday 2020 sale is happening now online and in stores and will run all week long.

What is Ulta's return policy?

Ulta accepts in-store purchase returns within 60 days of the original purchase with the receipt. Online orders can be returned in-store or sent back by mail, though you will need to cover the shipping costs. 

Can I shop at the Ulta store near me?

So far, yes. Ulta will be closed on Thanksgiving — parting from tradition — but it will reportedly be open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Black Friday, though this may vary based on location. With public health in mind, we'd recommend shopping online. You'll also save yourself from lines that won't move as quickly as in previous years. 

How does Ulta stand up to the competition on Black Friday?

Ulta carries products that Sephora doesn't and vice versa (for instance, the cult-favorite Tarte Shape Tape concealer is only available at Ulta). We'll be price-matching between the retailers, but we'd recommend checking both Sephora, Ulta, and Nordstrom for your best discounts on the products you really want. But, Ulta's additional coupons do give the retailer an edge on beauty products. Other retailers may automatically price match, but they often don't adjust to lower in-cart prices that you can get from coupons.

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I tried 4 different meal-delivery services, and Splendid Spoon is the only one that fits my busy lifestyle

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Splendid Spoon

"Busy can be healthy," the Splendid Spoon homepage proclaims in inch-high, sans serif font. It's a nice sentiment, but I didn't really believe it — at least, not at first.

Last year was been my busiest yet. I got married, moved to a new city, and traded in my corporate career in favor of the full-time freelance hustle. It's also been my unhealthiest year. I barely had time to exercise and definitely didn't have time to cook, which means I usually grabbed a not-very-nutritious bagel and cream cheese with my Venti iced coffee every morning and order in takeout at night.

Meal-kit delivery services seem like an appealing alternative to the grab-and-go lifestyle, and I've tried a bunch of them. The major players — Blue Apron, Home Chef, and HelloFresh — offer weekly boxes fully stocked with easy-to-follow recipes and all the ingredients needed for dinner (yay for not have to go grocery shopping!). But I still found myself opting for Uber Eats on particularly stressful evenings. I just didn't have the time or motivation to prep and cook, even with everything laid out for me.

Basically, in my world, "busy" has always been synonymous with "unhealthy," and it's a relationship that Splendid Spoon's founder knows well. In fact, Nicole Centeno launched the company to remedy this exact issue.

"I really was Splendid Spoon's very first customer," Centeno tells Insider Reviews. "I realized how much time we spend thinking about and preparing food. On average, it's about two hours and 15 minutes a day." Do the math: That adds up to 35 days over the course of the year.  

"I set out to make something that was as good and nutritious as if I had made it at home, and something that was as easy as the muffin or croissant around the corner," Centeno continues. In my experience, that's precisely what Splendid Spoon delivers.

Splendid Spoon

To back up a bit, the meal-delivery service sets itself apart from others in that it offers a mix of smoothies, hearty soup bowls, grain bowls, light soup, and wellness shots. The soups and bowls can be chilled or heated for more of a sit-down meal. The program requires zero effort and prep time unless you decide to actually heat the soup, which takes all of five minutes.

"We want to have careers that are meaningful, have time with our family, have time to spend with loved ones," Centeno says of the motivation behind her quick-and-easy meal plans. "That two hours a day spent on food doesn't have to be done anymore — we set out to take care of those moments in a way that you can still be nourished." 

Nourished is actually the perfect word to describe how I felt during my first full week of Splendid Spoon. It honestly came as a surprise, considering my Splendid Spoon plan was pretty much a liquid diet. I'm a notorious snacker and assumed I'd be hungry and craving solids throughout the day, but that wasn't the case.

When I tell Centeno that I felt shockingly full during my first "reset" day — made up of a smoothie and two light soups — she tells me that's all by design. She combined her study of biochemistry with her International Culinary Center experience to come up with combinations that satisfy in every sense of the word.

"I tried a juice cleanse before I started Splendid Spoon, and was hungry and angry the entire time," she says. "Then I realized I was stripping fruits and vegetables of fiber, which is one of the huge reasons to eat fruits and vegetables in the first place." In contrast, Splendid Spoon's offerings feature fruits and veggies that have been cooked down or blended to retain their fiber. 

"Fiber is literally what feeds the good bacteria in your gut, slows down the absorption of sugars, and physically cleanses the digestive system," explains Centeno. "The other amazing thing that happens when you're cooking your vegetables is that you're increasing the bioavailability of certain vitamins." She claims that vitamin A — found in Splendid Spoon's Butternut Tumeric sippable, care of butternut squash — along with vitamins E and K are all more "readily available to the system when heated."

Splendid Spoon

Another way the meal-delivery service helps boost the absorption of nutrients (which, again, helps keep customers feeling full, satisfied, and high-energy) is through the use of healthy fats. Olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil all "create a little vehicle for the nutrients to get into your system more easily," Centeno says.

These are balanced out by proteins and complex carbs, all of which are plant-based, gluten-free, and non-GMO, because the company believes the body is "happier" when it's receiving mostly plant-based fuel.  

I'm personally a meat-eater (I'll never say no to a medium-rare steak), and I have to admit: My body is thriving on the Splendid Spoon program.

My subscription plan, which isn't an option that's available anymore, includes five smoothies, five soups, and four lighter soups delivered weekly for $135; that roughly translates to five days of breakfast, a snack, and/or lunch or dinner. I'm only on my own for weekends, and every meal I have during the week takes between zero and five minutes to prepare. It's pretty much my dream situation.

Subscribers can choose from three plans: five grain or soup bowls ($65); five smoothies and five bowls ($95); or five smoothies, five bowls, and five light soups ($135). Splendid Spoon has 40+ different flavors to choose from, and you can switch them up every week, depending on your personal preferences. All plans come with free shipping.

Centeno and I actually share our two favorite meals. First, the Ab+J smoothie is a must. It's a blend of almond butter and strawberry "jelly," a combo that's so tasty and equally filling. "That one, to me, has the perfect mix of protein, fat, and a little bit of sweet from the strawberries," the founder says. "I will actually have that one in the middle of the day if I'm running behind for lunch, because it takes me into the next gear and keeps me going." 

As for dinner, you can't go wrong with the Ikarian Stew, which is inspired by one of the world's "blue zones" — a term used to describe areas where citizens are most likely to live to be 100. "There are more centenarians in Ikaria, Greece than most other parts of the world, and one of their staples is this stew," Centeno explains. The dish features black-eyed peas, a great source of brain-boosting folate, as well as antioxidant-rich tomatoes and digestion-easing fennel. Centeno calls it "a powerhouse food," and I have to agree. Plus, it's delicious.

After a month of Splendid Spoon meals, I've learned that busy can be healthy — so long I have every single sweet and savory meal delivered straight to my door. 

Of course, you should run major dietary changes by your doctor or nutritionist before subscribing to Splendid Spoon (or any other service), in order to determine if it's right for you. I personally feel completely satisfied with this plan, but my experience won't necessarily be yours.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Getting a negative coronavirus test isn't a free pass to gather with family for Thanksgiving

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New Yorkers wait outside a CityMD urgent care clinic on November 18, 2020.
  • Many Americans are getting coronavirus tests ahead of Thanksgiving.
  • But experts say the tests are not a free pass to gather indoors with others, since they only provide a snapshot of your infectiousness at one point in time.
  • To truly gather safely, a period of isolation is required before a test, and there should be no exposure after, either.
  • Otherwise, when seeing people outside your household, meet outdoors, wear masks, and maintain social distance.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

In New York, the lines for coronavirus tests have gotten so long ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday that some people are paying line-sitters to wait for them.

Demand for the tests has surged across the country as people take precautions before traveling or gathering with family.

Although getting tested is a helpful tool in preventing spread, experts say, it's not enough on its own to ensure safe family gatherings. 

"Testing is one piece of many," Saskia Popescu, an epidemiologist at the University of Arizona, told Business Insider. "It's a reactive, secondary prevention strategy and can definitely help identify infections, but it shouldn't be used as a way to justify seeing more people."

Indeed, without isolating before and after a test, testing negative doesn't guarantee that it's safe to hang out indoors and maskless with people outside your household.

Tests provide a snapshot of your viral load

Think of a coronavirus test like a photograph: Even the most accurate molecular tests can only provide information about your viral load at a single moment in time.

A PCR test searches within a sample of sputum — the gunk found in the throat and nasal cavity — for the virus' RNA, then amplifies that RNA a bunch of times until it becomes detectable. 

But the median incubation period for COVID-19 is four to five days — that's how long it takes most people to start displaying symptoms, according to the CDC. So during the days right after infection, the virus might not have replicated and spread throughout the body enough for a PCR test to detect it. In that case, a person could test negative but become infectious — and start feeling ill — hours or days later. 

As the virus spreads throughout the body, however, eventually a person becomes both contagious and likely to test positive.

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A medical worker performs a PCR test for the coronavirus on August 31, 2020 in Montreuil, France.

Gathering safely with others indoors and without masks, then, requires a period of isolation before a coronavirus test to account for that possible incubation period. Anand Swaminathan, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at St. Joseph's Hospital in New Jersey, laid out the necessary steps: First, everyone involved must isolate for 14 days, and the quarantine should be strict.

"If your kids are going to school or playing sports or going to daycare, you're not quarantining," Swaminathan told Business Insider.

At the end of that period, all individuals planning to gather should get a coronavirus test. If nobody has illness symptoms and nobody tests positive, then it should be okay to get together, Swaminathan said.

He offered an example of what can happen when that protocol isn't followed. Swaminathan said an acquaintance of his recently attended an eight-person bachelor party. Before it, everyone tested negative. But a day after the party, one member developed symptoms and tested positive. Then three others tested positive.

"The issue was not quarantining adequately before getting together," Swaminathan said. 

small gathering family outdoors
A family hosts an outdoor birthday party at their home in Brooklyn, New York, July 12, 2020.

Furthermore, he added, a negative test is only useful if you don't engage in any risky behavior after getting swabbed. In the time between getting a negative test result and seeing friends or family, people should not engage in any activity that could expose them to the virus. 

"You can be negative today, contract tomorrow, and be positive the day after," Swaminathan said.  

The White House super-spreader event

The White House's October coronavirus outbreak can be seen as another example of a worst-case scenario that illustrates the pitfalls of relying on testing alone.

At the end of September, President Donald Trump held a large, 20-minute outdoor ceremony for Amy Coney Barrett, then the Supreme Court nominee. There was also a small indoor reception. The event's 100-plus guests were required to test negative using a rapid test before attending. But once there, most didn't wear masks, and many hugged and mingled before and after the ceremony.

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Attorney General William Barr says goodbye to former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and other guests at the White House nomination event for Supreme Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett, September 26, 2020.

Less than a week later, President Trump tested positive for the coronavirus. At least 34 people in the president's orbit tested positive as well. 

Most likely, one or more attendees at the event were infectious when they attended, and the rapid tests the White House used didn't catch their cases. That's partly because rapid tests are less accurate than PCR tests. The White House relied on the Abbott ID Now rapid test, which can produce results in as little as 15 minutes but have been shown in some studies to produce false negatives about 9% of the time.

Other rapid tests, like antigen tests, may only pick up about 70% to 80% of infections, and can also produce false negatives. 

By contrast, PCR or molecular tests are "typically highly accurate," according to the Food and Drug Administration. UC Davis estimates that some PCR tests can be up to 100% accurate when done.

At this point, there's not enough time to isolate before a Thanksgiving gathering if you haven't started already. So it's best to follow the standard precautions that public-health experts recommend.

"If you're seeing people outside your household, keep it small, outdoors, masked when within 6 feet, and stay at your own household table for eating and drinking. And of course, hand hygiene," Popescu said. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Change in media company leadership is in the air

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Hi and welcome to Insider Advertising, weekly edition, where I get into the big stories in media and advertising. Today's our last newsletter this week before we pause for the Thanksgiving weekend.

If someone forwarded you this email, remember you can sign up here to get your own.

This week: Media leadership changes are in the air, top startups to watch, and Netflix salaries.

biden trump debate tv ratings
A broadcast of the first debate between President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden at The Abbey, on September 29, 2020, in West Hollywood, California.

What's next for newsroom leadership

The election's over, to our great relief. But those of us who thrive on drama can turn their attention to the news media.

Recently we've been watching how companies seems to be poised for their own upheaval in leadership, whether because of retirement, organizational changes, or personal decisions to move on.

  • At the big TV companies, speculation has been swirling about when CNN boss Jeff Zucker will step down. 
  • There's chatter at CBS News about who could replace Susan Zirinsky as she drops hints that she could be looking for a change. 

Change is also afoot in digital and print media. 

It's no ordinary time for media. Companies are grappling with greater activism among their newsrooms, calls for more diversity in leadership, and big changes in how people consume media, which have been sped up in the pandemic — so any changes of the guard will be closely scrutinized for how they address these shifts.


Encantos cofounders
Encantos cofounders (L to R) Nuria Santamaría, Steven Wolfe, Pereira Susie, and Jaramillo Carlos Hoyos.

Startups to watch

All year we've been asking VCs and other investors which startups they're most closely watching.

In advertising and media, the most promising include ones that are especially suited to life in lockdown or promising to solve advertisers' need for sound consumer data:

  • Players' Lounge, a platform where video game players compete with each other for money, a model that seems made for the pandemic.
  • Narrative, which helps direct-to-consumer brands and marketers buy and sell data and offers an antidote to the often shady data broker industry.
  • Encantos, a 4-year-old education and entertainment company for kids that's benefiting from the rise of at-home learning in the lockdown.
  • The Juggernaut, a subscription media company that tells stories around South Asia and the South Asian diaspora.
  • Perksy is an app-based research firm that collects anonymous data about millennials in a privacy friendly way.

Read the full list here.


netflix shows
"Tiger King," "The Umbrella Academy," and "GLOW" were among the most popular.

Netflix salaries

Netflix keeps churning out hit after hit as its subscriber numbers keep soaring.

It's also hiring. Business Insider analyzed US work-visa disclosure data released by the US Office of Foreign Labor Certification to see what Netflix pays for everything from engineers to marketers.

Working at Netflix means accepting some unorthodox practices. The streaming company doesn't offer performance-based bonuses on the belief that they hinder innovation, and says managers shouldn't be afraid to fire people who they don't want on their teams.

But one reason Netflix can get away with this is that it pays pretty darn well.

Based on the data, annual base salaries for various roles range from $110,000 to $850,000, with a median of $400,000.

Read the rest here: Netflix salaries revealed: Data shows how much content execs, engineers, marketers, and more made at the streaming service in 2020


Other stories we're reading:

Happy Turkey Day and see you back here Monday.

— Lucia

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This heroic military dog ran through a hail of bullets to take out a gunman who had his team pinned down in a fierce firefight

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Kuno, a military working dog who received the prestigious PDSA Dicken Medal for his actions in combat.
Kuno, a military working dog who received the prestigious PDSA Dicken Medal for his heroic actions in combat.
  • Kuno, a British military working dog who braved enemy gunfire to take down an insurgent who had his team pinned down during a 2019 compound raid in Afghanistan, has been awarded the PDSA Dickin Medal.
  • The PDSA Dickin Medal is considered the animal equivalent of the UK's prestigious Victoria Cross.
  • During the dangerous assault on the fortified Al Qaeda compound, Kuno was shot twice in his hind legs. US Army veterinarians performed multiple operations to save his life. He had to have one of his hind legs amputated and part of the other rear paw amputated.
  • Kuno has prosthetic limbs and is now retired.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A British military working dog who risked life and limb to take out an enemy gunman pouring fire on his team in Afghanistan has received the highest award an animal can receive for actions in combat.

Kuno, a Belgian Shepherd Malinois, has been awarded the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) Dickin Medal, the animal equivalent of the prestigious Victoria Cross, for his outstanding bravery and devotion to duty demonstrated during a 2019 raid on a fortified Al Qaeda compound.

As a multipurpose canine, Kuno's job involved finding explosives, locating weapons caches, and engaging enemies in combat.

Kuno, just four years old at the time of the compound raid, had already proven his worth in the early stages of the assault, taking out an insurgent and discovering various weapons and explosives hidden in the compound.

Kuno
Kuno

As the fight continued, another insurgent concealed in a doorway opened up on the assault force with grenade and machine-gun fire, pinning the team down.

Unable to move without potentially taking casualties, Kuno's handler turned to him. The dog took off at the gunman, who fired wildly into the night at the animal running full speed toward him.

Kuno was shot twice in his hind legs, with one bullet nearly missing a critical artery, but he did not halt his attack until the threat was neutralized. And, he continued to fight after that, relenting only when the mission was finished.

Kuno was hurt badly. His handler and a medic patched the dog up as best they could and then evacuated him to the US Army Veterinary Treatment Facility in Afghanistan.

Read more: Meet the dogs of war who run into danger to find hidden bombs and the US soldiers who have their backs

A U.S. Army Reserve soldier from the 149th Veterinary Detachment, Staff Sgt. Marisela Ruedas sits with Kuno following surgery.
A U.S. Army Reserve soldier from the 149th Veterinary Detachment, Staff Sgt. Marisela Ruedas, sits with Kuno following surgery.

"When I saw the handler roll up with Kuno on the stretcher, my heart sank for a few seconds," US Army veterinarian Maj. Jake Lowry, who knew and had played with Kuno, said in an Army statement.

The U.S. Army Reserve 149th Veterinary Detachment (Forward 2) treated Military Working Dog, Kuno, for injuries received in the line of duty.
The U.S. Army Reserve 149th Veterinary Detachment (Forward 2) treated Military Working Dog, Kuno, for injuries received in the line of duty.

Given the severity of his wounds, Kuno required multiple life-saving operations. One of his hind legs and part of his other rear paw had to be amputated.

Kuno later returned to the UK for recovery and rehabilitation. The now retired dog has since been outfitted with prosthetic limbs.

This heroic canine left a lasting impact on the Army veterinarians who treated him. "Kuno's unstoppable drive and spirit made Kuno so special to me," US Army Lt. Col. Leah Smith, commander of the 149th Veterinary Detachment (Forward 2), said.

"He is the epitome of what we hope to be as soldiers, self-sacrificing, determined, and unwavering in carrying out the mission," she added.

Kuno with a member of the UK armed forces.
Kuno, wearing the PDSA Dicken Medal, with a member of the UK armed forces.

PDSA Director General Jan McLoughlin called Kuno a "true hero," adding that "his actions that day undoubtedly changed the course of a vital mission, saving multiple lives in the process."

Kuno is the 72nd animal to received the PDSA Dickin Medal. He joins the ranks of not just outstanding canines, but also horses, pigeons, and a cat.

"I'm delighted that Kuno will receive the PDSA Dickin Medal," British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said in a statement. "It is testament to his training, tireless bravery and devotion to duty which undoubtedly saved lives that day."

"I am very proud of the role our military working dogs play on operations at home and abroad," he added. "Kuno's story reminds us of the lengths these animals go to keep us all safe."

PDSA is a veterinary charity, and the Dickin Medal is a prominent award that was created in 1943 by the charity's founder, Maria Dickin.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Filmmakers behind 'Greyhound,' 'Greenland,' and more say streaming and digital rentals rescued their mid-budget movies amid the pandemic — and it could lead to lasting change in Hollywood

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Tom Hanks in "Greyhound," which skipped theaters this year for Apple TV Plus.
  • Movie studios have sought alternative release strategies for movies amid the pandemic, such as premium-video-on-demand and streaming services.
  • These alternatives methods benefit low-to-mid-budget movies more than big-budget tentpoles, which generate significant revenue from the worldwide box office.
  • Business Insider spoke with three filmmakers whose mid-budget movies have skipped theaters this year for PVOD and streaming.
  • "You have to ask yourself what's the best thing for the movie," said Ric Roman Waugh, the director of "Greenland."
  • This embrace of digital and streaming could have long-lasting ramifications after the pandemic, the filmmakers said.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Director Ric Roman Waugh was already working on his next movie in Saudi Arabia when he got a call last month that he said left a pit in his stomach. It was about "Greenland," his apocalyptic thriller starring Gerard Butler that was set for theatrical release this year.

The movie, about a deadly comet hurtling toward Earth, was the latest to skip theaters in the US for a digital release amid the coronavirus pandemic. It will debut on premium video-on-demand (PVOD) platforms on December 18 and then be available to stream on HBO Max in 2021.

Waugh told Business Insider that he had a "tremendous amount of anxiety" before the deal closed. While he would have liked to see "Greenland" on the big screen, it became clear that wasn't in the cards. All he could hope for was that the movie found a proper home.

"You have to ask yourself what's the best thing for the movie," Waugh said. "This pandemic isn't going anywhere anytime soon."

It's a tough reality that many filmmakers have faced this year as the pandemic shifts the theatrical release calendar, forces many movie theaters to shut down, and pushes studios to rethink distribution strategies. Even big-budget tentpoles like Disney's "Mulan" and "Wonder Woman 1984" have pivoted to streaming releases on Disney Plus and HBO Max, respectively.

But these movies, in normal times, rely on the profits made from worldwide box office and "nothing has changed on that front" despite a newfound focus on digital and streaming, said Shawn Robbins, the Box Office Pro chief analyst. 

And while the Hollywood blockbuster will survive the pandemic, it has already transformed the industry in ways that could have long-lasting ramifications for low-to-mid-budget movies like "Greenland," which cost $35 million to produce.

"Even before the pandemic, the mid-budget movie was becoming a tougher marketplace theatrically," Waugh said. 

Business Insider spoke with filmmakers of mid-budget movies that have had their planned releases upended by the pandemic. They were generally optimistic about the theatrical experience, but acknowledged that the pandemic could have longterm effects on Hollywood and make streaming deals more important.

greenland movie
"Greenland" arrives on PVOD platforms for digital rental on December 18 and will stream on HBO Max in 2021.

PVOD and streaming could benefit mid-budget movies even after the pandemic

When theaters are fully operational again, there are signs that studios will continue to embrace PVOD and streaming.

For instance, Universal Pictures has struck deals with several theater chains to shorten the theatrical window (movies that have bigger opening weekends will typically have longer windows as part of the deals). This could foreshadow a bigger trend and a change for low-to-mid-budget movies in particular.

"As much as I'll mourn the loss of the long window, the reality is that the world is just a different place today," said Adam Goodman, a producer on the upcoming straight-to-PVOD movie "Songbird" and cofounder of the production company Invisible Narratives.

"Songbird," which was the first movie to film in Los Angeles this year amid the pandemic, will debut on PVOD services on December 11 and then a yet-to-be-announced streaming service, similar to "Greenland" (both movies were produced by STX Films). 

"We obviously had hoped to be in theaters, not just for the theatrical experience but we wanted to be out of the pandemic," Goodman said.

When it was obvious that that wouldn't be the case, the movie shifted gears. Goodman said that the movie is "budget-minded" for PVOD, but didn't disclose the movie's exact production budget. In other words, it's a low-to-mid-budget movie.

Aaron Schneider, the director of Apple's Tom Hanks-starring World War II movie, "Greyhound," noted that the pandemic could cause a crowded release schedule once circumstances are back to normal, one in which movies that aren't "events" could struggle to break through. That makes digital and streaming deals essential.

"Nobody wants to see the theatrical industry harmed, but studios need audiences," Schneider said. "Imagine a world without streaming. The theatrical pipeline right now is like people standing outside the door for Black Friday. The doors open and there's only so many cashiers. It's the same for theaters. There's only so many screens and so many theaters. All of these films will be standing in line for their turn once all this is over."

Many movies, from "Greyhound" to "Greenland," already dodged that bullet.

Streaming services are looking for new content

Several major services jumped into the streaming war either just before or during the pandemic, from Disney Plus to Apple TV Plus, and HBO Max to Peacock.

These, along with the surge in digital rentals, created options for movie studios amid the pandemic that otherwise would have ground Hollywood to a halt. Studios have even experimented with a mix of both PVOD and streaming; Disney Plus debuted "Mulan" for an additional fee and "Wonder Woman 1984" will eventually head to PVOD after its HBO max run.

The streaming space has created a competitive landscape where companies are looking to snatch up content that might attract subscribers, like "Greyhound."

The movie, which debuted exclusively on Apple TV Plus in July, cost $50 million to produce and Apple bought it for $70 million after a bidding war between streaming services, according to Deadline.

It seems to have worked out well for Apple. The movie's premiere generated the most sign-ups to Apple TV Plus this year, according to analytics company Antenna (Apple has not said how many subscribers Apple TV Plus has).

antenna apple tv plus chart greyhound
The "Greyhound" premiere drove the most signups to Apple TV Plus this year.

"Were we disappointed it didn't go to theaters?" said Schneider, the "Greyhound" director. "Sure, we made it for theaters and we work in the theatrical motion picture business. But we were equally thrilled in the middle of a pandemic that we found a way to get the film to an audience. It boiled down to what's the most available audience for the film."

"Greenland" cost $35 million to produce and has earned $43 million from international markets where it opened in theaters. But as coronavirus cases surged in the US, the movie's production company, STX Films, decided it couldn't keep stalling and changed strategies.

HBO spent between $20 million and $30 million for the pay TV and streaming rights to the movie, according to Deadline, which will start in early 2021. Waugh didn't discuss deal terms, but said he was happy with the deal. HBO declined to comment on deal terms and STX did not respond to a request for comment.

"You hope that if it goes to streaming that it doesn't just get dumped," Waugh said. "You wonder how it cuts through the clutter. But I was relieved to see a phenomenal deal. HBO will have to get behind it for how much they paid for it."

These streaming deals will continue to be important for mid-budget movies after the pandemic.

As next year's (and maybe even beyond) theatrical calendar is weighed down by tentpole "event" movies, PVOD and streaming alternatives could continue to be a safe haven for more cost-friendly fare. The recent windowing deals Universal has struck with major theater chains like AMC and Cinemark signal as much, and it's possible that more studios look to land their own agreements with exhibitors. Studios will continue to weigh what's best for theaters and PVOD (or streaming) on a movie-by-movie basis.

"After the dust settles, a new ecosystem could arise," Schneider said. "Movies may look and feel different for a while."

Read the original article on Business Insider

China's Xi Jinping finally congratulates Biden on his 2020 election win, with only a few world leaders still holding out

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Former Vice President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping toast during a State Luncheon for China hosted by US Secretary of State John Kerry on September 25, 2015 at the Department of State.
  • Chinese President Xi Jinping congratulated President-elect Joe Biden on his 2020 victory, weeks after other world leaders.
  • "Promoting the healthy and stable development of China-US relations is not only in the fundamental interests of both peoples, but also meets the common expectation of the international community," Xi said in a message on Wednesday, according to the state-run Xinhua news agency.
  • A handful of world leaders — from Russia, Brazil, and Mexico — have still not congratulated Biden.
  • The contentious dynamic between the United States and China is poised to be Biden's biggest challenge in terms of foreign policy. 
  • "Xi Jinping has evinced no signs of affording himself the kind of diplomatic flexibility that could help re-stabilize the relationship," a top China expert told Insider.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Chinese President Xi Jinping extended his congratulations to President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday, more than two weeks after he was widely declared the projected winner of the 2020 US presidential election. 

"Promoting the healthy and stable development of China-US relations is not only in the fundamental interests of both peoples, but also meets the common expectation of the international community," Xi said in a message to Biden, per state-run news agency Xinhua.

"I hope to see both sides uphold the spirit of non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation, and focus on cooperation while managing and controlling disputes," he added, according to Xinhua.

The Chinese foreign ministry congratulated Biden on his win on November 13, but Xi continued to remain silent on the outcome of the 2020 presidential race. Xi's statement on Wednesday, which came nearly two weeks after the Chinese foreign ministry acknowledged the results, makes Beijing's recognition of Biden's win more official. 

The leader of the Chinese Communist Party joins a long list of world leaders who had already congratulated Biden after major networks called the race for him on November 7. Still, a handful have not offered their wishes, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. 

Tensions between the US and China have reached historic heights under President Donald Trump, with top experts warning that the two global powers are on the brink of a new Cold War.

On top of launching a controversial trade war with China, Trump took aim at the Chinese tech industry. He also blamed Beijing for the spread of COVID-19, which was originally detected in the Chinese city of Wuhan. China has responded with increasingly anti-US rhetoric as both sides have engaged in an escalating diplomatic tit-for-tat.  

Addressing the contentious dynamic between Washington, DC and Beijing is likely to be Biden's top foreign policy priority, and it will not be an easy task. 

Orville Schell, director of the Asia Society's Center on US-China Relations, on Monday told Insider that the ball is in China's court in this regard. Schell said he does not see the relationship between the two countries changing in a meaningful way unless Beijing drastically changes its behavior and moves way from its "wolf-warrior diplomacy."  

"[China's] recognition of Biden as president-elect is a pretty low bar," Schell said. "Xi Jinping has evinced no signs of affording himself the kind of diplomatic flexibility that could help re-stabilize the relationship."

Read the original article on Business Insider

How to create a Wikipedia page for a person, place, company, or any notable topic

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Wikipedia makes it easy for an individual or business to build a page with the article wizard.
  • Anyone can sign up for a Wikipedia account and create a unique article or contribute to an existing one.
  • Wikipedia has notability and core content requirements it considers before allowing a page to be published, such as the subject's history of publication in legitimate sources. 
  • To help you create a Wikipedia page, the website provides a helpful widget to walk users through the process of creating and publishing a new article.
  • Visit Business Insider's Tech Reference library for more stories.

Since its launch, Wikipedia has slowly become one of the world's largest and most popular information sources. Tens of millions of pages worth of information, to be more exact. 

Wikipedia's content is all user-generated, meaning anyone with a registered account can create and publish a new page. Editors then collaborate on these pages, covering various subjects — from notable people and places to science and pop culture. Unfortunately, while the platform is open and collaborative, you can't just create a page for anything.

Wikipedia has notability requirements — mainly that the subject of a new page must have been written about in verifiable publications such as books, magazines, or academic journals, and not previously written about on Wikipedia. Your content also must meet Wikipedia's core content requirements

Furthermore, once you've submitted a draft, it will take up to several weeks to have your article reviewed by an admin for publication. At that point, it will either be confirmed and go live on Wikipedia or be denied. Additionally, you can edit your drafts at any point during this time and must make edits at least once within six months, or the draft will be deleted. 

Whether you're an individual with a few passionate interests or a marketing expert representing a company or brand, if you're interested in getting into Wikipedia page building, the site has a widget to keep the process simple and straightforward. 

Here's how to use it.   

How to create a Wikipedia page

1. To create a Wikipedia.org page, you must have a registered account. Log in or create one.

  • Note: After you create an account, you will be automatically logged in. 
how to create a wikipedia page 2
You will need to create a Wikipedia account to build a page.

2. Check to verify that the Wikipedia page you want to create doesn't already exist using the search bar. 

3. On the search results page for the term you enter, the option to "ask for it to be created" will appear. Click on it to be taken to the Wikipedia article wizard.

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Check Wikipedia search results to avoid drafting a page for a topic that already exists.

4. On the wizard, click "Next" to begin creating your page. 

  • Note: Alternately, you can choose to "Practice in the community sandbox," which is recommended for new users unfamiliar with publishing on Wikipedia. 
how to create wikipedia page 4
Wikipedia gives users a chance to practice their page building skills with their "community sandbox" feature.

5. After reviewing and agreeing to notability and other publication requirements, click "Next." 

6. Select the appropriate option to let Wikipedia know if you're a paid editor, you're writing about yourself, or someone you know/are close to, or if you're writing about a subject to which you have no connection. 

how to create a wikipedia page 5
You will have to identify yourself so that Wikipedia can verify that you can be a page owner.

7. Enter a name for your draft, then click "Create new article draft." 

8. In the pop-up box that appears, select "Start editing" to begin writing your article in the appropriate field. 

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You can also use the visual editor to design your Wikipedia page.

9. When finished with your edits, click "Publish" to save your article to draft. 

how to create a wikipedia page 7
Being familiar with basic HTML can help you build your Wikipedia page.

Related coverage from Tech Reference:

Read the original article on Business Insider

Bank of America says these 2 areas in technology are still undervalued and have room to run in 2021

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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the opening bell in New York, U.S., March 17, 2020.
  • After a year dominated by mega-cap tech stocks, Bank of America says the technology sector has more room to run in 2021. 
  • But next year's trade will be about enterprise technology stocks like software, as well as areas of tech sensitive to the economic recovery like semiconductors, according to Savita Subramanian, the bank's head of US equity and quantitative strategy. 
  • "The world is long FAANG," said Subramanian, but software and semiconductors aren't at as much of a crowding risk. 
  • "Technology to us is secular growth with a cyclical price tag," the strategist told a Tuesday webinar. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Investors have piled into the FAANG trade, but that doesn't mean there aren't other opportunities in tech, according to Bank of America. The bank recently said it has an overweight rating for technology in 2021, and that the sector will benefit from an economic recovery next year.

"Technology to us is secular growth with a cyclical price tag," said Savita Subramanian, head of US equity and quantitative strategy, in a Tuesday webinar.

She added that the sector is "relatively unloved" but clarified, "this is more enterprise tech rather than FAANG tech."

Semiconductors and software are two areas within the tech sector that are poised to gain next year, said Subramanian. Semiconductors are GDP-sensitive and will perform well during the 2021 economic recovery. She prefers semis to software, but added that software is still attractive because it's not as crowded as other corners of the sector. In a recent note, her team highlighted that software investments accelerated in 2020, a trend that is likely to continue for several years. 

Subramanian's team also noted that investor crowding is a risk to the technology sector more broadly. US tech and growth stocks are considered the "most crowded trade" according to BofA's global fund manager survey published mid-November. 

Read more: Buy these 19 small-cap stocks that hedge funds have invested the most dollars in as smaller companies head for their strongest monthly outperformance ever, RBC says

"...The leadership from that very narrow cohort of stocks was driven by everybody buying." Subramanian told listeners on the webinar. "It was driven by individual investors, institutional investors, hedge fund investors...the world is long FAANG." 

But software and semiconductors don't have as much as a crowding risk as the  "communication service tech franchise" part of the market is, she added. 

"If you look at the areas of the market that are very crowded today within tech, it's primarily TMT and media and interactive entertainment, interactive media and services, which resides within the communications services sector rather than the information technology sector," said Subramanian.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Nikola dives 17% after CEO offers murky commentary on GM deal ahead of December 3 deadline

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nikola badger
  • Nikola tumbled as much as 17% on Wednesday after the company's CEO failed to soothe investor concerns around its $2 billion partnership with General Motors.
  • Chief executive Mark Russell said on CNBC that talks with GM are ongoing. The companies have until December 3 to reach an agreement before either party can leave the partnership.
  • Russell also stopped short of guaranteeing that founder and former chairman Trevor Milton won't dump his Nikola shares once his lock-up period ends on December 1.
  • Milton holds nearly 86 million shares, making any selling plan a sizable risk for Nikola bulls.
  • Watch Nikola trade live here.

Nikola shares tanked as much as 17% on Wednesday after the automaker's CEO offered mixed messaging on whether a deal with General Motors will materialize by a key December deadline.

Chief executive Mark Russell said talks with GM are ongoing, particularly on fuel cell supply and production of Nikola's Badger pickup truck. The CEO stopped short of guaranteeing a deal will go through, leading investors to fear the $2 billion partnership could miss expectations.

Nikola and GM have until December 3 to reach an agreement. If a deal isn't finalized, either party can exit the partnership.

"We continue to talk to them about those things," Russell said on CNBC.

Read more: Buy these 19 small-cap stocks that hedge funds have invested the most dollars in as smaller companies head for their strongest monthly outperformance ever, RBC says

The CEO also failed to reassure shareholders that Nikola founder Trevor Milton, who stepped down as chairman in September, would not dump his shares next month. The lock-up period for the company's early investors ends on December 1, allowing Milton to sell his nearly 86 million shares as he pleases.

The sum accounts for roughly 24% of Nikola's shares outstanding, making any stock sale from Milton a risk to Nikola bulls.

Speculation around the GM deal has fueled outsized volatility for Nikola shares in recent trading sessions. The electric-truck company surged as much as 29% on Tuesday after GM announced it's no longer backing the Trump administration's efforts to block California's stricter emissions standards. The state regulations are poised to lift the electric-vehicle industry as California works toward phasing out gasoline-powered vehicles.

Read more: 93 units with another 122 under contract: Here's how Emma Powell built a king-size real-estate investment portfolio leveraging a simple strategy

"We are confident that the Biden Administration, California, and the U.S. auto industry, which supports 10.3 million jobs, can collaboratively find the pathway that will deliver an all-electric future," GM CEO Mary Barra said, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Nikola closed at $34.50 on Tuesday. The company has three "buy" ratings, six "hold" ratings, and one "sell" rating from analysts.

Now read more markets coverage from Markets Insider and Business Insider:

Morningstar's top stock pickers say these are the 10 highest-conviction stocks they recommend — which top fund managers recently piled their money into

US home prices climb record 3.1% as low mortgage rates fuel housing-market boom

Tesla's market cap breaches $500 billion as mammoth 2020 rally charges on

NKLA

Read the original article on Business Insider

Take a look inside the 7-bedroom New York City home that Gwyneth Paltrow lived in as a teenager, which has just gone on the market for $15.5 million

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Gwyneth Paltrow house
  • A home that American actress Gwyneth Paltrow once lived in is as a teenager has gone up for sale with an asking price of $15.5 million.
  • The property is located in Manhattan's Upper East Side.
  • The townhouse is split over five floors, plus a basement, and spans 7,205 square feet. It has seven bedrooms, and nine bathrooms.
  • Paltrow's parents, TV producer Bruce Paltrow and actress Blythe Danner, owned the property between 1984 and 1992, Fox News reported.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A New York townhouse that American actress Gwyneth Paltrow once lived in has just hit the market for $15.5 million.

The seven-bedroom property in Manhattan's Upper East Side dates back to the 1890s. 

Paltrow's parents moved to the house in New York from California when she was 11.

While living there, Paltrow attended the private, all-girls Spence School, according to a biography by Valerie Milano, and her parents sold the property when she was 20.

Read on for photos from inside the property, being sold by real estate agents Brown Harris Stevens.

The town house is located just east of Fifth Avenue.
Gwyneth Paltrow house

The house sits in the Carnegie Hill section of Manhattan's Upper East Side, which features many elegant buildings.

Estate agents Brown Harris Stevens describes it as "the best possible location for a New York townhouse."

It was built in the 1890s in the renaissance revival style, and the original details have been "meticulously maintained," the listing says.

The entrance takes you to a grand foyer ...
Gwyneth Paltrow house
... that leads into a kitchen overlooking the garden.
Gwyneth Paltrow house
The kitchen is big enough to have its own dining table ...
Gwyneth Paltrow house
... but there's also a formal dining room on the second floor, which has a small deck and views of the garden.
Gwyneth Paltrow house
The property has six wood-burning stoves throughout, including one in the grand living room ...
Gwyneth Paltrow house
... and another one in the library, which also has a wet bar.
Gwyneth Paltrow house
The house has seven bedrooms, five of which have en-suites. One bedroom also has access to a terrace, and one has a dressing room.
Gwyneth Paltrow house
Some of the bedrooms have fireplaces, too.
Gwyneth Paltrow house
The garden has an orange tree, which the owners say bears fruit all year long.
Gwyneth Paltrow house
The whole house is flooded with sunlight, according to the listing.
Gwyneth Paltrow house

The house benefits from "the most extraordinary light at all times of the day and during all seasons," Brown Harris Stevens says.

The house has lower townhouses to both sides, meaning that it gets more light. It also very high ceilings and large windows.

Read the original article on Business Insider

INSIDER Poll: Nearly one in five respondents cancelled their Thanksgiving travel plans due to COVID-19

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Travellers check in at Washington's Dulles International Airport in Dulles, Virginia, on November 24, 2020. Experts are worried that traveling for the holiday season will result in a new COVID-19 spike.
  • According to Insider polling from November 20 to 21, nearly one in five respondents canceled their pre-made Thanksgiving travels plans as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Additionally, nearly 19% of respondents reported Thanksgiving travel plans which include either driving or flying.
  • Around the country, ICU beds in hospitals are increasingly reaching capacity and experts are concerned that the odds of a post-Thanksgiving coronavirus spike are "extremely high."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

As COVID-19 cases continue to soar across the US, many Americans have chosen to stay home for Thanksgiving to help prevent spreading the virus any further. 

According to recent polling from Insider and SurveyMonkey, 19% of survey respondents previously had plans to travel for Thanksgiving which have since been canceled. Another nearly 19% of respondents noted that they currently have plans to drive or fly to reach their final holiday destination. 

On November 19, the Center for Disease Control recommended Americans stay home for the holiday to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

But while close to one in five people are estimated to have canceled their preexisting travel plans as a precautionary measure, polling shows that 57% of respondents will be celebrating Thanksgiving with at least one additional household.

This breakdown comes from a SurveyMonkey Audience poll taken between November 20 and November 21. The poll collected 1,110 respondents who were asked about their plans for the Thanksgiving holiday, COVID-19, as well as a number of other questions.

With just one day remaining until Thanksgiving, many ICU beds in hospitals have reached capacity, especially in rural areas where some hospitals have sent their sickest patients to cities where there is more bed space.

The US has a greater number of cases and deaths than any other in the world, and as of November 25, 2020, there have been 259,979 deaths in the United States attributed to the virus, according to the Coronavirus Research Center at the Johns Hopkins University of Medicine.

Many experts are concerned that if enough Americans ignore the CDC recommendations and travel, the country may see a large increase in COVID-19 cases and deaths.

Dr. David Rubin, the director of PolicyLab at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, told the Associated Press that the risks of a post-Thanksgiving COVID-19 spike are "extremely high."

"I can't speculate on what people are going to do," he said to the Associated Press. "But I can say that to the degree that there isn't a collective buy-in here, it sort of blunts the impact of the measures themselves."

According to previous Insider reporting and data from the Transportation Security Administration, more than three million people traveled through US airports between November 20 through November 22, the weekend before Thanksgiving. Though more than experts would prefer, the AP reported that travel is down by more than 50% compared to 2019.

SurveyMonkey Audience polls from a national sample balanced by census data of age and gender. Respondents are incentivized to complete surveys through charitable contributions. Generally speaking, digital polling tends to skew toward people with access to the internet. SurveyMonkey Audience doesn't try to weight its sample based on race or income. Polling data collected 1,110 respondents November 21-22. All polls carried approximately a 3 percentage point margin of error individually.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Snapchat's Evan Spiegel goes from innovator to imitator

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Hello, and welcome to this Wednesday's edition of the Insider Tech newsletter, where we break down the biggest news in tech.

Did someone forward this newsletter to you? Get Insider Tech straight in your inbox by subscribing here.

Soundtrack: for maximum enjoyment of this newsletter, we recommend listening to the Steely Dan classic "Do It Again."


This week: Evan Spiegel and the imitator's dilemma

snapchat
Snap CEO Evan Spiegel

If there's one constant in the consumer internet business, it's that today's innovators are tomorrow's imitators. 

Just a couple years ago, in 2017, Mark Zuckerberg was shamelessly copying Snapchat's hottest product features. The cloning was so bad that even Snap founder Evan Spiegel's then-fiancee, Miranda Kerr, weighed in, chiding Facebook for stealing "all of my partner's ideas." How do they sleep at night, she wondered.

If Kerr is still curious, she can now just ask her husband. The latest Snapchat feature, unveiled this week, is basically TikTok for Snapchat. Spotlight, the name of the new Snapchat feature, serves up the hottest dance moves, amusing antics, and other short video clips. You don't need to follow anyone either: Snap's algorithm, like TikTok's, will show you what it thinks you'll like.

Snap's business is doing just fine — users and revenue both increased at a healthy pace in the third quarter, and the stock is up 171% this year.

But... the writing is on the wall. Kids are gaga for TikTok. And Spiegel (like Zuck, who rolled out his own TikTok clone — Instagram Reels — in the US in August) knows how important it is to pay attention to shifting user habits. 

There's one twist to Snap's TikTok envy: Benjamins! Snapchat will offer a daily $1 million rewards pot to entice creators to make videos for Spotlight. 

Spiegel may not realize it, but this, too, is an imitation of another web company's gimmick — albeit a much less auspicious example. Cash rewards were part of a desperate growth gambit by Yahoo in 2015 when it launched Yahoo Daily Fantasy Sports. The product, which let users win cash by playing fantasy sports, was Yahoo's attempt to copy the success of DraftKings and FanDuel. (It didn't work.)

Speaking of look-alike products, remember Parler, the Twitter alternative for free-speech absolutists? 

parler

Business Insider's Paige Leskin and Rachel Greenspan took a look at the mysterious history of the social media app that burst on the scene in the aftermath of the US election. 

After rocketing to the No.1 spot in Apple's App Store downloads chart in the wake of the election, Parler's hockey stick growth curve has flattened a bit. Parler is still in the App Store's top 100, but it's now ranked 81, behind apps such as Chick-fil-A, Tinder, and MeowTalk Cat Translator, an app that uses "machine learning to interpret an individual cat's meows."


The startup class of the annus horribilis

For most of us, 2020 will not be on our list of favorite years.

But for some tech entrepreneurs, 2020 will be memorable for more positive reasons. Business Insider rounded up the 100 startups that broke apart from the pack this year. Some of these startups were founded in 2020, others already existed but managed to make important achievements amid the challenges of the pandemic. All showed uncommon grit and adaptability.

The 100 top startups of 2020, according to VCs

top 100 startups 4x3


Quote of the week: 

"The grand bargain business has struck with society isn't to remain neutral and sell popcorn as the world burns; it's to do more than merely build shareholder value."

— David Barrett, CEO of Expensify, in an exclusive op-ed for Business Insider explaining his controversial decision to email 10 million of his customers urging them to vote for Joe Biden.

David_Barrett_Expensify_BI
David Barrett.


Snapshot: The 'Star Wars' hotel is almost ready for lift-off

The "Star Wars" hotel is not scheduled to open its blast doors until sometime in 2021, but Disney gave Insider a few mock-ups of what the accommodations would look like. The hotel at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, is modeled after a galactic starship and guests will check in for a two-day, two-night immersive space cruise.

star wars hotel cabin mockup

The hotel itself never leaves the Earth, but the experience is designed to feel like you're travelling through space, with "windows" in the cabins providing ever-changing views of the surrounding cosmos and a cast of on-board Star Wars characters affecting what happens during the cruise.

The Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser, as its known, won't open until sometime 2021. according to Disney.


Recommended Readings:

EXCLUSIVE: Amazon's fashion chief told employees that 50 brands have inquired about selling in its new luxury store, as the company tries to shed counterfeit concerns

$12 million startup Modern Health dropped a 102-page report that it says exonerates its CEO over alleged misconduct

Inside Larry Page and Sergey Brin's quiet agreement with Sundar Pichai that has forced Google's CEO to distinguish his leadership style

The curious case of Lanistar, a flashy wannabe fintech unicorn hyping itself with branded Bugattis and facing warnings it might be a scam

Nvidia, AMD and Intel are leading an unprecedented $100 billion wave of acquisitions as the cloud and AI change the chip market: 'The biggest year for consolidation ever'

Inside BuzzFeed and HuffPost's merger, where talk is turning to who will be HuffPost's next EIC and what BuzzFeed will buy next


Not necessarily in tech:

How will Biden's administration impact space investing?

We asked the creator of the first pure-play space ETF, who highlighted the stocks and sectors that could benefit from Democratic policy — and rebound with the coming economic recovery.


OK then, that'll do it for this week. Thanks for reading, and if you like this newsletter, tell your friends and colleagues they can sign up here to receive it.

And as always, please reach out with rants, raves, and tips at aoreskovic@businessinsider.com

— Alexei

Read the original article on Business Insider

Can I watch Netflix on a Facebook Portal? Yes — here's how to use Portal TV to stream shows and movies

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Facebook Portal TV can access Netflix through a pre-installed app.
  • You can access Netflix's entire library of shows and movies with the Facebook Portal TV app.
  • The Netflix app is solely available for Portal TV and isn't supported on Portal, Portal Mini, and Portal+ devices.
  • Portal, Facebook's proprietary tablet, is best known for its advanced video chat technology, including a motion-tracking camera.
  • Visit Business Insider's Tech Reference library for more stories.

Facebook Portal is known for its formative video-chat capabilities, including a smart camera and smart sound features, Alexa and AR capabilities, and WhatsApp integration. But it's not just friends, family, or even colleagues that can connect with and entertain you through your Portal device. 

Since its rollout, Facebook has added support for several streaming entertainment platforms, including Sling TV, Amazon Prime, and Showtime. Now, you can also enjoy one of the biggest subscription-based streaming apps on the market: Netflix. 

Netflix and Facebook finally struck a deal to have the streaming service supported on the social media giant's video device suite. Even better, the app comes pre-installed on your device, meaning no app store downloads are required. 

Unfortunately, Facebook has only made its Netflix app available to Portal TV users. There is currently no way to install the Netflix app on the Portal, Portal Mini, and Portal+ devices. 

Here's how you can get started watching Netflix on your Portal TV. 

How to watch Netflix on Facebook's Portal TV 

1. Power on your Portal TV.

2. Configure your Portal TV if you haven't yet. 

3. Once on the home screen, use your Portal TV remote to select the Netflix app. 

Can I watch Netflix on Facebook Portal 1
You won't need to go to Portal's App Store to download Netflix.

4. Sign in to your existing Netflix account, or create one directly from your Portal TV. 

Can I watch Netflix on Facebook Portal 2
The Portal TV interface will be identical to the Netflix app on other platforms.

Related coverage from Tech Reference:

Read the original article on Business Insider

Save up to $500 on Leesa mattresses and get 2 free pillows now through December 7

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When you buy through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.

leesa bf deal

Mattress deals abound on Black Friday. We love highlighting Leesa's in particular because we've tested most of its mattresses (and pillows and frames), and the online brand makes some of the best mattresses we've ever tried. 

Luckily, you won't have to wait until Black Friday officially begins to take advantage of deals on Leesa mattresses. Now through December 7, Leesa is offering up to $500 off its four signature mattresses. You'll also receive two free down pillows with your purchase. Savings will depend on which mattress and size you get:

The savings are steep, but if you're looking for the Hybrid or Legend specifically, you'll save more with our exclusive discount code "INSIDER" for 20% off the Hybrid or Legend.

Since Leesa mattresses are also sold at West Elm, Amazon, and Macy's, we've included those buying options below, in case you prefer shopping at those sites, or want to checkout all your Black Friday finds in one cart. Some of the deals differ in that they don't include two free pillows or may include store-specific promotions. 

If you need to overhaul multiple parts of your bedroom, you can also buy various bundles. These let you pair bed frames and mattress protectors to your mattress and come at a discounted price when bought together. 

There's an additional social element to Leesa's Black Friday promotions too. Starting November 23, it's launching a challenge where participants are asked to sleep away from their bed for one night. If they share their experience on social media with the hashtag #1BedlessNight, Leesa will donate one bed to a child who needs it. 

The best Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals on Leesa mattresses: 

All these deals apply through December 7, though starting November 30, Leesa will change the name of its sale to "Cyber Monday." It will continue to offer the same mattress discounts, so you have time to figure out which one fits your needs. 

  • Also available at West Elm (Twin and Full sizes only, does not include free pillows) and Amazon (does not include free pillows). 
  • Also available at West Elm (includes free pillows, and you'll receive $100 off your next furniture purchase of $200 or more), Amazon (does not include free pillows), and Macy's (includes a free adjustable base but does not include free pillows).
  • Also available at West Elm (includes free pillows, and you'll receive $100 off your next furniture purchase of $200 or more), Amazon (does not include free pillows), and Macy's (includes a free adjustable base but does not include free pillows).
  • Also available at West Elm (includes free pillows). 

Shop all mattresses at Leesa here

Check out our guides to the best mattresses and toppers below for more products that may be on sale this Black Friday: 

Read the original article on Business Insider

SPACs are so hot even Jay-Z is partnering with one. He's set to be the 'chief visionary officer' for California's largest cannabis firm.

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  • Jay-Z is joining the company set to be California's largest cannabis brand as a "chief visionary officer" as part of a SPAC deal announced on November 24.
  • The special purpose acquisition company, Subversive Capital Acquisition, agreed on the same day to acquire the cannabis brand Caliva and the hemp producer Left Coast Ventures, forming The Parent Company in January, when the deal should close. 
  • Jay-Z will help the company with marketing and brand strategies, while Roc Nation artists Rihanna, Yo Gotti, and Meek Mill also invested in the newly formed company via a private placement. 
  • Also, Jay-Z will lead The Parent Company Social Equity Ventures, which will seek to invest at least 2% of its net income into BIPOC-owned cannabis businesses and "contribute to the effort to rectify the wrongs of prohibition through initiatives that are working toward meaningful change in the criminal justice system."
  • 2020 has been a breakout year for SPACs in general, and the cannabis industry is nascent but expanding, with Wall Street banks gradually becoming more involved with cannabis firms. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Billionaire Jay-Z is joining the company set to be California's largest cannabis brand as a "chief visionary officer" as part of a SPAC deal announced on November 24.

The deal will see a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, called Subversive Capital Acquisition Corp., acquiring cannabis brands Caliva and Left Coast Ventures to form The Parent Company, with deal close targeted for January 2021.

The news comes shortly after Jay-Z announced a partnership with Caliva in October that will see him launch his own cannabis line, Monogram, as reported by CNN

Jay-Z's Roc Nation announced an exclusive partnership with The Parent Company simultaneous with its formation, while Roc Nation artists Rihanna, Yo Gotti, and Meek Mill also joined as investors in the newly formed company via a private placement. 

According to a press release, the Subversive Capital Acquisition Corp already holds about $575 million in cash in trust, meaning The Parent Company is expected to become one of the best-funded cannabis companies in the US. It will combine the revenues of Caliva and Left Coast Ventures to reach $185 million in revenue in 2020, expecting to hit $334 million in 2021. 

The Parent Company hopes to reach 90% of all cannabis users in California by 2022. The cannabis market has continued to grow in recent years, with sales in California reaching almost $3 billion last year, per Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics. 

A cannabis SPAC deal with a social advocacy angle

Jay-Z's work as chief visionary will also have a major social component. The rap mogul will take the helm of the company's Social Equity Ventures, which has pledged to invest at least 2% of its net income into BIPOC-owned cannabis businesses.

The Social Equity Ventures unit will also "contribute to the effort to rectify the wrongs of prohibition through initiatives that are working toward meaningful change in the criminal justice system," according to the press release. Initiatives will include bail reform, industry vocational training, job placement, expungement clinics, and Social Equity application support.

"Although we know we can't fully redeem the injustices created by the 'war on drugs', we can help shape a brighter and inclusive future," Jay-Z said in the press release. "The brands we build will pave a new path forward for a legacy rooted in equity, access, and justice. We're creating something people can trust and we're investing in our future, our people, and our communities."

When reached for comment, Jay-Z referred Business Insider to his comments from the press release.

SPACs are so hot right now, and cannabis keeps heating up

Using SPACs to invest in cannabis companies has become all the rave lately, as extensively reported by Business Insider's Jeremy Berke.

Several cannabis SPACs have turned into multimillion-dollar juggernauts through deals similar to The Parent Company. In August, Credit Suisse led Silver Spike Capital's $250 million public offering, and Citigroup's Canadian branch helped lead the $350 million SPAC public offering of the private equity firm Bespoke Capital, Berke reported.

It's a bit of an issue from an investment perspective that cannabis is still illegal on a federal level, although states including California have legalized it for recreational use. The cannabis industry could grow into an $80 billion industry by 2030 if it becomes legal under federal law, according to the investment bank Cowen. 

This potential increasingly drawing Wall Street establishments such as Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan into assisting cannabis-related SPACs going public in the US and advising their clients on cannabis-related deals, Berke also reported. And now Jay-Z and his Roc Nation superstars are players at the table.

Read the original article on Business Insider

We now have the best evidence yet that coronavirus immunity lasts 6 to 8 months after infection, and perhaps even years

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covid houston hospital HOUSTON, TX - OCTOBER 31: A medical staff member grabs a hand of a patient to reposition the bed in the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) at the United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC) on October 31, 2020 in Houston, Texas. According to reports, Texas has reached over 916,000 cases, including over 18,000 deaths. (Photo by Go Nakamura/Getty Images)
A medical staff member grabs the hand of a patient to reposition their bed in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at the United Memorial Medical Center, October 31, 2020 in Houston, Texas.
  • Immunity to the coronavirus involves more than just antibodies. T cells and B cells protect us long-term, too. 
  • A new study found that these other elements of immunity persist at least eight months in a majority of COVID-19 patients and could protect most people against coronavirus reinfection for years. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

We now have the best answer yet to a crucial, lingering question about COVID-19: how long immunity lasts. 

New research suggests that recovered coronavirus patients likely have a robust immune memory that persists for at least eight months. This memory relies on more than just antibodies — it also involves white blood cells known as T cells and B cell that have impressive powers of recollection. Combined, these layers of protection enable the immune system to recognize and re-attack the coronavirus should it ever invade again, thereby preventing another infection.

To assess how long immunity to the virus lasts across these various layers of the immune system, scientists measured how many — and what types of — immune cells recovered coronavirus patients had months after they got sick. Their research, though not yet peer-reviewed, offers hope that those who've already gotten infected likely won't be ill again for quite some time.

"Most people are making most parts of the immune response to this virus, and those parts are still around six to eight months later," Shane Crotty, a virologist at La Jolla Institute for Immunology in California and a co-author of the study, told Business Insider. "That looks like generally good news for having protective immunity."

While antibodies wane, T cells and B cells persist 

Some research has suggested that coronavirus antibodies — blood proteins that protect the body from subsequent infection — fade within a few months. But concerns about those findings can discount the role of  killer T cells, which identify and destroy infected cells, as well as helper T cells that inform B cells about how to craft new antibodies.

"All of those elements are designed to work together: If in any given person one's not so great, the other arms of the immune system can compensate. So it makes sense to measure everything," Crotty said. 

t cell
A scanning electron micrograph of a human T lymphocyte (also called a T cell) from the immune system of a healthy donor.

So his group measured both types of T cells, as well as B cells and antibodies, in blood samples from 185 people who'd recovered from COVID-19. Nearly 40 of the participants gave blood multiple times, some more than six months after their illness. This enabled the researchers to assess how patients' immune responses changed over time.

Their results showed that patients' levels of coronavirus-specific T cells declined slightly between four and six months, then held steady after that. The researchers think it's likely that lT cells and antibodies stay consistent after that six-month mark, since that's typical of other viruses.   

"It takes one to two weeks for antibodies and T cell responses to develop after an infection. Those then increase and peak," Alessandro Sette, an immunologist at La Jolla and Crotty's coauthor, told Business Insider. "Between four and six months they go down, and then tend to plateau out around six months.

"What you see at six to eight months is what you get in terms of immune response, so that's when you want to look for any indication whether you have developed a memory or not."

The study results also indicated that patients' B cell levels increased between the one-month and six-month marks. That's especially good, Sette explained, since B cells are the source of future antibodies.

"Once the initial viral invasion is gone, B cells will stop fighting, stop making antibodies," he said. "But they're still there if the attack resumes: If you have an expanding army of B cells circulating in the body, that would regenerate a antibody response."

Clinicians take blood samples to look for coronavirus antibodies in a recovered COVID-19 patient.
Clinicians take blood samples to look for coronavirus antibodies in a recovered COVID-19 patient.

Antibodies, however, declined measurably by the six-month mark, according to the study. But Crotty said that decline is "quite reasonable for any infection" and not on its own a reason to be concerned.

Coronavirus-targeting T cells could last for years

Sette and Crotty could only look at recovered coronavirus patients eight months post-infection, since the pandemic began about a year ago. But they think the slow rate of decline in patients' T cell and B cell counts means those cells will last far longer than the time period analyzed in the study. 

"The immune responses are following the expected playbook, and they're stable over at least eight months," Sette said, adding that "the trajectory doesn't indicate they're going to crash at eight months and one day." 

London UK coronavirus
People on the London Underground on September 25, 2020.

White blood cells developed in response to other viruses can stick around for years. T cells specific to smallpox, for example, take about 10 years to disappear after an infection, while B cells for that virus stick around for 60 years.

T cells specific to SARS, another coronavirus that shares 80% of its genetic code with this new one, also seem to stick around long-term. A July study looked for T cells in blood samples from 23 people who survived SARS. Sure enough, those survivors still had SARS-specific memory T cells 17 years after getting sick.

A small number of patients had 'weak immune memory' 

Crotty's study found that about 90% of people develop robust immunity to the coronavirus — undergirded by antibodies, T cells, and B cells. But not everyone developed all three immune elements to the same degree, and a small subsection of participants developed only some, or none, of them.

Those patients seem to have "quite weak immune memory," Crotty said, so could be susceptible to reinfection relatively quickly. 

Houston hospitals covid 19
Healthcare workers move a patient in the COVID-19 unit at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, July 2, 2020.

"You really want to have the whole orchestra of the immune system coming together to defeat the virus," Sette said. 

The reason for this person-to-person variation isn't clear, but the study authors found that patients who fared better during their bout of COVID-19 had multiple types immune cells working for them. Those who fared poorly had one or less.

But until scientists have more time to study the virus, Sette and Crotty said, there won't be a way to predict how long a given person's coronavirus immunity will last after they're infected.

"There's just no way to do quick blood test to say you're going to have immune memory for 10 years," Crotty said. "So we'll just have to wait and see."

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An Ohio man was arrested at Walmart after pulling out brass knuckles when asked to wear a mask, revealing a growing threat to retail workers this Black Friday

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Walmart employee
Walmart employees and other retail workers face risks from anti-mask shoppers this Black Friday.
  • A Walmart shopper was arrested on Saturday, after police said he pulled out a pair of brass knuckles when he was told to wear a mask or leave the store. 
  • Two anti-mask Costco shoppers have been arrested recently, following clashes with employees. 
  • Workers have been facing harassment and violence from anti-mask customers for months. 
  • This Black Friday, experts say the enforcement of mask policies is crucial to keep workers and customers safe. 
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

A Walmart customer was arrested on Saturday, after police say he refused to wear a mask — then pulled out a pair of brass knuckles. 

Police were dispatched to a Walmart in Ohio after employees said a customer had refused to put on a mask or leave the store, according to a report from the Perkins Township Police Department. According to the report, police asked the customer, Colyn Tusing, to leave the store if he was not going to wear a mask. 

As Tusing walked away from the police officer, he pulled a pair of brass knuckles out of his pocket, according to the report. Tusing was then handcuffed and arrested on the charge of carrying a concealed weapon.

Confrontations with anti-mask customers have become a worrisome part of life for many retailer workers in recent months. Going into Black Friday as COVID cases surge, enforcing corporate and government-mandated is an increasingly crucial task for employees. 

Read more: Waffle House reveals why it will never shut down indoor dining again unless it's forced to, as the CEO takes a stand against lockdowns

Perkins Township Police Chief Vince Donald told local news station Fox 8 that police officers do not enforce the state's mask orders, and only get involved if the situation develops into a criminal matter. With Black Friday kicking off the busy holiday shopping season, Donald said he hopes everyone follows health orders. 

"If  a business asks you to wear a mask, in my opinion, the best thing for you to do is wear the mask and comply with their rules," Donald said.

Anti-mask harassment and violence could present a new Black Friday danger for workers

Restaurant and retail workers have been facing harassment and violence from anti-mask customers for months. 

A woman in Canada spat at a liquor store employee and damaged the worker's phone when asked to wear a mask earlier this week, The Penticton Herald reports. In Georgia, Forsyth County News reports that a customer was arrested on Saturday following a clash with employees at Costco over the store's mask policy. Something similar happened last week at a Costco in Eureka, California, when an anti-mask customer was arrested after reportedly trying to snatch a worker's phone. 

"There's no reason why I shouldn't be able to shop without a mask on," the Costco customer yells in a video that aired on local news station KRCR. 

The treat of anti-mask violence has grown to such a level that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines in August on how companies can keep workers safe. Experts recommend installing security equipment, such as panic buttons, and identifying safe spaces where workers can avoid violent, anti-mask visitors. 

The CDC has classified shopping in crowded stores on Black Friday or the surrounding days a "higher-risk activity" in 2020. Experts told Business Insider that wearing masks is crucial to reduce the risks associated with Black Friday shopping this year. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Save up to $200 on Helix mattresses and get 2 free pillows during its Black Friday sale

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When you buy through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.

helix black friday cyber monday

Right now through November 29, you'll find steep discounts at Helix for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The more you spend, the more you save:

  • Use the code "BLACKFRIDAY100" to save $100 on orders of $600 or more. 
  • Use the code "BLACKFRIDAY150" to save $150 on orders of $1,250 or more. 
  • Use the code "BLACKFRIDAY200" to save $200 on orders of $1,750 or more.

Along with the savings, you'll receive two free Dream pillows with your purchase.

Like most other online mattress startups, Helix ships its beds in a box. What's special about Helix's mattress, however, is that you can get it customized to suit your needs. There are seven mattresses in total and they each suit different combinations of sleeping position and firmness preferences. 

Each Helix Sleep mattress comes with a 100-night sleep trial and a 10- or 15-year limited warranty (depending on which mattress you get).

If you don't sleep soundly on your current mattress and/or can't remember when you bought it, it's probably time for an upgrade — and Helix's Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale is a great time to save some money while you're at it.

The best early Black Friday mattress deals from Helix: 

Shop all mattresses at Helix's Black Friday sale here

Check out our guides to the best mattresses and toppers below. Many may be on sale this Black Friday: 

Read the original article on Business Insider
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